It was a classroom exercise to illustrate a point, but it went to far.
The class is on Intercultural Communications. The school is Florida Atlantic University. The teacher is professor Deandre Poole.
He asked students to write the name Jesus on a piece of paper. Put it on the ground. Stand on it. And stomp on it. The students then had to tell the class how they felt.
The exercise is to teach students that we give symbols meaning and not the other way around. A blank piece of paper can become sacred when you write 5 letters on it. It is a deep and meaningful lesson, although the professor went to fare with the standing and stomping part, although he did allow students that had a problem with the exercise to opt out.
One of the students, Ryan Rotela, not only opted out, he wanted the exercise stopped forever. He complained to the University and went to the media.
That is how a classroom exercise at a small college in Florida became a national story.
Fox news went wall to wall with the story. Republican Governor Rick Scott called for an investigation and praised Rotela for his courage. Protests and even lawsuits were threatened by Christian groups.
The University banned the exercise and apologized to the student.
Professor Pool was unfairly demonized for what is an important lesson. And, of course, the whole controversy just proves the original point of his exercise.