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December 17, 2015

Why Wheaton College Is Right

A professor’s hijab caused a stir, but it wasn’t the reason for her suspension.

Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins created a stir last week by announcing she would wear a hijab, the head scarf worn by Islamic women, to “stand in religious solidarity with Muslims” during Advent. Hawkins was later suspended by the school, though not for the reasons presumed by secularists and even some Christians. To be clear: We believe there are numerous flaws in the way she spiritually rationalizes and physically chose to display solidarity. But that alone is not a sufficient reason for punishment. What got Hawkins suspended was a fundamental assertion in her statement: “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

It’s not difficult to see why this might raise some critical issues for a Christian school. In a statement, Wheaton wrote, “The freedom to wear a head scarf as a gesture of care and compassion for individuals in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution is afforded to Dr. Hawkins as a faculty member of Wheaton College. Yet her recently expressed views, including that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, appear to be in conflict with the College’s Statement of Faith.”

As RedState’s outgoing editor in chief and seminary student Erick Erickson points out, “Muslims are not ‘people of the book’ in common understanding among evangelicals, though they do descend from Abraham. They do not worship the same God. According to Islam, Allah neither begets nor is begotten — a line explicitly rejecting the trinity. Professor Hawkins and her supporters may wish to distract or may not even care, but Wheaton sets its hiring standards and requires fidelity to the Bible. Professor Hawkins’ statement suggests a theological diversion not in keeping with Wheaton’s standards.” That’s why the college’s response isn’t just justified, but warranted.

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