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Bob Jones University (BJU) is a private, non-denominational Protestant fundamentalist university in Greenvillemarker, South Carolinamarker. It is the largest private liberal arts university in South Carolina and has a reputation for being one of the most conservative of religious schools in the United States.

The university was founded in 1927 by Bob Jones, Sr. (1883-1968), an evangelist and contemporary of Billy Sunday. The current president of the University, Stephen Jones, is the great-grandson of the founder and the fourth member of the Jones family to serve as president.

Since 2005 BJU has been accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, an accrediting organization recognized by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and the university enrolls approximately 4,200 students representing every state and 50 foreign countries. It employs a staff of 1,450, offers undergraduate degrees in over a hundred majors, and conducts precollege education from pre-kindergarten through high school. In 2008, the University estimated the number of its graduates at 35,000.

Mission statement and creed

Mission statement

Within the cultural and academic soil of liberal arts education, Bob Jones University exists to grow Christlike character that is Scripturally disciplined; others-serving; God-loving; Christ-proclaiming; and focused Above.


I believe in the inspiration of the Bible (both the Old and the New Testaments); the creation of man by the direct act of God; the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; His identification as the Son of God; His vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind by the shedding of His blood on the cross; the resurrection of His body from the tomb; His power to save men from sin; the new birth through the regeneration by the Holy Spirit; and the gift of eternal life by the grace of God.

The creed was written in 1927 by journalist and prohibitionist Sam Small, and students and faculty recite it at chapel services four days a week.


Established in 1927 near Panama Citymarker, on the Florida panhandle, Bob Jones College moved to Cleveland, Tennesseemarker in 1933, and to its present campus in Greenville, South Carolinamarker in 1947, where it became Bob Jones University. From its inception, BJU has been located in the South "but has never had a predominantly southern constituency." In 2006, the state with the largest number of students enrolled was South Carolina, but many of these were married students who had moved from other parts of the country to attend the University. Other states with large representations in the student body are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio.


The University consists of seven colleges and schools that offer more than 125 undergraduate majors, including fourteen associate degree programs. Although BJU has an unranked and untenured faculty, most University employees consider their positions as much ministries as jobs. It is common for retiring professors to have served the University for thirty, forty, and even occasionally, fifty years, a circumstance that has contributed to the stability and conservatism of an institution of higher learning that has virtually no endowment and at which faculty salaries are "sacrificial."


Bob Jones University Seminary
The School of Religion includes majors for both men and women, although only men (approximately 500 per year) train as ministerial students. Many of these students go on to a seminary after completing their undergraduate degree. Others take ministry positions straight from college, and rising juniors participate in a church internship program to prepare them for the pastoral ministry. In 1995 there were 1,290 BJU graduates serving as senior or associate pastors in fundamentalist churches across the United States.

The University encourages church planting in areas of the United States where few fundamentalist churches exist, and it has provided financial and logistical assistance to ministerial graduates in starting more than a hundred new churches. Bob Jones III has also encouraged non-ministerial students to put their career plans on hold for two or three years to provide lay leadership in small fundamentalist churches.

Students of various majors participate in Mission Prayer Band, an organization that prays for missionaries and attempts to stimulate campus interest in world evangelism. During summers and Christmas breaks, approximately 150 students participate in teams that use their musical, language, trade, and aviation skills to promote Christian missions around the world.

Although formally a separate organization, Gospel Fellowship Association Missions is the mission board of BJU and is one of the largest fundamentalist mission boards in the country. Through its "Timothy Fund," the University also sponsors international students who are training for the ministry.

Fine Arts

The Division of Fine Arts has the largest faculty of the University's six undergraduate schools. Each year the University presents an opera in the spring semester and Shakespearean plays in both the fall and spring semesters. A Sunday afternoon service called “Vespers,” presented occasionally throughout the school year, combines music, speech, and drama and attracts visitors from the Greenville community because of its blending of the devotional and cultural. More than a hundred concerts, recitals, and laboratory theater productions are also presented annually.

Each fall, as a recruiting tool, the University sponsors a "High School Festival" in which students compete in music, art, and speech (including preaching) contests with their peers from around the country. In the spring, a similar competition sponsored by the American Association of Christian Schools, and hosted by BJU since 1977, brings thousands of national finalists to the University from around the country. In 2005, 120 of the finalists from previous years returned to BJU as freshmen.


