Via Chicago Tribune:
Roughly 30 supporters of Larycia Hawkins demonstrated on the steps of Edman Memorial Chapel at Wheaton College on Ash Wednesday, pledging to fast for the 40 days of Lent in a call to the Wheaton community and evangelical Christian institutions nationwide to “confess and repent of the sins of racism, sexism and Islamophobia.”
“We believe that there’s a possibility of a better Wheaton,” said the Rev. Peter Heltzel, a Wheaton College alumnus and associate professor of theology at New York Theological Seminary. “For we love our school. We know that what happened to professor Hawkins just ain’t right. But we believe that a better Wheaton is possible.”
At the same time, Hawkins and Wheaton College President Philip Ryken were holding a joint news conference in Chicago, attempting to lower the curtain on the controversy that has unfolded since the former political science professor in December posted a photo of herself on Facebook wearing a hijab to show support for Muslims who had been under scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. She called her gesture an act of “embodied solidarity.”
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she had explained in a Facebook post. “And as Pope Francis stated … we worship the same God.”
Within days, the college placed Hawkins on paid administrative leave through the spring semester, pending a review. According to the administration, not clarifying what makes Christianity distinct from Islam put Hawkins in conflict with Wheaton’s statement of faith, 12 theological points that all Wheaton faculty must affirm. By January, Provost Stanton Jones sought to fire her.
Last weekend, he apologized for acting in haste and the college announced a separation agreement.