By now the story is well known: a Florida Atlantic University professor teaching an “Intercultural Communications” course assigned his students to desecrate the name of Jesus in the classroom. The assignment, straight from the textbook in use, was to write the name of Jesus on paper, then lay the paper on the floor. Then the professor gave the cue: “stomp on it.”
Ryan Rotela is one student who refused. He is a Mormon. Convicted and led by His beliefs, he refused to desecrate the name of Jesus. He set the paper back on his desk, later arguing, “I’m not going to be sitting in a class having my religious rights desecrated.”
I was curious, however. Were there not others in the room who were offended? Are there not generally several Christians in the standard university classroom? If so, why did these not object?
I contacted Mr. Rotela and asked him about the other students. He wrote me back:
There were Christians in the classroom, and judging on the degree of noise coming from the feet there was a majority stomping on the paper.
My sad suspicion was confirmed. So the question arises: why would Christian students at the university level mindlessly obey their professor and stomp on the name of their Lord and God?
There are many answers, but let me highlight one:
The problem, it appears, is that Christians are not producing children who have or retain strong Christian convictions. If they do have Christian knowledge and belief, they do not have sufficient courage or motivation to act upon it or defend it. They sell it out on demand, perhaps mindlessly.
These children are shaped by the drifting mores of the culture around them, instead of standing against the tides of immorality and shaping the culture around them by their own stand for integrity. In Biblical language, they have been conformed to this world rather than transformed by the renewing of their minds. But where did such children come from?
Let me assure you this is no isolated incident. Remember, Rotela said “a majority” were stomping on the paper. This level of failure among this percentage of Christians indicates a problem that has to be common. And indeed it truly is.
Let me shock you with a story about a Christian college. This is not one of those left over from the mainline churches that went liberal. This is a college founded by one of the denominations that broke off in order to retain its conservative theological convictions.
On the surface, Christ is everywhere. But beneath the formalities, corruption is rampant. One academic I know was given a tour of the campus by a member of the administration. The admin said he wanted to show my friend something, a little campus secret. He took him down a hill to a manhole. It was for a sewer line leaving the co-ed dormitory. He popped the lid open. “Look inside,” he told my friend. My friend reported to me: “It was full of condoms.”
The school doesn’t put that in the brochure. But they want your daughters anyway.
Another academic friend of mine who is a former professor of that college (and a prominent evangelical leader elsewhere today), told me that when he was teaching there, many of the other faculty members were political liberals and feminists. They hated him, mocked him, and worked hard to get him off the faculty.
The same school today includes an “intercultural experience” course in its core curriculum as well as special courses on Intercultural Studies in the Sociology department. I cannot say if these courses contain material as bad as the Intercultural Communications course debacle at Florida Atlantic. I would assume the overt blasphemy is not there, but that the principles underlying it all are similar if not the same: humanistic and socialistic.
This is probably among the most conservative evangelical Christian colleges available. Its reputation for its Christian witness is high, touted in its literature, and worn on its sleeve. Yet much of its faculty is corrupt, their worldview is seething with humanism, their curriculum is largely secularized, and many students have no sexual mores when they’re there (or lose them after a while).
Perhaps you can see by now that it’s not just the children’s fault. Their adult leaders—from parents to pastors to teachers—have failed them. And they have failed them largely because the parents didn’t have a biblical worldview or practice biblical ethics themselves. They sent their children to government schools from day one. They watched the cultural mores slouch toward Gomorrah from the priorities and values of the previously educated generation, and yet they sent their kids those secularized, humanist, theft-based institutions anyway.
When told that public schools were not biblical, are in fact anti-biblical in many ways, and indeed were designed to be so, the parents ignored it. They mocked and ridiculed those who dared criticize. They handed over their children to humanist, compromised, and sometimes corrupt instructors and curricula, and they belittled those who refused to do so on biblical grounds.
In these decisions, these parents were led and supported by their pastors. The pastors were taught by their seminary professors and theologians that Christians should not try to Christianize the civil realm or public square, but neither should they “withdraw” from it and do such things on their own. The pastors were (and are) terrified of addressing such topics as public education. Sure, they would bemoan the decline of public morals, the loss of prayer in these schools (especially for football games), and preach hell-fire and brimstone against sex outside of marriage. But then they would send their children right directly into those very institutions that calmly and systematically taught their children just the opposite of everything that preacher with the angry eyes huffed about on Sunday morning. In short, they preach morality, but in the areas of public finance, education, law, and government, they refused to practice it.
And this was the best example of a Christian that the children ever saw. And they only saw this for a little bit. Mainly, they got public school teachers and curricula—along with the declining social mores—for seven hours a day five days a week. And the parents and pastors approved.
Through this program, the children learned that 1) Christian ethics don’t always apply, especially in public, 2) Christian ethics need not be too strictly upheld when they do apply, especially in public, 3) public schools and universities and their teachers are near sacrosanct from criticism, 4) anyone who says otherwise is a radical kook. Along with the example made of those critics in number 4), we could add an implicit lesson about not questioning those in authority, including those sacrosanct teachers.
Brothers and sister in Christ, this is a recipe for producing weak Christian children without knowledge or conviction, who mindlessly obey when challenged with sin and corruption.
And these children have no strong public convictions because their parents and pastors never had any strong Christian public convictions. Oh they preached and prayed Jesus, sure enough, but not when it counted.
When it comes to education and government, Christian parents and pastors have not taken Christ seriously for over a century. And that is one reason Christian students stomp on Jesus: because when it comes to their education, their parents and pastors have been stomping on Jesus for decades.