Ryan Rotela and his fellow Intercultural Communications classmates at Florida Atlantic University were given a lovely opportunity to “pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse” recently. Dr. Deandre Poole ordered them each to write “JESUS” on a piece of paper, throw it on the floor, and stomp on it.
Ryan Rotela, alone among his classmates, refused. Ryan went to Dr. Poole’s supervisor to complain. The result: Ryan was suspended.
When this incident became public, the university issued the usual kind of unctuously vague response meant to shield academic chicanery from public scrutiny: "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."
So…next week, Dr. Poole is going to have some stompin’ on the names of Martin Luther King, Mohammed, President Obama, and perhaps even Dr. Poole himself?
Not going to happen.
What does this sordid little exercise of Dr. Poole reveal? A lot more than you think.
Let’s put it in its largest possible historical context. Here we have an authority figure, holding a grade above the head of his students, and demanding that they stomp on the name of Jesus.
To Christians, that should look familiar. In the pagan Roman state into which Christianity was born, Christians soon found themselves quite unwelcome. They refused to worship the pagan emperor, and they refused to bend the knee before the pagan state.
The Romans considered the Christian response to be treasonous. In Rome, the state and religion were fused: the emperor was a god incarnate; the glory of the state rested on the entire pantheon of Roman gods. To refuse to sacrifice to the emperor and the Roman state was an act of the deepest rebellion.
So, the emperor and his minions gave the early Christians an option: throw your Scriptures on the fire, curse the name of Jesus, and offer sacrifice to the divine imperial person. Or else.
The “or else” meant be flayed alive, burned alive, thrown to wide beasts, torn in two, and so on.
A bit more severe than, say, “You’ll get an ‘F’ in the course,” or “You’ll get suspended from the class.” But it’s the exact same kind of threat.
For Christians, as Dr. Poole may or may not know, the name of Jesus Christ itself is considered most holy. Philippians 2:9-11 declares of Christ that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Forcing a Christian to stomp on the name of Jesus is like forcing a Jew to eat pork or even worse, to stomp on the Most Holy name of God, YHWH.
That is why the pagan Romans demanded that they curse the name of Jesus Christ. That is why the earliest Christians refused to curse the name of Jesus Christ.
So what is an obviously liberal professor of Communications doing having his students stomp on the name of Jesus?
If you look at the deep history of liberalism, you find out. In Worshipping the State, I trace liberalism back to its historical roots. There we find that the essence of liberalism is the simultaneous rejection of Christianity, and the hearty affirmation of this world as the highest good (and that meant, quite interestingly, a hearty reaffirmation of ancient paganism).
All the variations of liberalism, as they flow forth from its origin, share this secular, anti-Christian foundation, and many of these streams lead both from and to a kind of revival of paganism.
That’s why the West’s first self-professedly secular liberal government, that of the French Revolution, was so rabidly anti-Christian and so heartily affirmative of ancient pagan thought. And why the Revolutionaries spent so much time desecrating altars, humiliating the Scriptures, and rounding up priests and nuns for slaughter. The attacks on Christianity by the Revolutionary government—we must add—were prepared for by decades of anti-Christian propaganda by the intelligentsia.
The profanation of Christianity by such folks as Dr. Poole in liberal academia is just more of the same. The anti-Christian bias in academia prepares—or better, has been preparing for some time—the hearts and minds of the young to be the revolutionaries pushing for an ever deeper establishment of liberalism as the equivalent of our state religion.
And the more firmly liberalism is established as the state-sanctioned worldview, the more Christians will find their situation all too reminiscent of ancient Rome.
Author and speaker Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D. has published eleven books, his newest being "Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion."