I am presently in Greenville, South Carolina (people talk funny here) attending a seminar on sexual abuse and the church, put on by Bob Jones University Seminary. Many thanks to kind friends in my congregation for 1) reminding me I really should attend, and 2) generously making it possible for me to come.
I came with foreboding and trepidation. Bob Jones University’s history is one of some pretty core fundamentalism as you might know and I wondered if I would not be coming to enemy territory. I am reformed in doctrine, I don’t use a King James Bible, and well… I can be a social misfit. On top of that I wrote a book that is being featured on the Calvary Press book display table that concludes abuse is grounds for divorce!
None of my fears came true. I spent quite a lot of time in the bookstore on campus and noticed many, many good reformed theology titles. And in the Bible section, they do not sell only the KJV! Lots of ESV’s and other version there as well.
But this evening’s opening session proved to be the highlight. Dr. David Shumate, an Old Testament scholar and ex-faculty member of BJU (now ministering in Phoenix, AZ), was the kick-off speaker. His topic was this: Facing the Challenge: Five Misconceptions that Hinder a Right Response to Child Sexual Abuse. He gets it. And I think he would get it about domestic abuse in the church too. His outline was:
- Misconception #1 – “It can’t happen here.”
- Misconception #2 – “Child molesters have a certain look about them.”
- M #3 – Acts that do not involve actual intercourse are not “so bad.”
- M #4 – It was just a “moment of weakness.”
- M #5 – Allegations of abuse should be handled within the organization.” (BIG wrong gong sound here!)
Dr. Shumate was speaking to a crowd of about 400 people, most of them pastors from fundamental, independent churches. He frankly told everyone that our tendency can be to discount, minimize, and cover up and that the Lord will surely hold us accountable if we permit evil people to cause any little ones to stumble. He gave statistics and told the audience that this means that sexual abuse survivors and victims… and perhaps even perpetrators….are in our churches and it is a flight of fancy to deny it. He told us to face up to it, take measures to defend against it, handle abuse cases rightly by immediately reporting to the civil authorities, and not yield to the pressure of what people will think of us if news gets out that such a thing happened in our church. It happens everywhere!
After the session we were given a reception where the various display tables were and I had the opportunity to actually meet Mr. Joseph Bianchi, owner of Calvary Press who published our book, A Cry for Justice [Affiliate link]. He is a great guy with a good sense of humor, a passion for the Lord, and a New York accent! While speaking with him, we saw Dr. Shumate nearby, grabbed one of the books off the display table, and went over to meet him. We had a great talk. I gave him one of our books and he insisted that I autograph it. I was pretty clumsy, I must say. But then I was able to tell him about the book and how domestic abuse victims are in our churches just as sexual abuse victims are (sometimes they are one and the same). He keyed right in and we had probably a 20 minute talk.
And then, I told him that what really needs to happen now is for another conference, part 2, to be set up. Only at that conference, we would have about 6 of YOU (our blog readers, victim/survivors) upon on the stage in front of all those pastors, and we would listen to you tell all of us your stories of abuse and how you were treated by your churches when you asked for help. He told me to put that down on a comment card for the Q&A time tomorrow and he would be the one who will address it. He said vindication of victims is absolutely biblical and he was was visibly excited about it. So write it down, I shall.
Can you see it? What if some of you had that chance to personally tell a big group of pastors and seminary students and faculty what happened to you? I suspect that everyone would feel like getting down on their knees before God, asking for forgiveness, asking YOU for forgiveness, and telling you, “you were right and we were wrong.”
Pray! It could happen, couldn’t it? Maybe? Pray that the card really does make it up there and that Dr. Shumate gets it.
And many thanks to Barbara for reminding me late last night that she saw no place on the seminar agenda for victims to speak. That is what put the idea in my head and why I was able to bring it up tonight.
Oh, and I have an actual copy of the book in my hands! Order from Calvary Press directly and forget Amazon. You can get it cheaper there and much faster.
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
59 thoughts on “A Report from the Bob Jones University Sexual Abuse Seminar”
Wow! This is exciting news!!! Way to go, Pastor Crippen and Barbara! Great idea and great courage!
