Bob Jones University shuts down year-long investigation of sexual abuse on its campus

[Note: At the end of this article I'll post updates as I learn of them.]

Perhaps you’ve heard of Bob Jones University of Greenville, South Carolina. If not it is, in short, a place where a ruling clique of bullying, arrogant, pretentious, entitled, shameless, lying, manipulative, craven, sex-obsessed, money-hungry, racist, homophobic and misogynistic men* utterly and thoroughly dominate the lives of the teenage Christian fundamentalists unfortunate enough to have been brainwashed into believing that the institution which they own and operate is anything resembling a real college.

Terrible, terrible things happen at Bob Jones University. They do, and they always have, because the men for whom it generates such prodigious profits make certain that every teaspoon of the Bible served at their school comes stirred into a cup of fear.

In January of last year, BJU decided to do something about its long-standing but increasingly public reputation as a place where male students and faculty men do not have to fear any repercussions for sexually abusing female students. So they hired a group called GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to investigate, report, and ultimately advise them on how they should respond to reported incidents of sexual abuse at BJU.

By all accounts, GRACE was and is an integrity-based organization that could be counted upon to be honest, thorough, fair, and above all protective of the BJU students with whom it would necessarily speak in the course of its investigation.

That last part is crucial. Bob Jones University students are terrified of the power elite at BJU, and none more so than any BJU student who has been the victim of sexual abuse. A student telling a representative of an outside organization about their experience with sexual abuse at BJU is like a prison inmate telling a TV reporter about abuse happening within the prison. Sure, the reporter can assure the confessing prisoner that he will remain anonymous. But the prisoner knows that once the reporter leaves he’ll still be locked in the same cell to which the warden and all the guards have the key. And should it be discovered that he talked to the reporter, he knows all too well what will happen to him.

Students at BJU were very reluctant to cooperate with the GRACE investigation of the institution at which most of them live full-time, and which controls their lives to an extent that is difficult for people outside of the world of Independent Fundamental Baptists to comprehend.

BJU publicly encouraged its students not to be afraid. Their official announcement of the investigation read in part:

We are grateful to have found GRACE, a credible, compassionate, and experienced Christian organization which conducts independent investigations and solicits unfiltered input from those who have experienced sexual abuse within Christian organizations … .

It is our prayer that this partnership with GRACE—operated with complete autonomy from Bob Jones University—will create an atmosphere of trust and complete honesty, allowing Bob Jones University to identify any cases in which we need to exercise authentic repentance and demonstrate biblical love to those we have always desired to serve to the best of our ability for the Lord’s sake.

See how nice and assuring?

For its part, GRACE, in its first big announcement about its investigation, said this:

On January 10, 2013, GRACE begins a comprehensive independent investigation into any and all complaints related to sexual abuse disclosures made to representatives of Bob Jones University and Bob Jones Academy. First and foremost, please understand that GRACE is not a representative of Bob Jones University or Bob Jones Academy, but is working independently from all parties involved. …

Please note that the scope of this investigation includes any and all instances of [adult or child] sexual abuse disclosed or otherwise known to the institution, involving members of the Bob Jones University community as either victims or alleged perpetrators. …

In order for this investigation to be thorough and comprehensive, GRACE must rely on the voluntary cooperation and assistance of any and all individuals who possess relevant information. We acknowledge and understand that some of you
may be reluctant to come forward for various reasons. Please know that GRACE will work with each and every potential witness to make the process comfortable, informal, and confidential. Without the willingness of individuals to step forward and provide information to our team, it will be impossible to uncover the necessary truths that are so fundamental to the purposes of this investigation. …

Your physical and emotional well-being must come first.

From the beginning of the investigation through April of 2013, GRACE made available an online survey about sexual abuse at BJU, which it encouraged anyone who had anything to say on the matter to complete. Furthermore, GRACE’s executive director, Boz Tchividjian, reached out to BJU alumni and others associated with the university whom he knew to have earned the trust of current and past BJU students. To a person (as far as I know) they found that Mr. Tchividjian lived up to his reputation of being sincere, dedicated to justice, and eminently trustworthy. As a result, through their social networks they spread the word that no one should hesitate to fill out the GRACE survey.

Thus assured, BJU students did exactly that.

GRACE collected and reviewed the surveys, and subsequently, as per the plan, interviewed those who’d filled out the surveys they found most pertinent.

In its November 2013 update to the investigation, GRACE reported:

As many of you are aware, the GRACE team has continued its work throughout the summer months on matters arising out of the scope of this investigation. As we enter the final months of 2013, GRACE continues to request interviews, meet with individuals who possess relevant information, collect and review witness statements and other documents, and request any other materials or information pertinent to the investigation.

Thus far, the GRACE team has completed approximately 80 in person interviews in Greenville and in Charlotte, conducted numerous phone interviews with individuals throughout the country, and reviewed all written statements and other materials submitted to us. GRACE will continue to receive information from anyone wishing to communicate with our team regarding the scope of this investigation.

Once this part of the investigatory phase is complete, the team will begin drafting the Final Report. If this process continues to progress at the same pace, GRACE anticipates completing and publishing the Final Report in the early part of 2014.

GRACE is extremely thankful to so many individuals who have cooperated and communicated candidly with our team. We also continue to be appreciative of Bob Jones University for its continued support of this historical independent process.

Throughout the world of Independent Fundamental Baptists, the entire GRACE investigation had been electrifying news. It was really happening! A real organization, headed by a good man who sought real justice, had put together all the information and testimony necessary to prove that Bob Jones University was without question an unsafe place for females. And GRACE had been able to do what it had because so many who had so much to lose by cooperating with its investigation had put aside their fears, trusted in the process, bravely stepped up, and said what they knew. And most amazing of all, Bob Jones University had to acknowledge the validity of the inevitably damning results of the GRACE investigation.

It was really unbelievable. Finally, the heart and truth of Bob Jones University would be revealed to the world.

And, sure enough, earlier today it was.

Today GRACE released a document titled GRACE Independent Investigation – Notice of Termination. It reads:

With a very heavy heart, GRACE announces that on January 27th, 2014, we received a ‘Notice of Termination’ from Bob Jones University.

This ‘Notice’ took GRACE by complete surprise as there had been no prior indications from BJU that termination was even being considered. Furthermore, this termination occurred days before GRACE was to conduct the last interviews of this 13-month investigation and begin drafting the final report scheduled for publication in March.

Despite repeated requests, GRACE has not been informed of why the agreement was terminated.However, due to the fact that GRACE certainly wishes to keep all options on the table in order to complete what has been started, we have spent the last week in communication with BJU and we remain open to continued dialogue.

At this point, we are most concerned about the potential impact of this termination on those who participated in the investigation and are waiting for the final report. We grieve with those whose hopes will be crushed should this independent process remain incomplete. Please know that we heard your voice and it was not spoken in vain. GRACE offers its assurance that we will do our utmost to protect your confidences in the interviews and surveys from unauthorized use or disclosure. You have honored us with your courage and trust. We are privileged to have sat with each of you.

GRACE will post updates should the current situation change. Above all, we continue to have hope in the One who makes all things new and never lets us go.

