Given the number of attacks on Christianity in just the last week makes one wonder if America is still a Christian nation. Attacks on Christians seem to pick up around the time of the two major holidays - Christmas and Easter - but the intensity seems to be increasing each year.

At Florida Atlantic University, a student was reportedly suspended for refusing to participate in a class assignment from a textbook in his Intercultural Communications class. It called for students to write the name "Jesus" on a piece of paper, put the paper on the ground, and stomp on it.

According to the instructor, Dr. Deandre Poole, a chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, the exercise was intended to encourage debate. It offended Ryan Rotela, a FAU junior and devout Mormon who said he was punished for not choosing to participate.

"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," Rotela said in a media interview.

Even Florida Gov. Rick Scott got involved.

"As we enter the week memorializing the events of Christ's passion, this incident gave me great concern over the lessons we are teaching our students," Scott wrote in a letter to the university.

FAU officials did issue an apology, stating that Rotela was never up for punishment for refusing to participate in the exercise.

"Florida Atlantic University is deeply sorry for any hurt that this incident may have caused the community and beyond," the school's director of media relations stated in an email.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, now a conservative commentator, wondered if any program at FAU would have allowed "Muhammad" to be written on the paper and stomped instead.

That's a good question.

More controversy this Easter season surfaced at an elementary school in Madison, Ala., when teachers were told that their scheduled "academic egg hunt" would have to be cancelled for reasons of political correctness. Lydia Davenport, school principal, told school staff that no activities related to or centered around any religious holiday would be allowed in the interest of religious diversity among students.

What is strange about her directive is that there is no tie between Christianity and the commercialized Easter bunnies or colorful plastic eggs that are so popular with children this time of year. The word Easter has no Christian ties, having derived from the old English word "Eastre", the name for the goddess of the dawn. In fact, some Christian churches refer to the celebration as Resurrection Day rather than the popular name which has pagan roots.

So by banning words that have no connection to Christianity, the Alabama school principal simply banned a popular cultural event for children that traditionally heralds the coming of Spring.

Finally, a performing arts charter high school in Massachusetts sparked controversy recently by presenting a satire called "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told", which mocks Bible characters. The fact that the school gets $4.6 million in public funding, some of which went toward the production, angered many taxpayers who saw it as blasphemous and anti-Christian.

We wonder what would happen if it was the Muslim religion and not Christianity being ridiculed. There would probably be rioting in the streets.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com