Larry King Interviews Bob Jones: We Don't Have to Make the Future Ugly by Dragging in History

Culture Watch

Following is an excerpt from"Larry King Live," which aired on CNN Friday December 20, 2002. Mr. King interviewed Dr. Bob Jones III, president of Bob Jones University.

LARRY KING: What is the perception do you think the media has made Bob Jones to be?

BOB JONES: I think they have made it to be a whipping boy. I think they've made it to be, again, part of this keeping the pot stirred. They've got to find somebody to say something against. They've got to have an issue. It makes headlines, it makes news. It brings in money. And it is the most unjustified thing in the world that the university should be continually back in the news, continually mentioned in the context of all of these things.

You know, Trent Lott was scathed initially because he was a friend of the court when the university was before the Supreme Court in 1983. Well, the inference was that somehow he was a racist because he was a friend of the court. He made it very clear it had nothing to do with race. It had to do totally with freedom of religion. And he was concerned that the Constitution was going to be violated. There were many others -- the American Baptists, the Mormons, the National Jewish Conference on Law and Public Affairs.

KING: In that brief for you, he did say, quote, "racial discrimination does not always violate public policy." Don't you think it should?

JONES: I think racial discrimination should violate public policy. But the issue in our case was, does federal public policy take precedence over First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion? That was the issue that the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Mormons, the Amish, the Mennonite, so many of those who signed as friends of the court. They were not there because they were racist; they were concerned about their First Amendment rights of guaranteed freedom of religion. That's why they signed on. That's why Trent Lott signed on. It had nothing to do with race.

KING: But they were making you subject to tax because of your ban on interracial dating. That was the reason that they were trying to subject you to taxation, and Senator Lott was defending your right to ban interracial dating, which you agreed later was wrong.

JONES: He was not defending our position. He was not identifying with our beliefs any more than the others who were friends of the court were identifying with our beliefs. In fact, we don't identify with most of their beliefs. So there was no commonality of belief in this whole thing. It was that there is an issue here that has to do with religious freedom. If the government can say certain beliefs are onerous and odious and therefore should be taxed and penalized because we don't like them, whoever we is, then government defines religion, government establishes religion, and that's clearly against the founding fathers' provisions and the Declaration and the Constitution.

And so that's what this was all about. But that's passed us, Larry. There's really no need to even discuss those things. That's ancient history.

KING: But things are well now; that's the most important thing.

JONES: Absolutely, Larry. And let's get on with life, and just like one of the senators just said, let's look to the future. The future is bright. We don't have to keep making it cloudy and ugly by dragging in history that might be something that is ugly.

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george franklin kapustin - 10/19/2008

Be carefully who you trust in life. Parents I would not suggest you this Bob Jones University...And such people who support such racial-conservative viewpoint well you have to understand its administration is negative toward certain minorities in this country who are new, yes racism still is present there at University.... I would characterize that institution by greed. It is Boo Jones Univerity!!!!!

Gus Moner - 1/6/2003

Great point.

Ben Markeson - 1/5/2003

i think the point was that Bob Jones was saying history should be ignored, that it didn't matter and should just be forgotten, which is an anti-intellectual attitude (surprise, surprise! coming from a fundamentalist), and an example of "spin" -- trying to deflect away attention from of scrutiny of the university's bizarre racial attitudes.

Gus Moner - 1/3/2003

Let me get this straight. This person runs a school that dictates who students can date. And I am supposed to take what he says seriously and comment? Not worth the trouble.