The GRACE Team
February 6, 2014

The counterpart release from BJU was a statement called Bob Jones University Terminates Agreement with GRACE, which in part reads:

… Over the last several months, we grew concerned about how GRACE was pursuing our objectives, and on Jan. 27, 2014, BJU terminated its contract with GRACE. …

BJU sincerely appreciates all current and former students who participated in this initiative thus far, and the University regrets any delay BJU’s cancellation of its agreement with GRACE may have on this important project.

We grieve with those who have suffered abuse in their past, and we desire to minister the grace of Christ to them. Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength.

The attentive general reader will note the phrase, “… we grew concerned about how GRACE was pursuing our objectives.” Italics mine.

The heart of anyone familiar with how the Independent Fundamental Baptists threatens its own will quicken at that final sentence of the BJU statement. Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength is a veiled threat, a blow expertly administered to leave no visible bruise. What it is ominously reminding those attuned to its message is that it is always dangerously ludicrous to turn anywhere but toward God for help, justice, or comfort. And no one conversant in the language of the IFB or Bob Jones University doubts that by “God” the men who crafted this message meant themselves.

A great many students and former students of Bob Jones University will not be sleeping tonight. Or tomorrow night either. They will be too afraid to.

——————————

UPDATE #1: Today (Feb. 7) resigned-but-still-there president of BJU, Stephen Jones, spoke on BJU’s firing of GRACE. Here’s what he said:

 

Money quotes from Stephen’s statement:

We grew concerned that in the process GRACE had begun going beyond the original outlined intentions. And so we wanted to sit down and talk about them, because it had gone askew. And so we terminated our agreement with GRACE … . Since the termination we have intended to immediately negotiate a new contract with GRACE that would enable them to complete the review to achieve our objectives.

. . .  We have not shared the reasons for our termination … with GRACE or with anybody else, because that needs to happen at the table, so that we can fully explain it, and they can have the opportunity to hear it there the first time. … [GRACE] is our partner in this.

We are committed to achieving our original objectives. …

I’m most greatly concerned today for the people who’ve been interviewed in the process. Which is one of the reasons we wanted to deal with GRACE … because there were people who shared horrific personal stories of abuse with GRACE. … GRACE has done a great job at making those people feel at home, and secure, and free to share those stories. … I just want to reiterate that we are committed to identifying and reaching out to those individuals.

In other words:

“We hired GRACE to look into allegations of sexual abuse at BJU. Just as GRACE was concluding its 13-month investigation, we decided that we were dissatisfied with them. We wanted to talk with GRACE about our unhappiness with them, but instead decided to say nothing to them before suddenly firing them. But we still very much want to work with GRACE. We fired GRACE so that we could immediately rehire GRACE. We have no idea why they would have a problem with that.

“We’re going to find out from GRACE what students they talked to, and what those students said.

“Because we care.”

 

UPDATE#2: This isn’t so much an “update” as it is … well, this, which someone yesterday Tweeted to me in response to this post:

UPDATE #3 A woman from Greenville, SC, where BJU is located, wrote me this morning (Feb. 8) to say this: “Good morning from Greenville. It doesn’t seem there are actually very many people talking about this issue here. Too much risk of offending all our BJU-alumni friends. It will pass. The victims’ voices will be silenced again, and BJU will be BJU, “highly respected in the community” and having a great deal of influence on the whole political operations of this town.” She also linked me to a Greenville TV news report on this story, the print version of which reads in part:

“A lot of us felt like this (the investigation) was too good to be true,” Erin Burchwell said.

This is the first time Burchwell has spoken publicly about her abuse she says she suffered at Bob Jones.  She spoke with WYYF News 4 Investigates Tim Waller via phone from Ohio.

Burchwell said the GRACE investigation would have validated her claim.

“I’ve been told for 15 years not to talk about it, but now I’m allowed to talk about it to somebody who’s validating me and telling me that I was wronged.” Burchwell said.

She grew up on Bob Jones campus and attended BJU in the late 90s.  She says that’s when a male graduate student [a dorm counselor] assaulted her over a period of several months.

“He did not rape me, so it can’t be considered a rape case,” Burchwell said. “But he molested me multiple times.  I mean, probably 40 or more times.”

Burchwell claims when her parents finally reported the assaults to university administrators, they were told not to go to the police.

Burchwell says administrators also tried to blame what happened on her clothing.

“What was I wearing when all these incidents occurred?  What did I have on? Was it tight?  Was it low?  Obviously, the point being it was somehow my fault,” she said.

Burchwell believes little has changed in the 20+ years since she lived on campus, and she says that’s evidenced by the decision to end the investigation before Grace’s findings were released.

“They couldn’t have something this big come out,” she said. “It’s just too bad for their appearance.”

 

UPDATE #4: Today (Feb. 13), BJU and GRACE announced they were going to meet next week. Here’s the text of the statement from GRACE:

Status Update – February 13, 2014

During the past week, representatives of GRACE and BJU have continued to communicate for the purpose of working out a time for an in-person meeting. The parties were recently able to schedule such a meeting for next week. The purpose of this meeting is for the parties to articulate expressed concerns, as well as to dialogue about the possibility of GRACE completing the independent investigation process started last year. GRACE will post another update shortly after the meeting next week.

We ask for prayers for everyone involved in this upcoming meeting. We also ask that we continue to pray for God to work mightily on the behalf of all the amazing individuals who have been impacted by this most recent development.

UPDATE #5: BJU rehires GRACE, apologizes to alumni.


* Related posts on this blog:

The fundamentally toxic Christianity

A Christianity to make Satan proud

“Dr.” Marc Monte: Satan called. Loves your work.

Waiting for Bob Jones’s huge gay bomb to drop

An ex-fundy responds to the question, “How could anyone attend BJU”?

We welcome you to join us at Unfundamentalist Christians (our group blog is here; “like” our Facebook page here).

Thank to Dan Wilkinson for his assistance with this piece, and for Photoshopping its image into existence.

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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. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • fantastyfreak

    Thank you John Shore for continuing to raise awareness about this terrible situation at Bob Jones University. The saddest thing is that a lot of so-called “moral” Christians will just ignore this issue, as it puts their beloved Bob Jones under moral scrutiny.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    This is really heartbreaking. I feel for those who are victims. The hope of justice was just crushed by those who enabled the injustice. A balm to their wounds was just offered then abruptly revoked. Instead of relief, they have suffered yet another abuse. And now they face the threat of being shamed by and expelled from their community.

    I offer my inadequate prayers for the victims.

  • Justatron

    Thank you for this…just when I think my wretched “alma mater” couldn’t stoop any lower, they manage to hit rock bottom and commence excavation operations…there are so many broken lives littered through the history of that place…my sincere hope is that this opens the eyes of the students who are there and those who are considering going there and that they can escape while they still can…I wish I could travel back in time to my 17 year old self and convince him that just because Mr. Pastor says BJU is the “Harvard of Christian schools” it is so…

    Regrettably, BJU Alumnus c/o 2002

  • Brian

    This article is slanderous. It fails to mention GRACE’s problems with other institutions nor does it mention that BJU is committed to completing the investigation either with GRACE or another party. For a report on this issue by a third party that is not slander, see http://www.worldmag.com/2014/02/bob_jones_university_halts_investigation

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

      Dude. You just posted a news release that is quite similar to all the other news releases including one featured on the local news affiliate. BJU terminated the contract, without warning. GRACE is the one who is trying to finish their work. GRACE’s letter, the termination notice and the press releases, which John has already linked, show that.

