Bob Jones University apologizes for past racist views
Bob Jones University, the private, fundamentalist Christian college founded in 1927, has just issued an apology for racist views that they formerly held and justified on biblical grounds. The school did not admit black students until 1971 and prohibited interracial dating until that particular policy gained attention during the 2000 presidential election when George W. Bush gave a speech at the school.
The detailed rules that Bob Jones University developed in the 1970s prohibited not just interracial dating and marriage but threaten expulsion for any student who even 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.” The Internal Revenue Service revoked the University’s tax exempt status; the school appealed the 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 just released apology (full text) says in part:
We failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry. Though no known antagonism toward minorities or expressions of racism on a personal level have ever been tolerated on our campus, we allowed institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.
The South Carolina chapter of the NAACP welcomed the apology from the Greenville-based school. “It’s unfortunate it took them this long — particularly a religious, faith-based institution — to realize that we all are human beings and the rights of all people should be respected and honored,” said Lonnie Randolph, president of the state NAACP.
The school has never reapplied for tax exemption, though they could presumably qualify now. This blog commends the school and its leadership for having the courage to admit these past mistakes.