Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: Pastor Pillow Places Sunday School Teacher on Administrative Leave

flannelgraph-jeHear, O, Wheaton College!

Good morning, class! I’m Pastor Pillow!

That’s right, little Bobby. I’m your spiritual shepherd! What does that mean? It means I’m the person your mommy and daddy write big checks to every week to maintain their platinum-level parish membership. Actually, my official title is Cubic Zirconium Cathedral Ministries Chief Pastoral Officer, but it’s probably easier for you just to call me Pastor P.

No, Jordan—not Pastor Pee-Pee. Pastor P.

Excuse me, Clyde—please don’t pick your n—oh, sweet Jes—do not wipe it under the—wait, Sophie, stop, please put down your dress—Regina, yes, you can go to the potty—no, not with Jack. Lord Almighty, it’s snack time already? Now where did all the graham crackers go? Thomas, why are your pockets full of crumbs? Archie, please tell me you did not just drool all over my brand new Salvatore Ferragamo python loafers.

“Go casual,” Mrs. Pillow said. “It’s just the kids,” she said. Sigh.

Okay, boys and girls—everyone, eyes on the flannelgraph. Today, we’re going to play a little game called, “Who Convinced Ms. Stormgardner to Alter ‘Jesus Loves Me’?”

Listen, I know it was one of you. And I want all of you to know—even you, Aisha, whether or not you put down your My Little Pony coloring book to look me respectfully in the eye—that it brought me no pleasure to place Ms. Stormgardner on administrative leave from her position as Sunday School teacher. But I simply cannot permit any of you to think that we worship the same God as those Muhammadeans. Jehovah, maybe. Allah, no.

What do you mean your name is Muhammad? How did you slip past security? There are more of you?! Your parents are Chaldean Christians? From Iraq?! AND SYRIA?! Bouncing balls of Beelzebub!!

bzzz Security, this is Pastor Pillow. bzzz We’re going to need a SWAT team and the Mine Resistance Ambush Protected vehicle. bzzz And probably another box of crayons. bzzz Maybe some Fruit Roll-Ups. bzzz And some raisins—make them yogurt-covered.

Okay, Muhammad. Confess. We know it was you. Just admit that you’re the one who changed the lyrics to:

Allah Loves Me
This I know
For The Prophet
Tells me so

Great! You admit it. And I didn’t even have to hang you upside-down by your toes. Which is good, because kids tend to like that kind of thing. What do you mean, “Jesus loves me, too”? Listen, kid, you can’t have it both ways. Huh? Yeah, I have Jewish friends—lots of them. Sure, Jehovah loves them. And me. What’s the difference? Well, um…you see…

Hey, what’s that sound? Who’s in the potty room? Stop flushing over and over again—do you have any idea how much our water bill is every month? You try running a megachurch with a Jacob’s Ladder Water Park & Baptismal Slide. Sheesh, kids.

Please open your hymnals to No. 1986:

If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Jesus
And Yahweh when you call me
You can call me Allah

Normally, we present five week-in-review articles on different issues as presented by the Christian Right Media, as a way of reminding progressives of the critical need to show up at the polls on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. However, this week, we’re presenting five articles on the same subject—and not all from Christian Right Media websites. Wheaton College’s barbaric action to place political science associate professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins on administrative leave is a classic example of the rise of Neo-Crusading that progressives of all creeds and faiths must denounce.

5.  “Wheaton Professor’s Suspension is about Anti-Muslim Bigotry, not Theology,” via The Washington Post

Let’s remember how this game of “Whose God is it, Anyway?” started. Why did Dr. Hawkins don a hijab during Advent and publicly invoke Pope Francis?:

“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.”

Also, Yale theologian Miroslav Volf:

“But I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The reference is the same. The description of God is partly different.”

