Bob Jones III, a former president and current chancellor of Bob Jones University, is apologizing for comments he made 35 years ago, NBC News reports. In a push against Civil Rights Act measures for gay people, Jones called at the time for "the swift justice … 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." A petition has called on him to apologize for the comments, and this weekend, the 75-year-old did so, the Washington Post reports.
"I take personal ownership for this inflammatory rhetoric," he said, noting that it was "made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago." The statement, he said, now seems like the words of a "stranger": "It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ Who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." The petition was the work of BJUnity, a support group for LGBT students at the school, the Greenville News reports. The apology "means a lot to us because it represents the beginning of a change in the rhetoric and conversation," the group says. The school recently faced controversy when rape victims said it called them sinners; in December, it apologized for the treatment of victims, the Post reports.