Remember Christ’s “The truth shall set you free?”, Bob Jones University?

If you’ve been following along (see Monday’s Waiting for Bob Jones’s Huge Gay Bomb to Drop and yesterday’s Dear Men Who Run Bob Jones University), you know that this week, in their mandatory morning chapel services, students at Christian fundamentalist Bob Jones “University” have been receiving lectures on homosexuality. (Why the quote marks? Because BJU is an actual university like I’m an actual microbiologist: a degree from BJU carries about the same weight as a PostIt on which you’ve scribbled, Me smart! Give job to, k?)

Every morning, within an hour or so following chapel, Bob Jones has always made available here the audio file for that morning’s service.

This week, however, they are not doing that:

(Note the “we understand.” What a perfect deflection of responsibility. That is imperious cowardice made instinct.)

A few brave students, at considerable risk to themselves (BJU is nothing if not draconian in its control of its students: the college is basically a mini-police state, and that’s no joke) have been secretly recording the chapel services. The good folks at BJ News have made those audio file available here.

I’ve listened to Monday’s lecture, delivered by BJU President Stephen Jones. (I’ve also read the text of the sermon, which was transcribed and sent to me by Ray Kirstein, producer of the State of Belief radio show.)

Stephen Jones was born on the campus of BJU, and received all of his “degrees” there. (Interesting factoid: Stephen’s Ph.D. dissertation has been read by no one and is available nowhere.) As far as I know, he has never lived anywhere but on or near the college founded by his great-grandfather Bob.

You take a cloistered, severely undereducated guy, born to power and pretentiousness, have him deliver before 3,500 people a lecture on the nexus between theology and sociology, and what do you get? Well, for one, you get this, which is from the opening of Stephen’s sermon on Monday:

Now today the word—for somebody to call you a “homophobe” is almost the worst type of accusation that they can make. But I want to state very plainly, if you are stating the biblical position lovingly is not homophobia. And your manner in stating it also should not be homophobian. But what the world is after is not just to be rid of homophobia, is homophilia. To accept as just another choice.

I swear I’m not making that up.

But I’m sure the poor guy was just nervous going in. It gets better as he continues.

Or—depending on where you stand on the gay “issue”—it gets worse. A lot worse.

More later today.

(A great thanks to those of you who are sharing this series. It’s important to do that, because it helps put pressure on Bob Jones to at the very least make public what they say about homosexuality. That shouldn’t be too much to ask from an institution that prides itself on being Christian. Wasn’t it Christ, after all, who proclaimed, “The truth shall set you free.”?)

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Jenni Frencham

    Is “homophobian” really a word? It looks like he’s using it as an adjective … if that’s the case, then BJU is one of the most homophobian universities on the planet.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Homophobian! It was unbelievable. It’s like … the scientific name for a gay frog. I listened to it VERY carefully to make sure I was hearing it right. But it would have hardly been any better if the word he used there was JUST “homophobia.”

      When people know what they’re saying is wrong, they always bobble it up. That’s just …. so natural. He knows he’s about to start saying a whole bunch of stuff that is just wrong. So he chokes. I didn’t expect anything else.

    • http://bjunity.org/ Bill B

      I think he might have said “homophilia” which I think is an antiquated word. Which makes total sense given their antiquated view of LGBTQ students which has only been rivaled previously by their antiquated views on race, integration, and miscegenation.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        I don’t think so, man. I listened over and over again–and I tweaked up the treble and reduced the base so I could hear it as best I could–because of course I knew that I couldn’t publish “homophilian” unless I was 100% sure that’s what he said. And I feel that sure. If you listen carefully enough, you’ll hear him roll that “n” at the end. (But it is pretty subtle. And ultimately, it’s a bit of mute point. It sounds painfully illiterate either way.)

    • lymis

      Homophobian sounds like they should be wallowing in swamps, keeping their thin skins protected, trying to keep their cold-blooded systems warm enough so they can spawn more of their own kind without actually spending too much time out in the open.

      So, yeah, it pretty much works to describe them.

    • Ottomus James

      Well, when you get right down to it, the “-phobe” in “homophobe” (the noun) is a pretty uncommon suffix….

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

    I will jump in and listen to these tonight and if I do not ram an icepick through the computer speaker or my ear I will have a blog up asap. Thanks for staying on this John.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Honestly, don’t do it. Listening to Stephen Jones trying to discuss theology is like listening to Popeye trying to sing opera. It just … hurts.

      • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

        That’s unfair to Popeye.

  • Daniel Huey

    If only my university had had more “bj” I would have had a more complete education.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      HAR! I mean … I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      As long as this is inappropriate sharing moment, my alma mater was 80% women, and at least 10% of those men were gay. The straight men were … very happy.

