Do Right, BJU? Just Do It, BJU! . . .and DO IT RIGHT!
If I were a person of influence at Bob Jones University, I would have a special chapel service on December 12th commemorating the Twelve Days of Christmas, along with Christmas carolers, a message on the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ (and I wouldn’t expect BJU to be shy about calling it a pagan holiday accepted by Christians thanks to the Roman Catholic Church), and, to get everybody in the spirit of things, encourage everyone to dress in Christmas colors like red and green. That way, no one would be able to tell the difference between those protesting how BJU has handled sexual abuse cases and the regular rank and file students.
This idea is courtesy of a post which is either buried or deleted somewhere on the DoRight BJU page, which I don’t feel like spending valuable time looking for. It sounded like someone trying to wave the white flag to the administration. The protest was to, and might still, involve students wearing red on December 12th, 2012, to protest Chuck Phelps being on the board of Bob Jones University. Chuck Phelps is the man who made Tina Anderson apologize to the church after she was sexually molested by a church worker. This case has been covered by the media and put the focus on child abuse within the ranks of the IFB in the headlines.
Phelps has since resigned but the protest will continue because Do Right BJU does not accept that the administration is doing all it can to stop sex abuse within its ranks. Lara McClintock, a regular poster on this subject, puts it like this: “The protest was and is a stand against BJU putting a rubber stamp on the willful cover-up of a crime (you know, the sin of violently raping a young girl), and the fact that several women on the campus throughout the years have been told shut up and not get the help they needed because of crimes committed against them.”
I have now read one of the many ‘Facebook Advocates’ (a term I predict will become frequently used as an insult) basically tell Do Right to pack it in and protesting students to resign and leave quietly. There’s not a lot of unity amongst Facebook Advocates but there certainly is unity amongst those who have been victimized and have come together on Facebook who have not pledged loyalty to anyone except other survivors.
That’s to be applauded! The Facebook revolution has helped more victims get their stories out and, might possibly, help them to recover faster than previous generations of victims have ever been able to. My take is most critics of DoRight BJU are just jealous that the internet wasn’t around in the seventies and eighties.
To protest or not protest? To wear red or not wear red? I feel I am more than qualified in sharing my two cents worth since I went to Bob Jones University for three weeks before realizing it was a mistake. This was not the place for me! Yes, I could have stayed because I knew I wouldn’t be getting my parent’s money back. But to stay there any longer would be a waste of that very money since most of my credits would not transfer.
I also wanted to be in an environment that valued free inquiry. Bob Jones University was not that place because I could not have a decent conversation with anyone that didn’t result in me receiving a notice to report to a Dorm Supe and then, eventually, the Dean of Men. Although, I never received the notice to see Dean Liverman, I just walked into his office ready to resign unaware that he was expecting me.
It was a waste! My interest was cinema and I would not be able to touch a camera for about two years. I could tell just from the first Film 101 class (or whatever they called it), when I submitted a treatment about a teen who escapes an abusive and Satanic (I’m influenced by drive-movies, give me a break!) Christian camp. My English teacher at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida gave me an ‘A’ for that story. I saw my BJU instructor place the paper down while shaking his head. In a way, he might have been paying the highest compliment anyone at BJU could give me.
It’s been many decades since. I’ve always asked myself the question, “Was it wrong to leave Bob Jones University?” The answer to that question, usually asked during the lows of my life, came back with such clarity today I just have to publish my answer on this blog.
When I look back, I realize I am glad I left BJU. If I had stayed any longer, I would not have gotten married, moved to California, and had all sorts of adventures with b-movie directors, artists and activists.
I certainly wouldn’t have confronted all the conflicting feelings regarding sex, politics and art. Introspection? Psychology? I don’t care how many courses they offer in so-called ‘Christian psychology’, fundamentalism is against that sort of thing! It’s easy for me to imagine staying in the system, refusing to address the basic truths and contradictions of life and then winding up profiled on Chuckie’s Travels as either an abusive pastor or Sunday School teacher.
That didn’t happen! I left. And when I did, not even the fundamentalists from my Christian high school turned their back on me. BJU had already lambasted a number of their favorite evangelists so they didn’t care.
I left because I did not like my conversations monitored. Also, I realized the insanity of trying to learn film in a college that forbids you to go to movies. I left for the University of South Florida where I got to study under filmmakers like Will Hindle and artists like Roy Lichtenstein. This served me well when I finally came to Hollywood and made friends with directors like Donald Jackson (Hell Comes to Frogtown and other drive-in classics) who knew how those people influenced art and film making.
Those in the Do Right BJU movement have a golden opportunity not only to stop wasting valuable years of their life at BJU, but to do so in a manner that is actually noble! You’re defending the rights of abused children in the IFB system! What better reason do you have not only to wear red but to step out and leave the chapel, en masse, on Monday, December 12?
Bob Jones University, like most conservative fundamentalists, are very creative when it comes to lying. Sure, their stooge might have been on local Greenville TV saying students would not be expelled for protesting. Already there are whispers that BJU does not plan to honor that.
Fundamentalists never really stick to their word! They will make these bold promises, then, when they break their word, look for some scripture to justify their broken promises, “I know we promised, but there is no way I can keep to my Christian convictions by allowing you to, blah, blah.” Jerry Falwell did it to Jim Bakker and there’s no reason BJU won’t do it to protesting students.
Besides, do you really think BJU is having a moment of clarity? Hardly. Just like every generation thinks they ‘invented sex’, every fundamental generation thinks they invented diplomacy with fundamentalist leaders. President Obama thought the same thing when he confronted the Republican fundamentalists in Congress! If you still believe you can have a diplomatic exchange with the abusive fundamentalists at BJU, send your resume to the White House. Your country needs you.
If the University pulls any funny business like having everyone wear Christmas colors, they’re drowning out your voice. If you must protest, make it for real! On December 12, during the opening prayer, leave. That’s right! Get up from your seat and leave! It’s all over! It’s time to redeem yourself and start being who you were meant to be. You tried to play nice, but you can see the lies. Even if it’s just one or two people leaving, you will have more nobility, and an inspirational story to tell your children about how you stood against the corruption of an abusive institution.
I did. Life was rough but I’m still here and very proud of my decision. You can be, too.
NOTE: Just one day after this post, the following YouTube appeared on Facebook. It is allegedly of a BJU faculty/staff meeting which indicates some staffers, students, and maybe others plan on on wearing green and white to support the university. I did not know about this until this morning.