      That BJU gives such a nebulous reason for the sudden termination, makes it immediately suspect.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        Thanks, Allegro. (And thank you for alerting me last night that BJU had fired GRACE.)

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

          You are very welcome. It angers me and breaks my heart for every young woman, or young man who has to suffer abuse, and have to live a lie, because no one seems to care.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      That article sheds absolutely no new light on this investigation, it does not implicate GRACE in any impropriety (as you allege), nor does it refute anything you think may be slanderous about John’s post. If anything, it underscores how completely evasive and intentionally opaque BJU is being about the whole thing.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        Thank you, Ford.

    • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

      Don’t go all BoJo. ;)

    • Justatron

      I also wouldn’t hold my breath that the former employer of Bob Jones IV would be terribly critical of an organization that represents a good chunk of their subscriber base…

      Let’s even give the Bob the benefit of a doubt (not that they’ve earned any considering their standard modus operandi)…from purely a PR perspective, how do you justify firing an investigative organization mid-stream, when so many people have finally been able to work up the courage to speak to GRACE about their abuses? Also, if the Bob is trying to appear to keep the door open for GRACE to continue their investigation, it seems that the true problem lies not with GRACE but with the whited sepulchers of 1700 WHB…

      Add this in to the general character of the way the Bob does its business, Stephen’s “resignation”, Larry Jackson’s recent control of the board and Bob III’s continued behind the scenes dominance of the running of the school and I just can’t honestly see any indication that this is anything other than an attempt to cover back up what GRACE is uncovering…

    • Sven2547

      This article is slanderous.

      That word, I do not think it means what you think it means. Where are the lies that would make this article “slanderous”?

      • JenellYB

        Than you for noting that! All too much a part of *some* religious/church culture is to blanket anything that might make the church or someone look bad as “slander” even when it is exposing facts and truths! which then too often in return, justifies the actual slandering, in the true meaning, of those that dared expose and call out the abusers.

      • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

        Yep, that 2nd sentence is fair and balanced. **rolls eyes**

        • Sven2547

          fair and balanced

          Another person who doesn’t have any idea what “slander” means. Would anyone else like to step up and make a fool of himself?

          • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

            No, I think you got it covered.

            Slander — verb — make false and damaging statements about (someone)

    • http://bjunity.org/ Bill B

      Sorry, but GRACE has thoroughly debunked ABWE’s excuses for firing them. Regardless, when you fire the group you yourself hired, right before they’re about to release their report, it’s bad. You can’t put a good spin on it, except perhaps for benefit of the brainwashed sycophants inside the gates at 1600 Wade Hampton Blvd and the alumni who still wish they were there. http://netgrace.org/wp-content/uploads/GRACE-Response-February-10-2013.pdf

    • Verimius

      You mean “libelous”. Slander is spoken, libel is written. In any case, the article is neither.

    • JPC

      I’d rather suggest that this investigation become a police matter, with appropriate charges the expected outcome. I’m completely at a loss as to how and why anyone would oppose that course of action.

  • Lamont Cranston

    The message is clear. If you want to rape and get away with it, BJU is the place to be.

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

      Sadly, BJU is not the only college campus where this shit happens. They are just fighting tooth and nail to admit that it happens on their campus, and that they do little to prevent it….as if dowdy clothing for women, the no touching zones, and gender segregation prevent anything.

      • Justatron

        The problem at the Bob is even bigger than the abuse itself…it is the way that they handle abuse situations…the way they blame victims, fail to report crimes, tell you “oh, you are just bitter/not right with God/etc” and “you really need to just forgive and forget”…God help you indeed if you are a female and you have been abused and you have to listen to Berg or Wood or Mazak some other tinpot amateur “counselor” tell you that maybe it was your fault after all and you should just get over it…

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

          Oh I agree, and the “you must forgive them, or else God is not going to…..”

          • Justatron

            And that statement is nearly always delivered to the woman…men skate away scot free or get diverted into some other “ministry”…

        • JenellYB

          It is bigger than BJU, it pervades a significant portion of this kind of religious community, its people, and overseeing structures and organizations, as a sub-cultural mindset, world view. Just read the comments in response to ANY article or blog or whatever that raises these issues, and there is voice after voice crying out how they have experienced this, too, and yet, so many in the churches are still determined every one of them is just a whining and complaining malcontent, that for whatever reason is just an enemy of God and the church and trying to hurt the church and the name of God. It is a culture pervaded by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Calling it out is not an attack on the church, it is what is needed if the church is to be what it is supposed to be.

      • Lamont Cranston

        That’s true. I didn’t mean to imply other schools were rape-free, just that the message the Morlocks of BJU are sending with the cancellation is pretty obviously pro-rapist.

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

          Morlocks! Snarf!!

  • dcsloan

    It is way past time for a federal RICO investigation of BJU.

    • Matt

      I agree. Most likely some information came to light that BJU really didn’t like. A higher authority is clearly needed.

    • Mike Goetz

      Yes I agree with this as well — surely the next step is for the authorities to get involved, now that BJU has withdrawn from an independent review that they themselves initiated.

      It seems clear that there was a certain amount of pressure on BJU to conduct such an investigation to begin with. To start so well and then to pull the rug out when they were 80% of the way there is not only bad optics, but it’s also highly suggestive that they have important things to hide, which John rightly identifies.

      One hopes that the victims collectively have enough ability to organize and enough courage to seek a more aggressive path towards the exposure of truth — it would appear that BJU is betting they won’t. In the end BJU may prefer GRACE’s report to that of the feds.

  • Jenni Frencham

    Thank you, John, for posting this. My heart goes out to other alumnae who reported to GRACE, hoping for justice, knowing that it was little likely.

    When I began to remember my abuse and spoke with my BJU-alumna “counselor” about it, she told me that I was remembering the abuse because I liked it, and that therefore it was sin. Her solution to my flashbacks? “Whenever you have a flashback, take out your stack of index cards and read your Bible verses out loud.” Yes, really.

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

      I swear, reading that makes my inner Mama Bear very angry. If someone had said that to my kid, I would have told a certain “counselor” exactly what to do with those index cards, and would have likely provided detailed instructions.

      • Jenni Frencham

        This meeting with the counselor was the beginning of the end for me. Luckily for me, I got out of the IFB shortly thereafter and was able to start meeting with a therapist who actually had training/degrees/experience in helping abuse survivors.

      • https://www.facebook.com/jean.hoehn/info?collection_token=1524166867%3A2327158227%3A35 Phatchick

        I would have suggested a suitable location for the insertion maneuvers.

  • Al Cruise

    Good post. “By their fruits you will know them” This message needs to get out. Arguing theology with these types is a fools game. Exposing what’s really going on is good stewardship. The way these groups can be eliminated is by getting this message out to as many young people and their parents as possible, so they can ask themselves “do I want my son or daughter going here?” Parents want the best for their children and stress over them [especially their personal safety] when they go off to college. This monster needs food [your children] cut the food off and it will die.

  • DHP

    Regrettable.

    • Artor

      But predictable.

