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
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
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.