An open letter to students of Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) colleges

Greetings! My name is John Shore. I’m a Christian. Like you, I believe in the literal divinity, miracles, atonement, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Over the past few years I have come to know a lot of members of the Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB), both former and current. Through study and research I’ve also learned a great deal about the IFB.

One of the main things I’ve learned about the IFB is that those letters should stand for Irresponsible Fundamentalist Bullies.

Many people think that the IFB is guilty of bullying, especially of gay people. I wouldn’t disagree with that. But I think the primary victims of IFB’s bullying are members of the IFB. And perhaps above all IFB college students. IFB college students are constantly, systematically, and methodically bullied.

You know how I know that’s true? Because you live in fear. And the victims of bullies always live in fear.

Here are some of the things you fear:

Being blameworthy. You live in unceasing fear of breaking any of your school’s seemingly infinite number of rules, of earning the dreaded “demerit points,” of one of your “supervisors” reporting you, of in any way whatsoever showing that you are less perfectly obedient—less perfectly Christian—than any of the other students.

Secular influences. You fear “secular” movies, television, books, magazines, clothes. You fear music with a “rock beat.” You think the whole world outside of IFB is nothing but various forms of Satan yearning to tempt and destroy you.

Your sexuality. You believe that your desire for sexual contact is your strongest enemy, the singular thing most certain, if you but slip and uncage it, to quickly transmogrify you into an immoral savage.

Knowledge. You are afraid of knowledge beyond that which (you’ve been trained to believe) can be verified by the Bible. Think about it, child: you fear knowledge, one of the most precious things any human can possess. Knowledge is the one thing that can bring power to anyone. Which is why the “college” you attend makes sure you acquire as little of it as possible. (And please mark this: the men atop the food chain at your college who insist upon “Dr.” always proceeding their name are overtly and shamelessly lying by simply expropriating for themselves that title, which out in the real world—the same world those men purport to hold in such disdain—actually means something. You’re young, but not so young you don’t know that a man who would lie about his position in life would lie about anything.)

God. You live in fear of God’s punishment. You spend a lot more time worrying about what God might do to you than what Christ has done for you. And that’s understandable. A fire in the hearth can only be so comforting when you believe a wolf is waiting outside your door.

You fear all those things. And you live in a system designed to foster and nurture each and every one of those fears. And the people who own the college you attend—the Jones family of Bob Jones University, the Hortons of Pensacola Christian College, the now thoroughly disgraced Hyles family of Hyles-Anderson College, for instance—are kept by your fears wealthy beyond measure. (Literally, since IFB colleges are notorious for endlessly and dishonorably scheming to hide their money—especially from the government of the country they’re always so quick to profess their undying love for.)

You, along with every member of your family, are being held upside down and shaken until all of your money spills out. And the men who are doing that to you—and who while doing that to you innocently proclaim to only be doing the work of God—then stand you in a corner, face turned toward the wall, and demand that you quietly stay there while they scoop your money off the floor.

It’s a sign of just how thoroughly and for how long a time you’ve been bullied that you now identify with your bullies. And you probably have since you were old enough to grasp how unwise it is to bite the hand that feeds you.

It’s critically important that you know that there is no shame for you in any of this. You are an innocent. You’ve done your best, you’ve tried your best, you’ve been your best. What happened to you was done to you. We are all the same in that. For better or worse, we all grow up fully imprinted by our parents and families. They give the push which starts us down our path.

Some of you will make it out of IFB. For some of you, the persistently whispering voice of the truth within you will continue growing louder, until finally you will have no choice but to pay it heed. And ultimately that voice will lead you to create for yourself a life wholly defined by you, and no one else. You will be free; you will be wise for all you’ve been through and know.

Most of you will not make it out of IFB. The ties of IFB will prove too strong for you, its grip too tight. You will be too afraid, or simply too incurious, to objectively evaluate, much less divorce yourself from, the only life you’ve known. In obedience to the authoritative men in your life, you will take your place within, and thereby help to perpetuate, a version of Christianity that is manifestly much more about fear and repression than it is about the love and freedom for which Christ gave his all.

Again: I am a Christian. And though it breaks my heart to say it, if you remain in IFB, you will force me to be your enemy. Because IFB holds that women are inherently inferior to men, that they are intended by God to be nothing but mothers and “helpmeets” to their husbands. IFB believes that godly parents methodically beat their young children in order to “break their will.” IFB fights to deny its children an education (to the extent that it runs such sham “colleges” as the one you now attend). IFB sends its “disobedient” teens to unsupervised “homes,” where they are horrifically abused and degraded. (For more, see The 8 million strong Independent Fundamental Baptists cult, headed by Bob Jones University.)

IFB is a blight on the world, a demoralizing disgrace to Christianity. It is predicated upon real and sustained harm done by real and sustained bullying.

Please see that. Please, in one way or another (and no matter how long it takes!) come to your senses, gather your resources, and venture out into the world that I promise you’ll be amazed to discover means you no harm whatsoever—a world that wants you to explore, learn, grow, thrill, experience, and in every way simply be the unique, gifted, joyous, utterly individualized person whom God so delighted in creating you to be.

Please come and meet the God behind the perverted, twisted caricature of him in which you’ve been tricked into believing—the real God, the true God, the beneficent God, the God who has nothing for you but everything you want: unqualified, unconditional love.

That God is waiting—has always been waiting—for you to know him as he knows you.

I am praying for you. We all are, in the sincere and nearly desperate way that people of faith always pray for those whom they know are worthy of so much more than they’re getting.

* * * * * * * *

(Because people have asked, the photo above is this picture, Photoshopped by the endlessly awesome Dan Wilkinson:

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Olde Blonde Broad

    Much of the content of this letter applies to the Mormon Church as well.

  • Jon Sanchez

    Although I don’t agree with everything in this commentary…. I am convinced that this kind of religion only makes a person afraid to die, as well as afraid to live. And that is a tragedy.

  • Jenni Frencham

    Once I arrived on the campus of Bob Jones, I was amazed at the things I discovered were wrong that I didn’t know about before:

    1. It was wrong that my parents sent me to a public school. Even though my mother, who was a single parent, had to work long hours just to put food on the table, somehow she should have sent me to a Christian school.

    2. It was wrong that I grew up in a single parent home. Apparently my parents’ divorce scarred me for life and made it impossible for me to be a real Christian.

    3. It was wrong that I had once attended movies in theaters, worn pants, listened to secular music, believed in Santa Claus, played games with face cards, or read the NIV. Even though I didn’t do those things anymore, somehow they still stained me.

    I am glad I got out of the IFB, but I probably was only able to escape because I wasn’t born into it. I was sipping at the Kool-Aid for a long time before I realized how rotten it was. I think if I had been “privileged” with a true IFB upbringing, I would have swallowed all their tripe and been trapped forever.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Wow, Jenni. This is really powerful. I went to a public high school in an underfunded Southern state. I grew up in a single-parent household. And (as I really don’t like bragging about, it was luck) I went to the most expensive liberal arts school in the US with a year abroad at Oxford. That’s such a different concept of “privilege”.

  • Judy

    The only thing I would add is to realize this past can haunt you for decades. Even now, if I err in life, my first response is to assume that God is going to swoop down and take away any thing that gives me joy as a judgement against me. Hard to believe that it has taken me til mid life to realize how loving God is.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    A former PCC student speaks out on brainwashing and spiritual abuse.

    http://www.soulation.org/freeatlast/2013/10/did-pensacola-christian-college-brainwash-students.html

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/109863372757742722435/posts Deborah Macaoidh Selim

    Everyone please look up “Pastor” Geronimo Aguilar, who was taught by Jack Schaap, son-in-law of Jack Hyles. This person has been indicted for sexual abuse of two minors under the age of 14. He has already left and started new churches twice in different states after some kind of controversy involving that issue. Don’t let is happen in your city!

  • JenellYB

    Sic ‘em! Praise God!

  • harrisco

    Dear IFB Students – If you have read this far, you are by now probably struggling with some strong feelings about what John has written. Perhaps you feel a little angry at him–or a lot. Perhaps you are disgusted. Perhaps you want to dismiss what he says as evil and full of worldly corruption. Perhaps you feel a sense of recognition–because John is saying the lulling words your preachers have warned you about over and over again. False prophets, they have preached to you so many times, are everywhere, seeking to lure and devour the unvigilant Christian. Be strong against sinful influences and temptations.

    Yes, if you have gotten this far, you are feeling something–maybe something strong. How could you not? John is asking you to consider what you really do not want to consider. He is challenging you to go where every power in your external world says not to go, at risk of your very soul. Easy to call John a wolf in sheep’s clothing, seeking to lure you astray, and be done with it. Why listen to some blogger who says he knows what you should do? You admire those preachers he scorns. You see them as godly and righteous and authoritative. You may even want to model your life and work after theirs. At this point, you may feel a desire to go to a preacher, a parent, or an elder in your church and plead guilty just for reading John’s words. (That person will surely agree and call you sinful.) Why, indeed, would you pay John any mind?
    Why? Because there is something in you that kept you reading to the end–the same something that got you reading a non-approved blog in the first place. Sin or temptation? No. Call it an internal voice, perhaps the moving of the Holy Spirit within you, calling you to a new place. That possible change arouses fear of course–but please stay with that call. Be open to the possibility now that the voice of God is coming not from without (from parents and elders and preachers) but from within. You may doubt that internal voice and feel terribly guilty and disobedient for departing from what your preachers say. Should and sin may be the biggest words in your vocabulary. Even so, something is moving in you, stirring, calling you by name. Listen hard. Just tune out all the rest and listen. Just listen. Something is there–a holy presence so deep in your life yet so quiet that you almost miss it. Just stop and listen to it–and let the adventure begin.

    • Sheryl Sims

      I remember reading a “non-approved” book about cults when I was in Mr. Laurent’s Cults and False Doctrines class (to do some “extra” research over Christmas Vacation). The book was in our church bookstore, and there was probably nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t on the “approved” list. There was a list in the back of the book of 10 signs of a cult. At that time Hyles Anderson College did all 10 of them (it could be slightly different now, but I seriously doubt it.)
      My heart was a battlefield. I wanted to disagree with the author and offer explanations as to why HAC *looked* like a cult and yet was not one, but the tiny little thread of logical thought in me told me I couldn’t just ignore what was like a slow awakening.
      I went to Mr. Laurent, genuinely concerned and looking for answers and his response was that I was in rebellion and what was I doing reading this “non-approved book” to begin with. He strongly suggested that I go find a place to be alone and repent for my bad thoughts and that is what I did. But it stuck with me. All the way until this day. As much as people who are in cults are unable to admit that is what they are, to those who are on the outside looking in there is no mistake.
      To whatever degree you want to define it, Hyles Anderson is a cult and the followers are brainwashed and there is a lot of effort that goes into the mind control and manipulation that keeps the hierarchy going there. Just something to consider. Freedom in Christ shouldn’t be so exhausting. Jesus says His yoke is EASY and his burden is LIGHT. HAC is anything but easy and the IFB is anything but light.

  • Michelle Par

    My brother attended Pensacola “Christian” College for almost a year. What they did to him and to my (already religiously misguided) family was grotesquely awful. When we found that he was going there, my husband (who is a real doctor, with a ph.d. from one of the top 20 schools in the world in his field) researched them. What he found horrified us both and all we could do was wait for the inevitable explosion, since we, as non-fundamentalists, were just clearly too worldly to have the necessary discernment to “see God’s will” moving in the school. All I can truly say is that, as usual, you’ve nailed it, Mr. Shore. Thank you, so much, for stating it so eloquently. They ARE bullies, and some that escape go running so far in the opposite direction (because the entire secular world is equally evil, according to them) that they get lost in some really self destructive behaviors. Thank you for calling these ‘schools’ out. I hope that this saves as many of these young people as possible.

  • Sheryl Sims

    My husband and I attended Hyles Anderson College way back in the very beginning of the college and I can verify this article to be full of truth. You have hit the nail on the head in your assessment and I appreciate your boldness in writing it.

  • Ray Hartenstine

    Great post John Shore… 2 thumbs up for writing this…!

  • Jill

    Thank you John for making the clear distinction that the bullied live in fear, that’s how you recognize them. Since the bullied are often and understandably afraid to say or do anything on their own behalf.

    And bullying as religious belief is not a tenet of Christ’s message, not even a whiff of it found in the big 10 commandments. I’m quite tired of the bullies getting away with it, misrepresenting God and bilking the faithful of their trust, their allegiance, their cash. As comments have already alluded, some of the victims barely recover.

  • anonymous

    I rarely comment on blogs, because without the context of personal repute, remarks lose no less than 90% of their efficacy.

    But, I must.

    Quote:

    “Which is why the “college” you attend makes sure you acquire as little of [knowledge] as possible.” [sic]

    I happen to be a female from a broken family. I grew up on the evil Left Coast. I attended (and earned a Bachelor’s from) the school depicted on this page’s header. I am now attending a private Ivy – a flagship institution, and a global leader in research – working on my Master’s degree on full scholarship.

    Last semester, I unintentionally left a whole room of my classmates – both Master’s and Doctoral candidates from around the nation and globe – with blank stares.

    It was because they had not yet learned about a theory on which I was basing my project. Schenker’s Theory is mainstream within the “secular” sector of my profession. (Can someone here please explain to me why “secular” = “reputable”?)

    I had the privilege of taking an entire semester’s study of this theory/application at the IF school. The credit for my knowledge belongs to my incredible professor at the “Incoherent, Flatulent Bully” college I am proud to own as my Alma Mater. (He is also a graduate of an extremely prestigious “secular” school, and one of the most truly brilliant people I have ever been privileged to meet.)

    I was granted a departmental award last semester, one of only two given in the year. If all goes in in the future as it has in the past, I will graduate with highest honors, SDG.

    As far as the money is concerned, yes, I still have student debt. It was a choice. I could have quit, left, or never gone at all. Nobody took my money. I, as a steward of God’s money, bought with it a solid education.

    People are imperfect, institutions are imperfect.

    I have no time or further words for people who only wish to disparage those urging heavenward on the highway of grace, simply because they happen to be in a different lane.

    These are not the words of a victim, though I certainly fell prey to more than one demerit. These are the words of a graduate.

    Thank you for reading my attempt to shine light on things which some, professing knowledge, know nothing of. I don’t write to “win an argument” or “destroy opponents.” I write to represent the truth of my own experience.

    • Eric Boersma

      Your point would be significantly better made (and significantly shorter) if you’d stop trying to talk around “your field” and “your college” and “a mainstream theory”. As it is, it sounds like you’re trying to use 800 words to say nine.

      • anonymous

        Thanks for the feedback: edits made. I agree that it’s more effective now. I apologize for the length that remains. I know how much I hate long comments, but finer points sometimes aren’t succinct.

        • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

          “Schenker’s Theory is mainstream within the ‘secular’ sector of my profession.” What’s your profession? What’s your degree in? Just wondering, as that may shed some light on why your experience may have differed from that of others…

          • anonymous

            http://www.schenkerguide.com/basicmodel.html

            And, no. There are 2 others from my class at BJU who are now studying here at my new school, one of whom is easily eclipsing me in success/honors. Included in just my graduating class are both a Fulbright Scholar and the principal oboe of a state symphony. I also overlapped with the current principal clarinetist of a prominent, world-class ballet company. Also, the designer/builder of my instruments – the brand of choice for many professionals, is also an unashamed alum. “Victims”? I think not.

            Maybe a little bit of history that needs rewriting is all.

            Everything above can be substantiated upon request.

            I’m done commenting here. Got to get back to schoolwork.

            Thanks for tuning in!

          • Matt

            Hey, anonymous–when you quoted John up there. The “[sic]” adverb is used to indicate to the reader that you are reproducing the quote exactly as written, including any errors in the original text. But there were no errors.
            So it just looks…odd. And kind of pretentious. Maybe that great education isn’t working out as well as you think.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I believe this person is getting a post graduate music degree.

    • anonymous

      Epilogue:

      “…Venture out into the world that…means you no harm whatsoever.”

      Last time I checked, the world was one of the top 3 enemies, right alongside the flesh and the devil himself. Now, the definition of “world” may be some cause for confusion, but there is real evil, real temptation, and real sin in the world (besides the oh-so-obvious sins of intolerance and bullying) to eschew.

      I may be what the world considers “confident.” You have to be to make it in my field. A measure of intellect, personality, etc. are great gifts given to all, intended to be used for good, as good is defined in His Word.

      That said, “a life wholly defined by you, and no one else” sounds like a disaster to me. I know myself well enough to know not to trust my own heart. Solomon calls that foolishness.

      May my life be defined by my Lord, and no one else. Then perhaps I can win the greatest title…greater than degrees, honors, or a job. The title of “Christian.” The best part is that it’s already won.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        How is the world an enemy, or the flesh, or even the devil? What temptations are you so afraid of, what sin has you terrified of committing? How can an artist know the satisfaction of their art if they are so afraid that satisfaction itself could itself be a temptation?

        What is wrong about trusting your heart? It is where our greatest creativity lies, where we store our joys, our faith, our hopes and our dreams, If we are supposed to distrust our hearts, then how does one deal with the utter frustration?

      • Bill Steffenhagen

        ******May my life be defined by my Lord, and no one else.*******
        This begs the question: Who is your Lord?

        Is it Jesus? Is it the Bible? Is it your church or denomination? Is it the theological position of BJU? Is it God? They are all different “Lords” you know.

        THINK, really, before you answer. I really don’t care to know. It’s a rhetorical question for you to answer in your own ever so untrusted heart.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      The left coast? And why is it evil?

      • Mark

        Rural Washington state and rural Oregan are quite religious.

        • Eric Boersma

          Rural California is quite religious, as well. It’s almost like the question of whether you’re conservative or liberal isn’t based on which part of the country you come from but rather on whether or not you’re exposed to a variety of cultures and belief systems and can learn to see the value in people who aren’t like you.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Hi anonymous. Name-dropping is actually why they put up with my antics here. This is when I say I attended Carnegie Mellon (a global powerhouse in research), Sarah Lawrence (so elitist they don’t believe in grades or test scores and still rank #1 in faculty, #4 in class discussion, and #16 in LGBT-friendliness), and a year abroad studying the Bible at Corpus Christi, Oxford — where, you know, they translated a quarter of the KJV. I am so impressed by a Fulbright scholar; I drank in the pub where they displayed Clinton’s Rhodes bathtub. My dad taught a Fulbright semester just to visit Tuscany.

      It’s not a big deal. Not if you’re really in a flagship Ivy.

      Oxford is, by definition, a religious school. It was founded that way. And they would never teach a student anything but a secular approach to the Bible. Brits are very strict about keeping personal feelings on religion out of the content they instruct. Hate to break it to you, but that’s the gold standard of ‘reputable’.

      “The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others — who are, after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do with reputation, which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara, is something people with courage can do without.” —Joan Didion. Best of luck gauging yours in those terms.

    • Jill

      “I have no time or further words for people who only wish to disparage those urging heavenward on the highway of grace, simply because they happen to be in a different lane.”

      This is where I refuse to sit quietly. The IFB training and inculcating of their youth– where is the option of “a different lane” for them? Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, never having any personal exposure to IFB specifically, but extreme fundamentalism of another stripe.

      My understanding, coupled with parallel experience, is that you have one choice: God as delineated by the church or Satan as inexorably tenacious. And there’s only one approved Way to God, making every other possible path NOT God. Did I get remotely close to accurate? Is that remotely close to fair play?

    • Mark

      Anoynmous, why so secret about which college you are on now, unless you post is pure fiction.

  • jared

    john shore – have you ever grown up or personally experienced time at an IBF church or institution? if not, then you have no valid credit to talk about it. you’re research may have accurate conclusions at some points, but you weren’t there.

    • Eric Boersma

      I’ll be sure to let all those historical scholars know that because they haven’t actually lived during the time period they write about, they don’t have any room to talk about it.

      What tripe.

      • jared

        do you consider John Shore’s article as historical scholarship? i hear what you are saying, but it has no real connection to my question to John. would it or would it not, lend more credit to john if he had personally experienced IBF for himself. i don’t know if he has or not, that is why i asked.

