Three College Shipwrecks, by Bob Jones Sr.

shipwreck by Ivan AlvazovskyWe repost this fund-raising speech of Bob Jones Senior’s without judgment on whether or not the stories he tells are fabricated. We simply would like for readers to consider that, in light of the GRACE report and many other stories with which we’re familiar, it is clear that students have walked away from Bob Jones University with their Christian faith shattered, the very problem that Bob Jones University was purportedly designed to solve.


by Dr. Bob Jones Sr., D.D., LL.D. (1883-1968), Founder of Bob Jones University

If you will read the story of three college shipwrecks and will keep in mind that as an evangelist I have had many such experiences, you will understand why I felt it was my duty and took upon myself years ago, when I was in the prime of life, the heavy burden of founding Bob Jones University.

I have met many young people who went away from Christian homes to colleges and universities and came back not only with their faith shattered but sometimes with their morals wrecked. Being an evangelist conducting large union campaigns, I was in very close touch not only with religious leaders and educators but also with the masses of Christian people. I knew what was going on.

Between my evangelistic campaigns I went from place to place up and down the country giving a special lecture sermon on “Perils of America—Where Is This Nation Headed?” I saw the trend. I knew we were going to have broken homes and juvenile criminals and that a wave of moral looseness would sweep over this country.

I not only felt it was my duty to found an educational institution that would have high academic standards and that would have emphasis upon culture and a down-to-the-earth, practical, Christian philosophy of self-control. but I also realized that if God was going to use the institution for the carrying out of his purpose in the school, it would have to be made a base not just of fighting orthodoxy but also of sane, fervent evangelism. I knew what I was up against. I had counted the cost, but I made up my mind that whatever it might cost it was worth the effort.

I knew it would not only be difficult to start an educational institution of the type that we felt led to found, but it would also be hard to keep it right after it was started.

During the second year of the school, we had to have a house cleaning; and then we realized more than ever it was necessary to hedge Bob Jones University about with walls not only of spiritual protection but also of legal authority. The spiritual lives of many young people are being sacrificed on the altar of what men call academic freedom. We have bylaws that make it legally mandatory that Bob Jones University be kept as it is or the institution must be closed, the property sold, and the money used for the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Under our system of government, we not only have the privilege of running an old-time orthodox, Christian school, but under our bylaws and charter, we are charged with the spiritual and legal obligation to run that kind of school or close it down and get out of the educational business. Bob Jones University year by year has not only grown stronger but has also grown more spiritual. It is in better spiritual condition now than it has ever been.

We are asking Christian people everywhere to pray daily and to pray earnestly that the institution may be more and more blessed of God in its effort to be consistent and to give a faithful, orthodox, evangelistic testimony. We are asking you to help us select the right kind of Christian young people for the right kind of Christian leadership in this day when it takes real Christian character to stand. We are also asking you to invest some of the Lord’s money in the work of the University. When you have read this little booklet, you may put it in the hands of some parents who have children to educate or in the hands of some Christian young people who are planning to go away to school. Thank you and God bless you.

Three College Shipwrecks

  1. His Only Daughter

I spoke to a great Southern audience. I pictured the atheistic drift in the educational life of America. A man sat on the front seat and followed my every word with an expression of agony I have rarely seen on a human face.

When the service was over, his pastor said to me, “Did you see that man who looked like the incarnation of agony? He is a member of my church. He is one of the truest Christians I have ever known. He is on my board. He had one daughter. She was a beautiful child. She grew up in the Sunday School and church. She finished high school.

“He sent her off to a certain college. At the end of nine months, she came home with her faith shattered. She laughed at God and the old-time religion. She broke the hearts of her father and mother. They wept over her. They prayed over her. It availed nothing. At last they chided her. She rushed upstairs, stood in front of a mirror, took a gun, and blew out her brains.”

  1. The Pride Of His Mother

Let me tell you another story, and I could tell you many of them, for I have had to deal with the souls of many men and women; and I know what is going on. I was conducting a revival campaign in the shadow of one of the great universities in a northern city. One night I dismissed the crowd and started downtown. A young fellow followed me down the street, out of the shadow into the light, out of the light into the shadow. I didn’t like to have him stay behind me like that; so I turned around and said, “Jones is my name. Do you want to speak to me?” I noticed that the young man was crying; so I put my arm around him and took him up to my room in the hotel. We sat down.

I shall not tell you about the preliminaries of our conversation, but at last he told me this story: “My father died three months before I was born. All he left me was his good name, and all he left my mother was the memory of his love. My father had been well-to-do. He lost all he had just before he died. The home where I was born was sold under mortgage. My mother was a plucky little woman. She got a little house on a back street and a job to support herself and take care of me.

