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For week ended March 05, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15Mar00

Summarized by Joyce Feustel

Anti-Mormon BJU Has Gentler Side
New York Times 5Mar00 N1
By Gustav Niebuhr

GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Here in this beautiful area of the south is found a very unusual place. There are well-kept lawns, yellow brick buildings, young men with neckties and young women who wear skirts with long hemlines...ankle or knee length. There is no cigarette smoke or foul language and you are addressed with a title of respect...Sir or Ma'am. Such an unusual place is Bob Jones University. The way of life for 5000 students is shaped by Christian beliefs and many rules. Classes begin and end with prayer, and Rock music, alcohol and tobacco are forbidden. Curfew is 11:00 p.m.

Miriam Rybak, a junior, stated "It makes me more disciplined", and Kelly Stevens, a freshman, agreed. "There are rules everywhere in life, whether they be moral standards or federal laws. It's a lot less party life than other schools, but I think it's a good thing."

However...this idyllic picture has been partially destroyed. The remarks by Gov. George Bush's opponents faulting him for not speaking out against the university's ban on interracial marriage created a firestorm. Included in the accusations were the harsh criticisms of the Roman Catholic beliefs which seem to be at odds with the fine arts and academic programs of the university.

In an unexpected move the university dropped the ban, as announced on the "Larry King Live" program. The president of the university, Bob Jones III, said "Our concern for the cause of Christ, and our graduates is more important. It had become a distraction."

On the CNN program, Mr. Jones made other statements, emphasizing the theological differences between Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants. Mr. Jones said, "We wish that the Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus and others would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ."

The controversy seems to have taken many students by surprise. Kevin Inafuku, 22, a senior from Waiame, Hawaii, who is student body president, is the son of an East Asian father and a white mother. When asked, he said "If Bob Jones were racist, would I be student body president? Would I be allowed to be in this position? I don't think so."

Angela Lee, 20 a black student from MD, said she had been impressed with what she heard as a high school student from Mr. Jones when he spoke at her Baptist church. "When I prayed about the decision, I didn't believe what other people told me because I experienced firsthand the love of the Lord through faculty and students. But it wasn't a popular decision. I went to a more liberal Christian school and it was kind of a joke -- me, the black girl, going to Bob Jones."

The university, founded in 1927 in Florida by Bob Jones Sr. an evangelist, moved in 1947 to Greenville, a city located near the Appalachian foothills in northwest South Carolina. It offers more than 110 courses, both standard and special education and is nationally known for its collection of Baroque religious paintings. It also performs opera and Shakespearean plays. It teaches evolution as part of the Sciences, but only as theory in opposition to creation, believing evolution to be an unacceptable theory.

It is perhaps because of the strictness of the university that it has been the subject of strange rumors. State Representative Terry Haskins, a graduate of the school, laughed when asked about his life as a student there. He recalled that in the early 1970's, some in Greenville believed the university had painted its sidewalks pink and blue, one for women and the other for men.


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