Fundamentalist Christianity burst onto the public scene in 1979 when Jerry Falwell organized his Moral Majority. It broke into the news all over again last year in California and Arkansas when creationists went to court to fight the theory of evolution in public schools.
Now, fundamentalism has boiled up in another arena, pitting racial discrimination against religious freedom. Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, citing a biblical injunction against mixing of races, refused to admit black students until 1975. It still prohibits dating and marriage between races, although it has fewer than 12 blacks among its 6,000 students.
Its biblical beliefs on racial separation are not shared by most biblically conservative Christian schools—even most other fundamentalist schools. The Bob Jones doctrine holds that joining of races contributes to “one-worldism,” which it says is man’s attempt to unite against God, and that God intended the races to remain separate when he dispersed the people at the Tower of Babel.
Bob Jones III, the school’s president (his father and grandfather preceded him as president), testified in detail on the school’s beliefs during a federal trial in 1978.
According to the Bible, Jones testified, three races descended from the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and God scattered them so they would seek him, not unite against him. Jones also used Deuteronomy 32:8: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the Sons of Adam …” He also quoted part of Acts 17:26, in which God is said to have set the bounds of people’s habitation.
Jones referred to several passages in Revelation in which God unites the people under his kingdom, and testified that “God has divided ...1
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