The Rev. Franklin Graham has harshly criticized a political science professor at Wheaton College who was placed on administrative leave after wearing a hijab to show solidarity with Muslims, saying she "obviously doesn't know her Bible or Islam."
According to the Chicago Tribune, Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor at the private evangelical Christian college, announced last week she would wear the hijab to demonstrate support for Muslims in the aftermath of the shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, California. She also used the move to prove that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
To ensure she didn't offend Muslims, Hawkins, 43, reportedly sought advice from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. She explained that she donned the hijab as part of her Advent devotion until Christmas, and wore it on her flight home to Oklahoma where voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning Islamic Sharia law in 2010, according to the Tribune.
On Wednesday, Graham, 64, took to Facebook to share his thoughts on the issue.
"Can you believe this Wheaton College professor who says she's going to wear a hijab for the holidays this year to show solidarity with Islam? Shame on her! She said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God," the evangelist wrote. "Well she is absolutely wrong-she obviously doesn't know her Bible and she doesn't know Islam."
Graham went on to highlight several differences between Islam and Christianity: "The God of the Bible, has a Son named Jesus Christ. The god of Islam doesn't have a son, and even the thought of that would be sacrilegious to Muslims. 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!"
In a statement released on its website, Wheaton College emphasized it has "no stated position on the wearing of headscarves as a gesture of care and concern for those in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution." However, Wheaton's administration explained that it chose to suspend Hawkins due to concerns that the move lacked theological clarity.
"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," the school said in a statement.
"Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution's faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity," the College continued. "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."
In continuing his comments on Facebook, Graham went on to applaud Wheaton for putting Hawkins on administrative leave, referring to the college as one of the "the premier evangelical universities in this country" and the alma mater of his parents, renowned preacher Billy Graham and his late wife, Ruth Graham.
In turn, Hawkins posted her own statement on Facebook regarding the controversy: "This morning, I partook of the Eucharist, the culmination of the Christian liturgy where Christians through the centuries have united around a common table to practice hospitality by the eating of bread and the drinking of wine, to seek forgiveness from those we've hurt or offended, and to grant forgiveness to ourselves and to others. It is a table of reconciliation-both spiritual reconciliation and relational reconciliation."
She continued, "Since I recently embarked on #embodiedsolidarity with women who wear the hijab (#wish), I've received pushback almost exclusively from other Christians. The pushback has primarily centered on the claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. In the spirit of the unity of what Christians term the body of Christ, I would like to respond-but will not reply to comments on an internecine dispute that arose rather recently in the history of the church..."
"The apostle Paul declares, "...as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18). That includes those of you who now count me apostate for daring to call fellow humans who happen to be Muslim my brothers and sisters. I love you with the power of the love that saved me and keeps me and bids me do justice in my body...
Your sister in the hijab,