The Realist Speaks: 5 Reasons the BJU Scandal Will Go Away

UPDATE: Today, February 25, 2014, GRACE and BJU announced that their original agreement will be reinstated in its entirety. It’s a bittersweet victory that paves the way for hope in cases where there has been no hope that institutions are capable of admitting miscalculated decisions and changing course. Great thanks to all who fought for the BJU survivors both privately and publicly and hats off to the leaders of BJU for exercising humility in the end rather than stubbornness and pride.

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So Bob Jones University fired GRACE, the team they hired to investigate historical abuses and failures to report. From my Twitter feed, I’m guessing most people who are outraged have no idea that this whole “let’s fire GRACE at the last minute” thing has happened before …

Less than a year ago ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism), the mission board I grew up in, fired GRACE too. It took us 22 years to actually get an investigation of historical abuse and collusion at ABWE, and it took almost two years after GRACE was hired to get close to a conclusion. Then, at the last possible moment, the ethically-challenged ABWE moved in for the kill and tore up their agreement. (Yes, ethically-challenged is the polite term used for organizations that figure out how to use pretty infographics to tell the world that they’ve changed, when privately, all you ever get is the same old same old.)

So I speak from experience. If history has taught us anything, it is that this whole BJU scandal currently abuzz on the internet has a definite shelf life, and in just 12 months most of you not directly associated with the institution—and even many who are—will have forgotten all about it.

Here’s why:

1. Evangelical Journalists: They aren’t usually into asking tough questions or printing the sort of bold exposés their non-religious counterparts have won awards for. How quickly those of us who were victims of ABWE discovered even Christianity Today would take a soft approach. Any hope I held out for evangelical journalism died with one poorly chosen March 2013 print CT headline about the firing of GRACE: “Investigator or Prosecutor?” (Don’t worry, the link to the online version is coming.) The headline could just have easily read: “Firing or Silencing?” But it didn’t. And that’s significant. (See how words can shape perspectives? Most of us who write do.)

Bobby Ross’s shoddy piece of journalism—for which he contacted only a few actual victims, at the eleventh hour before publication, via email, and with a list of irrelevant “stock”-type questions, and then went on to use our real names without permission—immediately framed ABWE’s “concerns” about GRACE (that they were just “prosecutors,” not “investigators”) as legitimate and understandable. The heart of the matter—that ABWE’s blame-shifting had even gone so far during the firing as to publicly accuse the interviewed victims of collusion (scroll down to first item on the numbered list when you click that link)—was totally missed. You can still read the CT piece online, only CT’s editor was so bombarded with outrage that he changed the title of the Ross piece online (too late for print!) and even changed some of the wording within. (Note the URL address of the piece ending in “investigator-or-prosecutor” still reflects the original title, forever out there on the interwebs as evidence that, yes, THAT REALLY HAPPENED.)

(Note: Has CT already posted about the BJU/GRACE firing? Yes. Did it seem like hard-hitting journalism that raised serious questions about what is happening at BJU to you? Me either, but at least this time CT didn’t so obviously side with the institution from the headline on. Still … one can’t help but notice who got to have the last word.)

2. GRACE Themselves: GRACE won’t break their contractual agreement of confidentiality with the institution. It’s a problematic agreement in the first place, one I started advising other victims of abuse just two weeks ago not to allow on their watch. That said, now that BJU has fired GRACE, GRACE is contractually obligated to never let any part of their findings—which would otherwise have been posted online at the conclusion of the investigation—see the light of day.

If our experience with them is any indication, GRACE will not publish these findings,* GRACE will not talk about these findings with the public, GRACE will not leak these findings, GRACE will not even hint as to what the findings are in phone calls with victims. GRACE will quietly report to authorities (whose hands are usually tied—see my #4) anything they are obliged by law to report, and the rest will be locked into a file for the rest of eternity. The findings are dead, done, a waste of everyone’s blood, sweat and tears. Our investigation took literal years from our lives, and we’ll never even know what GRACE discovered.

The lesson? If an investigative team is fired, their “findings to date” should be made immediately available to those who were interviewed. If you’re a survivor, don’t agree to any investigation that doesn’t guarantee you this safety net. Would institutions ever sign on for these investigations knowing that they couldn’t control a bad PR nightmare at the end by firing the team before the report went public? Maybe not. But clearly the whole idea that the institution owns the findings isn’t working out so well for GRACE and the victims who just want truth.

3. The Good Ol’ Boys Club: None of the denominations or Christian organizations affiliated and associated with the institution will have the courage to hold them publicly accountable. You would hope that those with influence in such situations would use their influence for good, because in such insulated faith circles it’s really the only thing that works. But those with potential influence just don’t typically choose to use it. 

