Wheaton professor’s suspension is about anti-Muslim bigotry, not theology

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Christian college places professor who wore headscarf on leave.

A tenured political science professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical university outside Chicago, has been suspended after she wrote in a Facebook post that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.CHICAGO (AP) — A professor at a suburban Chicago Christian college who has been placed on administrative leave after donning a headscarf to demonstrate solidarity with Muslims said Wednesday that her actions are demonstrations of her own faith. Hawkins began wearing a hijab to counter what she called the “vitriolic” rhetoric against Muslims in recent weeks. “In the spirit of Advent, my actions were motivated by a desire to live out my faith. Attitudes towards Muslims have hardened since a husband and wife killed 14 people in California, in an attack apparently inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Wheaton College spokesperson LaTonya Taylor did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for information about how long the suspension would last, how unusual it was and who would conduct the review. The college said in a statement Tuesday that it placed her on leave because of statements she made on social media about similarities between Islam and Christianity. “In response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements that Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. With fears of terrorism simmering and Donald Trump calling for Muslims to be blocked from entering the United States, many American Muslims are on edge. But it also said that “overtures of Christian friendship must be enacted with theological clarity as well as compassion.” The school insists that Hawkins’ suspension doesn’t reflect on her desire to wear the headscarf, but rather the explanation she gave as to why she was wearing the headscarf. So please do not fear joining this embodied narrative of actual as opposed to theoretical unity; human solidarity as opposed to mere nationalistic, sentimentality.

Hawkins’ suspension will last through the spring semester and sparked protests on the Wheaton College campus from students who called for her reinstatement, according to the Tribune. Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity.

I’m no theologian, but I would have thought that the professor’s statement — that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God” — is at least defensible even from an evangelical Christian perspective, and likely even correct. They both believe that they are worshiping the Creator of the universe, though of course they have different understandings of who his prophets are, different beliefs about the Trinity, and different understandings of the law that God wants us to follow. Hawkins’ point, which is that Christians should love Muslims, and that they should stand together with them in “human solidarity,” would also be unobjectionable. I can certainly see why Wheaton might object to claims that Islam is theologically sound — but I don’t think that would be the “theological implication[]” of Prof. My view is that people who teach at religious colleges, which have as their mission to “serve[] Jesus Christ and advance[] His Kingdom” — rather than to pursue knowledge, wherever it might lead — can rightly be expected to follow religious orthodoxy.

Such requirements of orthodoxy strike me as bad for the pursuit of knowledge, but I presume that faculty members and students go into such institutions aware of the requirements, and able to evaluate the costs and benefits of those requirements. (I’m much more bothered when institutions that claim to be all about untrammeled inquiry and challenges to orthodoxies try to constrain faculty and student views; that strikes me as a sort of bait-and-switch.) I’m just surprised that Wheaton’s religious orthodoxy would condemn Prof.

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