Hey Bob Jones– Here’s A Crazy Idea: How About We Stop Covering Up Sexual Abuse In Our Institutions?

I’m so stinkin’ tired of it.

Every time a sex abuse scandal breaks out in a “Christian” circle I just want to punch the computer screen. What’s equally infuriating is when said abuse is covered up, overlooked, or when the victim is blamed.

Yet, it continues to happen.

It’s not likely that any institution– Christian or otherwise– is ever going to be free from sexual predators. Predators by nature will find their way into institutions where they can prey on the vulnerable. Christian churches will not be free from predators, Islamic mosques will not be free… heck, even the local PTA isn’t free. In this regard, we’re not always going to be able to catch every sicko in the world before they have the chance to act.

But here’s what we do control:

We don’t have to protect the predators when it happens.

Why this has been a trend in so many Christian institutions (Roman Catholic and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, most notably) I haven’t a clue, because it’s disgusting beyond comprehension.

Any time an injustice as egregious as sexual abuse is covered up or ignored in the slightest way, we side with the oppressor instead of the oppressed. God have mercy on us for that (seriously, we better hope he has mercy on us).

Now, we can add Bob Jones University (BJU) to the long list of coverups. As has been spreading over the wires for the last week, BJU was finally in the process of addressing decades of alleged sexual abuse and cover-up. As reported by the New York Times:

“For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.”

BJU seemed to finally take a few steps in the right direction by hiring a 3rd party, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to do a complete and independent investigation and publish the results. GRACE was nearing completion of publication of the results of the investigation when Bob Jones, without warning, pulled the plug and asked to keep the results of the investigation hush-hush.

It’s the same process of siding with the oppressor that we’ve been seeing with institutions for years now.

As Christians, we must demand an end to this type of cover up. This idea that it is harmful to an institution when they are open and transparent about a case of abuse is blatantly false. Institutions don’t sexually abuse people, sex predators abuse people. What an institution IS responsible for however, is how they prevent abuse and handle cases of abuse when they are discovered. Being open and transparent is the right thing to do.

This is where our institutions are failing, and we must become the voice that says we’re not going to tolerate siding with the oppressors.

As Jesus followers, we’re called to stand up to oppression and violence wherever we see it. Christian institutions who cover up abuse re-violate victims and become as guilty as the original predator– and they must be stopped, just as individual predators must be stopped.

Please join me in keeping the pressure on Bob Jones until they do the right thing for the victims. You can post a comment on their Facebook page here, or can call their main switchboard at (800) 242-5100 with your polite but firm demand that they allow GRACE to finalize their investigation, and that all guilty parties are held to account for their actions.

 

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  • gimpi1

    “Why this has been a trend in so many Christian institutions (Roman Catholic and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, most notably) I haven’t a clue, because it’s disgusting beyond comprehension.”

    I think I may have a clue about why this happens. These organized religious structures are authoritarian in nature. People who feel at home in authoritarian structures in general buy into a hierarchy. They often support the powerful in any hierarchy, and hold different standards for those at the top and bottom of the totem-pole. They are, in general, not overly concerned with the concepts of justice or fairness. People with authoritarian leanings are often fearful of change, uncomfortable with diverse groups and willing to put up with injustice in exchange for order. There is a tendency to accept, even prefer, an unjust status-quo rather than risk the disorder of changing it.

    I don’t think it’s about religion as much as it is about deference to the power-structure. Both the Catholic Church and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement are hierarchal and structured around authority-figures. So are many of the non-denominational churches that have had problems with sexual abuse. So are the Orthodox Jewish groups in New York that have had victims begin to come forward.

    People who stay in those organizations seem to perhaps prefer the firm rules and chain of command, and appear willing to tolerate the injustice of double-standards and victim-blaming to keep the structure intact. People who won’t tolerate double-standards, who don’t automatically assume the person with the most power is telling the truth, people who genuinely care about fairness don’t stay in authoritarian groups. At least that’s how it looks to me.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    “Why this has been a trend in so many Christian institutions (Roman Catholic and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, most notably) I haven’t a clue, because it’s disgusting beyond comprehension.”

    C’mon Ben, I know you’re smarter than that. You answered the question just a couple paragraphs down. Churches will always cover up abuses by their members because reporting it and doing the right thing hurts Jesus Christ.

    Every Christian sect, without fail, claims to adhere and operate by an absolute morality. And they are terrified of being held to an absolute standard because its one they will never reach. Christianity peddles itself as the closest thing one came come to Christ on earth, and that selling point is rather damaged when their clergy members are raping children and other vulnerable individuals. They will always hide it, they will always shame the victim, they will always protect the monster, because to admit that their religion does nothing to make its adherents better people is to lose their power.

