March 18, 2016

Missouri Christian wears hijab in solidarity

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Inspired by negative rhetoric directed toward Muslims during the presidential election, and a sermon given by her pastor, Martha DeVries of North Kansas City, Mo., says she decided to wear a hijab on Mondays. Photograph taken on Feb. 22, 2016. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Inspired by negative rhetoric directed toward Muslims during the presidential election, and a sermon given by her pastor, Martha DeVries of North Kansas City, Mo., says she decided to wear a hijab on Mondays. Photograph taken on Feb. 22, 2016. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Religion News Service video by Sally Morrow

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (RNS)  To protest the anti-Muslim rhetoric of this presidential campaign, high school counselor Martha DeVries decided to wear a hijab in public every Monday.

DeVries, 47, attends a Baptist church and identifies as “a follower of Jesus,” but said she felt a responsibility to outwardly display her acceptance of Muslims and refugees.

In the January/February 2016 issue of Herald, Baptist News Global’s magazine, where her story first appeared, she said, “We have a lot of immigrants living close to the high school where I work,” adding that when the weather’s nice the local park “looks like the United Nations.”

DeVries said she also felt inspired by a sermon her pastor delivered on making a difference.

She started in December and hasn’t received any negative comments on the street or in the school. But one commentator who read her story on Facebook wrote: “Just wait till they make you wear that, or they chop off your head if you don’t agree with that.”

“I’ve also had people ask, ‘Don’t you think you are perpetuating this really ultraconservative, degrading view of women by wearing a hijab?’” DeVries said.

She said her motivation is merely to “walk in someone else’s shoes,”  which she plans to continue until the end of the school year in May.

“It’s really easy to be a Christian in the United States. Lots of people share my faith, lots of people share my holidays, so it’s not really a struggle,” she said.

“What’s a headscarf? It’s 3 yards of material. That shouldn’t separate me from someone whose humanity is so much like mine.”

Mike and Martha DeVries pose for a photograph in their home in North Kansas City on Feb. 22, 2016. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Mike and Martha DeVries pose for a photograph in their home in North Kansas City, Mo., on Feb. 22, 2016. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Her husband, Mike DeVries, a part-time youth pastor, supports his wife’s gesture.

“Christians need to take a step back and evaluate their actions,” he said. “Are we really making a difference, in what our purpose is, by bashing people?”

DeVries has made Facebook friends with Muslim people all over the world interested in her story.

And to the critics, she responds that her friends who wear hijabs are by no means subservient.

“They are very strong, independent women who choose to cover their heads as part of their faith. I don’t feel like it’s because they feel intimidated to do that,” said DeVries, who is not the only American Christian to don a hijab out of solidarity.

Several months ago, a tenured professor at Wheaton College near Chicago posted a photo of herself wearing one with a caption that said Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.” The evangelical school suspended her and she eventually agreed to leave her post.

Laeeq Azmat, secretary of the Islamic Center of Northland in North Kansas City, said he appreciates DeVries’ gesture.

“This particular act is very helpful — a Christian sister helping us or helping other Christians realize how a person might feel in the scenario,” he said.

(Sally Morrow is the multimedia and photo editor for RNS)

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  • Terrell Lewis

    If Jesus’ mission was to free the oppressed, the least Christians can do is to stand in solidarity with them.

    Luke 4:18
    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,

  • Jay Shawn

    The hijab has no religious significance in the bible. Its was part of a woman’s attire in desert and dry israel. The Muslim took it as a mandatory article of clothing in imitation of muhammad’s wives who were told to wear it so they wouldn’t be coveted by his companions. SMH. Stop behaving like a dhimmi, otherwise they’ll find a reason to turn you into one.

  • Jim Johnson

    Christians can be such hypocrites. The apostle Paul instructed women to cover their heads when praying in the presence of men. It was an acknowledgement of the man being the head of his wife. They no longer follow this requirement yet condem Muslims who do. I am an atheist and support feminists.

  • MarkE

    Jay Shawn – because we’re better than that. We don’t need (or shouldn’t) shrink back or stoop to a lower level of behavior just to “get back” at others. Christianity (as well as the ethos of the American experiment) is that we are guided by higher moral principles – freedom, respect, sacrifice, restraint, tolerance, and compassion. That’s why torture is despicable to many, if not most, Americans – no matter the context. That’s why we spend huge capital building up and supporting struggling nations. That’s why we don’t threaten nuclear armageddon every time we don’t win an argument. That’s why Donald Trump (“kill their families”, “bring back waterboarding” or Ted Cruz (“carpet bomb them to the Stone Age”) would be absolute failures as American leaders. And certainly not guided by Christian values.

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  • Garson Abuita

    “Why are you assuming that the people harassing hijabis are Christians?” That’s not an assumption, it’s a conclusion — from your comments!

  • Debbo

    There are many stories of Muslim people doing their best to protect their Christian neighbors. (No, I don’t have any links.)

    It’s important to remember that the leadership of ISIL, the Taliban, and other extremist Middle Easterners, is often very different from the average citizen, just as we often see throughout the Western world, including the USA. For that simple reason, it’s very inaccurate to place blanket blame on all Muslims for the despicable behavior of terrorists. All Muslims are no more terrorists than all Christians are. (Terry McNickel in OKC, Bundy in Nevada and Oregon, Koresh in Texas, etc.)