Howell Memorial Science Building and Planetarium
The BJU science department, which supports young-earth creationism, offers majors in biology, chemistry, and physics and also offers courses in astronomy. In 2008 no member of the BJU science faculty held a degree in geology, and the university offered only one introductory course in the subject.Bob Jones University Catalog, 2007-08, 90. Although ten of the sixteen members of the science faculty have undergraduate degrees from BJU, all earned their doctorates from accredited, non-religious institutions of higher learning.

The University's nursing major is approved by the South Carolina State Board of Nursing, and a BJU graduate with a BSN is eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination to become a registered nurse. During the first decade of the 21st century, the BJU engineering team regularly placed in the top five in robotics competitions, and BJU students who took the Medical College Admission Test scored in the top 25%.


Jerusalem Chamber, Mack Library, containing a collection of rare Bibles.
The Mack Library (named for John Sephus Mack) holds a collection of more than 300,000 books and includes seating for 1,200 as well as a computer lab, a computer classroom, and a testing service. (Its ancillary, a music library, is included in the Gustafson Fine Arts Center.) Mack Library's Special Collections includes an American Hymnody Collection of about 700 titles. The "Jerusalem Chamber” is a replica of the room in Westminster Abbeymarker in which work on the King James Version of the Bible was conducted, and it displays a collection of rare Bibles. An adjoining Memorabilia Room commemorates the life of Bob Jones, Sr. and the history of the University.

The library's Fundamentalism File collects periodical articles and ephemera about social and religious matters of interest to evangelicals and fundamentalists. The University Archives holds copies of all University publications, oral histories of faculty and staff members, surviving remnants of University correspondence, and pictures and artifacts related to the Jones family and the history of the University.


Bob Jones, Sr. was leery of academic accreditation almost from the founding of the college, and by the early 1930s, he had publicly stated his opposition to holding membership in a regional accrediting association. Not surprisingly, Jones and the college were criticized for this stance, and academic recognition, as well as student and faculty recruitment, were hindered.

In 1944, Jones wrote to John Walvoord of Dallas Theological Seminary that while the university had "no objection to educational work highly standardized….We, however, cannot conscientiously let some group of educational experts or some committee of experts who may have a behavioristic or atheistic slant on education control or even influence the administrative policies of our college." Five years later, Jones reflected that “it cost us something to stay out of an association, but we stayed out. We have lived up to our convictions.” In any case, lack of accreditation seems to have made little difference during the post-war period, when the University more than doubled in size.

Because graduates did not have the benefit of accredited degrees, the faculty felt an increased responsibility to prepare their students. Early in the history of the college, there had been some hesitancy on the part of other institutions to accept BJC credits at face value, but by the 1960s, BJU alumni were being accepted by most of the major graduate and professional schools in the United States. Undoubtedly helpful was that some of the University’s strongest programs were in the areas of music, speech, and art, disciplines in which ability could be measured by audition or portfolio rather than through paper qualifications.

By the early 2000s, however, the University quietly reexamined its position on accreditation as degree mills proliferated and various government bureaucracies, such as law enforcement agencies, began excluding BJU graduates on the grounds that the University did not appear on appropriate federal lists. In 2004, the University began the process of joining the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Candidate status—effectively, accreditation—was obtained in April 2005, and full membership in the Association was conferred in November 2006. Because TRACS grants accreditation only to evangelical Christian institutions of higher learning, the administration believed that the University could obtain the benefits of accreditation without losing its academic independence. BJU is also a founding member of the American Association of Christian Colleges and Seminaries, a small group of institutions "clearly identified with the historic Christian fundamentalist tradition."


Davis Field House
BJU abandoned intercollegiate sports in 1933. The University's intramural sports program includes competition in soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, tennis, badminton, Flag football, table tennis, raquetball, and water polo. The university competes in intercollegiate debate within the National Educational Debate Association, in intercollegiate mock trial and computer science competitions, and at South Carolina Student Legislature.

