There is a deeply disturbing controversy at Wheaton College where Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor of political science at Wheaton College, has been suspended after she wore a hijab throughout Advent as an act of “solidarity with my Muslim sisters.” Hawkins is Christian but believed that her Christian Advent values called for her to extend his symbol of kindness and support to Muslims. On Facebook, she wrote “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.” That caused an outrage and her ultimately suspension.
Some viewed the statement as conflating Christian and Muslim faiths, even though Muslims regard Jesus as a prophet of God. Wheaton College would have none of it: “While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation and the life of prayer.”
Hawkins was going to take off the Hijab at Christmas and said that it’s “a time of real vitriolic rhetoric by fellow Christians sometimes and people who aren’t Christian who conflate all Muslims with terrorist — and that saddens me — so this is a way of saying if all women wear the hijab we cannot discriminate. If all women were in solidarity, who is the real Muslim? How is TSA going to decide who they really suspect?”
The fact is that this is not a violation of the First Amendment because the college is not a state actor. It is a religious based institution that has a right to set its own rules based on that faith. I simply believe that the college is wrong and has taken a message of solidarity and replaced it with a message of intolerance. Moreover, the statement being attacked was made on social media by this academic. I have previously written about the increasing monitoring and discipline of teachers for conduct in their private lives. We have seen teachers face discipline over social media pictures holding a weapon. Even a picture of a teacher holding a glass of a drink is enough to trigger discipline.
Wheaton College stressed that Hawkins should have cleared any statements or actions in advance, raising concerns over the right to free speech for teachers. The college said “Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity. As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”
Source: Chicago Tribune