Blasphemous Play Stirs Controversy at Florida College

by Fred Jackson and Jody Brown

(AgapePress) – Several lawmakers in Florida are threatening to cut off funding to Florida Atlantic University because of a play being staged there this week.

The play, Corpus Christi, seems to cause controversy wherever it is staged. Catholic groups take offense to its portrayal of a homosexual Christ-like character living in Texas.

Some Florida senators, using words like “blasphemous” and “tasteless” to describe the production, have called the president of Florida Atlantic University on the carpet, demanding to know why the school is using state funds to stage the offensive play.

But even after hearing the protests from the lawmakers — who will set the university's budget for next year — FAU President Anthony Catanese declared the play will continue. He cited what he called “the principles of academic freedom.” According to The Miami Herald, the only thing the president agreed to do was to set up a committee to review its policies on such matters.

The same stage production was at the center of controversy on another college campus in the fall of 1999. A student at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, attempted to initiate a Christian response at the school when he discovered the theater department there was planning to present Corpus Christi. The student, Michael Marcavage, was allegedly handcuffed and involuntarily admitted to a state mental hospital after meeting with campus safety officials to discuss his plans for staging a Christian outreach on campus in response to the play. In November, 2000, Marcavage filed a civil and constitutional rights lawsuit against Temple University over his treatment by the campus safety officials.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute today recognized the Marcavage-Temple incident as one of the “Top Five Politically Correct Outrages on College Campuses.” According to an ISI press release, its “Polly” awards are given each year on April Fool's Day to highlight the “zany, bizarre, and noxious tendencies of radical faculty and students” on college campuses in the United States. Other recipients of the fourth annual “Polly” awards involved incidents at Princeton University, the University of Oregon, SUNY-Albany — and Villanova University and the University of California at Berkeley, which tied for the fifth spot.

Public's Approach to Drug Issue Shifts

Experts say recent court rulings reflect a shift in the public's approach to preventing drug use. According to The New York Times, the move toward drug testing of student athletes, and the recent rulings against it, come amid a broader school safety crackdown that has restricted student freedom.

The Times reports school districts are increasing the use of metal detectors and locker searches, and sometime discipline students for even speaking or writing about violence. At the same time, the national attitude toward the drug war has shown signs of changing. Several governors have suggested a shift in emphasis from punishment to prevention.

For educators, the drug testing question is a balancing act between protecting students' rights and protecting their safety.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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