A high school guidance counselor is attempting to counter anti-Muslim rhetoric by wearing an Islamic hijab to her public school every Monday — an effort that she launched after her pastor spoke about the importance of challenging oneself to make a difference.
"I felt moved out of my comfort zone," Martha DeVries said of the motivating sermon.
DeVries, the 47-year-old wife of a youth pastor who resides in Kansas City, Missouri, also explained that she felt a responsibility to show her support for refugees and Muslims based on some of the political rhetoric that has been raging of late.
"I’ve just gotten very tired of hearing so many negative things, like Donald Trump’s ‘let’s not let Muslim immigrants into the United States’ and the scare on Syrian refugees," DeVries told Baptist News Global last month.
In addition to the rhetoric, DeVries cited the Bible's proclamation that Christians should love others — a message that she is hoping to bolster by wearing the Muslim headscarf.
"I think of Muslims in my community as my neighbors and it’s not my job to judge them or determine their salvation," she said. "My job is to love them."
DeVries continued, "Someone needs to be communicating with Muslims that there are Christians in this nation who love them."
She said that the act of solidarity — which was undertaken after receiving advice from Muslim women about the appropriateness of wearing the hijab — received no negative feedback in school or her community since she started wearing it in December; she plans to continue through May.
DeVries recently told Religion News Service that her goal is to "walk in someone else's shoes."
"It’s really easy to be a Christian in the United States. Lots of people share my faith, lots of people share my holidays, so it’s not really a struggle," she told the outlet. "What’s a headscarf? It’s 3 yards of material. That shouldn’t separate me from someone whose humanity is so much like mine."
DeVries' husband, Mike, fully supports the effort, saying that he believes it is a nice idea.
"The first thing I thought was, hmm, is she really going to do that?" he told Baptist News Global. "I thought it was kind of cool, actually."
DeVries' move comes after Dr. Larycia A. Hawkins, a former professor at Wheaton College, also decided to wear a hijab in solidarity with Muslims, but comments that Hawkins made about Islam and Christianity worshipping the "same God" led to her suspension and ultimate departure from the Christian school.
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