Fashion and Racism at BJU

This article is relevant:

After Jones’ surprise announcement on CNN, BJU told its students that they could date students of other races only if they received written permission from their parents.

Notice the complexity of the story though. Many of the people calling this racism out are Christians. Many of them are fundamentalists.

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This is not clear from the cited source. The source mentions only one person as calling out Bob Jones on his university’s history of racism: Larry King, an agnostic Jew.

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Look at the author, a BJU alum. Also look up Camille Lewis (one of the sources), a former employee. Look at me, a Christian (though admittedly not a fundamentalist of that sort).

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I find the commentary by BJU to be pretty amazing…

The design representing Jesus

So the board issued a statement, which said:

“When the young man displayed the scarlet coat representing Christ, it was clearly sacrilegious and blasphemous. No wonder so many cried out against what they saw on social media. Worst of all, this dishonored the Lord Jesus Christ

It seems they forgot he was depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, a humiliating act of sacrilege. The fact he provoked such a reaction is some indication his depiction was effective.

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It is probable that the powers that are at BJU would take issue with the claims that their critics are truly Christian.

In other words, who is to say, to pass judgement in this regard?

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I did.

Rick Pidcock “graduated in 2021 from Northern Seminary with a Master of Arts degree in Worship, where he received the Academic Achievement award.” I then looked up Northern Seminary, and found out that it was associated with the mainline American Baptist Churches USA. I would presume that his negative experiences with BJU led him to follow his path on a less fundamentalist path.

A source for a sermon Jones wrote, not for any explicit criticism mentioned by the article.

I would note that she left BJU under acrimonious circumstances in 2007, and that her CV states that she has been collecting:

primary documents which will prove my case that conservative Evangelicals continue to exploit the myth of the Lost Cause as a distraction from contemporary anxieties.

I have not been able to find a recent religious affiliation for her, but this would seem to indicate that her relationship with conservative Evangelicalism is somewhat frosty.

This deeper dive would seem to me to indicate that, rather than “fundamentalists” calling BJU out, those who have called them out tend to come to reject fundamentalism along with BJU. But two is hardly “many”, so it is unclear whether this pattern (or any other) is any sort of majority position.

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Definitely effective, and I hope the young man gets the “A” he deserves.

I see Rick Pidcock on FB from time to time, maybe I can ask him to comment.

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The author sees the criticism of the garment as rooted in anti-LGBT bigotry and sees this bigotry as sharing the same roots with the policies against inter-racial dating that existed until (not a misprint) the year 2000 CE.

I also find encouragement in the fact that BJU seems sufficiently aware of this to carefully couch its criticism in terms of sacrilege and blasphemy. It seems they may be coming around to the fact that overt expressions of anti-LGBT sentiments are no more acceptable than the racist sentiments they once consecrated as university policy.

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Isn’t this more homophobia than racism?

Both are on full display. Ironically, it’s not at all clear that the art was even intending to raise the LGBTQ controversy.

I know her. Her path and that of Piddock is exactly what one expects to see in whistleblowers and internal critics of powerful orgs. They are marginalized by being kicked out, in the effort to delegitimize their criticism.

That’s the playbook. It doesn’t make sense to legitimize that strategy by discounting their objections. You can be sure that they payed some steep prices to say what they have said.

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Hello: fashion design!

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I was not seeking to “delegitimize their criticism”. I was merely attempting to discern the extent to which the largely contextual discussion of race at BJU in an article on another issue can be legitimately considered evidence of the existence of “Many of the people calling this racism out are Christians. Many of them are fundamentalists” (with emphasis on the words “many” and “fundamentalists”).

It’s not that I don’t think that Christians have, and should, criticise BJU on this issue, it’s that I don’t think the cited article is sufficiently on-point to provide a great stepping-off point on this subject. The article’s main focus is a fashion kerfuffle, not race, and given this and that BJU’s race issues have garnered considerable press of the years, it avoids ‘flogging a dead horse’ and ‘coat-racking’ by giving undue focus to criticism of the latter issue.