Dr. Hawkins was reacting to Christian fundamentalists leaders like Franklin Graham and Dictator Wannabes like Donald Trump, who are handing out hate speech pitchforks and lighting enemy-branding torches all across the United States in the wake of various acts of violence committed by misguided, fanatical Muslims. (Yet these same “leaders” fail to react equivalently when fanatical, misguided Christians commit equal acts of terror.) By the way, Dr. Hawkins isn’t the only reasonable person at Wheaton College taking a daring stand against the Christian Right’s march toward a Tenth Crusade: Read this open letter of condemnation by some rather brave Wheaton students against Falwell Jr’s call to arm against Muslims

While Dr. Hawkins’ forced leave is godawful, here’s the good news: The Unchallenged Reign of the Religious Right is over. There is a strong Progressive Christian movement in the United States, and Wheaton College has just kicked the ecumenical hornet’s nest. There are now millions of reasonable people of faith all across the country willing to stand up boldly, side-by-side with all persons of reason, and oppose the Axis of Charlatans at Acrylic Lecterns.

4.  “The Professor Suspended for Saying Muslims and Christians Worship One God” via The Atlantic

Here’s a great article by Ruth Graham on the suspension of Dr. Hawkins, which dispels dozens of clickbait articles cluttering social media that assert Dr. Hawkins’ suspension was simply because she wore a hijab. Graham makes it clear: “Wheaton’s official objection is Hawkins’s conflation of the gods of Christianity and Islam.” With or without the head covering, Dr. Hawkins was likely to get the temporary boot.

And people who have attended and taught at Christian institutions of higher education like Wheaton College will be the first to tell you that, in such an environment, one’s words are constantly, pharisaically scrutinized. One misstep—and poof!—you’re suddenly disappeared in Catch-22-like fashion. Put that in your academic freedom pipe and smoke it. (Of course, at Wheaton, until recently, smoking got you fired or expelled.)

3.  “Can Wheaton College Still Claim to Be the ‘Harvard of Evangelicalism’?” over at Sojourners

When I attended Wheaton College (class of ’95), it was known as the Harvard of Evangelicalism. It was said that Wheaton’s small student body produced more doctorates and terminal degrees than any other single institution of higher education in the nation. Over the past two decades, however, Wheaton College has gradually sacrificed academic integrity for the covetous pursuit of becoming a far-right political wonder house a la Liberty University. In so doing, Wheaton has greatly watered down the value of its once highly-touted degree.

I was once proud to be a Wheaton alumnus. Now, I am increasingly embarrassed, especially with Wheaton’s bold and hypocritical stance against Obamacare (see my remarks about that here), its blundering on LGBTQ issues, and the racial insensitivity of its student body.

2.  “Wade Center Celebrates Golden Anniversary” a la Chicago Tribune

Bet you didn’t know Wheaton College owns J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing desk and C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe. No, seriously, I’ve been inside the wardrobe—which is something that I recommend Wheaton administration does soon. Maybe if administrators were to step inside and spend some time among the warm furs, the winter of their souls would defrost a bit.

By the way, check out The Last Battle, my favorite Chronicles of Narnia volume; it contains some definite insight into the current “Whose God is it, Anyway?” debate. As Todd Aglialoro has written:

“I think we can say with confidence that any monotheist who calls out to the Lord is heard by the Lord, whether it’s a Muslim, a pagan philosopher seeking the God of reason, or a Native American petitioning the Great Spirit. As Lumen Gentium 16 continues, God is not ‘far distant from those who in shadows and images seek [him].’”

 1.  #ReinstateDocHawk Petition over at / “@WheatonCollege: Restore Christian Professor Who Wore Hijab in Solidarity Petition over at

Please consider signing both of these petitions, and feel free to let Wheaton College administration know that Pastor Pillow sent you.

Now, to recap: Are you a Christian who has no trouble interacting with Jews because they “basically worship the same God”—but not Muslims, because “Allah is a different God”?

Well…instead, consider being a human being who has no trouble interacting with other human beings, regardless of their religion, just because. And if you worship a God—or are considering voting for a Presidential candidate—who has a problem with this, well, keep searching.

That’s a wrap!

And don’t forget!  Pastor Pillow now makes national radio guest appearances on The Horn: The Head On Radio Network.  Click to hear Pastor Pillow’s October 14, November 11 and December 9 tent revival segments with Brother Bob Kincaid.  Pastor Pillow’s next Prayer Meetin’ Wednesday is January 6 at 6 p.m. ET. Mark your calendars and tune in!

Also, Human Beings Everywhere:  Follow The Golden Rule.

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!


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