This is so, so AMAZING!! I admit that I cringe when I see the words “Bob Jones.” I’ll work on it, I promise. I went to a very legalistic, Christian high school. Many teachers were BJU grads and many students went on to college there. I would have been one of them, but my parents wouldn’t allow me to go there. I’ve been there a number of times for fine arts competitions.
I dated a guy for many years who ended up going to school there (we went on a date once in BJU’s dating parlor-he he!). He told me some weird things that he learned in his psychology classes. I don’t want to state them publicly here, because he may have misunderstood, or I may have misunderstood, and I don’t want to make a statement about their teachings that may not be true.
Needless to say, I am very impressed. And very excited! It sounds like the school is making some positive changes. And I can sympathize with those changes because I need to make lots of changes too. I pray that God will work there!
Great job, Jeff! And Barbara, the suggestions of having victims be heard is key. Yay!!!!!
JM – Yes, I have now heard from several reformed folks (I mean, we have our problems too), who have close contacts with the school and they have all told me they see positive changes. Of course I am no expert so I could be wrong, but at least — well, they ARE holding this sexual abuse seminar and addressing the issue and that is more than many other churches and denominations are doing.
I’m glad you didn’t follow up legalism high school though with more of that. Ugh.
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
I was reading your post, Jeff, with my hands held together in the classic posture of prayer. And I’m so overwhelmed at the implications, and so tired now (it’s 9pm here) that I’m going to bed to try to sleep. Sometimes good news can be the hardest to take. Don’t know if that makes sense to any of you, but it makes sense to me.
This is fantastic!! My pastor is a BJU grad and basically told me to find another church when I approached him with your “Letter from a Pastor to Pastors”. I really hope he is attending this seminar.
“My pastor is a BJU grad and basically told me to find another church when I approached him with your letter from a Pastor to Pastors.”
Wow, this makes my heart break 😦
Jeff – the important thing is that you tried. It is heartbreaking. I walked away from a church when I realized that based on their approach to a confessed verbal, sexual and physical abuser, women and children (namely, me and my children, among others!) weren’t safe there. As long as it will not be acknowledged, it cannot be healed. Thank you for your earlier comment – perhaps it is the beginning of lifting the veil within the church and giving the good people who are in the church the opportunity to stand up and be counted, to care for the widows and the fatherless and the abused among them.
Absolutely heartbreaking that a “pastor” (lower-case intentional) would tell a congregant to go somewhere else.
Great Christian leaders wrote of the power and necessity of Christian unity. Spurgeon suggested it was an essential evidence of faith (The Holy Spirit and the One Church [Internet Archive link]) and Wesley cautioned of Christian bigots who throw darts at others doing God’s work in Jesus name (A Caution Against Bigotry [Internet Archive link]).
In a world today where dart throwing is the order of day, you’ve resisted the trend and set a refreshing example.
How encouraging – well – on the one hand, to know that there are people telling the truth and giving pastors good counsel. On the other hand, if this is the thinking from someone who is as renowned as Dr. Shumate (I know of him from way back in the mid 80s when I attended what was then Grand Rapids Baptist College, now Cornerstone Univ.) “gets it” — why are so many pastors so reluctant to call evil what it is?
My daughter who is 23 just returned from Michigan – she left after I filed for divorce, now 7 years ago – because she became my ex’s “target” child and I had to get her out of Dodge, so to speak. She more than any of my children suffered at the hands of the abuser, and essentially had to be “exiled” – one last sacrifice – in order to (I believe) possibly save her life and get her out of his range.
Now returned and with a husband and two babies – we are just beginning to talk through what she needs to talk through in order to continue to heal and become the woman that God made her to be. Talking the other night, she pointed out that in our churches, the “abuser” is often the one offered the most support, the most help, the most patience. While the Biblical model is to (a) call out sin for what it is privately (b) expose the unrepentant and (c) expel the unrepentant. No where in the model of Biblical “discipline” do you find a call to require that victims continue to be victimized.
