Indoctrination in the Classroom: Teacher at Florida University Forces Students to Stomp on Jesus’ Name

I’ve read stories about the use of schools to indoctrinate students against Christianity in the Communist block all my life. 

Most of the methods that I read about were crude, but effective. I put the behavior of an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University smack in the middle of crude and overt use of the classroom to attack Christians and Christianity.

Evidently, Dr Deandre Poole wrote the name Jesus on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and told his students to step on it. The point was supposedly to prove something about symbols. One of the students, a Mormon, refused, and was subsequently penalized. When the student protested to the administration, he was suspended from the class.

Public outrage subsequently forced Florida Atlantic University to issue an apology.

“We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused,” the university said in a prepared statement to Fox News. “Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

The apology comes after a student complained that FAU professor Deandre Poole offended his religious beliefs when he instructed his intercultural communications class earlier this month to stomp on a piece of paper with  “Jesus” written on it. The student was subsequently suspended from the class.

The school said the lesson will no longer be used, Fox News reported.

Does anyone reading this doubt that this is (1) use of the schools to indoctrinate students against Christianity, (2) overt discrimination against Christians and (3) a lot more common than any of us want to admit?


I could write about the obvious here, but I’m not going to do that. Many of the stories about this focus on the fact that the professor is an official in the Florida Democratic Party. I’m not defending that. But I do think that making it about party politics trivializes the story and avoids a major issue.

I don’t want to explain one more time why this is discrimination. I’m not going to point out that our schools are being used to teach our children to hate Christ. I am not even going to go into one of my major hobby horses, which is the evils of party politics.

What I want to talk about are the students in this class who went along with this professor and stepped on the name of Jesus. Only one of them, a practicing member of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, had the gumption to say “no.” Where were the Catholics? Where were the Southern Baptists? Where were the other kids who should have been saying “no.”

Why did this one young person have to stand for Jesus alone while all the rest of the students went ahead and participated?

If this happened to you, what would you do? What have you done when different versions of it did happen to you?

I’m not writing this to make people feel bad. I am writing this to encourage you — yes, YOU — to not go along with attacks on Our Lord when they happen right in front of you. 

That would end it, you know. If Christians stopped allowing it to be done, it would have to stop. All we need is some guts. 

AttheNameofJesus 1

This article from WND Education has details, but the story has been covered by many sources, including network news.

A Florida college professor causing national outrage for requiring students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then put it on the floor and stomp on it, turns out also to be a top official in the local Democratic Party – the latest in a string of acute leadership embarrassments.

Although one student who refused to participate claims he was punished by being suspended from the class, Florida Atlantic University is defending the controversial assignment.

The dissenting student, Ryan Rotela, told the local CBS TV affiliate WPEC that his instructor, associate professor Deandre Poole, told everyone in the class to write the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper in bold letters, then put it on the floor and stomp on it.

Rotela, a junior from Coral Springs, said some of his classmates complied, but he refused.

“Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value,” he told WPEC.

A religious Mormon who attends church every Sunday, Rotela complained to school officials but said they responded by suspending him from the class.

According to Florida Atlantic University, Poole was conducting an exercise from the textbook “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”

A synopsis of the lesson plan in question, obtained by Fox News, goes like this:

“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.”




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  • Dale

    I am glad that the university will no longer use that exercise. I would encourage any other professor or university to consider doing so. The exercise is designed to be provocative. It is intended to offend students and then immediately discuss why they feel offended. The intention of the exercise is have students directly experience the power of symbols.

    Here is what the teacher’s manual for the textbook, which was used in class, describes the exercise:

    “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.”

    This exercise requires that a teacher have a very good relationship with his students and use a great deal of diplomacy in soothing student reactions. I think the offensive of nature of this exercise is obvious.

    The student who complained to the professor’s supervisor was not the only student who refused to stomp on the name of Jesus. However, that student was the only one to reject the professor’s explanation and complain to someone higher up in the university.

    Why the student was removed from the class is unclear to me, but likely has to do with the deteriorating relationship between the student and professor. I certainly would not want to be graded by someone against whom I filed a major complaint. I think we need to know more information about what happened, and about the context. For example, is the course required for that student’s major? Is the course being offered by another professor this semester? If not, will the tuition and expenses be reimbursed? We do know, from the university’s apology, that the student was not suspended or disciplined by the university.

