Ah, so Bob Jones III is back in the media spotlight again. Sigh. . . . He promised he was done with this back in 2005. Guess our 6-year reprieve is over.
We who have grown up in Bob Jones Inc. know how this media courtship works for the Bobs. We know how they use distractions to their advantage. Bob can’t resist the attention from journalists. He craves it. Just like his dad and just like his granddad. His sons, however, resist it. There is that.
So Bob doesn’t think Obama’s a Christian. No surprise there since Obama’s not a Republican!! Romney, on the other hand, Bob did endorse during the last campaign cycle. Orthodoxy is not much of a concern for Bob. Just politics.
You do know, Gentle Reader, that it’s always been politics for Bob Jones Inc. Don’t kid yourself. It’s never been about religion or any particular separated expression of religion no matter how earnestly we graduates cling to the sentimentality of fundamentalism’s Golden Age. It’s always been about the most violent politics hooded in religious robes. Always.
In 1909, shortly after his second marriage to a wealthy Stollenwerck, Bob Jones Sr. was a “Law and Order League” hired speaker in Alabama, raising funds for detectives to “spot” those who were not complying with the temperance laws. Later he was a Klan lecturer all over the state of Alabama. He attended the Klan Bake of 1924 — the largest gathering of KKK members in history. Historians haven’t gathered all those facts together . . . yet. They do, however, affirm that in the 1928 presidential campaign no person spoke more violent political words than Bob Jones Sr. That, my friends, is his legacy.
Then there’s his son, Bob Jones, Jr., whom we graduates have called “The Owner” or just “Junior.” Junior loved to stir the political pot. His buddies are more familiar to us–that is, familiar to those who remember the American Nazi Party a la the American Mercury, post 1952. While the official BJU story on Junior is that he loved art and drama, he also couldn’t resist damning presidential cabinet members to hell. Charming, yes?
It was on Junior’s watch that BJU gave Governor George Wallace an honorary doctorate in 1964. Upon conferring the degree, Junior read this statement:
Men who have fought for truth and righteousness have always been slandered, maligned, and misrepresented. The American Press in its attacks upon Governor Wallace has demonstrated that it is no longer free, American, or honest. But you, Mr. Governor, have demonstrated not only by the overwhelming victories in the recent elections in your own state of Alabama but also in the showing which you have made in states long dominated by cheap demagogues and selfish radicals that there is still in America love for freedom, hard common sense, and at least some hope for the preservation of our Constitutional liberties
Junior invited C-Street’s “The Family” founder Abraham Vereide to speak to the BJU student body in 1952. Strom Thurmond, Edwin Walker, James Parker Dees, William F. Buckley, Jr.–do you sense trend here?
Bill Moyers knows Junior, too. Sometime I’d like to ask Moyers about the “carbon of hate” he received from Junior in 1963. Moyers was the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps and received Junior’s rant to Shriver calling the Corps “a gathering place for misfits, failures, ‘beatniks,’ and ‘eggheads.’ Such being the case,” Junior continued, “the moral standards can hardly be very high; and under the circumstances, how can it represent American life and philosophy very well in foreign countries?” Moyers took it personally. And the Owner kept going:
Your letter is exactly the kind I would expect to receive from a ‘Baptist minister‘ who would betray his Lord for a soft Government job with an organization that tells its employees they cannot propagate their religion. If you ever had a call to the ministry, you must set very little value upon that ‘high Calling of God,’ which is, in fact, a definite Call to proselytize or to make converts. . . . I take it for granted from your affiliation and the venomous frustrated tone of your letter that you are hardly likely to be a Bible-believing Christian with a real zeal to win souls to Christ. The person who would write the sort of letter you write would obviously have no spiritual understanding. I would not expect you, therefore, to understand that a Christian has an obligation to seek to win men to Christ.
It is time some of you arrogant, highhanded, and radical bullies got it through your thick heads that you are the servants of the people, even of those who protest having their tax money used to provide you with nice, easy, lazy jobs at big salaries. The complex your letter manifests is exactly that which characterizes this Administration from the top down and which has turned the stomachs of good Americans who have had about all they can take of this sort of thing.
So Bill Moyers got the same treatment in 1963 that Obama gets in 2011! And some alumni insist that things have changed. . . .
On all these Moyers letters, Junior CCed his buddy William Worrilow from the “Organized Minorities Association” calling Moyers “Genius Boy” and “Billy Boy.” Stay classy, Dr. Bob!
They didn’t just attack the political “liberals” either. They had words for that great Republican saint, Ronald Reagan. The Joneses were petulant when their lark with the Supremes failed. And so the Owner wrote the President of the United States in December 1983:
I write this letter with great heaviness of heart. It is never easy for a man to face up to the fact that he has been betrayed, deceived, and used by a man in whom he put his confidence; but there are hundreds of thousands–indeed, millions–of Americans who recognize, some with bitterness and all with sadness, that you have broken your promises to them and treated them with contempt.
