Update: Professor Larycia Hawkins has gone on the record as saying she will fight the school's decision to force her out.
"I have tenure and I have to fight for that," Hawkins said.
Wheaton College has said in a statement that it has begun the process of terminating Professor Hawkins.
Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins was suspended from the evangelical school after stating that she thought Muslims and Christians “worshiped the same God” and donning a hijab to demonstrate solidarity with Muslims.
The schools official response to the suspension was that they only support professors who “engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”
Hawkins expressed sorrow and anger over the growing wave of Islamophobia that has enveloped America in a Facebook post, beautifully stating that, “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.”
She posted a picture of herself wearing a hijab in order to engage in a tangible act of solidarity, rather than only offering platitudes, encouraging individuals to “[join] this embodied narrative of actual as opposed to theoretical unity; human solidarity as opposed to mere nationalistic, sentimentality.”
Hawkins’s statement that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is not radical—the Pope himself said that “Muslims worship the one living and merciful God, and call upon him in prayer.” Yet clearly Wheaton disagreed.
This sort of response from a Christian college regarding freedom of religious expression is deplorable and exemplifies why there is such a fractured social climate in terms of unity.
Students are protesting her suspension—over 450 students have joined a private Facebook page that calls to revoke her suspension, and a Change.org petition in her name has over 1,200 signatures. A sit-in protest was also held outside Wheaton College president Phillip Ryken's office this afternoon.
A former Wheaton student, Wyatt Harms, told ThinkProgress that, “Dr. Hawkins is absolutely essential to our campus community. We cannot afford to lose her. A professor should have the academic freedom to engage that line of thinking, and should not be afraid of making a Facebook comment about it.”
As a tenured faculty member, Hawkins will receive a full review from the college regarding the situation.
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