In our situation, we quickly recognized that the only organization remotely influential over ABWE and ABWE supporters was the GARBC (General Association of Regular Baptist Churches) and we first called out the connection between the two ministries in October 2011. Almost immediately people associated with leadership at GARB began privately feeding us the line that they were just as concerned about ABWE’s behavior as we were and were contemplating what to do about it. Well … that was 28 months ago. As of November 2013, my last contact with the higher ups at GARBC, their stand was exactly the same. Essentially: “We’re so concerned, but we’re just … [insert excuse here].”

Here is a sad, sad warning to the victims from BJU: The cavalry isn’t coming. Stop looking to your fellow Christians in the BJU-associated churches and ministries you grew up in and believed cared about you to come to your defense, because you won’t even be able to count on one hand the ones who will over the next 12 months. The few who do just won’t be enough. On the other hand, you will quickly lose count of your Diane Keatons, and I’m really, really sorry about that.

4. Ignorance: There is general public ignorance about the difficulty of prosecuting these things and the difficulty of bringing civil suits against such institutions. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “If anything criminal actually happened, people would be in jail.” And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: “Oh, ye who know nothing about how these things work.”

If you think for even a second that prosecuting old cases of abuse and rape and failure to report is a simple thing, you live in a fantasy world, and I’d like the address so that I can move there and live there with you instead of in this wasteland of injustice where statutes of limitations and other pesky obstacles like burden of proof (and, for some of us, a little thing called foreign soil) stand in the way of what you seem to think should be quite simple if victims are “telling the truth.” Which brings me to number five …

5. You: That’s right, I said it, the last reason is simply YOU. Let’s be honest. If you are not one of the victims, your interest in this matter is fleeting. If anyone actually is still posting it on Twitter and Facebook in two week’s time, you’ll stop clicking the links. You’ll stop being outraged. Your compassion’s short attention span will move on to another cause. And let’s face it … if you aren’t from a similar patriarchal fundamentalist culture where stuff like this whole “let’s cover up abuse because it’s bad for the gospel” happens all the time, you’re thinking: “Well what else do you expect from a patriarchal fundamentalist culture where stuff like this whole ‘let’s cover up abuse because it’s bad for the gospel’ happens all the time?”

BJU QuoteBut I want to talk to you about that. About your apathy. 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?

So you have a choice now.

You can be that person who gives this a few seconds of your compassion through a retweet or a comment or a change.org petition and moves on. (In which case, you’ll quickly forget that there are dozens of victims out there who likely just saw their last chance at any form of justice slip away. In which case, those victims can be assured that when they get online a year from now to see if people still care, they’ll quickly figure out that even their so-called “advocates” are way more into Mark Driscoll’s latest blunder than the fact that BJU got away with it.)

Or … you can remember that your consistent, persistent, and tireless collective outrage and unified voice is likely the victims’ only hope.

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*NOTE: By “findings” here, I am referring to the final report GRACE would have prepared, a summation of the findings in regard to the abusers and institution, based on the sum total of information provided by all transcripts from all interviews, with only victim names withheld. With regard to individual transcripts, GRACE provides a copy of an interview transcript to each individual post-interview and that transcript is then considered the possession of that individual after that point.

54 thoughts on “The Realist Speaks: 5 Reasons the BJU Scandal Will Go Away

    • Thanks for reading. While I’m not directly involved with the BJU investigation, I know how those victims feel today and it’s not good. And a year out … it’s still not good. I pray their situation ends better than ours.

    • Thanks for reading, Susan. And, yes, not forgetting the victims is key. Institutions like ABWE and BJU count on the short attention span of the public. The only way to remedy that is to stop having a short attention span. Thank you!

  1. Thank you Tamara. I resonate with all that you have written. All of it is true, and I know that from personal experience. At the moment I am discouraged and depressed. And also very angry. Thank you for describing my anger in words that make sense, because I just don’t have the words right now. I am battle weary. But alive. And I’m not quitting.

    • I’m so glad you aren’t quitting, Raz. It’s hard. This is a hard thing to go through. And it is–this whole fighting for an investigation and then the abrupt ending of hope–is its own sort of trauma, I’m so sorry to say. But you have my prayers. Don’t give up.

    • Thank you. I can post updates about ABWE here (though honestly there isn’t much to say other than that the situation is hopeless), but am not in the loop as much on BJU. For consistent BJU updates, I would head over to: https://www.facebook.com/DoRightBJU Where, if you “like” the page, you’ll get consistent updates on their situation.