        • Eric Boersma

          John’s conclusions are in synch with the dozens of first-hand accounts I’ve read of people who were raised IBF and have since left the denomination, not to mention the dozens of books written by those within the IBF movement expressing their opinions and perspectives.

          Simply throwing out “You haven’t personally experienced this first hand, therefore your conclusions are irrelevant” is exactly what I called it the first time: tripe. John’s conclusions are drawn from first hand accounts that are literally everywhere.

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            Not to mention the five months I spent with Linda Hyles-Murphrey, daughter of Jack Hyles, writing her (unpublished) memoir. (And thank you, Eric and Michelle.)

          • Guest

            I think I watched a TedX talk that she spoke at. Scary stuff. But BJU isn’t Hyles-Anderson. Heck, PCC isn’t even Hyles-Anderson. As much as many would have you believe the two places are exactly alike, they just aren’t. Fundamentalism (however small a movement) is much broader than you make it out to be.

    • Michelle

      I think many others, like myself, who HAVE grown up in this church would agree that he “hit the mark” with this article!

    • Jon Weaver

      I was born into the IFB and spent nearly 40 years there. He is spot on!

    • Andy

      I think it would have been funnier if you had phrased it as a question, i.e. “Were you there?”

  • Guest

    As someone who graduated from Bob Jones University back in May of this year, I agree with very little of this blog post as it pertains to BJU as a university and as it applied to me as a student there. I never feared knowledge, my sex drive, or secular influences. Heck, I didn’t even fear demerits as annoying as they were. Most importantly, I never doubted God’s love for me.

    At BJU, I was never taught that God meant women to only be mothers and nothing else. My fiance doesn’t believe that either. I don’t doubt that someone somewhere at BJU taught this at some time, but it is incorrect to say that BJU as a whole teaches this. In fact, many of the professors are women.

    I also disagree with John’s statement that most IFB students will never leave the IFB. I mean, how would he even know this? Many of my friends that graduated with me are no longer attending IFB churches and neither am I.

    Overall, John, it really doesn’t sound like you know what BJU is currently like. Have you visited recently? The university has a dark past in many aspects (racism, mishandling sexual abuse, etc). I know that many people have been hurt by BJU, but that doesn’t mean that BJU, in its entirety, is a blight on the world. At this point in its history, I would say that BJU is doing far more good than harm.

    Yes, I’m sure that this post perfectly describes some (not many) current students at BJU, but it definitely wouldn’t describe a typical student. God is big enough for his light to shine at BJU.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Interesting that the majority of staff are Bob Jones graduates, many also getting post graduate work there as well. The first theology teacher I saw got all his education at Bob Jones. Not a lot of well roundedness in the educational philosophy there. How many theology staff are women? Ah. three, two teach only courses for “women ministry”, the third fluff courses.

      So how many theology students were female? How many were getting post graduate degrees in theology?

      I doubt that you as a male, would be privy to the things being told to female students, or the extra scrutiny they were under. Your fiance may have just gotten so used to it, she doesn’t realize that there are more open avenues to her..

      I have visited recently, the last time about four years ago…and someone really needs fire whomever decides how the art work in the museum is displayed. It is so horribly done.

      • Mark

        Some of the staff at BJU has only honorary degrees

        • Guest

          Only have honorary degrees? Or only have honorary doctorate degrees? The first would be completely false. The second is rather questionable. Can you give me any specific professors that only have honorary doctorate degrees? I’m guessing I could count on one hand the number of professors that do.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I did a quick sampling of staff. There are only three women on staff in the theology department, Nome of whom teach any cote theology or even advanced. Of the staff I randomly chose, most had bju undergrads and a majority had post grad from bju. As the school has only recently gained limited accredidation, I suspect that these staff with outside post grad following a bju undergrad members had to jump through extra hoops. That may be why most seemed to have just stayed at bju for the post grad work.

          • Mark

            Here’s one, dropped out of two college but still got an honorary doctorate.
            http://www.bju.edu/about-bju/administration/wood.php
            Marc Monte
            http://www.faithbaptistavon.com/staff.php
            “Pastor Monte is a 1989 graduate of Bob Jones University (Summa Cum Laude), holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible. He graduated from Pensacola Theological Seminary in 2007 with a Master of Ministries degree. In addition, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2005 for work related to exposing the dangers of radical Islam in America.”
            “Doctor” Stephen Jones. Noticed he “received” his PhD, he did not earn it.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Jones_(BJU)
            Do you own a Schofield Reference Bible? Find out where Schofield got his doctor degree and get back to me.
            I grow up in the IFB cult, and honorary degrees are the norm among its leaders..

          • Guest

            Neither of them are current BJU professors. I do not own a Schofield Reference Bible. Here is the current list of faculty. http://www.bju.edu/academics/faculty/#M

      • Guest

        You’re right to an extent. In certain degree programs (particularly Bible), the professors tend to have gotten their most advanced degrees from a handful (or less) of different schools (mostly BJU). However, this is not the case for many degree programs as far as post-graduate work goes. But yes, many of the faculty did attend undergrad at BJU or a similar school.

        I have no idea how many theology staff are women. But then again, I would assume (perhaps wrongly) that most religious schools have very few women in the theology department. I am also unaware of the number of females getting post graduate degrees in theology. I know there are many in the Biblical counseling program, but beyond that, I do not know.

        I do consider myself pretty well aware of the extra scrutiny that female students go through at BJU. However, being aware of it and experiencing it are two entirely different things. So I would never say that I can relate with or understand what female students go through to the extent they do.

        Also, I don’t know if you meant it this way (I hope not), but your words come across as very insulting to my fiance.

        I visited the art museum only once or twice during my time there. Art isn’t really my thing, and also not really relevant to this discussion.

        • Jill

          Daniel,

          With respect, I’d say that you cannot simply use your broad brush stroke that since you’ve not experienced the blight that many, many others have, then BJU must be healthy and fulfilling for the majority of its students.

          If you consider yourself a satisfied graduate, then I would guess you consider yourself blessed to have enjoyed your educational experience. Then use your privilege as a straight, white man, and use what you’ve gained, to help others who rely on people like John Shore to speak on their behalf and get their stories out to a world that has no awareness of what far too many students are going through, often with little help or support.

          • Guest

            I am grateful that John wants to help, and real victims need people like him. But the false picture he paints of all BJU students being victims isn’t helping.

          • Jill

            And you’ve clearly missed my point.

            Then paint a better picture than John’s– make a real effort to improve the life and well-being of the students that ARE in the picture John has painted– through their own personal stories! Do something more than complain.

          • Guest

            I’m sorry for missing your point. You’re right. I should be doing more to help. No arguments there.

          • Jill

            Daniel, while I cannot speak for John or anyone posting here, I believe that doing more to help is the whole point of all this. Anyone can argue who’s more right than the next person until we’re exhausted, but it is in the living our lives that our true character plays out.

            I once thought that all I could do to help was to stop playing the enemy of gay and lesbian people I knew, that would make up for my past judgments against them. Then I met gay, lesbian, transgender, and cross-dressing Christians, and I knew that as a straight woman, there was more that I need to do. If you ever experience doubt or shaken faith, listen to the ongoing stories of LGBTQ Christians. You’ll build your own faith in a better God than the one we humans argue about all the time, and you’ll realize there’s more work to do.

            Until EVERY school, church, organization, group and denomination ends its onslaught of judgment, neglect, abandonment, blame, shame, abuse and murder of the LGBTQ community, this argument will continue. This work ends when that does.

        • Eric Boersma

          I’m not sure you’ll ever read this, Daniel, and I’m not sure you’ll ever take me up on the offer, but I’m hopeful you will.

          I want you to read what you wrote here. In depth. Look at how many times you say “I have no idea” or “I assume” or “I think” or “I don’t know”. You say you are a graduate of BJU, you’re here to defend the university, and yet, there are whole realms of things that, with even a tiny bit of probing, we’re finding that you don’t know about the university.

          I’m not saying that you’re lying about attending BJU. In truth, I would find that to be the far more charitable view of what you’re doing here. Instead, I think what you have here is a case where you’re heavily wrapped up in your own privilege; your post sends a strong signal that in 4+ years of studying at BJU, you basically haven’t thought about roughly half of the student body there. You say things like you consider yourself “pretty well aware” of the way women are treated at BJU. That’s a statement that’s dripping with privilege, utterly saturated. You can consider yourself pretty well aware, because you don’t actually have to deal with it. At worst, you visit that kind of scrutiny. Many of these women live with it full time. That’s the difference between being a bully and being bullied.

          So, congratulations. You’ve managed to attend BJU for 4+ years and stay relatively ignorant of everything that BJU teaches, advocates for and has written into dozens of books. Maybe you’re lying. Maybe you’re whitewashing their theology. There are hundreds of people speaking out about the abuses that the IFB movement has visited upon them, personally. I would challenge you to take time, and listen to their stories. Many, but not all, are women. Take the time to challenge your assumptions and see things from the side of people who’ve been hurt.

          Thanks.

          • Guest

            I’ll start by apologizing for my above comment where I mentioned that I am “well aware” of the extra scrutiny that female students at BJU go through. A better phrase would have been that I am aware that they do go through extra scrutiny. So once again, I am sorry for overstating.

            However, I do feel you were too hard on me for that. Directly after the original overstated phrase that I made, I wrote the following:

            “However, being aware of it and experiencing it are two entirely different things. So I would never say that I can relate with or understand what female students go through to the extent they do.”

            Eric, did you even read that part of my original comment?

            Also, what do you think I might be lying about? I am posting using my real name, so it would be fairly easy to identify me as a 2013 gradate of BJU.

            Also, identifying areas in which I don’t know every tiny detail about BJU isn’t a valid case for believing me to be ignorant of the place I attended for four years. I am not ignorant of what BJU teaches. I sat through chapel and attended Bible classes for four years.

            As far as your challenge goes, I’ll gladly continue to read about the many evils that people at BJU have committed. I’ll also continue to read the accounts of victims of these evils.

            However, I refuse to ignore the good.

          • Eric Boersma

            Eric, did you even read that part of my original comment?

            Yes. It was the most damning thing you wrote.