Good, then you can tell us if she still considers herself to be a “fundamentalist”.

More broadly, I strongly suspect that her writings on the subject of BJU & race would prove more informative on this subject than the article under discussion. Unfortunately, her blog seems to have been defunct for some years. Are any of her writings on this subject available online?

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Hey everyone,

Dan Eastwood reached out to me on FB and asked if I’d like to comment. I don’t know Camille Lewis that well. But we have a lot of common friends. I was told a few years back that she was at a PCA church and was left of BJU, but seemed to be a bit more egalitarian than many PCA churches would like. But I can’t speak definitively on that. Wherever she’s at now, she’s definitely not in the BJU sphere of fundamentalism. If you want to look into the history of racism at BJU, I’d highly recommend checking out her work.

As you can imagine, the spectrum of BJU grads runs from KJV only, YEC’s who think Ken Ham is too liberal to atheists and virtually everything in between. The more conservative evangelical crowd seems to take issue with how BJU handled this and with BJU’s racism. But they’re overwhelmingly still complementarian and very anti-LGBTQ, though probably more kind toward LGBTQ people than the older generation. The older generation are the hardliners with the money who give and send their grandkids to the school. So they’re wanting to go back to the way it was before.

From everything I’ve heard, including from personal friends of the the wrap coat designer who themselves are LGBTQ affirming, the student did not make the wrap coat to push an LGBTQ agenda. All of that narrative has come from the fear-driven commentary of his critics.

I’ve also been told that there’s a huge rift between the art faculty, who want to have more creative freedom from a place of healthy relationship with all of creation, and the powers that be who want to maintain the literalist Genesis 1 distinction and separation theology and force that on the art department.

So it’s a bit of an artist’s nightmare there right now. You literally have to create within a box designed by separation from all others.

From what I’ve been told, the designer hasn’t been punished. But the entire art faculty is now having a ton of restrictions put on them. I can’t imagine this ending well.

My goal for the article was to show how such a silly controversy actually had very deep theological roots that has changed shape through racism, sexism, and homophobia, but that is still the way BJU sees the world.

On a related note, I can’t figure out how on earth they’re accredited given their requirement to teach YEC and how their discrimination against people flows from that. They need the financial support of the older generation to survive. But they also need accreditation for the younger generation to be able to come. It’s a bit of a mess.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I’m no longer in the BJU world either. But I’m still friends online with a lot of my former professors. So it’s a bit weird to say the least. I hope some of that helps.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed. I’m also a stay at home dad and keep getting interrupted by my kids!

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@Rick_Pidcock Thanks for responding, and welcome to Peaceful Science. :grinning:

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I wonder how we could tell if the bigotry you describe is rooted in theology, or if this particular theology was devised to legitimize the bigotry. BJU does seem to have a rather more lenient attitude towards the implementation of “complementarianism” than does, say, the Taliban.

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Now that’s something I hadn’t considered before. What does it take to see Ken Ham as “too liberal?”

This is encouraging!

The accreditation issue has come up before, but in the context of science education rather than discrimination.

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Hi Rick, and welcome. :slight_smile:

This topic came up on an earlier thread, and we eventually found a number of creationist institutions were able to get mainstream accreditation. So BJU isn’t an outlier for this.

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. You doubt there are still people around who think that? I don’t. For a very real analogy, look at ISIS. Now imagine the Christian version of that: someone who really believes in the Old Testament and what it says.

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When I was a student from 2000-2004, Ken Ham was on the edge of being what BJU calls a “disobedient brother” because he used contemporary Christian music in his videos and broadcasts and because he spoke at churches that BJU would consider to be new evangelical. BJU also thought John MacArthur was a compromiser back then too. But now they’re accepting both Ham and MacArthur, I think in large part due to their YEC focus.

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