Former Wheaton College professor talks about ‘same God’ controversy

By Bian Elkhatib


he controversy started when then Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins wore a hijab during advent two months ago and said Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Her actions made national headlines after Wheaton — an Evangelical Christian college — chose to suspend Hawkins. In early February, Hawkins and Wheaton parted ways.

On Wednesday night, Hawkins spoke at First United Methodist Church at Chicago Temple at an event hosted by the Chicago Sunday Evening Club. She talked about her “same God” statement with Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. When she made the “same God” statement, and attributed it to Pope Francis, it triggered a rich theological debate.

Hawkins, a Christian, also spoke about her act of wearing the hijab, something she said is “embodied solidarity.” Tabassum Haleem, the executive director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), was in the audience. She wears the hijab and said Hawkins’ act was “very touching.”

Haleem said she appreciates that Hawkins didn’t just “walk the walk.”

“There are very few people who rise up to that level of practicing what they preach,” she said.

Photo at top: Former Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins wipes a tear when discussing anti-Muslim comments made by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. (Bian Elkhatib/MEDILL)