  • JenellYB

    I see this as about much more than just this one situation, and BJU. I see it as an evil that pervades much of at least the Evangelical and Fundamentalist religious community, and overarching organizations and institutions. Having no personal experience, I’ll not assume it to other, more mainstream Protestant denominations, though I have seen some indication it exists there, too. Any and every study or survey, any and every time and place discussion turns to why so many people leave the church, right at top, front, and center is always abusers with power to hurt and harm others, and do so with impunity, any objection or attempt to call it out is vehemently denounced as an attack on the church, and attack on good people of God, and those calling it out slandered (in the true meaning of that word) as trouble makers, whiners and complainers, ungodly people that reject God’s commands, refuse the authority of Christ… in one tidy nutshell, making any demand for accountability and need to address abusive people that have and are using an assumed superior god-ordained position in the church. as a cloak for evil. These people have made themselves and their self-granted power and authority in the name of God to BE AS GOD THEMSELVES. Calling out abuses and abusers is NOT “attacking the church’ or as “enemies of God,” it is in truth standing up FOR the true church, against the wolves in sheep’s clothing that devour the people under claim to authority of God.

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

      I wonder how well more mainstream churches deal with abuse,be it sexual or physical. It seems to be a topic a lot of people don’t want to discuss, and to come face to face with the fact that someone they know has been abused often comes as a complete shock. I know from personal experience, that three of the four churches I’ve personally been involved with, three were terrible at dealing the matter. They either didn’t know what to do, gave lousy advice, or just backed away.

      There is a fair segment of the church in the US that unwittingly feeds into the misconception of what a healthy sexual relationship actually is, has unrealistic ideals when it comes to gender, and a decision to disbelieve that anything so unsavory as sexual abuse would happen in their group.

      • Talea Fraemohs-Mitchell

        This is just one small case, in one small church, but when I came forward about my sunday school babysitter’s abuse towards me and my fellow girls, things were handled relatively well. While some in the congregation tried to convince my parents to press charges, when I told the pastor I didn’t want to, he respected my wishes. He ordered him and his family to leave, and not come back, and that was that.

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

          There was more than one victim? Charges should have been pressed anyway. All that pastor did was send that person to another church so they could abuse another group of kids

          I understand you not wanting to press charges, being a kid, but what that person did was illegal, and harmful. Someone needed to press charges, so no other child would have to be hurt and humiliated

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

            That no parent pressed charges also appalls me. Essentially the decision was to do nothing other then kick that person out of church.

          • Talea Fraemohs-Mitchell

            Perhaps I was a tad misleading when I said I didn’t want to press charges. By that, I meant I wouldn’t face him in court; We did, however, file a report with the sheriff (who I believe in turn asked other victims, but I was the one who came forward first, so I was the one asked to speak to them first), and he did face consequences. He not only is allowed to be around children in the church, but he was forced to quit teaching the classes he taught in his job, and he was sent to serious counseling. I’m not sure, as I did my best to just forget the whole thing ever happened, but I’m fairly certain he’s registered as a sex offender now.

            Believe me, the very LAST thing I want is a chance to put him around more kids, no matter how heartfelt his apology letters to me and my family.

  • Jill Teer

    Wow.

  • Joseph A. Loerzel

    Holy Mother Martha !

  • marymorrison

    I suppose that next we can expect to see BJU has gone to court to get the records from GRACE, unless they already have them.

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

      If that is the case, I hope GRACE makes it real ugly for BJU.

  • Artor

    Will GRACE be finishing their report? with 80% of their interviews done, I’d think they’d have enough information to go ahead and finalize it. Since they’re not working for BJU anymore, could they release it publicly? Please keep providing updates as this develops. I would love to see this nest of rapists shut down!

    • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

      Probably not. Because BJU had a contract with them, they cannot release a report outside of the confines of that agreement. The data is pretty much dead. My hope is that BJU doesn’t have the right to the information GRACE has collected. It all depends on what was in the contract.

      • harrisco

        Anybody know the mandatory reporting laws in South Carolina? Does GRACE have to answer to powers other than Bob Jomes U?

  • Andy

    Oh my god. My eyes are literally hurting from reading this.

    That place sounds like a urine-soaked hellhole (apologies to the Simpsons). I pray that (assuming the allegations are true) GRACE will make their findings public and give them a black eye. Ugh.

    • Matt

      I have no doubt at least some and probably the majority of the allegations are true. The stress of coming forward is extreme. The students have a lot to lose. I am willing to bet that for many of them, it’s a choice between going through the pain of disclosure or the secret eats them alive. It’s a devil’s wager that no human being should ever have to face.

  • Guest

    Here’s another WICKED Cristian College that fired G.R.A.C.E. http://pbiscandal.blogspot.com/2013/02/grace-dismissed-from-abuse.html

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

      What an example of slanderous overkill. They couldn’t be content with just saying there was a conflict of interest. They had to continue to hu RL unproven accusations for months afterwards.

      Who were they trying to protect? I bet my substantial left butt cheek it was not the student body.

      • Guest

        So, are you a former BJU student or just have an axe to grind? I guess praying for any Christian instruction is out of the question? Instead criticizing is what makes you feel better about yourself.

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

          Awww how cute, coming here to post a very slanderous series of communications from people who apparently prefer to dazzle with bullshit and misdirection then full disclosure. And it was done using a private account to hide your identity because either you have been banned all over patheos already or you just prefer being sneaky and nefarious. And then you try similar tactics on me for calling it out.

          Go back to hiding in your culvert, little troll

  • Justatron

    Here’s an update from the desk of the Almost Ex President himself…and a video of his comments to the faculty and students this morning:

    http://blogs.bju.edu/pr/2014/02/07/update-from-dr-stephen-jones-on-grace/?utm_source=News-Events&utm_medium=RSS&utm_content=feed&utm_campaign=RSS-News

    Key quote: “It’s not about correcting the past. It’s about moving forward”
    -”Dr.” Stephen Jones, President of Bob Jones University (at least until they can find a new sucker)

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

      So they canned GRACE first , then tried to “come to an agreement with them”? I have no sense of smell but there is a strong fishy Aroma about all this

      • Justatron

        There’s a strong smell all right, but it ain’t fish…it’s another four letter word…

  • Artur Sebastian Rosman

    Fascinating, I just finished writing about sex abuse accountability structure differences between Catholics and Evangelicals today before I saw this story break:

    http://cosmostheinlost.com/2014/02/07/catholic-protestant-sex-scandals-structurally-different/

  • Jan S Yoder

    Certain issues were raised in Mennonite circles in recent years, which were also largely swept under the rug of ‘there is no proof’ to all the other excuses given herein. The good that came of it is in the continuing dialog. I will not name names. Many came forward and it seems that few were heard. Sad commentary for today’s Christians. The trend toward transparency on all levels will prevail and sweep aside these lingering areas of deceit.

  • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

    “I just want to reiterate that we are committed to identifying and reaching out to those individuals.”
    IDENTIFYING those who agreed to confidentially share their stories with GRACE? Wow…that IS scary!

    • tsig

      They’re gonna reach out all right and when they’ve got those ungodly students who maligned BJU in their grip they will squeeze hard.

  • Talea Fraemohs-Mitchell

    It’s official. When I die, I am leaving my entire estate to the female students of Bob Jones University so that they can afford to move somewhere decent.

  • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

    This article and some of the comments reminds me of the time when Harry Reed challenged Mitt Romney to release his tax returns to prove that he WASN’T a tax cheat.

