Stomp on Jesus — Yes! Stomp on Mohammed — No Way!

As a native Floridian now living in New Mexico, I am often asked (was again just today) whether or not I miss Florida. Apart from my family and the close proximity to water, there is not much that I miss about the Sunshine State. I definitely don’t miss the humidity. And, I don’t miss the idiotic ways in which the taxpayers’ money is wasted in the state of my birth.

Leave it to one of Florida’s public universities — Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton — to make the news for an incredibly stupid, not to mention insensitive, classroom assignment. It seems that one of FAU’s professors, Deandre Poole (who also happens to be Vice-Chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party), instructed students in an “Intercultural Communications” class (don’t even get me started on that one) to write the name “JESUS” on a piece of paper, throw the paper on the ground, and then stomp on the paper. One of the students, Ryan Rotela, refused to complete the assignment, telling the professor:

With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate. . . . I believe it was unprofessional and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.’” (here)

Several questions come immediately to mind in light of this asinine assignment: How could anyone so foolish be hired to teach at a public university? I know. The answer to that one is painfully obvious. How does even the most foolish instructor think that writing the name of “JESUS” on a piece of paper and asking the students to stomp on it could possibly help foster better intercultural communications in the first place? Again, the answer to that question becomes all-to-clear when the university’s Director of Communication and Multimedia Studies, Noemi Marin, tries to defend the clearly indefensible:

As with any academic lesson, the exercise was meant to encourage students to view issues from many perspectives, in direct relation with the course objectives. . . While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate.” (here)

There is a Greek word which nicely sums up the logic and reason of Ms. Marin’s statement — BALONEY! How she got to be hired as FAU’s Director of Communication — when her own communication skills are so incredibly lacking — is understandable in the world of liberal academia. Understandable, but sad nonetheless. Does anyone believe for one moment that the Instructor, Deandre Poole, would have given his students the same assignment, except that the name “MOHAMMED” was written on the paper and the students were instructed to stomp on that paper? Does anyone think that Communications Director Marin would have issued the same lame statement had the name on the paper been changed from “JESUS” to “MOHAMMED?” I would daresay that Mr. Poole would not have just been suspended, but would have been fired! And, Ms. Marin would be trying to quell protests that would have broken out on the FAU campus.

The answers to the above two questions reveal the lies and anti-Christian bias so prevalent in higher education today. If Ms. Marin’s statement is true — that there are “times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate” — then I would expect that a similar assignment involving the name “MOHAMMED” will soon be incorporated into this “Intercultural Studies” class. That would certainly make FAU an interesting — although perhaps dangerous — venue for “dialogue and debate.” Then we will see how deft a Communications Director Noemi Marin really is!

7 comments for “Stomp on Jesus — Yes! Stomp on Mohammed — No Way!

  1. GP
    March 21, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Some thoughts:

    1) Any student who wastes as valuable an opportunity as a college education by taking a class called “intercultural communications” forfeits the right to complain about anything that happens in that class.

    2) The now-stale argument of “Replace ‘Jesus’ with ‘Mohammed'” never made much sense, but is especially irrelevant and counter-productive here. It never made sense because…Jesus isn’t Mohammed. Even hypothetically treating the two as interchangeable gives Jesus too little credit and Mohammed too much. Likewise, how Mohammed’s followers react to an offense should not be the benchmark for how Christians should react to the same. Christ promised the world would hate us because it hated Him first. In this case, the world hating Christ is what we should expect if His Words were true. There’s no need to get upset that your faith has been proven.

    3) Putting these first two together, I see in this story a young man who wanted a “college degree” but didn’t want to work too hard for it and who also seems to expect that his faith entitles him to not be offended by anyone. Neither is a particularly becoming Christian witness.

    • March 21, 2013 at 7:57 PM


      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would tend to agree with #1. As to #2, I certainly agree that “Jesus isn’t Mohammed.” In the particular incident at FAU, as well as in other cases, the reasons given by the liberal establishment (government, media, education, etc.) try to use political correctness when it favors them (and non-Christian religions) and “academic freedom” when it defends their actions (usually aimed at denigrating Christians). That’s not surprising, but neither is it right. And, while it is true that followers of Christ will be hated by the world, that does not necessarily mean that we have no recourse when confronted with clearly offensive actions. That doesn’t mean that we have to react with hatred toward those who hate us, but I see nothing wrong (apart from #1 above) with this young man speaking up in this situation.

      As to #3, I don’t view the young man’s actions in the same way that you do. Christians are not to walk through life looking for ways to be offended. If we did, then we would not be able to get anything done because we will be offended every single day. However, there will be times — and perhaps this was one of them — where Christians need to speak up when something is clearly offensive. We also need to be prepared for even more offense because many (most) non-Christians will not back down, but will ramp up the offense. That’s when we need to be reminded that the world’s hatred and ridicule are ultimately our blessings. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by tonight. God bless,


      • GP
        March 24, 2013 at 8:27 PM

        Howell, I appreciate you engaging my comments without snark (assuming your “cowardice” comment below was not directed at my cautions/critiques). I have read a little more about this story since originally posting. While I stand by my original comments (though we disagree as to some of them), I also want to point out several other aspects of the story.

        First, the “Christian” student is a “devout Mormon” by all accounts. Obviously, this makes no difference as to point #3 whether you see it from my perspective or your own. If you view this story as an attack on religious liberty, we should stand up for all faiths, including Mormonism. If you view it as a story about a student complaining because he was offended, well, that attitude knows no religious bounds.

        Second, the University apparently released a statement that says “Contrary to some media reports, no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate.”

        If I recall correctly, you (Howell) are an attorney, so you’ll recognize the term when I say that this statement raises a “fact issue.” The student was either required to participate, or not. Currently the record consists of his word against theirs. Perhaps a video or audio recording of the class exists but right now we should exercise caution in deciding what happened in this case, especially if one possible circumstance happens to conform with our preconceived notion of what must have happened in a university class under a “liberal” professor.

        Third, Fox News reports that the lesson plan described the assignment as “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.”

        In other words, the point is that the name “Jesus” on the paper has significance, is important to many people (including the students) and that this importance needs to be discussed. It certainly sound like an effective way of ensuring that students remember the concept. Given that a university education (even a class like this) is about discussing ideas and challenging and defending beliefs and understanding things, it’s more pedagologically appropriate than simply telling students, via lecture, that “people view Jesus as important for many different reasons.”

        Characterizing it as “throw the paper on the ground, and then stomp on the paper,” then, is not accurate and enflames the discussion needlessly.

        These last two details, if true, would lead me to pull back on my original point #2 in the sense that the assignment does not even clearly arise out of a hate-without-cause of Christianity or of Christ. Rather, as described by Fox, the assignment was specifically designed to emphasize the importance of Christ to everyone and to spark a discussion of why most people, including non-Christians, feel some hesitancy as such an action. While their reasons would not be the same as ours, doctrinal uniformity in reverence for Christ’s name is not, and should not be, the goal of a secular university classroom.

        As to my original # 3 and your response, I agree with nearly everything you said, I simply disagree with your application of it to this situation. I worry that emphasizing a factually ambiguous situation like this as “clearly offensive” will make it harder to stand up against the truly offensive situations that merit a response. When the world hates us it is a blessing. When we accuse the world of hating us in the times they are merely indifferent, it just seems silly. Assuming the accuser is even “us”, for purposes of this point (that is, I’m not talking about general religious freedom but rather the promise by Christ that Christians will be blessed in persecution).

        To conclude, since the student is a Mormon, this case isn’t appropriate for talking specifically about Christian persecution. Even if he were a Christian, or if the case is about religious freedom, the facts of this case are less clear than initial reports indicated, and part of our Christian witness should be a temperance and patience against jumping to conclusions or assuming things to be true without proof.

        Thank you for welcoming differences of opinion among brothers in Christ, even if I fail to convince you of my opinion in this case.

        • March 27, 2013 at 8:11 PM

          I appreciate the interaction. Sorry for the delay in responding, but my appendix thought it best to come out on Palm Sunday 😉 Trying to catch up on some comments from over the weekend. I’m not sure that we (not just you and me) will ever fully know the truth of what happened in the classroom, but since FAU has apologized and taken steps to remove this type of assignment in the future, there has to be at least some merit to the young man’s charge.

          I do think you make a good point regarding the factual situation as it applies to “Christianity” or Christians in the case of Mr. Rotela, I would agree that he is NOT a Christian cannot, therefore, be the subject of “Christian persecution” if we were to use that term or principle in a very narrow, technical, and Biblically-accurate sense. However,from the culture-at-large’s perspective, Mormons are considered part of Christianity.

          When Mormons, Catholics, Evangelical Christians or Southern Baptists are attacked or persecuted for their faith, those attacks will be seen as an attack on all of Christianity. We may not like that fact, but it is one that we will have to continue to deal with when talking about religious liberty/freedom issues in general and Christian persecution/attacks in particular. Hope that helps clarify more of where I’m coming from in this. I would have liked to have written a follow-up post about this, but circumstances conspired against me (at least as of now). Thanks again for your comments and opinions. I value them and welcome you to share anytime. God bless,


  2. Truth Unites... and Divides
    March 23, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Howell, far more gracious to #1 comment than I would have been.

    Excellent commentary in your post. Liberal hypocrisy in educational institutions, entertainment media, and the news media, not to mention liberal politicians, aided and abetted by “moderate” cowardice is a real challenge for Christians desiring to stand firm in the faith.

    • March 23, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Since my blog is titled, “From Law to Grace,” I figure I better at least try to be as gracious as I can when responding to readers’ comments 🙂 I wish I could say I always hit the mark in terms of a grace-filled response, but that is not the case. We should not be surprised at the liberal hypocrisy in these types of situations. It is a given. Neither should we be surprised when people offend or ridicule us because of our faith. After all, Jesus said it would happen, but that we would be blessed! Even though we should expect this, I don’t think that we have to lay down and roll over when our faith is challenged. I think we can, as you put it, “stand firm in our faith” and present the truth in love without becoming a doormat in our non-Christian culture. That doesn’t mean that we won’t face even great persecution from those in power when we do speak up, but staying silent in the face of opposition is not only cowardice, but is a poor Christian witness. Of course, the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say in those moments. Hopefully we listen to that still small voice and respond accordingly instead of responding how our flesh would love for us to respond. I can’t speak for anyone else, but responding in the flesh to non-Christians — and even to some Christians — is a temptation that I must constantly guard against. Thanks again for stopping by today. God bless,


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