  2. Tamara we have not forgotten. Our church which supports two ABWE gave the mission two months to rehire grace or we would stop supporting their missionaries. We informed the missionaries they had four months to find another mission or their support would be dropped. We never heard from the mission and the four month is just about up for the missionaries. I am not surprised that we got no response. It probably won’t make any difference but we did what we could.

    • I am not surprised they did not respond to your church. What a sad statement that even with the support of their missionaries on the line, they would refuse to fight for your trust and redeem their reputation. They don’t respond to MK victims either…and yet an entire infographic on their website is dedicated to how much they just love their MKs.

      If you didn’t catch this link within the post above, your church may be interested in it:

      http://hopefullyknown.com/abwe-mk-abuse-scandal-grace/

      • Thank you for the article, Tamara. It is a sad commentary on the condition of the church today. In reference to ABWE’s claim that they ‘love’ their MK’s. Jesus said ‘Where your treasure is there will your heart be also’. ABWE’s heart is only with their own organization, in other words their treasure is themselves….not the MK’s.

      • Absolutely. They prove again … and again … and again … where their hearts are. And now it seems BJU is doing the same …

    • Wow!! Your church would really cut funding from a missionary who desperately needs it and who has nothing to do with the situation over which you are upset? All the while knowing that ABWE has hired an actually independent agency to investigate the matter (GRACE was not independent; they are an advocacy group). I don’t know what is going on at BJU or at ABWE, and frankly don’t care, but honestly, you need to step up in your church and demand change on this matter. Do not make a missionary and the work of the gospel suffer because ABWE chose a different group than you would have chosen. Absolutely shameful. … and people think BJU is harsh with “secondary separation.”

      I don’t know why BJU fired GRACE. It looks bad, very bad. I hope to find out differently, but for now, it is bad. As for ABWE, it looks like ABWE had good reasons, at least on the surface. If even one or two of the allegations are true, then GRACE was inept. For instance, if it is true that GRACE was not recording these interviews and making the full transcript available, and acknowledging that 25% good be missed through their methodology, that is unconscionable. That is junior high level research. It would think GRACE would know better than that. Their 15 page response was less than convincing on several fronts. The biggest factor is that GRACE apparently would not guarantee confidentiality. And this post illustrates why that was important. You have someone who thinks GRACE’s methodology is suspect. And you have this author who is complaining that anyone thinks that. Can you imagine the grief this complainant/s would face were their names no protected? For GRACE to refuse to protect the identity of these people was, itself, enough to call into question their professionalism.

      Lastly, remember, there were significant problems with GRACE and the Prairie Bible Institute situation. Which means three organizations have now had problems with GRACE. Don’t be too quick to dismiss this. My heart hurts for those who were abused. It is wrong that it happened, and wrong that it was covered up. But GRACE’s track record, from an outsider, looks sketchy at best.

      They are an advocacy group, and that is probably what they should stick to. Advocates do not make good independent investigators. They have a built in bias.

      • Dear Mr. Anon,

        You seem to have a lot of opinions for someone who admits in your very first paragraph that you don’t actually know what’s going on at ABWE or BJU.

        Keeping that in mind, how exactly do you feel you are in a position to judge whether or not the problem is GRACE or the problem is institutions that panic at the last moment when they realize that their sins are about to be made public and the more they have found out about the abuses that occurred, the more they realize that it’s going to be really, really ugly and they desperately want to regain control and silence what is about to come out? I’m not sure why your assumption would be that GRACE is the problem, when what all three situations ALSO have in common is that all of the institutions have a history of mishandling, hiding and covering abuse, refusing to name names of abusers, and other shady practices that would indicate that the ACTUAL problem is their fear of facing transparency. That is the other constant and you are choosing to ignore it.

        As to your statement that GRACE refused to protect the identity of the “complainers,” you’ve completely missed reality. That’s not the case. GRACE wanted ABWE to TELL THEM (and them only) the names of those who complained, so that they could discuss the individual situations with ABWE intelligently, but they did not want their hands tied by a confidentiality agreement if–for example–those complainers turned out to be the actual perpetrators of abuse or collusion themselves. Can you imagine if GRACE had been accused by these interviewees of something and then been unable to reveal to anyone that these complaints actually came from the pedophile himself or another equally guilty party? Have you considered that reality? Because I’m certain that GRACE did. GRACE exercised wise caution in the matter, but ABWE didn’t trust them. Before the situation could be resolved GRACE was fired. GRACE is aware, clearly, of some who weren’t happy, because of personal communication. All GRACE has said to anyone, however, publicly or privately is that those individuals have ties to ABWE, please note: GRACE HAS REFUSED TO NAME THE COMPLAINERS THEY KNOW ABOUT. Refused. There are literally dozens of people who these complainers could be and GRACE has continued to protect them from those of us who would really like to know for this entire long year and will continue to protect them. GRACE HAS PROTECTED THEIR IDENTITIES, please accept that FACT. They have acted with the utmost professionalism, only bringing up the fact that these individuals had ties to ABWE as defense over ABWE’s pointed accusations. Your statement that GRACE “refused to protect the identity of these people” is absolutely patently false. You are twisting their refusal to sign an agreement that might have tied their hands against a pedophile as an indication that they actually actively betrayed the identity of anyone, which in fact THEY DID NOT. They’ve proven their integrity in this matter and your statement is twisted and slanderous in light of reality.

