If you haven’t heard the news yet, Florida Atlantic University has placed a non-tenured professor on administrative leave after he taught a lesson from the 5th edition of Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, in which students are led to write the name Jesus on paper, place it on the floor, and trample on it. The lesson, as you might expect, has caused a backlash. To further exacerbate the issue, a student who objected to the lesson has been suspended from the class (but there’s much debate as to exactly why).
We weren’t in the classroom, so it’s unfair to speculate as to what exactly occurred. The textbook lesson, however — and it is an entire dedicated lesson — is disturbing in more than 1 sense. First, it’s disturbing because it shows our educational system’s intentional defamation of someone who modeled sacrifice and service (Christ/Christianity is responsible for much good in the world). You can read here to see more recent examples of this defamation. Second, it’s disturbing because it further reveals the nation’s particular contempt for Jesus and His follows in contrast to Islam or Buddhism. Why not place Muhammad’s name or Buddha’s name on the paper and trample it instead? Or, to bring it closer to home, why doesn’t that “insightful” textbook require the professor to write the name of his/her spouse on a paper and have the class trample it? Is the point less forceful? Is the lesson lost? If so, what does that tell us?
Furthermore, Professor Poole, the class professor, is admittedly involved in his church, and has been involved in a church for the majority of his life. Although I don’t want to judge Professor Poole, and understand that he was “following the course material,” I personally would like to know if he’s aware of Acts 5:29, in which these words are found: “We must obey God rather than men”; or Matthew 10:32-33, in which Jesus says, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Sometimes our godly principles must supersede our secular ones. (Would a Muslim professor have followed these instructions if the name was Muhammad? Or would his convictions have swayed him?)
Sadly, we have reached a time in our nation when, instead of issues being “trampled” and people respected, the opposite is true. We have reached a time when people are casually disrespected and issues raised to an almost idolatrous standard. For those of us who are Christians, this shouldn’t be a surprise. As our brothers and sisters in Christ are physically persecuted around the world (and may God be with them!), I think it’s fair to say that we’re regularly persecuted in the classroom — a persecution that may almost be more evasive and “excusable,” since it doesn’t draw blood.