That is rare for me. Hopefully, it proves how deeply I believe Bob Jones University needs to make a very public, very humble apology for its “die hard, squirrely” racial purity beliefs and practices. Many black and Asian students have been hurt, embarrassed and shunned because of the school’s firmly-held, wrongly-held, unapologetic “principle” of racial separation.
Why this issue?
There are many areas I do not agree with the University on, but this issue is so well-known, I am loathe to claim Bob Jones as alma mater.
“Where did you go to college?” I am asked.
I smile faintly and try not to make eye contact as I answer, “A Christian college in South Carolina.”
“Oh yeah? Which one?”
Another grimace. “Bob Jones.” I brace myself for the inevitable…even here on the West Coast.
“Aren’t they the ones that were sued because they wouldn’t let black students attend?”
I mumble in affirmative and say blacks can now attend and the ban on interracial dating was lifted in 2000 in a public interview with Larry King. This should not be what a Christian institution is known for in the unbelieving world, as Dr. Bob 3 concurred with in his interview the day he lifted the rule.
JONES: I don’t think it’s taking it too far, but I can tell you this, we don’t have to have that rule. In fact, as of today, we have dropped the rule. We have dropped the rule for this reason.
JONES: Today. I met with the administrators this afternoon before coming here. But let me tell you why we dropped it. We don’t want this to be a — here is a great institution, one of the premier academic institutions in America, one of the premier Christian colleges of America. We have a broader testimony. And if all anybody can see is this rule, which we never talk about or preach, which most of our students couldn’t even tell you what it is. It is that unimportant to us.
I said to our administration, you know, guys, this thing is of such insignificance to us, it is so significant to the world at large, the media particularly, why should we have this here as an obstacle? It hurts our graduates, we love our graduates greatly, it hurts maybe the church, as well. I don’t want to hurt the church of Jesus Christ.
KING: It’s ended?
JONES: It is ended, and I want it to be very clear why it has ended. Our concern for the cause of Christ, our concern for our graduates, our concern for our testimony, our concern for the school’s broader usefulness is greater to us than a rule that we never talk about and that is meaningless to us. The principle upon which it’s based is very, very important.
JONES: The only gain I want is for everybody to understand that the liberals were all wrong when they said we were racist. They wall [are] wrong when they looked at our rule and drew a conclusion about us that was so unflattering and so untrue. I just want to, you know, take this club out of their hand. That’s the only thing I want to do.
My fellow grads at PleaseReconcile.org have done a super job and detailing the controversy. They plan to send the letter and signatures on November 19, 2008 asking Stephen Jones, on behalf of the University, to formally and publicly apologize for its wrong position and past policies concerning racial separation. I hope that it may increase the reputation the University has suffered from for the last 35 years, and if Dr. Jones is concerned about the graduates, their testimony and their broader usefulness to the cause of Christ, how could a public apology hurt?
Have you attended Bob Jones University? Would you consider visiting the site and adding your name with my own?