Pensacola, the IFB Bubble and the world wide Web

Pensacola, the IFB Bubble and the world wide Web March 14, 2014

Stuff Fundies Like blogger Darrell Dow is a Pensacola Christian College alumnus/refugee. Dow saw Pensacola’s statement in response to former students’ accounts of abuse and assault that occurred there and notes that it is a “Public Relations Disaster.”

There’s a double-meaning there, of course. The statement itself is a “public relations disaster” because the school has failed to respond to these stories as anything other than a public relations problem. Pensacola’s only reaction to hearing about the horrific and heart-breaking things that happened to its own students was to worry about how such stories would affect the public reputation of the institution. That’s incredibly skeevy.

As Dow says, it’s difficult to imagine “a worse response than this one”:

They could have expressed concern for anybody who was a victim of sexual assault.

They could have vowed an investigation.

They could have renewed their claim to make student safety a concern.

They could have established a hotline to call or assured victims who want to come forward that they won’t be expelled for being assaulted.

But Pensacola Christian College didn’t do any of that. Instead, disastrously, they viewed these accounts from their own former students as nothing more than a PR problem.

PCC is part of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist world, a politically conservative white religious movement that has convinced itself and others that it is a theologically conservative religious movement (which it ain’t — at all). The IFB movement is fond of quoting 2 Corinthians 6:17 — in the King James Version, of course, the only version IFB recognizes as a legitimate Bible:

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

IFB churches and schools have tried to do exactly this — withdrawing from the world and from “worldliness” and being separate. They have created a bubble within which they can be sheltered from any “unclean thing” and from the worldly whispers of the world. Within that bubble, they could control the media and the message, insulating and isolating themselves from all outside voices.

That used to work pretty well, but it’s gotten a lot harder in the 21st century, because the Internet means that the entire worldly world is now just a click away. It’s no longer quite so easy to isolate and insulate themselves from all those outside voices — voices asking questions, voices telling stories, voices stating facts.

But the Internet doesn’t just mean that those voices are easier to find and harder to shut out completely. It also means that there are more voices. And as more people speak up and speak out, they encourage others to speak as well. In Samantha Field’s post here about abuse at Pensacola Christian College, she shared the stories of three former Pensacola students who have now found the courage to start telling those stories. They were attacked when they first told those stories while still students, and now they have been attacked again for refusing to just go away, yet they still chose to speak.

And they’re not alone in speaking. Samantha has also told her own story of her personal experience at Pensacola — both on her own blog, Defeating the Dragons, and to the press. Grace Wyler’s Vice report, “Sexual Abuse Has Become a Huge Problem for America’s Bible Colleges,” allows Samantha to tell her story there, as well as the all-too-similar story of Erin Burchwell, who attended Bob Jones University. Their courage en-courages others, and those others will start to speak as well.

These voices aren’t going away and they won’t be silenced — not even by the insulating walls of the IFB bubble.

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