        As for GRACE being an advocacy group, who then do you suppose should handle these investigations if not anti-abuse advocates? People who are anti-survivors? People who are advocates for covering up?

        Your statements about ABWE’s new team being “actually independent” are absolutely false. To be clear, ABWE hired Pii–they are a corporate cleanup crew, not an objective third party as you suggest. They are essentially PR people who specialize in investigations that offer corporations damage control, and so far they have proved this at every turn from their language to their treatment of victims. I speak from personal experience with Pii as an ABWE victim. You REALLY should understand the limitations of your admittedly outsider perspective.

        And as for cutting funding from missionaries, you’re entitled to your opinion, but some people care where their money goes and the money does go to ABWE corporate and not just the missionaries. There are worse things than needing to find yourself a new (better) mission board in order to keep your supporting churches, like–for example–having the abuse of your children ignored and covered up by the people you work for.

        Please do not try to comment here anonymously again.

  3. Tamara:

    What happened to Pii? There is nothing on their webpage , ABWE hasn’t updated their webpages since they publicly trashed G.R.A.C.E. and hired the Mormon couple from Pii. It’s business as usual from what I can see…

  4. This is so very discouraging that hope was offered once again to the abused and smashed so easily. GRACE is obviously doing their job and that is what ABWE and now Bob Jones University does not want. People in the churches need to take a stand, that is the only way this will be stopped!

  5. As a graduate of BJU, I am very confused at my alma mater’s decision to terminate the investigation. Many supporters of BJU are taking hope in ABWE’s similar opinion of GRACE and expecting BJU to release a similar statement to the one released by ABWE regarding its termination of GRACE. I had been reading your blog for several months, and just today I made the connection that you were a victim in the Bangladesh MK scandal. First, let me say how broken my heart is for you and for your MK counterparts. I cannot imagine how much grief has been brought to the heart of God as a result of the abuse you all have suffered and still suffer to this day. It is clear from your most recent entry that your experience with GRACE does not line up with the report that ABWE gave (stating that GRACE asked leading questions, harrassed interviewees, refused to maintain victim anonymity, etc.). Could you elaborate on your experience with GRACE?

    • Hi, Leila. Thanks for reading (and being an ongoing reader!). I noticed some of that on Twitter today, that “See? ABWE was right to fire GRACE!” thinking. But they display their ignorance. Every time I caught someone saying that, I’d ask, “Were you part of that investigation?” And the answer, of course, was always no. How convenient this turn of events is, however, for the naysayers.

      ABWE’s reasons for firing GRACE were completely self-serving. I don’t know if you noticed this link above, but here is a link to some information about an MK perspective on that (mine) and some of my attempts over the past year to get answers from ABWE’s Duane Early on their current “investigation”: http://hopefullyknown.com/abwe-mk-abuse-scandal-grace/ (You’ll also find links on that page to both ABWE’s accusations in the firing and GRACE’s responses to the accusations.)

      ABWE feared the report coming out and that’s the bottom line. GRACE was professional and above board. Does GRACE care for abuse survivors and advocate for justice? Absolutely. Isn’t that the point? And yet at ABWE, it seems, they didn’t like that it was the point. They wanted a defense team. And now they have one in Pii, their new investigators for the past year.

      To be clear, I don’t know of anyone among the Bangladesh victims who did not want the GRACE investigation to be seen through to completion. ABWE refuses to name those who supposedly complained and frankly I believe this is because the number is small and the names would not hold up to scrutiny. Their bias would be revealed. When you hear ABWE say that GRACE “refused to maintain victim anonymity” they are not at all speaking about the interviews and the final report, etc. GRACE would never expose victims. What they are referring to is that when confronted by ABWE about complaints, GRACE asked to know who had complained in order to properly discuss the exact circumstances with ABWE. ABWE refused to reveal the names, even to GRACE. They did not trust GRACE to keep the names confidential.

