Friday, March 22, 2013

LDS Student Ryan Rotela Initially Suspended By Florida Atlantic University For Refusing To "Stomp" On Jesus; School Backs Down And Apologizes

A student who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been suspended by his school for refusing to "stomp on Jesus", but in the wake of a subsequent furor, the school has now backed down and apologized.

On March 4th, 2013, Ryan Rotela, an active Mormon who is a junior at Florida Atlantic University, was in a class on Intercultural Communications when the professor, Dr. Deandre Poole, told the students 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. According to WorldNetDaily, the exercise was from the textbook “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition", and here's the synopsis:

“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.”

Rotela told Dr. Poole that he was offended and refused to participate. Two days later, Rotela went to Dr. Poole's supervisor, an associate professor at FAU, to discuss his concerns; the school responded by suspending Rotela from the class after a hearing officer accused Rotela of "threatening" Dr. Poole.

After Rotela went public, FAU initially responded with this statement to the media: "Faculty and students at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse. While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate." Nevertheless, the story went viral, with The Blaze and WorldNetDaily picking it up. On March 22nd, FAU finally issued a more detailed statement saying that no student was expelled, suspended, or disciplined for refusing to participate in the exercise, adding that the exercise will not be used again, and apologizing for any offense caused. Rotela accepts FAU's apology, but still insists he was told he was suspended.

A commenter to The Blaze provided more information on Dr. Deandre Poole. Dr. Poole teaches courses in intercultural communication, ethnicity and communication, leadership and communication, and organizational communication. His research focuses on the role mediated messages play in shaping individual attitudes and beliefs concerning issues of justice and inequality, and examines how leaders, organizations, and other influential authorities dominate and oppress marginalized groups of people. Currently, he is authoring the book, Obamamania: The Rise of a Mythical Hero, to be published by the Edwin Mellen Press.

However, FrontPageMag reveals that Dr. Poole is also the Vice Chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, serving as as a precinct captain for Precinct 7021 in West Palm Beach, as a club officer for the Together We Stand Democratic Club, and a member of the West Palm Beach Democratic Club. His political activities involve community empowerment, and working with community leaders and elected officials to insure the needs of all people. This should be no surprise, since the Democratic Party tends to be hospitable towards anti-Christian and anti-White bigots. His party boss, Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo, said Poole was merely following an exercise in a textbook used in the course.

This is why Mormons are better off attending college in the BYU system or at Southern Virginia University where LDS standards prevail. Viable alternatives would include solid Christian schools like Liberty University, or perhaps the secular universities in Utah such as the U of Utah, UVU, Weber State, SUU, or Dixie State. No self-respecting member of our Church should attend a secular university unless absolutely unavoidable; professors are almost overwhelming liberal or progressive, and are incredibly bigoted against people of faith and White males. Some campuses refuse to pursue rape allegations vigorously and blame women for causing rape. Our secular universities are cultural cesspools.


Anonymous said...

Whoa there bud! I love the post up until the last paragraph, which became increasingly nonsensical dealing with LDS attending non-religious schools. While there are added challenges in a non-religious school, those are certainly not dominating factors regarding one's faith and character. In my current ward are several current or recently graduated students, some from Utah schools, others from Ivy league, others from East coast, west coast, and a lot from the Midwest.

Jack Mormon said...

Anonymous -- How long ago did these fellow ward members attend school? If their experiences were recent, you might have a case. But if their experiences took place 20-30 years ago, it was a different environment back then. Most universities only became infested with political correctness during the past 10 year.

And yes, there are some secular schools who remain outposts of sanity. I was impressed with how many Penn State students took a stand against the witch-hunting of Joe Paterno just because Paterno overlapped with Jerry Sandusky.

I suppose I never got over watching students trash their campuses during the '60s and early '70s.

SuzyQ said...

Just found your blog by it!!!! Trying to explain yourself as a Jack Mormon can be a bit tricky and hard for others to understand but we are who we are.

If the instructor had put the word Mohammad on the paper and asked students to step on it the university would have been picketed and possibly attacked by violence. The double standard is not enlightenment as much as intimidation.

I have a child who just graduated from a state run university and have been appalled at some of the stories I have heard about professors and I consider myself a free thinker of the 70's. There is a concentrated effort in this country to undermine a Christian faith based life style through the public education system. It starts early.....parents need to wake up and become involved. It will not change unless this happens.

Ok, enough for now....keep up the good work.

Jack Mormon said...

Suzy Q -- Thanks for your comment. There are a number of definitions of "Jack Mormon" out on the street; in my case, Jack Mormon means I'm inactive and don't attend meetings, but I still believe in the doctrine. Mormonism continues to answer more of my questions and offer me more possibilities than any other belief system.

Furthermore, just because I'm inactive doesn't mean I'm not entitled to a testimony. Since my testimony came from the Lord by way of the Holy Ghost, no individual can take it from me. And I have no intent of trading it in on a mess of pottage or any other manifestation of "world approval".