            Here’s why: You are aware that there are injustices being perpetuated against female students at BJU. You yourself admit this: you say that you’re aware that female students are held to a higher level of scrutiny simply because they are female; this is unjust.

            Being aware of this injustice, you stand astride and watch it happen, but instead of speaking out for your fellow students — women who have worked and studied and paid just as much as you have — you instead dismiss it with a simple “I don’t understand”. That’s your privilege speaking. You have the privilege of being able to stand astride that injustice and simply ignore it, letting it pass beneath your notice because you had the good fortune to be born a man.

            I have no doubt that Bob Jones University does some good. I also have no doubt that Bob Jones University could do the same amount of good if it were to dispense with the sexism and all the abuse that is habitually perpetuated on those considered “less than” in the IFB movement — women and children are abused within the IFB, physically, sexually and spiritually. It’s that abuse that John is railing against, and it’s that abuse that I’m railing against.

            I don’t know you. I did look up your credentials, and I found that you and I are kindred spirits of a sort; I too have a computer science degree. I don’t know if you’ll spend much more of your life as part of the IFB movement, but I can promise you this: if you do, you’re going to find that at some point, you’re face to face with the abuse that I’m talking about. It may be a daughter claiming that her father is sneaking into her room at night to rape her. It may be a wife claiming that her husband beats her when he gets drunk. It may be a parent claiming that the reason their children are so well-behaved is because they beat them raw. It might be watching a husband berating and belittling his wife, girlfriend or fiance by expressing his authority over her.

            You will come face to face with these situations. When you do, you will have a choice: you have the choice to cover it up, to enable those who would hurt others, to perpetuate the system of abuse that has brought BJU and the IFB denomination to the state it is in. Or, you can act as Christ did, and stand up to the injustice. You can make BJU into the tool of good that you desperately want it to be. But first, you must understand that there are parts of BJU, and IFB as a whole, which are very, very bad. You have a voice. Lend it to those who don’t, and work for making Independent Fundamentalist Baptists the type of people who don’t cause letters like these to be written.

            I don’t know what kind of man you’ll be. But I know what I’m praying for. God bless.

          • Guest

            You do me wrong, Eric.

            I never said that I was aware of “injustices” occurring to female students at BJU. What I meant by “extra scrutiny” is the level of strictness of some of the rules at BJU for women. For instance, female students have a stricter dress code. The dorm life for female students is also very different. It is these sorts of things that I was referring to.

            Furthermore, had I actually meant real injustice, you still assumed that I just sat back and let these injustices happen. I have written nothing to indicate to you that this is the case. Like you said, you don’t know me so there is nothing from past interaction with me to indicate this inaction either.

            For the most part, I wasn’t exposed to injustice toward female students during my four years at BJU. But during one particular semester, I came face to face with victims of gross abuse that I knew certain people within BJU were terribly mishandling. For confidentiality reasons, I can’t and won’t go into anymore detail than that. But I didn’t stand by and watch it happen. I did everything I knew to do to help the situation. This was probably the most trying few months of my life. I didn’t come out of it the same person I was before.

            I agree with you that I will face it again. But it won’t be within the IFB. I don’t attend an IFB church.

          • Eric Boersma

            What I meant by “extra scrutiny” is the level of strictness of some of the rules at BJU for women.

            That’s exactly my point. Levying extra rules, different rules, more strict rules (which you and I agree are levied) against women simply because they are women is unjust. I would argue that treating anyone more harshly simply because of the way that they were born or the culture they were raised in is injustice. However, I realize that I’ve been doing a great deal of talking at you, and not enough listening. Can you explain to me why you wouldn’t feel that treating women more harshly with regards to rules and expectations wouldn’t be unjust?

          • Guest

            I’m all about equality. We’re talking gender differences here. I don’t see having a different dress code as unjust or harsh. In fact, when I say that their dress code is stricter, that is actually a rather arbitrary statement for me to assert and can’t be demonstrated objectively. In other words, it is my opinion. And treating women more harshly isn’t just or right. Do you really expect me to defend a statement like the one you asked me to explain?

            Obviously, I should have worded a few of my previous comments more appropriately to better reflect my actual beliefs and experiences.

          • Scott Michaud

            Dan Dersch did go to bju. we lived on the same hall together at bju.

      • Jenni Frencham

        I took one of those “women’s ministry” courses when I was at BJU, and it was taught by three women, one of whom was the wife of the then-president of BJU. This course focused very little on actual ministry and could have been better titled, “How to be a good stay-at-home pastor’s wife.” One of the lectures, I kid you not, was entitled “How to be an angel in the kitchen and a devil in the bedroom.”

        I was also told in most, if not all, of my education classes (I have a BS in education and an MEd from BJU) that education outside of an IFB school is not true education. The assumption was that all of us would “endure” student teaching in a public school but would then flee back to IFB schools, and the few weird exceptions would go on to teach in public schools. All education majors were required to attend a Principal’s Recruitment Conference, which featured numerous IFB schools that were hiring. There were no public school districts represented, nor were we told how to get jobs outside the IFB.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Daniel: I see that this is the first and only time you’ve ever commented on any blog using the ubiquitous Disqus. Is that true?

      • Guest

        Yes….

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          So (if you don’t mind my asking), did you sign up for a Disqus account just so you could comment on this blog?

          • Guest

            Yes, I signed up to comment on this blog right before commenting. I’ll likely use it for other blogs as well. I normally use WordPress, but I didn’t see that as an option.

          • americanwoman343

            OK

          • Guest

            Hey, aw343. I can’t find the earlier question you posted. If you’re still around, direct me to it. I think it was on marriage?

          • americanwoman343

            Yeah, it was on a different post – I think it was on John’s manifesto about why b homosexuality isn’t a sin in the Bible. Question bring, how do you honestly deal with what Jesus hmself is recorded saying about marriage – rooted in creation, God making man and woman one flesh.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Hey. That was me. Sorry, when I don’t hear back, I attempt to delete them. Unsuccessfully. If last night was anything like this morning, I had around 25 browser tabs open. Facebook, email, my work site, Adobe, other blogs, and at least ten wiki and dictionary tabs fact-checking and spelling.

            This is my normal. I do it professionally and for friends. That’s a lot more than you wanted to know, but I get turned around sometimes. :) Ford1968 wrote you a great response over at Unfundamentalist Christians. He’s better at theology. I thought anakinmcfly’s follow-up question was interesting. He asks really hard ones. Stumps me a lot.

          • Matt

            That’s exactly why I really like anakin. Also, he’s a super nice guy. Can’t go wrong with smart and kind.

    • Mark

      Daniel, what are your career plans with your BJU diploma?

      • Guest

        I currently work for a Fortune 500 company.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          Hi Daniel! That’s way cool. I worked for several of Forbes’ top 50 companies that run the world. (You can Google that.) They’re … why I can afford to chat on the Internet instead of looking for a job right now.

          I think John, below, is really interested in why this is your first time.

          • Guest

            Thank-you.

        • Mark

          Which one, Wal-Mart, McDonalds? Getting a job with a Fortune 500 company is no major accomplishment, considering there are many menial low paying jobs at many Fortune 500 companies.
          I grew up with people who quoted “Doctor Bob” more than the bible. Their kids went to BJU. One told me she was working for a major international bank. Turns out she was working at the call center for Bank of America. Another kid gave up a full scholarship to John Hopkins and now manages an auto parts shop. Unfortunately for him, it’s not a Fortune 500 company.

          • Guest

            Mark, just stop. Where I work is not relevant to this conversation. If you really want to know, figure it out yourself.

          • Levi
          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Mm hm. That’s why my imaginary business cards read “Closet academic and spokesbunny” and I’ve never logged back in to LinkedIn. With my full name, it still takes twenty Google screens to hit me. There are a bunch, including an Australian judge and a prolific journalist. I don’t really want to be found.

          • Guest

            This guy gets it.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Are you sure, Daniel? You should click through on Levi’s comments. I’m fairly certain he’s disagreeing with you.

          • Guest

            Yes. I told someone else to figure out where I work since I didn’t believe my employment relevant. Levi found out where I work. He gets it.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            OK. Because what I see is he made you an example of what he disagrees with on a national stage in front of your peers. I’ve done it. He doesn’t need to apologize. I just wondered if you saw it, too.

            His philosophy pre-reqs vis-a-vis his previous comments are solid. I’m honestly not sure.

          • Levi

            In this case, I was merely providing a public service. Mark made an issue was made of Daniel’s employment, which he was inexplicably reticent to share here despite the fact that he’s plastered it all over the Internet.

            But Daniel…

            Congrats on the job. I’m sure you’ll be able to afford lots of nice robes, Wii U games, and you Netflix subscription. (I’ll spoil the first season of Arrow for you: Malcom Merlin destroys The Glades and a bunch of the people in it. And the inspiration isn’t the Dark Knight, it’s the Green Arrow — I thought that was kind of obvious.)

            For what it’s worth, I mostly in agreement with John Shore on this one. Any unaccredited school that nonetheless holds itself out as an institution of higher learning is dishonest and ultimately defrauds its students of their tuition and time.

            That’s not to say that real learning can’t take place there. I’m sure it does sometimes. I’m sure you learned a lot about computers there — but you seem like a smart enought guy that you would have done well wherever you went. The fact is, your degree is by definition not as valuable since you went to an unaccredited school. Unless you want to be a fundamentalist pastor, it raises the barrier to entry higher than you think.

            Not only that, Bob Jones is a deeply unhealthy place, There are just too many current and recent stories of abuse out there. Moreover, your support of (participation in?) a self-appointed network of students and faculty who inform on others for violating a draconian and irrational code of conduct and cheerlead for BJU administration is very disturbing.

            Does that about cover it?

          • Guest

            I didn’t share it because he should have been able to figure it out for himself and because it is irrelevant in this discussion.

            Fortunately, I’m on season 2 of Arrow. And obviously, Oliver is the Green Arrow. By inspiration, I meant the general feeling I got when watching the pilot was similar to the feeling I got when watching TDK. Having watched further, I would no longer make that claim.

            I see your point of view regarding BJU’s accreditation and such. I won’t argue with that even though I only partially agree. My main issue is his misrepresentation of the students at BJU.

