The “wokeness” epidemic has again hit the historic campus of Wheaton College, where a small but vocal group complained about a plaque, now removed, that honored slain missionaries and Wheaton alumni Jim Elliot and Ed McCully.
The historic plaque honored the men who were killed in 1956 in Ecuador, where the Auca tribe greeted the white missionaries by brutally spearing them to death. The plaque, erected by their classmates in 1964, describes the tribe as “savages” and thus offended Wheaton for the insensitive word.
Wheaton College, a private evangelical college, is home to approximately 2,800 students on a Wheaton, Illinois campus that dates back to 1860.
The late Billy Graham is among the school’s most famous alumnus.
Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute is familiar with Wheaton College and its internal fights as the culture shifts leftward. The college hired an open lesbian in 2014 only to fire her over a blog post, and the school dismissed a hijab-wearing professor (pictured below) in 2016 who had stated Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
Responding to the plaque controversy, Higgins says it is historical fact the isolated tribe that killed the missionaries was known for its violent and war-like behavior. In a blog post on the IFI website, Higgins points out that scholars have said the tribe was feared by other tribes in Ecuador for committing violence and murder even among their own people.
"The word ‘Auca’ actually means savage,” Higgins tells One New Now.
Yet the plaque proved to be too much for some students on campus.
“Plaques like that have caused pain to people,” student Catilyn Kasper told The Associated Press, “and are almost a symbol of white superiority in their very presences and in how they make people of color feel unwelcome at Wheaton.”
Higgins has defended and praised Wheaton president Phillip Ryken during past controversies but, in her latest blog post, suggests he appears to be losing to the “social justice” push on campus among professors and students.
Ryken has called the word “savage” a “pejorative” word that has been used in history to “dehumanize and mistreat Indigenous peoples around the world.”
"I happen to know there are faculty members there who are afraid of the 'woke,’” Higgins tells One News Now. “They're afraid if they speak out that they will be regarded negatively, and there will be consequences for them."