Wheaton College suspends tenured, Christian professor over hijab

Wheaton College, the same school that canceled its student health insurance plans rather than let the government arrange for their students to have health insurance plans that cover birth control, has suspended a tenured member of its faculty following her decision to wear a hijab in solidarity with Muslims facing heightened bigotry in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Wheaton College, via Stevan Sheets / Flickr

Wheaton College, via Stevan Sheets / Flickr

Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor at the private evangelical Christian college in Chicago’s west suburbs, announced last week that she would wear the veil to show support for Muslims who have been under greater scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she posted on Facebook.

But it was that explanation of her gesture that concerned some evangelical Christians, who read her statement as a conflation of Christian and Muslim theology.

“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,” Wheaton College said in a statement.

Well, yeah. There are fundamental differences between the faiths. That’s why they have different books, traditions, rituals and (spoiler alert) names. That doesn’t mean Christians can’t show compassion for those who aren’t on their team, does it? I thought that was the whole point.

And while Wheaton isn’t affiliated with the Catholic Church, so this may carry slightly less weight, didn’t the Vatican just recently announce that Jews, despite not believing in Jesus, can go to Heaven? Because of, among other things, their monotheistic roots?

Oh, right. The Vatican didn’t invite Muslims to that party, either.

Once again, Wheaton College’s administrators are being jerks for the sake of being jerks. And once again, some of Christianity’s practitioners have a better handle on the concept of compassion than the bureaucracies that act in its name.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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