Wheaton professor’s views triggered online hate storm

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Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

Wheaton College campus sign. Photo by Stevan Sheets via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevan/85832975/

Wheaton College has informed tenured professor Larycia Hawkins that it is beginning the process that could result in her termination. The actions come amidst a heated—and often hate-filled debate—over Hawkins and her belief that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.


Wheaton College’s disgraceful suspension of professor for controversial comment


Wheaton has also investigated similar statements by other faculty members made recently. According the college, in those cases “the individuals rapidly and emphatically explained their opinions and affirmed their full consistency with the theological identity of Wheaton College.”

The matter now moves through a three step administrative process. But the results are sure to be controversial.

Already, the debate over Hawkins and her statement on her Facebook page in December has produced a heated debate among evangelicals and other Christians.

Some strongly defend her statement as fitting within a long history on Jews and Muslims; others see Islam as too distinct from Christianity to allow such a statement. In the case of Wheaton, the issue is more technical or legal. The statement of faith at Wheaton does not mention Islam; so, the college is arguing that Hawkins statement violates other beliefs such as a belief in the incarnation and in the Trinity. This raises the question of whether there is room for disagreement on this issue and whether the same logic applies to Jews and other faiths.


READ: Wheaton prof who said Christians, Muslims worship ‘same God’ faces ‘termination proceeding’


While Wheaton and many others have been able to keep the debate over Hawkins civil and fair-minded, the incident has also unearthed hate. Comments to articles at The Blaze, Christian Post, Free Thinker and other sites contain extreme Islamophobia, racism, and misogyny.

Screenshot of post at BareNakedIslam.com.

Screenshot of post at BareNakedIslam.com.

The anti-Islam site BareNakedIslam.com posted a call to “FIRE THE B**CH!” And other sites made similar calls to have Hawkins removed. Another commentator was even more offensive:

Suspended? why not from a lamp post?

Amidst comments debating theological differences, there were comments that belie flat-out Islamophobia, such as these three statements:

Islam is a bloodthirsty cult, spawned in Hell by the devil himself, with a pedophile as its chief disciple. Allah is Satan, the “false god”, while the sexually-confused degenerate, Mohammad, is the “false prophet.”

Any institution that continues to employ this piece of filth does not deserve to be called a “Christian college.” Mudslimes [sic] have no ‘human dignity’ and they certainly do NOT “worship the same God.”

If she really wants to show solidarity with her Islamic brethren maybe she should sell herself into sex slavery. Let her husband (if she has one) beat her. Oh, another good idea is she can start by leading coalition to exact change by condemning rape victims that can’t prove rape, but only after making rape nearly impossible to prove. Maybe blow herself up while shouting Allahu Akbar.

The reactions included many calls to have Hawkins undergo female genital mutilation or honor killing. Or in this exchange, both:

To openly express her solidarity with Muslims, she should submit not only to wearing a scarf, but to an “honor killing.” ASAP!

And a clitorectomy posted on YouTube.


Ouch! Forgot about that one. Yeah. Done with the traditional rusty razor blade. THEN the honor killing!




Other comments focused on her race, often questioning whether she was qualified for her position.

Just another race-baiter stirring up a controversy to paint herself as the victim of the same controversy. Many openly asked if she was qualified to teach or if she was hired because of her race and/or gender alone:

she was an affirmative action hire. She’s a twofer to them. A woman and a black. Think how excited they would have been if they knew she was a Muslim too.

She’s looking to a ‘victim’ … Spit in her Christian employer’s eye, HOPE she gets fired, then line up panting media pukes to give woeful interviews about intolerance, whiteness, ameriKKKa, blah blah blah. The media hasn’t had a black ‘hero-victim’ for awhile, why not HER???

As bad as it may sound American blacks are the group most likely to adopt islam as their road in life. It appeals to the oppressed and the downtodden. Look at the black conversion in our prisons. This idiot is almost there without ever having read the koran!

These are just a sampling of the comments found online.

Fortunately, there are many, even who disagree with Hawkins theologically, who are hoping to tamp down the hatred that the incident is unearthing.

Nabeel Qureshi is a convert from Islam to Christianity and author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. Qureshi wrote on a blog at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (a prominent evangelical ministry with a focus on academia and apologetics). But while Qureshi disagreed with Hawkins, he also said that he once agreed with her position.

“Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, but given the complexity of the matter we all ought to stop demonizing those who disagree with us,” Qureshi wrote.

It is now up to the faculty, the president and the provost at Wheaton to debate whether there is room at the college for disagreement on this issue, or if her statement falls so far outside the theological bounds of the college that she should be removed.

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  • Arguments over make-beliefs should leave no doubt humanity hasn’t got a hope of surviving for much longer. http://thelastwhy.ca/poems/2007/9/2/beliefs.html

  • Beninoakland@gmail.com

    Why on earth would anyone be surprised at this? we gay and/or athiest people have been watching the True and Good Christians (TM) pull out their theological knives while telling the objects of their disaffections how much they “love” them ever since a certain beauty queen raised her well-coifed, reptilian snout above a Florida swamp 38 years ago. Longer, if you want to count the Protestant-catholic sectarian unpleasantness of several centuries. Or longer still, stretching back to the good ol’ days of Arian and what’s-his-name.

    Nothing gets a true believer going faster, pulling out ever larger knives to slice a philosophical gnat, than real or imaginary heresy, unless it’s heresy AND sex, especially gay sex. then there is simply no slander too heinous, no lie too big, no blasphemy too horrendous, no hate or violence preached too vicious.

    they’ll tell me they love me, right before they tell me how much they hate my civilization and humanity destroying ways. Cute.

  • Stuart Mitchell

    Leave it to the faithful to eat their own. Larycia will write a book (which I will by).

  • Charl

    Ignorance is the saddest thing to watch. I guess this is what it felt like to witness the prelude to the
    Dark Ages. 🙁
    The professor is just citing what was believed for centuries, the One God of Monotheistic faiths, of whom Abraham was the father.I still believe there is only one God too.

  • Whew.
    After reading this article I’m even more thrilled than usual that I’m an Atheist.

    I’m so glad I left the world of religion where everyone just rips at each other over the proper color of the fancy hat of the invisible creatures.

  • Charl

    All those mean people calling for harm to this woman. I am so ashamed of those who identify as Christian and hate in the Name of Christ.

  • Jay

    I find it amazing that anyone would be surprised by the Islamaphobia of the comments by so-called Christians who support Wheaton College. I have no sympathy for the professor who signed on to the hateful ideas of this pseudo-college. She apparently was quite fine with Wheaton’s ugly history of homophobia. She is only getting a taste of what she has been complicit in for some time.

  • Hawkins is correct. And incorrect.

    The God of Abraham is the same God for all 3 monotheistic religions in the way the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean are all the same ocean if you look at things from a distance.

    But Religion is not about looking at things from a distance. The Bible and Q’uran are not books about love and unity – they are about primitive conquests:

    God vs. Satan,
    Jesus vs. Caesar,
    Pharisees vs. Jesus
    Jews vs. Jesus,
    Jesus vs. Allah,
    Allah vs. Jews
    Muslims vs. Jinns….etc.

    Religions are primarily stories about mythic tribes conquering real estate (land) and the victorious Gods who demand loyalty in return.
    Whether Abrahamic, Indian or Greek – the gods are unhelpful delusions.

    This fury over this professor shows how sad, impractical, divisive and dangerous religions are to our modern world.
    They should be quickly abandoned.

  • Alison

    I would like to say that the hate-speech goes both ways on this one. I have seen some pretty hateful comments against Wheaton, even from writers on this website.

  • Larry

    I have seen a lot of pointed criticism of Wheaton, but nothing close to the malice directed towards Ms. Hawkins. Many Christians tend to mistake attacks on privilege and assumption for hateful behavior and mistake hateful behavior for loving concern.

    Evangelical belief absolutely depends on insulting and denigrating any faith and belief which differs from their own. How can one “spread the good word” without trying to destroy the existing belief in others? Its a given that they will be intolerant and malicious towards beliefs they do not share. They are just not nice people when it comes to challenges to their beliefs. When one is taught to denigrate others as part of the essential religious belief, it opens the door to even more boorish behavior.

