This article originally appeared on January 18, 2022 at Baptist News Global.
Let’s call this controversy Wrap-Coat-Gate.
Trustees and administrators at Bob Jones University recently grew so alarmed over a wrap coat designed by a student for a class project that they publicly called the student’s work sacrilegious, blasphemous, dishonoring to Jesus, offensive, and egregious.
While controversies such as this may appear to spin out of nowhere, they do not. Given the history and perspectives that have been woven into the fabric of BJU for decades, it was only a matter of time before a student in the fashion design department would pull the wrong strings.
Like many Christian institutions, BJU believes all human creativity is a reflection of God’s creativity. Within this framework, the way an artist understands creation will affect the way that artist creates.
The school’s emphasis on creation over the past century has led it to develop a robust department of fine arts that influences everyone on campus. Students attend operas and Shakespearean plays and have access to more than 100 fine arts programs every year.
One program BJU offers that is unique among Christian universities in the Eastern United States is the bachelor of science degree in fashion design. The website explains: “God is the source of all beauty, the Giver of good gifts to mankind — even the gift of beautiful clothing. At BJU you’ll learn how having a right view of God informs your values and daily decisions, and gives you the motivation to create beautiful and useful apparel. … You’ll learn how God’s character, including His creativity, holiness and goodness, can energize you in your field as you create attractive and modest clothing for His glory.”
Bob Jones University’s view of creation
Before we get to the details of Wrap-Coat-Gate, we must address the view of creation espoused by BJU.