    • Pavitrasarala

      Tsk, seriously? Why bring some unrelated political comment into the discussion? This detracts from the real issue!

      • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

        Sorry, I was trying to be clever… basically BJU is guilty of harboring rapists until it can prove its innocence. Get it now?

        • Al Cruise

          You may have had an argument, until they fired Grace. Your playing the old “abuser is the victim” card. Only full co-operation with Grace and outside investigators would give them the right, to be not held under suspicion and allegation in the public eye.

          • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

            You just assumed that BJU is an “abuser” — nuff said.

          • dontabuseme

            Philip, I’m sorry, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I am a victim of abuse at BJU, and let me tell you, sexual abuse is just the tip of the iceberg.

          • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

            You’re right. I have not read GRACE’s report or have seen police reports. Or course, neither has anyone else in this thread. But that doesn’t seem to matter.

          • Al Cruise

            So what your saying is the abuse that happened to “dontabuseme” and many others didn’t happen until it’s in a report by Grace or a police report? All the victims who are going through hell need to be told their feelings are illegitimate until a report comes out? The only option BJU has is total and complete co-operation with Grace and outside investigators with total transparency.

          • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

            Why are you putting BJU in the drivers seat? Why doesn’t the anonymous poster go to the police? If this is a “tip of a iceberg”, where are the police reports? These aren’t minors.

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

            Do you know what a abuse victim has To go thru when she reports a crime? Do you know that she has a lousy chance of seeing her attacker serve a day in jail? Do you know that she is assumed guilty of the crime perpetrated against her, that people will accuse her of lying of being a slut of tricking her attacker into sex that what she wore caused her attack? Meanwhile her attacker, if he sees a day in court is protected, is supported by his peers, all why he blames her.

            When she is also in a culture that will encourages all she will face, plus more, and that she may also receive likewise from her classmates teachers family members and her church…its no wonder these girls are so fucking reluctant to speak out.

            So if you were in one of these girl’s shoes, what would you do,knowing that hell was going to get a whole lot hotter with little hope of justice?

          • Guest

            Really? Who abused you? Names please.

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

            Oh I hope that names are named, charges are pressed and a culture that harbors such behavior that protects rapists and vilifies victims goes down in flames

          • Guest

            How long did you go to BJU Allegro? Who raped you? I want to turn them in to the authorities.

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

            I am thankful I never attended there
            I’ve visited the art museum twice…gorgeous art, displayed so poorly, it was insulting.

            As for my rapist. I was married to the turd, and lived in a state that made reporting such am assault nearly impossible. I divorced him years ago.

            I never want another woman to be forced to such an attack, to live in fear from him or from those who would rather deny her abuse while protecting the abuser.

          • Guest

            I understand you have had a difficult past but I’m not sure I understand the correlation between BJU and their sexual abuse policy and you. Why BJU and not the hundreds of other Christian institutions?

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

            Troll lesson 101. I don’t buy the sympathy ploy. Lesson number two. Read up on BJUs dirty history.. before you paint them as a shining example of Christianity. Lesson #3. Take time to learn just how common sexual and physical abuse is in this country and how common it is in our faith. BJU helps keep that little secret and encourages others to do likewise.

            Don’t like that? Tough.

          • Al Cruise

            allegro63 it will happen and not soon enough. These people trying to defend BJU have no clue what it’s like to be a victim. The wall the victim is put up against immediately. Police who are almost always reluctant to investigate, the tsunami of criticism, scorn and threats that come from leadership, acquaintances and even family. Nothing is more laughable than these holier than thou types, usually men, giving out arm chair advice. I have done 40 years of street ministry and I have seen it all. The trifling answers from the defenders always make me chuckle. Thanks for your comments.

          • Al Cruise

            “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them”

          • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

            And by evidence you shall convict them.

          • Guest

            Read on Al, you didn’t finish the verse or the verses leading up to it. Don’t take scripture out of context.

    • Guest

      Haters will hate Philip. That’s the world we live in.

  • Tracy Neil Shewchuk

    As the mother of a college freshman daughter, this scares the sh*t out of me for these students. I am grateful my kid is a a liberal arts school on the West Coast but my heart breaks for the students suckered in to attending BJU Geez.

  • chris1413

    John, thank you AGAIN for shining so much light on Bob Jones University.

    I was shocked and appalled when I heard that G.R.A.C.E. had been fired but I was also not surprised at all. I think a lot of us suspected something weird was going on but we didn’t know exactly what.

    Foolishly, I thought that since the report was set to come out in less than a month that G.R.A.C.E would actually be able to complete the investigation and that BJU was trying to change. … but just like with my own story BJU does the most awful at the absolute worst times.

    But it has been so amazing seeing how many people are standing up for the survivors of BJU, yourself included.

    If you get a chance, could you please sign the petition that I created demanding that BJU reinstate G.R.A.C.E. and that G.R.A.C.E. is allowed to publish the unedited report in a public forum.

    Here is the link: http://chn.ge/1l3JkBp

    Thank you again John!

    Chris Peterman
    Do Right BJU — http://www.facebook.com/dorightbju

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Hi, Chris. Good to hear from you. You know, when the BJU/GRACE arrangement first came out, I received a fair amount of pressure–well, not PRESSURE, but you know what I mean–to say it was a good thing, by way of encouraging people to come forward to testify. But I quite steadfastly remained silent on the whole affair, because in my heart of hearts I believed that BJU would no sooner release a truly objective third-party study of sexual abuse on its campus than the KKK would build a shrine to MLK in downtown Phoenix.

      Since this thing started I’ve been waiting for BJU to be … well, BJU. Because they’re not ABOUT to suddenly become … anything but the craven bullshit artists they are. I’d have been more surprised if a bunch of ants ran away with the Eiffel Tower than I would have been if BJU had actually and transparently done what it promised the world it would.

      Liars lie.

      Anyway, now we’ll see what GRACE and Boz are made of. I’m not holding my breath there either. But of course I’d be pleased to be surprised.

      I’ll go check out your petition. Good to hear from you.

      • chris1413

        John, I’m fairly certain you never sleep because you always seem to reply so quickly! It’s amazing!

        And looking back I can definitely see your wisdom in choosing that path of being more reserved in your responds to the GRACE investigation.

        But now I believe BJU is going to try to spin this to their best benefit … it is what they always do … It will be interesting to see where the BJU PR department finally lands.

        In my opinion they are already spinning the story with Stephen’s announcement in chapel today compared to his written statement to GRACE.

        Anyway, now I think it’s just a wait and see who cracks first.

        Thanks again and have a great night!

        Chris :)

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          My vote is that BJU never spins anything at all. I think they’ll do what they always do: hunker down, wait it out, and then continue doing business as usual.

          For them, a wave is just water waiting to be settled again. It always passes.

          Hey, so I have some bizarre thing with change.org, where anytime I try to look at a petition there it just continues to refresh so often I can’t read anything there. So … I can’t read/see your petition!

  • someone

    Thank you for taking the time and effort to parse this information and disseminate it. While I would suspect every single college campus in the US has a serious sexual assault problem that they try to cover up, it’s somehow especially hypocritical coming from Bob Jones.

    One thought: I wish you would remove or edit your first paragraph, though. It really undermines your credibility for the rest of the article, regardless of how true it may be. There’s no need to throw around attacks like that when the truth is bad enough.