With all due respect to other faiths, the LDS Church continues to offer more truth than any other church. The Book of Mormon continues to be the authoritative word of God, fully co-equal to the Bible. And the President of our Church continues to be a prophet, seer, and revelator.

SuzyQ said...

I am in full agreement with you Jack. I too have a deep and abiding testimony and a very deep faith. I have studied many different religions and have come to the conclusion that LDS answers more questions than any other. Although I do not regularly attend meetings I do regularly pray and try to practice the principles that I believe in. I also respect anyone's right to their beliefs and practices as long as it caused no harm to others.
I would not step on the word Jesus, God, Mohammad, Budda or my mother's name either because I believe in respect of persons and beliefs.
Thank you for your postings.

Anonymous said...

Check your easily researched facts. BYU and Utah are ahead of the rest of the nation in rape. Just sayin'.

George H. Clark said...

What happened to the link to FAU issuing another statement saying no one was suspended? It went no where.

Unknown said...

At first I agreed with Anonymous who agreed with you right up until the last paragraph, but then thought of the youth in our stake whose values are challenged in their high school classes & running start community college're right - either attending a school in Utah where such "exercises" wouldn't be tolerated, or a LDS church school or other Christian school is the best option. It just is, although, students like Ryan testify of Christ boldly, a tough thing to do.

And, if anyone thinks this world will become more tolerant of our beliefs think becomes more intolerant everyday.


Anonymous said...

I love how everyone is taking the easy route by saying: "Well, they should just go to a Mormon school so they don't have to deal with the problems of the world." This is childish and pathetic. Young people need to be a pillar of light and example unto others. We chose to be born into our circumstances and are supposed to be here in this last dispensation. We are meant to be a guiding light for others as we "hold to the rod" as the world becomes more and more immoral we have to be able to combat that in everyway possible and if one were to shelter themselves inside a bubble "Mormon College" then they might not have the necessary traits they need to raise a family in the REAL world thats is and will be far worse than what they grew up in? Challenges were obviously meant to be challenging. If you simply go to a Mormon school because you are afraid it might influence you to do soething you shouldnt, maybe your faith is weak and should be strengthened.

Jonathan Hall said...

Jack, I enjoyed what you wrote and appreciate the comments by all here. Anonymous, I'm glad you added your most recent comment. It is so very true that people sit back too much these days and blend in to the crowd rather than to take that sometimes fearful step forward and stand up for what is right. Even when they stand alone.

Now, more than ever, I feel it's important that we do as this young man did and hold fast to our values We'll be very surprised by the stir we can create amongst others who stand with us. For this reason I am so very active in politics because I would rather do something about instead of sitting back and complaining. I am a firm believer in Gandhi's famous quote "Be the change you wish to see in the world." When we sit idly by and do nothing, evil will prevail.

Pertaining to the last paragraph. I grew up in the Midwest and found it easy to stand fast in my beliefs there amongst so many friends who were not of my faith. I was and still am very active in the LDS church and my friends all knew it and respected me for it. I believe it was because of my own confidence, good nature and positive attitude that I was able to gain and keep the respect of my classmates. I believe that no matter where we are or choose to go, we must be the ones to demand the respect we deserve. We live in the United States of America where we must always fight to preserve our freedoms. Even in the classroom.

-Jonathan Hall

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your conclusion.

My dad is the president of a church school, my siblings and I all attended BYU, and while I'm glad to have gone to a church school, I'm glad that there are Mormon's like Rotela who will stand up for his beliefs in other schools.

Church schools have their place, but they aren't for everybody and every degree and we shouldn't assume that because "brother Jones" starts class with prayer - that his knowledge and ability to teach physics is better than anybody else.

Prior to David O McKay being prophet the call was to come to Zion - and at that time all self respecting church members went to BYU, not anymore, and while the church is going to soon be unveiling a new type of university system spread further across the US in micro-schools, we are not told that we all need to go to BYU. For those who feel it's best to be somewhere else they should go there and not feel pressure to be in Utah. The church is growing much faster than we did in the 50's when we looked like a small Utah sect rather than a large diverse religion, people should be proud to represent their beliefs to any location they feel is right for them.

I'm also not sure why your story title implies that Rotela has back down and apologized - it looks like the school has backed down and apologized, not Rotela.

ProfBaggins said...

While I enjoyed the comments on here, I take exception as others have to the last paragraph. If we took the attitude of not going outside of Mormon areas, missionary work would never happen. We can't leave it all to the 50K missionaries to do it. We need to be influences for good, on the battle front, where minds are most open and exploring. Imagine the people you can influence by giving them true perspectives while they hear so many lies and negativity. We should not hide, we should be at the forefront. I teach at a local university that is secular, but my principles and those I teach are never called into question. So as someone said, don't take the easy way out, stand and fight as this young man did. It is nice to see them lumping us into Christianity for once!!!!!

Anonymous said...

We just want to let that young man that he is not alone and we stand with him on his decision. I wish someone would contact him. We made a video youtube
or gogle Youtube Title: Don't Tread on Jesus.