The Wheaton College Faculty Council has unanimously recommended that the college administration withdraw their efforts to fire Dr. Larycia Hawkins. This development comes after a month of controversy stemming from Dr. Hawkins’ public expression of solidarity with Muslims and her statement that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. But, despite the showing of support from the Faculty Council, Dr. Hawkins must still face the inquisition presented by the Faculty Personnel Committee, the College President, and the Board of Trustees.
Like millions of people around the world, I do not have a profound understanding of theology. I am just a common (wo)man with a bit of a common sense and an appetite for justice. And that is why and how I write today — not personally as a Christian, a Muslim, a Zoroastrian, or a Jew — but as a human being who cares deeply about justice.
As a third person to the events surrounding Dr. Hawkins, I cannot possibly peel through all the layers of policies and agendas at Wheaton College. What I do know and understand, however, is the essence of religious belief and the appeal of religious conviction, factors that have allowed religion to thrive throughout human history.
Here is how I would rather simplistically break down the case of Dr. Hawkins if I were a Christian “judge.”
I understand Dr. Hawkins had good intentions and felt sympathy for her “Muslim neighbors” who were being targeted by Islamophobic “gestures.”
- Good intentions count: “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
- Caring for your neighbors is good: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Mind you, it’s not “love your Christian neighbor.”
- Compassion is good: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Hence: The intention of Dr. Hawkins to show compassion, empathy, and love toward her neighbors was a good thing.
I understand that good intentions must be accompanied by good actions.
- Dr. Hawkins wore a head-covering which isn’t forbidden in Christianity. In fact, Mother Mary wore one as well. 1 Corinthians 11:6 also directs women to cover their heads during worship. Whether you understand this literally or metaphorically, it’s there, and it does no harm.
- Taking action to look out for others is good: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Roman 15:1).
Hence: The actions of Dr. Hawkins were also good as she was looking out for the interests of others, including those weaker than herself, and in a way that followed the example set by Mary, numerous female saints, thousands of nuns, and many other great female figures.
I understand that Dr. Hawkins claimed that Christians and Muslims have the same God, even though Muslims do not believe in the trinity.
- There exists only ONE God.
- Seeing someone in two different ways doesn’t change who they are in reality, or make them two different entities:
If there is a book on the table and a child (A) sees three distinct pages within it, yet considers it a whole book, and another child (B) looks at the book and sees just one book with hundreds of various attributes, can it not be the same book they are looking at?
- If child A considers the book’s characteristics different (e.g. interesting) from child B (e.g. powerful), or if they love the book for different reasons, does it become a different book altogether?
Hence: since there exists only one God, seeing him in two different lights doesn’t change the fact that there is only one God. And if there is only one God, not just Muslims and Christians, but also Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and even those who don’t believe in a God, have the same God. That is to say, the same God created them, looks out for them, and calls them to himself.
Verdict: Innocent, since Dr. Hawkins followed Christian principles and the Word of God, which are much higher than the agendas of the Wheaton College administration.
“[Solidarity] is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”
— Pope Saint John Paul II, Sollicitudo rei Socialis.
About Sharmeen Farooq
Sharmeen Farooq was born in Pakistan and is now a proud Canadian and an English and History teacher. She is passionate about both writing and religion and believes that the greatest freedom in the world is having a voice, being able to stand up for what you believe in, and having the liberty to be yourself.