Just in time for Holy Week, this “Stomp Jesus” story has developed some intriguing twists and turns. To recap, here is a quick synopsis from last week’s Tatler post titled “‘Jesus Stomping’ FAU Professor is Democrat Party Vice-Chairman in Palm Beach County, FL”
A professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Davie campus named Deandre Poole teaches an “Intercultural Communication” class from a textbook by the same name. The textbook calls for an exercise where students write the name of Jesus in large letters on a piece of paper and then stomp on it.
Enter Ryan Rotela, a student in the class who happens to be a devout Mormon. Rotela refused to stomp and complained to Professor Poole, telling him, “Never do the assignment again because it’s offensive.” Rotela also told the professor that he was going to complain to the university. Then, according to Rotela, FAU responded by suspending him from Poole’s class.
FAU, when asked about the incident by local television station WPEC, then issued the following statement:
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.
Shortly after, it was first reported by a local Palm Beach County website called Biz Pac Review that Professor Poole is vice-chairman of the Democratic Party of Palm Beach County. That news was greeted by a big yawn from most in the media. One can only imagine if the professor had been vice-chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party and students were made to stomp on any number of prominent religious figures, but that is another story.
OK, now you are up to speed on the news from last week, so here are the latest developments.
Late on Friday, March 22nd, Fox News and the Palm Beach Post, among others, reported that FAU finally had released a statement of apology:
FAU officials issued a statement of apology, saying the exercise was optional and that no students had been disciplined as a result of it.
“This exercise will not be used again,” the statement continued. “The University holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”
But the story does not end there.
More on the next page.
Today Fox News reports:
University Files Charges Against Student who Refused to Stomp on Jesus
A Florida Atlantic University student who filed a complaint against his professor after he was ordered to stomp on the name of Jesus has been brought up on academic charges by the school and may no longer attend class, according to documents obtained by Fox News.
The report continues:
Hiram Sasser, director of litigation at the Liberty Institute, told Fox News the university’s behavior is “outlandish” and called their press release “inaccurate.”
“We believe the university punished him in retaliation for him exposing the class assignment to the public,” Sasser said. “Sadly, it is a testimony to the indoctrination that some of the public schools and universities are engaging in – to demonize anything that was valuable in the culture.”
Obviously, this story has “legs” so you can expect to hear more from FAU and student Ryan Rotela, a Mormon who has become a hero among Christians.
More from today’s Fox News report:
Rotela told Fox News he has been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from Christians across the nation.
“The response and support I have gotten has been beautiful and uplifting,” he said. “I have never seen such a strong wave of Christians thank me for this. Looking back – the whole incident was one of the best and worst moments of my life.”
This local incident has gone national because it ties together cultural, political, religious, and educational issues. Additionally, the timing of the story with Holy Week arouses the passions of those who believe in defending their faith against an increasingly secular culture, especially in the classroom at all levels.
In my first post on this incident, I asked what would have happened if Professor Poole had decided to use Mohammed’s name for a class stomp instead of Jesus’s name. I think we all know the answer to that (how about “international incident” for starters?).
Now in this second post, here is a follow-up question: “Why was there only one student in the class who found stomping on Jesus objectionable?”
That question is worth pondering anytime, but especially during Holy Week.