  • John Mason

    I have a degree from Bob Jones University. It got me many professional and career opportunities throughout my life and allowed me to retire at age 53. I do not say that because I disagree with anything else you have published. I am a gay Christian. I am an ordained minister. I am President of the Eastern Panhandle LGBTQ Alliance of West Virginia. I believe you can make you points quite well without resorting to ad hominem argument. Continue to attack their logic, their reasoning, their arguments. Do no attack their person. That lowers you to their level, which you simply can not do. Keep fighting the good fight! ~Pastor John Mason

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      I very carefully avoided any ad hominem arguments against Stephen Jones; I never once personally disparage him. You’ve simply not read carefully enough. (And I’m curious to hear what degree from BJU launched what professional career for you. I’ve never before heard anyone claim that their degree from BJU served them well out in the job market. I would actually be glad to learn about a case where it had. Share?)

      • Jenni Frencham

        I’d like to hear about this, too. I have TWO degrees from Bob Jones, and once I left Fundyland I couldn’t get a job anywhere except Target. So I went back to school and got ANOTHER degree, and this one has landed me a professional job. And a lot of student debt, but still, a professional job.

    • FormerFundy1992

      John, I was born the same decade as you and I was at BJ for about a quarter of a century. My degree has been patently useless in any professional endeavor. Yes, the education was good and I can diagram a sentence like you wouldn’t believe – well, I could when I graduated. but that is all. I would love to hear your secret to BJ diploma success. Stephen, with whom I am (was) very well acquainted, was born in Barge in December of 69. He went from diaper school in the nursery behind the girls dorms through his PHD – all on that campus… John has not made that up,. His Doctoral dissertation is unavailable. I know faculty who sat on his dissertation review panel and have heard what they were instructed. Aside from a bit of time in Asheville, NC during his illness, he has lived on the campus. John’s point is well founded and formulated, not disparaging in any way and simply reports the facts. Now, here is the really sad part. There are many other children born and raised on the campus… “Faculty Brats” as they are called. They grow up inside a bubble and once they are unceremoniously vomited out into the real world, they flounder trying to get their footing because they are unprepared for what greets them. So now we have a 43 year old gentleman who never wanted to be a preacher running an educational institution whose total education and primary life experience is that bubble in which he was born He is supposed to be leading Christian professionals into the world to work and be testimonies for Christ. Where is the logic in having a leader who has never experienced the very thing he is leading his charges toward??? Would the Army make someone a 5 star General if the totality of his military experience centered on the barracks and he had some observation of the battle field, but no battlefield experience at all??

      • Ottomus James

        Some good points here.

    • Ottomus James

      Mr. Mason, thank you. I’m also a BJ grad, and while I do pretty much align with them ideologically, I’m always glad to see someone with a cool enough head to reject fallacies like ad hom. Seriously, I appreciate it.

      • Ottomus James

        Although I see now that you said using ad hominem attacks “lowers you to their level,” so I guess you used an ad hominem attack… while rejecting ad hominem attacks. I’m confused now. haha

  • LostGrrl

    Kudos to you *and* to the brave students who are sharing their recordings with you. I strongly think this information needs to be publicized in the mainstream news media. Do have any plans to make that happen?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      There’s nothing I can do but write what I have and hope enough people share it that it becomes big enough for mainstream media to … care, basically.

      • LostGrrl

        Thanks for the quick reply, John! I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and am loving it! You have a special gift with words. (Loved your conversion story!) My husband and sister-in-law are reading now too ;)

        My husband and I have been aware of Bob Jones for many years now…their “18-inch” rule between male and female students was a standing joke in our church singles group. But now they have taken things to a whole new level with their “homosexual” teachings…gay amphibians indeed!

        • Jenni Frencham

          It’s actually 6 inches, not that that makes it any better. :) Basically we are all trained that if someone of the opposite sex comes up to us, we back away and say, “No touchie.”

          • LostGrrl

            I stand corrected Jenni! Guess they’ve lowered it. My husband first learned of that at his Christian college (*not* BJU) back in the late 70s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.anziulewicz PolishBear

    I’ve always found Bob Jones University rather fascinating in much the same way that I find North Korea fascinating.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      I’ve been on campus, twice, both times to visit the art museum there. Gorgeous religious themed art, depressingly displayed (bad lighting, terrible layout and grouping of works, and schmalzy classical music, played too loudly…never mind the somberly dressed watchers).

      Both times I couldn’t wait to get out of the place, despite my desire to see the art. It was a very unwelcoming setting.

      • Jeffrey Hoffman

        Would you believe that the executive director of BJUnity’s first job was guarding paintings in what used to be known as “the Bob Jones University Art Gallery” and is now a separate charity called The Bob Jones Museum and Gallery?

  • Matt

    The common thread that really concerns me is how BJU has interwoven shows of “tolerance” into these lectures. Things like calling out the writer of the homophobic message, chastising students for gossiping about their “same-sex attracted” fellow students. They are setting themselves up as those to be trusted, when they are clearly not. Unless a student is extremely clear on who they are and have outside people to support them, they’ll have no choice but to absorb what they’re being told. Just not a good situation all around. No wonder they don’t want this getting out.

    • http://bjunity.org/ Bill B

      BJU students who have questions, or are struggling w/same-sex attractions and/or homosexuality should NOT contact anyone at BJU. It never ends well. Keep quiet. And obey the rules as best you can.

      If you must contact somebody, contact BJUnity (unity@BJUnity or (864) 735-7598, or @LBGTBJU on twitter). Do not use your BJU email or a BJU connected computer. If you tweet, tweet PRIVATELY. BJUnity will keep your identity confidential.

      They said on Monday they don’t trace, or do such things — that’s not the “spirit in which they operate”, but again, we know this is NOT TRUE.

      If you are contemplating self-harm or suicide, please call the Trevor Project 866-488-7386, or the Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255.

      • Matt

        All good things to know. Although I’m not a student, I’m glad that BJUnity is offering an alternative to these kids. They certainly need it.

      • Jeffrey Hoffman

        Thanks, Bill, for writing all that out. I’ve been in rehearsals and meetings all day. We want to be sure the students know that.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      You make it through. These are young adults no different than you now or me then. You suck every ounce of education you can out of these people, and you reject the rest silently. That’s easy for me to say. I know. I was never subjected to that sort of Orwellian environment. It’s still true. If this is the one chance they have to get out of their parents’ house and into a better school some day, take it. Stay strong. Trust no one. Plausible deniability at all times. It’s only four years, not eternity.

  • Judy

    To those who cannot believe an intelligent person would go to BJU, I ask that you not be quick to judge.Sometimes, it is because that is the only school a parent will pay for. But sometimes, it is strong peer pressure from youth groups. The fundy church I grew up in had a huge active youth group. I was a geeky, shy kid who did not fit in at public school. I found friends in this group. They all went to BJU when they graduated from high school, except for the kids who thought BJU was too liberal, and went to Hyles Anderson. I would have gone too, but I was saved by the fact that I was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and that scholarship was not able to be used at unaccredited BJU.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      National Merit. Props. That the most prestigious high school scholarship isn’t accepted at BJU says it all. Pretty much.

      • FormerFundy1992

        Yeh, and the high school at BJ – BJAcademy – does not participate in this liberal, left wing, mind-controlling “scholarship.” All good, Christian students attend bj. its just a fact

      • Guest

        It’s nationally accredited now. I went to BJU with a state scholarship (Palmetto Fellowship) that required a 32 on the ACT. Not all BJU students are idiots. I know personally a BJU grad who’s doing his PhD at Yale. It’s just that BJU’s main draw isn’t just its academics– prolly most folks attend because they agree with its ideology.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          I LOVE the “my test score was bigger than yours” game. A quick visit to Teh Google gives me this: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/dartmouth-college/439173-is-a-32-on-the-act-low.html. The consensus seems to be 32 is adequate. Don’t feel bad. I didn’t take the ACT, but for the caliber of schools I applied to an SAT 740 verbal and 640 math was only adequate, too. Not scholarship-worthy. Test scores measure one’s ability to take tests, mostly.

          If you check the thread, you’ll find no one accuses the students of idiocy. The blame lies with an administration which manipulates them personally and gouges them monetarily for a meaningless degree.

          • Ottomus James

            Yes, I admit that I shouldn’t have mentioned my score. I was asking for a deflated ego. Dumb of me. Although in defense of facts (and my ego haha), I would like to give you a better link: http://www.actstudent.org/scores/norms1.html Irrelevant? Yes.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Nice link. It sounds like you (and your Yale friend) were BJU success stories. Don’t you have compassion for the vast majority who were not so lucky?

          • Ottomus James

            I have compassion for anybody who chooses a liberal arts major (like me actually haha) pretty much anywhere, and for any BJU grad whose future grad school requires regional accreditation. It all depends on your plans, I guess. Although considering the fact that most freshmen don’t know what they’re gonna do in 4 years…. Sure, there can be irksome consequences of a degree from a nationally accredited school. But like I said, academics aren’t always the driving factor. All depends what you’re looking for. And any prospective student going anywhere definitely needs to do his research, for sure.

  • anonymous

    What’s it to you what this “Bob Jones University” does or doesn’t do/say, sir? That you give so much time, attention, and [negative] energy
    to one small university speaks volumes. And it’s unfortunately
    pathetic. I trust God will redeem these posts to somehow bring Himself
    glory, despite their dripping with the same cynicism and hatred you preach against here.

    • Jill

      I know that I cannot turn a blind eye to others’ suffering. I care when God is used as weapon, when God is portrayed as at least, a disengaged Creator that damns gay people, or at worst, a sadist Creator that created people then created laws to damn them anyway. BJU teaches bullshit, and the impact is real. That’s what is truly pathetic.

    • adam

      You realize that god ONLY redeems AFTER you are dead where no one can see and report back.
      How convenient…..

  • Guest

    I just want to point out one thing: Dr. Jones’ doctorate is an honorary one. No one’s hiding his dissertation.


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