“I grew up in Sunday School and church. I am not bragging about it, but I had the reputation of being the brightest boy that ever graduated from the high school in our town. I shall never forget the day I finished. The little auditorium was full. My mother was sitting back there. Her face was beaming. I received every honor that it was possible for a boy to get. I won the medal for being the best athlete. I got the scholarship medal. I got a medal for being the most popular boy in school. It was a great day. They gave me honor after honor, and my mother sat back there and smiled at me through her tears.

“The exercises were over, and I made a break to get to my mother, but the crowd flocked around me to congratulate me. Mother is a timid woman, and she slipped out so people wouldn’t see her crying. I ran down the street to the little cottage, and Mother was sitting there with tears flowing down her face. She was smiling through her tears. I put my diploma and the medals in her lap. I leaned down and kissed the tears away.

“‘What are you going to do now, Son?’ Mother asked me. ‘I am going to go to work and support you, Mother, and you are never going to do another thing. You are such a sweet mother to me.’

“Mother smiled and said, ‘You are going to college this fall.’

“‘Why, how am I going to college?’ I asked.

“‘I am going to send you,’ Mother replied. ‘All your life I have saved a little money each week, sometimes two dollars, sometimes three dollars, but always one dollar. I have the money in the savings bank. I have enough to send you to the leading university of this country!’ My heart leaped for joy.

“Last fall my precious mother packed my trunk, and she put her own Bible in the tray of the trunk, the Bible she had marked, the Bible she had prayed over, and over which she had wept. Mr. Jones, I am a boy; but when I came to this school, I was pure as the purest girl who ever lived. I entered the dormitory and took my mother’s Bible out of the tray of the trunk and laid it on the table.

“The students flocked around me, calling to the other students to come see my Bible. ‘We have a country boy come to town, and he has brought a Bible with him!’

“‘He will get over that,’ someone said.

“‘Just give him time. Let him get in biology. The biology prof will fix him. The Bible is all right for country people and for ignorant folks, but we have outgrown that.’ I paid no attention to them. I read my Bible. I said my prayers. I went to Sunday School and church.

“At last I got in the biology class. You have got to hand it to that teacher. He was a better psychologist than he was a biologist. He dropped doubts in my mind every time I went to class. Little by little he broke down my religious resistance. After a while I lost my faith. I didn’t believe in my Bible. I didn’t believe there is a God. I was miserable, but I tried to be decent for my mother’s sake. I do love my mother.

“But I couldn’t be decent. I had lost the inward urge. I had lost the power to be good. I hate to tell you this, Mr. Jones, but one night I went out with the boys. I have lived in awful sin. I have gambled away the money that Mother saved. I have gone with wicked women, and my faith is all ruined.

“Today I had a letter from my mother. She will be here tomorrow. I can’t see her. I couldn’t look at her. She thinks I am pure. She thinks I am the same boy that I was when I left her a few months ago. I couldn’t stand to look into her eyes. If I did look at her I couldn’t kiss her, for I have an unspeakable disease. I am going downtown in the morning before Mother gets here and buy a gun and blow out my brains. If there is a hell, as my mother’s Bible says, it isn’t any worse than the hell I am in.”

III. The Son of An Aged Minister

I was in a city in the Northwest conducting a revival campaign. One night I dismissed the crowd and started out of the building. A feeble old man came down the aisle and took me by the hand. “I would like to speak to you a minute, Brother Bob,” said the old man, with trembling voice.

“All right,” I replied, “I will be glad to talk with you.”

He looked at me a minute and then said, “Let me get where I can prop against the wall, for I am feeble and old and trembly in the knees.” We walked down the aisle toward the door, and he leaned his old stooped shoulders against the wall.

“Brother Bob,” he began, “l am an old superannuated minister of the Gospel. I came to the great Northwest as a missionary. It has been nearly sixty years now since I arrived in this country. When I came here I brought my bride. Oh, how happy we were! We were young and everything was beautiful. We were happy in God’s work.

“After I began my ministry here in the Northwest, it occurred to us that my denomination had no school anywhere in this section of the country. We preachers had a conference. We said, ‘We must build us a church school so we can educate our own children.’ We perfected the plan. I subscribed a hundred dollars a year. You know I never made over a thousand dollars a year preaching. My dear, sweet wife made her pledge; and though she wasn’t strong physically, she did her own washing and saved the money to give to the school. We never had but one child. He was a boy.”

The old man’s face lighted as he continued, “He was a great boy, bright, clean, obedient, Christian. He graduated from high school with honors. We were proud of him. He was president of the young people’s society in my church. He prayed in public. Everybody said he was an ideal preacher’s son.