    What boggles my mind is that you know this, you see this, and yet you still love Pope Francis. Can you not see him turning the eyes of the world away from the filth of the church he governs? I respect you Ben, and it’s hard to watch you caught up in Panem et Circensis.

    I have a fair amount of personal experience with this issue, and some of my childhood friends have much, much more. Your call to repentance on this issue is well-meant, but it will never happen because Christianity is by and large an organisation that depends on such tactics for its very survival. And that’s why, even when I come across people like you paddling alone in the water, I’ll never stop believing that the whole thing has to come down.

  • Nicholas

    I am a Christian and I agree with you 100%. The whole thing is coming down and the proof is in the numbers. It’s becoming harder in harder to call myself a Christian.

    It’s gonna be quite the shock when many Atheists, Muslims and many ‘lost sheep’ of the world are going to be found in heaven dining with Jesus and many so called Christians are cast out.

  • OnEagl3sWings

    We should not compare ourselves with other “Christians” but with Holy Scripture. Just read Matthew 7… What makes you think that they are walking the narrow path?

    Or in this case John 14:6. If you don’t believe or even know scripture, how can you call yourself a Christian?

  • Just Sayin’

    And then there’s trendy liberal secular institutions like the BBC, where sexual abuse was rampant for decades (check out some of the current celebrity trials in the UK, and the disgusting Jimmy Savile creature, all of whom were give protection and succour by the BBC for decades). It’s easy to point the finger at religious institutions and ignore all the public school teachers, radio jocks, Top of the Pops presenters, social workers, hospital nurses, community care workers, [the BBC’s Savile played all these roles!] etc., etc., etc. I’d stack the RC Church’s record against the BBC’s any day, though that’s hard to do, as the BBC is more secretive.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Classic Christianist tactic. ‘Ignore House A burning because House B is burning too!’ Doesn’t work like that. Your religion claims to have a monopoly on morality. You bet I’m going to hold it to that standard.

    As to the BBC being a worse abuser than the Roman Catholic Church? Pathetic. There were over 30,000 women abused in the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland alone. And that’s one social organisation in one country the size of Ohio.

    Diminish, defend, and point fingers elsewhere. Christianist tactics that don’t work on people like me anymore. But hey, nice try.

  • Just Sayin’

    No, actually it appears to be a classic atheist tactic, as I want to talk about both; you seem to only want to talk about one and turn a blind eye to the other.

    Unless you’re claiming it’s okay for secularists to abuse children? I don’t think you want to go there. Which means the morality involved is shared, as is the guilt. It makes no difference when it comes to sexual abuse; it’s wrong for Christians and equally wrong for non-Christians.

    30,000 women in the M. Laundries, eh? Why not claim 30 million, it’s equally believable!

    Open your newspaper today, or tomorrow, or the next day, and you’ll probably find that yet another (secular) schoolteacher, male or female, has been caught abusing. It seems to run at about one per week currently. But you’ll ignore that, of course. It’s always the Catholic priests, that’s a treasured faith belief on your part!

    Nice try, as you said, but a better try would be looking at the whole sad and heinous picture.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    You want to dare tell me that I think it’s okay for secular people to abuse kids? You really want to make that claim? You are the one making the claim that because we talk about religious sexual abuse that we don’t care about it in other institutions. Quote where we said we don’t want to talk about. Tell us where we said it’s okay. Until you can do that in so many words, keep your vile insinuations to yourself, little Christian.

    Oh so the rate I quoted about the Magdalene Laundries is unbelievable? Too bad I can back it up with sources.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/world/europe/25iht-abuse25.html?_r=0

    You’re playing the same little game that your wicked little Church does. Attacking the people who are trying to stop the abuse. Trying to draw attention away from it. Trying to diminish it as not so bad. And by doing so, you are complicit in their crimes, and I would rather burn in your idol’s hell a hundred times over than share an afterlife with an individual like yourself.

  • Just Sayin’

    I have to laugh at your repeated use of the royal “we.” You speak only for yourself, mate.

    The Irish government’s 1,000-page McAleese Report on the Magdalene laundries found not a single incident of sexual abuse by a nun in a Magdalene laundry. Also, the vast majority of its interviewees said they were never
    physically punished in the laundries. The small number of cases of corporal punishment reported to McAleese consisted of the kind of thing that happened in many normal schools in the 1960s, 70s and 80s: being caned on the legs or rapped on the knuckles.

    These are the facts, chum, not some New York journo’s opinionating. I like to base my views on empirical facts and hard evidence, not speculation and bigotry. Why don’t you?