    Again, I think the exercise which was used in class is deliberately provocative and designed to offend. It seems an unwise practice. Why the professor refused to apologize for causing offense baffles me. However, we haven’t heard any account of what happened except from the student who filed the complaint. The fact that many students refused to stomp of Jesus’ name, but only one student complained to a supervisor suggests that an apology may have been made, but that the one student considered it to be inadequate and demanded more. Why the professor was unable to satisfy the student is unclear.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’m glad to hear that other students refused to do this. I am not challenging you. Please don’t think so. I would like to learn more about how many students refused to participate. Can you give some sources I could go to?

      Frankly, this “exercise” does not sound like education to me. It sounds like a brainwashing technique. When did provocation of students’ by attempting to get them to degrade symbols of their faith become higher education? The way to “study” the use of symbols would be to approach it in a scholarly manner. This “exercise” isn’t scholarship or teaching.

      • Dale

        Hi Rebecca, thank you for asking for more information. I don’t see this as a challenge, but as a sensible request when reading a claim which seems contrary to your own understanding of the situation. Besides, this is your blog…. you can do anything you want! :)

        Unfortunately, there seems to be a dearth of information. All sources on the web lean heavily on the initial news story from the local television station, CBS12. In part, this seems to be due to the university and the professor being unwilling to discuss the matter.

        Here is the sentences in the CBS12 story which indicates that other students didn’t stomp on Jesus’ name

        “He said the instructor in his Intercultural Communications class at FAU told everyone in the class to take out a piece of paper, write the word JESUS on it in bold letters, and then put the paper on the floor and stomp on it.

        Ryan said while some of his classmates did it, he did not. ”

        I think this is indirectly confirmed in the university’s official statement, which reads, in part:

        “Contrary to some media reports, no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate”

        I wish some reporter, somewhere, had been able to get a count of how many students stomped, and how many did not. But I have not been able to find those numbers.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Thanks Dale. I’ll probably not get to this until Monday. I try to focus on my family from mass Saturday through all day Sunday.

  • vox borealis

    Great post! I teach in university, and I cannot possibly imagine teaching class—on any subject—that would include such behavior. It’s appalling. It offends me as a person of faith and as an educator.

  • Yvain

    This seems like it proves the opposite of what you’re saying.

    The lesson (which was straight from the textbook) was supposed to be on symbolism. The lesson as far as I could tell was to show people how much they cared about symbols (eg words) by showing them that they were reluctant to stomp on the written name of Jesus – that is, symbolically defile a verbal representation of something important to them. They didn’t use the name of Mohammed because presumably most of the class wasn’t Muslim and wouldn’t care and it wouldn’t teach anything.

    (if I’d been teaching the class, I would have replaced “Jesus” with an American flag or the words “my mother”, just because half the class was probably non-Christian and so the assignment did nothing for them. But this is stupidity, not malice.)

    No one was punished for refusing to step on the name because the whole point was for students to refuse to step on the name and then explain why. It sounds like one kid was punished for complaining about it to school officials later (by the officials, not the professor). Obviously this is still horrible since people should be allowed to complain, but I am suspicious of this story and would not be surprised if “suspension from that professor’s class” is part of procedures when they’re reviewing a student complaint against a professor. But maybe school the officials are just power-hungry idiots, who knows?

    The real story here seems to be that a slightly weird assignment has gotten 3.9 million Google hits and been picked up by CBS, Fox News, and several other national news networks. The prof’s political leanings are viewed as important national news and probably part of a conspiracy, even though he was just following the textbook. In other words, it’s a sign of Christian power, not Christian weakness. Any assignment that even mentions disrespecting Jesus, even for a legitimate educational goal, will get people attacking you on national news and require an apology from your entire university. Meanwhile, I’ve had teachers criticize atheism in class and trust me, they never ended up on CBS news or with 3.9 million Google hits because of it.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Yvain, I think that higher education has become extremely degraded if anyone could consider this exercise as anything other than emotional manipulation and violation of the students as people. I won’t go into the use of textbooks rather than original sources and broader literature in higher education — that’s a topic for a whole series of posts and maybe even a book — but I will say that this technique is classic brainwashing and emotional manipulation. It is not education.

