Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, was recently suspended after wearing an Islamic hijab, and saying that Christians and Muslims "worship the same God."
"In response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements that Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins has made about the relationship of Christianity to Islam, Wheaton College has placed her on administrative leave, pending the full review to which she is entitled as a tenured faculty member," the Christian college said in a statement posted on its website on Dec. 15.
Hawkins, who has taught at Wheaton since 2007, took to Facebook to explain her experiences with Islam and Muslim people.
"I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind--a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014," she wrote in the Dec. 10 post.
"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," Hawkins added. "And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God."
In general, Islam does recognize Jesus as one of the prophets, but it does not recognize him as God as Christians do, which seems to be Wheaton's problem with Hawkins' Facebook posting.
Hawkins was publicly criticized by other Christians, and tweeted to them on Dec. 13: "A holy kiss to you who disavow the idea that Muslims & Christians worship the same God: I love you. Peace & respect.”
She linked her tweet to another Facebook posting where she wrote: "Please find a cogent analysis of the basis for my claim in the link below--as well as a convincing argument for why asserting our religious solidarity with Muslims and Jews will go a long way toward quelling religious violence and enervating religionist fear of the religious other."
Hawkins linked to a 2011 article from The Huffington Post entitled, "Do Christians And Muslims Worship the Same God?"
“The College has no stated position on the wearing of headscarves as a gesture of care and concern for those in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution,” Wheaton president Philip Ryken told Christianity Today, in regards to Hawkins wearing a hijab. A hijab is a veil that is worn by Muslim women.
“We support the protection of all Americans including the right to the free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States," Ryken added.
Hawkins wrote another Facebook posting on Dec. 15: "New friends, old friends, and colleagues at Wheaton College--thanks for your encouragement."
"Current and former students--how do I love thee?" she added. "You already know the answer to that question. But in case you've forgotten, you, you, you inspire me everyday. That, my dears, will never change."