      Well … the joke is on ABWE, because I have never even been able to get a single name out of GRACE as to any ABWE employees/loyalists who might have complained about the investigation. They won’t name names. And I’ve tried. Clearly they underestimated GRACE’s professionalism as GRACE would have nothing to lose by revealing the names at this point.

      GRACE never asked me a leading question. No one I know has complained about being harassed by GRACE. They are caring professionals. It is all nonsense. Were a few people not thrilled with GRACE? Probably. Was the investigation long? Yes. Were there a few minor (very insignificant) errors in my transcript? Yes, and that’s exactly why I was given a copy–to correct any errors.

      GRACE did the best they could in a difficult situation. Penetrating the fortress of secrecy and spin that is ABWE is a difficult task.

      I’d encourage you to read more on http://bangladeshmksspeak.wordpress.com/ (if you haven’t already), if you’re interested in the historical abuse at ABWE. Notice there are over 1600 comments on the first post … the information and stories within those comments say it all.

      All that to say, thank you for reading and thank you for your concern also.

      • I am very disappointed in the lack of clarity from BJU about their termination of the GRACE investigation. I know many people who are waiting with bated breath for some explanation. I must admit, I am fearful of the worst–that they are once again covering up. On a side note, I have a big problem with groups like Do Right BJU–only because I feel that they are more a proponent for destroying the university than bringing the truth to light, and sadly they lose a lot of clout by mudslinging and name-calling. I think it’s important to remember about large institutions like BJU that they are made up of many, many people–not just one head honcho calling all the shots. They are made up of families who want their children to develop a Christian worldview, teacher’s who sacrifice a decent salary because they believe that God’s Word should still be the source of all knowledge, and students who want develop relationships with other believers. I think it’s so important to send a loud cry for justice! However, I think it’s also important to direct that cry appropriately at the source of the problem–not at the entire university family. Just my two cents and the reason why Do Right BJU is not one of my trusted sources for information.

        Thank you for sharing your experience with GRACE. It certainly does not align with ABWE’s portrayal of the investigation. God have mercy on ABWE–and on BJU if they are following in ABWE’s steps.

      • Thanks for reading, Senora. Yes, a lot of frustrated (and very sad) people today over this. I think I have heard that complain about Do Right BJU too. But do you know of another outlet where BJU’s abused are speaking out? Let me know if you do. I understand the tension. It was hard for people who loved ABWE to hear the truth about our experiences with them. We were deemed haters, enemies of the gospel, tools of Satan … I’ve heard it all from people who didn’t want to acknowledge the legitimacy of our stories. Many made the assumption that we ALL (all of us victims and the people behind the MK blog) wanted ABWE as an entire entity to be sunk into the ground. It actually wasn’t true. I would say we weren’t even evenly split. Sure, some of us don’t see how anyone in good conscience could continue to be a part of ABWE. But most of the others still held out hope for redemption for a long, long time, still loved ABWE and desired reconciliation no matter how bad things got. I’m not sure how many remain in that position of hope for ABWE at this point … but it was true the first year of our investigation and public struggle.

        So really I don’t know at all what the Do Right BJU crew is like, you probably know better. I just know that in our case a lot of those assumptions made about us based on rumor and speculation (and not actually knowing us personally) were very inaccurate. We were painted as godless in the hate mail we’d get … and yet most of us were in ministry. Go figure.

        And, no, you will not find very many slivers of alignment in ABWE’s portrayal of the investigation (particularly if the information came from former ABWE point man Tony Beckett) and the actual truth of what went down.

      • I wish I knew of a group that focused simply on finding the truth and not calling that the university be burned to ashes (sadly, that’s how the two groups I know of function). If I do find something, I will let you know. I took a look at the petition by Do Right BJU. Looks like they are getting a lot of support–and not necessarily from people who hate the university, but people who want to see it honor its commitment. I was hoping to see something on the university website today–some reasoning as to why they made the call. Best case scenario–they make amends with GRACE and allow the investigation to continue to completion. Worst case scenario–they brush this under the rug. I cannot tell you how upset I am with how this has gone down. They’ve made a real pig’s ear of this whole thing! (btw, I am one and the same with the “Leila” above–just forgot to login before I posted my comment)

      • UPDATE:Stephen Jones addressed the current state of the university’s relationship with GRACE yesterday.