            Eh, you don’t need a degree to write software, so I think I’ll be fine. Many software developers don’t even list their college after 3 years of experience. If it does become a real hindrance, then I’ll probably pursue a Masters at some point.

            I’m sorry, but are you talking about BOJE in your last complete paragraph? It is really just a group of students that want to have a positive spiritual influence on the school. They don’t enforce any rules. If they did, I wouldn’t like them. In any case, I’m not apart of that. My “support” of them was really just my initial thoughts. And trust me, the stories of abuse are very troubling to me as well. I’m just hoping and praying that positive change happens as a result of the GRACE investigation.

            Yeah, I suppose that covers it more or less. Hope I was able to clear up some misconceptions. +1 for knowing how to look people up on the internet. BTW, posting here has definitely helped increase hits to my blog and LinkedIn account.

          • Mark

            Can I have fries with that?

          • Guest

            Mark, I hope that there aren’t any Wal-Mart employees or fast-food workers browsing these comments because they would likely be very offended by your comments.

            Ironically, I didn’t expect to get bullied in the comments of an anti-bullying blog post.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Hey Daniel. That’s called a no true Scotsman fallacy. A couple of men played rough. I’ve been in this pool hall a long time; you get used to it. I, for one, have no interest in converting you. You seem bright and motivated, wherever you went to school.

  • Bob Black

    Can students at BJU even access this blog through the campus network? Just curious…

    • Steph

      Yup.

    • Guest

      As a student, I could browse reddit.

  • Steph

    Why can’t we just love one another as brother and sister’s in Christ. Let’s all just stop looking at denomination and realize that instead of picking out flaws let’s just love one another as Christ loves you.

    I am a student at Bob Jones and it has made tremendous strides. Unfortunately they have a very dark past, but Jesus forgives. Let’s not think we are better then one another and just love each other. What are the two greatest commandments?

    I am disappointed on the lack of love. I am not an enemy of you Josh Shore, if you are a true believer, I am a sister in Christ.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Steph, John has a plethora of love. He’s the non-judgiest guy I’ve ever not met IRL. It freaks people out. It freaked me out when I first started reading him. He’s researched BJU. A lot. If you click through on the link, you can see. It’s, like, link-o-rama. One of the women who runs Unfundamentalist Christians was raised in an IFB feeder school.

      So no one here is saying you’re not a true believer. Promise.

      • Guest

        He doesn’t come across as judgmental to me. That isn’t the problem here. My issue is that he is trying to convince BJU students that they are victims while at the same time making numerous assumptions regarding their daily thought processes. I mean, really? There are many, many real victims out there that need love, help, and positive attention. Convincing me that I’m a victim isn’t going to help anyone.

        • Steph

          I totally agree with you Daniel.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          That’s an astute observation, Daniel. You probably don’t know this, but one of John’s early books was Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships and How To Defeat Each One of Them. At the time, I was in an abusive relationship. I didn’t know it. I could only read a couple of paragraphs at a time, it made me so uncomfortable. I’m not sure I ever finished it.

          I still don’t think of myself as a victim. I think of myself as someone who was numb then. Asleep. If you and Steph don’t feel that way, good. It sucked. I’m very sure John isn’t accusing you of being weak or wrong.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            When I read the original article that eventually led to that book, I had just left an abusive relationship. That article shook me to my core, and I’ve been a John Shore fan ever since.

      • Steph

        I know girlie. I can completely understand where people get their ideas from, but honestley not everyone is like what he said them to be like. BJU has been such a blessing in my life, and Dr. Stephen Jones is a man that has really turned the school around for the better. He is a loving man, and although I respect everyone’s opinion, it is just sad make judgement’s, which is what he did.

        Grouping each individual. I will be in a church that preaches the Gospel, and loves others. If it’s an IFB, then that’s where the Lord want’s me. I appreciate your loving way you put your comment though. :)

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          “Girlie”?

          • Jenni Frencham

            apostrophes? (or maybe I should say apostrophe’s – ugh, it hurt just to type that)

          • Steph

            I guess that was a too casual of a response, aye?

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            For the record, I didn’t have a problem with it. I’m totally a girly girl.

    • Eric Boersma

      This is exceptionally worth reading.

      http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/on-being-divisive

    • sk

      your comment, wondering if he is a “true believer” puts you right in the article

  • Mark

    John, another reason to avoid these colleges is they can be poison on the resume. Image a gay or African-American looking though resumes, and he or she sees one from Bob Jones University among the hundreds applying for just one job opening? That resume is going in the recycling bin.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      A friend who’s a major fundraiser — for NASA telescopes, for heaven’s sake — just posted this. I would argue you are correct. http://imgur.com/gallery/JK0xC8r

    • Jenni Frencham

      Yeppers. Imagine anyone with a brain in their head looking through resumes. Seeing BJU on there is a great reason to reduce the pile of applicants. I almost want to leave it off my resume, even though I live on the opposite side of the country.

  • Abigail

    I am a professing Christian. God is in my heart and has loved me and led me to where I am today. I’ve been a part of many different denominational backgrounds from charismatic to fundamentalist. Through this I know that there is good in every denomination because God is there. And God is at Bob Jones University, in the hearts of those seeking after Him. And people like that are there.

    I am a student at Bob Jones currently, and I get asked questions like these a lot:
    “Are there people there who are filled with the Holy Spirit?”
    “Does anyone there actually have a relationship with God?”
    “Is there any hope they’ll see past legalism?”

    I want to put these to rest here and now. And the answer to all of these is “YES.” I’ve met so many wonderful people here who have such a deep love for God. I’ve learned so much about His body. We are guilty of what we accuse them of. We separate from them. We judge them when in reality all we know is what some angry people posted on the internet.
    God loves fundamentalists. He has told me multiple times all the good He sees in these people.

    These people are wonderful people who have dreams with God. I came in with this frustrated mindset, but I’ve found God more here than I ever expected. His love is at this school. I joke about the rules and the past of the school, but there’s so much good here too, and God’s only just begun unlocking all He has in store.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Thanks for chiming in. As I’ve “bragged” elsewhere below, I attended the completely opposite college in “official” ethos. My joke? Harbingers of useless information since 1926.™ We make fun of it all the time.

  • Jackson Condrey

    I graduated from Bob Jones in 2008. There’s no question that there is lots of crappy theology there, and there are definitely certain people who can be spiritually abusive. But the majority of this article is wayyy off the mark.

    Nobody that I met there was “living in fear.” The students weren’t afraid of rock music, movies, or sexuality. Honestly, probably something like 90% of the student body listened to “secular” music and went to movies. The students of BJU are not nearly so insular, ignorant, and awkward as you seem to be trying to convince them that they are.

    It’s easy to bash BJU on the internet. It seems to be all the rage these days to act like Bob Jones is the Supreme Nexus of Evil in the universe. It makes great click bait for blogs.

    Are there things at BJU that are completely ridiculous? Absolutely. Have some people had terrible experiences there? No doubt. Are there better places to go for college? Of course. But it still isn’t nearly as horrid as you’re trying to make it out to be.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Um. You know how weird it is to type, “College kids listened to music and saw movies,” is. Don’t you? And, as I’ve typed at least 18 million times on this blog, go to college. Any college is better than no college. Do what you have to do.

      • Jackson Condrey

        Yeah. I never would’ve had to type it if John hadn’t made the weird assertion that BJU students are somehow afraid of those things.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          Do you know how bored I need to be to deliberately misuse quotation marks? And none of you mega-super-literate BJU defenders called me on it?

          • Jackson Condrey

            Your reply doesn’t really make any sense. From what I think I can decipher, you’re making a vague reference to the fact that you didn’t quote me word for word, and that I should somehow have gone all grammar nazi on you and pointed it out. Of course that doesn’t really have anything to do with what we were talking about, but whatever. Have a nice day.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Hey, Jackson. Thanks for correcting “Jon” above. It is extremely disturbing when the graduates of a klassy religious institution like BJU can’t spell John. Plus, now we can add “shame” and “stealth maneuvers” to the Christian values your alma mater taught you.

          • Jackson Condrey

            It was a typo, which I edited a few minutes after I made my reply to you. I have no idea what you’re referring to in your last sentence. This conversation is getting pretty tedious. Peace out.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            My bad. I reviewed this post’s entire comment thread around midnight. John wasn’t changed until this morning. I fix my typos a lot around here; I’m only human. Normally takes 10 seconds. The interwebz is weird, right?

  • Edna Mose

    I’m a student at Bob Jones..and I speak for most of the student body… we DONT live in fear…why?? Because we live for a God that is greater than our fears, worries, doubts, extc. Just saying. Please re-evaluate yourself before you put it out.

  • Cara

    I’ve never once felt that way going to Bob Jones for 4 year. I’ve met the kindest people here that love God and care about me. Of course not everyone is perfect, but I know Bob Jones does its best to teach us about Christ

  • dlegr250

    John,

    Since you have taken time to write this article, I have taken time to respond. I would request a response to my comment because I strongly disagree with many of your points and am interested in an intelligent discussion about the facts.

    As a Christian and a graduate of BJU, I feel it is proper for me to respond to the above post. You are free to your views and opinions on matters, just as I am. I’m never going to say you are never entitled to express yourself. But if one is going to have an intelligent conversation about a topic, they will need to bring more to the table than just opinion.

    You start off by saying you’re like me, and then right off the bat tell me that BJU is guilty of bullying gay people. Can you please defend that point or is it just a wild accusation? When gay groups came to campus, they were not allowed on campus because they wanted to have a discussion about the topic of homosexuality. The Bible is very clear on this; there isn’t anything to discuss. In fact we actually sent them lunch while they were outside the campus protesting. No one from the campus as far as I can recall said/did anything negative to the group. We just went about business as usual. The rules from BJU are pretty clear on the topic regarding homosexuality. Since it’s a religious institute that claims the Bible as its basis AND it’s a private organization, they had every right to refuse access to anyone on campus. It’s not “hiding knowledge” from its students; it’s taking a stance against an immoral and anti-Biblical viewpoint.

