A Florida academic institution that had a professor tell his students to write the name Jesus on paper and trample on it has issued a formal apology for the lesson.
"This exercise will not be used again. The University holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused," said Florida Atlantic University, a multi-campus institution, in a prepared statement posted on its website.
"Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs."
FAU also stated that "no students were forced to take part in the exercise" and "that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University as a result of any activity that took place during this class."
Last week, it was reported at various online outlets that a student at FAU was suspended for refusing to participate in a class assignment from a textbook for an Intercultural Communications class titled Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.
The assignment called for students to write the name "Jesus" on a piece of paper, put the paper on the ground, and stomp on it.
Ryan Rotela, a junior at FAU who was enrolled at the class, told local media that he went to school officials to protest the assignment.
"Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value … So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value," said Rotela to local media.
The professor who oversaw the class, Dr. Deandre Poole, is unaffiliated with FAU and is also chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.
According to his profile on the PBC Democratic Party website, Poole is a member of Lighthouse Worship Center Church of God in Christ, Fort Lauderdale, where he belongs to the congregation's usher board.
Poole said that the exercise was meant to encourage debate. However, Rotela told WPEC that the whole incident was "unprofessional."
"I said to the professor, 'With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate," said Rotela.
News of the "stomp Jesus" class assignment made the rounds in many social commentator circles, with many seeing it as another example of secularist anti-Christian sentiment.
Fox News commentators, including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee questioned if any program at FAU would have allowed "Muhammad" to be written on the paper and stomped instead.