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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No, I Do Not Accept Your Apology, Dr. Bob Jones


Thenewcivilrightsmovment.com reports on a significant apology from one of the most outspoken anti-gay leaders in America.

Thirty-five years ago, Dr. Bob Jones III, grandson of the founder and current chancellor of Bob Jones University, made this statement during a White House protest:
"But it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands."
Dr. Jones finally attempted an apology with these words:  
"I take personal ownership for this inflammatory rhetoric. This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago. It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger — were my name not attached. I cannot erase them, but wish I could, because they do not represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching. Neither before, nor since, that event in 1980 have I ever advocated the stoning of sinners." 
BJ Unity, a movement in support of LGBTQI people who are harmed by Bob Jones University and other Fundamentalist Christian organizations, accepted his apology with this statement:
"We are grateful that Bob Jones III has taken responsibility for these words; words that have caused deep harm for many more people than any of us knows. This means a lot to us because it represents the beginning of a change in the rhetoric and conversation."
Thenewcivilrightsmovement.com asks if its readers accept this apology. I do not and here's why. The entire statement of Dr. Jones is all about Dr. Jones. He regrets these words because they don't represent him, they are in opposition to his theology, he never preached such a sentiment, he wishes they could be erased. Nowhere in his full statement is any forgiveness even asked for. It is a statement of personal regret. 

But here's the main reason for not accepting this "apology." There is not one word in the full statement that addresses the LGBT community or even begins to acknowledge the tremendous harm  begun thirty-five years ago that continues to this day. Not one word. When he finally gets around to the supposed apology, here's what he wrote:
"I apologize for the reflection those remarks bring upon Jesus Christ, Whom I love; Bob Jones University, which I have loved and served; and my own personal testimony."
There you have it. His victims are invisible to him and remain outside his purview. The real people who initially bore the brunt of his remarks and their successors today remain invisible to him. His apology needs to be addressed to the very people he threatened with stoning. Until that happens, I'm sorry, Dr. Jones, I can't accept your feeble effort to redeem your conscience. It's too little, too late; not just for me, but mostly for your victims.

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