Wheaton College has put on leave and threatened to fire Dr. Larycia Hawkins for saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Wheaton alumnus Tobin Grant suggests that the college, the “Harvard of evangelicalism,” has made a serious misstep in charging the professor of political science this way. More than three weeks after Grant’s first report, he details how the school seems to be making a host of errors in how it it is treating Professor Hawkins, an African-American Christian.
Professor Hawkins did more than make a theological truth claim. She also spent a week dressing with the Muslim ‘hijab,’ commonly known as a headscarf for Muslim women. She did so out of solidarity for Muslim women, and she wasn’t the only one. On special occasions last month, women clergy in Utah from Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian traditions wore the hijab, as did students in a Salt Lake City high school. But now progressive Muslim women are objecting, decrying the hijab (“never a headscarf” and its popularity).
The upside to the Larycia Hawkins story may be a new serious dialogue about the hijab and whether non-Muslims or even Muslims should wear it. Wheaton College was not particularly troubled about the piece of clothing. But her symbolic act released a digital torrent of response about the hijab, who wears it, and why – including articles by progressive Muslim women who decry the hijab (“never a headscarf”) and its popularity. Go here for more than two dozen related stories, most of them by Muslim women.
While these intrafaith quarrels attract major media, it is easy to miss the continuing interfaith oppression in so many countries. For instance, in spite of Pakistani leaders promoting good interfaith relations, the pressure against minority religions seems inexorable. Aljezeera reports that “Islamabad’s Christian Slums Face Demolition.”
Public Sector Encouraging a Healthy Interfaith Culture
Most cities around the world today, demographically, are multicultural and interreligious. When non-religious agencies, such as schools, local government, or secular nonprofits, do good work, interreligious acquaintances can become interfaith friends. Strangers who discover shared values and concerns can become collaborators.