Over 800 Wheaton College alumni have signed a letter stating they will consider withholding donations from their alma mater if the administration does not end its termination proceedings against political science professor Larycia Hawkins.
Earlier this month, the evangelical Christian college started the firing process against Hawkins. She was put on administrative leave last month after stating in a Facebook post that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
On December 10, Hawkins posted a Facebook comment saying she would wear a Hijab during Advent in solidarity with Muslims.
"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," she wrote. "And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God."
Hawkins was placed on administrative leave December 15 as a result of "theological statements that seem inconsistent with Wheaton College's doctrinal convictions," the college said in a statement. In announcing its recommendation to dismiss Hawkins, the college said both parties had reached an impasse over discussions "about the theological implications of her public statements."
In their letter, the Wheaton College alumni said they will reconsider their financial support of the institution if the administration does not halt Hawkin's firing process.
Here's text of the alumni letter to Wheaton College:
Dear President Ryken, Provost Jones, and Wheaton College Board of Trustees,
We write you as Wheaton College alumni, uniting our voices and prayers in support of Dr. Larycia Hawkins.
It is clear through the outpouring of public support that current students and alumni hold Dr. Hawkins with high esteem, as do Wheaton faculty and staff.
However, the unprecedented manner in which administration questioned and scrutinized Dr. Hawkins's explanation of donning the hijab as an expression of her embodied solidarity with Muslim women during Advent, and her subsequent written theological response to Provost Jones's concerns, brings us to seriously question Wheaton's judgment and will to engage in discourse about complex and important issues of our time with civility and integrity. This is not the Wheaton we know.
We are particularly concerned by how administration:
* Treated Dr. Hawkins differently from other faculty who publicly expressed their respect and support for Muslims;
* Placed Dr. Hawkins on "Administrative Leave" when no such category is stated in the Faculty Handbook;
* Failed to provide any substantial basis for suggesting revocation of Dr. Hawkins's tenure and requiring her repeated affirmation of Wheaton's Statement of Faith since she started teaching in 2007;
* Has seemingly held Dr. Hawkins to an unprecedented level of repeated scrutiny, not experienced by any other tenured faculty member; and
* Failed to uphold Biblical guidelines for dealing with conflict, specifically by sending other faculty to speak with Dr. Hawkins, instead of the administration speaking with her directly.
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that all termination proceedings against Dr. Hawkins cease immediately, that she be fully reinstated as a tenured Associate Professor of Political Science, and for administration to issue a public acknowledgement for the grave institutional missteps that have irreparably damaged Dr. Hawkins's reputation within the academy and credibility among evangelical Christians. Until full restoration and reconciliation are reached, each of us will prayerfully re-consider our commitment to financially support the mission of Wheaton College.
It is our sincere hope that administration will act with humility and contrition and show the world a better path, by inaugurating intentional discussions to clarify and resolve any issues in dispute, for the good of Wheaton College and for Christ and His kingdom.