Wheaton College should withdraw its suspension and possible firing of a professor who stated publicly that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, concluded the Evangelical school's Faculty Council.
In a unanimous decision made earlier this week, the Faculty Council concluded that Dr. Larycia Hawkins, known as the "Hijab Professor" for her decision to wear a hijab in solidarity with Muslims during Advent, should be allowed to return to work.
New Testament Professor Lynn Cohick, chair of the Faculty Council, sent an email to the entire faculty of Wheaton with this recommendation expressed.
"Faculty Council unanimously recommended to administration that the administrative leave and the notification of termination 'for cause' of Dr. Larycia Hawkins be withdrawn due to grave concerns about the process," wrote Cohick.
In December, Wheaton suspended Hawkins for claiming in a Facebook post that she believed that Christians and Muslims worship "the same God."
Wheaton officials released a statement explaining that Hawkins' remark about Islam and Christianity having the same deity had "theological implications."
"In response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements that Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins has made about the relationship of Christianity to Islam, Wheaton College has placed her on administrative leave, pending the full review to which she is entitled as a tenured faculty member," stated Wheaton.
"As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College's evangelical Statement of Faith."
Professor Gary Burge, a New Testament scholar, and member of the faculty council, told the Chicago Tribune that he expects the administration to rescind Hawkins' suspension.
"The only way forward is to go back to the beginning where this whole thing started with Larycia," he said. "My own feeling is that the college will find the courage to rescind the leave of absence."
Hawkins, through an opinion column published by The Huffington Post, pleaded for "unity in our diversity of views about" various theological matters.
"Whether or not you find this position, one held for centuries by countless Christians (church fathers, saints, and regular Christian folk like), to be valid," wrote Hawkins in December, "I trust that we can peacefully disagree on theological points and affirm others like the Triune God (albeit there are differences here as well — Athanasian Creed, anyone?), the virgin birth (or Immaculate Conception depending on your persuasion), and the Resurrection."
Regarding the Faculty Council's recommendation, Wheaton College released a statement Thursday noting that the institution "respects the viewpoints of its Faculty Council."
"The next step in this process is a hearing before the Faculty Personnel Committee. The Faculty Personnel Committee [on Feb. 11] will receive presentations from the Provost and Dr. Hawkins regarding the substantive and procedural issues each would like to raise, will review the evidence presented, and will make a formal recommendation regarding the termination of tenure," continued the administration.
"The Faculty Personnel Committee's recommendation will then be taken into consideration by President Ryken, as he makes his recommendation to the Board of Trustees."