Wheaton College, an evangelical institution, suspended an associate professor for wearing a hijab and claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Professor Hawkins wore a hijab to demonstrate her solidarity with Muslim women, but Wheaton's administration was reportedly unhappy with her theological claims. The decision to suspend the tenured professor ignited a campus protest Wednesday, a few days after Professor Hawkins made a public statement on Facebook that she would wear a traditional headscarf through the Christian Advent Season. The gesture was reportedly intended to show solidarity, particularly as Muslims are facing backlash with the aftermath of the mass shootings in San Bernardino, CA and Paris. Hawkins voiced her support for Muslims, whom she refers to as "people of the book," and additionally references Pope Francis' recent claims that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Wheaton's decision to place Hawkins on leave is in "response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements" made about the relationship between Islam and Christianity, and less about her decision to wear a hijab. The college emphasizes that the "faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college's evangelical statement of faith." According to Wheaton's statement of faith, which is "consonant with evangelical Christianity," there are certain theological principles exclusive to Christianity which are not found in Islam, such as "one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons," and the existence of Jesus Christ as Lord who "died for [our] sins." The college president made clear that it was her statements, not her choice to wear a headscarf, that was the main issue.
Hawkins had asked the Council on American Islamic Relations "whether or not wearing a non-Muslim hijab was haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive," in which she was assured that the gesture was welcomed. Some students are protesting her suspension through a sit-in and online petition while others claim "she signed a statement of faith and she must hold herself accountable to that statement of faith" or that, "to say we worship the same God is completely not true and it misrepresents the student body, it misrepresents the institution itself."
How should the situation be dealt with, in your opinion? Leave us your thoughtful comments below.