The university requires all unmarried incoming freshman students under the age of 23 to join one of 48 "literary societies." Societies meet weekly on Fridays for entertainment and fellowship, Sunday mornings for Sunday School, and they also hold a weeknight prayer meeting. Societies field sports, debate, and Scholastic Bowl teams. The latter compete in an annual single-elimination tournament that concludes with a clash between the top two teams before a University-wide audience on the Thursday before Commencement. Questions include a wide range of biblical and academic topics—but none from popular culture. The University also has a student-staffed newspaper (The Collegian), yearbook (Vintage) and radio and television station (WBJU).

Early in December, thousands of students, faculty, and visitors gather around the front campus fountain for an annual Christmas carol sing and lighting ceremony, culminating in the illumination of tens of thousands of Christmas lights. On December 3, 2004, the ceremony broke the Guinness World Record for Christmas caroling with 7,514 carolers.

In place of a spring break, students and faculty are required to attend a six-day Bible Conference in late March. The Conference attracts fundamentalist preachers and laymen from around the country, and BJU class reunions are held at the end of the week.

Ancillary ministries

BJU Museum and Gallery

Bob Jones, Jr. was a connoisseur of European art and began collecting after World War II on about $30,000 a year authorized by the University Board of Directors. Jones first concentrated on the Italian Baroque, a style then out of favor and relatively inexpensive in the years immediately following the war. Fifty years after the opening of the gallery, the BJU collection included more than 400 European paintings from the 14th to through the 19th centuries (mostly pre-19th century), period furniture, and a notable collection of Russian icons. The museum also includes a variety of Holy Land antiquities collected in the early twentieth century by missionaries Frank and Barbara Bowen.Not surprisingly, the gallery is especially strong in Baroque paintings and includes notable works by Rubens, Tintoretto, Veronese, Cranach, Gerard David, Murillo, Mattia Preti, Ribera, van Dyck, and Doré. Included in the Museum and Gallery collection are seven very large canvases, part of a series by Benjamin West painted for George III, called "The Progress of Revealed Religion," which are displayed in the War Memorial Chapel. (Baroque art was created during—and often for—the Counter-Reformation, and so ironically, BJU has been criticized by some other fundamentalists for promoting “false Catholic doctrine” through its art gallery.)

In 2008, the BJU Museum & Gallery opened a satellite location, the "Museum & Gallery at Heritage Green," near downtown Greenville, which features rotating exhibitions from the main museum as well as interactive children's activities. The Heritage Green building, an extensively remodeled Coca-Cola bottling plant, joined the neighboring Upcountry History Museummarker and the Greenville Children's Museum, all of which feature "the latest in museum technology.".

Each Easter season, the University and the Museum and Gallery present the Living Gallery, a series of tableaux vivants recreating noted works of religious art using live models disguised as part of two-dimensional paintings.

Unusual Films

Both Bob Jones, Sr. and Bob Jones, Jr. believed that film could be an excellent medium for mass evangelism, and in 1950, the University established Unusual Films within the School of Fine Arts. (The odd name derives from a former BJU promotional slogan, "The World's Most Unusual University.") Bob Jones, Jr. selected a speech teacher, Katherine Stenholm, as the first director. Although she had no experience in cinema, she took summer courses at the University of Southern Californiamarker and received personal instruction from Hollywood specialists, such as Rudolph Sternad.

Unusual Films has produced six feature-length films: Wine of Morning, Red Runs the River, Flame in the Wind, Sheffey, Beyond the Night, and The Printing. Wine of Morning (1955) represented the United States at the Cannes Film Festivalmarker. The first four films are historical dramas set, respectively, in the time of Christ, the U.S. Civil War, sixteenth-century Spain, and the late nineteenth century South. Beyond the Night closely follows a twentieth century missionary saga in Central Africa, and The Printing uses composite characters to portray the persecution of believers in the former Soviet Union. All the films have an evangelistic emphasis, and curiously, Bob Jones, Jr. plays villains in four of them. More recently, Unusual Films has emphasized children's films and video production. In 2009 Unusual Films announced plans for a new feature-length production set in the 1920s. Unusual Films also maintains a student film production program. Freshmen shoot and edit a project shot on 16mm reversal black-and-white film. Sophomores are also required to write and direct such a project. Before graduation, seniors produce a sizable project on 16 mm color negative film. Nevertheless, basic photography and video production are an integral part of the BJU cinema major. BJU Catalog, 2007-08, 156, 279.

