Bob Jones University Protestors: Change Is Coming!

A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes… and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A couple of years ago, I read, and reviewed a book called Schizophrenic Christianity by Jeri Massi. Here is an excerpt from that post which also dealt with other matters.

“Last year I read Schizophrenic Christianity: How Christian Fundamentalism Attracts and Protects Sociopaths, Abusive Pastors, and Child Molesters by Jeri Massi. LINK to Amazon.

I was dumbfounded at the reported number of pastors accused and convicted of child molestation. What is shocking is that many of these men continue to be involved in positions of leadership. The pastors, seen as specially anointed, are shielded from blame. Instead, the victim, who is under the age of consent, is usually censured for pursuing justice and there is a concerted effort to isolate and shun the victim of abuse.

The book also discusses the extreme patriarchal views that are taught in the IFB. Men are seen as the head of the church and family while women take a distant, secondary role. In this system, when there is a man and a woman at odds, the male “head” gets protected while the women are thrown to the wolves."

The following quote from the above link at Amazon tells the story." (Pastors) “…hold themselves above accountability by merging into a system that refuses to police itself or institute rules of behavior for its clergy.”

Winds of Change

TWW has long maintained that the Internet is changing the way the religious community does business. Hyper-authoriatarian pastors and religious college leaders have been accustomed to a conspiracy of silence in which they controlled the information flow. However, today’s young adults have grown up in the information age. With a couple of clicks, they can find information on just about any subject. Then, they use social media to let their acquaintences in on the news.

It appears, there are some Bob Jones students and alumni who have effectively challenged the status quo by conducting a petition drive and a silent protest. We believe this story is a sign of the times. In fact, just a few short years ago, such an event would never happen. Or, if it had, the participants would have been thrown out of school. College authorities must be getting the message. Any strong-arm tactics will find top billing in the blogosphere. Perhaps this is what the Elephant Room boys are afraid of?

These students effectively used a combination of Facebook and Twitter to get their message out. They were protesting the presence of Chuck Phelps on the Board of Trustees at Bob Jones. Who is this Chuck Phelps? Christa Brown wrote about this sordid story at Stop Baptist Predators here. This is a short excerpt from the article.

“After being raped and impregnated by a fellow churchgoer more than twice her age, a 15-year-old Concord girl was forced by Trinity Baptist Church leaders to stand before the congregation to apologize before they helped whisk her out of state, according to the police.

While her pastor, Chuck Phelps, reported the alleged rape in 1997 to state youth officials, Concord police detectives were never able to find the victim. The victim said she was sent to another church member's home in Colorado, where she was home-schooled and not allowed to have contact with others her age. It wasn't until this past February that the victim, who is now 28, decided to come forward after reading about other similar cases, realizing for the first time it wasn't her fault that she had been raped, she told the police.”

So, how did Bib Jones University punish the pastor who put this young woman through hell on earth? They gave him a position on the BJU Board of Trustees! However, this story hit the national news earlier this year because of the courage of the victim. Concerned alumni and students circulated a petition, which garnered 2000 signatures, a virtual tsunami in this hyper-controlled school

On 12/6/11 the Concord Monitor’s Ann Marie Timmins reported the story here

“Ex-pastor quits board of university: Church's handling of rape criticized”

“The petition describes Phelps's response to Anderson's rape accusation this way:
"(Phelps) gave comfort to the rapist. . . ; made the young girl apologize for her part in getting raped; sent her away with her mother's help . . . and allowed the rapist to remain in the church." The petition also provides links to news segments about the case.

School officials responded to the petition last month on the school's website, saying they had talked with Phelps and determined he had made some mistakes in handling Anderson's rape. But much of what had been reported was untrue and unfair, the post said.

"A teenage girl was raped – this is a tragedy," the post said. "A rapist is in jail – this is justice. A faithful pastor is being pummeled in social media and his family maligned – this is unjust. Our God is being grieved."

However, reading the writing on the wall, Chuck Phelps resigned from the board. In the same Concord Monitor article:

“In accepting Phelps's resignation from the cooperating board of Bob Jones University, board Chairman Dr. Bob Jones III thanked Phelps for his "many years of loyal service."

Well, it appears that the students and alumni beg to differ from Bob Jones III. WSPA reported the story here.

“A small, but vocal, group of Bob Jones University students spoke about Monday about what they call a "conspiracy of secrecy" at the school, and within Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. The group of roughly two-dozen students and alumni wore red in unity, as they attended the University's Monday chapel service.

Do Right BJU" members say even though Phelps resigned from Bob Jones' Trustees, they are still unhappy with how the administration handled the matter. "This is about awareness and support for victims," says Peterman. "We want to say we're here for you and if you want to come talk to us, we'll help you heal."