“The day came when he was to go to college. It was the happiest day of my life. Wife and I stood on the front step and kissed our darling boy good-by. We both cried. We didn’t cry because we were sad. We cried because we were proud of our boy. He looked so manly and clean as he went out the gate; and his shoulders were so broad, and he was so erect. That night Wife and I got ready to retire. We knelt together by the bed to say our prayers. I put my arm around her, and she put her little frail arm around me, and I prayed a prayer something like this: ‘Our Father, we thank Thee that we have a safe place to educate our boy. We don’t have to worry about him. He is all right. He is in a Christian school, and we know he will come back to us as good as he was when he left us.’ ”

Then the old man, straightening up, threw his shoulders back like a soldier on parade; his eyes flashed fire, and he set his jaw. “Brother Bob, while I had been preaching to my country churches, the devil had been sowing tares in the college. A skeptic had got in the Science Department. At the end of four years my boy came home with his degree; but he came home an atheist, laughing at my religion, at the Gospel I preach, and at the faith of his mother. My son is a middle-aged man now; but he is a drunken, atheistic bum. Brilliantly educated, he writes letters to the papers and signs these letters ‘Atheist’ and laughs at the Gospel I have preached for sixty years and makes fun of his old mother’s faith.

“Brother Bob, Wife and I are old. You are a young man. Go up and down this country and tell this story, and warn the people that the educational drift of this nation is atheistic. Tell the people to awake or this nation is gone.”


5 Comments on “Three College Shipwrecks, by Bob Jones Sr.

  1. Given so much of what I have learned about BJU in the last two or three years, I imagine that there has been a great deal fabricated there, on a lot of things. Maybe they thought that they were doing good with made-up stories, but the results seem to speak for themselves. I hope that there may still be a great sweeping out and housecleaning there, and that good people, committed to the real Gospel, will take it over and scrub the Jones out of it.

  2. “During the second year of the school, we had to have a house cleaning; and then we realized more than ever it was necessary to hedge Bob Jones University about with walls not only of spiritual protection but also of legal authority. The spiritual lives of many young people are being sacrificed on the altar of what men call academic freedom. We have bylaws that make it legally mandatory that Bob Jones University be kept as it is or the institution must be closed, the property sold, and the money used for the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.” Legal authority? So has BJU considered themselves above the law from the beginning? And it’s “mandatory that Bob Jones University be kept as it is”? How extensive is that requirement? I am the survivor of sexual abuse by a Bob Jones employee and years of spiritual abuse by the Bob Jones system … and yet I loved the school. I thought they were God’s people trying their best to do God’s work. I participated in the GRACE report from a pro-BJU mindset … not realizing until afterward how deeply they had failed me, even though they were kind and cordial when I reported the abuse. Reading this in light of their responses (and lack of response) to the GRACE report, I have to wonder whether there was ever any intention on their part to change? So why do the report at all? Why put up the pretence and coax us, in good faith on our part, to relive the most horrific, devastating moments of our lives? What was the point? This is a fresh betrayal. Because of BJU’s actions and inactions, “the spiritual lives of many young people are being sacrificed on the altar of” BJU’s commitment to BJU’s system and image-management. What a betrayal of their students and the God they claim to serve.

    • I hear your words and share the feelings you express. I believed that BJU was a wonderful place while I was there. I thought that they were the path to God. While there, I tried hard to be the perfect show case window that I was taught God wanted. In time, I realized how empty and hollow that was.

      Thankfully, after I graduated, I learned a much healthier and balanced understanding of God, Christianity and the Bible. However, I would have to say that most of that has seemingly been destroyed over the past few years, while observing the response of the school and of the religious community who is aware, but has chosen the safety of silence.

      I wish I understood why BJU hired GRACE when they weren’t going to listen. I am another who participated in the investigation. I was nervous, actually, I was terrified, however, I was also hopeful that God was going to bring about an amazing change, healing and hope for many. Instead, I learned just how deeply the world of “christianity” betrays us all, in the name of God.

      From my own perspective, BJU’s response to the GRACE report cracked the faith of many. The lack of response to BJU from the religious/Christian community pretty much shattered anything that was left.

      While I will continue to search for God, I can’t imagine being a part of the world of churches and institutions who simply do not care enough about the many who have been hurt who are all around us. When the various churches, pastors, Christian leaders, etc. around the world, chose to remain silent after the GRACE report came out, they slammed the doors in the faces of those who were and will continue to be victimized.

      There are MANY who KNOW that BJU has been deceptive and abusive. They remain silent with varied excuses. That is their choice and I will not try to influence any to do differently. It just shouldn’t be a surprise that not many are interested in an empty religion that runs away when things get hard.

      For the handful of people who DO care, thank you! It means so very much. I’ve learned much during this entire situation.
      I don’t think that means that God isn’t real. Even Jesus’ disciples abandoned him when he was arrested. The cost must have felt too high during those moments. Perhaps they didn’t know what to do or if there was even anything they could do that would make a difference. It is pretty cool to see that, in time, some of those people ultimately made the choice to follow Jesus in ways that were costly. I see the same thing happening here.

