University apologizes
GREENVILLE — Bob Jones University (BJU) has offered up an official apology for its racist past.
The Nov. 20 apology, written eight years after the school ended its inter-racial dating and marriage ban in March 2000, was posted on the university’s website.

“BJU’s history has been chiefly characterized by striving to achieve those goals; but like any human institution, we have failures as well,” the statement reads. “For almost two centuries, American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the segregationist ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it.”

Bob Jones University denied admission to African-Americans before 1971.

The statement addresses only the school’s past treatment of African-Americans. No mention is made of the school’s current policies discriminating against gay and transgender students and faculties.

In April 2007, gay youth activists stopped at Bob Jones during their “Equality Ride” to Christian schools discriminating against gay and transgender students. Three activists were arrested attempting to deliver artwork to the campus art gallery.

[Ed. Note — Q-Notes editor Matt Comer was a participant in the Equality Ride.]

Art Bar sweeps ‘Best’
COLUMBIA — The overtly artsy and gay-friendly Art Bar swept the honors in the Columbia Free Times’ “Best of” 2008 awards, including a win as “Best gay bar.”

The bar, known for its arts-world, hippie flair and located only yards from gay clubs PT’s 1109 and Fusion, won “Best of” categories including: Best bar, runner-up to Best place to pick up guys and girls; Best bathroom wall wisdom; runner-up to Best bar service; Best hippie bar; runner-up to Best dance club; Best downtown neighborhood bar; and Best people watching bar.

PT’s Cabaret was the runner-up in the Best gay bar category.

The Free Times also named both SC Pride and SC Equality the city’s “Best Activist Group or Effort.” It’s the second year SC Pride has won the honor. Free Times editor Dan Cook told Q-Notes that due to a slight name change of both organizations this year, the paper made an editorial decision to jointly award both groups after readers voted for the “South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Coalition.”

The paper’s “Best of” honors are nominated and voted on by readers.

Principal changes mind
IRMO — The high school principal who tendered his resignation in response to the creation of a gay-straight student club has told the local school board he’d like to reconsider his decision.

According to reports from The AP and The State newspaper in Columbia, Irmo High School principal Eddie Walker sent a letter to interim superintendent Herbert Berg saying that he wanted to stay.

Walker’s contract will be reviewed in the spring. Last spring, Walker wrote a letter to students and families explaining his decision to retire at the end of the 2008-2009 academic year because he felt the gay-straight alliance “would be somewhat sexual in nature and that conflicted with his religious beliefs,” The State said.

The gay-straight alliance currently operates on Irmo’s campus. Last June, the school board voted not to ban the club. Instead it approved guidelines to allow parents to opt their children out of any school club.

Church welcomes gays
COLUMBIA — The State newspaper profiled on Dec. 5 a local Lutheran church that has opened its doors to LGBT worshipers.

Reformation Lutheran Church, located in the state capital’s historic Earlewood neighborhood, recently made the decision to become a “Reconciling in Christ” congregation. The distinction means they have taken the necessary steps to ensure acceptance of LGBT worshipers as full members of parish life.

“So many faithful people are essentially told in so many ways your church doesn’t want you,” the Rev. Bill Eiwen, Reformation’s pastor, told The State. “The love of God is truly something that we have to share, and I don’t think we get to pick and choose.”

The decision to accept LGBT members and take a step toward the “Reconciling” distinction came without much turmoil, such has been seen in other denominations such as the U.S. Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church and United Methodist Church.

“It is not something that is terribly divisive for us,” Henry Fulmer, the church’s organist and choirmaster, told the daily paper.

Members of the congregation hope to move the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) to a better acceptance and understanding of LGBT members. The ELCA has not yet decided to bless marriages between two people of the same gender.

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