Please note the rather inane ”talking head” response from the University. There is not one word about why they chose to defend Phelps.

“University spokesperson Brian Scoles released a statement saying that “the school has a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to abuse, and students are encouraged to file grievances with the University.”

It is obvious that the administration does not get it but a growing number of young people do. And that fact gives this blogger some hope that change may come with the next generation. We pray for the day that sexual abuse will be brought into the open and the perpetrators punished instead of hidden.

TWW applauds the efforts of this small group of alumni and students to expose the cover-up of sexual abuse in today’s churches. We are sure that you will hear “Well done, good and faithful servants” when you meet our Savior, face to face. And we will be there, applauding you!


Lydia's Corner: Job 12:1-15:35 1 Corinthians 15:29-58 Psalm 39:1-13 Proverbs 21:30-31


Bob Jones University Protestors: Change Is Coming! — 43 Comments

  1. Jeri’s book was an education for me. I’ve been following the BJU DoRight protest while I’ve been following a cousin school, Prairie Bible Institute in Canada.

    I agree the net has changed communication forever and I’m glad to see it.

  2. What we see on the ‘net is an increasing overflow of victims. I suspect that sooner than later our ability to feel empathy for victims will simply be overwhelmed by the amount of people claiming victims status. At that point, people start to shut down emotionally.

    Sexual abuse victims, physical abuse victims, mental abuse victims, spiritual abuse victims, pastoral abuse victims, academic abuse victims, professor abuse victims, playground abuse victims, First Baptist victims, Second Baptist victims, couselor abuse victims, janitorial abuse victims, road-rage victims, police abuse victims, democrat abuse victims, republican abuse victims, Sarah Palin abuse victims, Joe Biden abuse victims. Dirty air victims, second-hand smoke victims, doctor abuse victims. marijuana abuse victims, lawyer abuse victims coinciding with insurance company abuse victims.

    In American the victimization racket is up and running 24/7.

    Welcome to the internet where another group of victims starts a blog every hour.

  3. I can’t imagine my ability to feel empathy for victims ever being “overwhelmed”. Thank God for the internet where victims have a voice.

  4. Seneca
    Have you actually read about this situation? The victim stood up for herself and went after her tormentors. She is a heroine.

  5. Seneca,

    Could you please remind me again why you follow TWW? One of our priorities is to speak out on behalf of those who have been abused. We make no apologies, nor do we plan to change our focus.

  6. I’m sure Seneca will be offended by my comment, but here goes…

    To those who have been victimized by Sovereign Grace Ministries, TOMORROW is the deadline for submitting written input to the Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Here’s the information from the SGM website:

    Deadline for written input to Ambassadors of Reconciliation

    “If you’re interested in submitting written input to Ambassadors of Reconciliation as part of their evaluation of Sovereign Grace Ministries, tomorrow (December 16) is the last day to do so. Use the online feedback form to submit your request by midnight, or send your request directly to”

    If you were hurt by SGM and on the fence about whether to submit written input, I can tell you that some commenters over on SGM Survivors have remarked that they participated in interviews with AoR (some in person and some over the phone), and they were glad they did it. The AoR representatives were compassionate to those being interviewed. I found that very encouraging.

  7. Eagle, I’m seeing the narcissism too, but it’s not actual “Christianity” per se. It’s the rip off pretending to be Christianity. Satan’s best ploy.

    Has everyone heard about Mark Driscoll’s new book where he promotes anal sex for married couples? He’s doing a book tour for both marrieds and singles and one of the places he’ll be speaking at is Liberty University.

    Many of the celebrity preachers are going insane and apparently their followers crave the carnality they preach.

  8. What is more worrying are those who are not outraged by a pastor molesting a teen because they are fed up with any “victims”. Now, that is worrisome. I am thankful at least the students recognize injustice, morbid sin and have more discernment than the officials. They are a far cry from the student riot over Joe P.

    It is also worrying how many Christians do not believe in basic justice and attack the victims. It freaks me out. I often wonder if they understand that is NOT Christianity. And when a professing believer…even a pastor…. is a molester….and still one rolls their eyes at the victims? I think that shows a very hard heart and Seneca, I would work out my salvation with fear and trembling if I were you. Ask God to give you a new heart.

  9. “The gospel is all I have to share with the dying or their families after they are gone. I can do nothing more and I have promised God to do no less.”

    Seriously? What is the book?

  10. Ted,

    Challies just put up a blog post about Driscoll’s new book, which I read earlier today. The comments are also interesting.

