BJU on “Christlikeness”

White, clean and happy. The mold is set.


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The spiritually elite, gathered for your edification.


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Do I really need to spell this one out? Forget their words and sermons. These pictures, from their website, tell you quite starkly what Bob Jones University thinks every Christian should look like.

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33 thoughts on “BJU on “Christlikeness”

    1. Clinton Verley Post author

      These pictures are just the natural outworking of The BJU System. Systems are hard to change; none more so than BJU-style moralism. They really truly think that everyone needs to live up to their squeaky clean, 50s-era standards.

      1. Cole

        Clint,

        Just want to throw my thoughts out there.

        Is BJU ever going to lead someone to hell? They are strict on their clothing and music standards; the same as any other Christian institution for that matter. Everyone knows what they are getting into when they attend the university and most of the faculty (Berg, Jones, etc) will tell you if you hold to all the BJU standards after you get out, you’re crazy. They set their standards so as to not offend. Sure, it is squeaky clean, but I think you got to get over it and agree with their purpose and their creed. Do you deny the creed and the mission statement? Would you deny FBCLO’s or LOBS mission statement? Every institution will have its OWN standards in regard to dress and even music. Until BJU drops the creed and starts leading their students to hell, I will support their standards and accept the fact that some people may have to “live up to” them. Or do we prefer having people drop their standards for the sole purpose of making those with lesser standards comfortable.

      2. Clinton Verley Post author

        Cole, thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate your input here.

        Does BJU “lead people to hell”? People can and DO reject Christianity because of BJU-style standards and arrogance. Not, as might be claimed from chapel, by their stand on the gospel, but by their insistence on equating “professionalism” (i.e., conforming to their outdated image of business casual dress) and obedience to rules to God’s words. Berg and Jones can bluster all they want about how BJU doesn’t judge based on outward appearance but anyone’s who’s spent time there knows what it’s like. Look the part, say the right words, keep your head down, and you’re fine.

        You’re right, their creed is good and one we can agree on. But the images I posted are just examples of how they elevate other things to the same level as doctrine. Do they not understand the power of association in posting such pictures right next to the word “Christlikeness”? They definitely do.

        1. Clinton Verley Post author

          And you think BJU’s shameful policies on race never made God look bad? When you claim to be “God’s University”, you don’t leave yourself much room for error.

  1. stephy

    I know a lot of people who have attended Christian schools and don’t call themselves Christians anymore. I know exactly two people who went to BJU and don’t claim any faith now. I think there’s some kind of correlation between what the school presents Christianity as being and people’s decision to leave it. But that has yet to be scientifically proven.

    And I don’t think BJU is exactly leading people to hell, but I think I would be in my own personal hell if I went there.

    1. Clinton Verley Post author

      It’s probably too simplistic to say that anyone/thing “leads someone to hell”; people make their own choices and your eternal destiny is no one’s decision but yours. That being said, false and dangerous presentations of Jesus (like BJU) can definitely play a part in damning a person.

  2. Beth Shepherd

    *facepalm* If they’re so diverse as all get out, why don’t they have some artsy Korean and/or black people in the pic? Why not *me?* *That’d* really throw ’em all for a loop.

    Don’t answer that. Annoyed rhetorical. And if they did ask me to pose, I’d refuse.

    1. Amanda

      Lol, there’s plenty of universities to choose from besides this one…my question is why people stay when they don’t want to be there. It’s not healthy.

      1. Ron Burgundy

        Why stay there-
        I finished a year this may. Here’s why I’m staying:

        I put $17,000 into it already, and my credits won’t transfer out of South Carolina. (If I was a ed or nursing major, I’d leave though, because the degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on outside of South Carolina or a Christian school.)

        That one single reason is why I’m staying.

        The logical next question is- “Well if it sucks so much, why’d you go there?”

        Answer- Because I had no idea how insanely superficial, man-centered, and judgmental it was. Yeah there were rules, but I figured I could make it through that. But the attitude, is infuriating.

    1. FormerFundy

      ^^^^ Bingo ^^^^

      BJU might have changed their rule on inter-racial dating, but their KKK roots are alive and well in Greenville.

    1. Clinton Verley Post author

      If by “moral” you mean a short, sweet answer, there isn’t one. Prejudice and narrow-mindedness aren’t fixed in a day. I’m still working on rooting out all kinds of judgmental reactions I picked up in the fundy world.

  3. Jeremy

    For what it’s worth, the guys aren’t wearing ties. That seems, in and of itself, a departure from the BJ norm.

    Just wondering. . . if BJ was looking to attract new students, how would it help them to say, “Become a leader”, and then put a picture of grungy, unkempt, students right below that? It seems like we are denying BJ the basic marketing strategy that the rest of the world uses. I’m not saying that Christianity is about being “white, clean, and happy”. But is BJ not allowed to put “white, clean, and happy” students in their pictures just because many Christians are not “white, clean, and happy”? If Clearwater, or Cornerstone, or Wheaton put “white, clean, and happy” students in their pictures, would you be mad at them too?

    Yes, BJ has some issues with what they believe the Gospel is. But I don’t think it’s fair to pick apart pictures that are used for advertising, because the students in the pictures look “too nice”. What should they rather do? Intentionally put ugly people in their pictures? Christian or not, ugly people don’t attract new students. Marketing 101.

    In short, I disagree with the below statement. I think their words and sermons are a better gauge of what they believe than their advertising is.

