Scholarship News

Christian Professor Dons Hijab, Gets Suspended


December 17, 2015
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
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 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.

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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.

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Posted Under : College Culture , College Life

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sr awesome  on  1/13/2016 7:36:09 PM commented:

Hijab is a really good thing to wear, it makes you feel peaceful and comfortable. I am seriously jealous of Muslim women who wear it all the time.

John G  on  12/28/2015 12:28:31 AM commented:

I would like to protest your mistaken statement; "Wheaton College, an evangelical institution, suspended an associate professor for wearing a hijab and claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God." Which is false, according to your following statement; "The college president made clear that it was her statements, not her choice to wear a headscarf, that was the main issue." It is clear that the hijab was not the issue, speaking from a journalistic standpoint, your introduction is mistaken, can you fix it please?

Donna V.  on  12/25/2015 11:10:48 PM commented:

Thank you Wheaton College for standing up for truth. And not letting "the liar" infiltrate.

human  on  12/25/2015 8:27:40 PM commented:

wearing hijab is a way of life. Hijab shows you who your are and helps you find the true meaning of life.

Informed I  on  12/24/2015 10:14:15 AM commented:

Two things to note: First of all, please note that the college's official statement says that Hawkins was placed on "paid administrative leave", not "suspension". Please correct this. Secondly, as someone from a Muslim country, I find her actions and words ignorant and insulting. No wonder this institution wants to distance itself from this disgrace.

Tim P.  on  12/23/2015 2:54:06 PM commented:

Why is this discussion focussing so much on the hijab? That's not the reason the professor was suspended. Please make sure you understand Wheaton's actual stance on this issue before making any strong statements. Here's the link to Wheaton's public statement: www.wheaton.edu/Media-Center/Media-Relations/Statements/Wheaton-College-Statement-Regarding-Dr-Hawkins

Jessie K  on  12/23/2015 12:19:37 PM commented:

She said that we worship the same God as Muslims. What the Uni seems to think is "NO we do not worship the same God! " This is like saying Jews and Christians worship two completely different Gods and saying "Pope Francis is wrong!"

Asma Q  on  12/23/2015 11:19:19 AM commented:

Ms. Hawkins made a choice to wear a hijab as a non-muslim. She did not change her religion. CAIR [Council on American Islamic Relations] welcomed her choice to wear hijab as a christian. The university suspended her for making a statement that probably goes like this: "one sovereign God, eternally existing".

Sadaf Khan  on  12/22/2015 6:35:50 PM commented:

Woman wears a hijab and voiced her opinion, got suspended. And that folks is the "freedom" in America.

Tim P.  on  12/22/2015 5:51:08 PM commented:

I respect Wheaton College's decision on this. As a Christian institution, they have the right to make sure the teachings of their professors are in line with essential Biblical theology. Unlike Islam (or any other religion, for that matter), Biblical Christianity is not based on earning your way into heaven. Instead, Jesus takes the penalty for sin. Out of love and gratitude, a Christian DOES respond with obedience to Christ and love for God and others, but not in fear of punishment. Islam has an entirely different emphasis. By following the Five Pillars, a Muslim hopes to appease Allah and be accepted into heaven. There is no guarantee that you will ever be good enough to make it into heaven -- even Muhammad was unsure of his salvation. Wheaton College is wise to retain the distinction between two intrinsically different beliefs. Inaccurate information about the maths and sciences would not be tolerated. Inaccurate information about religion would have far greater implications.

Jeff C.  on  12/22/2015 5:36:31 PM commented:

We are closer than you might think to the Orwellian world of "1984". The religious thought police are assuming the role of Big Brother, and they hide behind their god as justification for their persecution of others. We are entering dangerous territory.

Muhammad Azeem  on  12/21/2015 12:36:33 PM commented:

I'm interested

Todd B.  on  12/18/2015 3:58:11 PM commented:

Why were the students who protested her suspension not suspended themselves? If they are confused about the statement of faith a professor should be dedicated to, then maybe they should be vetted by that same statement of faith. I've heard wheaton College is very lax on their faith requirements and standards but this just proves the point.

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