It’s a traditional dance that’s been popular in America for decades among militant unbelievers: trampling vigorously on Jesus Christ. But some ingenious new moves surfaced recently with the story of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) student who says he was suspended from his “intercultural communications” class when he refused to stomp on a piece of paper bearing the name “Jesus.” Junior Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon, said the assignment made him feel “deeply offended,” according to reports from DailyCaller.com and Mediaite.com.
Predictably, the choice of Jesus’s name was deliberate. The teacher’s manual that comes along with the course textbook actually suggests making students write JESUS on the paper. The manual notes, “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.”
How is this a revelation? That symbols take on emotional meaning is so obvious as to probably not require college classroom time to demonstrate. But also, the premise is glaringly disingenuous. It’s ridiculous to say Jesus’s name is in any way “arbitrary”: after all, He is the source of and reason for the Christian religion, the faith of more people on the planet than any other. His name is sacred to the dominant culture in America and worldwide, so stomping on His name is far more likely to generate student refusals and thus suspensions than any other.
Look at this way: What if Rotela had written the name “Martin Luther King, Jr.” on a piece of paper and asked his professor, who is black, to stomp on it? That would be a handy “intercultural” way of demonstrating to Professor Poole the meaning of disrespect.
It’s no mystery why Jesus was selected: Textbook writers and liberal professors know that Christians don’t react to these situations with violence. If the exercise had involved dancing all over a picture of Mohammed, there’s always the risk of beheading.
But religion-hating atheists are forever suing to remove a Christmas crèche scene, to erase In God We Trust from our money, to stop a valedictorian from thanking Jesus in a speech, or a football team from praying before a game. Frankly, it’s getting boring.
Two thousand years ago Jesus warned us this would happen to us, because it happened to Him: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
Christ was saying that the world despises us because we have a different system of values. Christians try to be “in the world but not of the world,” living by God’s values as articulated in His Word, which inevitably puts us in conflict with the I’ll-do-it-my-way culture that has been dominant from Jesus’ day to the present day. Christians mostly disapprove of sexual immorality, while the world revels in it, on the screen and in real life. Christians believe God created each human uniquely in His own image and so don’t favor abortion and suicide, also putting us at odds with much of the world.
Our moral beliefs somehow offend unbelievers. And anyone who reads the news or watches TV or films can see that Christianity’s moral influence on the culture is dwindling. Everything is going the secularists’ way. Why then do atheists seem to be ramping up their stomping attacks on our faith?
Consider this: We have Jesus and the peace of mind He gives us with His perfect love. We’ve got a champion who has promised never to leave us, but to guide us with His Spirit while we live and then take us to be with Him when we die. What do the atheists have but a cruel and random universe, a body and brain that are just a hash of cells, and when they die, the cold, black nothingness of the grave. Could it be they’re feeling a little envious?
Ultimately, what are our lessons from the latest Jesus-stompers? First, don’t send your college-age children to FAU. In fact, choose their college very carefully. For decades, institutions of higher education have been liberal propaganda factories working tirelessly to turn our children away from traditional Christian values and into secular “progressives.”
The other lesson is to turn even more jubilantly to God this Easter, rejoicing in His redemptive grace through His Son, who is also one with Himself. How blessed we are to worship a God who loves us so much that He sacrificed Himself so we could be with Him in eternity. When we focus on what we have in Him, the God-stomping dance looks like nothing more than the pathetic nihilistic exercise it is.
Image copyright WPEC-TV.
Joy Overbeck is a Colorado magazine journalist and author who has been published in The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, American Thinker, and elsewhere. Her quirky God blog is at http://www.godsayshi.org.