Former BJU president Bob Jones III and a leader of the Moral Majority issued a public apology Saturday for anti-gay comments he made in 1980 calling for homosexuals to be stoned.
“I take personal ownership for this inflammatory rhetoric,” Jones said in a statement. “This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago.”
The long absent apology comes after BJUnity, a group which offers support for past and present lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender BJU students, mailed a 2000 sinature petition to Jones asking for his apology.
Jones was president of the university in March of 1980 when he and a group of fundamentalist ministers went to the White House with 70,000 signatures on a petition opposed to extending provisions of the Civil Rights Act to homosexuals.
“I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted,” Jones said. “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.”
Saturday, Jones called those comments “antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ.”
“Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger — were my name not attached,” he said in a statement.
“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.”
According to an AP article , the 1980 petition urged then-President Jimmy Carter to oppose any presidential action that would legalize homosexuality within the federal government.
“We are here to tell the president that homosexuality must not become a protective way of life; an alternate life style,” Jones said in the AP story.
He added that Carter, “who claims to be a Bible-believing Christian,” is not fit to be president and that there is “no question that Ronald Reagan is the unanimous choice of Bible-believing people all over the country.”
Better late than never. I suppose.