    I still chuckle when I told Dee that I was reluctant to start this blog because I didn’t think (at the time) there was enough to write about in Christendom.


  11. Re: Seneca and victims.

    Seneca, you need to trade in a heart of stone for one that God can inhabit, one of flesh and blood.

    Until we as a society stand up against abuse, it will continue to occur. I am not fond of some who consider themselves victims, but there are many real victims out there, and those who will stand need someone to stand with and for them against the abusers and those who protect them.

    There are charlatans in the pulpit and on church staffs in many places. There are also dedicated servants in a majority of pulpits and church staff positions. What everyone in those positions need to have is a servant heart, not a “look at me how good I am” mentality.

    I encounter abused people everyday in my law practice. Right now, we are rescuing two little girls who have been physically abused (no evidence yet of sexual abuse) by a father and step mother. I have a case where a widow was cheated by a financial institution into paying on the car loan he had that included insurance, then repo-ing the car and selling it because she was not paying it off faster than the payment schedule he had; learned recently of other cases involving widows and vehicles with this financial institution. I have a case of another widow who is being pursued to pay off her husband’s credit card, which she never saw, did not know he had, and has nothing that can be shown to have been bought with it. I have represented the mother of a 4 year old who was raped while her father was in bed with the rapist’s mother.

    There is a lot of abuse out there. Some claims are not legitimate. But others result in victims who suffer permanent damage, physical and emotional. Rape, vaginal or rectal, can cause permanent physical, psychological, and emotional injury. To diss people who have been raped, which is what child sex abuse is, is to further abuse them.

    Seneca, please stop further abusing those who have been abused.

  12. Seneca,

    There is a whiff of strangeness to your rant above. What were you drinking when you wrote it? Are you saying it is bad for victims to go public through a blog? Please tell us more about the “victimization racket” you mentioned.

    Perhaps your post is simply an illustration of your first point about how people will shut down emotionally at an overflow of victim testimonies. I can understand the principle – more exposure to a stimulus leads to a desensitization toward the stimulus. But should this be true of a Christian when it comes to hearing from victims of real abuse? Although we may feel desensitized, is it right that we allow ourselves to be desensitized or lack empathy?

    Empathy toward injustice seems close to God’s heart, no? Seneca, does the Lord Jesus Christ tire of you? Is the Lord of Glory ever desensitized to you? Did Christ die for you so you could write posts like the one above or did he die so you can go out of your way to love others, listen to and even defend the cause of the innocent? May I humbly suggest you ask yourself those questions the next time you want to complain about the overflow of victims on the net.

    “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 30-31, ESV)

    “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.'” (Deuteronomy 27:19, ESV)

    “As for you brothers [and sisters], do not grow weary in doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13, ESV)

  13. Seneca

    Hmmm…. I wonder if you are an abuser of some sort yourself. Constantly trying to antagonize people is very revealing. According to your fundamentalist/calvinistic beliefs God is recording EVERYTHING you say on this blog and one day you will have to give an account. Your rewards in heaven could be few. Maybe you will spend eternity in a pup tent way down yonder in the paw paw patch while those that truly suffered here on earth will be enjoying lush amenities in a 50,000 sq ft mansion. But wait! You can always give God the excuse that you ate too many twinkies! Maybe he will upgrade you to a shed.

  14. There are many, many instances where BJU has either not reported rapes/sexual assaults that occurred among their students or they denied assistance to students who came to them asking for help from sex offenders whithin thier homes or home communities. There are numerous stories where students asked for help for younger siblings and help was denied. Not only was the abuse not reported to the police, but the students reporting it were silenced. Some were even given demerits for “lying”. The “counseling” given by the school is abusive. It consists of finding some way to blame the victim, force the victim to apologize to her sexual abuser, shame the victim and make sure they believe that it would be a sin to ever tell about the things that happened. What is starting to trickle out, is just the tip of the iceberg. Most are still too afraid and ashamed to tell, but as more and more find their voice, the truth will be made clear. I hope that BJU is able to truly face the wrong they have done, repent and become a place of hope rather than a place of condemnation and shame for those who have been hurt.

  15. Kyra
    Thank you for your comment. If you know of stories to be told or know of folks who would like to have their story told to help others, please contact us via our TWW email. We would be happy to publish them. We hold to strict confidentiality so the stories could be told anonymously to protect the victims.

  16. Good for the BJU students holding leaders accountable to their actions! Shame on the leaders for not being as bold. It shouldn’t surprise me, but I am still shocked that Christian leaders are willing to hide abuse.

    I am curious about the content of Mark Driscoll’s new book that you mentioned. All of the reviews that I have seen online are glowing for him and this new book. Where did you find information about the promotion of anal sex?

