Bob Jones and the memory hole

2006-07-22 08:56

One of the key components of Christian teaching is metanoia, or repentance. That means admitting your faults, because if you won’t admit them, you can’t really correct them. Even if you change your behavior, if you can’t admit it was wrong, you’re not changing yourself, you’re just bowing to superior firepower.

Bob Jones university, for a number of years, absolutely banned black students. No admission. They eventually allowed black students, but they didn’t let them date white students. In February of 2000, with much to-do, they “removed” this policy; they now allowed interracial dating with the signatures of both parents. Today, even that policy is gone.

Both policies are, in fact, so far gone that it’s very hard to find what the actual text of the policies was. Archives that used to contain these have mostly somehow had them deleted. The Wayback Machine’s otherwise excellent cache of BJU pages is oddly short of pages that refer to this policy.

That’s the thing; that’s not “repentance”. That’s “denial”. Throughout, every time someone has questioned a policy, the BJU people have said that they were right but they are changing for some reason that has nothing to do with them being wrong.

Their angrily defensive tone says it all; this excerpt is from their 2000 piece angrily responding to criticism of their mild step back on the dating policy:

Is Bob Jones University tax exempt? No. The Supreme Court took it away from us in 1983 with a ruling that said, “First Amendment rights (freedom of religion) must yield in the interest of Federal public policy.” This bone-chilling legal conclusion puts every church and religious organization in America in jeopardy. Religious freedom guarantees of the First Amendment are no longer their protection. They are now expected to adopt prevailing social policy into their belief system or be punished (in the case of Bob Jones University that punishment was the lifting of tax exemption).

Of course, the 1983 ruling had to do with… The interracial dating policy.

Nice dodge, guys.

I’ve written them and asked for more information about what the policy was and why they had it. No response.

But you can still find some of their initial reasoning:

Does the University believe that those who choose interracial marriage do so out of rebellion against God? No. It does believe, however, that often the promoters of it do so out of antagonism toward God because they are often the same entities that promote homosexuality, abortion, and other forms of social radicalism.

Bob Jones University’s policy regarding interracial dating was more of an opposition to the rebellious and defiant antichrist spirit of the promoters of one-worldism than to interracial dating itself. Many who date and marry interracially are just as opposed to one-worldism and the spirit of Antichrist as we are.

Yes, that’s right; interracial dating was a sign of the “one-world” antichrist people.

Edited to add:
One site (experts.about.com) has a copy of the policy:

There is to be no interracial dating.

:#Students who are partners in an interracial marriage will be expelled. [461 U.S. 574, 581]

:#Students who are members of or affiliated with any group or organization which holds as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage will be expelled.

:#Students who date outside of their own race will be expelled.

:#Students who espouse, promote, or encourage others to violate the University’s dating rules and regulations will be expelled.”

The former policies of Bob Jones University on interracial dating are indebted to the founder’s view that the Bible forbids interracial dating and marriage; though today Bob Jones University sometimes claims that the policy is a product of a (1950s) legal threat on the part of the parents of a female Asian student who threatened legal action after learning that their daughter was dating a white student.

I wish their original policy were still up. If it were, they could say “well, actually, we don’t believe that”.

Instead, they lie about what it was, and why it was there, and in so doing, they deny any hope of repentance. This is why so many Christian groups stress the confession of sins as a part of the process of forgiveness.

Peter Seebach

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