A CBS News station in Florida reported that a Mormon student, Ryan Rotela, was suspended from his class at the Davie campus of Florida Atlantic University because he refused to step on a piece of paper with the name of Jesus on it. According to the broadcast, the professor of his intercultural communications class, Deandre Poole, told the students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, set it on the floor, and then stomp on it.
The incident occurred about three weeks ago. Rotela voiced his concern to the professor, and two days later talked to the professor’s supervisor. It was following that meeting that Rotela was suspended.
The school replied to the CBS station via email with the following words:
Faculty and students at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse. While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate.
The school also indicated that the instructor was doing an exercise from a textbook entitled Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition. To read the full news report click here or watch the news report here:
We don’t know if Rotela remained respectful throughout his objection to the exercise or in his conversation with the professor’s supervisor, so we can’t be certain that he isn’t deserving of some sort of discipline. However, the following comments are not made to defend the student, but to point out the pathetic actions of the professor and the cowardly response from the school.
How would this activity improve one’s ability to communicate with someone in a different culture? What possible benefit is there in engaging in such an exercise other than blatantly mocking Jesus Christ?
Imagine for a moment if the professor would have told the students to write the name “Muhammad,” “Allah,” “Buddha,” or any other non-Christian religious leader on that paper and then stomp on it. Think of the outrage that would have taken place if a Christian college professor had told his students to stomp on the name of Muhammad in the spirit of “open discourse.” It would be headline news and there would be so much pressure on the school to fire the professor.
So here is an institution that prides itself on teaching students to tolerate the beliefs of others. And in a class dedicated to intercultural communication, the professor tells the students to do something extremely offensive to a large percentage of the population. How is this tolerance?
This is just another example of the extreme intolerance toward Christian beliefs and values displayed by liberal professors in so many universities around this nation. It’s rank hypocrisy, and sadly too many students don’t see it. Throughout their educational training, they’ve been taught what to think rather than how to think. So a professor says that we need to tolerate all beliefs, and the students think that’s great. Then the professor encourages the students to mock, ridicule, and persecute Christians (and maybe some other groups) because they are so intolerant, and too many students can’t see that absolute hypocrisy. Apparently, it’s okay for people to be intolerant of intolerant people. But that would mean that they would have to be intolerant of themselves and all who think like them. Hmm…
This incident shouldn’t only be of concern to Christians and Mormons. It should be troubling to anyone who values the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion upon which the United States was founded. We see more and more examples of Christian beliefs and values being trampled on by governing authorities (e.g., Christian employers being forced to violate conscience to provide abortifacient drugs). Where or when will it stop? As long as Christians remain silent, keep sending their students to these schools, and/or keep electing governing officials that approve of these things, it won’t stop. It will only get worse.
But let’s get to the bigger issue here. This professor is shaking his fist (or stomping his foot) at his Creator. Jesus Christ is God. He took on human flesh, lived a sinless life, died on the Cross for our sins, and then conquered death by rising from the grave. He offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who would turn from their sins and believe on Him. Instead of accepting this gracious offer, people like this professor mock and spew hatred toward Jesus. Why?
Why do they hate Jesus so much? If they really didn’t think He was exactly who He claimed to be, why would they care so much about a first century Jewish person from Nazareth that died on a cross? Truth is, they know very well that Jesus is God, and they are trying so hard to justify their unbelief. It’s the same reason people often use “Jesus” or “God” when they curse, but you won’t hear someone invoking the name of other religious leaders when they curse.
The Bible tells us that people suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and while professing themselves to be wise, they become fools (Romans 1:18, 22). That’s exactly what this professor is doing and what he is encouraging his students to do. But God will not withhold judgment forever.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7)
I’ve been thinking a lot about Psalm 2 lately, and this recent incident reminds me of it once again. I thought about putting the text here for you, but I’ll do you a favor by letting you look it up yourself. Pull out a Bible and turn to Psalm 2, or look it up online, and take a few minutes to read through it. Look at how futile the actions of the wicked are, and then look at God’s response. Man needs to stop shaking his fist at God, repent of his sin, and turn to the only one who can save man from God’s coming wrath.
By the way, the last verse in that Psalm tells us to give proper respect to God (some translations say, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry”). That’s pretty much the opposite of stomping on His name.