A lot of people wonder what would happen to Jesus if he lived in today's world. I know one thing. They wouldn't allow him to enroll at Wheaton College in Illinois, where any Christian-like gestures to "Muslims" are greeted with severe punishment.
Wheaton College in Illinois (not Massachusetts) is a religious institution founded by Wesleyans, who are an evangelical Protestant religious group, which traces its heritage to John Wesley. Wesley is the founder of the Methodist movement, which came out of the Church of England in the mid-1700s.
Last month, an African American Christian professor at Wheaton College, Larycia Hawkins, posted a statement on her Facebook Page showing support for Muslims who were being victimized by racism in America. Many Americans wrongly blame all Muslims for the acts of extremists who unjustifiably claim authority to speak for Islam.
Hawkins, who is a "friend" of mine on Facebook, posted this statement on Dec. 10: "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."
She also posted a picture of herself wearing a Hijab, the headscarf that some Muslim women wear to show modesty. A Hijab is not a Berqa, and it does not cover the woman's face. But it has become the symbol of American racist anger towards Muslims. A hijab is much like the headscarves worn by Christian women.
Hawkins was immediately suspended by the college. The administration made it clear that the reason they suspended her was for expressing the opinion that Christians and Muslims "worship the same God."
Apparently, not everyone at Wheaton College is educated about Islam at all, and they believe that "Allah" is a separate God from Jehovah, whom Christians worship, or Yahweh, whom Jews worship.
In reality, of course, Muslims do believe in the same God that Christians and Jews believe in. There are many differences. Muslims are to Christians what Christians are to Jews.
Muslims recognize and worship the same Biblical prophets that Christians and Jews worship. They include Adam, Abraham and Moses. And while Jews don't believe in Jesus, Mary or Joseph, Muslims do. But you won't hear many Wheaton administrators criticize Jews as believing in a different God because Wheaton embraces the "Judeo-Christian" fundamentals of the "One God."
Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, or that Mary was a Virgin. Instead, they believe that the same God of Christians and Jews spoke with Mohammed, as he did so many others in the Christian and Jewish faiths during Biblical Times, and directed him to lead people back to his faith.
The words of God were revealed to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel, the same one Christians recognize, over a 23-year period sometime around the middle of the 6th Century in Arabia and Jerusalem.
The Quran (Qu'ran) was actually written in Arabic after Mohammed's death by his followers, and is used today as the foundation of the Islamic religion.
I don't need a degree from Wheaton College to know that it sounds like that is the same God to me.
As a Christian, whose mother is from Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, I find it very disturbing and unChristian-like for anyone who claims to be a Christian to punish another Christian who expresses compassion for other people who might not be of the same religion.
That's what Wheaton College has done. But it's not only because Wheaton is Wesleyan. Wheaton College has a history of racism against African Americans who have complained of discrimination at the college.
But the racism Wheaton College has shown to Professor Watkins really reflects the growing animosity that many American Christians have against Muslims, an animosity that is driven by several things.
Lack of education is significant here, which is surprising because Wheaton College is supposed to be a center of academic enlightenment.
Most American racists are simply ignorant of facts, history and events. They are driven by stereotypes and fears of people who are different. These Christian racists hate Muslims as much as they hate Black people, and other people of color. The conflicts in the Middle East only give this racist character of many American Christians a greater urgency.
But Wheaton College doesn't seem to care. They believe, as do most evangelicals, that one day Jesus will come back to this Earth and "save" them, while sending everyone else — non-believers like Jews, Muslims and Christians of differing denominations — to eternal damnation and the fires of Hell.
So they are comfortable in their hate. Which is why this week, they announced they were firing Professor Hawkins for her blasphemous Facebook opinions.
It's Wheaton College that should be punished and denied any public taxpayer support for their institution, their faculty and their students.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist, managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, and writer at Al Jazeera English. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.