Today on the campus of Bob Jones University there has been planned a silent protest with the motto “Do Right, BJU.” It would hardly seem to be controversial in most places in the free world for students to campaign for the justice for victims of sexual abuse and justice for their abusers but the act of free expression itself is so unusual in fundamentalist circles that (whatever the eventual outcome) fundamentalists and ex-fundamentalists alike are taking a great deal of interest in the events of today. There’s no doubt that the students involved in this silent protest are doing so at great personal risk and chief among the obstacles that the protestors face today is the fact that the slogan of “Do Right” is almost always trumped by the greater commandment of “Be Right” which is the cardinal rule of every fundamentalist.
Rule #1 is after all: “I am right and you are wrong. Always.” And so shall it ever be. For the rightness of any fundamentalist institution or icon will always be assumed by the people who defend it. The reasons can be invented later.
The great stratagem is thus to continually change the terms of the debate until you prove that you are right on some solitary point. Once you have done this then claim that the point on which you are standing is the only one that matters and no other arguments can possibly count.
Has there been a moral failing? Point out that the people involved were legally correct.
Was what was done illegal? Appeal to some higher, biblical authority and decry the corruption of the legal system.
Was the action indefensibly immoral, illegal, and unbiblical? Then use your eternal trump card and claim that to focus on it would be a distraction from The Gospel and that nothing can possibly be more important than seeing souls saved.
And do all of the above while endlessly touting your own innocence and integrity and relentlessly denigrating the character and motives of your accusers. But whatever you do, don’t say you were wrong. Don’t apologize. Don’t make restitution. Don’t for a second doubt that you are right simply by being.
For no matter how many court rulings and media stories and witnesses and blogs and protestors rise up against you, you can be confident that you have never been wrong. This is your birthright. This is your heritage. This is the sacred trust passed down from father to son for generations: the gift of being always and forever right.
So Be Right, BJU. Be right, fundamentalist, wherever you are. But you can only be right until the stars fall. For in that latter day then shall the Judge of all the earth stand and deliver His final verdict on whether you truly did justly and loved mercy and walked humbly. There will be no more reasons or excuses or equivocations then. And unless you repent, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.
But there’s still today. There’s still this moment. You still have time. It’s not too late to do right.