    Your next point is that I (graduates from such schools) are bullied and live in fear. Have you actually thought that fear is a good thing? I would argue the overwhelming number of laws that any government has is based on fear. You do this, the government does that. You walk down the street and randomly knock people out, they whip out a gun and defend themselves which may result in your death. Life is full of cause/effect relationships. So yes, I do live in fear of a great number of things: every government law that has consequences, not showing up to work on time because they have the right to fire me, etc… This is nothing unique to IFB (your term I’ll use for ease of use) nor is it wrong. Every government in the world runs on this principle. Why is it wrong?

    With regards to “secular” items, the handbook from BJU and the staff clearly state at the beginning of every year that they are not expecting someone to live their lives this way after college…they clearly state that this is a training environment and their hope is to provide you a system where you can develop apart from outside influences that might hamper you. I’m a Marine officer. The training we went through was unique. But the training was not “real”. We weren’t expected to yell and scream and act like crazy people forever…it was just during that training that we had those expectations. And the training had a purpose to it. BJU is not very different from this; it has a purpose, and it creates an artificial environment where it believes it can best accomplish that purpose, just like the military does.

    I’ve watched many “secular” movies. But you’ll have to define that term better. If by secular you mean rampant nudity or blatant immorality, then yes, I would agree that is something to stay away from. With regards to music…that’s such a huge topic in itself. Suffice to say that the majority of students (and probably a large number of the staff) have their own personal views on music but because they WILLINGLY signed up to attend this college, they put away some freedoms of choice for a while and agreed to abide by the school’s standards while a student. I find your assessment of the average BJU student as an ignorant innocent who has no clue what’s out there to be absurd. Are there people like that? Yes. But there’s just as many who know exactly what’s outside the walled-in gates of BJU (and yes, the barbed wire DOES point inwards at some points ;)

    Knowledge…well, with PhD family members who attended school at BJU and other siblings who each make 100k+ a year, I would say our “knowledge” is pretty good. What knowledge, exactly, do I fear? You’re telling me that BJU is hiding knowledge from me. Well, here is your opportunity to inform me of my lack of knowledge. So what have I missed? I’m not being sarcastic; I’m curious. What information do you have or have access to that BJU forbade me from having?

    You tell me that the titles the teachers have are meaningless there…can you please provide me a list of which “Drs” are lying to me about their title? I need exact names of teachers, where they got their credentials, and how they are lying to me. Because most of the professors I encountered actually had professional degrees from *gasp* SECULAR schools! I didn’t encounter every teacher, so maybe there are some who claim a title they didn’t earn. Prove it. Please provide the list of names.

    God’s punishment…isn’t it interesting that Christ Himself spent more time talking about hell than heaven? See the above points…fear is a good thing. It helps keep people in check. If I had no “fear” of anything I would do stupid things. That’s because life has consequences. Our actions lead to results, either good or bad. I fear God but I also love God for what He has done. Just as I feared/loved my parents growing up. The same people who held me tight and tucked me into bed were the same ones to punish me for my wrong-doing. I fail to see the problem here? It seems your claim is that we ONLY fear God. That is not true. You’re going to have to prove to me that BJU teaches fear of God without also teaching the love of God. And you’re going to have a hard time convincing me of that, because I was there for several years and I know for a fact they presented both.

    With regards to money…yeah, it’s expensive. The question is, “is it worth it?” And that answer varies from person to person. Now how have they hidden their money from the government? If I recall, BJU doesn’t have tax-exempt status. And yes, they probably do a lot of financial wizardry to minimize their taxes…you know what? It’s legal, so why are you attacking them for it? Why don’t you instead to talk to Warren Buffet because he’s very outspoken about his 15% tax rate because he invests in long-term investments providing him dividends. It’s not illegal; you and I can both do that right now. So what illegal actions has BJU taken right now that demonstrates they are hiding money from the government? I’m going to need the names of people involved and the records to verify it.

    Where does BJU state that women are inherently inferior to men? Prove that statement. And prove to me that it’s something unique to BJU as it is now and not just a cultural norm that has been changing across the entire country. If women were intended to only be wives and mothers, why does the school allow women to major in pretty much anything except select theology degrees? There may be a few majors, but I don’t currently know of any. I have sisters and friends who are all working professionals, who are doing VERY well in their fields of study.

    This God who loves us and wants to provide nothing but unconditional love to us is also the Being Who will someday open up the books and provide an account for EVERYTHING we have done and judge us unless we have humbled ourselves and submitted to His Son Jesus Christ.

    In your article you have attacked me and my family: that’s the reason I have taken the time to respond to you. I’m simply asking you to back up your statements with proof. I think you have made accusations without proper support. Now if you can provide the supports and reasons as to why you have written your above points, I would welcome them. If I shouldn’t send my kids to BJU someday, please let me know why. But until you provide factual accounts to substantiate each of your points, you have done nothing more than attack fellow Christians without provocation.

    BJU isn’t perfect. There are things I hated about it and sometimes it just plain sucked. So does the Marine Corps sometimes. Know what, so does life sometimes. I’m not an ardent supporter of BJU, but I can tell you they have made a lot of good changes in years past. They’ve made mistakes and I fully agree there. But for you as a “fellow Christian” to come out and accuse them like this without support is uncalled for.

    I just want you to prove your points.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      This entire rant sounds like a PTSD flashback. “Your next point is that I (graduates from such schools) are bullied and live in fear. Have you actually thought that fear is a good thing?” is classic Stockholm Syndrome. This morning’s comments activity from BJU was from 7:33 to 7:55. I don’t believe those four simultaneous comments were a coincidence.

      Congratulations! Y’all proved how right John is. BJU does prey on the weak, sick, and ignorant. Then they send them into the world like lambs to the slaughter.

      • dlegr250

        Elizabeth,

        I’m a graduate from BJU who responded to a man writing an attack against the school I graduated from. He has labeled me his enemy and I simply ask him to back up what he claims. No one asked me to come here and comment; I simply don’t like folks accusing me without a basis for their accusations.

        My reference to the Marines has nothing to do with getting a response; it was to demonstrate that many organizations have a period of training that they do not expect one to carry on past that training. BJU is the same way and they tell their students that at the beginning of the semester. I have no affiliation with BJU or their faculty.

        So do you have any facts or support to back up the claims John Shore made with regards to BJU and his accusations? If you have the evidence, I’m listening. Insulting me and swearing at me doesn’t further this conversation at all. If you wish to discuss the topic at hand, please provide documentation that proves BJU is guilty of the accusations. If you cannot I am left to conclude you have none and are just spreading discord.

        If you do have such evidence, I truly want to hear it.

        I find it very reasonable and rational to ask John Shore to verify his statements. If you have a problem with that then this is not a discussion but merely an outlet for you to tear apart the church with unsubstantiated claims.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          Every single BA, MA, MDiv, and PhD listed in the Seminary faculty is BJU. That makes them ‘fake’ Drs. That answers your paragraph 8. Now I’m done baiting the trolls. If you noticed, no one but me has fed you for days.

          • dlegr250

            Elizabeth,

            The seminary is separate from the college university. They are not one and the same. if John Shore is going to accuse BJU professors of having fake degrees, he needs to clarify and specify his point since Bob Jones University is not the same that as Bob Jones Seminary. And why would a degree from BJU be “fake”?

            You seem very angry but I’m not sure why you seem so angry at me. As far as I know, we do not personally know each other. If you want to reasonably discuss issues I am all for that. But if you’re just going to insult me without providing support for your accusations, how does this act in accord with Christ’s teachings? Is this how a Christian behaves?

  • Kyle Grant

    I’m a student at BJU. I’m going to attempt to be gracious here. I must also say I’m not a proponent of IFB. I don’t serve BJU, and I don’t serve IFB, I serve Christ as you do also. However, in my loyalty to Christ I see loyalty to His body and I see none of that in this post. No doubt, you will claim it is because you are loyal to the body you wrote this because IFB is a detriment to Christianity and you wanted to warn everyone.

    I do think it’s most interesting how educated you are on BJU students. This post was most enlightening to me. I never knew I was afraid of all these things. I must thank you for your keen analysis of the things I never knew about me. There is one thing, though, to be transparent that many students here face.
    We face the fear of man.
    Why? Well, because we are college students battling our own pride. We are aware of how people such as yourself think of our school. We are trying to please God and get an excellent education and people like you are making humility an even greater battle for us.
    We also face gossip.
    Why? Because we are fleshly and love to elevate ourselves over others. And thank you, thank you so much for giving opportunity for this and for accomplishing gossip so spiritually over the net.
    We also face lack of unity.
    Why? Because in our pride we think we have a right to splinter the body that Christ created as a result of the cross. We create a lack of unity with our words, our little opinions that cause weaker Christians to fall, and our spiritualized (yet ever so convincing) propaganda.
    We also struggle with not being a stumblingblock.
    Thank you for helping so many believers not stumble with this post.

    You did not help them, except perhaps to stumble with a judgmental thought, and maybe that thought was even towards you.

    You are wrong, sir. In your statements about us, and in your spirit. We have an enemy, and he is God’s enemy. When we make God’s people our enemy, no matter how different they are from us, we make God’s enemy successful. It is not more spiritual to have what we perceive to be theology if we cannot be better like Christ with it.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      #twitterstorm

    • Alliecat04

      But you aren’t getting an excellent education…

      Given that you are being taught things that aren’t true, and taught to reject truth itself, you would be better off getting no education at all than an education from BJU.

      As for splintering the body of Christ, that’s a very silly statement coming from any Protestant denomination. That horse left the stable years ago.

      • Kyle Grant

        Well, in response I would say you either have very little knowledge of BJU, or very little knowledge of what truth is. And, I certainly don’t think you have very little knowledge of truth. So it’s not that at all. I’m not brainwashed by anyone. I don’t pretend to agree with everything at BJU. However, being here (which automatically gives me a little more empirical knowledge of Mr. Shore and those who are skeptical and their source of information are bias and emotional blogs…like, the one we’re commenting on) gives me a pretty good idea of what is being said and how it is being said. Truth is given, and truth is given in love. I don’t want to make this about defending BJU. I’m saying it reveals a great deal of spiritual immaturity to attack on the basis of what one doesn’t know. I am also not saying you don’t know anything about BJU. I’m simply saying, I’m here and I know.