  17. Isn’t there a promise somewhere in the Gospels that in the Kingdom of God, “What you kept secret shall be shouted from the housetops”?

  18. Has everyone heard about Mark Driscoll’s new book where he promotes anal sex for married couples? He’s doing a book tour for both marrieds and singles and one of the places he’ll be speaking at is Liberty University. — Ted

    “…where he promotes anal sex for married couples…”

    First reaction: “WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT?”

    Second reaction: “Well, looks like he’s shifting to the other end…”

    Many of the celebrity preachers are going insane and apparently their followers crave the carnality they preach.

    More like Basking in the Celebrity like groupies in an entourage.

    “Just like Lindsay Lohan/Charlie Sheen/Paris Hilton, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!!!”

    And besides, any religion that preaches getting laid (especially in juicy detail) is gonna get a LOT of followers.

  19. And any mention of BJU boots up this Steve Taylor classic:

    “Way down Carolina way
    There’s a preacher called Bee Jay;
    Bee Jay got himself a school
    Founded on Caucasian rule;
    Bumper sticker on his Ford:
    ‘Honkies if you Love The LOORD!'”
    — Steve Taylor, “We Don’t Need No Color Code”

    And given the subject matter of what BJU leaders do deep in their dens, “Bee Jay University” sounds so appropriate.

  20. If you see any daytime TV, the most ubiquitous ads are the big law firms hunting for more victims. Give them a call; they’ll help you see that you too were abused.
    As a previous poster accurately commented, it does ultimately desensitize one to real abuse.

    Victimization is a huge financial business in this country.

    (Interesting article on Prairie Bible; I have family that attended there. Had a good time from all reports. Who knew there were sinners on the faculty and staff.)

  21. In my older age, I generally think of this verse when someone details their abuse from the past.

    The one who states his case first seems right,
    until the other comes and examines him.
    (Proverbs 18:17 ESV)

    It is very difficult to know the truth about the past. Ultimately we know but parts of the truth. God alone knows the whole historic truth including motives and motivations. We may claim we do but we don’t.

  22. Seneca’s rant strikes me more as a symptom of burnout than anything else. It’s a variation on the “One Fanboy Too Many” syndrome I’ve seen among Furry artists where overstimulus causes an allergic reaction to the stimulus.

    One Kyle’s Mom playing the “VICTIM!” card too many and you think anyone claiming to be a victim is BS. Especially after knowing about False Memory Syndrome and seeing all those Get-Rich-Quick Tort Lawyer ads on heavy rotation, all channels. Enough of that and after a while you can’t tell the real victims from the fake victims and you just burn out.

    I remember an essay over at Rabbi Boteach’s blog that describes this as an application of Bearing False Witness — a False Witness (or ulterior motive) cheapens and degrades all the Real Testimony and casts doubt upon the truthful.

  23. I think posts like Seneca’s are more indicative of someone who was abused, but was led to believe the abuse was normal, and to get over it. We can’t self-select which feelings to bury or shut down; if we bury one we tend to bury them all. And without feeling things fully ourselves, how can we empathize with others?

  24. “…However, today’s young adults have grown up in the information age. With a couple of clicks, they can find information on just about any subject. Then, they use social media to let their acquaintences in on the news…”

    This hasn’t happened since Gutenberg’s movable type printing press. It can be seriously argued that Gutenberg’s invention was instrumental in breaking the strangle hold of the Catholic church over the minds of Europeans all those centuries ago. There are present day Protestant tyrants abroad in the land and you girls (blog queens) are standing against them. I salute you. Godspeed.

  25. HUG –

    “any religion that preaches getting laid . . . is gonna get a LOT of followers. ”

    This was my thought as well. Add to the above the $$$ that comes with said followers and the $$$ that comes from book sales and you have some nice income going on. And all of this on a book that will be controversial and may well just make porno a legit new business for the Christian world. This is a new level of something – I’m not sure what though.

    Another thing that is bothering me about this book by MD is the potential misconceptions it may place on marriages. Don’t we already have enough people entering marriage with wrong/warped expectations. Many enter marriage with a “Hollywood or movie” ideal. Now it seems we will have the “Calvanistawood” version of what marriage should look like.

  26. I know that this is off topic and about as welcome as a honey-baked ham at a passover Seder, but will anyone join with me in mourning the passing of Christopher Hitchens? Strictly on a human level regardless of religious conviction?