        (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)

        After listening to it, there are still things that I do not quite understand:

        -Why go to the lengths of terminating the entire investigation when you could just “suspend” it until you are able to clarify things with GRACE? “Terminate” is such a strong word.
        -Why would communication with an organization to whom you are no doubt paying thousands and thousands of dollars be so difficult? According to GRACE, BJU terminated the contract without giving any prior notice. (I have never known the university to be shy about things that are not going their way.)
        -Why does BJU insist on honoring its commitment to an agency that obviously doesn’t care a bit about the university’s reputation? When your institution’s reputation is slowly but surely dripping down a one-way drain, you don’t have the luxury to wait to reveal your reasoning behind this. The university family deserves some answers.

    • I also am a graduate, and am disappointed. I don’t know all the facts and am very careful about making a judgment without them. My heart hurts for the survivors caught in the middle. They are the ones of whom we need to think and always remember. Their interests and best is priority, and as much as I love the faculty and staff I am in contact with, I will support the survivors first and foremost

      • Thanks for reading, Robert. I’m sure the survivors appreciate your support–and the fact that you may even have the ear of people still on staff, since they are your friends. You are actually in the best position to help when that is the case. You can be heard, without people assuming that you “just hate” the school. If they can hear your love AND your sincere concern, maybe it can inspire them to be agents of change and reform in any necessary areas within. Thanks again for reading.

  6. Reblogged this on The Green Room and commented:
    I believe that item #2 is likely the real reason that BJU fired GRACE. (In fact, the termination letter specifically reminded GRACE about their obligation to keep their findings confidential now that they were terminated.) This decision ensures complete silence by GRACE and limited fallout for BJU. I am disappointed but BJU doesn’t care for a second what I think about their decision.

  7. Your passion for truth and your concise, grace-filled writing is a gift to so many lives. You are giving hope to others!

  8. Tamara, I and many others have not forgotten. Keep being the voice in the wilderness. Word is getting out there. So many of us who grew up with churches connected to and/or supporting these institutions are no longer in these types of churches, so we just had no idea. That being said, unfortunately, neither do the a lot of the people who still attend these types of churches. Their leaders aren’t saying anything one way or another. But now we are hearing you. We care. We are sharing your stories.

  9. BJU paints it self as a bastion of fundamentalist Christianity and they well maybe. Having said that it is generally the case that some one in authority is always afraid of transparency. This is not to say that they condone the abuses taken place, and it doesn’t really matter the circumstances just that these crimes of a personal sexual nature were perpetrated during their tenure. These situations are a travesty so many lives are ruined and damaged and the love and training for future work in the ministry can be effectively quashed and the sin if not dealt with cam permeate the ministry as a whole and cause untold damage to the ministries testimony. Dealing with these sins are a gruesome task at best and involves extreme care. Things of this nature can quash the flame of a new Christian’s who is looking for instruction in how to seek Gods will as dampen that enthusiasm that goes with a new life in Christ . This kind of information plays in to naysayers and unbelievers in the community where said ministry is located. This places those in authority in a precarious position in how to deal with these accusations and allegations and reports from those abused. This is a responsibility I would not care to shoulder. Having said all this I always come back to the conclusion that sweeping things under the rug is writing a prescription for the ruination of the ministry. Those responsible must be found out and dealt with openly and above board as an example to the world. All damages incurred must be mitigated and righted and reparations paid where due. This is the only way BJU can salvage its testimony in the community where in it resides but not only there but in the Christian community as a whole. Those in authority must be held accountable as well by those under them to deal with the whole problem no matter how pervasive. This must be done openly above board and where laws have been broken it must be reported to the proper legal authorities where they may be judged by their peers and held accountable for their actions. Failure to do a complete job may well mark the beginning of the end of the effect Christian ministry of BJU and BJ academy

  10. Hi Tamara,
    Do you know what, if anything, we can do to support the people who were affected by this? (other than signing a petition or praying).

    • Hi, Kelley.
      For the BJU survivors and advocates, I really don’t know, because each group of survivors in such a battle for truth are going to have their own needs.

      But I’d suggest contacting the people at either the “DoRightBJU” Facebook page or the “TelltheTruthBJU” Facebook page. They will hopefully have more insight than I do, as I am not associated with the BJU situation. They may know of people to whom you should be writing letters or emails. That tends to be very effective when massive amounts of people undertake it at the same time.

      Thanks, Kelley.