In some ways I think that some pastors sacrifice the few to protect the many – or so they think. I believe they try to “protect” their flocks as a whole by covering up the evil. I believe that it’s almost a reflex reaction to prevent divorce because it helps keep their flocks intact. Any time you have public issues in a church, inevitably you get people on both sides of the conflict. Bringing abuse to the attention of the church, under the biblical model, would cause chaos, mud-slinging (oh, my dear Ida Mae, I can only imagine what chaos your unhusband would have called out!), etc.
And so the few – the abused – are often the “one last sacrifice” – exiled or (in my case) self-exiled for protection not just from the abuser, but from the church itself. Heck, we endured so much already, maybe in a warped way our pastors believed that we could take that, too.
I’m finally back in church. Part of a local ministry (Open Life in Bonney Lake, WA) that is focused on outreach, not focused on building a traditional church as we’ve seen them before. They publicize themselves as “A church for people just like you.” And that’s what it is. No pretense, no hiding, no not talking about the crud “stuff.” A few months in and so far, so good. I’m even back in music ministry. I missed church. And hearing preaching. And music. And service.
It’s good to know that the Dr. Shumate’s of the world are out there, but it’s also wonderful to have a church family again who pray for me and – well – want me!
No more sacrifices –
“In some ways I think that some pastors sacrifice the few to protect the many – or so they think.”
Yes- and such a crisis of faith this causes. If Christianity “works”, it must “work” for everyone, not just the majority. At the time of my divorce I was fond of saying that my church had a box which included the people they could minister to, and sadly I was outside of the box.
But I don’t think there can be boxes- our Savior is big enough for every person and every situation. If our doctrines are not so inclusive, they are wrong.
Note: I’m not saying “inclusive” to mean everyone receives the blessing of Salvation, but that there is no situation that causes people to be out of Jesus’ grasp. The church must be able to minister to the faithful in all circumstances.
I agree- “No more sacrifices”.
I live in [location redacted] so I hope this ends up having a big affect on our area here.
[For safety and protection, the location was redacted. Editors.]
Tersia- so do I. Yes you are right in the neighborhood. This is the “buckle” of the Bible belt but it apprars to me that much is just cultural Christianity. The same evils are regularly being perpetrated against abuse victims by their churches. And I am appalled that pastor after pastor and seminary faculty consistently clam up and adhere to the party line when I tell them that abuse is desertion and grounds for divorce!
Oh my GOODNESS! My heart is racing! Could this really happen? WAY TO BE AN INITIATOR, Jeff! Thank you for speaking up for the victims! I am so hopeful this morning!!
I wish I could be impressed. My friend and her children are domestic abuse victims from the church of a current Bob Jones University seminary professor. Her abuser has been embraced by this ungodly church and this pastor. I am speechless at what I have seen in Greenville, SC at the hands of this church. This “pastor” lied from the pulpit about the situation and continues to support and believe the abuser. I could go on and on, but I am so upset I am crying and shaking. BJU has no business doing a seminar like this. Their own people can’t get it right. So what if a speaker or two “gets it.” David Shumate is no longer a part of BJU. BJU needs to GO to a seminar like this, not put it on. I am mortified for BJU and their seminary professors. Shame on them.
Shoesofiron – I can sure feel the pain in your comment. It’s so sad. Maybe you can write Shumate an e-mail and tell him this story. I wonder what he would do with it – – especially after speaking at a conference like this? It wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
Shoes- i hear you for sure. I have no real idea yet of the BJU faculty themselves. I do know however that, once again in the two sessions this morning, the speakers “get it” about abuse and spoke pointedly and accurately. One was a police officer and the other a pastor who also serves as an abuse victim advocate in the courts. Just pray that here and there some eyes will be opened and truth will prevail. I don’t blame you for being skeptical and i don’t doubt your story at all.
This is great news, Jeff. Yes, I agree that it has a far greater impact on the audience to hear victims/survivors speak. When I have taught the classes on recovery from sexual abuse and domestic violence at the seminary, I have always asked women (past clients so I know them well) to come and share their stories. The students may never remember what I have taught, but they will never forget those stories and the brave women who shared them.
