Myra Adams has been covering this story for us, and sends along this update. The student in the “Jesus Stomp” professor case, Ryan Rotela, was removed from his class and threatened with punishment by Florida Atlantic University.
The university claimed that he had violated the student code when he reported his professor, Deandre Poole, for assigning students a task that had them stomp on a piece of paper with the name of Jesus written on it. In addition to being a professor, Poole is vice chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party.
After FAU threatened Rotela, a national outcry ensued, and it has had a great effect: The university is backing down and has apologized to Rotela.
“There will be no punishment,” said Hiram Sasser, Rotela’s attorney. “They are wiping the record clean for Ryan. They are reinstating him for a plan to complete the course without that professor.”
Sasser, the director of litigation for the Liberty Institute, told Fox News that the university was deeply apologetic.
“The university apologized profusely,” Sasser said. “One of the university officials told us lots of people were offended by the assignment and they were very sorry about that.”
Corey King, the university’s dean of students, told Fox News they could not comment on the specifics of the Rotela incident – but reiterated their remorse for the offensive class assignment.
“First and foremost, we are deeply sorry for any hurt regarding this incident, any insensitivity that may have been seen by the community and the greater community at large,” King said. “We are deeply sorry.”
I hope they are, but I’m much too cynical to believe them. Florida Atlantic University would have punished an innocent and brave student, if it could have. Its officials would have convinced themselves they had done the right thing.
Professor Poole’s assignment is rooted in one of history’s darker chapters of discrimination against Christians.
“Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper,” the lesson reads. “Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”
A similar exercise was used against Christians in 17th century Japan. If suspected Christians failed to stomp on an image of Jesus, they were often drowned or crucified. Or both — around 1614, seventy Christians were crucified upside down on a beach, to drown as they suffered. The Tokugawa shogunate used such punishments, and the fear they inspired, to crush Christianity and close Japan off to all foreign contact. Thousands were murdered by the state in what amounted to a Christian holocaust.
I mention all of that to point out that Poole’s assignment was not some benign attempt to get students to think. It was rooted in psychological abuse that historically progressed to brutality and murder. Its place in history is simply a fact. Poole may not have been aware of that history, or maybe he was. The university needs to investigate to find out just what Poole was really up to.
Deandre Poole still has his position with the Palm Beach Democratic Party.