  11. Pingback: Reporting Sexual Abuse in Christian Communities | The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors

  12. Tamara,
    There is so much I would like to say to you, but first, thank you for your writing. I am a ’79 graduate of BJU and also subsequently got a masters degree there. But, as I like to say, I never drank the Kool Aid. I was a closet evangelical – “Neo-evangelical,” if you must. I have since that experience been a critic of the Fundamentalism movement and could go on and on about my observations and conclusions. Actually I have done so over the years on my blog if you want to dig it out. (www.brokenfeathers.blogspot.com) Though I felt spiritually and intellectually abused by the system, it pales next to the abuse you have suffered in your entire experience, which has been horrendous. I am so sorry you have had to go through it. My heart goes out to you. I have long thought that a day of reckoning would someday come for the big capital “F,” and perhaps that day is dawning. With the internet, there is now no place for them to hide. I have so appreciated your insight and first-hand observation of this whole GRACE deal and how it has played out in the various scenarios. You have helped me a great deal to start to understand what is really going on. Now that BJU is in the fray, it seems the time has come for me to add my voice to the massing folks who need to speak out against festering, covered evil. None of this is really surprising. It is the common arc of any cult. And Fundamentalism has all the structure and earmarks of a cult, albeit one with basically orthodox theology – save for the pseudo-doctrine of separation. Hanging by the thread of a couple of out of context proof texts, it is the hinge pin which makes the system work. It is the distinctive that provides the entire identity of the system and makes it a closed ecosystem with no accountability to the greater Body of Christ. And it’s a perfect, predictable setup for the concentration, corruption, and abuse of power within the fiefdom. I am so sorry you became a victim. As an 18 year old freshman at BJU, I observed numerous things that even at that tender age I sensed and knew were not right. Something was rotten in the State of Denmark. Now, these many years later, the truth seems to be coming out and there are specifics. Will the guilty be found out and brought to justice? As you say, there is probably little hope. I appeal to the Father Almighty who will one day set things right. The whited sepulchers will be cleaned out one day. And He will be your peace. But I do hope you and the other victims of Fundamentalism see justice this side of eternity. I am considering your prediction that many or most of us will loose interest in these issues in time and let it all end up under the rug as per usual. I hope I will not let you and the others down in this regard. I’m not at this point certain of what my actions should be, but I do intend to cease being silent. Once again, thank you for writing. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your love of truth. And most of all, thank you for seeing past those who claim to speak for God to God Himself and for not giving up on Him. I do admire you. You are a remarkable young woman.
    God bless you.
    Dan Philgreen
    Fort Myers, Florida

    • Hi, Dan.

      Thanks so much for your encouragement and for sharing your own story. I will be sure to check out your blog. You raise some really great points about the era of fundamentalism with a capital F potentially ending with this era the internet has ushered in. Stories that it was once possible to keep fairly quiet are online in a matter of hours. Survivor groups from various fundamentalist schools and churches form every day on Facebook and in forums. The internet, in fact, was instrumental in our group of ABWE survivors finding each other, reconnecting, comparing stories, realizing everything that had happened, putting the puzzle pieces together, etc. It was crucial. We accomplished more communication and truth telling in 6 months on the internet than had happened via letters and phone calls and very occasional meetings in over 20 years.

      I especially resonated with this statement you made about separation: “Hanging by the thread of a couple of out of context proof texts, it is the hinge pin which makes the system work. It is the distinctive that provides the entire identity of the system and makes it a closed ecosystem with no accountability to the greater Body of Christ.”

      It is incredibly true. They are only accountable to each other and really don’t care what anyone else thinks or says, because “those people are probably not even saved.” Which is why we hoped beyond hope that the GARBC would step in, in our case. We knew they were the only sizable organization that had clout with ABWE and was within that particular bubble of Baptist fundamentalism, acceptable to ABWE as beacons of similar theology and thinking. But the GARBC has disappointed us greatly, and while part of me still would love to see them rise to the occasion, 28 months of failing to call ABWE out onto the public carpet into accountability–despite the fact that it is GARBC churches ABWE knowingly sent their pedophiles back into–would seem to indicate that the day will never come.

      But the little credence those in insular faith circles give to what Christians like you and I have to say about these systems we grew up in can’t keep us from using our voices. I have to believe that. If for no other reason, we have to spread the truth that not all Christians are like that. Survivors need to know that there are better faith circles out there who will not tolerate these things and see them for what they are.

      Thanks, Dan.

      – Tamara

  13. Pingback: The BJU Sex Abuse Coverup, Day 4 | The BJU Sex Abuse Coverup

  14. Pingback: On Bob Jones University, and Letting Survivors Speak

  15. Loved the article. I was kicked out of BJU for rumors that had no factual basis and hearsay by people who said they had my spiritual well being in mind but who in actuality wanted to break me down. Bob Jones always preaches taking responsibility for sin and for owning your decision. Where is the accountability BJU? Take your paddling and punnishment like men, stop hiding behind the pulpit because its destroying whatever ministry is left.

