I track all mentions of “Bob Jones University” via Google Alerts. Many articles are critical or dismissive. Many are not. Some criticisms are deserved—we’re sinners! Some are not. Check out the opening of this AP article, carried in SC’s The State:
Gay rights group visits Columbia, SC, campus
By KATRINA A. GOGGINS – Associated Press Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. —
More than a dozen students and faculty at a private, Christian university crossed police tape Monday to meet with gay rights activists protesting the school’s policy against openly gay students on campus.
Sitting inside a school-designated protest area with bibles opened, gay rights activists and students at Columbia International University debated scripture and the college’s policy.
It was a stark contrast to a similar demonstration at Bob Jones University in Greenville last year when three gay activists of the group Soulforce were arrested and bible toting, anti-gay protesters held signs and preached through bullhorns.
I was there when SoulForce came to BJU, and please allow me to point out that no BJU student or staff member had a bullhorn. Those were uninvited protesters—no more allowed on campus than the SoulForce group—who tarnished Christ’s name by their rudeness and self-righteousness. Some months later, I met for several hours with one of those sandwich-board-clad fundamentalist protesters. He is a young man who wants to serve Christ faithfully. But his pride led him to do something which I think hurt Christ’s cause.
I would happily have met with a SoulForce protester, but I very much respect Stephen Jones’ decision to keep them off campus. I was skeptical at first: why give up an opportunity to talk to lost people? But Dr. Jones persuaded me that the administration has a responsibility to parents to protect their children. Not all of the students are ready to speak to a group that abuses the Bible with such sophistication. And they were not out for dialogue but for scoring political points, as the spin on their website proved later.
I have sorrow in my heart over those men and women on the SoulForce Equality Ride. I have looked over their profiles every year, and my heart is heavy for them.
Update: A friend reminded me to point out that the SoulForce protesters asked to be arrested. I’m not going to call that a ploy: if their cause were truly just then their request for arrest would be a noble gesture. They, of course, believe that their cause is just.
The following pictures were made publicly available on the Greenville News website after the protest.