God is so good!
Jeff – This is great news. I had heard about this conference a while back and rolled my eyes knowing the reputation and legalistic teachings there. (Interestingly, Penn State recently offered a conference regarding sex abuse.) I’m glad you had a positive experience and also that you were able to talk with key people who have the ability to expand it to include domestic violence in the future. One person at a time . . .
Sounds good, Jeff! We’ll see what becomes of it.
I wonder if Shumate knows Steven Tracy, who is out of Phoenix Seminary? Perhaps if you get a chance to talk to Shumate again you could mention him.
Did you get to talk to anyone about the divorce aspect?
As a graduate, post-graduate, and former faculty member of BJU I’m happy to hear they are at least making an effort to address this important issue. But for the same reasons I have little belief that the school can/will change. They are great at window dressing, but we lived under the daily bullying that that form of fundamentalist theology fosters and still bear the scars. BJU may seem to accept Reformed Theology, but faculty/staff/ students are forbidden from “regularly attending or membership” at PCA churches in Greenville. Only churches listed as “partners” in the handbook are available for BJU folks to attend and join, and all of those churches have BJU pastors and maintain allegience to the Jones family. About ten years ago Bob Jones III led a purge of all Calvinist-leaning professors from the seminary. What remains is a strictly Baptist seminary, in theology if not in name. What is driving this conference is the public relations nightmare BJU got imbroiled in last year over a case involving abuse victim Tina Anderson and their Board member Chuck Phelps. BJU’s refusal to hold Phelps accountable for his actions in that case, until public petition and pressure became too great, did untold damage to BJU’s shiny image. Phelps was eventually forced to resign from the Board, but has since spoken on campus, most recently to children in the Academy. The conference is an attempt to put a happier face on the problem since BJU is attempting to secure regional accreditation as their student enrollment continues to plummet.
The problems at BJU stem from a theology that paints God as a bully who demands all kinds of lifestyle restrictions from his people. The constant pressure of having to live up to the standards imposed on those within the system creates an environment of paranoia and fear. The theology also encourages cult-of-personality, most obviously demonstrated in the Jones family. No one is allowed to challenge them on any level. “Dr.” Bob has no earned doctorate. His father and grandfather before him never earned legitimate doctoral degrees. Current president Stephen Jones received his “doctorate” in Liberal Arts from BJU, though no such degree is offered by the school. The title was conferred on him by his father who insisted that the faculty approve him for the honor. Deans at the school rise through the ranks by showing absolute loyalty to the Jones family. Many operate as micro-cult leaders and bully their own faculty. My wife and I were victims of that bullying by those in leadership as were many of our dear friends and colleagues. We are all eye-witnesses, not gossips sharing specious anectdotes. We have all reached the same conclusion; that the entire culture thrives on peer pressure, conformity, and endless scrutiny, and that the culture ultimately leads to suspicion of anyone who would bring accusation against those in authority. It’s a perfect storm that will first silence then devour any victim of abuse.
I wish BJU would change. I have little hope for that. I would welcome BJU to contact all the former faculty and students in the area to speak out and help them change. But BJU will have none of that. The “disaffected” as they are termed do not deserve a voice; and as such BJU cannot hear any viewpoint but that of their loyal supporters. In that environment the hope for meaningful change is but a chasing after the wind.
Thank you for sharing this. It is so helpful to hear from an eye-witness’ perspective. You have described quite a few of the characteristics of abuse and ending with a very astute and, in my opinion, correct conclusion to being in an abusive environment, whether in a personal relationship, church, or community. “It’s a perfect storm that will first silence then devour any victim of abuse.” That is abuse in a nutshell.
Marius, thanks so much for this report. I feel for you; the pain and frustration you have and still suffer, the desire to see reform but the knowledge that unless the core problem “Don’t criticize the King’s Family!” is addressed, reform will never happen. The parallels between cultic spiritual abuse (as in BJU) and domestic abuse, which we’ve talked about before on this blog, are illustrated once again. Unless the narcissistic proud leader(s) are willing to respond healthily to criticism, there will never be any true change – only the moving of a few deck chairs on the Titanic.
