Wheaton College in Illinois has declined to “organize open and honest debate of world-level religious scholars/leaders” on the topic of “Do we all worship the same God?”, as urged by religious statesman Rajan Zed.
Wheaton President Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, in an email to Zed, wrote “at present we do not plan”, but thanked Zed for “this thoughtful suggestion and offer to help” and added “Wheaton College is grateful for your message”.
On December 15 Wheaton placed tenured Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Alaine Hawkins (on faculty since 2007) on paid administrative leave because of “…her recently expressed views, including that Muslims and Christians worship the same God…”.
Dr. Hawkins, whose active research projects include “Jesus and Justice” and who calls herself Christian, in her Facebook post on December 10, talking about Muslims, wrote:
And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI reportedly stated on September 14, 2012: Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe in one God, the Creator of all men and women.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, had said that debate would be good exercise for Wheaton which claims about itself “where the pursuit of faith and learning is taken seriously” and boasts of “programs that educate the whole person”. Moreover, it would be beneficial for the faithful of the world also to come nearer to the truth.
Rajan Zed had also said that this global debate should try to arrive at the conclusion whether Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Confucians, Taoists, Baha’is, Shinto, Jains, Zoroastrians, etc., ultimately worship the same God (though by different names) or totally different gods.
Zed had urged Ryken and Wheaton Trustees Chairman Dr. David K. Gieser to urgently organize this God debate for theological clarity and removing confusions from the minds of many, as Wheaton claimed to be “an academic community within a shared framework of faith that values a robust exchange of ideas…on the critical issues of the day”.
Moreover, it would be good for the institutional identity of Wheaton (established 1860) as it rejected “religious prejudice”; Rajan Zed had noted and added that he would be glad to help Wheaton in debate organization, if asked.