      • Yvain

        I agree with you about textbooks vs. original thought. I think half the problem is that the textbook authors probably just thought of something that was academically interesting without thinking of the actual ramifications, and the professor just did it because it was the thing in the textbook and you can’t get in trouble for doing what’s right there in the book. If the professor had actually had to think for himself, maybe he would have been a little more sensitive.

  • pagansister

    I didn’t hear this on the news or anywhere else today, so I’m going by what is in the posting. Personally, I think that the exercise could have been very potent in teaching the use of symbols/symbolism. It was pretty straightforward —–use a symbol on a piece of paper, (one that might/should provoke strong feelings) and ask the students to step on it. Some would, I expect and some wouldn’t. The explanations from the students as to whether they couldn’t or could step on the symbol was the point of the experiment. IF the prof asked the students to step on it, is that a “requirement” or a request? The text plan apparently said use the word “Jesus.” I disagree with the suspending of the student for complaining, but really don’t see a problem with the overall experiment. I suspect the prof could have put a different name, or symbol, as suggested above in another post ( a cross perhaps, or a Star of David, or a crucifix, an American flag, the words father or mother, etc) instead of the name “Jesus”. Would the other symbols have stirred the same feeling(s)? Personally, I don’t think it was an attack on Christianity—but that is just my opinion. According to the article, some students did do as requested. It reminds me of a famous class experiment done (I think) in either the 1960′s or perhaps the 1970′s when a teacher divided children with blue eyes into one group and the ones with brown eyes in another group. One group would have the privileges and the other wouldn’t. It was to demonstrate discrimination……..Don’t remember the age of the children. The above reminds me a little of that, rightly or wrongly.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Pagansister, all of what you are talking about is a manipulation of students and brainwashing of one sort or the other. Of course this was an attack on Christianity. From the way it’s described, it sounds as if it was also far below the academic standards of what I think of as college level curricula. If the purpose of the course was to explore symbolism, then the way to do that was through a scholarly approach befitting the university environment. As I said in the first sentence, this appears to be a manipulation designed to offend the students’ faith and then “talk” about it and explain to them why they should not have been offended — all under the guise of “studying symbolism.”

      There are really four things about this that offend me. One is that it is substandard teaching. The second is that it violates the moral and emotional integrity of the students. The third is that it is deliberately prejudicial toward Christians and Christianity. The fourth is that it attacks Jesus Christ.

      I’m not surprised that some people try to jump in and explain how this was not what it clearly was. That appears to be sop anytime the subject of mistreating Christians or using the power of government (this is a public university) to attack faith comes up. Go back through my posts on topics like this. The pattern is almost absolute. However, there are not only specific instances like this, but there is also a pattern of behavior like this.

      If one person does something like this, then that person is a jerk. If similar behavior becomes widespread, accepted and actively defended by a large segment of the population, that is prejudice. When it occurs in government-funded institutions, it is discrimination.

      This happened in a public university as a result of a professor using a textbook that was presumably selected and incorporated into the syllabus for this course by whoever does those things at this institution. When this was first brought to the attention of the University officials, they did nothing about it, but rather defended it. That makes it discriminatory.

      • pagansister

        Would it have been different if the prof had just written the word Jesus on the board several times (if they still use chalk boards!) and asked students to put an “X” thru it or erase it? Then he could ask the students who agreed, how they felt having done that, and those who refused, why they did so. Would that way of presenting the lesson been different than the way it was done? Would that have been considered “discriminatory”? I understand where you are coming from, Rebecca, even though I disagree with the exercise being purposely anti-Christian. As to the standard of teaching? Perhaps it wasn’t “college” standards, and I no idea what reputation that particular school has. Yes, it is a public institution, so using a Christian word wasn’t wise. What other symbol could have been used—a non-religious symbol—-but a powerful one. Who knows? They are too young to have used Hitler’s symbol—–but it might have been interesting to see if they even knew what it represented!