  • Al Cruise

    John, you are right that they will try to handle this by waiting it out. In my years in street ministry the one thing I’ve found out from people who have been abused by Church/religious organizations, they were almost always told the following by leadership, ” Don’t bring in the world”. Effectively shutting down the situation so they can control out come.[ ie. firing Grace ]. I say to all victims, it is your RIGHT to bring in the world. If you study history, it is through this kind of exposure, true justice can occur, and real change take place.

  • Matt Davis

    As we know, this has happened before. I only hope that GRACE learnt from the previous instance and made sure there was a clause in the contract allowing them to publish their report and not be muzzled by BJU. As I don’t know the terms of the contract, I can only hope GRACE is able to do the right thing without repercussions.

    I would even say to GRACE that this information needs to come out, and even if it’s against the terms, we will stand by them if BJU tries to sue!

  • http://bjunity.org/ Bill B

    BJU is in Greenville SC, not NC (which is a place too). Many Greenvilles, but only one is home to a cover-up that will make Penn State pale in comparison.

  • Guest

    For a website that graces itself with the title of “Christianity without the inanity” apparently is void of the fruits of the spirit and even more in grace (which only seems to go one way based on the comments). I guess praying for an institution that doesn’t seem to follow scripture is too difficult. Since no one has mentioned a single scripture verse supporting their argument, here are a few to reflect on and ponder: James 1:26, James 3:8, Proverbs 25:17, James 3:6, Romans 1:30, Psalms 5:9, Romans 21:1-3, Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 25:2, Romans 16:17-18, James 4:11-12, Matthew 12:37.

    • Matt

      Lots of talk about tongues, creating obstacles for one’s brothers and sisters, judging, and condemning in those verses. You do realize that we could just turn them back on you? Context and perspective are always crucial when understanding any text. Just quoting the Bible at us shows that you consider us beneath you, O Righteous One.

      It is not right–and so it is not Christian–to turn a blind eye to allegations of abuse. That is not grace. God is perfect. Humans are not. Humans have to stand up for each other and deliver Earthly justice as best we can. That requires believing victims and investigating their claims so that they are not silenced further. Grace comes after repentance. Grace comes after caring for the person who was hurt.

      • Guest

        Turn it back on me? Wow! I guess I underestimated the degree of anger and bitterness. Sorry for your pain! A good verse to help: Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

        • Guest

          Russell, I deal with tragedy every day. You can’t argue with a victim. Just encourage them and let them rant. It’s how they deal with things. Hang in there brother!

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

            Don’t you also have a culvert you could lurk in? Creating a fake account to try to create grief is so pathetic and transparent as well.

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            Yes, Allegro, you’re exactly right: As I can see via the Disqus admin area, AVtech and Russell are the exact same person. Because, you know. That’s how honorable Christians behave. Or publicly masturbate. Or whatever.

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

            BJU defenders don’t understand how technology works. That’s always the scariest part.

          • Matt

            I consider their ignorance an asset. It’s a leg up for us.

            And speaking of how technology works, now that comments are editable, I can now have italics and place proper emphasis in order to better convey tone! I couldn’t bear to possibly leave an HTML tag open before. This is very exciting stuff!

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

          I guess its against the troll code to care about rape and abuse victims. If we appear angry and bitter, then maybe its because we are pissed at the injustice rape and abuse victims are having to suffer all because their school, one with a shitty example of treating students with dignity and respect, is playing true to form against rape and abuse victims

    • Evan Tishuk

      “Since no one has mentioned a single scripture verse supporting their argument”

      Let’s look at some apropos selections like Luke 10:30-37 and Romans 13:1.

      But really, why is a scripture verse required for an argument? The scriptures are rife with contradictions that fly in the face of logic. When truth and justice are the paramount concerns we shouldn’t defer to cherry-picked verses to validate or undermine. That’s prone to bias and akin to reading tea leaves.

      • Guest

        Living by scripture is bias and akin to reading tea leaves. Thanks for your unbiased wisdom, Evan.

        • Evan Tishuk

          Well, if you’re living by the scriptures, you should probably work on your reading comprehension skills. To state it more plainly: using scripture as a replacement for logic is akin to reading tea leaves.

          Living by scripture is not the same thing unless you make all decisions entirely based on scriptural minutia. Which I suppose is one way to go about it. Though, if you’re doing that, you’re often going to have to reconcile some pretty difficult contradictions. That would undoubtedly have the potential to introduce personal bias and color your interpretation.

          And to that point, I never professed to be unbiased. I acknowledge that we’re all biased to some degree, and that inescapable condition is why we need to be careful about how we fill in the blanks when reading scriptures.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      Re: “I guess praying for an institution that doesn’t seem to follow scripture is too difficult.”

      If you talk to Rabbis, some will tell you that the scriptures teach us to pray, then act. God doesn’t ask us to ask God to do for us what we can do for ourselves. Only those most like Bob Jones University and its variety of Fundamentalism insist that everyone handle every disagreement and “delicate matter” in the modern age in the “proper biblical way.”

      Activism is necessary.
      Warning the naive and the unknowing is necessary.
      Holding the institution publicly accountable is necessary.

      I suppose you would have accused Jesus also in lacking the Fruit of the Spirit when he publicly shared his Seven Woes to the Pharisees (Matthew 23).

  • Sadie Stauffer

    John, thanks for keeping up with this! One quick thing…it’s located in Greenville SOUTH Carolina, not NC like in your 3rd update. Greenville, NC is a small city about an hour and a half east of Raleigh. Greenville, SC is just south of Charlotte, NC.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Oh, right. Duh. Thanks for alert!

  • http://bjunity.org/ Bill B
    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      That was a wonderful letter.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    I just want to reiterate that we are committed to identifying and reaching out to those individuals.

    So much for confidentiality.

    • http://restoredtograce.wordpress.com Nate

      I was just about to point that sentence out. How creepy is that???

  • Alliecat04

    There are no slaves in America today. Every student at BJU is a legal adult who has no more excuse not to leave BJU than the abused women mentioned in your last post have not to leave their abusers. Yes, that may be difficult. But would you accept that excuse from a woman being sexually abused by her husband? This place doesn’t need to be investigated, it needs to end. And only then be investigated.

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

      I wish there was no slavery in the US. Its there, just clandestine.

      As for leaving…its harder than one thinks. When you’ve been told that things are one way all your life, that to trust the world means to distrust god, when your surrounded by people who also believe it and have not given you opportunity to really look or think for yourself. Leaving is more than just quitting college or moving to a new church. It means quitting everything you once thought was real and right, even if you know, deep down inside, that its not real or right.

      Its like shunning the devil you know for the demon you don’t. Whether walking away from an abusive religious setting or an abusive relationship, the decision is daunting and terrifying.

      • Alliecat04

        All of these things are equally true for a woman with four kids and no college education who has never held a job because she was dependent on her husband and believes she is worthless because he has spent years telling her so. I’m not downplaying the difficulty of leaving. But in that instance, if a woman said, “I will get no sleep tonight because I’m too frightened,” no one here would be offering sympathetic statements about her or making statements about how bad her husband is. They would be saying the only thing that needs said: leave. Leave now, no excuses.

        Either the statement about fear is hyperbole, or people need to leave, period. There is no excuse which is valid for remaining while being afraid.