BJU Press

BJU Press originated in the need for textbooks for the burgeoning Christian school movement, and today it is the largest book publisher in South Carolina. The Press publishes a full range of K-12 texts. More than a million pre-college students around the world use BJU textbooks, and the Press has approximately 2,500 titles in print. The Press music division, SoundForth, produces Christian musical arrangements and recordings in more traditional styles than do most contemporary music sources.

Pre-College Programs

The university operates an elementary school, a junior high, and a high school, Bob Jones Academy.

BJU Press also offers elementary and high school classes via satellite over the BJ HomeSat Network (ending May 31, 2009), or on DVD or hard drive. Other classes are available live through BJ LINC (Live Interactive Network Classroom, ending May 31, 2009), an interactive satellite system that allows a teacher in Greenville to communicate with Christian school students across the country. In 2006, about 45,000 students participated in BJU's distance-learning programs



Billy Graham

One of the earliest controversies to center about BJU was the break that occurred in the late 1950s between separatist fundamentalists and neo-evangelicals represented by the newly prominent evangelist Billy Graham. Graham had briefly attended Bob Jones College, and the University conferred an honorary degree on him in 1948. During the 1950s, however, Graham began distancing himself from the older fundamentalism, and in preparation for his 1957 New York Crusade, he sought broad ecumenical sponsorship.

Bob Jones, Sr. argued that if members of Graham’s campaign executive committee had rejected major tenets of orthodox Christianity, such as the virgin birth and the deity of Christ, then Graham had violated 2 John 9-11, which prohibits receiving in fellowship those who do “not abide in the teaching of Christ.” In the 1960s, Graham further irritated fundamentalists by gaining the endorsement of Richard Cardinal Cushing for his Boston campaign and accepting honorary degrees from two Roman Catholic colleges.

Graham tried to remain above the fray, but members of his staff openly accused Jones of jealousy on the grounds that Jones’s evangelistic meetings had never been as large as Graham’s. Graham’s father-in-law, L. Nelson Bell, mailed a fiery ten-page letter to most members of the BJU faculty and student body (as well as to thousands of pastors across the country) accusing Jones of “hatred, distortions, jealousies, envying, malice, false witnessing, and untruthfulness.”

In what seemed to the Joneses to be a deliberate affront, Graham held his only American campaign of 1966 in Greenville, South Carolina. Under penalty of expulsion, the University forbade any BJU dormitory student from attending the Graham meetings. In a four-page position paper delivered to students in 1965, Bob Jones, Jr., condemned Billy Graham's "ecumenical evangelism" as unscriptural and "heretical," noting that Graham shared his platform with Catholic priests and that one could not "be a good Catholic and a good, spiritual Christian." When Graham arrived in Greenville, Jones, Jr. emphasized that the basis of the University's position was scriptural and not personal. "The Bible commands that false teacher and men who deny the fundamentals of the faith should be accursed; that is, they shall be criticized and condemned. Billy approves them, Billy condones them, Billy recommends them....I think that Dr. Graham is doing more harm in the cause of Jesus Christ than any living man; that he is leading foolish and untaught Christians, simple people that do not know the Word of God, into disobedience to the Word of God."

The negative publicity caused by the rift with Graham, itself a reflection of a larger division between separatist fundamentalists and neo-evangelicals, precipitated a decline in BJU enrollment of about 10% in the years 1956-59. Seven members of the University board (of about a hundred) also resigned in support of Graham, including Graham himself and two of his staff members. By 1966, when Graham appeared in Greenville, BJU enrollment had strongly rebounded and continued to grow thereafter until the mid-1980s.

King James Bible

King James Version of the Bible
The university requires use of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible in its services and classrooms, but it does not hold that the KJV is the only acceptable English translation or that it has the same authority as the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. The King-James-Only Movement—or more correctly, movements, since it has many variations—became a divisive force in fundamentalism only as conservative modern Bible translations, such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the New International Version (NIV) began to appear in the 1970s. BJU has taken the position that orthodox Christians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (including fundamentalists) agreed that while the KJV was a substantially accurate translation, only the original manuscripts of the Bible written in Hebrew and Greek were infallible and inerrant. Bob Jones, Jr. called the KJV-only position a "heresy" and "in a very definite sense, a blasphemy."