    BTW, I commend Ms. DeVries for wearing a hijab.

  • Debbo

    A Muslim couple with 5 small children just came into the restaurant and sat near me. I chatted briefly with the mother, who was very friendly. We commented on the challenges of dealing with 5 squirmy, silly and very cute kids.

    Terrorists? If you think so, watch and talk with them. They’re no different than a white, possibly Christian family here too. It sickens me to think that someone might be so blind and hateful that they couldn’t see the beauty of both family groups. That would be all on the haters, not the families.

  • Everett

    What makes you think it is Christians who object to her head scarf? Is it because you saw the article on RNS and just assumed that it was Christians asking or objecting?

  • Tom

    You better recheck your facts. Nichols was an Atheist when he and Timmy blew up OKC. Nichols converted to Christianity after he was caught and in prison. And there was no Terry McNickel. There was Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. And McVeigh didn’t care about Christianity either,. Timmy was raised a Catholic but rejected it and became an Agnostic. He said he didn’t believe in Hell and that goes against all tenets of Christianity. Quit trying to blame OKC on Christians.

  • Tom

    Paul also said in Corinthians that it was disgraceful for a man to have long hair.. But if a woman has long hair it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.

    Doesn’t this kind of negate the head covering thing? Does anyone really think that wearing a head covering brings you favor in God’s eyes?

  • How can one assume by reading comments from one person …..about so many others, who may be dispersed all over the places …??…..

  • .All church goers are supposed to go to church, decently dressed …And it is considered as a good practice, and as instructed .. that laymen should not cover their heads.and lay woman should cover their heads….And I don’t think there is any negating here, And if everyone follows your funny logic … I don’t know what one will find at the extreme end of the limit …..

  • Debbo .. please be VERY sick if that is something to be sick about ….And then be sick of everything hateful …not some convenient selective ones to go by your political agenda …..It is good that you bring into focus of a family that has resources to enjoy the service of a restaurant in so called your world …. However are you aware that there thousands of families in some other part of the world , who can aspire to get government job mostly as janitors and cleaners because of their beliefs … and cannot perhaps ever have the luxury of restaurant in western world ….You may conveniently say you don’t know …..But then how come you find out a web site to post your political views by- passing the other websites that gives pictures of atrocities you don’t want to know …..

  • MarkE… I don’t think christians from other world in their right mind , asked Americans to bomb others …And whatever bombing if Americans have done in the past , they were mostly for American selfish interests And that what mostly people of other world say ….Bombing cannot bring any peaceful and meaningful solution ……and ” we better than that ” seems to me a too big a word …..Better keep quiet and try to prove by some action ……

  • Scott Shaver

    Walking a mile in Sharia shoes is not my understanding of showing “solidarity with the oppressed.” Those who find these displays most ridiculous are Muslim women themselves.

    Why not sport an AK-47 to show solidarity with the “oppressed” child soldiers of the Congo etc? That’s the kind of reason being employed IMO.

  • Jesus was clear about true religion. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6) We need to be giving the gospel to those involved in false, man made religions. That is the most loving thing we could ever do. Receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Turn away from sin and false teachings and follow Him. Then you will know God’s peace and have His promise of everlasting life. God Bless

  • Debbo

    What are you talking about?

  • JC

    Where are women instructed to cover their heads in the presence of men?

  • william

    amen. I know Martha; a great person with a kind heart. but I think these acts are misguided

  • Izzy

    I was so nonplussed after listening to this woman and her husband. No wonder America gets more and more screwed up. And to think these 2 work with young people projecting this rubbish onto them. Scary!

    Her crack about the campus looking like UN day is abhorrent. She obviously is not well educated in the machinations of the UN and it’s agenda. Has she even read the Qu’ran from beginning to end? God forgive this woman.

  • Izzy

    Some of us actually do get it Jasmine. Thanks for the on spot post.

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  • Emmett

    As any student of history would know ” MODERATE NAZIS” or Shintos didn’t stop the RAPE OF NANKING or the HOLOCAUST. When telling the TRUTH becomes hate, this foolish propaganda becomes commonplace.

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  • Marvin Huddleston

    “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
    “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
    Therefore* go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
    and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
    and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
    says the Lord Almighty.””

    2 Cor 6:14-18

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  • Ross Kardon

    There are no Muslims wearing crosses in solidarity with Christians. There are no Muslims wearing Stars of David in solidarity with Jews.

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  • mark

    So she does not even know the difference between the Spirit of God and the spirit of satan.

    Nor does that fake paster of course.

    How many will die because of her parroting willfull ignorance and the lies of muslims to disguise the evil nature of islam (quran, hadith and sunna)?

    Two idiots assisting what culminates in our genocide because they have lots of muslims friends who lie to them.

  • Spuddie

    The only one speaking evil here is you.p Paranoid disparagement of another faith, casting aspersions on the character , panicky hyperbole. Mark you strike me as someone who barely knows their own faith, let alone anything about Islam or Muslims. My guess is you get all your info about it from hate groups like Pamela Gellar’s. People who are doing the work for islamicists.

  • Spuddie

    Catholic priests, Fundamentalist Mormons, and Quiverfull followers must seethe with jealousy over such stories. How come they get prosecuted over things like this when it was so common in ancient times?

    Just remember more Republican politicians and Christian preachers have been arrested for lewd conduct in public restrooms than transsexuals. 🙂