So that’s a lot of history and it’s taken me awhile to comb through it. A review is in order.
- Everything was just fine in 1932 for Bay County, Florida and for its jewel of a school, Bob Jones College, if the reports were to be believed. Just like everything is just fine for a little New South Greenville and its premier fundamentalist institution in 2014.
- The PR campaign was in full swing in both instances. The 1932 BJC students, or more likely their President, spoke glittering generalities about that little Florida school just like the current BJU PR Department features similarly glowing reviews. Compare the 1932 advertisement to the 2014 version.
- But the propaganda couldn’t ward off the certain financial doom looming for Bob Jones Inc.
- Oh, the powerful friends might come and help, the Alabama governor and the South Carolina governor.
- But, but but . . . it couldn’t have been Bob Jones Sr’s fault that the money was gone, right? RIGHT?! Bob Jones Inc. couldn’t fathom the thought that it had been at fault. So both within the crisis and decades later in the history books, Bob Jones Inc. makes sure that all the blame for their financial woes is squarely fired on the real culprit, local pastor and former employee William Hall. However, the record doesn’t reveal Hall to be the trouble-maker at all.
- No, the signs of the failing school had been present for years before they’d admit it. And while the times were tough, Bob Jones and his pals all had worn out their rhetorical welcome on their devout listeners. Their antics had just caught up with them, and the people weren’t as free with their donation dollars as they had been. And well, federal charges would certainly have tainted any fundraising or enrollment efforts.
They were reaping what they had sown.
And even though in January, 1933, Jones insisted they would never leave Panama City because that was their beloved home, that promise wouldn’t be kept. Robert Lee McKenzie was Panama City’s mayor and BJC’s biggest booster and a long-time board member.
Many alumni would remember McKenzie as piano faculty Anne McKenzie Morton’s dad. A few old-timers might remember his other daughter Ellen McKenzie Tutte teaching Home Economics.
Robert Lee McKenzie was to Bob Jones Sr. what Bob Wood is to Bob Jones III. And Senior was pretty worried about their exodus out of Florida. He was worried he would anger McKenzie. Here’s a glimpse at that guilt:
Why does all this matter? Why have I taken weeks to comb through minuscule details in the account from eighty years ago?
To reveal the pattern.
Bob Jones University is again in a crisis, but you wouldn’t know it from their own words. They are re-writing history right before our eyes. And if we aren’t vigilant, they may just get away with it like they did in 1933.
Stay tuned. . . .