apology on race policies | bob jones university
Fundamentalist Christian Bob Jones University recently published a formal apology for their long-standing policies of disallowing inter-racial dating, and not admitting blacks until the 1970s.
BJU’s history has been chiefly characterized by striving to achieve those goals; but like any human institution, we have failures as well. 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. Read the entire statement.
A BeliefNet blogger has a great perspective on this, I think: accept genuine repentance.
For me the interesting part is the language "ethos of American culture" and "counterpoint." It's odd to think that as far apart as I'd naturally want to feel from BJU's stance on things... this language in reference to culture isn't that objectionable. The difficulty would be if BJU would understand Christian counterpoint as wholy "other"—counterculture that is labeled only Christian—or if they allow for the reality that we're natural born into a pluralistic American culture, and Christianity must modify and challenge that, but cannot replace.
It's interesting to find "culture" used twice in BJU's mission statement. It begins, "Within the cultural and academic soil of liberal arts education..." and ends with "Bob Jones University seeks to maintain high academic standards, an emphasis on culture, and a practical Christian philosophy that is both orthodox and fervent..." The former is really interesting: the context of a format for education as culture. The latter is curious in relationship to the race statement. Is the emphasis on "American culture" (and how to understand that? Christian culture as distinct from non-Christian cultures? American Christian culture? Culture as a neutral anthropological condition/construct?