Bob Jones University drops reference to Catholicism as a `cult'

 

The Bob Jones University is no longer calling Catholicism a "cult", one of the charges of anti-Catholic bigotry which embarrassed the Governor of Texas, Mr George W. Bush, when he went there during his campaign in South Carolina for the Republican presidential nomination.

The fundamentalist university, which has awarded an honorary doctorate to the Rev Ian Paisley, had earlier removed a ban on inter-racial dating following the controversy over Mr Bush's visit.

His rival for the Republican nomination, Senator John McCain, had rebuked Mr Bush for not speaking out against the university's anti-Catholic stance and the dating ban.

The president, Bob Jones III, grandson of the founder, surprised the staff and students when he announced in a TV interview several weeks ago that he had ended the ban on inter-racial dating on the campus. However, on the college Website Mr Jones continued to say that "the diminution of evangelistic enterprise to cults which call themselves Christian, including Catholicism and Mormonism, is frightening".

This passage has now been dropped from the Website. During the controversy, Mr Jones said in a written response: "If there are those who wish to charge us with being anti-Catholicism, we plead guilty. But we are not Catholic-haters."

Meanwhile, Mr Bush and Vice-President Al Gore have clinched their White House nominations. Voters in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee put both men over the top for the delegates they need for the nominating conventions in July and August.

"Tonight we can say, mission accomplished," Mr Bush said at a rally in Austin, Texas, after six southern states voted in the "Super Tuesday" round of primaries and caucuses.

Mr Bush and Mr Gore won the delegates after vanquishing their respective rivals, Senator McCain and Senator Bill Bradley.

"With this victory comes a sacred duty. Americans want a leader who will raise our sights. Americans want a president who will keep his oath and his honour. And this is a charge that I will keep," Mr Bush said.

Mr Gore, tapping into his greatest strength - the boom economy - said: "We stand at a mountaintop moment in our history."

Mr Gore was addressing a rally in Florida, a decisive state in the November race, where Mr Bush's brother, Mr Jeb Bush, is governor.