College begins effort to fire professor for comment on Islam

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2016 7:37 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — Officials of a Christian college in suburban Chicago on Tuesday said they have begun efforts to fire a professor who was placed on leave after asserting that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Wheaton College announced its action against Larycia Hawkins in a statement on its website, saying Provost Stanton Jones initiated the termination-for-cause proceeding after Hawkins refused to participate in "clarifying conversations" about theological issues.

The private evangelical school west of Chicago said it placed Hawkins on paid administrative leave in December because of theological statements "that seem inconsistent with Wheaton College's doctrinal convictions, which she voluntarily agreed to support and uphold when she entered into an employment agreement with the college." Hawkins also had begun wearing a hijab, the headscarf worn by some Muslim women, but the school has said that is not why she was placed on leave.

Hawkins, who is a Christian and an associate professor of political science, began wearing a hijab to counter what she called the recent "vitriolic" rhetoric against Muslims. She told reporters last month that her actions "were motivated by a desire to live out my faith."

The college said it has had frank conversations with Hawkins on doctrinal issues as it pursued the possibility of reconciliation with her but that "Hawkins has stated clearly her unwillingness to participate in such further clarifying conversations."

A spokeswoman for Hawkins, Shelly Ruzicka, said the professor wouldn't immediately comment on the effort to fire her but that it comes as she as Hawkins "maintains Christian support for the Muslim community amid the ongoing anti-Muslim climate."