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 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.
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.
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.