  16. Dear Tamara,

    I’m coming to this late, having followed the stories, with increasing horror, from Doug Phillips to Bill Gothard to BJU to Patrick Henry College to Donn Ketcham.

    I think that you’re right about the “Christian”/conservative Protestant press. In another denomination, at another college and seminary, a modicum of justice was finally achieved only when a member of the denomination published his investigation in the most-likely-to-be-read secular daily newspaper: http://peacetheology.net/john-h-yoder/john-howard-yoder%E2%80%99s-sexual-misconduct%E2%80%94part-five-2/ Twenty years later, there’s still a long ways to go toward full and true justice: http://ruthkrall.com/wordpress/downloadable-books/volume-three-the-mennonite-church-and-john-howard-yoder-collected-essays/

    I grew up in a GARBC church, but left more than 40 years ago, so I remember the name Ketcham. I wonder if the reason that Donn was on the mission field in the first place was because the denominational powers-that-be knew of his sexual proclivities but felt that, in an isolated and trapped community half a world away, his behavior could be kept from reflecting badly on his dad and the whole GARBC project.

    Finally, thank you for saying that all of us are responsible. Not all of us can speak, but all of us can vote with our feet. Don’t buy stuff from organizations whose leaders are known to abuse or whose teachings are known to lead to abuse. Don’t go to churches which rationalize or downplay abuse (there are, after all, plenty of churches which don’t). Don’t go to homeschool conventions which invite keynote speakers associated with abuse. Don’t read the blogs of people who ignore or diminish abuse by their co-religionists. We adults can stand on our own two feet before God and not lean on the abusers, thereby propping them up. Boycott (or “sanctions”) is a powerful free-market force that every single person, no matter how small and insignificant compared to the big names, can use.

    I think that you’re right about the “Christian”/conservative Protestant press. In another denomination, at another college and seminary, a modicum of justice was finally achieved only when a member of the denomination published his investigation in the most-likely-to-be-read secular daily newspaper: http://peacetheology.net/john-h-yoder/john-howard-yoder%E2%80%99s-sexual-misconduct%E2%80%94part-five-2/ Twenty years later, there’s still a long ways to go toward full and true justice: http://ruthkrall.com/wordpress/downloadable-books/volume-three-the-mennonite-church-and-john-howard-yoder-collected-essays/

  17. GRACE is now back on the BJU investigation. No explanation why BJU took the “Fire first, talk later” approach though. But their “reasons” had everything to do with institutional

    The difference between BJU and ABWE was that there was sufficient negative publicity and donor pressure when BJU fired GRACE. It is my hope and prayer than the same can be done with ABWE.

    Other than general agitation, prayer, and threatening to cut off support (and following up with action) what are things that people who aren’t directly involved can do? (I attended the same church in Michigan as Ketcham for over five years, but recently left in large part because they didn’t take abuse seriously enough.)

    • Levi, thank you for your thoughts. It’s a great question. The realist part of me feels the ship has sailed. The time for people to step up and help us was when GRACE was fired and we were weary and devastated and needed warriors to rise up in our defense. Some did. But their voices weren’t loud enough. The ones with big voices were silent.

      So what now? Again … the best question. If you have ties to Baptist churches, and it seems you do, then educating them on the farce of the current investigation is key. Educating them on how ABWE responds to MK victims is key. Our questions go unanswered. Our concerns are ignored. We are asked to trust, when there is no history that would indicate they are worthy of that trust. Beyond spreading awareness in Baptist circles, I always tell people to write to John Greening of the GARBC. GARB National Representative/Rev. John Greening: jgreening@garbc.org

      The reason we have singled out GARBC is that they have promised their concern privately and impending involvement (privately) for a very, very long time and have ultimately withheld it. They are not officially a “denomination” but are close to it and they have the most influence over ABWE of any organization we can think of. They have also unknowingly (we think) sheltered ABWE’s discarded pedophiles for decades and should rightfully be furious. If the GARBC were to publicly state that ABWE was wrong in firing GRACE and needs to shed the sham Pii investigation and return to GRACE or forever be seen as hiding the truth … then … THEN I think we could get somewhere.

      Beyond that … prayers for a miracle. As ABWE shows no signs in their private communication of having had any change of heart in regard to victims of past abuse. They talk nicer … but the message is still essentially: “we can’t answer that, just trust us.”

  18. Pingback: Hasn’t GRACE been proven to be unreliable/unethical/untrustworthy since another organization (ABWE) fired them, and another organization (PBI) cited that as their reason not to hire them? | BJUGrace

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