        The truth is this, this post was written with theological presuppositions and personal bias hoping that everyone who is about as familiar with BJU as Mr. Shore is would buy it. And, unfortunately, I read posts like this and think of what God says He hates in Proverbs 6 (oh no, I used Scripture…I must be a legalist). Judging motive is one thing…seeing motive is another, and posts like this scream the heart behind the words.

        Honestly, I’m a little surprised by your last statement…I should think any statement seeming indifferent about splintering unity is “silly.” When has it become acceptable to put believers and fellow-image bearers down, no matter how differently we may see something? If it has, perhaps God’s people should try to get that particular horse back in the stable more than riding our over-spiritualized hobby-horses or beating dead ones that make no difference.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          Hi Kyle. I am all over this comment thread providing specific, verifiable answers to questions. I’ve gotten exactly 0% hard facts from BJU students. Talk about beating a dead horse.

          • Kyle Grant

            What kind of facts do you want? I mean, facts are obviously essential to a good post..look how many are in the actual blog post above! Oh, actually, I see exactly 0% hard facts from Mr. Shore. I can give them. But honestly, facts would defend BJU and I’m here to defend Christ’s body, which seems precisely what most people are here to attack.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            I believe in the same body of Christ. It was hung on a cross and died for my sins. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. John cites tons of research through the embedded link, and many commenters linked statistics as well as personal accounts to back up their opinions. Stop doubting our faith and start proving yours. If you can give facts, go for it. I don’t debate theological semantics. Preach to your own choir.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            Elizabeth,

            I was tempted to ask, who sits on the left hand of the Father in heaven? Figured others had as well. So I googled it.

            Nothing particularly satisfying there. So the metaphor remains incomplete.

            Not complaining though. It serves nicely as a koan.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            LOL. My Christian God is very zen. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

            I always thought it was Peter. He was the first apostle Jesus ordained, the first disciple to enter the empty tomb, and he holds the keys to the pearly gates. Pure conjecture.

    • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

      What is the nature of this “Body of Christ” that you reference? Is it infinite? What kind of infinite? Like a mathematical series of similar numbers? Or, the very essence of Infinity. The Singularity of Now.

      What is the nature of “God’s Enemy”? Where does it come from and what sustains it? Is it outside of God? How could that be? Is God All or not? Or, is this god who has an enemy, only a pseudo god? And why would we set our sights so low? Jesus certainly didn’t.

      What does your school specialize in teaching?

      How much of your education addresses the above questions?

      • Kyle Grant

        I’m going to choose not to answer all your questions specifically. However if you ask me to I will, because the simple answer is yes BJU does discuss each of these quandaries and many others that are unavoidable within orthodox theology. Each student is required to take a course in doctrines and each ministerial student is required to take systematic theology (undergrad and grad level). Both of these classes are designed to introduce Christian theology and explain ambiguities.

        The school specializes in (but not limited to) nursing, science, theology, accounting, fine arts, education, and English.

        I am not punting your questions. I truly could answer them. I’m avoiding because quite honestly those questions matter to intellectuals and professors…and while they are interesting, I don’t think God will ask me any of them when I’m giving an account of my life. Perhaps the questions we should be asking are things like “how much of your education promotes sanctification?” “How much of your education emphasizes personal evangelism?” “How is BJU keeping God’s glory central?”

        We do not set our sights low by keeping a proper, practical perspective of what Jesus deemed “high.” In fact I would argue the opposite, by making theology so high, we have denigrated our theology because we dwell so singularly on the high, we detract from the simplicity of grace and the gospel. Yes, it is deep, but what was “high” to Christ is His body, service to people, the poor, souls, teaching, and His Father. We miss those because we have falsely defined “high.”

        • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

          Thank you. Good response.

          I am far from representing the intelligentsia and am not a professor. My questions reflect the path of “Grace” as I experience it.

          I feel obligated to jab at “orthodox theology” when I find that it does not serve to awaken us to the essential “Singularity” of God.

          Hence my questions.

          But my use of the word “low” may have set things off in an unfruitful direction. Language is difficult in all spheres. Especially when approaching the unknowable.

          Again, Thank you.

          So,..

          How does your education at BJU promote your sanctification? (What is the nature of sanctification as you currently understand it?)

          How much of your education is about your personal evangelism? ( I wanted to use the word training here instead of education. Should I have?)

          How does BJU keep God’s glory central?

  • Matt

    Since we’ve heard from a lot of BJU alumni, both past and present, I was wondering if a few of them could help me out with some questions about the school.

    I was looking through the faculty and their credentials, and I noticed a (to me) disturbing trend. Without exception, no female faculty member holds a PhD from Bob Jones University. None. All of the women who hold Doctors of Philosophy received them from other schools. Some of them even went all the way through their Master’s degrees at BJU and then went elsewhere for a doctorate. But there are plenty of men (especially in the seminary) who went straight through to the top, and I mean that literally and figuratively. Based on the entire body of faculty as listed currently, it looks like the only terminal degree that BJU will bestow on women is an Ed.D. There’s certainly nothing wrong with with the degree itself. But as we’ve seen, BJU has a habit of giving honorary PhDs to the men that it wants to be in power.

    To me as an outsider, this has the troubling implication that BJU wants to keep women out of the highest echelons of power at the school by restricting their access to credentials that are considered important. It also squares neatly with the apparent thinking that working women are only fit to be nurses and teachers.

    So, is this true? Does BJU prevent its female students from pursuing or being granted a PhD at the school?

    Secondly, obviously some of the female faculty do have terminal degrees. BJU has a history of calling the men who hold honorary PhDs “Dr.” even though that title is reserved for those who actually went through a program, wrote a dissertation, defended it in front of their peers, and all that. Are the women who have earned terminal degrees allowed to be called “Dr.” or is that still reserved for men? Are the rules different for those women who earned an Ed.D at BJU and those who have PhDs from other universities?

    • Guest

      I know many women right now who are pursuing PhD’s is many fields.

      • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

        How many? Which fields? How long pursued?

    • Jenni Frencham

      The female professors who have earned doctorates – either at BJU or elsewhere – are referred to as “Dr.” Most of the students either don’t know or don’t care where their teacher got whatever decree has given them the title. I am not sure whether BJU would discourage women from pursuing PhDs; I got a BS and an MEd from Bob Jones, then I stopped going to school so I could start teaching. I had considered going back to continue my education, but then I was planning to pursue an Ed.D, so it’s interesting that you noticed the difference.

      • Matt

        Thanks for your help, Jenni. It just really stuck out at me and I wanted to clear things up a bit more.

  • Mandy Boudreaux

    As someone who has left the IFB, I agree with some of what you said about bullying, abuse, the cult-like following of men, etc. It is something that should be spoken up against.

    But take a minute to read your own “letter.” Can you not hear the arrogance and condescension fairly dripping from your own words? I hope you aren’t actually trying to win anyone over with it. It sounds entirely too much like another group of people I’m very familiar with.

    • harrisco

      Bullies love apologists. They also love to switch around the roles, so they seem more victimized than victimizing. It is part of their game: Someone calls a bully to account and the bully asks ‘Why are you picking on me? It’s not fair…’

      John used strong words, yes. Equivocation and understatement in the face of bullying gain nothing, though. Bullying needs a quick, sharp, forceful rebuttal–and absolutely no passive voice. Bullies relish the hesitation, the doubt, the maybe-I-shouldn’t-speak-up vibe of people who know they should. (Anybody walking on eggshells this Thanksgiving? Bullies adore eggshells. Uncle Frank the family thug loves it when his crew of apologists and ‘peacekeepers’ shows up to keep young Anna the in-law from telling him where he can stick it…)

      Mandy, with all due respect, if you have a problem with bullying in the IFB, your first and sharpest complaint should be directed to the bullies in the IFB, not to John’s call to bring them to account. Step back and realize that your response to a post about bullies was to defend the bullies against being bullied–in a false equivalence that makes John’s tough rhetoric roughly of the same significance as the IFB hierarchy’s actions. Your critique of the IFB is oddly restrained, even doubtful.

      Your complaint is that John is being condescending to bullies? Condescension is entirely appropriate toward bullies. What stance is more appropriate? Bullying, abuse of vulnerable people, accomplished in the name of Jesus, who rejected that kind of treatment for the people he loved–well, what can you do when you see this heartbreak but cry, ‘Stop. Enough.’?

      • Mandy Boudreaux

        You’ve certainly read quite a lot into the three whole sentences I wrote that weren’t positive about this post. Quite a lot that I didn’t say or even come close to implying (and saying “with all due respect” doesn’t excuse it). Nowhere did I defend the IFB, IFB bullying, or any part of the IFB.

        What you seem to have missed is that this post was written, according to the author, not to the bullies, but to those who are actually being bullied by IFB colleges. If you ignore the tone completely, it claims to be trying to convince those being bullied to leave those schools because there is something much better outside of it. What I was commenting on was the tone itself, which is arrogant and condescending. If a student attending, or thinking of attending, an IFB college were to actually come across this post, it very likely wouldn’t dissuade them. It will come across as just another “worldly/liberal Christian” who thinks they’re better then them, the kind of person that the IFB leaders who bully them are telling them to stay away from and never listen to (and yes, irony is not lost on me).

        If the true purpose of this post is to convince college students to leave their IFB college, or not to attend one in the first place, it fails. But if the only real purpose is to give those who are already out of fundamentalism (or have never been in it in the first place) another forum on which to agree among themselves, then I suppose it succeeded.

        • harrisco

          OK – with no due respect, since you object to it – John acknowledges in the letter that most IFB students who read it will not accept or understand it–so you are right that the letter “fails” in that respect. However, the letter may be a ray of light to one in a thousand. For that one, John has punched into a closed world, a stronghold. That one is very much worth the effort.

          Since you believe John’s efforts to persuade are likely to be fruitless, perhaps you will use this forum to advise those potential IFB students yourself. I ask you to step up right now and say outright to them, without equivocation, that IFB harbors and protects bullies. With whatever tone you think they might find persuasive, tell these students that they deserve better. Tell them that they do not have to accept bullying. Tell them there are places of beauty and deep faith in the world beyond IFB. Take out whatever tone seems arrogant or patronizing or worldly. Just leave the core message: IFB is a place of abuse and no one deserves abuse. They deserve better.

