Christian Corruption and Controversy Part I: Social Media of President John Jackson
With the highly anticipated 2020 election just days away, we wanted to take the opportunity to address the political and racial climate of William Jessup University (WJU, or Jessup), which has concerned Alumni and former faculty and staff for years.
If other students, staff, or alumni have their own stories to share, please submit at email@example.com and we will continue to publish and bring awareness.
You can read Part I- IV, which includes personal stories by Alumni on the Sexism, toxic Purity Culture, Racism, Homophobia and Mental Health issues that they experienced on campus, including expulsion:
Part I Sexism and Purity Culture: https://liberatedjessupians.medium.com/private-religious-university-public-religious-trauma-part-i-3a95c6d9f07b
Part III Homophobia and Expulsion: https://liberatedjessupians.medium.com/private-religious-university-public-religious-trauma-part-iii-f795afcb6de9
Part IV Mental Health and Expulsion: https://liberatedjessupians.medium.com/private-religious-university-public-religious-trauma-part-iv-mental-health-expulsion-8847f2ae2a5e
President John Jackson and Social Media Part 1
by Christine Fredrickson
William Jessup University’s president, John Jackson, has an active social media presence which has caused controversy with posts suggesting that people that vote for Biden cannot be evangelical Christians and questioning if Black Lives actually matter.
His twitter (until he deleted it the day after our first article was published) was a place to retweet other pastors, far right media, and liking (but not retweeting) more controversial tweets from others.
His Facebook account, on the other hand, shares different content. He frequently shares posts from the WJU account, his work on The American Council of Evangelicals, his weekend radio show, and in-person events by Destiny Church in Rocklin, CA. He is also sharing his less controversial tweets on his facebook and personal blog now.
In Jack Johnson’s letter to the Department of Education in 2016 asking for Title IX exemptions to discriminate legally against transgender students, he describes WJU as dedicated to and required to uphold the values of the Independent Christian Church. In this letter he indicates that it gives WJU significant financial support and values not dividing the church and avoids denominational differences. (As an aside, one of his sources is Wikipedia, which his professors would never allow students to use as a source).
Is sowing this type of division of who is a real Christian, if black lives do matter, and rejecting science in line with those values President John Jackson and WJU indicate they must follow?
Is it worth it, financially or morally, to make WJU seem unwelcoming or outright hostile to large contingents of potential students, current students, and alumni?
Divisive Tweets and Judgments on Other Christians
by Christine Fredrickson
One of John Jackson’s last tweets was very divisive among students and alumni, and we’ve included 38 of those replies objecting to that one tweet below.
Note: it was one of his last tweets as we posted our first article on 10/23/20 and he deleted his twitter on 10/24/20. Here is the tweet itself, and all of the replies objecting to him. Note: some were snapshotted after his account was deleted, so they state “This Tweet is from an account that no longer exists” but you can see that they were in reply to his account @drjohnjackson and that the dates (e.g., 10/3, 10/4, 10/5) were shortly after his original tweet. You can verify all of these by searching for his twitter handle and seeing who used it in a tweet at the start of October (many upset students, alumni, and even faculty).
The Tweet on 10/3/20 quote tweeted one by Eric Hogue reporting that there are evangelical leaders supporting Biden. John Jackson’s response was, “I cannot imagine someone claiming the label evangelical and advocating for abortion and unbiblical practices in sexual orientation and gender identity and marriage. ‘Evangelical’ should at least have a Biblical foundation. Sad for the church at some many levels.”
Replies varied from pointing out the people in the article are pro-life and that Christians (including Evangelicals) were pro-abortion for years after Roe v. Wade, to pointing out Jackson and WJU’s hypocrisy in the culture of shame that motivates students to get abortions or drop out of school rather than be discovered pregnant and be punished for having had sex. Others voiced general disappointment in him taking a political stance as a representative of the university and dividing Christians who have differences in some beliefs, or scaring off potential students and marginalized individuals entirely.
The photos below are all responses to one tweet which we were able to save before he deleted his twitter.
Once again, these were all responses to one tweet by him. Stay tuned for future articles.
by Elika Bernard
“The basic fact is that Christianity as it was born in the mind of this Jewish thinker and teacher appears as a technique of survival for the oppressed. That it became, through the intervening years, a religion of the powerful and the dominant, used sometimes as an instrument of oppression…”
― Howard Thurman
John Jackson made two offensive Facebook posts in early June, following the death of George Floyd, one with the image: Do All Black Lives Matter? The other, a fake rap sheet of crimes with George Floyd’s face.
