Billy Graham's integrated crusade in Greenville, S.C., last week drew so many people to the huge Textile Hall that he had to go on double sessions. But for Billy, success was touched with sadness. Boycotting the crusade were the 3,800 intensely religious students and faculty of fundamentalist Bob Jones University, where Graham studied and "got my evangelism."
Graham lasted only three months at Bob Jones U. (and went on to graduate from Wheaton College in Illinois in 1943). He found the school's strict discipline, which punishes students with demerits and bans them from dancing, smoking and even going to commercial movies, a bit hard to take. But he has always conceded his spiritual debt to Bob Jones Sr., the fire-and-brimstone preacher who founded the university in 1927, and at 82 is still chairman of the board of trustees with his son, Bob Jones Jr., 54, as president. Those who know both men detect in Graham's simple and passionate sermons the gestures and mannerisms of the old man. Jones Sr. once hailed Graham as a prophet for his time, and in 1948 bestowed upon him a doctorate of humanitieswhich would mean more if the school, now rich and culturally respectable, had accreditation.
A fortnight ago, Bob Jones Jr. denounced Graham as a false teacher who "is doing more harm to the cause of Jesus Christ than any living man." What angered Jones particularly was that Graham's crusade sent people making decisions for Christ "back to unbelieving churches, to false teachers, and Unitarians"that is, to the churches of their own choiceinstead of guiding them exclusively into fundamentalist churches, where they "can be fed the word of God." Worse yet to the Joneses, who are dedicated to the inerrancy of the Bible and total segregation in their school, Graham betrayed Scripture by integrating his rallies beginning in 1950, and by accepting support from "liberals," and "modernists."
The students went along with the university's ban. Larry Mininger, 21, the student council president, insists that no Bob Jones students would have gone to Graham's rallies even if Jones had not forbidden attendance. "We don't do things like they do on the Berkeley campus," he said in an explanation that seemed at once wildly irrelevant and indisputably true.
Graham turned the other cheek. "I really do love Bob Jones Senior, and Junior too," he said.