Back in 1980, when Jimmy Carter was still president, Bob Jones III, third generation head of Bob Jones University and a vile bigot, joined a group of fundamentalist leaders at the White House to deal with the “problem” of homosexuality. He told reporters that the whole problem would be fixed if we just stoned gay people to death.
“I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted,” Jones told the AP. “But it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands.”
And now, 35 years later, he’s issuing an “apology” and excusing it as comments made “in the heat of a political controversy” that don’t “represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching.”
“I take personal ownership of this inflammatory rhetoric. This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago,” Jones said in a statement. “Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger—were my name not attached.”
“I cannot erase them, but wish I could, because they do not represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching. Neither before, nor since, that event in 1980 have I ever advocated the stoning of sinners,” he added.
Bob Jones III once declared that BJU had banned interracial dating because “God has separated people for His own purpose”; nevertheless, on March 3, 2000, he announced on Larry King Live that the University would abandon the long-standing rule over which the university had lost its federal tax-exempt status in 1983…
Jones once denounced Ronald Reagan as ‘a traitor to God’s people’ for choosing as his vice president George H.W. Bush, whom Jones called “a devil.” But some years later, he personally thanked the elder Bush for being a good president.
Jones referred to Catholicism as “the religion of the anti-Christ and a Satanic system” and called Mormonism and Catholicism “cults which call themselves Christian,” but in October 2007, he endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon, for the Republican nomination for President.
So he has a long history of both rank bigotry and making bizarre, extremist claims and then much later retracting them when public opinion has turned massively against him. No one should accept this “apology.”