Bob Jones University

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There is no such thing as an undignified path to a physics degree… unless of course you got that degree from Bob Jones University
—King Crocoduck[1]

Bob Jones University is a fundie school located in Greenville, South Carolina. It was founded by Methodist evangelist Bob Jones, Sr. and is now led by former evangelist Steve Pettit, the first president of the college not in the Jones family.[2] The institution is infamous for taking the most extreme fundamentalist positions imaginable. It finally entered the 20th century, just as the 21st century was beginning, by dropping its ban on interracial dating in 2000 and seeking and gaining accreditation by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools in 2005.[3] In 2017, BJU gained regional accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[4]

Until 2005, Bob Jones University held the position that accreditation was a compromise with the sinful world of academia. As such, the university was an unaccredited one for most of its history, in effect conferring degrees that might as well have come from a diploma mill. While BJU was unaccredited for most of its existence, credits easily transferred to Clemson University (which is regionally accredited and has excellent graduate programs). Credit transfer to Clemson was so common that many of the staff who got their undergraduate degrees from BJU earned Masters and Doctoral degrees from Clemson.

BJU's most infamous student was the late Fred Phelps.[5]


Down in Carolina way
Lived a man named a big B.J.
B.J. went and got a school
Founded on Caucasian rule
Bumper sticker on his Ford
Says "Honkies if you love the Lord"

The university's history of racism is well known. They refused to admit black students until 1971, and from 1971 to 1975 they only admitted married black couples but not unmarried students. When they finally began admitting single black students in 1975, they coupled it with a ban on interracial dating, finally dropped in 2000. Their policies also cost them a whole lot of money after a 1983 SCOTUS rulingWikipedia upheld the right of the IRS to revoke their tax-exempt status.[6]

They remain about a century behind the times, which for them is an improvement. Students are banned from dancing, going to movie theaters, watching television, having DVD players in the dorms, surfing the Internet without filters, and listening to any kind of unapproved music (including jazz, country-western, and Christian Rock). Anything displaying the Abercrombie & Fitch brand is also banned because they "have shown an unusual degree of antagonism to the name of Christ and an unusual display of wickedness in their promotions," or in other words, their catalogues showed pictures of naked people!

The BJU "science" department promotes young earth creationism exclusively.[7] The university does not have a real geology program. Can't let geological facts get in the way now, can we?

Al Franken infiltrated Bob Jones University while researching Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by pretending to be a family friend of a prospective student who was a Christian, while making it clear he is Jewish and noting their uncomfortable er-um-er-WTF reaction. Many BJU students recognized him from Saturday Night Live — odd, given they are supposedly banned from watching television — although the faculty didn't.

In the Coen Brothers' 2004 remake of The Ladykillers, the fiercely religious African American landlady, having unknowingly avoided assassination and unexpectedly come into possession of a large quantity of stolen casino money, decides to donate all of the cash to Bob Jones University.

Intergender Relations[edit]

It is utterly untrue[8] that the sidewalks are LITERALLY painted pink and blue, as BJU's recruitment material for teens makes very clear. Rather, you're supposed to memorize from a map which public outdoor areas you are prohibited from by virtue of gender. It is also untrue that no dating is allowed whatsoever. There is good clean fun to be had at "couples' days" where young men and women are allowed to mingle under the watchful eyes of Aunts eunuchs chaperones in designated community areas. Since sexual tensions are the strongest forces in the universe, BJU forbids the extended touching of a member of the other sex (who is not currently married to you). Other rules include having a chaperone present on any intersex group trips off campus. A 9pm curfew for off-campus trips is also strictly enforced.

The requirement for young ladies to cover their hair in a biblical fashion was lifted in the early nineties when they realized that church hats actually look really pimpin' and hence are evil. Women are still required to wear dresses that fall below the knees, and denim pants for either sex are generally frowned upon.[9]:p.28

Music and media[edit]

BJU has a strict music philosophy. It does not allow any jazz, pop, electro, or rock music, not even the crappy Christian kind. The school believes that modern music "has the power to dominate the mind and heart of the listener," and they do not believe it is possible to separate the rock music style from the unholiness. This ban on modern music isn't just for the music department; it also applies to personal music listening. Students are not allowed to bring modern music recordings or paraphernalia on campus. Additionally, no dancing of any kind is permitted.[9]:p.26-27

Students are not allowed to view live TV or movies on campus, and in their homes they may only view G rated movies (or PG with a counselor). They are allowed to own TV's for video gaming purposes, but the games can't be rated higher than E10, and the games cannot contain any gore, violence, or (God forbid) rock music.[9]:p.27 Despite all this, all undergraduate students are required to attend their Concert & Opera Series.[10]


See the main article on this topic: Homophobia

Bob Jones University is so antigay that a support group, BJUnity, recently formed for students who came out after graduation. Its members demand the university apologize for a 1980 comment made by then-president and current chancellor Bob Jones III that “it would solve the problem posthaste if homosexuals were stoned.”[11] In 2015, he finally apologized for that remark, even as he visited the White House to protest extending the Civil Rights act to homosexuals.[12]

Handling of sex abuse[edit]

Many students tried to get counseling over sex abuse that happened before they entered the university. These students typically were members of Christian fundamentalist communities and abusers were part of the same social group. The university typically accused the victims of lying and sinning.