It linked to an article that objected to the Black Lives Matters movement for, among other things, emphasizing that mothers are an important part of a family, and suggesting that disproportionate murder of Black People by police shouldn’t be discussed because across all demographics people within their own race kill each other the majority of the time. There are plenty of good articles out there addressing that type of deflection.
Unfortunately we were not able to get a screenshot of it on his profile, but multiple individuals have reported he had posted an additional offensive image regarding George Floyd, showing a fake “rap sheet” of crimes from 13 or more years ago. As if that would be justification for his murder 13 years later. *Note, this is currently hearsay but if anyone has photographic evidence of him having posted it please reach out so we can update the image.
After receiving an enormous amount of pushback, John Jackson deleted the posts. He later announced he was in social media timeout.
Twitter and other social media outlets can be toxic places, especially for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (or BIPOC). Racist, sexist, and homophobic trolls have driven many to delete their accounts and change their online identities all together.
Sadly, it’s not shocking that the president of WJU, Dr. John Jackson, tweets, retweets, and shares racist, misogynistic, and white supremacist views from right wing media outlets. The same outlets that produce and encourage violence that endangers the well being of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (or BIPOC) online and in real life. John’s biblical and theological interpretations seem to be more inline with white supremacy than the actual teachings of Christ.
But when you are a cis gendered heterosexual white male it can be almost impossible to separate how you see God from how you see yourself, because you’re taught since birth that your savior is indeed a white man. And all things white no matter how heinous or violent, are always right and inherently good. Because we live in society where there is no accountability, requirement for emotional maturity, or consequences for bad behavior. I believe white men like John have been severely mentally, spiritually, intellectually, and psychologically, handicapped. With no point of reference for suffering and or oppression the amount of power their demographic continues to hold is dangerous.
Western Christianity is rooted in white supremacy. If you want to know what your church thinks about Black people: Just ask them to hang a painting of Black Jesus and see what happens.
On June 14th, a video he was tagged in was posted online by another pastor in the area. He speaks at about 3 minutes 45 seconds on. In it he states
“I think we take it to mean if we’re really spiritual, all the differences will melt away. We will be colorblind. And all that. And I just actually don’t think that’s right. I think actually, the longer that we are in Jesus, the more we are aware of not only our stuff but we do see other people in the context in which God has assigned them. However, when we are in the presence of the Lord, there is a unity that takes place that takes place that transcends all humanity. So if at this table, I say, ‘How many of you are racist?’ I would raise my hand very quickly. I absolutely see race. If what you mean by racist is you see race I see it absolutely.”
So hopeful, for just a moment, when he raised his own hand. But then he kept talking.
On June 26, he posted an apology on his Facebook for “lack of sensitivity, lack of nuance, and lack of perspective in making the FB post.”
On Jessup’s website he first posted a statement which encouraged the reader to pray and to talk to black people you know asking them to explain the racism they experience. Which an enormous emotional burden on people who are in the midst of a crisis, especially when there are so many resources available about the racism black people experience.
He later posted a statement following his actions was one titled “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” which demonstrated some public acknowledgement of the harm he did and implied his act of racism was a manifestation of Satan. He also shared steps by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce to create an avenue to report grievances of racism at WJU. We’ve posted the first two paragraphs as a snapshot, and you can read the rest here: https://jessup.edu/about/office-of-the-president/diversity-equity-and-inclusion/
Don’t get your hopes up. Then again, how much did he learn if he liked tweets in October 2020 that stated that “Urban riots are ‘crime masquerading as social protest’”?
And John continues to uphold this same theology that ultimately says, you must be white, you must be a republican, you must be straight, you must be male in order for God to love you. I was appalled in 2016 when I saw him campaigning PUBLICLY in support for Donald Trump. Does that mean that theology is right? No but it sure is on brand to use the bible to justify upholding power structures that keep white men in power.
“At an earlier point in American history, some Christian theologians went so far as to argue that the enslavement of human beings was justifiable from a biblical point of view. “The relation of master and slave stands on the same foot with the other relations of life,” Thornwell insisted. “In itself, it is not inconsistent with the will of God. It is not sinful.” The Christian Scriptures, Thornwell said, “not only fail to condemn; they as distinctly sanction slavery as any other social condition of man.” Read more here.
While John’s views on women’s bodies, the Black Lives Matter movement and a host of other topics is deeply disturbing, we understand that he represents a much larger culture of Christians who carry, and vote to keep in place these same ideologies. You cannot serve your whiteness and God. But sadly for most evangelicals, the two are the same.