  • Stephen Pruett

    Historically, one could argue, the God of Islam is the same as the one conceived by Abraham and now worshipped by Christians. However, because of teachings by Mohammed that are irreconcilable with teachings of Jesus, it cannot be reasonably concluded that the God of Islam is the same as the God of Christianity. The fundamental difference is clear in comparing the requirement for attaining heaven: In Islam one’s works are judged and if the good outweighs the bad, you’re in; In Christianity, the assumption is that all have done wrong and are therefore not worthy of heaven, except through the sacrifice of Christ, which is claimed through faith in Him. These concepts are so fundamentally different and this is such a central issue, that I do not understand how a Christian institution could consider keeping a professor who concludes that the same God is behind both concepts. This does not excuse hateful comments, but it justifies the proposed action of the College.

  • Stuart Mitchell

    Derp.

  • Billysees

    Stephen,
    ” …because of teachings by Mohammed that are irreconcilable with teachings of Jesus, it cannot be reasonably concluded that the God of Islam is the same as the God of Christianity. ”

    Simply said.

    The best and easiest to understand comment.

  • Shawnie5

    Thank you, Stephen.

  • @Stephen,

    “it cannot be reasonably concluded that the God of Islam is the same as the God of Christianity”

    So at which point did the God of Abraham become two gods?
    And which religion – Christianity or Islam – saw the split happen and picked the right one?
    And how would anyone know?

  • Jay

    Alison, like many conservative Christians who love to pretend that they are victims, you create a false equivalency and confuse criticism with hatred. Your inability to distinguish hate speech from criticism says a great deal about you.

  • Ben in oakland

    So apparently, one of these gods is a false god and one of them a true God.

    Which is which?

  • Ben,

    I’m going with the god who will answer this prayer:

    “Dear True God,
    “all the false Gods appear to have clustered around you so we cannot see (with our limited human abilitiies) which of these many gods you are. Please use your true and overwhelming power
    to step forward not because we test you (not that!) but because we want to test all the false gods (who you want us to test and mock) so we can prepare to properly mock them and worship you.”

    “By the way, True God – please don’t punish us with infinite Hell for following the false gods. You did create them brilliantly to be very effective imitators! We humans are having a lot of trouble with this.”

  • This is troubling on many levels. Surely we Christians,particularly evangelicals, can disagree without vitriol and hatred. And this isn’t even directed at one of our current boogeymen, Muslims. Let’s hope we can work toward civility, respect and religious diplomacy in intra- as well as interfaith contexts.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    As the comments quoted show, there is much vitriol toward Islam from people who claim to be Christian. the comments cites are a virtual catalogue of Islamophobia. Once, one such chauvinistic fellow told me I had to accept being dominated by the Religious Right, because if I didn’t, then I would be dominated by the Islamic Right. I told him if that is the only two options I have to choose from then of course I would pick the latter because they do not defile Christ’s message in their extremism. Anyone who thinks the American Vanilla ISIS is any better than the Mideast version is grossly uninformed.

  • David

    Alison is spot on. The fact that Wheaton’s critics (e.g. Volf, McLaren, Gushee) have letters after their names, and give their criticisms a veneer of courtesy, should not disguise the fact that they are absolutely determined to read, and cast, Wheaton’s actions in the most suspect, politically expedient light — rather than concede that Wheaton may simply be defending its doctrinal boundaries.

    But that possibility cannot be allowed. Wheaton’s administrators must be Islamophobes, racists, or Republican patsies.

  • David, you and Alison may be correct that some of the criticism of Wheaton has been less than kind as well, but you won’t find that in Volf, McClaren or Gushee. Strident criticism of Wheaton’s position is not to be equated with hate speech. We need to be very careful before attaching such a label, and in what I’ve read from these three you mention there has been no hate speech.

    In addition, defending doctrinal boundaries has its place, but defenders of Wheaton on this matter might also consider that such a stance can be inappropriate in certain circumstances. Evangelicalism tends toward boundary maintenance, focusing on who’s in, who’s out of the Christian circle, at times in ways that tend toward witch hunts. We can police the boundaries at the expense of the center which is Christ and Christian charity. Wheaton’s administrators need not be Islamophobes, but their actions do take place within a social and sub-cultural context of boundary obsession and anti-Islamic sentiment.

  • David

    Thanks for the response, John.

    I don’t think Volf, McLaren, and Gushee have committed hate speech. I mentioned them, though, because they’re the most distinguished critics of Wheaton — and it’s striking that as such they have refused to acknowledge any possibility that Wheaton’s actions might be about theology rather than politics, anti-Islam bigotry, or fear.