You are not in the White House, Mr. President, as the result of some great Republican landslide or strong party victory. You are there because millions of Americans believed your promises to protect religious freedom and assure the Constitutional rights of Christian schools and the preservation of the Bill of Rights. . . . What protection has been extended to independent Fundamental Bible-believing churches? . . . Surely the President, by reason of his ofice, can exercise influence; but where have you lifted your hand to help God’s people who under attack? Where have you picked up a telephone to make a call in behalf of righteousness, fairness, and freedom?
Sounds familiar, yes?
Bob Jones III or “Third” or “Triple Sticks” has quite the CV of political tirades. Every BJU student knows his chapel rants. But before the alumni fall into a dissociative state at my mere mention of Third’s speaking in chapel (Seriously, try it some time. Watch what happens.), let me quote one letter from Third to Reagan in 1983:
I am sorry that once again the White House has shown itself totally insensitive to the interests of Fundamental Christians who put Mr. Reagan there. Mr. Mondale could not have treated us with greater indifference and disdain than has Mr. Reagan whom we believed to be our friend.
See–here’s the deal: the Bobs attack anyone who stands in their way. Anyone! Presidents, Governors, Senators, Deputy Directors. And I don’t blame every single political official who’s been on the opposite end of one of these Jones’ rants over the last 100 years. I don’t blame you all for just chucking the whole ream of paper in the shredder. Who wants to read that? You’ve got work to do and a family that loves you. Why bother with some pompous fool in South Carolina? Greenville locals know how it feels when everyone is numb from a Jones fight.
But I’ll tell you why you should bother–all of you. They don’t just attack the powerful. They attack the weak and the poor and the powerless. They have attacked this woman right here: Tina Anderson—a 15yo girl who was raped twice and impregnated by a prominent church member and who was made to stand up and endure “church discipline” at the hands of a Bob Jones University alumnus and current Bob Jones University Board Member, Chuck Phelps.
Let me connect the dots more clearly. The man who humiliated 15yo Tina publicly, who hid her from the police, who shipped her off to Colorado away from the only people she knew so that she could, in secret, birth a baby conceived in violence, THAT MAN? Bob Jones III himself has called that man “honorable and just.” Chuck Phelps is the kind of person that Bob Jones III not only knows, but he embraces. He invites that person to give him advice and asks him to send him students. He has that man teach Church Administration to his “Preacher Boys.” He stands with that kind of person, arm-in-arm.
And because of that, no one in Bob Jones Inc’s care is safe. No one. Not a German grocer in 1909, not a Catholic in 1928, not an African-American in 1954 or 1983, not a gay man in 1989.
Nor are they safe right now. Not a child, not a teenage girl from a broken home, not a struggling college student in his senior year, not an elderly retiree who can’t pay her “rent” on campus. Just like his granddad hired thugs to harass soft drink vendors on the streets of Montgomery, so Bob Jones III is aligning with the likes of Chuck Phelps to perpetuate their kingdoms at the expense of souls.
And this is just one case. One that’s public knowledge proven under oath in a court of law. It’s just one of thousands.
So that is the nature of their credibility they’ve been hocking for 100 years. You can string all those political quotations together and come up with a pretty good story of a smug family who uses extremist political propaganda to finance a pretty cushy life. That’s exactly what Bob Jones III wants you to see in your google search. He wants you to see how important he is and how successful he is and how his questioning of Obama’s salvation should matter. And even if you do think he’s a jerk, at least you leave him alone as you walk away. . . .
And as you walk away, you miss that picture of Tina Anderson holding her newborn baby, standing with strangers, her face swollen from the sobbing. Don’t look at that. Don’t listen to what Jones’ buddy, the “honorable and just” Chuck Phelps admitted in court:
[Prosecuting Attorney] Wayne: Ok, let me give you a hypothetical. Let’s say that a 14-year-old girl who goes to your school gets kidnapped by a guy who rapes her then beats her up and leaves her out in the woods. She comes to you and tells she is pregnant. Would you expel her from your school?
[BJU Board Member and Pastor Chuck] Phelps: It would depend on the situation. I don’t know.
(After Phelps said this, the jury and many of the people in the courtroom shook their heads or stared at him in shock.)
Bob Jones III doesn’t want you to peek behind the curtain. That’s why he did the National Journal interview. He wants to distract you.
But we have to look. We must. We have to look and we have to do something about it.
Sign this petition today to remove Chuck Phelps from the Bob Jones University Board of Trustees.