After contending that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, suspended hijab-wearing Wheaton College Political Science Professor Laycia Hawkins rejected an offer from school officials after their move to take away her two-years of tenure.
Last week, the first African American professor to be tenured at Wheaton was put on administrative leave for her Facebook post on December 10 proclaiming “we worship the same God” — in a supposed attempt to bring Christians and Muslims together. After her suspension, Hawkins informed the Chicago Tribune that she believes the Christian higher education institution in Illinois is planning for her termination and that talks with the school have stalled.
Not happy with the school’s reconciliation proposal, the controversial professor stood her ground, saying that she would not accept the offer that would have let her return to teach in the Fall 2016 semester on the stipulation that she forfeit her two years of tenure.
The 43-year-old professor told the media Monday that she was upset with Wheaton’s attempt at reconciliation, saying she initially believed the school would give her a better offer before the negotiations stopped for the time being.
"I was naively thinking they wanted to cooperate," Hawkins expressed, according to the Christian Post. "I have tenure, and I have to fight for that."
Corroborating the professor’s account that discussions over the matter have stalled, Wheaton officials issued a public statement Tuesday that things would not likely move forward until after New Year’s.
"Both parties are in discussions toward a final and comprehensive resolution," Wheaton College stated. "Because of the arrival of the Christmas holidays, however, it will be some time before the contours of that resolution are solidified."
Do Christian professors have a right to unbiblical expressions?
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the head of a nonprofit group that represents workers is working with Hawkins. Arise Chicago Director of Operations Shelly Ruzicka contends that the professor submitted a required theological statement to Wheaton after being suspended, but she expressed that school officials are more likely to fire her than restore her tenure.
"Talks have broken down at Wheaton,” Ruzicka explained in an email. “Hawkins submitted her theological statement as requested by the College. However, her suspension still stands, and it appears that the College is moving toward terminating her employment. Dr. Hawkins stands by her actions, and is continuing her act of Christian embodied solidarity.”
Hawkins argues her belief that the God of Christianity and the god of Islam are one and the same does not violate the school’s theological stance.
“As Hawkins has stood by her belief that Muslims and Christians worship the same God and also feels that her belief does not violate Wheaton's statement of faith, Hawkins said that although her theological statement seemed to satisfy Provost Stanton Jones, she was told that there still needs to be more theological discussions with the board of trustees,” Christian Post’s Samuel Smith reported. “Hawkins told the school that she is done arguing about theology.”
Wheaton College had this to say about the status of the matter:
"On the part of the College, further theological clarification is necessary before such reconciliation can take place, and unfortunately Hawkins has stated clearly her unwillingness to participate in such further clarifying conversations," Wheaton officials stated. "This represents an impasse on our efforts toward reconciliation."
But there hav reportedly been confrontations between Hawkins and administration in the past.
“This is not the first time that Hawkins has been at odds with the Wheaton administration, as she has been asked to affirm the college's statement of faith four times in her nine years at Wheaton,” Smith added. “Hawkins was once admonished for writing a paper on what Christians can learn from black liberation theology. She was also admonished for a photo posted to Facebook that showed her at a party in Chicago during the same day as a Chicago gay pride parade and again last spring when she suggested that curriculums should include diplomatic vocabulary for talking about sexuality.”
Holding to her views that most evangelical Christians recognize as unbiblical, Hawkins stresses that she won’t stop fighting for her colleague’s so-called “rights.”
"I may get nothing out of this," Hawkins noted about her fight for her tunure. "This is about standing up for my colleagues. If I can be thrown under the statement of faith bus, so can they. Everyone is cast under a cloud of suspicion. If they say the wrong thing, how does one know?"