I frequently find myself thinking about how churches and organisations like to do the window dressing or have the facelift after they’ve been exposed for their treatment of abuse victims, but they only want to go so far – they rarely truly change, because of the sinful abusive entitlement mindset at their core.
I look at things like this conference and think: Great, they’ve got good speakers and are telling lots of truths from the podium. That in itself will be stirring suppressed memories and wounds from silenced or ‘in-denial’ survivors, as well as stirring quite a bit of indignation from the cohort of true Christian bystanders who genuinely want to see the organisation deal properly with abuse. As a result of conferences like this, there will probably be a groundswell of bystanders (and secret survivors) calling for the rhetoric of the conference to be converted into reality. But what if the back-of-house leaders who actually run the organisation(s) are never going to let that real change happen? What if they have to run the window-dressing conferences to keep up appearances, but they don’t want the conferences to engender real change? If that’s where they’re at, they are caught in the horns of their own dilemma. And animals caught in tight corners can get pretty vicious. hmm…
I think about this a lot, and how people like us can best make use of the peaks in the wave when the double-tongued Pharisees are under most severe ‘crisis’ from the clash of their contradictory agendas.
Maybe I’m too big for my boots, in all this speculation.
Maybe I’m too cynical, and not allowing for miracles from God.
But I think … strategy, experience, wisdom, more strategy …
And ultimately, it’s all in God’s hands.
BTW, Marius, how did you happen to come across this post by Jeff Crippen?
I hope you continue to blog about this conference. Thank you for what you have posted so far. I am one who has struggled with the fact that the conference is happening there as they haven’t yet resolved their own issues of sexual abuse that was covered up. They are supposed to be hiring an ombudsman to address those situations. As I learned about the conference and knew that their own cases were still unresolved, I struggled a lot with wondering what they would present. I am so thankful that you suggested hearing from the victims. I would love for them (BJU) to be willing to hear from their own victims – from those who endured sexual abuse, went to them for help, and they themselves were the ones to cover it up. I would love to hear that they truly repent of that. I would also love to hear that they realize that the counsel they previously offered to abuse victims was harmful and that they will get training to provide better counsel in the future. I wish that those of us not at the conference could submit questions. I would like to know what they will do about the cases they know about that they covered up themselves (pastors, teachers, etc.) who are currently in ministry that they KNOW are sex offenders. Will they go back and pursue rectifying those situations?
KS – Yes. I will be filing a report tonight on this day’s activities, sessions, my contacts, and my impressions. Thank you for your input!! Excellent info.
Thank you for sharing about this conference. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to go, and to speak with your publisher as well as the speaker! Your idea of having survivors/victims share is great, as difficult as it would be…(raising my hand to volunteer.) It certainly sounds as though all the pivotal talking points were there and discussed.
What was your take on the authenticity of BJU as a whole on the issues? Do you feel this was any type of back peddling due to the past story that was shared by MariusP? As I’ve mentioned before, my dad is a retired Baptist minister and graduate of BJU, and my mom attended BJU for 2 yrs. When MariusP shared, “They are great at window dressing, but we lived under the daily bullying that that form of fundamentalist theology fosters and still bear the scars…” my mind wandered there, too. Thank you MariusP, for sharing what you know and have seen. I’ve lived on the receiving end of BJU theology for many years and too, still feel the sting occasionally of the black and white fundamentalist thinking. So I’m still on the skeptical side of wondering what’s up.
To discuss sexual abuse is one thing, to apply the principles and take action behind the scenes is another. I just wonder what’s the driving purpose…window dressing due to getting caught, or the beginning of being shaken enough to understand and embrace the truth.
I’m so glad Jeff, that you spoke up, because you are an authentic voice of truth and do have the heart of wanting the survivors heard, and the church to be on the front line of defense. And, now BJU knows you heard them, and are addressing this too….it’s not going away even if their intent may not be authentic. I do hope you hear some follow up. In any event, you did you part! Thank you!