        • Robert King

          “Discrimination” is perhaps not the best word, since it implies a restriction of rights; that’s not what’s happening here. Rather, what is going on is a targeted offense, “discriminating” in the sense of picking out one particular group and giving offense to them without any just cause.

          If the textbook had said, “Ask the students to write or draw something important to them: for example, an American Flag, or the words My Mother, or the name Jesus, then…” etc., it would not be clearly discriminatory. But since the name Jesus was the explicit instruction, with no indication that anything else might be validly substituted, or of why this particular name was chosen for the exercise, then the effect (whatever the intent or ignorance of the textbook authors) is to single out Jesus as an object for violence, and to lead his followers to commit that violence.

          Simply replace the word “Jesus” in the quoted instructions with some other highly charged person or symbol. In that context, how would it not be interpreted as a targeted offense against those who revere that person or symbol?

      • Unknown

        2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.

        2 Timothy 3; This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

  • Fabio P.Barbieri

    Apart from anything else, an advanced discussion of the value and meaning of symbols is not something you will get out of this “exercise”. The justification for it is to start a class debate about the power of symbols. What can it contribute? That there are symbols that people care greatly about and would be offended or hurt to see degraded. Well, if your mommy did not explain that to you by the time you were seven, she should be sacked or at least retrained as mommy. (That was a joke, by the way.) It certainly is not the kind of thing you should wait till you are nineteen and having an expensive college education to get.

  • Ian

    C.S Lewis describes a similar incident in his 1945 novel “That Hideous Strength” which foresees the decline and corruption of a institution of advanced learning. C.S Lewis seems to have been aware of the corrupt tendencies in Universities so what was a novel now looks prophetic. If your child can choose between plumbing and philosophy, choose plumbing and being a useful member of society instead of part of the disease.

  • Luanne

    It seems that you keep repeating that this is an exercise from a textbook as though that in some way justifies the exercise. To call something education does not make it so. Shame of the university for (a) approving this curriculum and (b) keeping this instructor on staff.

  • Korou

    “The point was supposedly to prove something about symbols.”

    But you don’t care about that, do you? The possibility that there might be a reason behind this, a rationale, a justification; that it might have been an interesting intellectual exercise – that would spoil the game for you. You didn’t bother to find out what the object of the exercise might have been.

    I think you need to stomp on Jesus’ name a few times yourself. How about if I stomp on Richard Dawkins’ name as well? Fair?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Korou, I appreciate how you feel about this, but please do not attack the person you’re replying to. Focus on the ideas and issues.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Try something *really* sacred to you: Give up your sexual freedom.

    • Fabio P.Barbieri

      You are very silly. If you can imagine anything that could possibly arise from discussing such a kind of behaviour and that would be worth paying the fee of a college education, set it out. Otherwise, don’t just suggest that “it might have been an interesting intellectual exercise.” Are you serious? What can be got from so simplistic, so contentless, so brute an act? If you want to do it seriously, read NIetzsche and discuss him. Sartre. Why, even Richard Dawkins would be better. This is just: “let’s all behave like complete morons and then attach some ridiculously intellectualizing pretence of sense to it.”

  • Julian F

    We are now ready to hear (not that it has not happened) that a college proffesor instructed students to imagine having sex with their mother and to express their feelings. It would help us recognize how sick we are.
    But, why Jesus name? Are we accepting that by standing on His name we are steping on the line between His teachings (if you are Christian) and Evil?
    With this exercise, we finally opened the door to accept anything. It’s for us to identify who’s horse rider from the Armaggedon is already here.

  • Unknown

    We are living in the last days.

  • pagansister

    Little pessimistic, Unknown? Personally, folks have been saying that for a very, very long time—and so far—we’re all still here. There is always a little man somewhere holding a sigh saying the world is coming an end. In spite of many problems, the human race hasn’t done it self in yet. I’m not ready for any person’s “afterlife”. :-)

  • Parson_Rayphe

    Good article. Thank you for posting it. You wrote / asked “why did this one young person have to stand for Jesus alone while all the rest of the students went ahead and participated?” Excellent question. And I agree…. where were the other faiths that supposedly center their ideology around Him? Apparently they were absent that day… Thank you for writing the article and raising the question. Blessings to you Mrs. Hamilton.