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Indiana Daily Student

Papal foe No. 1

In his first diplomatic address as pontiff, Pope Francis announced that he hopes to act as a bridge builder between the various peoples and religions of the world. He also declared an enemy to this goal: “the tyranny of relativism.”

His predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, coined the phrase to describe the leftist rejection of a common morality, or as some call it, truth. Once only a creeping threat, the embrace of relativism has since become institutionalized in the universities and governments of many developed states.

This relativism, Francis said, “endangers the coexistence of peoples”: “(For) there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this Earth.”

Relativism, practiced with the intention to encourage an understanding of the foreign and hence promote peace, actually denies peace to man when it becomes tyrannical because it does not allow him to recognize God-given truths that connect all people.

What does a tyrannical relativism look like? Florida Atlantic University provides a recent example.

Last week the university temporarily expelled junior Ryan Rotela from a communications class after he questioned an exercise his instructor forced the class to perform.

The instructor, Deandre Poole, who also happens to serve as vice president of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, instructed his students to write “JESUS” on a piece of paper. Then, the students were to put the paper down on the ground in front of them and stomp on it.

Rotela, a devout Mormon, refused to stomp on the paper because he thought the exercise was offensive and threatened his religious freedom.

“Any time 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,” Rotela said.

He explained to the instructor his concerns before informing media and supervisors of the incident. One supervisor questioned Rotela’s account in a hostile manner and accused him of threatening the instructor.

The university then told Rotela that he had violated FAU’s code of conduct, prohibiting him from attending Poole’s class or contacting other students until the matter was resolved.

Though the exercise was meant to encourage a cross-cultural understanding of how different cultures apply meaning to symbols, FAU restricted the students’ takeaway from including a local Christian’s objection to the exercise.

At FAU and universities across the country, if you don’t stomp on Jesus, you’ll get kicked out of class in the name of relativism. The audacity of academia is its administration of a tyranny disguised as liberalism.

Pope John Paul II, with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, battled and defeated the great threat of their day, communism.

Here’s to hoping Pope Francis will find the tactical means of fighting ours, the tyranny of relativism.

­— arcarlis@indiana.edu

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