          I hope your influence will be persuasive if John’s is not.

          • Mandy Boudreaux

            Again, you confuse strong language and “tough love” with simply being overbearing and arrogant. That was what I was commenting on, and you immediately accused me of defending fundamentalist bullying for doing so. Take away that tone, and I actually agree with many things on this post.

            As for what I would say to those within fundamentalism who may be looking to leave (because I know that you have to at least be thinking about leaving to even read articles of this topic), I would say whole-heartedly that there is so much more to God and His grace then IFB churches and colleges want them to think. That they do not have to live in fear and guilt, and that they do not have to listen to church leaders who tell them that their thoughts and ideas don’t matter because of their gender, age, differing convictions, because those leaders don’t think that they are “spiritual enough” to think for themselves, etc. I would tell them that speaking up against bullying and reporting abuse is NOT “hurting the cause of Christ”, and appointment to a church position should never mean special privilege or protection from justice. Most of all, I would tell them that leaving the IFB is not leaving God, not by any means.

            And for those who have decided that they are leaving, I would encourage them not to become discouraged by those who claim to be the champions of people who want to leave the IFB, all while they mock and belittle them at every opportunity. No one has to choose between two such groups. Thankfully, there are many wonderful Christian people outside of both the IFB and the anti-IFB movements that will love them and help them as they grow in the grace of God.

          • harrisco

            I appreciate the response. I agree that liberals can be terribly arrogant, patronizing, smug, and self-satisfied. Some can be bullies. One of the ugliest examples of bullying I have ever encountered came from a woman who was an administrator at an Ivy League university. She was a brute. So, yes, you can certainly find bullying and arrogant disrespect of people outside fundamentalist churches.

            Is John’s letter an example? Does John’s message belong in the too-arrogant-to-read file? I am not sure how to interpret the closing line of your original comment or the final paragraph of this response. Is John bullying the IFB students, in your view? Is his tone so condescending to them that they should disregard him? Is he mocking and belittling the students and what they experience? Is he claiming to be a champion but really merely wants them to trade one place of mockery for another? I do not think so, but the students themselves will have to decide. They may find little that is compelling or persuasive in what John has written and, like you, be put off by his tone. If so, then your own voice, as one who has been in the IFB and left it, is all the more important. Your words are potentially much more persuasive to the IFB students. Like you, I hope they choose to spend their lives in places where they will grow in the grace of God and where they will be honored as creations of God, not mocked.
            Peace be with you.

          • Mandy Boudreaux

            Thank you. I’ve appreciated this conversation, and I apologize that I’ve likely come across as defensive.

            The last paragraph is simply a result of my personal experience as I left fundamentalism. There was a brief time after I had decided that I could no longer be a part of the IFB system, but was still in an IFB church. At that time, the internet was the only place where I could go to read about and discuss any of those “unapproved” ideas I was having. I found that many sites and blogs whose stated purpose was to expose the abuses and twisted doctrines of the IFB claimed they wanted to encourage people who were leaving or thinking about leaving fundamentalism, but instead they mocked and ranted against any idea that didn’t line up with their own. Often they would throw in Bible verses or spiritual sounding words to try to justify it. I was tempted to quite Christianity all together, if all I had to choose from was fundamentalists who thought they knew everything and thought they had the right to control me, and non-fundamentalists who thought they knew everything and called me an idiot for not thinking like they do.

            Thank God, it didn’t last, and I have met wonderful people (in person and online) who have helped me. And I have found better sites to read :). Sorry for the length of the explanation, but that is why it is important to me that when writing to those leaving or wanting to leave fundamentalism, that we take care to show grace. Coming from a place with so many laws and regulations, it is usually what they are looking for when they leave.

          • harrisco

            Thank you for sharing so openly. I appreciate what you have written. To explain a bit myself – That day with the college administrator, I stood mute–and by that silence I implicitly gave her more power to do what she was doing. I have regretted it ever since. I fear I erred in the other direction in my initial response here, when I read your words as suggesting that John was being patronizing to the IFB–and I responded forcefully. It turned out that your concern was with his tone toward the students–and your further explanations filled in the story. I understand more now and I appreciate more of the context. I am sorry for being very quick to judge.
            I am deeply glad that you did not turn away from Christianity altogether–after your experiences with people who dealt in laws and harsh judgments more than love and grace. I am glad you found some grace-extending people to share your journey with. Grace is so hard and judgment so easy… so I pray to become more grace-giving. I pray that the students in their own journeys find places of grace and growth as rich and rewarding as you found.
            God bless us all, step by step.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          Tone arguments are a distraction technique. You draw attention to tone instead of content. It allows others to avoid engaging with sound arguments and undermines the author’s intent. Also see: Derailment, Concern trolls.

          • Mandy Boudreaux

            Meaning: “I doesn’t matter how much of jerk I sound like when I’m writing. You can’t argue with me.”

            No, tone does play a part in writing.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            John cares not one whit how we bicker in the comments. Phazing him is like phazing a sequoia: can’t be done. He’s written at least seven books, without counting those he co-authored or ghostwrote. He’s the most-read progressive Christian on the Internet. He knows a little about tone.

            His statement’s above. That’s writing.

          • Mandy Boudreaux

            I didn’t actually think that the author of this blog was reading through the comments. I wasn’t talking to John Shore, I was talking to you. And can you hear yourself? “John has written lots of books and has a successful blog.” Therefore he is right, and someone like me can do nothing but offer his writings glowing praise? No thank you. Clearly you are a huge fan of his writing, but you should not expect everyone else to be.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Okay. Um, John reads through his comments (please see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2013/11/the-grateful-crier-thanksgiving-2013) and that’s not an accurate synopsis or use of quotation marks, but okay.

          • Mandy Boudreaux

            It’s good to hear that an author with a wide readership does read other people’s thoughts on his own writing. Like any other writing, the comments I made were merely my thoughts on the subject, nothing more. As for my grammar or punctuation mistakes, I have never been an expert on that front so I apologize.

          • anakinmcfly

            Not regarding this post in particular, but in general, I disagree about tone arguments being a distraction technique. I’m much more likely to make such comments at people whose ‘sides’ I’m on, because it impacts me how they’re presenting my point of view to others, and I’d rather it be in a way that will likely change as many minds as possible, rather than make them defensive. If, say, the Westboro church were ranting at people and sounding like jerks (which they do), it would make me happy; vs if they attempted to engage people in a gentle, caring way to tell them that they’re all going to hell for loving the wrong people. I’d be greatly concerned if the latter would happen, precisely because that’s the kind of approach that wins people over.

            Venting at bullies has its use and can be healing, as I think is the case here. But if the intent is to change minds and the audience is the unconverted, it often does the opposite: bullies don’t stop bullying because people tell them they’re bullies and scorn them for it. Bullies stop bullying when they empathize with their victims.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            Hey anakin. I’m all about venting at bullies. It’s high time they got a taste of their own medicine, and if it’s good enough for Jesus in the temple, it’s good enough for me.

            I’m referencing this, the section on seriousness specifically: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Tone_argument. “At the opposite end of the emotion spectrum, sounding emotionally detached in conversation may become tone-policed as ‘too flippant.’ Women are simultaneously labeled as overly emotional at one end, and frivolous on the other. This leaves them with two disadvantageous choices: being seen as either irrational or immature in a discussion. As there is an expectation for women to defer to men, expressing emotional detachment in one’s voice may lead to accusations of being disrespectful or sociopathic. This forces women into a balancing act.”

            That perspective is valuable in schools that expect women’s subservience. Mandy lived it. It’s a Damocles sword I was privileged to avoid.

          • anakinmcfly

            Mandy was referencing John’s post, though, and John isn’t a woman so I find it a strawman in this case. Also, there’s a lot of middle ground between insulting someone and being submissive. I get that venting can be cathartic and/or otherwise necessary at times, but I really don’t like how it more often than not leads to further hurting the victims when the bullies retaliate. Because there’s always backlash, which is the exact reason I get really concerned about this. I’ve seen so many potential allies turned away because people just insulted them rather than actively try to engage them and change their minds. It’s not ideal, sure; no one should *need* to be civil in order to be listened to. But that’s still how things work.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            LOL. Yes, I recommend civility. It… gets stuff done. You catch more flies with honey and all that. If you notice below, Mandy didn’t think John read the comments. I know, for a fact, he does. And she was “talking to me.” I am a woman. That’s why I responded as I did.

            Backlash is inevitable. I was surprised the trolls took so long. What kind of organization does BJU have? A week? I don’t include Mandy, of course. She’s got strong opinions. Good on her. We don’t need to agree on everything, any more than you and I do.

          • anakinmcfly

            Also – I think the reason why most such people don’t engage with the content is because they agree with it and thus find nothing to comment on in that area. It’s certainly the usual case for me – why bother addressing points I fully agree with -, and seems to have been the case for Mandy. It’s true that tone policing can sometimes be used as a derailment technique, but I don’t think it’s as often as people think. Most of the time it happens, it’s from people who disagree with the author’s stance to begin with and find it easier to comment on the tone. Which, ironically, is one of the main reasons I often critique tone – it gives detractors one less thing to focus on rather than the argument.

  • http://restoredtograce.wordpress.com Nate

    I’ve often read critiques of the IFB from “outsiders,” and their words reek of foreigner—curious, confused, intrigued. But John, with his only apparent connection to IFB being secondhand, has captured accurately what I felt and experienced having grown up in that world.

    Thank you for this.

  • chad

    I’m a member of an IFB church, I’m independent based on the autonomy of the local Church Christ being the head, and baptist based not because its a denomination but because its a set of beliefs backed by scripture.

    I do not like many things about about the movement, it indeed is a movement, and movements are seldom good because you tend to adhere to a movement, rather than Christ.

    I speak to their shame, that there are churches out there that have covered up sin, there are churches that are so dogmatic they shove people away from Christ instead of to Christ, but ultimately Christianity is a movement, and there are many movements that claim it, and with any movement, with any denomination, there will be problems, sin will be covered, man will be promoted to God status, pastors will be selfwilled, congregants will be selfwilled.

    We just need to focus on Christ, in Christianity and not worry so much about what the church Down the street is doing.


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