      If churches, pastors, religious leaders, etc. do not see sexual abuse as important enough to choose to become part of the solution, than leave us in peace. Don’t ask for our stories. Don’t ask us to participate in investigations, etc.

      From my perspective, one of the cruelest things BJU has ever done was to hire GRACE, ask us to participate in an investigation, only to expose deep wounds and then wound us so much more deeply with their response / lack of response. Even with that, I think many of us would have been okay IF the community of Christianity had spoken up, but they have not. The silence has now lasted for over a year. I no longer hope or even wonder if the world of christianity cares.

      I don’t blame those who won’t or can’t care. I realize the cost is high. It is easy to stand by and judge, but I don’t know what I would do if I were in the same position and facing the same choices. Would I jump in and speak up? Would I think that my voice could matter? Would I just walk away and feel like it is none of my business? I can’t answer that.

    • “”We have bylaws that make it legally mandatory that Bob Jones University be kept as it is or the institution must be closed, the property sold, and the money used for the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.” Legal authority? So has BJU considered themselves above the law from the beginning?”

      Are those bylaws considered public information? As I understood it, the school administration stated that the school could NOT add a sports program or become accredited without sacrificing their intended purpose. So, if those bylaws indeed exist and are binding, then the school should be closing based on their own bylaws. It is curious to me that the opinions of one man developed the principles on which the school was to stand. It was not to stand on the truth of the Bible, but on the opinions of the first Bob, who lived many years ago. Times have changed. While God’s Word states that it is applicable to all generations, Bob’s words have not stood. The school has been changed many times to accommodate the changes in the world around them.

      It appears that the original Bob would close the school down, at this point, as it no longer matches his vision. Have others come along since and simply changed the bylaws? IF the bylaws are changeable, could they perhaps be changed further to actually reflect biblical principals that honor and reflect the heart of Jesus or does the school have to keep as close as possible to the ideals of a man who likely meant well, but was just a man and made many mistakes, as we all do??

      IF the school were to remain just as it started, it would HAVE to serve only white students, and most of the white students they now serve, would be excluded for some other reasoning that Bob Jones felt was critical when the school was first formed.

      When I try to think through it, I wonder if the school exists to honor the first Bob’s intentions, priorities and ideas, if it exists to honor God or if it is simply a “for profit” university that can freely make decisions based on the desire to continue existing?
      I think it is fair and obvious to say that the school no longer reflects the first Bob’s beliefs. I have read many of his sermons and the beliefs he held are not reflected in the school’s current belief system. IF the school exists to honor God, then the school would seemingly be honest and be known for loving God and loving others as they love themselves (the two greatest commandments). They have repeatedly demonstrated that their love for others is available only for a very small slice of society – students who will fully embrace all that is taught without questioning or challenging anything decreed by the school and students who meet various other qualifications.

      As for the idea of the school believing they are to comply with the laws of the land, I specifically remember one of my classes outlining several of the ways that the school throughout history, successfully found ways to get around the law – ways to not comply, but appear to comply. They are able to justify this easily by stating that God’s laws are above man’s laws, only the issues that the school stood against were not biblical in nature.

      One example from class stated that the school ran into trouble many years ago b/c they required the wives of male faculty to work for the school, but without pay. When that was challenged, the teacher of our class, stated that the school simply took a third of the husband’s pay away from him and assigned that third to the wives. It was a way for them to comply with the law, but still feel that they were standing firmly on their own moral code.

      The post office was another complicated issue for the school to navigate. Legally, it is a crime to interfere with anyone getting their mail. When I worked at the post office, I was informed by the post master of that time, that the school had found a way to monitor and prohibit access to some mail while still appearing to abide by the letter of the law. They simply sent any mail that they did not want to arrive to the students (sometimes just magazines, etc. and sometimes mail from students who had been previously expelled, etc.) to the dean of men and dean of women’s offices. The student would then be summoned to physically open the private mail and hand it over without reading the contents.

      The GRACE report seemed to make it clear that the school did not follow mandatory reporting laws regarding sexual offenders and other abuses. In the GRACE report, it seemed that the faculty instead handled these situations in the way they believed their “higher authority” instructed (handle it within the world of Christianity and keep the “worldly” legal authority from becoming involved). In other parts of the GRACE document, it appears that some administrators at the school stated that they actually just didn’t know the laws that academies and universities must comply with.

      So, what do the bylaws state and are they truly binding? Also, is BJU expected to comply with local, state and federal laws? Why are they seemingly excluded from having to do so? Is that an allowance made under religious freedom?

  3. These anecdotal stories certainly sound made up, or at least grossly overstated or simplified. They sound, how should I put it?, apocryphal.