Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school, has suspended a political science professor who vowed earlier this week to wear a hijab to work during the Advent to stand in religious solidarity with Muslims.
The college, based in the Chicago suburbs, said it placed Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins on administrative leave because of "significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements" she made about Islam and Christianity.
The statement Tuesday did not refer to the professor's vow to wear a hijab, but said faculty and staff must "speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College's evangelical Statement of Faith."
In a statement Wednesday, college president Dr. Philip Ryken said Wheaton 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.
"We support the protection of all Americans including the right to the free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States."
Hawkins drew attention via a Facebook post on Dec. 10 when she declared that she stood in religious solidarity with Muslims because "they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," and that as part of her Advent worship she would be wearing a hijab " to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church."
Advent is the period in the Christian calendar that comprises the four Sundays ahead of Christmas Eve.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Hawkins thanked "new friends, old friends, and colleagues" for their support, and signed off with: "Your sister in solidarity with the hijab."
Hawkins, a graduate of Rice University and the University of Oklahoma, has been on faculty at Wheaton since 2007.