Linda Downing

Was it just a piece of paper?

During Holy Week an incident occurred that bore out my last column’s premise: No religion stirs more public pressure to bend on its foundational principles than Christianity. One might almost believe there is an organized adversary against the Bible’s God — an evil Darth Vader who never stops battling the good Force in the Galactic Empire. Florida is shaped like a gun, a pistol whose butt is the Panhandle with its barrel formed by the greater peninsula. With the firing of that weapon the whole nation is affected. The weapon was still smoking last week as the press exposed something that occurred at Florida Atlantic University about three weeks ago. In his Intercultural Communications class Professor Deandre Poole activated a textbook assignment for his students: Write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, place it on the floor, and step on it. If they couldn’t, they were asked to tell why. One student refused and blew the whistle to a West Palm Beach television station. Gov. Rick Scott heard, expressed his concern and disapproval, and demanded a detailed account from the university. Neither he nor others bought into this being an academic freedom issue. To question is to be accused, so accusations that Scott is playing politics abound.
Not only are the touchy-feely assignments in many textbooks abhorrent, but the thinking behind them is also far from advancing scholarly pursuits. This one, like so many others, represents a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Had this particular exercise invoked the name of Mohammed, Buddha, or any of the pantheon of Hindu gods or goddesses, there would be world outcry and threats of violence. Dr. Poole, now on administrative leave that is defined as “for his safety,” claims to have received death threats. He further claims to be “very religious “and “a Christian whose Lord and Savior is Jesus.” He pleads that “I was doing my job.” If the state and country have deteriorated to the place where this foolishness is part of doing one’s job, then we are in a pitiable condition. Mind games do not demonstrate intellect. Only God knows if Poole is a Christian. One thing is certain: Both he and the university lack the wisdom and discernment that should be the goal of higher education. We should ask: Who are the writers of our textbooks? Who evaluates their worth? What are we paying these people? To millions the name “Jesus” is held to be the most precious thing that can be uttered or written. In a society so sensitive it is constantly changing its descriptive words — homosexuals are “gay”; mentally retarded are “intellectually challenged” — we should expect a person awarded a doctorate degree, teaching a class in Intercultural Communications, to have more sense than to think this stomping only involved a piece of paper. It was blasphemy. Like those who doubt there is a real Satan, many think the word “blasphemy” an archaic idea. Nevertheless, it is the greatest biblical sign of the End Time. It is written all over the Anti-Christ system: “…and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Revelation 13:1). If stomping Jesus, metaphorically or literally, is thought to be of no consequence, then Poole and others would do well to read the piece of paper that truly educates — the Bible.

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together — side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at