The University's stand has been condemned by some other fundamentalists, especially a number of small Bible schools and colleges who have made Bible translation a means of distinguishing themselves from what they also consider an error or heresy in mainstream fundamentalism.

Notoriously, in 1998, Pensacola Christian Collegemarker produced a widely distributed videotape, arguing that this "leaven of fundamentalism" was passed from the nineteenth-century Princeton theologian Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) to Charles Brokenshire (1885-1954), who served BJU as Dean of the School of Religion, and then to current BJU faculty members and graduates. PCC was founded 1974, and quickly grew. By the 2000s, it had an undergraduate student body slightly larger than BJU's, and it's primary and secondary curriculum publishing house far outpaced that of BJU. The growth is due in large part to the support of pastors who did not agree with the BJU position of textual criticism.Ironically, Peter Ruckman, a BJU graduate, has argued the most extreme version of the KJV-only position, that all translations of the Bible since the KJV have been of satanic origin.

Criticism of Catholicism and Mormonism

The three Bob Jones's, especially Bob Jones, Jr., sharply criticized the Roman Catholic Church. For instance, Jones, Jr. once said that Catholicism was "not another Christian denomination. It is a satanic counterfeit, an ecclesiastic tyranny over the souls of men....It is the old harlot of the book of the Revelation—'the Mother of Harlots.'" All popes, Jones asserted, "are demon possessed." In 2000, then-president Bob Jones III referred, on the University's web page, to Mormons and Catholics as "cults which call themselves Christian." Furthermore, in 1966, BJU awarded an honorary doctorate to the Rev. Ian Paisley, future British MP, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, who has referred to the Pope as a "Roman anti-Christ."Bob Jones III has argued that the University is not so much anti-Catholic or anti-Mormon as it is opposed to the idea that all men, regardless of religious beliefs, will eventually get to heaven: "Our shame would be in telling people a lie, and thereby letting them go to hell without Christ because we loved their goodwill more than we loved them and their souls…. All religion, including Catholicism, which teaches that salvation is by religious works or church dogma is false. Religion that makes the words of its leader, be he Pope or other, equal with the Word of God is false. Sola Scriptura. From the time of the Protestant Reformation onward, it has been understood that there is no commonality between the Bible way, which is justification by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and salvation by works, which the faithful, practicing Catholic embraces."



Although BJU admitted Asians and other minorities from its inception, it refused to enroll black students until 1971, eight years after the University of South Carolinamarker and Clemson Universitymarker had been integrated by court order. From 1971 to 1975, BJU admitted only married blacks, although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had already determined in 1970 that "private schools with racially discriminatory admissions policies" were not entitled to federal tax exemption. Late in 1971, BJU filed suit to prevent the IRS from taking its tax exemption, but in 1974, in Bob Jones University v. Simon, the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker ruled that the University did not have standing to sue until the IRS actually assessed taxes. Four months later, on May 29, 1975, the University Board of Trustees authorized a change in policy to admit "students of any race," a move that occurred shortly before the announcement of the Supreme Court decision in Runyon v. McCrary (427 U.S. 160 [1976]), which prohibited racial exclusion in private schools.

In May 1975, as it prepared to allow unmarried blacks to enroll, BJU adopted more detailed rules prohibiting interracial dating and marriage—threatening expulsion for any student who dated or married interracially, who advocated interracial marriage, who was "affiliated with any group or organization which holds as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage," or "who espouse, promote, or encourage others to violate the University's dating rules and regulations." In a 2000 interview, the then-president, Bob Jones III, said that interracial dating had been prohibited since the 1950s and that the policy had originated in a complaint by parents of a male Asian student who believed that their son had "nearly married" a white girl.

Bob Jones University v. United States (1983)

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On January 19, 1976, the Internal Revenue Service notified the University that its tax exemption had been revoked retroactively to December 1, 1970. The school appealed the IRS decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the University met all other criteria for tax-exempt status and that the school's racial discrimination was based on sincerely held religious beliefs, that "God intended segregation of the races and that the Scriptures forbid interracial marriage." The University was not challenged about the origin of its interracial dating policy, and the District Court accepted "on the basis of a full evidentiary record" BJU's argument that the rule was a sincerely held religious conviction, a finding affirmed by all subsequent courts. In December 1978, the federal district court ruled in the University's favor; two years later, that decision was overturned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appealsmarker.

On January 8, 1982, just before the case was to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, President Ronald Reagan authorized his Treasury and Justice Departments to ask that the BJU case be dropped and that the previous court decisions be vacated. Political pressure quickly brought the Reagan administration to reverse itself and to ask the Court to reinstate the case. Then, in a virtually unprecedented move, the Court invited William T. Coleman, Jr. to argue the government's position in an amicus curiae brief, thus ensuring that the prosecution's position would be the one the Court wished to hear. The case was heard on October 12, 1982, and on May 24, 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Bob Jones University in Bob Jones University v. United States (461 U.S. 574). The University refused to reverse its interracial dating policy and (with difficulty) paid a million dollars in back taxes. Also, in the year following the Court decision, contributions to the University declined by 13 percent.

Dropping the no-interracial-dating rule (2000)

In 2000, following a media uproar prompted by the visit of presidential candidate George W. Bush to the University, Bob Jones III abruptly dropped the interracial dating rule, announcing the change on CNN's "Larry King Live." Five years later when asked for his view of the rule change, the current president, Stephen Jones, replied, "I've never been more proud of my dad than the night he...lifted that policy."

Apology for "racially hurtful" policies (2008)

In November 2008, the University declared itself "profoundly sorry" for having allowed "institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful." That year BJU enrolled students from fifty states and nearly fifty countries, representing diverse ethnicities and cultures, and the BJU administration declared itself "committed to maintaining on the campus the racial and cultural diversity and harmony characteristic of the true Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world."

By 2005, the University had established two 501 charitable organizations to provide scholarship assistance solely for minority students. Although BJU never reapplied for federal tax-exempt status, and it continues to pay federal taxes, a number of its ancillaries, including Bob Jones Elementary School, Bob Jones Academy, and the BJU Museum & Gallery are tax-exempt entities.


As a twelve-year-old, Bob Jones, Sr. made a twenty-minute speech in defense of the Populist Party. Jones was a friend and admirer of William Jennings Bryan but also campaigned throughout the South for Herbert Hoover (and against Al Smith) during the 1928 presidential election. Even the authorized history of BJU notes that both Bob Jones, Sr. and Bob Jones, Jr. “played political hardball” when dealing with the three municipalities in which the school was successively located. For instance, in 1962, Bob Jones, Sr. warned the Greenville City Council that he had “four hundred votes in his pocket and in any election he would have control over who would be elected.”

Republican powerhouse

From the inception of Bob Jones College, a majority of students and faculty were northerners, and therefore many were already Republicans living in the "Solid South." After South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond switched his allegiance to the Republican Party in 1964, BJU faculty members became increasingly influential in the new state Republican party, and BJU alumni were elected to local political and party offices. In 1976, candidates supported by BJU faculty and alumni captured the local Republican party. Although this takeover was a short-term disaster, by 1980 the religious right and the "country club" Republicans had joined forces. From then on, most Republican candidates for local and statewide offices sought the endorsement of Bob Jones III and greeted faculty/staff voters at the University Dining Common.

National Republicans soon followed. Ronald Reagan spoke at the school in 1980, although the Joneses supported his opponent, John Connally, in the South Carolina primary. (Later, Bob Jones III denounced Reagan as "a traitor to God's people" for choosing George H.W. Bush—whom Jones called a "devil"—as his vice president. Even later, Jones III shook Bush's hand and thanked him for being a good president.) In the 1990s, other Republicans such as Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan, Phil Gramm, Bob Dole, and Alan Keyes also spoke at BJU. Democrats were rarely invited to speak at the University, in part because they took political and social positions (especially support for abortion) opposed by the Religious Right.

