Why Go to Fundamentalist U? To Get a Better Job!

Why should students go to a fundamentalist university? For about a century, the argument has always been the same. A new marketing campaign by fundamentalist behemoth Bob Jones University shows that the times, they are a’changin.

Pettit on BJU

What is school for? Careers!

To be fair, Bob Jones University has always insisted that its graduates would have the absolute best academic education. Back in its earliest days, founder Bob Jones Sr. insisted that the school would keep children both theologically safe and academically privileged. As he put it in 1928,

The fathers and mothers who place their sons and daughters in our institution can go to sleep at night with no haunting fear that some skeptical teacher will steal the faith of their precious children.

Jones’s very next line, though, showed that he understood what parents really wanted in a college. Not only should it keep kids Christian, but it should also prepare them for professions. In his words,

Your son and daughter can get in the Bob Jones College everything that they can get in any school of Liberal Arts.

In 1949, Bob Jones Sr. re-emphasized the point that his school—now a University—would always insist on the very best academics. As he put it,

We have always insisted that an educational institution with the right kind of spiritual standards will maintain the highest possible academic standards.

It’s fair to say, however, that for marketing purposes, the biggest selling point of BJU in the past was its staunch commitment to fundamentalist Protestantism. Other schools may waver, the Bob Joneses have always promised, but BJU would never budge.

If you wanted your child to have a college experience firmly dedicated to fundamentalism and only fundamentalism, the message was, BJU is for you.

In the 1950s, for example, as “fundamentalist” schools were separating from “neo-evangelical” colleges, BJU sold itself as the unapologetic fundamentalist choice. So unapologetically, in fact, that leading evangelical magazines such as Moody Monthly refused to run its advertisements for fear of alienating good evangelical readers.bju canceled MM ad full again good one RIGHT SIDE UP

Today, in contrast, BJU’s President Steven Pettit offers fundamentalist families a very different primary reason for attending his school. Why should they attend BJU? For its unbeatable record of preparing students for high-flying professional careers. BJU students, President Pettit promises, do better at passing med-school exams, accounting exams, nursing exams, and engineering exams.

As Pettit puts it,

If you’re looking for a college worth the investment of your time and money, a college that will prepare you well for future employment, and help you to grow spiritually in the process, Bob Jones University is the place for you. . . . I think you’ll find BJU provides the value you’re looking for.

Why go to Fundamentalist U? To get a better job!

More proof that schools such as Bob Jones University are not quite as different as other colleges and universities as we might think.

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4 Comments

  1. I thought BJU does not have regional accreditation, only accreditation by Christian accreditation organizations. The last time I visited the school’s website, several weeks ago, there was no regional accreditation. Past students have stated that such lack of accreditation has kept them out of jobs or elite college graduate programs.

    Reply
    • That’s true–about certification only by TRACS (Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools)–but BJU’s leadership has long had a policy of requiring students to take standardized tests such as the GRE to “prove” that BJU is a good academic preparation.

      Reply
      • I wonder about those who find it difficult to get into elite graduate programs. I wonder about other university degrees other than what was highlighted, and if the success rate is as high in those areas (eg education, art history, philosophy, science, etc). BJU is so tied to the IFB church leadership, whose church-run schools often channel their students to BJU, and which students then remain under the thumb of the IFB. I know yours is an academic site, but BJU was held up as the gold standard in my church when I was growing up. The BJU students came back really brain-washed as far as theology is concerned.

  2. Have you ever heard of a school (or any other institution) that didn’t have economic self interest as the top priority? That is one of the interesting things about conservative Christians, especially Evangelicals. They run all their institutions as businesses but think, talk, and act politically as if pure, unvarnished ideals and principles can (or must!) be pushed through electoral, legislative and judicial processes without the slightest pragmatic compromise.

    Reply

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