Follow up….I reread your original post, and see it was Barbara’s idea to have victim’s share, as it wasn’t on the conference agenda. Thank you Barbara!
Thanks, Rebecca. I mentioned that point to Jeff because I’ve been at a conference here in Oz which was supposed to be about Domestic Abuse and the Church, and not one of the speakers was a survivor, they were all other ‘experts’ who were supposed to know more about this than survivors know. (Actually, one of the speakers was a pastor who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, so what I say is not wholly true, but he wasn’t billed as a survivor he was billed as a pastor… )
I was so annoyed about the line-up of speakers at that conference, it’s a sore point that comes quickly back to mind whenever I see other conference or seminar agendas on the topic of abuse. 🙂
Rebecca- i will address your question tonite when I post a report on todays conference sessions. Let me just say here that so far the speakers who have all been exposed out in the real world to abuse “get it.” As to the faculty? I have yet to be convinced. I will explain why this evening.
Although I think a conference like this can be a good thing I am also skeptical. I have a degree in Guidance and Counseling from BJU and am also a survivor of domestic abuse. In the course of obtaining my degree I don’t remember any emphasis on sexual or domestic abuse or how to handle the issues involved. December 7 will be the 5 year anniversary of leaving my abusive marriage. I have faced a lot of criticism in those 5 years. I was told (by a pastor’s wife) before leaving my ex-husband that I should save my marriage “at any cost”. What if that cost would have been my life or that of my 3 small children (also survivors of abuse)? Why should I continue to allow myself to be abused and to risk my children’s well being? Women are so often told to submit and not to question their husband or church leaders. Submission does not mean to subject yourself to servitude and abuse. The Bible also mentions a mutual submission as well as the husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church. If the husband truly loves his wife as the Bible teaches it would be a self-sacrificial, unconditional love that still allows the wife freedom. Do I think that a woman should give up her marriage just because the going gets rough? No. Do I think that abuse is a reason for divorce? Absolutely! Do I believe in forgiveness? Yes, but that doesn’t mean allowing continued abuse at the hands of an unrepentant or unchanging abuser. We are taught to forgive in the Bible but that doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate the actions of an abuser or to not have them face legal action.
I hope and pray that many churches will start to open their eyes and stop denying that abuse exists not only in the world but right in their own congregations. Church leaders need to receive training on how to deal with these issues and not just try to make them go away. Churches need to stop judging the victims and give them the support that they so desperately need.
Dear “I’m a Survivor” it sounds like you are 100% on the same page as us. Thanks for your comment. It doesn’t surprise me that all your counselling training at BJU didn’t mention sexual or domestic abuse. May the day come when colleges will be charged with professional malpractice if they deliver counseling courses that have such gaping holes in their curriculum!
Your story of mistreatment by the church when you left your abuser is similar to what so many of us here have experienced.
Are you practising counseling at the moment? If so, how much of your work is with survivors of domestic abuse?
Thanks for coming to our blog. Hope to see you here again.
@I’m A Survivor: Congratulations on your survival despite the bad advice from BJU and your counseling degree! My daughter also has a Master’s degree in counseling from BJU. She had been sexually abused by her youth group pastor (BJU grad with Master’s degree at a Greenville area BJU church).
NOTE ADDED BY BARB ROBERTS: I have moved the rest of Shoesofiron’s words into a new post because it is worthy of being headlined that way. I’m deleting the rest of Shoe’s comment from this thread, but you can read it in full at the new post She did not cry out while being raped … so is she guilty?
Oh SK, I hear you. Being raped, and then being dismissed or discounted by the authorities that SHOULD have given you vindication and justice, is a terrible terrible double trauma. May I offer you a ((((HUG)))? although that will certainly not solve the problem.
What are you afraid of, can you put your finger on anything specifically? We are here for you. I think you are very brave to have spoken out.
If you want you can email me privately (see the Contact / About Us tab at the top of the blog).