2000 election

On February 2, 2000, George W. Bush, as candidate for President, spoke during school's chapel hour. Bush gave a standard stump speech making no specific reference to the University. His political opponents quickly noted his non-mention of the University's ban on interracial dating. During the Michigan primary, Bush was also criticized for not stating his opposition to the University's anti-Catholicism. (The John McCain campaign targeted Catholics with a "Catholic Voter Alert," phone calls reminding voters of Bush's visit to BJU.) Bush denied that he either knew of or approved what he regarded as BJU's intolerant policies. On February 26, Bush issued a formal letter of apology to Cardinal John O'Connor of New Yorkmarker for failing to denounce Bob Jones University's history of anti-Catholic statements. At a news conference following the letter's release, Bush said, "I make no excuses. I had an opportunity and I missed it. I regret that....I wish I had gotten up then and seized the moment to set a tone, a tone that I had set in Texas, a positive and inclusive tone." Also during the 2000 Republican primary campaign in South Carolina, Richard Hand, a BJU professor, spread a false e-mail rumor that John McCain had fathered an illegitimate child. (The McCains have an adopted daughter from Bangladeshmarker, and later push polling also implied that the child was biracial.)

Withdrawal from politics

Although the March 2007 issue of Foreign Policy listed BJU as one of "The World's Most Controversial Religious Sites" because of its past influence on American politics, there may be less political controversy at BJU during the current administration. When asked by a Newsweek reporter if he wished to play a political role, Stephen Jones replied, "It would not be my choice." Further, when asked if he felt ideologically closer to his father's engagement with politics or to other evangelicals who have tried to avoid civic involvement, he answered, "The gospel is for individuals. The main message we have is to individuals. We’re not here to save the culture." In a 2005 Washington Post interview, Jones dodged political questions and even admitted that he was embarrassed by "some of the more vitriolic comments" made by his predecessors. "I don't want to get specific," he said, "But there were things said back then that I wouldn't say today." In October 2007 when Bob Jones III, as "a private citizen," endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president, Stephen Jones made it clear that he wished "to stay out of politics" and that neither he nor the University had endorsed anyone. Despite a hotly contested South Carolina primary, none of the candidates appeared on the platform of BJU's Founders' Memorial Amphitorium during the 2008 election cycle. In April 2008 Stephen Jones told a reporter, "I don't think I have a political bone in my body."

Student rules

Strict rules govern student life at BJU.Some of these are based directly on the University's interpretation of the Bible. For instance, the 2005-06 Day Student Handbook states, "Loyalty to Christ results in separated living. Dishonesty, lewdness, sensual behavior, adultery, homosexuality, sexual perversion of any kind, pornography, illegal use of drugs, and drunkenness—all are clearly condemned by God's word and prohibited here." Grounds for immediate dismissal include stealing, immorality (including sexual relations between unmarried students), possession of hard-core pornography, use of alcohol or drugs, and participating in a public demonstration for a cause the University opposes. Similar "moral failures" are grounds for terminating the employment of faculty and staff. In 1998, a homosexual alumnus was threatened with arrest if he visited the campus.

Other rules are not based on a specific biblical passage. For instance, the Handbook notes that "there is no specific Bible command that says, 'Thou shalt not be late to class,' but a student who wishes to display orderliness and concern for others will not come in late to the distraction of the teacher and other students." In 2008 a campus spokesman also said that one goal of the dress code was "to teach our young people to dress professionally" on campus while giving them "the ability to...choose within the biblically accepted options of dress" when they were off campus.

For instance, rules include the requirement that freshman and sophomore resident hall students sign out before leaving campus and that all resident hall students abide by curfew. Students are forbidden to go to movie theaters or listen to contemporary popular music. Male students are required to have conservative hairstyles, and facial hair is prohibited. Women are expected to dress modestly and wear knee-length dresses to class and religious services.

Notable people associated with BJU

Mentions in popular culture

  • BJU was judged "The Most Square" university in a poll of college newspaper editors published by McCall's magazine, March 1967.
  • Steve Taylor (1983) On his album Meltdown, Taylor, a CCM artist, ridiculed BJU's racial policies in the song "We Don't Need No Colour Code."
  • In The Ladykillers (2004), one of the main characters, an elderly black woman, sends money to Bob Jones University on a regular basis.
  • Al Franken (2003) Al Franken with a young male assistant posed as a potential student and mentor considering application to the University and during an interview with the admissions director asked questions that ridiculed school policies. Franken wrote about this episode in his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. At the end of the chapter he noted that he and his assistant had come to BJU "expecting to encounter racist, intolerant homophobes. Instead, we found people who were welcoming, friendly and extremely nice. A little weird, yes, and no doubt homophobic, but well meaning…kind of."



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