  27. Muff
    The reading of Hitchen’s writings was one of my guilty pleasures. Did you know in the last year, since his diagnosis, Francis Collins became a close friend and Hitchens appreciated Collins’ support in finding experimental therapy. In spite of his aversion to faith, Hitchens was a worthy opponent, causing the faithful to to become more savvy in the defense of the faith. I only wish he had known his Creator…

  28. Now many fundys act and think as if porn is the only destabilizer to marriages. — Eagle

    Long ago, I came to the conclusion that Fundys are just as sexually messed-up as everyone else, they just show it in a completely-different way. They’re as sexually-obsessed as any nympho, just flipped one-eighty in how they show it.

    (And I’ve seen a LOT of sexual screw-ups during 20 years in Furry Fandom. An analogy to Fundys and sex is the phenomenon of Pathological Furry-Haters; as obsessed with FURRIES as those they denounce, just flipped from Total Blind Adoration into Total Blind Hatred.)

  29. @ Muff…I’m waiting for many fundagelicals to have parties and celebrate his passing.
    — Eagle, re the death of Christopher Hitchens

    As they did with Steven Jay Gould and Gary Gygax.

  30. And all of this on a book that will be controversial and may well just make porno a legit new business for the Christian world. This is a new level of something – I’m not sure what though. — Brigit2

    Well, we’ve had so many “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” in the Christianese bubble, “Just like Porn, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” isn’t that much of a stretch anymore.

    A lot of Christianese parallel pop culture exists as “Just-like-Pop-Culture” knockoffs so RTCs can have pop culture just like those HEATHENS on the other side of the wall without actually mixing with them. Or consolation/booby prizes for being righteous and not contaminating themselves with the real prize outside.

  31. Arlene,

    Thanks for alerting us about this CT article. We’re going to continue speaking out about abuse here at TWW. Victims have the right to be heard!


  32. Muff, “amen” on having some good memories of – and respect for – C. Hitchens.

    While I disagree with many of his ideas (well, OK – his use of the word “Kristallnacht” drove me nuts because it so belittled the deaths of many German and Polish Jews), i have a great deal of respect for his independence of thought and willingness to hold to (seemingly) contrarian positions even when he was attacked about them.

    And… he died of the same cancer that took one of my loved ones. In fact, they were the same age at their deaths. Esophageal cancer is rarely ever detected before it’s already in Stage IV (usually Stage IV B). Hitchens’ continuing to write and work was a singular witness to his will to survive… even though I’m sure he knew his days were numbered, given his diagnosis.

    He wouldn’t like my praying for him, but I have …

  33. And, re. Seneca’s rant…

    We live in a litigious society.

    Which is one of the reasons that low-class ambulance-chasing attorneys advertise on TV.

    But neither thing invalidates the very real harm suffered by those who have been abused, no matter what kind of abuse was inflicted on them.

    In other words, it’s anything but an A + B = C kind of deal.

  34. Muff, My first response to Christopher Hitchens’ death was “God rest his soul.” (That tends to be my first response to any death, I’ve become that Catholic).

    I’m ashamed by Christians being so nasty as to celebrate another’s illness and death. Reminds me of the Muslim reaction to Oriana Fallaci. They did the same thing while she was dying of cancer.

    Probably for the same reasons, pointing out their problems.

  35. Anna A,

    Sometimes religion can bring out the worst in humans. If we let it, it can build walls rather than bridges. Since I have lost my religion [except for 3 core beliefs: Jesus’ virgin birth, his bodily resurrection & bodily return one day], I’d rather look for the good in people rather than letting a systematic theological belief system cloud my humanity.

  36. policy when it comes to abuse, and students are encouraged to file grievances with the University. BJU policy statement from this posting.

    This approach did not work well at Penn State and there is no reason to think it will work better at BJU–and even SBTS has changed from this policy. In addition to the circle the wagons attitude, you have the problem that each person that moves the story up the chain tends to make it a bit less dramatic and a bit less serious.

  37. Thank you for citing and recommending Schizophrenic Christianity! It looks to me like the Do Right protest got sidetracked, and though I endorsed it when it was first announced, I regrettably had to add multiple cautionary notes about it as the days went by before the protest. However, I do think the very image of the protest prompted the resignation of Chuck Phelps from the Cooperative Board of BJU (10 days before the protest actually took place). So though the turnout on the day itself was quite small, DRBJU had actually already attained their stated objective.

    I know of at least one woman who was raped at BJU as a student, by a male student, off campus. And no, they were not on a date. The school did not forbid her to go to the police, but they did not go to the police, and it was pretty clear that they did not want her to “cause trouble”. They promised her a certain level of security from him, but then disregarded their promise after a few weeks. I’m very ready to believe that this was not the only rape.

    Jeri Massi