Hijab row professor Larycia Hawkins is to leave Wheaton College

Larycia Hawkins with Christian writer Jim Wallis of SojournersUsed with permission from Larycia Hawkins

The American professor who was widely criticised after she wore a hijab throughout Advent in solidarity with Muslims and who stated that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is to leave her Christian college.

Wheaton College, a well-known private evangelical Christian college, and Professor Larycia Hawkins have announced that "they have come together and found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation".

Wheaton College president Dr Philip Ryken said: "Wheaton College sincerely appreciates Dr Hawkins' contributions to this institution over the last nine years. We are grateful for her passionate teaching, scholarship, community service and mentorship of our students."

Dr Hawkins said: "I appreciate and have great respect for the Christian liberal arts and the ways that Wheaton College exudes that in its mission, programmes, and in the calibre of its employees and students."

In a joint statement they said that they both share a commitment to care for the oppressed and the marginalised, including those who are marginalised because of their religious beliefs, and to respectful dialogue with people of other faiths or no faith. "While parting ways, both Wheaton College and Dr Hawkins wish the best for each other in their ongoing work."

They will hold a joint press conference in Chicago on Wednesday.

Dr Hawkins was told by Stanton Jones, provost of Wheaton, that "termination-for-cause" proceedings would be begun against her after she made her statement on Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God. Then it was announced that this process had ended because of concerns about the process.

Evangelist Franklin Graham was among those who  criticised the change of mind. He wrote: "This is no minor issue that should be debated. Islam denies that God has a Son. They deny that Jesus is God. They do not believe in a Triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I can tell you – Islam and Christianity clearly do not worship the same God. How the faculty council can now support this professor being allowed to teach students is deeply concerning."

Dr Hawkins had written: "I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God. As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the 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."

After she was criticised by Graham, Dr Hawkins told Christian Today:  "Samaritan's Purse, the organisation led by Franklin Graham, has demonstrated great compassion and care for Muslim refugees in Europe where their volunteers are working tirelessly to provide compassionate, humanitarian aid. I admire the organisation's efforts to love and care for Muslims and it was from similar motivations that I chose to don the hijab during Advent."

Faculty members have spoken out vigorously in support of her.

In an interview with The Wheaton Record, Hawkins said: "My understanding of when I entered the community of Wheaton College was that we all assent to the Statement of Faith, and I assent to working at a liberal arts institution — and that's of a particularly evangelical flavour — and I assent to that with the full knowledge that...we would have disagreements on theological specifics."

She also spoke to Sojourners about why she wanted to stay at Wheaton, saying: "The point to me of the liberal arts is that it's a freedom of thought, a freedom of ideas. What this could signify is that ideas or certain kinds of ideas are dangerous, and that's lamentable — all around, whether the Christian liberal arts or the liberal arts or other institutions of higher education."