    “Do I really need to spell this one out? Forget their words and sermons. These pictures, from their website, tell you quite starkly what Bob Jones University thinks every Christian should look like.” -Clinton

    1. Clinton Verley Post author

      Ya know, Jer, if I hadn’t attended there for four years (and two summers) I might agree with you. But I did. And BJU does confuse being “professional” (at least, their outdated perception of such) with being a good follower of Christ. They love externals, because they’re easy to legislate and enforce. Not that they don’t try to legislate internals, too.

      And the pictures they use for advertising are definitely fair game for commentary. None more so! They print “Christlikeness” on the page, then slap pictures of these mannequins next to it. They are responsible for that use of visual suggestion, and even more so for what they try to enforce and teach on actual students.

  4. Andrew

    I don’t know first hand but just under a year ago my parents visited BJ and I nearly fell off my seat when they Skyped me pants were allowed sometimes. Things are changing there albeit slowly. I don’t think they will ever go so far as to allow the likes of what we call jeggings here in the UK or allow Hillsong or Third Day to be played but thats a good thing! IMHO BJ should focus more on the heart and not outward appearance.Once the inside is sorted the rest will follow

  5. Scott B.

    Hey Clint, just found your blog, so I’m a little late coming to this post. I get your point here, but I just wanted to point out that these photos are of actual student leaders that were elected by the student body. The top picture’s the Community Service Council and the bottom picture’s the Student Leadership Council from a couple years ago. My point is just that this isn’t an intentionally “white-washed” (pun intended) photo shoot. It’s unfortunate that the leadership this particular year (I believe 2008-2009) was so monolithic, but that’s actually somewhat unusual. (There’s often at least one or two people of color in the student leadership; more would be great, but none is unusual.) In fact, the equivalent photo that these replaced (just to keep them more up-to-date) included Theon and I believe one of the Mirasols.

  6. Scott B.

    Oh, one disclaimer lest it come back to bite me sometime: what I explained in my comment above is based on my recollection from working on the BJU web team (and being on the CSC the year before this). I believe I’m accurate, but I haven’t gone and fact-checked this.

  7. Amanda

    An interesting question, one I’ve often asked myself. I graduated there. Disagreed with a lot. Whatever. I’m not fundy, by the way. I don’t believe really in denominations, but I do hold to more Pentecostal beliefs. I was often bothered by the petty, snide comments made towards non-fundamentalist churches that are grounded in solid doctrine.

    But if you hate it so much…then leave? No one’s holding a gun to your head to stay there. I got tired of hearing students complain that they’re there because it’s the only college mom and dad would pay for.

    1. Clinton Verley Post author

      “But if you hate it so much…then leave? No one’s holding a gun to your head to stay there.”

      Ah, but this is why we have to question the whole environment/indoctrination process that makes BJU a destination for so many kids who don’t really want to be there. An entire childhood of sermons against the “evils” of state schools, lots of pressure from all your authority figures…not really free choice.

    2. Clinton Verley Post author

      Then there’s the students (like my wife) who, when trying to leave BJU, are told by faculty that they are missing God’s will be going elsewhere. Thankfully my wife knew better than to listen to that crap, but others might not. There’s more than one way to “hold a gun to someone’s head”.

      1. Amanda

        Plenty of free choice for those who can think for themselves and choose to. If you’re questioning the environment and don’t want to be there, odds are good that you already see something wrong. Going to a college just because someone told you that it’s the best Christian university, because mommy and daddy pay for it, or a combination of both, shows that maybe someone didn’t choose to think freely and thoroughly. If that person can claim that a school isn’t Biblical, then perhaps they also know, as a Bible scholar, that we are supposed to question and think through everything thoroughly, or our faith will be rocked at the slightest thing. If BJU is using students’ inability to completely think about something, then perhaps it’s time to stop handing them the weapon.

      2. Clinton Verley Post author

        It’s a messed-up system, and I’m not saying ALL of the fault is with BJU or the fundy way of handling education. But, they’re quite happy to foster and take advantage of ignorance. Just consider the accreditation issue.

  8. Amanda

    The information about accreditation is a topic that is discussed in several places, this blog being one of them. The information is there if one is willing to look for it. I’m not apologizing for BJU by any means, but none of what goes on or what they believe or any experiences of alumni are secret.

    1. Clinton Verley Post author

      You’re using some circular reasoning here–saying that because these blogs exist, kids are without excuse for not knowing the truth. Not so.

      “none of what goes on or what they believe or any experiences of alumni are secret.”

      Um…false.

      1. Ron Burgundy

        Agreed. I wasn’t a blog reader until last semester. I ran into SFL and Darrell picks out just about everything that is insane and jacked up about fundamentalism. It makes me laugh, and it’s still very insightful. But I digress. When looking for a college I didn’t go looking for blogs writing about it. I went to the websites, checked prices, majors, statements of faith, and prereqs. The experience of the alumni….. I know personally when someone asks me how my year was, I don’t enumerate the dislikes and uncomfortable parts, I focus on the good parts, unless it’s a really personal conversation with a very close friend. It really is somewhat secret.

  9. P D

    You are crazy for not leaving BJU after only one year. Leave! Go to the local community college in your town for two years! The cost will be around $6000 and you will have RA credits to transfer to any four year university.

    You are absolutely insane for staying at BJU on the basis of having spent 17K already. So what! Cut your losses. Recoup your expenses at the community college and move forward.

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