        • Matt

          In your example, although the woman is controlled completely at home, she is still an adult and may have access to freer places at church or a social group. She also simply has more life experience.

          BJU, on the other hand, is not only these students’ full-time home, it is part of a wider network of churches, organizations, and K-12 schools. That’s not even discussing their own families. It is a universe unto itself. Even if the desire to leave were there, even if it could be sustained long enough for an actual plan, people need lots of long-term resources to get out. You are dismantling a young person’s entire reality and they must rebuild from scratch, even as they are already struggling to grow up just like other people their age. It takes time, even if all the pieces fall into place just right, even if the person is willing to put in the enormous amount of work.

          Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is endure the fear until that time comes when we can not just leave physically, but in our hearts and minds as well. That timing is different for every person.

          • Alliecat04

            Again, john wrote a whole book for abused women about why what you’ve just said isn’t an acceptable reason for staying. Young people are still legal adults who can get jobs and roommates. I grew up in an abusive household and moved out on my own at 18. It’s perfectly doable if you just do it. And if you are actually AFRAID where you are, you need to do it today and not tomorrow.

          • James Walker

            Alliecat04 – this is why religious abuse is so insidious. it compounds and escalates the other forms of abuse that it encourages to grow in its shadow. it places the victim in the impossible situation of having to reject the entire foundation of their faith and place their soul and salvation at risk in order to even acknowledge that abuse occurred, much less to try and leave the abusive environment.

            trying to explain this to someone who was not brought up in a fundamentalist home and church is difficult, because there are few situations that compare. you’re taught your entire life that this is right, that this is the way God ordained life to be, that people who don’t live this way are “lost” and condemned to Hell.

            I was one of the lucky ones. despite what I now realize was enormous peer-pressure from his fellow IFB ministers, my dad didn’t send me to one of the torture camps where so many gay teens have been abused until they killed themselves. (the threat was there, though, as I go back and re-parse some of the conversations we had about my sexual orientation.) he didn’t insist that I go to one of the BJU clones to be “educated” and further brain-washed into the IFB cult mentality. my heart goes out to every one of the “students” who have lived through a horror story at these “schools” when they ought to have been getting their first taste of intellectual freedom and the joy of learning.

          • Matt

            It is definitely doable.

            I also grew up in an abusive household. When I was 18, I had no friends. None. I was working and giving my paychecks to my parents who needed the money after their divorce. I had just dropped out of high school from the stress. I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t know that I had any other options. I hated myself. Had I left at 18, I might not be alive today. So I took 2 1/2 more years, I got out very suddenly and painfully, and I am healthy and happy today. I can now see how every step and every person I met along the way brought me to this healthy, happy place.

            My situation wasn’t worse or better than yours. I am not more capable than you, and you are not more capable than me. We are just different.

            Everyone. Is. Different. Speaking in absolutes can be shaming to others. Just be aware of how you come across, okay?

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

          Yes they would tell her to leave, I know I heard it often enough. But its often not that easy. Leave to where and then what, thise two questions especially the second she has to face on her own, as she’s not sure who to trust, even herself. Regardless of that good advice she is still on her own, to take that step, and the next and the next…and all those very scary ones till she’s free, all while wondering if she ever will be. It took 23 years for me to take that first step.

          With religious abuse, its as bad, if not worse. Its not leaving a spouse who will accuse you of betrayal And could possibly hurt you more or even kill you. Its leaving a religion that will accuse you of betraying God who will not only punish you for that sin, bit torture you for eternity for turning your back on him.

          That one took me 30 years walk away from.

          Which is why I will fight against abuses of bodies and hearts and souls till my last breath.

      • Al Cruise

        So true. Just a side note on how powerful the forces are to keep people in abusive relationships. In our town a safehouse was built for women and children to go to, to transition out of abusive/violent situations. A conservative fundamental pastor actively spoke out against it’s construction over the pulpit, saying it should never be built as the Church could handle such problems.

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

          That’s horrible, but not really surprising. Sadly, few churches are really equipped to handle those problems at all. We can do so much better. I think the first steps will include openness, honesty and education.

        • AtalantaBethulia

          1) If they were equipped to handle it, what was stopping the Church from already being a shining example in their community? Seems there was a need going unmet. “But we can do that” after the fact is a poor excuse for not having done it already.

          2) Free market capitalism endorses competition as healthy and good for consumers. I hazard a guess that the need exceeds the available resources, so nothing is stopping said church from joining the marketplace.

          3) My experience with Fundamentalism shows me that their teachings are counterproductive to women leaving abusive relationships and instead perpetuates shame, wrongheaded thinking and abuse because they are decidedly adamantly opposed to divorce and consistently ideologically invested in reconciliation. So, a Fundamentalist organized “battered women’s shelter” in the traditional sense of the word that helps women safely leave their abusive partners will likely never exist.

          4) So, being opposed to it because the church could handle such a need was likely code for: We don’t like secular entities encouraging divorce; we must oppose that.

          • Al Cruise

            Good insight. The divorce rate in most fundamentalist Church’s is no different than others. The divorce rate among fundamentalist pastors also is not much different. Fundamentalist pastors have a much higher rate of men leaving their spouse for women who are at least ten years younger than themselves. Go figure.

    • http://hopefullyknown.com/ Tamara Rice

      If I’m hearing you right, Alliecat04, you’re basically saying that because these students could (legally) have left the environment we should temper our outrage. (Although … you also acknowledge that what has happened there is wrong, as you indicate it should be shut down.)

      But I’ve experienced what those at BJU are now experiencing, when the mission board ABWE fired GRACE exactly a year ago in much the same way–only with a lot more mud being slung at both GRACE and the victims, which I am among. I’ve written about this quite a bit and I think one reason–especially in the ABWE case–that they got away with firing GRACE is because people in cultures with more freedom (even faith cultures) look at those dark bubbles of hyper-fundamentalism and think: Well, what else do you expect? You went into that church/college/mission board/etc.

      This is a quote from a post I wrote on this and this unsympathetic sentiment that people choose to be or stay in these crazy fundamentalist settings and therefor, why are we all so worked up. (http://hopefullyknown.com/2014/02/07/5-reasons-grace-bju-scandal-firing/):

      “I want to talk to you … about your thinly disguised rape-apologism that is akin to saying that because the victim was drunk, she doesn’t get your sympathy and outrage. Because isn’t your shrug of the shoulders over victim blaming and silencing in such extreme and almost cult-like settings of fundamentalism (‘I mean, what else did they expect … we’re talking about Bob Jones University?’) exactly like asking what else a woman expects at three a.m. in the dimly lit corner of a truck-stop bar?”

      I hope I’m misunderstanding you, and you’re not actually implying that because they were in that environment in the first place or because some stayed in that environment and didn’t get out sooner, the abuse was their responsibility. But given your first two sentences, it sounds an awfully lot like you are, and that’s really surprising, given your statement that you came from abuse. Maybe your strength and determination was unusual, and maybe you’re being too hard on those who don’t have it or who take years to get it.

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

        I guess its hard to understand something without being a member of the “been there” club. Its not as clean cut, simple, easily solved. Instead there is much at stake, deep complexity to cut through, and a goal that appears unattainable.

        Unlearning a way of life built on faith mixed with fear is not easy, undoing the damage that may have been caused by that way of life can be even harder.

