wheaton college

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool

A day after his first speech to Congress, President Trump was still basking in unexpected praise from the public and some pundits, who saw in his delivery a man who finally came across as measured in tone and downright “presidential,” as some put it, even if his few policy prescriptions reiterated the hard line, nationalist agenda that propelled him to office.

But there is one key constituency that might not be as enamored with the address: social conservatives, whose support was arguably most critical to Trump’s election.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

“God raised up, I believe, Donald Trump,” said former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann after he won the GOP nomination. “God showed up,” the Rev. Franklin Graham said to cheers at a post-election rally. “God came to me, in a dream last night, and said that Trump is his chosen candidate,” said the televangelist Creflo Dollar.

For those who share this view, Trump’s victory was nothing short of miraculous, especially given that he beat out 16 other in the Republican primaries — some of them evangelical Christians with long political resumes.

Image via RNS/Wikimedia Commons/Christoffer Lukas Müller

Exit polls suggest 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for President-elect Donald Trump.

But support for Trump may have been less decisive on Christian college campuses, where most students are also white evangelicals.

Washington Post/ABC News poll, before the election, found the views of younger adults do not align with some older ones, when it comes to their beliefs about Trump supporters.

Image via /Shutterstock.com

The study comes in the same year that Larycia Hawkins — Wheaton College’s first black, female professor to receive tenure — parted ways with the evangelical flagship school after she posted on Facebook that both Christians and Muslims worship the “same God.” The controversy stirred fresh debate among evangelicals about whether all religions worship the same God, and whether God accepts the worship of all religions.

Image via REUTERS/Frank Polich/RNS

Gay students, supporters, and alumni at Wheaton College, a top evangelical Christian school that counts former House Speaker Dennis Hastert among its most famous grads, have told the administration they are “stunned” the college has not condemned the sexual abuse of boys that Hastert admitted committing when he was sentenced last Wednesday for fraud in trying to cover up the abuse.

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“One of the things I really see happening is as Christians in America, evangelicals are losing their cultural dominance, and I see a lot of fear associated with that. I see a lot of anger. I guess that’s almost like a god of dominance,” Midgett said. “And that’s in contrast to the god of suffering, the god who comes as a servant to die for us. Those two things are really two completely different paradigms.”

Larycia Hawkins, who left Wheaton College in the wake of controversy over her statement that Christians and Muslims worship one God, has a new gig: a fellowship named for a Muslim military hero.

The University of Virginia announced March 3 that she will join its Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture as the “Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow,” named for a 19th-century Algerian leader who was committed to intercultural dialogue.

Image via Twitter/@AriseChicago

“Justice looks like a change in leadership,” Wyatt Harms, recent graduate and founding editor of the student online publication Wheaton Tide, wrote.

“Justice at Wheaton looks like a recognition of its discrimination and a concrete plan to address its systemic deficiencies. Justice looks like the hiring and retaining of women faculty and faculty of color. Justice looks like an independent review of this controversy free from the biased hands of the administration and the board of trustees. Justice looks like public apologies from Dr. Jones and Dr. Ryken, in which they admit their prejudices. Justice looks like this situation never happening again.”

Image from Sojourners' timeline of the Wheaton-Hawkins controversy.

How did Wheaton get here? Here are the highlights (and more than one little-publicized anecdote) into one timeline.

Lisa Sharon Harper 2-09-2016

Hawkins' act of solidarity with scapegoated people of Islamic faith — wearing a hijab on campus — and her Facebook statement that Christians and Muslims worship the same God struck a nerve within Wheaton College’s white, politically conservative administration. Ultimately, the public act of solidarity challenged the assumption of white, male, Christian supremacy — the assumption that whites, men, and Christians are more human than anyone else.

the Web Editors 2-06-2016

After Provost Stanton Jones issued an apology to Dr. Larycia Hawkins, Wheaton College and Dr. Hawkins released a joint statement on February 6 announcing that they will part ways.

The statement indicated they found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation.