    It’s you that’s playing the bigot’s card, and it’s just as ugly coming from an atheist as a religious person.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    By ‘we’ I was referring to Mr. Corey and myself, and while I don’t speak for him either, we are of similar mind on this, and you attacked him the same way you attacked me.

    And don’t call me mate. I am not your friend.

    The McAleese report has been heavily criticised for bias and obstruction by various sources. The testimony of women who were sexually abused was not included. I have spoken to many of the survivors first hand, and heard their stories. One of them was my cousin’s wife. And the Magdalene Laundries weren’t schools. they were slave labour institutions. What they underwent was terrible. Deny it all you want, why would you care. It’s my people who are suffering, but if it hurts your church, what does that matter?

    You accused me of saying secular abuse is permissible, which I did not do. You claim that more people were abused in the BBC than throughout the entire Catholic Church, which is a lie. You try to silence those who speak up about it, putting insinuations and accusations of uncaring on us and deny the pain of thousands of people.

    Don’t talk to me about ‘evidence,’ when you blind yourself to abuses by the institution you revere.

  • Dorfl

    […] I want to talk about both […]

    This is a classical derailing tactic, which ends up being used in pretty much every discussion about sexual abuse ever.

    If you wanted to talk about both sexual abuse in the Catholic church and sexual abuse in the BBC you would simply discuss whichever one happens to be the topic at the moment. If you only wanted to talk about one of them, you would only participate in discussions about that one. Entering a discussion about one of them and trying to change the subject into being about the other, shows that not only do you not want to talk about that one, you don’t want others to do so either.

  • Just Sayin’

    No, the Irish Atheist’s is a classic “I don’t care about facts, Catholic bashing is more important” tactic, which ends up being appended by bigots to the end of just about every discussion of sexual abuse ever.

    I’m interested in examining the facts and getting the WHOLE picture of sexual abuse in our society; the Irish poster is only interested in ranting and taking a cheap shot at Catholics.

  • Dorfl

    When I called your derailing tactic ‘classical’, I wasn’t doing it for rhetorical effect.

    In every discussion about sexual abuse committed by X, somebody will turn up an ask “why aren’t we talking about the sexual abuse committed by Y?”. Even the first time you see it happening, it’s fairly clear that the goal is not to put attention on Y, but to move attention away from X. The twentieth time you see it, it’s completely transparent.

  • irena mangone

    Unfortunately there are fathers brothers , uncles and grandfathers abusing family members too

  • The Homeschool Apostate

    “Why this has been a trend in so many Christian institutions (Roman Catholic and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, most notably) I haven’t a clue, because it’s disgusting beyond comprehension.”

    Well, it didn’t take long to answer that pondering.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    No shite. There is no clearer example of how Christianity forces people to abandon basic human decency.

  • irena mangone

    Can you not acknowledge that there are many decent priests in any religion do you not think that the decent ones are going through hell because of the rotten ones and yes they should be bought to justice and excommunicated ,

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    No, I don’t think the decent priests are going to hell. I don’t believe in hell.

  • irena mangone

    I did not mean hell as in after life but a kind of hell here on earth because of actions of their brother priests and yes some nuns were dragons but then their formation made them be humiliated as a way of punishments not that is an excuse but abused people sometimes abuse others and they really took it out on those poor young pregnant girls so much for forgiveness and mercy of Jesus, there but for the grace of God. Etc. peace be to you .

  • Tami Terry Martin

    Why has this been a trend? If you grow up in a culture that says fathers own their wives and children; that male authority is sacrosanct and protecting the patriarchy is paramount, it’s a bigger wonder that there aren’t more stories like this.

  • Jackie Heaton

    What so many Christians forget is that Jesus can take care of Himself thank you very much. Now the institutions might be another story. Once an organization is established most of the energy goes into keeping that organization going. No matter who gets hurt.

  • Jill Roper

    “We don’t have to protect the predators when it happens” To that Ben I say AMEN. Here is my question. What if the abuse is found in a place that is not Christian oriented? Does the same words apply? It has been my personal experience that sexual abuse can happen in all communities whether it be Christian or atheist or heaven forbid, a homosexual. Unfortunately my siblings and I were victims of abuse from a homosexual man who in the end abused hundreds of boys in particular. Each time he was caught it was all swept under the rug and the individual was moved to another state where the whole cycle started all over again. In 2014 it is not considered politically correct to discuss even the possibility that a homosexual could sexually abuse children but I know for a fact that it happens. So if we want to make sure we don’t protect a predator we need to make sure it is all predators and not just the Christian variety. It is disgusting and depraved no matter who does the abusing.
    Your covered sister

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Hi Jill– yes, 100%, same words apply! I just worded it like I did because I’m a Christian author speaking into Christian culture, but I certainly want all abuse, everywhere, to be confronted.