Bob Jones III, the former president of Bob Jones University, has apologized for suggesting in 1980 that America could rectify many social ills “post-haste if homosexuals were stoned” swiftly along with murderers and rapists.
Jones extended his regrets this week after receiving a recent petition seeking an apology.
“I take personal ownership of this inflammatory rhetoric,” Jones, 75, said in a statement released by the private South Carolina school. “This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago.”
Jones had made the comment to the Associated Press at the time. He made the statement at the White House.
Jimmy Carter was president at the time.
“I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted,” Jones said in 1980, according to CNN. “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.”
The issue at the time was concern among fundamentalist evangelical ministers that the federal government would extend the Civil Rights Act to gays and lesbians.
Now in his autumn years, Jones said he hardly recognizes his statement.
“It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ Who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved,” Jones said. “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 also said.
“I apologize for the reflection those remarks bring upon Jesus Christ, Whom I love; Bob Jones University, which I have loved and served; and my own personal testimony.”
Bob Jones University and its administrators manage to make news more often than most 2,800-student Christian schools.
In 2000, the school’s ban on interracial dating caused an uproar because then-presidential candidate George W. Bush visited campus.
The media storm caused school officials to change the racist dating policy.
Current Bob Jones U. describes “adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s biological sex” as “sinful and offensive to God,” notes Inside Higher Education.
The Bob Jones U. student handbook forbids much else. For example, male and female students are not supposed to spend time “alone together in a classroom, rehearsal studio or other room.”
Clothing made by Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister is highly frowned upon.
“Rock, pop, Country, jazz, electronic/techno” and “rap/hip hop” music are banned from “personal listening on and off campus.”
Movies are verboten on campus. No television, either.
And absolutely no dancing.