One former student stated a counselor told her that reporting the abuser to the police would harm "the cause of Christ". The counselor said the victim was responsible for the abuse, and told her to forgive the abuser.[13]

In an attempt to stave off criticism, the university hired GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to study their response. GRACE, however, blasted them, and specifically called out former president (and the founder's grandson) Bob Jones III, saying:

Dr. Jones, III has also repeatedly demonstrated a significant lack of understanding regarding the many painful dynamics associated with sexual abuse ... Due to the central role Dr. Jones, III played in the many issues outlined within this report, it is recommended that the university impose personnel action upon Dr. Jones, III.[14]


"Science" Programs[edit]

BJU offers Bachelor's "degrees" in Biology (including Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), Chemistry, and Physics. The degree programs include Bible studies alongside any actual science, and Young Earth creationism is part of the curriculum. They claim that the Creation Research Society is a professional science organization. According to the BJU website:

Studying God’s creation is a part of loving God with all your mind. Biologists are confronted daily with evidence of God’s creative genius. And being a Christian biologist, in particular, requires excellence in understanding and applying the principles of biology combined with a distinctly biblical perspective on science.[15]

Other programs[edit]

In terms of other certificate and degree programs, they slap the words and phrases "Christian", "Christ-Centered", or "From a Biblical Perspective" in front of every type of occupation. For example, in their Bachelor of Science degree in English Education,

Following Jesus Christ is what really matters. And at Bob Jones University, we’re committed to preparing you to become an effective teacher as you follow the Master Teacher. The English education program at BJU will prepare you to be an effective, innovative and Christ-centered educator, whether you teach in a public, private or Christian school.[16]

All programs have this type of wording — and these programs are supposed to prep people for the work force. Recent graduates are not only trained for professional work, but they are also trained to convert co-workers to the one true religion Christianity! Still don't believe us? The Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication will, as they put it:

Ultimately the journalism and mass communication program will provide a strong media education based on a biblical worldview that will prepare you for the work God has for you.[17]

Questionable Qualifications[edit]

The faculty seem to have very questionable qualifications. Many of the staff hold their undergraduate and graduate degrees from Bob Jones University itself. While it is very common for a school to hire its own graduates, the problem is the people who got their degrees from BJU earned them while the university was unaccredited. An example of this is most of the seminary faculty have their Bachelors through Ph.D's (or Doctor of Ministry degrees for a few of the staff) from Bob Jones University.[18] One ministry department faculty member has a Master of Theology degree from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, an unaccredited seminary in Michigan.[19] A culinary arts "instructor" only has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible Studies from Bob Jones University.[20]

Bob Jones Academy[edit]

BJU has set up an elementary/middle/high school in South Carolina.[21] It maintains an active speech and debate team,[22] which may or may not feed students to the notable fundy college debate programs at Liberty University and Patrick Henry College. Creationism is heavily integrated into the curriculum. Requirements for admissions include two letters of recommendation from a church and a family interview. While seemingly as strict as the university, BJA's students have a relatively easier time bypassing the rules. The BJA logo is displayed on tiles in the floor throughout the high school. If one steps on the logo, accidental or otherwise, the individual will have to get down on their knees and scrub the logo with a toothbrush, as is BJA tradition.

Excerpts from Student Handbook[edit]

The BJU student handbook[9] is a fun read. Only upperclassmen are permitted to have facial hair, but it must not be grown while on campus.[9]:p.31 Multiple paragraphs are written decrying the evil of music and movies.[9]:p.25 BJU dictates student behavior while on campus, at home, or at work (i.e. at all times). There are stipulations about whom students can live with while off campus (a relative over 23 of the same gender).[9]:p.35 Students are not to marry before the age of 20 or during a semester but are encouraged to marry as soon as possible after turning 20.[9]:p.37 Women's shorts must not be higher than 2 inches above the knee.[9]:p.29 BJU is infamously known for handing out demerits for infractions such not attending chapel the mandatory five times per week.[9]:p.41 If enough demerits are acquired, students may be further extorted fined or freed expelled. In "executing its disciplinary system as a private educational institution," BJU claims they may inspect rooms, phones, computers, and email accounts at any time for any reason "if deemed necessary."[9]:p.46 In reality, this works because students feel like they can't object and therefore consent to the search, making it barely legal. Appendix A and B are the classic arguments against abortion and transgender people, and appendix C is an essay in opposition of such things as homosexuality, "erotic realism," and "false philosophical or religious assumptions—the most dangerous, yet the most overlooked, of all objectionable elements."[9]:p.62

BJU Press[edit]

BJU Press was purportedly the largest source of homeschooling textbooks in the US by 1996,[23] and purportedly the largest publisher in South Carolina by 2006.[24]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. So You Want a Degree in Physics. King Crocoduck on YouTube, 13 April 2015.
  2. "New head of Bob Jones University is not a Jones," USA Today.
  3. List of institutions accredited by TRACS. Retrieved on 13 September 2015.
  4. Accreditation at Bob Jones University.
  5. Fred Phelps
  7. BJU and Creation
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11
  13. Christian School Faulted for Halting Abuse Study
  14. Lyn Riddle, Bob Jones University Sex Abuse Report Released. Archived from, 11 December 2014.
  15. Biology at Bob Jones University.
  16. English Education at Bob Jones University. Their teachers can get state licensed.
  17. Journalism and Mass Communication at Bob Jones University.
  18. Ten of the sixteen faculty members listed at the Seminary Faculty page at Bob Jones University received all of their degrees from BJU. Retrieved on 14 May 2018.
  19. Pearson Johnson's faculty page at Bob Jones University.
  20. David Miller's faculty page at Bob Jones University.
  23. Deb Richardson-Moore, "BJU Press Has Quietly Risen to Top in Homeschool Publications," Greenville News, 26 May 1996.
  24. Jenny Moore, "Greenville Benefits from BJU in Economic, Social Areas," Greenville News, 20 September 2006, 9A.
  25. Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right by Matthew Dallek (2023) Basic Books. ISBN 1541673565.