Religion

Professor Who Said Christians, Muslims Worship Same God Set To Leave School

| by Diana Kruzman
Wheaton College, located in a suburb 25 miles west of Chicago, is an evangelical Christian university.Wheaton College, located in a suburb 25 miles west of Chicago, is an evangelical Christian university.

A professor at an evangelical Christian university who was put on administrative leave after expressing solidarity with Muslims has come to an agreement with the college’s administration, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, has announced that she will be leaving the school, although the university’s provost apologized for his haste in attempting to fire her. In a joint statement released by Wheaton College on Feb. 6, college president Philip Ryken wrote that "the administration and Dr. Hawkins have come to a place of resolution and reconciliation,” and that they “have decided to part ways."

The conflict began on Dec. 10, when Hawkins expressed a belief that Christians and Muslims share the same God through a Facebook post on her personal profile. She also shared a photo of herself in a hijab, and stated that she would wear it during the Advent period before Christmas to express support for Muslims, who have been facing an escalation in Islamophobia since the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. and Paris, France.

"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," she posted on Facebook, according to the Chicago Tribune. "And as Pope Francis stated … we worship the same God."

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Just days after her statement, Hawkins was placed on paid administrative leave pending a review; the college also asked her to resign, and considered revoking her tenure for two years. In January, Wheaton Provost Stanton Jones initiated the process to terminate Hawkins’ employment with the university.

The school stated that Hawkins’ "... theological statements seem inconsistent with Wheaton’s doctrinal convictions," according to Reuters. Hawkins, however, stood by her words while affirming her faith and her right to teach at the university.

"I appreciate and have great respect for the Christian liberal arts and the ways that Wheaton College exudes that in its mission, programs, and in the caliber of its employees and students," Hawkins said in the joint statement released on Feb. 6.

After the college’s Faculty Council unanimously recommended withdrawing Hawkins’ suspension and halting termination proceedings, Jones apologized for his “lack of wisdom and collegiality” in placing her on administrative leave. Several hours after Jones’ apology, Hawkins announced that she would not be returning to teach at Wheaton. A news conference with further comments from both sides is scheduled for Feb. 10.

Sources: The Chicago Tribune, Reuters / Photo Credit: Mary Warren/Flickr

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