        What these students and all who have been victims need is support, and love, and patience, and understanding and for them to know that we are here, in their corner, willing to help,willing to defend them, and willing not to judge them, as they’ve had more than their share of that.

    • Korrine Britton

      Spoken like someone who had never been trapped in an abusive, manipulative relationship.

      Add religion with a heavy dose of “obey (without question) those in authority” to the mix, and you have an environment where victims honestly don’t see a way out.

      “Just leave” is great advice for emotionally healthy people. The students at BJU are infantilized and simply are not in a position to “just leave,” no matter how earnestly they may wish to escape.

  • GordonKS

    John – thanks for your updates! I hope that the victims and silenced students can hear about your interest in the situation, and will know that there are folks outside South Carolina that care about them and want to offer them an online place of sanctuary.

  • Mike

    John, Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another”. Your article is greatly lacking in this area. Your article is also lacking something very important – Truth. I’m very sad that many of your readers will take your lies and embrace them as truth. Have you even tried to contact BJU to get their side of the story? I did, because that’s the Bible way. Have you ever been to BJU? Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:15 that if your brother offends you, you’re to go to that brother and deal with it privately, not splash it all over social media. You have given the world more cause to hate Christianity with your lies. Proverbs 6:18 teaches that God hates “…him that soweth discord among brethren”. I hope you see the wickedness of your ways before you bring more reproach upon the Lord’s name!

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

      Been to BJU, twice. The place gives of some very creepy, oppressive vibes. I don’t like even driving by the place.

      John has also talked with people who have attended that school, and some of the commenters here have attended BJU. So its not like he made this up out of thin air, he is sharing what a bunch of others are sharing, nefarious things that are lying under the facade of a “godly college”

      AH…And I see this is your “first posting” as a Disqus user, apparently created just to hurl scripture verses and defend a school that condones the oppression and the abuses of its students, tries to hide the fact, and allows that culture to permeate through the churches it sends pastors to.

      Drive by trolls are so clever….oh wait. They aren’t.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      I’ve been there.
      Family and friends have attended there.
      I’ve been taught from their curriculum.
      I attended one of their feeder schools.
      I’ve fallen prey to their style of abusive Christianity, and so did my friend whose sexual abuse at age 13 was covered up by our BJU style pastor.

      Their authoritarianism, patriarchy, misogyny, victim-blaming, and lack of self-awareness that eschews reason, logic, mainstream psychology and defends its broken ego at all cost at the expense of a great cloud of witnesses is not “godly” merely because they have a Christiany veneer. They like to keep the outside of their cup looking spic and span with hair and skirt lengths that check while inside they are full of dead men’s bones.

      Jesus warned us about dens of vipers… who travel over land and sea to make a single convert and when they do make them twice the sons of hell that they are… and he wasn’t shy about saying it out loud.

      So. You can follow Paul on “properly engaging those with whom you disagree.” I’m going to stick with Jesus.

      • AtalantaBethulia

        And another thing: You know what sows discord among the brethren and harms the cause of Christ? Covering up abuse and acting like it will go away.

        Victims want Justice.
        God loves Justice.
        God loves those who love what God loves.

        I’m not sure at what point along the Fundamentalist evolutionary path the idea that “men of God” hold some kind of immunity from jail – and victims are supposed to simply forgive and forget, but people who sexually assault children and who cover it up deserve to go to jail. Because it is a crime. Even white men. Even white Christian men. Even white Christian men with wives and children. Even white Christian men with wives and children who lead large churches – perhaps especially so.

        Jack Schaap and Chuck Phelps should have sent ripples of policy change, reform and repentance throughout the Fundamentalist world. Because you know what’s more important than your ideas of how to properly engage a brother or sister in Christ about a disagreement?

        Not allowing any more children to become victims.

        Because if there’s anything that Jesus taught us by his example, it’s that he didn’t put policy before people.

        • Jill

          whoa.

    • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

      BJU has not given any reason for their behavior. They NEVER do. What the hell are you talking about?

      This is the shit we put up with whenever we question anything they do. I think its a bot.

      • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

        You didn’t watch the video. Did you? They gave their reason for terminating the contract.

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

          I watched the video and read the transcript. If that was a sound reason then I got this really cool bridge that just came on the market.

    • harrisco

      I read John’s post and, to answer your (rhetorical?) question, yes, John got the perspective of BJU officials. He provided a video and long text quote from Stephen Jones. What John did not do, though, was accept these statements at face value. Your advice–keep quiet, sow no discord, don’t make a big fuss and embarrass Christianity–is a call for continuing the silent agony of those who have suffered and are suffering abuse within BJU’s ranks. Being silenced, being shamed, being disbelieved–these are the weights carried by victimized people. They deserve better. They deserve justice and healing. They deserve to be heard, honored, believed. BJU has added bricks to their heavy load. John, from what I have observed, will take slings and arrows from apologists with no sweat, if it means he is taking a few of those bricks off the backs of people who do not deserve to be laboring under their oppressive weight.

    • diogeneslamp0

      Mike, you accuse John of spreading terrible lies, but you present no evidence at all that he lied about anything.

      In Christianity, is it mandatory to bear false witness against one’s neighbor? That’s what you’re doing to John.

      It’s also what BJU faculty and administration do to rape victims.

      Authoritarians like you, not John, are why atheists hate Christianity. Authoritarianism is why Christianity is so strongly associated with atrocities.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Thanks for not pulling punches, John, and portraying them as they really are. People think we exaggerate (on our radio show, based in upstate SC), and we don’t; BJU controls the (right-wing) politics in this area as well as the religious discourse. I hope this is one more step towards their eventual demise.

  • Al Cruise

    Mike. One of the major reasons people hate Christianity is the covering up of abuse. People can understand that we as humans, can error. The intentional denial and covering up of abuse, combined with the use of scripture by leadership to suggest that the victims, and those who speak up for the victims, are at fault, while presenting themselves as an entity above reproach, is what turns people off. I speak from 40 years of street/outreach ministry.

  • Tonya Wren

    Powerful article, John.

    My only quibble is that there are very likely plenty of cases of men being sexually abused/assaulted at BJU as well. This isn’t just a problem for the wimmenfolk.

  • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner
    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Oh, all right. Great job, Phil. Thanks. I’ll go put this in the post itself.

  • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

    And one last update… “BJU Reengages GRACE To Complete Independent Review” http://blogs.bju.edu/pr/2014/02/25/bju-reengages-grace-to-complete-independent-review/

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

      Let us hope GRACE is allowed to complete their work unfettered, and that the people who have come forward, if they so choose to remain annonymous are allowed to be so, AND that this is the start to the crystal clear message that sexual abuse is intolerable in Christianity..well everywhere.

      Sadly sexual abuse in the church continues. Another pastor was arrested just the other day. His church is not ten minutes from my house. Yes they are not the predominate abusers, but abusing their position to assault women is still abhorrent.

      Rape in my county is twice the national limit. This is an area with many churches and is predominately Southern Baptist. The church can and should do better to educate men to respect women and to support and help women who are victims. And also to help the men who find themselves victims because of bigotry and hate.

  • http://lou.pe/ Philip Meissner

    In case anyone is interested… http://www.bju.edu/about/answering-questions.php I’m not sure if this is new or not.


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