But I’m not saying you have to only express what you want to say in private emails. It’s just an option, not a coercive hint. 🙂
I’m sorting through my fears. GRACE is a really good organization and their reputation is one that should calm my fears, but it is still a fearful thing to talk about these things and it brings up a lot of questions about what will happen by telling. What will happen to the offender, etc.
Thank you for your kindness!
I mean about the Prime Minister and the Royal Commission.
Justice! And that is always good. It is not merciful to permit an offender to escape the consequences of his sin. He must come to genuine repentance and most often if he skates on the consequences, repentance doesn’t truly happen. Look to your own healing and leave the offender to the Lord’s justice. Oh, and if you haven’t read the 67 page report that GRACE did on the New Tribes Missions investigation, you should (if it doesn’t trigger you too much). Boy, if GRACE does that kind of investigation at BJU, the lights are going to be shining brightly on what happened.
I’m so glad that GRACE seem to be right on the ball. That is a relief. We look forward to the shining of more and more light. The time has come.
Here in Australia our Prime Minister made an announcement yesterday that a Royal Commission would be held to investigate child sexual abuse in institutions right across the country, and right back as far as needs be into history. This is monumental. The inquiry will cover not only the perpetration of the crimes, but the COVER-UP of the crimes. Victims have been calling for this for decades, and finally it will happen! It seems like a wave is sweeping the earth, and it’s time for society, including the churches, to wake up to abuse and start really responding to it properly.
BTW for you Yankees, a Royal Commission is the most powerful investigative instrument in Australia. It can make organisations open their hidden files and expose them to the commission. No hiding. And it will make recommendations about how to prevent or minimise the occurrence of these crimes and cover-ups in the future.
That is good news Barbara!!!
Sk, most of us who have been criminally abused have concerns for ‘what will happen to the perpetrator if we report the crime’ – especially if we have soft hearts and generous natures. As part of your relearning, you might like to consider recalibrating your concept of what is ‘good’ for wicked people. Wicked people, people who do vile and horrible deeds, need to be brought to account. That is what God calls for in the Mosaic law – and what He will do in the last judgement, unless such a person has truly repented and sought salvation in Christ, so that their sins have been covered by Christ’s atonement.
A wicked person is more likely to be brought to repentance if they are held accountable by all the appropriate authorities, including the church (which can excommunicate), and the State, which wields the power of the sword and can impose penalties on criminals. By telling your story you may assist these processes of accountability to come about, and you will be walking in the way of righteousness.
I thought I saw a reference to GRACE somewhere along the line but can’t find it now. What is GRACE? Is it good or bad?
G.R.A.C.E. is an acronym for an organisation called Godly Response To Abuse in the Christian Environment.
Here is a link to the Bob Jones University announcement [Internet Archive link].
And here is the website of G.R.A.C.E. [Internet Archive link].
So, I’m just going to go ahead and put it out there. I was raped there and it was covered up. They didn’t care and didn’t think badly of the person who raped me. After all, he was “repentant”, so he was forgiven and “restored”. I’m left with the pain and humiliation, wrecked and useless. He is worthy of “service to God”. There are many sex offenders in full time “Christian” service.
They just hired GRACE to investigate these situations of sexual abuse. I’m terrified!
Dear Sk – I just wanted to add this note for you: I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian pastor. As such, I want to affirm you and tell you that I believe you. What happened to you was evil and God hates it, and He will not let the guilty go unpunished. And yes, I agree with you that because of unbiblical traditions about things like repentance, forgiveness, and so on, churches have foolishly and sinfully permitted themselves to be duped by evil people, and have then covered up for them. Frankly, I don’t know how we can be assured that any “Christian” or “church” that fails to protect the victim in these cases and so easily restores the perpetrator is even truly the body of Christ. But just remember, God hates it. He is for the victim. And not everyone who says they are a Christian…is. The real body of Christ is out there. But many times it is not to be found in the huge “temples.” The blind man who was made to see by Christ (John 9) was put out of the temple by the Jews. But then the real temple came and found him and gave him true eyes to see — faith and salvation.
Sk, I hope you are working with a counselor or someone who really understand abuse (many Christian therapists do not).
