FAU professor in Jesus-stomping controversy reinstated, will teach online courses

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The Florida Atlantic University professor who was placed on administrative leave over a now-infamous Jesus-stomping assignment now has his job back.

Non-tenured communications instructor Deandre Poole will teach online courses this summer and in the fall, reports local South Florida NBC affiliate WPTV.

Poole endured quite a lot last semester after then-junior Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon, was suspended from class because he complained about one of Poole’s assignments. (RELATED: Florida Atlantic Univ. student claims he was suspended for not stomping on Jesus [VIDEO])

Poole’s assignment, part of a classroom exercise from a textbook (authored by a professor at a Christian institution) asked students to write the word JESUS in large font on pieces of paper. Then, the instructor was supposed to ask students to step on the paper.

The point of it all was to initiate a discussion about the significance of symbols in a culture.

Poole, who says he is a Christian who was “saved at a young age,” insists that his actions have been tremendously misunderstood these last few months.

“Is Jesus a piece of paper or is Jesus a part of who you are?” he asked in a recent WPTV interview.

“Some in the media have said, ‘Stomp Jesus.’ I want to make it clear I never said, ‘Stomp.'”

“If we’re going to live peacefully in society, then we have to be able to create settings where we can engage in these types of conversations,” Poole added.

Heather Coltman, interim dean of FAU’s College of Arts and Letters, reinstated Poole, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

“I understand this decision may not be popular with all members of the community, but it was based on months of thorough research and consideration,” the interim dean explained.

Almost all the hubbub concerning the February incident has focused on Poole and, to a lesser extent, Rotela. And, of course, Jesus.

School officials expressed concerned about Poole’s physical safety after he allegedly received death threats and racially-tinged messages on his voicemail.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott blasted the school as “intolerant to Christians.”

School officials were forced to release a nearly-touching humble pie-eating video. (RELATED VIDEO: Florida Atlantic issues new groveling apology over Jesus-stomping)

Lost in the shuffle is the fact that the FAU administration initially wanted to punish Rotela because he said he was offended by the assignment.

According to a letter written by FAU associate dean Rozalia Williams and obtained by FOX News, Rotela faced several possible charges including “acts of verbal, written or physical abuse; threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion; or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”

The charges against Rotela were apparently hastily dismissed at some point after the incident ballooned into national news and out of the FAU administration’s control.

There have been no reports of FAU administrators facing any disciplinary action as a result of their actions.

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Eric Owens