Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kevin Roose talks about the Liberty University Democrats.

Kevin Roose, the fellow who snuck into Liberty University as a student to write the book The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, wrote his response to Liberty banning the Democratic Club.

I'm surprised that in some ways Liberty seems to be getting more intolerant like BJU was back in the seventies. The interesting thing is BJU is actually changing, partly out of financial necessity. Over the years, I've noted how a Shakespearean play used music from the Roaring Twenties. Not unusual for any other college except, of course, the 'world's most unusual university' (as BJU liked to call themselves).

BJU has since stopped calling themselves the 'world's most unusual university'.

BJU has even done the unthinkable.

Actually admitted they were wrong!

Check this out from their webpage:

For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the segregationist ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it.

In so doing, we failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry. Though no known antagonism toward minorities or expressions of racism on a personal level have ever been tolerated on our campus, we allowed institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.

from: Bob Jones University's statement on Race.

Wow! If I had written that, as a student at BJU back in the 70's, and turned it in, I would have been shipped! BJU's word for 'expelled'.

It seems the biggest sin in the fundamentalist world is criticizing the policies of their leaders. That is, until the leaders admit they are wrong. However, always remember, it took a lawsuit just to get them to this point! Very seldom to corporate leaders, and pastors, ever decide to reverse official policy simply because 'it's wrong'.

Also, check it out! The president of BJU has a goatee!

That would have been a big 'no! no!' back in the day.

Stephen Jones welcomes you to BJU.

This might seem rather silly to point out, except when I remember the early days of this blog. I encouraged every Trinity Christian Academy alumni I knew to go to the Fighting Fundamentalist Forum. Well, one of the discussions concerned whether Trinity still allowed for movie going. Back when I graduated, it was forbidden to go to movies, even if the movie was family oriented.

What do you think the answer was?

a.) Yes, we used to preach that it's wrong. But in light of videotapes and DVDs, we've changed our minds and now allow for movie going, as long as it's a family oriented movie.

b) What is your problem? Are you still living in the seventies?

If you guessed 'b', you're right. Not one person admitted that Trinity unofficially changed their minds regarding attending motion picture theaters.

They have, of course. I know this from talking with current, and former, members. But the official brains behind that organization don't seem to want to openly admit that at one time they were wrong about something.

Tell me, what do you call it when you used to go 'one way', then realized it was wrong, or unprofitable, and decided to 'turn' and do things 'another way'.

Hmmmm. . .can anyone say 'repent'?

Yes, that is the dictionary definition of repentance. It has nothing to do with religion, per se. Just a turning of the way, and admitting it.

So, now we have BJU changing, in my mind, for the better, but Liberty, under the leadership of the Falwell sons, rolling back their standards to the BJU seventies.


Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. offered to reinstate the club, providing it aligns itself with a pro-life, anti-gay Democratic group, and not the Democratic Party in general. (Which is kind of like saying that you'll allow penguins at your zoo, but not the black-and-white kind that waddle.)

BJU would have expelled you for engaging in demonstrations. Liberty goes a step further:

Liberty stifles free speech by censoring its student newspaper, refusing to give tenure to its faculty, and suppressing students who wish to speak out. (This last point is particularly troubling - there's actually a rule in Liberty's student handbook that mandates 12 reprimands and a $50 fine for any student found guilty of "participation in an unauthorized petition or demonstration.")

Even teachers at Liberty are afraid to reveal their true views:

A few days ago, I got an e-mail from a longtime Liberty professor who confessed that he'd voted for President Obama last fall, and told me that due to the "the dictatorial atmosphere" at Liberty, he could lose his job if anyone discovered his secret.

It's truly amazing how organizations change and flip flop over the years.

Republicans used to be seen as business whizs, and now they're looked upon like careless frat boys who, after inheriting their parent's (or the nation's) $, spent it on parties and hijinx, thus destroying their fortunes and spiraling the nation into debt and doom.

Democrats, especially the conservative ones, are now seen as people who have a firmer grasp on the realities of business and finances.

Liberty used to be considered the 'liberal' place for fundamentalists. You could hear Ted Kennedy speak. Jerry Falwell even hosted a forum to address violence against gays. Mel White, Falwell's former speechwriter who came out as gay, helped him organize this.

Bob Jones University would never have invited Ted Kennedy or hosted a forum addressing violence against gays.

I don't know that BJU would do that today, but Stephen Jones, and Bob Jones III, have brought more credibility to BJU by admitting the policies from their past were wrong.

article: Liberty University Democrats: Why They Were Silenced, And What It Means.

Bob Jones University's official web page.


Wanda said...

Kevin Roose will be interviewed by NEWDradio this Sunday, March 14th at 3pm EST here:

Please listen in and ask questions. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Roose will be interviewed by NEWDradio this Sunday, March 14th at 3pm EST here:

Please listen in and ask questions. Thank you.