When the church comes along aside the abuser it makes the pain so much worse– I am so sorry you are going through that. I hope you can find some believers you can trust who are not joining in the co-abuse.
SK, I am a doctrine guy- love to think about theology and philosophy. And honestly, not a lot of my beliefs have changed since going through this, but in regards to my relationship with God- everything has changed.
I remember a clear moment when I was at this low point and I cried out “God, I don’t know who you are!” And it was as if I got this clear answer, “that’s right, you don’t.” I’m not talking about in a salvation sense, but a new level of understanding with regards to how he operates in my life. I too am relearning, and it is wonderful.
I am seeing a counselor now and there are a few Christians around me who ARE supportive. I just feel like I am relearning everything about who God really is, how he views me, etc. Thank you for your encouragement!
SK- Re-learning is GOOD! The fundamentalist, Pharisaical environment that it sounds like you have been in is just like the Pharisees of the New Testament whom Jesus pronounced woes upon. We are Bible-believing, conservative Christians here and in that sense it is good to hold to the “fundamentals” of the faith. But I think you know what I mean when I say “fundamentalism” and all the trappings that go with it. I would recommend to you the book Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are? by David Needham. EXCELLENT! When I was at BJU for the seminar I heard more than once people say “God views us as evil.” What? God views His children as evil? Does the NT call Christians evil? I don’t think so! Sure, we sin. But we aren’t sinners by nature any more. We are new creations in Christ and we love Him and His Word. These doctrines are true, but they are often hated and discounted in the fundamentalist circles.
I’m glad you have that support, Sk.
That relearning which you talk about is something many of us on this blog have experienced. Some readers here say they had almost given up on God and Christianity altogether, but then (gradually) God began to show them who He really is, and that they had been taught / indoctrinated with many false ideas about God.
Many of the posts on this blog discuss this kind of thing: understanding the false ideas and replacing them with the truth. You might like to look at some of the categories that deal most with this topic, like “modern Pharisees”, “false Christians”, “dangerous views on abuse”, “how the church responds to abuse”, “mind control”. (Gee, I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed, just take it in bite sizes that suit you…)
If you want you can also listen to the online audios of Ps Jeff Crippen’s latest sermon series, called The Religion of the Pharisees. You can find the link at the bottom of this blog. Blessings and hugs to you.
Sk, I’m right there re-learning with you! It’s a journey, for sure. I started 2 years ago and feel like I’ve just begun. Although the progress sometimes seems slow, I wouldn’t trade any of it. I went to a very legalistic, Christian high-school full of BJU graduates as teachers. I’m 33 and am still trying to shake some of the stuff that I learned.
Dear Sk, I am so sorry for what happened to you. And I’m so sorry that those who were in a position to actually do something about it, didn’t seek justice for you. I will pray that God will give you peace and freedom from your pain.
Stick around here for a while. It’s a great group of Chrisitans who truly “get it.”
JM – I’m seeing T-shirts here. “A Cry for Justice: We Get it!”
Jeff, I’d be honored to wear one!
They’re doing damage control because of the G.R.A.C.E. investigation.
I don’t trust them any farther than I could throw the FMA. (Founders Memorial Amphatorium- seats over 5,000)
A few years ago, I read the GRACE report on BJU and it was pretty disturbing. Both the professors and the counselors blamed the victims if I remember correctly. In contrast, a recently published story on the ACFJ Facebook page showed that at Master’s University, the professors taught correct, victim-supporting practices while the administration punished victims for “their part” in being raped. I’m not sure which is worse — the consistently harmful BJU or the inconsistent Master’s. The Master’s victim had reason to believe she would receive support so she was shocked when they punished her. Of course, some BJU students had the same shock because they didn’t know how widespread the victim-blaming was.
Good points, M&M. It’s hard to know which is worse…
For those who use Twitter, you can look up #DoYouSeeUs and you’ll find most of the posts about the story about Master’s University’s response to “Jane” (her pseudonym). Marci Preheim published Jane’s story a few days ago. Spiritual Sounding Board, Becky Castle Miller and other blogs and FB page have been writing about it.