Franklin Graham Says Wheaton College, Where His Parents Met, Must Fire Hijab-Wearing Professor

Franklin Graham, head of international relief organization Samaritan's Purse, visits one of the organization's cholera treatment centers in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, January 8, 2011. | (Photo: Reuters/Allison Shelley)

The Rev. Franklin Graham says he's "deeply concerned" about reports that the Faculty Council at Wheaton College has made a recommendation against the move to terminate a tenured professor who suggested that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

"Both my father Billy Graham and my mother attended Wheaton College in Illinois — in fact that's where they met. I'm surprised and disappointed that the faculty council there is now recommending the college drop their plans to terminate a professor who published that she believed Islam and Christianity worship the same God in December," Graham wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.

"This is no minor issue that should be debated. Islam denies that God has a Son. They deny that Jesus is God," he added.

"They do not believe in a Triune God — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I can tell you — Islam and Christianity clearly do not worship the same God. How the faculty council can now support this professor being allowed to teach students is deeply concerning."

Wheaton College said in a statement, however, that while it respects the viewpoints of its Faculty Council, it remains committed to the Faculty Personnel Committee hearing as the method through which the particulars of Hawkins' personnel matter will be addressed.

Associate political science professor Larycia Hawkins ignited intense debate last year after she chose to wear a hijab in solidarity with Muslims. She also suggested that Christians and Muslims worship the same God in a Facebook post, which lead to Wheaton College Provost Stanton Jones recommending termination proceedings.

The punishment did not sit well with a number of Wheaton alumni, however, and close to 815 of them signed a letter declaring that they will cease their financial support for the institution unless it reconsiders its stance.

The Washington Post then reported late last week that Wheaton's faculty council unanimously voted to recommend that the college's leadership reverse its decision to have Hawkins fired.

There have also been student protests in support of Hawkins, though others have stood by the college's decision.

On her part, Hawkins has attempted to explain her theological argument by submitting a four-page statement to Jones, where she insisted that she is a deeply committed Christian.

"I understand that Islam (and Judaism) denies the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and leaves no room for the Cross and the Resurrection, but my statement is not a statement on soteriology or trinitarian theology, but one of embodied piety," she wrote in her argument.

"When I say that 'we worship the same God,' I am saying what Stackhouse points out, namely that 'when pious Muslims pray, they are addressing the One True God, and that God is, simply, God.'"

Graham has strongly spoken out against Hawkins before as well, calling her arguments "absolutely wrong," and claiming that she "doesn't know her Bible and she doesn't know Islam."

"The God of the Bible sent His Son to Earth to die in our place and save us from our sins. The god of Islam requires you to die for him to be sure that you're going to Heaven. That's a huge difference — and there are many more examples," Graham wrote in December.

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