    The precise theological question that Dr. Hawkins’s statements have raised is not an easy one. That may mean that Wheaton should cut Dr. Hawkins a bit more margin than they have. But it also means that outside critics should cut Wheaton a bit more margin than they have. Especially since no one has been fired yet, and Dr. Hawkins’s case still has to be heard by faculty.

    Have you read this essay by Nabeel Qureshi? Easily the most clear and charitable essay on this I have seen to date: http://rzim.org/global-blog/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god

    Cheers,
    David

  • David

    I suspect that if one spent enough time combing comment sections, one could probably collect some comments directed at Wheaton which would be in the same league as the anti-Dr. Hawkins comments collected in this post. Every group has its shrill jackasses.

    No question, the comments about Dr. Hawkins which the author has re-published here are utterly deplorable. Such comments shouldn’t be directed at any human being made in the image of God. I think Dr. Hawkins errs in affirming that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God,” but by her testimony still regard her as a Christian sister who should be defended against vicious verbal attacks.

  • Glad to hear you don’t think those three are engaged in hate speech. I don’t think they acknowledge the possibility of this being about theology because they’ve analyzed the situation and concluded it’s not, at least by sound theological analysis. I agree we should be charitable in our analysis and conclusions, to both Hawkins and Wheaton, but this should not preclude drawing conclusions that argue this is not about sound theological disagreements. I’ll take a look at Qureshi’s essay. Thanks for the exchange.

  • David, you can’t make allegations by asking folks to comb through comment sections. If no such statements can be cited then its an argument from silence, and a bad one at that. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • @John W. Morehead,

    “Surely we Christians,particularly evangelicals, can disagree without vitriol and hatred.”

    The seeds of this self-immolating philosophy come from within:

    “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed!” – Paul (I Corinthians 16:22)

    Good luck trying to be nice under those circumstances.

  • Hmm…I’m not sure what “Evangelical belief”you’re talking about,but I can assure you,as a life-long “evangelical”(Do you even know what the term means?) it neither helpful nor necessary for me to insult or denigrate anyone’s”religion; He who is Truth makes that mindset wholly superfluous.I’ve a Born-again, Blood-bought, Spirit-filled child / servant of Almighty God in Christ for almost 40 years now,and in my 25 years of actually experiencing My Saviour and studying the nuances of the Christian faith, I’ve made a startling discovery: insults, mockery, scorn, ridicule, and denigration does NOT wins souls to Christ!! Who’da thunk it? So…you’re either hanging out with the wrong evangelicals,or you are sadly misinformed. PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS!

  • The answer is simple,”Ben in Oakland”: Ask Jesus; He’ll tell you.At least you CAN question Him on the issue,unlike Allah/Muhammad; Christ invites,Allah demands.Which one would YOU prefer?

  • Sorry to disappoint you,Max,but I have little trouble agreeing to disagree with anyone who doesn’t embrace my Faith without vitriol,malice,cursing,hatred,etc.,etc.,etc…After all,I converse with you,don’t I? In fact,I find YOUR hatred of the Christian Faith greatly amusing,since it’s so obvious that the superficial readings of the Biblical texts show that you have little understanding of the nuances of Scriptural hermeneutics,so…there it is.My Faith in the Risen Saviour has stood me in good stead for almost 40 years now; Jesus has amply proven God’s Promise: ” I will never leave nor forsake you ” (The Epistle to the Hebrews,chapter 13,vs.5)—So-PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS! [ And Happy New Year to you,Max; you’re off to a great start,LOL! :>)

  • One text doesn’t set the tone for a way of engaging others in Christianity. I suggest we look at the example of Jesus in the way in which he interacted with the marginalized outsiders of his culture, and the way in which he engaged Gentiles and Samaritans. He exercised and taught a love of neighbor and enemy. This may not carry weight for you as an atheist, but it surely should for Christians in our pluralistic culture.

  • Laurence, who are these comments directed toward?

  • Ben in oakland

    “studying the nuances of the Christian faith, I’ve made a startling discovery: insults, mockery, scorn, ridicule, and denigration does NOT wins souls to Christ!! Who’da thunk it?”

    Apparently, antigay and anti-muslim so-called Christians think that. Who’d a thunk it?

