Christian college moves to fire professor who said Muslims worship same god

4 months, 29 days ago

Larycia Hawkins, a tenured associate prof at Wheaton College, attained headlines after wearing headscarf following San Bernardino shooting

A Christian college in suburban Chicago has launched termination proceedings against a tenured prof who was suspended last month for saying Christians and Muslims adore the same deity.

Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor of political science at Wheaton College, confirmed the decision at a press conference on Wednesday. The 43 -year-old professor described national attention in December for her decision to wear a headscarf to show solidarity with Muslims, following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, which authorities said was inspired by Islamist terrorists.

I want the focus to be taken away from Wheaton not doing right by me, Hawkins told the Guardian last month. Thats bad but whats even worse is the kind of tolerance towards the bigotry, for the Islamophobia, for the political rhetoric and[ how] we dont check politicians.

The college has not taken a position on Hawkins decision to wear a hijab, but has previously said her statements on social media about Christianity and Islam required further theological clarification before she could return to work. The prof was placed on administrative leave on 15 December.

Hawkins comments, the college said, conflicted with its statement of religion, which is a guiding decide of religious beliefs at the core of Wheatons education that faculty members sign and must abide by.

Wheaton recognizes that there may be a range of views among our faculty and staff considering contemporary issues, the college has said. However, we take the Statement of Faith seriously; as members of this voluntary community, all faculty and staff are expected not merely to sign it as a cursory requirement of employment, but also to assert it as an expression of their own beliefs.

Hawkins has been asked on three previous occasions to affirm Wheatons statement of faith.

On Tuesday, the college said in a statement that its notice of a recommendation to begin the process of firing Hawkins doesnt represent a termination: Instead, it begins Wheaton Colleges established process for employment actions pertaining to tenured faculty member.

This Notice follows the impasse reached by the parties, the college said. Following Dr Hawkins written reaction on December 17 to questions regarding her theological sentences, the college requested farther theological debate and clarification. However Dr Hawkins declined to participate in farther dialogue about the theological implications of her public statements and her December 17 response.

Hawkins responded on Wednesday at a press conference inside the Chicago Temple, saying shes a woman on a spiritual journey.

I am flabbergasted at the steps taken by Wheaton College, Hawkins, who wasnt wearing a hijab at the press conference, said. The professor was flanked by Wheaton alumni, activists and religion clergy, including the Rev Jesse Jackson.

Students and those in favour of Hawkins, who has been with the evangelical college for nine years, have rallied on social media in recent weeks under the hashtag #ReinstateDocHawk, calling for Wheaton to reinstate the professor. An online petition has collected over 54,000 signatures.

A final decision on Hawkins employment may not come for weeks. During the termination proceedings, the college said a hearing will be held by a personnel committee in the next 30 days. Following the hearing, a recommendation on the profs tenure will be forwarded to Wheaton president Philip Ryken.

The college president then will make a recommendation to the Wheaton board of trustees, which makes the final call on Hawkins job.

Despite the ongoing disagreement with Wheaton, Hawkins made clear that she holds no hard feelings against college officials.

I have no hatred in my heart for Wheaton College or any administrator or human there, she said. Praise God.

Read more: