Did a Student Really Get Suspended For Refusing to ‘Stomp on Jesus’?

Three weeks ago, Florida Atlantic University student Ryan Rotela was suspended from his Intercultural Communication class for refusing to step on a piece of paper with the word “Jesus” on it. It’s sort of an odd story, so we’re going to go through it and try to get to the bottom of what really happened.

According to Rotela himself, this is how the story went down:

His professor, Dr. Deandre Poole, asked all of the students to take out a piece of paper and write “JESUS” in big letters.

“JESUS” written on a piece of paper in big letters

Poole then asked the students to put the paper on the floor and stomp on it.

Rotela, a devout Mormon, was offended by the suggestion and refused to do it:

That’s when I picked up the paper from the floor and put it right back on the table… I said to the professor “With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I just 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.”

… From that point on, I knew I had to do something about it, because I am not going to be sitting in a class having my religious rights desecrated.

A couple of days later, Rotella sought out Dr. Poole’s supervisor, Noemi Marin, to discuss his concerns. He has since been suspended from that class, and Marin told him not to go back.

That’s Rotela’s side of the story. (I have reached out to Dr. Poole to find out his side, but have yet to hear back. I’ll post an update if I do.)

If the story happened this exact way — a student felt personally offended by a class activity and was subsequently suspended because he spoke up — then I would agree, this is some grade-A baloney. But the key word here is “If.”

I’m no super-sleuth, but it just doesn’t pass the smell test for me…

I know I’m biased (because I would do a jig over the word “Jesus” without a second thought), and I don’t deny that, but I really don’t think that this story panned out exactly the way that we’ve been told by many many many media outlets.

So let’s dig a bit deeper.

First of all, the lesson came from the teacher’s edition of the textbook Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition. Here is the part of the teacher’s guide that accompanies this lesson:

This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. 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.

Aha! So the point of the exercise was precisely to elicit Rotela’s exact reaction. It was expected that students would have a hard time stepping on the paper.

And I don’t want to call the student a liar, but I am doubtful that he said the “with all due respect” speech to his professor, mostly because humans don’t really speak like that, especially when they are in any kind of heightened emotional state.

It also seems that we’re not getting the complete story:

It is important to note, however, that there has been no direct finding of what exactly transpired in the classroom during that exercise. As such, it is unclear and unknown at this time whether these charges stemmed purely from Mr. Rotela’s refusal to participate in the exercise and/or his disclosure to the media of the events, or instead from other actions of Mr. Rotela.

So his suspension may have been due to any number of reasons going well beyond the reaction he had to the lesson. It’s unclear what went down until we hear from the professor and that hasn’t happened yet.

But that hasn’t stopped Florida Governor Rick Scott from putting in his own two cents (because I’m sure nothing else important is happening in Florida and maybe he needs to be doing some dry-runs for the 2016 elections, amirite?!). He released this letter to University System Chancellor Frank Brogan:

 I am deeply disappointed in the recent actions of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) faculty [sic] that raises significant questions over students [sic] rights and the lessons being taught in our classroom [sic].

As we enter the week memorializing the events of Christ’s passion, this incident gave me great concern over the lessons we are teaching our students.  Initial news reports said that Ryan Rotela, a student at the school, was suspended from class because he refused to participate in the activity. I am told that these reports are disputed by the university and that FAU has apologized for the activity.

Whether the student was reprimanded or whether an apology was given is in many ways inconsequentional [sic] to the larger issue of a professor’s poor judgement [sic]. The professor’s lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom.

Our public higher educational institutions are designed to shape the minds of Florida’s future leaders. We should provide educational leadership that is respectful of religious freedom of all people. Florida’s parents and students deserve nothing less.

I am requesting a report of the incident, how it was handled and a statement of the university’s policies to ensure this type of “lesson” will not occur again.

Sincerely,

Rick Scott
Governor

I DO NOT GET HOW THIS HAS GOTTEN SO OUT OF HAND!  

What am I missing?!  

And why is a government official stepping into college classrooms and saying which specific lessons they can and cannot use?!

Remember how a government official reacted when Jessica Ahlquist tried to stand up for her religious freedoms? (Hint: Her mayor was not super supportive.)

Regardless, the university apologized to everyone. Though, to be fair, it is something of a not-pology, more of a “we’re sorry if you were offended” type of thing:

“We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs… 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 participateWhile we do not comment on personnel matters, and while student privacy laws prevent us from commenting on any specific student at the University, we can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University as a result of any activity that took place during this class… This exercise will not be used again…”

And this, my friends, is why I can never go into PR.  

Because this is the statement that I would have released:

Maybe you guys need to stop being such big babies. This was an exercise to get the students to think about why it was so difficult to step on something as seemingly arbitrary as a word on paper. Did you consider that it could make students more empathetic? Like “Gee whiz, if i feel so strongly about Jesus, maybe someone feels the same way about Allah or Buddha or the Flying Spaghetti Monster!”? And “Why do I feel so uncomfortable about stepping on paper“?

I think you all need to take a deep breath and a step back from yourselves and think long and hard about why it is that everyone flies off the handle when someone does anything that challenges your values even slightly. What, do you think Jesus would send the student to Hell because a professor suggested that he put his foot on a piece of paper that the student had written “Jesus” on?

If you don’t like the way our professors teach, don’t go here. Don’t send your kids here. We’re in the business of opening their minds and that means coming face-to-face with ideas you’re uncomfortable with. Now stop acting acting like crazy people.

At any rate, where does all of this leave us?  

Well, we’re witnessing what happens when Christians experience persecution (whether real or perceived), but that’s nothing new — Look at the DOMA or reproductive rights cases to see Christians complaining that their rights are somehow being infringed upon. 

The problem here is that the reaction has gone viral before we know the whole story. This exercise was not anti-Christian, nor was it an innately bad or offensive exercise. The expectation was that most students wouldn’t want to jump on the word “Jesus,” just as very few people would want to stomp on their mother’s name written on paper. Symbols are powerful. That point should have been obvious.

I want to reiterate this: If the student did get suspended for refusing to “stomp on Jesus,” then the professor is most definitely in the wrong. But we don’t know if that is the case, and I think it’s a good lesson to all of us — believers and non-believers — to let the whole story be told before we jump to conclusions or cry wolf.

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • Stephen Thompson

    Do we need a Stomp on Jesus Day to go along with Draw Mohammed Day?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

      How about a “It’s just a piece of f**king paper!” day?

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

        Then add the PS: and it’s just a f**king cracker, too!

    • A3Kr0n

      We need a new t-shirt campaign!

      • kevin white

        I’d buy one.

    • Stomp On Gandhi

      How about a Stomp on Martin Luther King day?
      Or maybe a Stomp on Parks day…you know, that lady who wouldn’t sit at the back of the bus.
      You know, ask black students to do that and see how they feel?
      Or Stomp on a picture of some Jewish bodies piled up at a Concentration Camp?
      But with all due respect, all the poster is saying is that they don’t believe the student. (full disclosure…I do, and I have met plenty of jerk professors. Who ya kiddin?)

      • Amandatheatheist

        The whole point is to highlight how strongly we feel about symbols. Thus asking students to stomp on MLK or Rosa Parks would serve the same purpose. If you find it offensive, then you’re missing the point of the exercise. The point is not to force you to stomp on a piece of paper. It is to force you to think about why you may be reluctant to stomp on a mere piece of paper, something that can be accomplished by simply asking you to do so (not forcing you to follow through).

        From your comments it seems like you also missed the point of Jessica’s post, which is pretty clearly that we should question this story because we are only getting one, likely sensationalized, side.

        If the professor missed the point of the exercise that is a problem. If the student was indeed suspended from the course because the professor missed the point of the exercise that is a problem. If, on the other hand, the student reacted without opening his mind and thinking about why the word scribbled on paper meant so much to him there is no problem in which the public or government needs to get involved.

        • SuperAsianSalsero

          You said all that I wanted to say.

        • Claude

          If the professor missed the point of the exercise that is a problem. If the student was indeed suspended from the course because the professor missed the point of the exercise that is a problem.

          I will eat my hat if either scenario is true!

      • Pattrsn

        Perhaps because those people existed as opposed to just an idea, and unlike the Christian martyr complex, racism is real? I don’t really agree with the exercise, especially as American Christians like their Mid East counterparts tend to emotional instability whenever their fantasies are challenged.

        Having said that I don’t think anyone here has called bullshit on the students description of the exercise just on his claim that he was suspended for failing to stomp on the paper, as that response was the exact point of the exercise.

      • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

        Good point. The libturds will not do that. There was no outrage on their part when that Pastor who burnt the koran was crucified because he is denigrating Islam. They are selective and cowardly. A challenge for them. Stomp on a paper with the word Allah or Mohammad and publish it on you tube. But make sure you have a good hiding place afterwards.

        • GCT

          The very blog you are commenting on has posts critical of Islam. Epic fail.

    • Stomp On Gandhi

      The Professor didn’t have the guts to do a Stomp on Muhammed day.
      Why don’t you all do that on this blog?

      • Pattrsn

        Did you actually read the post and the reasons for the exercise? If you did why the moronic question? And if you didn’t why embarras yourself with such a half-witted contention?

        • Freedom Fighter

          Just because he says that was the reason for the exercise does not mean it was.

          C.S. Lewis described a similar case in a university faculty setting in his book “The Hideous Strength”.

          • Gus Snarp

            Wait, a fictional story written 68 years ago is supposed to be evidence in an argument about something happening in a modern university in real life?

            • Jasper

              You don’t understand. We aren’t allowed the question the motives of the student… but the professor is fair game.

            • http://www.facebook.com/jimillburn Judith I. Millburn

              Hey! C.S. Lewis’ writings are a lot more recent than the New Testament, but the Bible is used as evidence in all sorts of modern arguments, including the making of legislation. And we know a lot more about Lewis than we do about all those ancient men who gave us “God’s word.” That’s the entire point: THINK!!!

        • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

          Why dont you just answer his question first. Do you have the guts to stomp on a paper with the name Allah or Muhammad on it ? What
          so complicated with that ? Or if you are afraid of the consequence say
          so. We know liberals are only good at pretending at what they are not.
          Maybe that is why liberalism is rampant in Hollywood.

          • Pattrsn

            “Why dont you just answer his question first”
            Because it’s stupid?

  • JohnnieCanuck

    Well, given that Christians are very unlikely to lie to themselves or others about their faith, it seems we should just take the LDS student at his word and fire the professor.

    • Thegoodman

      Close all colleges! They hate religion and are racist communist socialist pits created by satan to poison the minds of our well-to-do kids.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    Nice job of digging into the facts. Given that the kid was expected to react exactly the way he did, I find it highly unlikely he was suspended for refusing. But I wondered about this whole story when I first read about it, too. As you said, it didn’t sound entirely plausible. I hope the professor will respond and clarify the situation.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      He’d probably upset the administration if he spoke out about the situation. Student confidentiality and all that. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a firing offense.

      • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

        I agree that’s likely. But what that means is that the student can continue to perpetuate the story, regardless of whether it’s true in all particulars or not, and there’s no one to contradict it– well, unless another student in the class speaks out, anyway.

        • Pirate Froglet

          More likely, the school won’t let /him/ talk, but is waiting to actually look into it before sending out an official statement through proper channels. You know, like the governor should have done, or at least proof-read.

        • Gus Snarp

          That’s the way it always happens. Universities, high schools, anywhere that religious conservatives go to the media with stories like this based entirely on the account of one very partial witness, they get to control the media story because the school respects privacy and won’t tell their side of the story. So even if the truth ever comes out, public opinion has already been written. It’s a terrible problem.

      • Christine

        He’s not supposed to talk about it, but he felt a need to come forward given the threats he’s been getting: (He refused to name the student, which is a bit of a pointless nicety at this point) http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/04/01/interview-professor-center-jesus-debate-florida-atlantic

    • Stomp on Gandhi

      What facts? The poster claims that the student is not telling the truth about asking “with all due respect” without a lick of proof that the student is lying.

      • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

        The facts regarding the lesson plan. Given the information about what the lesson plan was designed to do, the student’s suspension for simply refusing to cooperate (as he was in fact expected to do) seems highly unlikely, and that suggests there is something else to this story we haven’t heard yet.

        • Freedom Fighter

          “seems”, “suggests”.

          Please, just the facts.

          • GCT

            Those are the facts. They “seem” to “suggest” a conclusion that one can come to.

          • Gus Snarp

            “Seems highly unlikely” isn’t just “seems”, it’s prior plausibility, which must always be considered. What we have is the word of one student, which clearly contradicts everything anyone with real experience knows about how public universities operate. Nothing that student said is a fact. It is a fact that he said it, but not that it happened. The facts that are not in dispute are that he was asked to stomp on a piece of paper that had “Jesus” written on it, and that the lesson came from a written plan that clearly stated that students were expected to refuse and that the point of the lesson was the discussion after the refusal, not to actually step on the paper. It makes absolutely no sense for it to happen the way the student describes.

            • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

              Or, just what Gus said:-).

          • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

            The facts are thus far inadequate because it’s only one person’s side of the story (and may continue to be, for reasons explained well above by Gus Snarp). But when a story makes no sense and is being widely circulated to support the “war on Christianity” narrative, it’s worth questioning it. The lesson plan is a good place to start.

  • David Wood

    I live near FAU and I suspect that the uproar about this story has more to do with Dr. Poole being the Vice Chair of the Palm Beach Democratic Party than it does for him being anti-religious. They will CLAIM its about religion of course, but I suspect it’s political.

    • Gus Snarp

      From the Mediaite version of the story:

      Dr. Poole is also vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party. As BizPac Review reports, “[Dr. Poole's] recent actions add fire to an already-disturbing pattern of hate coming out of the local party.”

      So, yeah, I’d say you’re right.

    • Andrew Pang

      In my opinion this whole non-troversy by the right wing blogs like Campus Reform and The Blaze is just a bunch of whining over the fact that the Christian Right’s political and cultural power is FADING in America.

      • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

        Wanna bet ? Try picking a candidate proclaiming he is an atheist and does not believe in God and see how he goes far. Obama got elected in a false pretense.

        • GCT

          Because Obama is an atheist? Please take your meds.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

      Actually because he is black. George Bush must be behind all this.

  • Thegoodman

    No person with a lick of sense would believe the story the student has presented. Schools want the students to be in class. Most schools (as I understand it, I only attended 1) encourage open discussion and even disagreement if the topic pertains to the course material. Getting kicked out of a class takes work. This D-bag worked his ass off to get kicked out of the class so he could play this ridiculous martyr card. If there were a god, he would not allow such a slimy move nor would he create people dumb enough to buy into it. Alas, there is no god. And the conservative right is very much buying into it.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      i agree. i once refused to dissect a live frog. i didn’t feel that causing it pain was worth the value of the biology lesson. i said so to the teacher and she said, ‘well, you’ll get a slightly lower grade for this lesson’ and i accepted that. i watched as others did it and got a good grade on the final exam, having studied frog biology from the textbook. never was i threatened with expulsion from the class.

      and for fuck’s sake, it’s just a piece of paper. if jeebus is so weak that you can’t walk on a piece of paper with the letters that spell his name on it, why in the hell is he worthy of worship? it’s just pathetic.

      • PietPuk

        and for fuck’s sake, it’s just a piece of paper.

        Is it? I remember the mentalist Derren Brown in a video inviting people to take a photo of their loved ones and stick pins in their eyes. Just imagine doeing that.

        I got uncomrtable at the idea, and I am a very convinced atheist.

        • MikeHolt

          agreed. If we want people to treat non believers with respect, we will have to show it.

          • GCT

            How is pointing out that there’s no magic to words written on paper a sign of disrespect? And, how is that whole “give us respect – please, please, pretty please” thing going anyway?

            • Freedom Fighter

              So why is it necessary to stomp on it?

              • GCT

                It’s not. No one said it is. Perhaps if you actually read the OP and read our comments for comprehension you can avoid looking like a fool.

              • PietPuk

                It isn’t.
                The actual stomping was not part of the exercise.
                It is all in the article? Have you read it?

          • PietPuk

            The fact that a piece of paper does something with people, is the whole reason of the exercise. I don’t see any lack of respect.

        • Stomp On Gandhi

          Well said.

      • Stomp on Gandhi

        You know, if its just a piece of paper, why are the atheists so excited by this?

        • GCT

          Perhaps you need to start reading for comprehension.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

          try to think a little harder, dear.

          atheists are “so excited” that we’re sad that in our modern scientific nation there are still people who will lie and distort truth in the defense of supernatural beliefs and improperly perceived martyr complexes.

          it’s highly doubtful, re the post above this one with more details, that this student suffered any sort of unfair or hateful treatment. it is proven and demonstrable fact that believers do things like burn “witches” and kill homosexuals and seek to indoctrinate other people’s children with their particular brand of religious belief, against the will of the parents.

          as i said, if jeebus is so weak he’s somehow “hurt” by someone putting a foot to a piece of paper with his name on it, he’s a lame and silly being to worship.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

          try to think a little harder, dear.

          atheists are “so excited” that we’re sad that in our modern scientific nation there are still people who will lie and distort truth in the defense of supernatural beliefs and improperly perceived martyr complexes.

          it’s highly doubtful, re the post above this one with more details, that this student suffered any sort of unfair or hateful treatment. it is proven and demonstrable fact that believers do things like burn “witches” and kill homosexuals and seek to indoctrinate other people’s children with their particular brand of religious belief, against the will of the parents.

          as i said, if jeebus is so weak he’s somehow “hurt” by someone putting a foot to a piece of paper with his name on it, he’s a lame and silly being to worship.

    • Stomp on Gandhi

      There are plenty of jerk professors who would retalitate against a student they didn’t like, and sometimes for petty reasons.
      I don’t think you have been around much.

      • Gus Snarp

        Define retaliate. Universities, as it turns out, are terrified of lawsuits and bad PR. They also have grievance procedures in place. If a professor attempted to “retaliate”, recourse is readily available.

        How much time have you spent in public universities? I’ve spent quite a lot of time as a student and teaching assistant. I’ve

        • 3lemenope

          I’ve spent a great deal of time in a public university, and one of my jobs was to coordinate with the University’s Ombudsman from the student end of things, so pretty much every complaint that didn’t get satisfactorily handled got shuttled through my office. There were a large number of those complaints, and while some did not have merit, many did. And many were motivated by the pettiest shit you could possibly imagine.

          There were many great professors who liked discussion and disagreement in the classroom (these tended to be the Liberal Arts professors), and then there were professors who took an irrational dislike to a student who from then on could do no right (mostly in architecture, business, and engineering, oddly enough).

          • Gus Snarp

            (mostly in architecture, business, and engineering, oddly enough).

            I don’t find that odd at all. ;-)

  • 7Footpiper

    And I think the first big clue was in the course title, Intercultural Communications.

    • Stomp on Gandhi

      And this is how you learn to communicate with people of other cultures?
      You gotta be kiddin me.

      • GCT

        By examining how we react to situations and then applying it to learn some empathy? You have a problem with that?

  • http://twitter.com/JaniceClanfield Janice

    I’m so very happy to live in Canada. We have our problems here, but they are -nothing- like what you face there in the U.S. Good luck to you.

    • Pattrsn

      Not yet anyway, but give Harper a little more time and… Hey look! A Panda!

  • Jay bird

    Why don’t you secular and atheists folks ever do anything to disgrace Mohammad? I’m a Christian and Jesus will be fine, He’s God. So I’m not worried about people who disrespect Him. However, I would refuse to do the exercise the teacher was holding. I know you people don’t like to hear this, but this country will fail to be the best country in the world if we continue on this Godless path you so desire. You can deny the Founders of our nation were Bible believing Christians ( those who don’t believe the Bible are not Christians) but that is fiction and you know it. We have killed millions of babies and destroyed families and will soon have gay marriage nationally. All products of a secular worldview. It’s a shame. All I want is for you all to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus. He will save you. We are all sinners, but he came to save those who are sick, that’s us. So please consider it before your days run out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      Get back to us when there’s a huge lobby of Muslims trying to legislate their morality on us.

    • LesterBallard

      Allah can eat shit and Muhammad was a fucking pedo. Does that help, asshole? And Christianity is a pile of maggot infested, rancid shit.

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      “I would refuse to do the exercise the teacher was holding.”

      Did you actually read the post above? This is the description of the exercise:

      “Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. 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.”

      You are EXPECTED to refuse to do the exercise, or at least to hesitate. That’s actually the point.

    • FrasJH

      Jay bird, ignoring the fact that you think certain words mean things that they don’t mean, you obviously have never read Friendly Atheist for content, and are just looking for something to cry “persecution”. Google “everybody draw muhammed friendly atheist”, and read for comprehension.

    • WallofSleep

      “I know you people don’t like to hear this, but this country will fail to
      be the best country in the world if we continue on this Godless path
      you so desire.”

      Don’t like to hear this? Are you kidding me? I love to hear that. That bullshit makes me laugh every time I do.

    • RobMcCune

      Well I am glad you’re not worried about people stepping on Jesus. I’m disturbed that what you’re really worried about is your lack of power to impose your beliefs and eliminate differences. You’ve made clear what your priorities are.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Please spew your delusions elsewhere. Most of the people here grew up in your religion and left it because it’s a lie, much like your other claims. In reality, the Founding Fathers were at best Deists, abortion isn’t murder, nobody is destroying families and gay marriage isn’t wrong. Oh, and the countries with the lowest rate of religion are doing THE BEST, not the worst.

      But, hey. Keep up your martyrbating. Whatever it takes to get you through your day. Just let the adults make decisions for everyone…Since we actually care about everyone.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      ….

      • indorri

        Thank you for saving me the effort of putting the lie to his rhetoric.

    • Mario Strada

      If you actually had made a point regarding the topic at hand, even one I disagreed with, I would argue that point with you and I would do so politely but no less passionately.

      But your post is not an honest discussion and you will then get the same answer I give to anyone that implies eternal punishment in their (non) righteous judgement:

      Fuck you.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      *ahem* Draw Mohammed Day….

      • pagansister

        If you drew Mohammed then there would be a group of Muslims out after you—-to kill you! Pictures of Mohammed—BAD! :-(

    • Pattrsn

      Seriously JB, when did America become the best country in the world?

      • allein

        Also, define “best country”…? Somehow I think JB and I will disagree on the criteria.

      • Gus Snarp

        My money’s on Sweden, but I’m not sure.

    • Octoberfurst

      Ahh the ramblings of brainless fundie with a persecution complex! I really love it when your kind come slithering in to tell us to repent of our wicked ways. Please tell us how we are all going to fry in Hell for not kissing the ass of the baby Jesus.
      Seriously dude, you are totally clueless. Your threats of eternal punishment mean nothing to us. And your warnings about the threat that gay marriage will pose is laughable. Gay marriage WILL be a reality in all 50 States sooner or later so get used to it. It’s a good thing. Really it is. Oh and abortion is not murder, the Founding Fathers were mostly deists and we are not the best country in the world so spare us your jingoistic chest thumping. So go back to groveling to your non-existent God. (I feel better now.) :-)

    • SeekerLancer

      Ignoring the fact that we do criticize Islam regularly and you can find numerous examples in the archives of this very website, the purpose of the exercise wasn’t to “disgrace Jesus” it was to show the power that symbols hold over people and to teach people empathy. “I wouldn’t want to step on something I hold sacred so maybe I shouldn’t do it to things other people hold sacred” is the lesson.

      Now if we were teaching this class in the Middle East it would make sense to use Mohammed, but considering it’s the United States it’s much more likely that the majority of students in your class are Christian so using Jesus more effectively conveys the message.

      Now if the student is telling the truth and the professor was doing this to be anti-Christian then he was wrong, nobody is disagreeing with that. However the story is dubious considering what class it was and what we know about the exercise (which was SUPPOSED TO incite a negative reaction).

    • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

      Re: “Why don’t you secular and atheists folks ever do anything to disgrace Mohammad?”

      Who says they don’t? Actually, precisely that has, in fact, happened. You do recall the furor over the Muhammad cartoons published several years ago by Jyllands-Posten? Don’t lie and say secularists never disrespect Islam or Muhammad. They do.

      Re: “However, I would refuse to do the exercise the teacher was holding.”

      Bully for you! What a devout Christian you must be! Why, let’s pin a medal on you immediately!

      Re: “I know you people don’t like to hear this, but this country will fail to be the best country in the world if we continue on this Godless path you so desire.”

      You seriously think threats like this are supposed to impress non-Christians enough that they’ll adopt your religion? Sorry but no. That’s childish.

      Re: “You can deny the Founders of our nation were Bible believing Christians ( those who don’t believe the Bible are not Christians) but that is fiction and you know it.”

      Wrong. The “fiction” here is in your assertion that “the Foudners … were Bible believing Christians.” If by “Bible believing Christians” you mean that they’re evangelical fundamentalist Christians, that is quite literally impossible. Fundamentalist Christianity didn’t come into existence until the middle of the 19th century. None of the Founders could possibly have been one! Grow up and stop making assertions about them that contradict history.

      Re: “We have killed millions of babies and destroyed families and will soon have gay marriage nationally.”

      Oh you poor thing! How horrible it must be for you to have to see gays getting married! Why, it’s intolerable! It can’t be permitted! Waah waah waah.

      Re: “All I want is for you all to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus.”

      Sorry, but I refuse. Go ahead and make me “repent.”

      Re: “So please consider it before your days run out.”

      What’s this, another threat? How impressive. Not to mention desperate and immature.

    • cipher

      I know you people don’t like to hear this, but this country will fail to be the best country in the world if we continue on this Godless path you so desire.

      Actually, Western Europe is far more secular than we are, and has less crime and fewer domestic problems. Even much of their recent economic trouble stems from their involvement with us.

      Here’s a tip: something isn’t true just because your pastor says it. Shocking, I know.

    • Gus Snarp

      Pay attention. We do things to disgrace Mohammad all the damn time. The reason Christianity is a major target of secular protest in the U.S., and why it would be used in an exercise like this, is that it is the dominant religion in the U.S. It has an outsized impact on politics and policy in America that directly impacts our lives, and if you want to get students talking about why its upsetting to step on a piece of paper, you have to make sure it’s likely to upset a good number of them. So you write Jesus on it, because that’s the most likely thing to get a response in a majority Christian country. And stop being so damn repetitive. I think this has been covered.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.glasencnik Rebecca Glasencnik

      If you’re talking about the USA, you already fail to be the best country in the world… Get over your ‘exceptionalism’ – you’re just not that special.

      Jesus, as written in your bible, has no evidence for his existence. There may have been a man, around that era (though still doubtful) doing good deeds, but no evidence for supposed miracles, etc.

      I don’t need saving by an imaginary friend. I have real friends and family to call on when I’m sick, or sad.

    • John (not McCain)

      Fuck Allah, fuck Mohammad, fuck Jesus, fuck you and fuck whatever sick old whore you dropped out of.

      • GCT

        Calling people “whore” is over the line.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

    I want to know what he did with that piece of paper after the TV interview. Because if he’s so worked up about just stepping on it, imagine the uproar if he (gasp) balled it up and tossed it in the trash! How offensive!!

    • Rain

      Hopefully he won’t sell it on ebay because the “paper messiah” must me treated with the utmost respect, which would not be guaranteed if it were sold at auction.

    • Gus Snarp

      Surely he framed it and put it on his wall. ~

      • Witchgawd

        next to the picture of that sacred piece of toast with the outline of the Virgin Mary burnt into it. Or was that a potato that looked like Nixon? I forget.

    • SAVED

      that’s pretty rude ,

      • Paul Reed

        Really? How so?
        Seems like everything is “rude” or “offensive” nowadays…

  • C Peterson

    I want to reiterate this: If the student did get suspended for refusing to “stomp on Jesus,” then the professor is most definitely in the wrong.

    I don’t think that is self-evident. This is a college. These are adults who are taking what I have to assume is an elective class. The subject of the class is pretty obvious in its title. In fact, I think a professor might reasonably insist that the students engage in the exercise (not necessarily the exercise as presented, but a similar one where they were required to actually express their ideas after following through with something that was completely harmless, albeit personally offensive to them). There is a learning lesson there, and I think a professor might reasonably suspend or drop a student who refused to participate.

    College is about exploring ideas, and religion should be afforded absolutely no special treatment or status.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Jynxx8775 Amber Rife

      I believe that the school WAS in the wrong if they suspended him for that reason alone. However, it is far more likely that he was suspended because his refusal was a heck of a lot more.. intense.. than the one he SAYS he used.

    • MikeHolt

      There is a difference between exploring ideas vs getting people to stomp on their gods. Oh, thats right, we atheists want equal rights and fair treatment, its just that the religious people should not be shown human decency?

      • Jasper

        I’ll stomp on a blank piece of paper any day.

        Are you seriously equating a classroom exercise about symbolism with “equal rights” and “fair treatment”?

        I’ll treat the people with decency, but not their beliefs, especially when the history of those beliefs has thousands of years of crap to make up for.

        • Stomp on Gandhi

          That’s BS…if you treat people like their ideas are crap, you are treating the people like they are crap.

          Face it. You know it. That why you do it.

          It allows you to attack them in a passive/agressive fashion…bash them while saying you aren’t.

          • GCT

            Religious ideas are crap. It’s a religiously privileged idea that this also means that the people who hold those ideas are also being called crap. IOW, you are wrong.

            And, we call them crap because they are crap. You don’t get special protections for your ridiculous ideas simply because you say they are religious ideas. You want to put your ideas out into the free marketplace of ideas? Go ahead. We are then free to show how ridiculous they are. You are not free, however, to claim that they are above reproach and can never be criticized.

            • Freedom Fighter

              Calling them crap is not an argument.

              I.E., name calling is not an argument.

              • GCT

                It wasn’t meant to be an argument against religious ideas. The point was that no matter how hard people try to conflate their ideas with their person, it’s simply not the case. Next time try to read for comprehension.

          • Jasper

            Staggeringly incorrect.

            It’s a question of “rescuing” them from themselves. It’s not all that dissimilar from “hate the sin, love the sinner.” I happen to think that many of these people would be perfectly decent people if it wasn’t for religion polluting their minds.

            You shouldn’t pretend to be telepathic. You’re really bad at it.

            • Freedom Fighter

              So you agree with the “hate the sin, love the sinner” idea?

              • Jasper

                I wouldn’t “agree” with it due to that I reject the idea of “sin”, but the idea that a person is salvageable or is simply mistaken about something, so I should treat the person decently, but the ideas should be eviscerated… it’s “similar”.

          • Geoff Boulton

            So, Christians will stop attacking homosexuality, stop telling people they’ll go to hell for their (lack of) beliefs or how about stopping quoting the old ‘a fool has said in his heart’ line? Of course they won’t. Hypocrites.

          • Georgina

            Nope, wrong. However your misconception is shared by many religious nuts: “I am my ideas”

            I so am not. I am flesh and blood. I bleed, I get offended, same as religious people, but so what?
            As long as those religious people don’t have the power to set me on fire, attempt to drown me, break my legs, blow me up, hang me or tie me to an anthill – all in the name of their religion, I really don’t give a damn. If they were a little less spoilt brat-ish, we might respect them more – however, their ideas are mainly BS, so no way can I respect them.

      • GCT

        So, you think that writing Jesus on a piece of paper and then stepping on it means you are actually stepping on your god? And, that asking students to do this while expecting them to have issues as part of the lesson plan is not showing human decency? When you learn some decency, maybe you’ll understand how stupid you sound.

      • blasphemous_kansan

        I have 2 questions in response to your comment:
        1) Were they really stomping on their gods, or were they just stomping on a piece of paper? Explain,
        2) What do you think happened to that paper after the exercise? If it was treated to anything but reverence, is that a reason to get offended? Why, or why not?

        • Freedom Fighter

          Kansas City has a Militant Atheist Activist who came from a country where they stomped on Christians, not just pieces of paper.

          He wants Christians to crawl under a rock and die.

          • blasphemous_kansan

            You’re really strange.

            Flagged

          • PietPuk

            Also flagged.

      • C Peterson

        Nobody is stomping on gods. In an elective class exploring multiculturalism, people are being asked to stomp on symbols that are related to their belief systems, and report on their feelings. That seems like a reasonable exercise. I think a professor would be justified in failing or otherwise penalizing a student who refused to participate. (To be clear, I’m not talking about the exercise as described, where nobody actually seems to have been required to follow through on stepping on the paper, but a more complex version where actually stepping on it was required.)

        I see no “human decency” in allowing people to avoid exercises that force them to explore their beliefs and values when they are attending college, a primary purpose of which is just such exploration.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Remind me again what right of his got denied? The kid doesn’t have a right to not be asked to do things that offend him.

    I don’t know where the christianists got the idea that the right to be whatever religion you want means that you have the right to have the world conform to special little you’s ideas, but I wish they’d get the Fuck over it.

    • Bob Becker

      Oh, I think ( presuming it all went down as he claims), he does have a right to refuse to stomp on Jesus. We would, most of us, agree that someone who disrespected a powerful symbol ( the flag, the cross) cannot and should not be punished by goverment for doing it. The converse is also true, that in a public university, a student cannot be compelled to disrespect such a symbol. Can’t be punished for doing it when he’s told not to, and can’t be punished for not doing it when he:s told to do it .I don’t see how one right is enforceable without the other. ( Again, presuming it all went down as he claimed.)

      • Pirate Froglet

        But what BR said was he doesn’t have the right to not be asked. Said nothing about being forced, coerced, or blackmailed. One can /ask/ anyone to do almost anything, offensive or not, but you also have the right to refuse, which is part of the exercise.
        I can ask you to jump off a bridge, and you can tell me ‘I’d rather not’ or ‘go fuck yourself’, that’s your right. Unless I put a gun to your loved-ones head (putting one to yours is counter-intuitive really, lose-lose situation), it remains a matter of speech.
        Nobody seems to be arguing that the kid had the right to refuse, just that the professor shouldn’t be punished for conducting a lesson and it might have hurt someone’s feelings, as the governor is suggesting.
        (it’s 1 am, so if I’m off base, or not making sense, sorry, let me know if I’m unclear.)

        • Bob Becker

          You’re right about BR’s post, and so about my post too. The student absolutely does not have an enforceable right not to be asked.. Thanks for the correction.

        • Bob Becker

          You’re right about BR’s post, and so you’re right about mine too. Student does not have an enforceable right not to be asked. Thanks for the correction.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Too funny not to satirize. Thanks for the story.

  • John

    “And why is a government official stepping into college classrooms and saying which specific lessons they can and cannot use?!” Particularly since the number of spelling and grammar errors in the Governor’s letter indicate he should RETURN to college.

    • Mario Strada

      That was appalling! Can’t he hire someone to write his blackmail?

    • allein

      I lost count of the number of [sic]s

    • Gus Snarp

      Rick Scott’s an idiot. And I wouldn’t worry about his presidential ambitions either, even my conservative Republican friends in Florida mostly hate him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Jynxx8775 Amber Rife

    This really interests me. On the surface, even I would heartily disagree with a professor asking a student to do that, and the student getting suspended because of that refusal. Looking at the prompt, it seems like the student’s reaction was precisely one of the things that the professor, and the prompt, was trying to elicit. Not to degrade his religious rights, but to create a discussion point within the frame of the class. That being said, why was he suspended? Either he was suspended unjustly, which is unacceptable, or the student is being less than honest about just HOW he went about disagreeing with the professor, and declining to take part in the exercise.

    I’m more inclined to think that if he was suspended, it was because his reaction was considerably less polite than what he claims.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      Exactly what I’m thinking. I find it hard to believe that he was suspended for refusing to do something he was EXPECTED to refuse to do. There’s more to this than he’s letting on.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Jynxx8775 Amber Rife

        Likely something along the lines of him ACTUALLY saying something like,

        “What the ****! I’m not going to step on Jesus’s name! That’s ****ing wrong, and your arse is getting sued! You’re going to lose your ****ing job for this!”

        Paraphrased. :P

        • Pirate Froglet

          Paraphrased is right! No way that kid would say arse, he’s a’merkin! :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/Jynxx8775 Amber Rife

            So am I. :P

            • Pirate Froglet

              Nah, you actually used the word ‘arsed’, so you’re probably more classifiable as ‘american’ ;)

    • Gus Snarp

      I’m not even buying that he was “suspended” at all. This is just not how Universities work. Even if he was screaming obscenities, he would not have been “suspended”. There is the chance that if his behavior was completely outrageous and disruptive, such as screaming obscenities, that he might have been asked to leave the class at that time, and later it might have been suggested that he drop the class if he could not behave in a reasonable manner. But not for refusing to step on the paper, and that’s still not a disciplinary act. There are very clearly delineated disciplinary and grievance procedures in place at a major university like this. There’s simply no way this happened as he describes it. If it did, then it certainly wasn’t the University, it would have simply been a mistake by the professor or department head, which could easily be resolved through a grievance procedure, or even just scheduling a meeting with the next administrator up the chain, which is not hard at all to do.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    It is amazing how many people immediately say they would never ask the students write Muhammad’s name and then step on it. People also have suggested they teacher have his groin stepped on and he looks like a Muslim. Others have stated if asked to write Obama and do the same, nobody would.

    It is also scary how violent some of these so called God fearing Christians will become over this sort of news article. Some have called for his home address.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Yeah, caught this on CNN earlier and my first thought was “smells like bullshit.”

  • SeekerLancer

    The first thing I thought when I heard this story on CNN was “whaaat?” then I learned what the exercise was, and like Jessica I instantly thought the claim that the student was suspended for not stepping on the name was incredulous.

    Even if the truth comes out and the student was suspended for another reason this has already unfortunately gone viral and and the hyperbolic version is bound to become memetic among Christians who want to cry persecution.

  • Sarah T.

    When I was in a Christian Youth Group, our youth pastor once threw a Bible across the room, hard, to demonstrate pretty much the same point, with a slightly different bent (that The Word is God, but the printed Bible is not The Word).

    • ~SoACTing

      I had a youth pastor once take a bible and rip it in half. It was an object lesson designed to show the youth group (consisting of 8th through 12th graders at the time) how the youth treat the bible like trash as opposed to it being ‘God’s. Holy Word.’ All I remember it being was traumatizing; not because of the lesson itself, but because of the anger in his demeanor.

      ~ SoACTing

  • Rain

    So this presumably adult college dude is taking an “intercultural communications” class, completely and totally missing the point of an exercise in sensitivity awareness, and being a whiny crybaby about it after having had it explained to him who knows how many times, even though he should have been clued in on the experience due to the name of the freaking course he is taking. Yeah, don’t let the doorknob hit on the way out, adult college dude person. I’m currently performing my own cultural sensitivity experiment by “flipping the bird” at said academic collegial, presumably adult, dude person.

    • Bob Becker

      We know how the textbook described the exercise. We do NOT, at this point, know how the professor actually conducted the exercise.

      • Rain

        http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/university-files-charges-against-student-who-refused-to-stomp-on-jesus.html

        However, according to a letter written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams, Rotela is facing a litany of charges – including an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”

        • Bob Becker

          All of which charges have been dropped and any record that they were eve brought has been removed from his record by the administration. And todate, so far as I know, three weeks after the event, the orofessir has issued no statement denying the student’s version of what happened.

          • Jason Loveless

            Is that something a professor at FAU can do unilaterally?

            • Gus Snarp

              No.

            • Bob Becker

              Not sure what you mean, exactly. If he brought the code of conduct charges against the student, he could probably withdraw them on his own. He cannot publically discuss the student’s performance in the class, but he absolutely can issue a statement describing his own conduct. Been in the professor biz forty plus years, and once this blew up, I’d have put out a statement immediately along these lines: ” At no time in that class did I coerce, or attempt to coerce, any student to stomp on Jesus. No student was threatened with either disciplinary charges under the code of student conduct nor with a lowered grade nor in any other way for refusing. There were in class that day 24 other students who can corroborate that none were coerced in any way, none were threatened with punishment for not complying. Any claim that the student was punished, or threatened with punishment , by me in class for not stomping on Jesus are false.”
              He hasn’t.

              • Jason Loveless

                May I assume you were not a professor of law? You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t immediately take your word about the circumstances of student confidentiality as legal gospel.

                • Bob Becker

                  No. Not a law professor. But veteran of 42 years as a professor at three ESUs ( Enormous State Universities), during which time the faculty was briefed costantly about legal matters that made administrators very nervous: race discrimination, gender discrimination, handicapped student rights, sexual harassment… and student confidentiality. In re: the latter, were we told we could discuss anything that applied to the entie class ( e,g. testing procedures, how the class was conducted, etc.) But nothing that revealed or commented on an individual student’s performance, behavior, etc.

          • Gus Snarp

            Professors and administrators are bound by confidentiality rules to protect the student’s privacy. They are not allowed to tell their side. Something Liberty Institute, who’s behind this whole thing, knows full well and takes full advantage of, aiming for just the sort of assumption you’re making.

            • Bob Becker

              The professor cannot discuss the student’s conduct in class publically. But he absolutely can discuss his own conduct. He can say at no time did he coerce, or attempt to coerce, any student in the class to stomp on Jesus. No student was threatened with a citation under the code of student coduct or with a lower grade or in any other way for not stomping. He has not done that. Such a statement in no way violates student confidentially.

              • Gus Snarp

                If there’s a disciplinary proceeding under way, which it appears that there certainly was at one point, he almost certainly cannot talk about the case at all. In addition, there are usually university policies on any communication with the media. That’s in addition to any instructions issued by the university in this particular case. In short, I just think you’re wrong.

                • Bob Becker

                  All I can report is my own experiece. Worked for three public universities in three different parts of the country. None required faculty to get permission to talk to the press, write public letters, etc. I know of two that trued to impose such a policy in the last few years. Both failed.
                  Again, the statement I outlined says nothing about the student’s classroom conduct and in no way violates his confidentially. It addresses onlythe professor’s conduct and he is free to make a statement about that.

            • 3lemenope

              FERPA is not that strict. I know this first hand, having been involved with litigation (and internal disciplinary procedures) against a university while being a student.

      • TheBlackCat13

        Considering the nature of the exercise, however, it would be expected that other students refused. Why was only this one student punished, then?

      • Christine

        The professor was asked not to comment due to the possibility of litigation, but he gave up on that because of the hard time he has been given on the case: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/04/01/interview-professor-center-jesus-debate-florida-atlantic

        • Bob Becker

          Thanjs for the link. In re: how the class was conducted, worth noting there was a classroom full of students, so this should be resolvable one way or the other. Either students were threatened for not stepping on the papers or they weren’t. Either the professor said “stomp on Jesus” or he didn’t. The class members will know.

          It will be harder to resolve the threat matter since it involved an after-class meeting. But if tge sole reason the U decided the classroom exercise will be banned was because the studeht was offended, then the U administration was both gutless and wrong in what it did.

          I used to tell students that if they went through four years of college and didn’t, at least a few times, hear from a professor something that offended them, upset them, caused them to question some long-held and cherished belief, they should march over to the bursar’s office and denand a refund because they will not have gotten the college education they paid for.

  • pagansister

    I live in Florida, and I have NO idea why our useless governor stuck his nose into this situation—or who he was trying to impress. Personally I have no problem with the lesson that was done—but agree that IF the student was actually suspended it was wrong to do so. All the prof. was trying to do was get reactions to a symbol that was strong. The whole point ( I think) was to garner reactions and then have the students explain why they could or couldn’t stomp on the piece of paper with the word “Jesus” on it…….and in the end it was a stupid piece of paper—–that’s all!

  • CPD

    Wow, I’ve never seen so many ‘I don’t know any of the facts other than what’s been reported, but if we make three hundred assumptions, I’m sure it didn’t really happen that way.” Then again, this is atheism we’re talking about.

    • Pattrsn

      Wow I’ve never seen such obvious strawmanning before, actually I’m kidding, I have, its an essential part of attacking atheism.

    • SeekerLancer

      Multiple people have said that if the reported facts are correct, then the professor is definitely at fault. I even said it.

      But there is really only a single assumption being made and I don’t think it’s very presumptuous at all to find the story fishy when the student claims to have been suspended for refusing to step on the piece of paper which was the outcome the lesson was actually trying to achieve.

      And if I’m wrong in assuming this and it all went down like the student said then I’m wrong, at least I’ll be willing to admit it.

      • Pirate Froglet

        I think this response deserves a good ol’ fashion, Blazing Saddles style ‘Harrumpf!’ Cheers.

    • GCT

      Wow. Please regale us with more of your religiously privileged wisdom.

    • cipher

      Rather like the way you assume the Bible is factually correct, isn’t it?

  • busterggi

    Rights, wrongs, what I want to know is when did Mormons become trinitarians?http://www.mormonwiki.org/Trinity

  • TnkAgn

    Ryan has been suspended? Now he has more time to peddle LDS claptrap door-to-door. It is that time of year.

  • Zaydin

    If you are wondering why Rick Scott is sticking his crooked nose where it doesn’t belong, there’s a simple answer: pandering, pure and simple. Rick Scott has been deemed the governor most likely to lose his seat next year, so the crook my fellow Floridians elected in 2010 is desperately trying to find something to glom onto to salvage his approval ratings and keep his job next year.

  • mikespeir

    I wouldn’t have stomped on Jesus, either. Not because I’m taken with the man or the religion he’s supposed to have started. I’m just not into tacky and puerile.

  • Mike Holt

    I am an atheist, but I dont call this a problem with christians who think that they are persecuted. If this were an atheist being offended at some prinicple that somehow could offend him as an atheist, we would be all over this. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. And YES a government official Should step in and stop a harmful lesson from going on if its designed to provoke people specifically on the god of their religion. How can we promote the seperation of church and state while at the same time not standing up for people on the religious side? How can we ask for ourselves, yet refuse the other side to have their rights protected? And if we wont stand up for them, then why in the world should they EVER stand up for us???

    • GCT

      “If this were an atheist being offended at some prinicple that somehow could offend him as an atheist, we would be all over this.”

      That really depends on the situation. If an atheist refused to step on a piece of paper that said, “Richard Dawkins,” and threw a fit over it, I’d tell that atheist they are being stupid.

      “And YES a government official Should step in and stop a harmful lesson from going on if its designed to provoke people specifically on the god of their religion.”

      Do you really not understand the point of the lesson?

  • Johannsone

    Wonder what would have happened if they put the governor’s name on the paper? Most students probably don’t even know who he is or what about the President’s name or the Queen of England? Why is Jesus so offensive, I mean he’s not God right or is he God? Or maybe he’s the Holy Spirit? Wait, I’m really confused. Maybe this kid should have thought about that spanish speaking Jesus he’s heard of. I don’t know, maybe the whole thing is one big psychology experiment. Write name on paper, get offended, let public pick sides and argue it to death. I can see how offended Jesus would be, I mean it’s no nailing to the cross but it must be real close. Hey, maybe we can write this clowns name on a piece of paper. Paper stock of my choice – toilet paper. This whole story is just sh!t.

  • Stomp On Gandhi

    Or how about a Stomp on The “Friendly” Atheist day?

    • GCT

      No problem. I would write Hemant Mehta’s name on a piece of paper and step on it without hesitation. Why? Because it’s just a piece of paper.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

        I am deeply offended by this and I— just kidding. I’d totally step on it, too.

        • Jessica

          No one ever wants to step on Jessica :(

          • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.glasencnik Rebecca Glasencnik

            Jessica, probably because they’re thinking on other things LOL.

            Take it as a compliment ;)

          • GCT

            No offense meant.

            If you guys want, I’ll write all the Friendly Atheist co-bloggers on a sheet of paper and jump up and down on it.

  • darrin

    Good article. Too bad most of the responses aren’t of the same quality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    In Governor Scott’s defense, “judgement” is an accepted alternative spelling to “judgment.”

  • Trickster Goddess

    Wait a minute, here… The student claims he was suspended but the university claims:

    we can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or
    disciplined
    by the University as a result of any activity that took
    place during this class

    So either he is mistaken about being suspended, or if he actually was suspended, it wasn’t for anything he did or didn’t do in that class.

  • Gus Snarp

    This is absolutely absurd. I’m sorry, I don’t buy a word of this. This is a major public university, they simply don’t operate this way. You don’t get suspended from class for not participating, or even for arguing with a professor. It doesn’t happen. And if it did, I guarantee that FAU, like all universities, has a grievance process available to this student, and that those processes are very forgiving to students, assuming that whatever happened does not involve evidence of real academic misconduct, like plagiarism. Universities are also extremely sensitive to bad PR and lawsuits. They’ll bend over backward to satisfy students who are often clearly in the wrong if they simply complain to an administrator, let alone file an official grievance. This student is either flat out lying or is incredibly confused about what took place and has confabulated an awful lot.

    Yet as is all too common, respect for his privacy has caused the school not to comment, so he is free to write the story and they don’t get to tell their side. I respect privacy as much as the next guy, but there comes a point at which, if you’re going to go to the media, the school has to be able to take their side to the media as well, in full.

    I wonder if this student went through the grievance process in place at FAU before he went on a media crusade.

    • Valancy Jane

      As a young fundamentalist in the 80s with stars in her eyes and a borrowed Thompson’s Chain Reference in her hand, I argued many times with my professors. (As you might guess, I lost–to an M.Div with much more understanding of the subject than I had. But I had to TAKE A STAND!) And I did in fact walk out of a Human Sexuality class I took for my major because I objected to seeing what I considered pornography in class. I didn’t get in any trouble; my university did everything it could to make me feel comfortable and accommodate my views. But the man I married, also a fundamentalist, did end up with a similar restraining order put on him by a professor who said she felt very threatened by his constant outbursts in class. I’m still not sure exactly what he said to make her feel that way–she’d never tell me, and I did ask–but you’re right: if the university is putting that kind of order on him, something that goes well beyond a “with all due respect” disagreement over a class exercise.

  • Gus Snarp

    OK, there is one part I could buy, and that is that he said “with all due respect, etc.” Because no, humans don’t talk like that, but young Mormons do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darren.nolen Darren Nolen

    This points to why I was always so very disappointed in most
    of my fellow Christians, back in my Theist days. I imagine I would have proudly
    stepped on the paper, then taken the opportunity to explain to everyone in the
    class, and the professor, that Jesus was God almighty, and that he lived not in
    a piece of paper, or in a crucifix, but in my heart. I would have further
    explained that treating a piece of paper with the word Jesus on it as if it had
    some meaning was to fall prey to the sin of idolatry. I imagine I would have
    finished up with a reminder that Jesus / God was all powerful, and that nothing
    we could do, certainly not stepping on a paper, would cause him the slightest
    inconvenience, that the most we could ever do to God was disappoint him, and
    knowing the content of our hearts he would take no offense to such an academic exercise.

    I would have been contemptuous of those who hesitated or
    refused, considering them to be superstitious, “Baby Christians”.

    Now, I would be happy to take the same tact, but with the
    words “Freedom” or “Reason” or “Atheism” or “Humanism” or “Equality”.

  • Gus Snarp

    So according to a Fox News report, a dean wrote the following:

    However, according to a letter written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams, Rotela is facing a litany of charges – including an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”

    “In the interim, you may not attend class or contact any of the students involved in this matter – verbally or electronically – or by any other means,” Williams wrote to Rotela. “Please be advised that a Student Affairs hold may be placed on your records until final disposition of the complaint.”

    That’s very serious language. This kind of complaint should not be happening because of what the student described. Which leaves us with two possibilities. Either the professor lied about the incident to create this situation, or the student lied. But what this letter indicates is that a disciplinary procedure was being undertaken, but the student decided to go to the media and get the Liberty Institute involved instead of proceeding through the academic system. That suggests that he’s either lying, and he really issued threats or intimidation, or he simply didn’t understand that the system would actually favor him if there were not serious evidence of actual threats and intimidation and he had no trust in the system. Either is possible.

    In any case, this is not a “suspension” in disciplinary terms. Had he gone through the process and were he actually innocent of issuing threats, he probably would have been cleared and allowed to continue his study without problems. His removal from class was due to safety concerns, and while those concerns may or may not have been legitimate, it’s a pretty dramatic step. For an individual professor to have been dishonest and overstate what happened is only slightly more unlikely than that the student has been dishonest. But ultimately, what happened is the student made an end run around the ordinary process, one put in place expressly to protect students like him from arbitrary punishment and protect academic freedom, and instead went to the media, resulting in the University preventing that lesson from being used again, thereby limiting the academic freedom of its professors.

    This is a lose-lose situation. Except for the Liberty Institute, who I suspect are really the worst parties involved. If we’re charitable to the student and assume his account is true, what happened is likely that he contacted the Liberty Institute because he was afraid of the disciplinary process, and the Liberty Institute, which has a political and media agenda as its number one priority, rather than the student’s best interest, told him he couldn’t trust the process and must instead create a media firestorm. So they go what they wanted. I guess its lose-lose-win.

  • Witchgawd

    with all due respect, Rick Scott is a giant dick and thankfully, most likely a one term *cough* governor *cough*. He’s a POS and if Florida had a recall system in place, he would have been gone before his first year in office was up. Lots of stupid people in this state and unfortunately, it seems many of them vote.

  • Gus Snarp

    I sincerely hope that other students who may have witnessed the events come forward to tell their side of this story.

    • Valancy Jane

      If it was anything like the classes I attended at a public university, there were a couple dozen other people in there. I’d be interested in hearing their side of what happened as well. I’m distrustful of anything this sensationalistic coming out of a Christian’s mouth; they are not, in my humble opinion based upon personal experience, a very trustworthy bunch when it comes to an opportunity to further their internal persecution monologue.

  • Gus Snarp

    Ultimately, this is a crushing blow to academic freedom and sets a terrible precedent. It says that instead of going through the due process designed to protect you and academic freedom and get to the truth, you can instead go to the media and politicians and get pressure applied to force professors to change what they teach and get any repercussions of your actions, if in fact they were wrong, to disappear, regardless of who was in the right. These issues should be decided by due process, not by right wing media, political pressure, and a cowardly administration. That’s true no matter who’s version of events is correct.

  • curtcameron

    I think a recap is in order. The professor did an exercise in class that the students were expected to be uncomfortable with, and (likely since most of the class would be Christian) refuse to do. Rotela was one of those who refused, and told the professor he wouldn’t do it in no uncertain terms.

    Everything so far is fine. If I may interpolate, I’m sure the professor was thinking that this student missed the point, which was to think about why he was uncomfortable with it.

    A few days later Rotela was still upset and talked to the supervisor. We don’t know what was said, but according to his account she told him not to go back to that class.

    Why would the supervisor tell him that? It certainly was NOT because he refused to step on the paper! What else could it have been? The conversation I imagine here is that Rotela told her that either the professor goes or he goes, and she told him the professor wasn’t going, so maybe he shouldn’t go back to that class.

    Now maybe the college did something wrong, but I haven’t seen anything to this story that makes me think they did.

  • Carpinions

    This will of course fuel another years-long round of incensed conservative foaming via peoples’ email inboxes, and at least 1 Snopes article. I can see the obnoxious 20pt fonts and eye-stabbing color schemes of their chain emails now.

    I only had to read the first 25% of this story to deduce what happened. This is far from the first time (ditto the last) that a class exercise has produced chicken little results that make it into the media and that people lose their collective minds over for no reason for years after. These stories happen every so often because universities, being the kind of places that supports all sorts of ideas and thinking, inevitably and involuntarily weed out someone who doesn’t like a particular experiment, thought exercise, etc. because it offends their pre-formed or inculcated political, religious, “common sense”, whatever sensibilities. They then react in overly dramatic ways, usually claiming they are being singled out or discriminated against, and they go telling everyone who will listen. Rinse, repeat.

  • Pureone

    I’m confused. Didn’t some cheerleaders want the right to stomp on the name of their god during school-sponsored activities? Which is it? Stomp? Not stomp? Christ, I wish they’d come to a consensus.

  • Andrew Pang

    “If a student is never made uncomfortable, that student is not getting an education.” –PZ Myers

  • Oranje

    I’ve had this frustration before teaching literature. Picking something that has a bit of controversy (think A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes) to promote discussion and ask questions of what we hold as real and sacred is something I won’t do again. I had a couple of students who pointed out how blasphemous it was. At first I was pleased: they had a strong reaction and they could articulate exactly what the problem was. Nope. Instead, they opted to not participate and pointed out that I “can’t make them do anything.” I mean, the whole point was that I wanted them to think, to react, to engage with a text in a way beyond “I like it” or “I don’t like it.”

    Open-minded education just isn’t for some people.

  • John Gills

    As a teacher who has known some controversy, I look forward to the follow-up stories.

  • Friendly_Autist

    Does the governor of Florida not have spellcheck on his computer? “Inconsequentional”

    • TheBlackCat13

      Computer, what sort of demonic invention is that? He does things the God-given way, with papyrus scrolls.

  • BrainFromArous

    Update!

    FIRE.org has received and posted the letter Ryan Rotela received from FAU Assoc Dean Williams, which clearly and emphatically states that he was banned from the class in question and ordered him to not even discuss the matter with any other students who were there.

    Link
    http://thefire.org/article/15611.html

    Two things to take note of here:

    1) A government official (FAU is a public university) is telling a student being brought up on charges that he must not discuss the matter with anyone involved – which of course would include any and all eye-witnesses.

    2) The charges are described thusly: “[a]cts of verbal, written (including electronic communications) or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”

    Are you kidding me? You could empty the entire campus enforcing such a standard. Again, this is a public university we’re talking about. Their students – including Rotela – are legal adults entitled to due process and equal protection under the law.

    Even if Rotela’s crisis of conscience was the worst episode of abject idiocy since Ray Comfort held up that banana, FAU’s “Student Conduct Conference” procedure is nothing but a Star Chamber.

    Nor is this anything new, alas. FIRE.org came into existence in response to university faculties and admins going berserk with “speech codes,” “safety rules” and Kangaroo Court campus disciplinary systems.

    Indeed, as FIRE.org points out elsewhere in their letter to FAU, their conduct rules are blatantly unconstitutional and illegal.

    Link
    http://thefire.org/article/15613.html

    So, is Ryan Rotela a big, crybaby jerk? I don’t know and neither do you. But we’d sure as hell never find out from how FAU would handle the case.

    Whatever his other culpability, Rotela was absolutely correct in going to the media, making noise and publicly shaming FAU.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Excuse me, but those are pretty standard… standards. You absolutely do not have the right to harass, intimidate, threaten, or abuse others, and it is quite reasonable to tell the person who engaged in harassing, intimidating, etc., behaviors NOT to engage with others involved in the incident because the person, you know, could harass, intimidate, threaten, or abuse the witnesses into supporting his side or recanting their previous statements to investigators.

      All quite constitutional, in fact, and SOP when dealing with abusers… at least when the victims are male.

      • BrainFromArous

        wmdkitty,

        1) There is a difference, in law and jurisprudence, between a person accused of offenses versus one proven to have committed them. Treating Rotela as guilty before such guilt can actually be established is bad enough; regarding him as actively and persistently dangerous to his classmates, based only on what we know thus far, is inexcusable.

        2) The people running FAU are civil service education bureaucrats. They are not judges, officers of any civil or criminal court or law enforcement agents. Yet they would accord themselves the power to “gag” adult students at their school after publicly accusing them of misconduct.

        3) Please read FIRE.org’s letter(s) to FAU, again, taking special notice where and how they point out explicitly that the language in “conduct codes” adopted by FAU and other schools has repeatedly been found unconstitutional and illegal in State and Federal courts.

        4) Your comment “when dealing with abusers” I take as a reference to police intervention in domestic violence calls and similar situations. On what basis would you, or do you, compare l’affaire Rotela to something so dire?

        • GCT

          Try an experiment for me:

          Go into your workplace and start issuing threats. When you’re escorted out the door and asked not to speak to anyone there again, tell them that they can’t do that since you’re an adult and they aren’t judges. See how far you get.

          • Guest

            GCT,

            FAU is a public university and as part of the government answers to different legal standards that a private employer.

            In any “at will” job, for example, your employer can fire you and bar you from the premises for just about any reason under the sun – for not liking your fashion sense, say. This is not analogous to the status of a student at a state school.

            Also quite different is the matter of “charges.” Rotela was not merely told to leave a classroom. He was threatened with “charges” stemming for his supposed threats and whatnot. Private companies cannot file “charges” or hold “trials” that have any force in law.

            Regarding those charges, if the school had grounds to believe that Rotela made genuine, legally actionable threats (known as “True Threats” in the law) and presented an ongoing danger to others, then his expulsion from the classroom was justified and in fact his actions should have been reported to law enforcement.

            They were not. FAU chose instead to handle the whole thing through its internal, kangaroo-court mechanisms. This is highly suspicious and coupled with FAU’s abrupt about-face when the story “went public,” it does not inspire confidence in the integrity and honesty of FAU’s admins.

            Here’s a good recap of this sorry mess, from FIRE.org again:

            http://thefire.org/article/15623.html

          • BrainFromArous

            GCT,

            FAU is a public university and as part of the government answers to different legal standards than a private employer.

            In any “at will” job, for example, your employer can fire you and bar you from the premises for just about any reason under the sun – for not liking your fashion sense, say. This is not analogous to the status of a student at a state school.

            Also quite different is the matter of “charges.” Rotela was not merely told to leave a classroom. He was threatened with “charges” stemming for his supposed threats and whatnot. Private companies cannot file “charges” or hold “trials” that have any force in law.

            Regarding those charges, if the school had grounds to believe that Rotela made genuine, legally actionable threats (known as “True Threats” in the law) and presented an ongoing danger to others, then his expulsion from the classroom was justified and in fact his actions should have been reported to law enforcement.

            They were not. FAU chose instead to handle the whole thing through its internal, kangaroo-court mechanisms. This is highly suspicious and coupled with FAU’s abrupt about-face when the story “went public,” it does not inspire confidence in the integrity and honesty of FAU’s admins.

            Here’s a good recap of this sorry mess, from FIRE.org again:

            http://thefire.org/article/15623.html

            (For some reason this comment posted as “Guest” the first time despite my being signed into to Discus.)

  • David Wood

    Just watched the local news today Dr. Poole has been asked to take a leave because his safety has been compromised. http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/region_s_palm_beach_county/boca_raton/dr-deandre-poole-florida-atlantic-university-professor-in-jesus-stomping-debacle-put-on-leave

  • Cathy den Boer

    And
    inasmuch as mine enemies come against you … ye shall curse them; And
    whomsoever ye curse, I will curse, and ye shall avenge me of mine enemies (Doctrine and Covenants,
    103:24-25).

  • Cathy den Boer

    1) “It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn
    for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable
    church. Nephi saw this ‘church which is the most abominable above all other
    churches’ in vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it’ and
    also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that
    historically have been a part of this satanic organization.(Bruce R. McConkie.
    Mormon Doctrine [1958], 130.)

    2) “I think no more of taking another wife than I do of
    buying a cow.” – Apostle Heber C. Kimball, The Twenty Seventh Wife, Irving
    Wallace, p. 101.

    3) “Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not
    to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the
    habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here,
    and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here
    before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake.” – Apostle
    Heber C. Kimball, The Lion of the Lord, New York, 1969, pp

    4) “You may inquire of the intelligent of the world
    whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome,
    ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation …When the Lord has a
    people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if
    they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break his covenants he has
    made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites
    and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a
    white and delightsome people” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses
    7:336).

    5) “The day of the Lamanites in nigh. For years they
    have been growing delightsome. . . The children in the home placement program
    in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the
    reservation. . .There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had
    an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the
    younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young
    members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. Spencer
    W. Kimball; The Improvemant, Era, Dec. 1960, p. 923)

    6) “You see some classes of the human family that are
    black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and
    seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is
    generally bestowed upon mankind….Cain slew his brother. Can might have been
    killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings.
    This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose
    and black skin.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, page 290).

    7) “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the
    African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood
    with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.
    This will always be so.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10,
    page 110.)

    8) “Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but
    because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race.”
    (Tenth LDS President, Joseph Fielding Smith The Way to Perfection, p.101.)

    9) “Let us consider the great mercy of God for a
    moment. a Chinese, born in China with a dark skin, and with all the handicaps
    of that race seems to have little opportunity. but think of the mercy of god to
    Chinese people who are willing to accept the gospel. In spite of whatever they
    might have done in the pre-existence to justify being born over there as Chinamen,
    if they now, in this life, accept the gospel and live it the rest of their
    lives they can have the Priesthood, go to the temple and receive endowments and
    sealings, and that means they can have exaltation. Isn’t the mercy of God
    marvelous?

    Think of the Negro, cursed as to the priesthood… This
    Negro, who in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord
    in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and
    possibly being born in darkest Africa–if that Negro is willing when he hears
    the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In
    spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro
    accepts the gospel with real, sincerer faith, and is really converted, to give
    him the blessing of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is
    faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go
    there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory. (Race Problems–As They
    Affect The Church, An address by Mark E. Petersen at the Convention of Teachers
    of Religion on the College level; Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August
    27, 1954.)

    10) “We do not intend to admit to our campus any
    homosexuals. If any of you have this tendency and have not completely abandoned
    it, may I suggest that you leave the university immediately after this
    assembly…. We do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your
    presence.” (Ernest Wilkinson, president of Brigham Young University, in a
    1965 lecture to the BYU student body, titled: “Make Honor your
    Standard.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

    Talk about pretzels. The author going through twists and turns to find a reason to justify her criticism. Try stomping on the picture or paper with Mohammad written on it. See how long she can keep her head ? Asking somebody to stomp on the core of his belief is like asking him to stomp the core of his existence.

    • Beutelratti

      You still haven’t gotten this? His reaction was WANTED and ANTICIPATED. He was supposed to have those feelings and supposed to decline to stomp on it so that it could later be discussed how powerful these symbols are.

      What we have here is someone utterly misunderstanding the purpose of this exercise and then claiming it was an attack on his religious beliefs. He was NOT forced to stomp on Jesus. He was SUPPOSED to decline and he didn’t need to do it. How is that so hard to understand?

      Try reading more into the topic of Intercultural Communication, it’s highly interesting.

    • Beutelratti

      Addendum to that: I know this because I attended several of these Intercultural Communication classes at my university.

      It is really a simple exercise to show the students how powerful certain symbols can be. And that the name Jesus written on a piece of paper is anything else than a symbol is out of question.

      If the student was so close-minded that he misunderstood this simple exercise as an attack on his religion, then this class was probably not the right place for him in the first place.

      It’s all about thinking retrospectively and he failed at that.

      I won’t comment on the process that happened afterwards for I don’t know if the university and its officials acted accordingly or simply falsely. We don’t know yet. What remains though is that the student in question is absolutely overreacting about the Jesus-on-a-piece-of-paper thing. It was an exercise, he failed it and he obviously still hasn’t understood it or simply refuses to understand it because he’d rather be offended.

  • Sarah

    Getting upset over other people being upset at this “exercise” is hypocritical and flat out stupid. People get upset if someone tries talk about religion (of any kind not just Jesus related religions) in school, but when you’re doing something that can be perceived as anti-religious…then it’s ok…?

    I have a feeling if someone mentioned in school about how much Jesus loves you, or Bhudda loves you, or Muhammad loves you (you get my point), then you would be on that band wagon of angry screaming bloggers. HOW DARE THEY disrespect our beliefs as an atheist and say their God loves me! Outrage outrage!

    But of course if someone says or does something that is basically anti religious then it’s all cozy and ok.

    Tolerance, the whole coexists statements and equal rights are great and all, but people like you only act like you believe those ideals when it fits alongside your theology.

    Hypocrites.

    • TheBlackCat13

      If someone took a divinity course at college and was taught that Jesus loved them, I wouldn’t expect many people here to criticize them. It is part of the course, and anyone with half a brain should be expected to know that signing up.

      It is the same situation here. In a class about “Intercultural Communication”, you might be *gasp* taught to communicate with other cultures with different beliefs, different priorities, and different things they consider appropriate and inappropriate. And it is not really possible to do that unless students understand those things in themselves. That is what this exercise is about. Anyone taking such a course had to have known it was going to challenge the privileged position they give their religious beliefs. After all, it is a course about “Intercultural Communication”, not “Lecturing Other Cultures About How Great My Religion Is”.

    • GCT

      Why is it so hard for the religious commenters here to understand the point of the exercise? If you understood the point, then you would understand why your whole entire post is stupid.

      Further, please name what beliefs are entailed by atheism. There are none. Please check your religious privilege at the door and start acting like a civilized person.

    • Beutelratti

      And here’s another christian commenter utterly misunderstanding this exercise because she’d rather be offended and cry murder. Incredible. And you have the nerves to call us hypocrites.

    • Beutelratti

      And here’s another christian commenter utterly misunderstanding this exercise because she’d rather be offended and cry murder. Incredible. And you have the nerves to call us hypocrites.

  • Christine

    Ok, I made it through all the comments (and spammed this link down a few times where needed), no one else seems to have updated yet: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/04/01/interview-professor-center-jesus-debate-florida-atlantic

    The professor had indeed been asked to not speak (I incorrectly stated in one of my comments that this was due to potential litigation, but that seems to be me mis-reading the article). He decided that he needed to anyhow.

    His version of what happened agrees with what the university says for why the student faced disciplinary action: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/29/why-was-fau-student-suspended-jesus-case

    And for the record – not all of us Christians commenting here think that the student had any justification for fussing over the exercise. There was (maybe still is?) a sociology course where the students were given various taboos to break, and if they weren’t willing to do so they had to write an essay on how this wasn’t hypocritical of them, and how they could still be a good scientist. And just to show how much this wasn’t biased against religion, there was one exercise which guaranteed everyone had to do the essay option: eating human flesh.

  • Hzuiel

    Thank you Jessica for having the insight to see this. I am Christian myself and I saw through this news trickery instantly. Inflamed debates generate money for news companies, so they more than love to report a slanted version of the story to get everyone riled up. The news is intentionally working Christians up to make themselves more money. Think about that.

    My first thought was “in what context was he asked to stomp on jesus?” rather than jumping to the conclusion that it was automatically a derogatory lesson. After reading more into it, it’s apparent the point of the lesson plan was to make the students think, not to bash anyone’s particular religious views. As long as the teacher was leading the lesson and discussion in an unbiased manner, it is likely the student simply failed to understand the point of the lesson and over reacted. This sadly makes most of us Christians look dimwitted and reactionary.

    Our culture is becoming centered around jumping to conclusions and being easily offended. The political correctness movement is one example of this. It’s as if most of us exist in a state where we’re constantly at the ready for when an excuse to blow a gasket comes along.

  • Thank you

    A news article that doesn’t speculate? I’m impressed. Thank you for sharing news how it is supposed to be — without injecting speculations as fact. What a breath of fresh air.

  • SAVED

    as A PROUD CHRISTIAN, I SEE THIS AS AN AWFUL DISCRIMINATION ON ANY GROUNDS.


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