  • ben in oakland

    LCR– I very nearly became a Christian some 45 years ago. But the logic eventually escaped me. God so loved the world etcetcetcetc, but if you didn’t get them message, well prepare to burn.

    a great many people talk to Jesus, God, Mary, and a host of other religious beings. They always seem to get the answer back that they already agree with.

    Unitarians ask god how they should treat gay people. God answers, “Love them as I have loved you.” Unitarians support ending this vicious prejudice.

    Baptists like Kevin Swanson– an admittedly egregious answer– ask god how gay people should be treated. god answers that gay people should be executed.

    Representatives of the AFA ask god how they should treat gay people. God laways tells them to revile, to slander, to harm.

  • Billysees

    Ben,
    ” Which is which? ”

    Good question…a great question.

    My simple answer is —

    1. The one that talks the most about LOVE.

    Then you’ll know you’ve got the right one.

  • Stuart Mitchell

    Curious how “1. The one that talks the most about LOVE.” derives truth or the probability of existance? Not sure that qualifies as a simple answer either. Also does combining fear (hell) and love make any moral sense. If I asked you to fear and love me at the same time and do so honestly, you would be hard pressed to describe me as a moral or loving agent.

  • @John,

    “Jesus interacted with the marginalized outsiders of his culture”
    Wrong. Please read your Bible in its entirety before you say such things:
    “They are fools!” – JESUS (Matthew 23:17)
    “They are dogs!” – JESUS(Matthew 15:26)
    “they are swine!” – JESUS(Matthew 7:6)
    “Avoid Them” (Romans 16:17)
    “…go and tell him his fault.”- JESUS (Matthew 18:15)
    “have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” (2 Thessalonian 3:14)

    “he engaged Gentiles and Samaritans.”
    There is no reason to believe any of this is true.

    “He exercised and taught a love of neighbor and enemy.”
    Not true. And he loved Slave owners:
    ” The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants shall be beaten with many blows.” – JESUS (12:47)

    Shame on Jesus.

  • Max your irreligious bias is inappropriately coloring your interpretation of the issue and my comments. I’m afraid this is a very selective reading of the gospels that doesn’t take New Testament historical criticism or contexts into account. It’s also strange that you tell me to read my whole Bible and yet you cite Matthew almost exclusively. I would encourage you to read all the gospels and to become familiar with the scholarship on Jesus’ approach to the cultural outsider and Gentiles. A good place to start is Bob Robinson’s “Jesus and the Religions” (Cascade Books, 2012).

  • Stuart Mitchell

    So we should disregard Matthew? Trying to find nuance here but there is none. It is the internal contradictions in the Gospels, the Old Testement, the New Testement, the Koran, the Hadeth, and any other book of reveled supernatural communication that Atheist Max is pointing out and no “scholar” can reconcile. Try as they might, the circle will not be squared.

  • @John W. Morehead,

    I was a Catholic for 50 years, lovingly immersed in everything about my beloved Jesus Christ – Augustine, C.S. Lewis to Padre Pio. Raised my children in the church. Had many priests in my home for many fine dinners.

    But now I doubt there is any true god:

    Jesus incited violence “they will be burned” – (John 15:6)
    Jesus Lied – “He went in secret anyway” (John 7:8-13)
    Jesus prepared for war – “if you have money, buy a sword” (Luke 22:36-37)
    Jesus hated free will – “I will kill her children with death” – JESUS (Rev. 2:23)
    Jesus preached Hate– “Hate your parents…hate your life or you are unworthy” (Luke 14:26)

    As Christians we all cherry pick. We accept what we like and ignore what we don’t. Then one day….you realize what you are doing:

    “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    And Jesus falls apart.

  • @Billysees,

    “Love”

    Love stands alone. It is happens only between people who entirely trust each other in a non-threatening way.

    “Believe in me or be condemned to the eternal fire” – JESUS
    (Mark 16:16)

    If Jesus were truly the god who cares about love
    he would not demand ‘faith’ from us. He would free us from it.

  • Billysees

    Max,
    ” “Believe in me or be condemned to the eternal fire” – JESUS (Mark 16:16) ”

    That does sound unrealistically threatening. So does many other scripture.

    Think this way —

    Paul speaks for himself and most probably other writers as well.

    1. …our knowledge is partial and incomplete…
    2. …we see things imperfectly…
    3. All that I know now is partial and incomplete…
    (1 Corinthians 13:9,12)

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