The former president of Bob Jones University has apologized for saying in 1980 that homosexuals should be stoned, calling his comments at the White House reckless and inflammatory.

Bob Jones III, then president of the fundamentalist university in Greenville, was in Washington with other ministers to oppose extending Civil Rights Act protections to homosexuals.

There, Jones told The Associated Press at a news conference that it would not be a bad idea to bring swift justice by stoning homosexuals and immediately killing murderers.

In a statement Saturday, Jones said he takes personal ownership for the "reckless statement" and "inflammatory rhetoric." He said they don't reflect his beliefs or preaching.

The university had earlier received a petition with 2,000 signatures seeking an apology for the remarks.