Sandi Villarreal 1-26-2016

Dr. Larycia Hawkins — the Wheaton College professor who recently was placed on administrative leave because of her Facebook comments showing solidarity with the Muslim community and saying Christians and Muslims worship the ‘same God’ — has been at the epicenter of much speculation over the future of both Christian liberal arts and the evangelical faith writ large. The administration maintains that her comments seemed to be inconsistent with the college’s Statement of Faith, and earlier this month provost Stan Jones delivered a recommendation to the president to initiate termination. A hearing before the Faculty Personnel Committee on Feb. 11 will result in a recommendation to the president and board of trustees on how to move forward.

Tripp Hudgins 1-14-2016
Edman Chapel at Wheaton College

Edman Chapel at Wheaton College, by Joseph Palatinus / Flickr.com

You’ve read it in multiple places and from various sources: Things aren’t what they once were. From Barna to Butler Bass, we have been told time and time again that the American religious landscape has changed — the times have changed, the people have changed, Christian concerns have changed.

But are our institutions, specifically our institutions of higher learning, ready to change?

the Web Editors 1-11-2016
Image via Twitter

On Jan. 11, the first day of spring semester classes at Wheaton College, some students are protesting the termination of the professor who said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Student concerns are ongoing surrounding the circumstances of Professor Hawkins' review and termination process. Some have taken to Twitter in protest using the hashtag #ReinstateDocHawk:

the Web Editors 1-08-2016

1. WATCH: Gun Owner (and Vice President) Joe Biden Clears Up Apparent Confusion on Obama’s Executive Orders

No … Obama’s not taking your guns.

2. Sandra Bland’s Family: Trooper Perjury Charge a ‘Slap on the Wrist’

"Where is the indictment for the assault, the battery, the false arrest?"

3. Open Letter to the Leadership of #Urbana15 and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Add your voice to the growing list of people of faith saying “thank you!” to InterVarsity for supporting Black Lives Matter.

David Vanderveen 1-07-2016

Protests outside Wheaton's student union in 1990 after Wheaton administration took punitive action against Vanderveen and other students involved in publishing an underground newspaper called The Ice Cream Socialist. Photo courtesy by Carlos Vergara

What do we lose when we trade our humanity for social stereotypes rationalized by religious dogma?

That question is at the heart of an ongoing discussion my son, a junior at Kenyon College, and I are having around the recent suspension of a tenured Wheaton College professor, Larycia Hawkins, for wearing a hijab during Advent and stating publicly (via her personal Facebook page) that Muslims and Christians worship the same god.

Wheaton College

Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, Stevan Sheets / Flickr.com

What is revealed to the world at the Epiphany in the Incarnation is that God’s language to the world is embodied Love. Jesus, whom Muslims revere as a prophet, is the message of God’s love for those who were previously deemed beyond love’s boundaries. What Jesus reveals through his life, death, and resurrection is that it is we humans who cast out, and God who draws in. God’s love excludes no one. Jesus is God’s revelation that Love has no boundaries.

Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins says she is “flummoxed and flabbergasted” by the evangelical flagship’s decision to begin dismissal proceedings against her for expressing the belief that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Speaking at a press conference in the sanctuary of Chicago’s First United Methodist Church on Jan. 6, Hawkins reiterated that she has not wavered from the college’s statement of faith.

“Wheaton College cannot scare me into walking away from the truth (that) all humans — Muslims, the vulnerable, the oppressed of any ilk ­— are all my sisters and brothers, and I am called by Jesus to walk with them,” she said.

Nate Haken 12-22-2015

A women's fellowship in Rikkos, Jos, Nigeria. Image via Mike Blyth/Flickr

Maybe, as my alma mater Wheaton College would contend, it really is about doctrinal precision. Maybe for the sake of intellectual and spiritual integrity, there is a need to parry the ontological and epistemological arguments and counter-arguments, to determine the appropriate professional future of Dr. Larycia Hawkins, who dared to say on her Facebook page on Dec. 10 that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” But these issues look and feel differently in a place like Jos, Nigeria — where I was born to American missionary parents, six thousand miles from Wheaton’s campus chapel.

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