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GRACE becomes BJU’s Ombudsman?

G.R.A.C.E., which stands for Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment, has been hired by Bob Jones University to investigate abuses that have occurred on or off campus throughout the years.  While G.R.A.C.E. does have a respectable reputation in addressing abuse issues, it’s difficult for me to treat this as historic.  If anything, it’s typical.  Typical of BJU to wait over a year in silence only to spring this upon the public at a convention concerning sex abuse and the church being held on their campus.

Fans of fundamental history might also take into account that G.R.A.C.E. is founded by Basyl ‘Boz’ Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham.  Although Boz, a graduate of Stetson University, the Southern Baptist college which also graduated Bob Gray,  has a wealth of experience dealing with child abuse cases, I have to wonder how long a relationship between an inquisitive organization with SBC leanings and ‘currently’ fundamental BJU will continue?  Students have been expelled for having the mildest associations with Graham’s organization.  So, we’re going to have to assume that in wake of abuse scandals BJU has ‘grown up’?  They’ve realized the error of their past bigoted ways and are ready to bury the hatchet with those related to Graham in the best interest of the children?

Financial crises does make for strange bedfellows. It would not be unheard of.  BJU once had a table at Oral Roberts University, so anything’s possible.

Anybody remember that other historical moment when BJ3 announced they removed the restriction against inter-racial dating?  Actually,  the rule was simply modified to require students to get written parental permission for inter-racial dating.  That never made Larry King!

I expect some two steps and compromise.  The question is, who will be compromised the most? Bob Jones University?  Or the mission of G.R.A.C.E.?  Will the public receive their reports?  Or, since BJU commissioned the investigation (as I’m to assume), will the reports be hidden from public view?

Gore Vidal called it the sweetest phrase in the English language.

“I told you so!”

Here is a blog from the DORIGHTCHRISTIANS!  Sounds to me like a fundamentalist response to the DoRight boards.  The blogger states his belief in a conspiracy against IFB churches by sinister dark forces but, lest ye be quick to dismiss his arguments, you realize some of it is interwoven with truth.  Inconvenient truths that have been the subject of Christian School Confidential, both the novel and the blog you are now reading.

The mixture of a strong lie with truth is always the mark of a great lie!  I have nothing much to add to the assertions of DORIGHT except, to those who have been reading Christian School Confidential, you understand the problems we have in advocacy.

Rather than be upset at this blogger, I find myself taking my hat off to him.  At least, I’m assuming it’s a ‘him’.  I’d be mildly surprised if a woman was behind this blog.

“What took you so long?”

I’m surprised this conspiracy theory wasn’t floated during the non-trial of Bob Gray.  There was even a brief respect, on my part, for fundamentalists not giving in to this theory.

Times are tough for IFBs!  Extreme scandals demand extreme conspiracies! It was inevitable.  And now after all these years, finally, a fundamental conspiracy theory worthy of a Jack Chick tract!

http://dorightchristians.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/jack-schaap-set-up/

AN EXCERPT FROM MY NOVEL, CHRISTIAN SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL:

“Cutswipe warned the congregation there were women laying in wait to trap preachers and young preacher boys into admitting they had committed the vilest sins ever.  The aim would be to destroy fundamentalism and cripple its influence throughout the world!

“Jules Cutswipe’s final sermon was a warning about women who will destroy fundamentalist preachers, their churches and the male dominance of America!  I thought, ‘No one would ever do anything like that!’.  It was while sending condolences to his very rich and influential friends in Washington I realized, we might be able to do just that!”

Is Truth Stranger than Fiction: Who is Bob Crawford and why is he speaking at BJU’s Conference on Sexual Abuse?

“Now that the trial is over, my brother has indicated plans to host a convention of abuse victims.  Will you be going to that?”

“I haven’t heard anything about this convention.”

Neither Brother Jerry, nor Gloria, ever called me.

“Do you know if this convention is happening?” I asked Larry.

“No, and that’s why I’m calling you.” he said, “I would like you to write an article about this convention, if it happens.  I have a feeling nothing is going to come of it.  I don’t think anyone is going to be convinced to call the Sheriff.  Or help with recovery. Or anything.  I think it’s all P.R. . .”

from Christian School Confidential

                                                                                                  

A convention is held on the premises of a bible college/christian school where the administrators  have been accused of covering up the molestations committed by their former pastor.  It is organized by the daughter of America’s favorite televangelist, Brother Jerry, in order to deflect attention from their sphere of the IFB.  The idea that someone working within the ranks of the IFB to gather information to use against victims and deflect attention is difficult to prove in real life, but great material for a novel.

Is truth stranger than fiction?  Bob Jones University, a college that has been accused of giving intellectual ammunition and cover for abusive pastors and church workers, is hosting a conference about sexual abuse.  None of the speakers are familiar to me, although one of them has suddenly become a person of interest for those of us following such matters.

Rev. Bob Crawford, according to the website, ‘served as an assistant and investigator for Chace Campbell (P.A.) Law Firm since 2008, a position in which he regularly advocates for physically and sexually abused children. He has also volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem in Greenville County, S.C., since 1997. In his 37 years as a pastor, he has ministered to many individuals and families affected by sexual abuse and has developed a heart to love and help those who are hurting.

What is not mentioned on the website is Bob Crawford also served as the pastor for Bensalem Baptist Church in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.  If you read Jeri Massi’s Schizophrenic Christianity, you will remember that is this is the church which introduced Massi to fundamentalism.  A bus drove through her complex and her older sister called them up.  Next thing you know, two men on visitation showed up at their door and Massi would soon be knocking on doors like the rest of them!

Massi has much praise for Bob Crawford as being well educated with a Masters of Divinity  and doing graduate work at the Westminster Theological Seminary.  She writes: “For the first year or two at Bensalem Baptist, my Christianity was idyllic.”

So what does she think now of her former pastor, Bob Crawford?  Is Bob Jones University’s conference in good hands?  A brief google search of “Jeri Massi” +”Bob Crawford” isn’t yielding much.  Nor is a casual glance at her web page.

I can tell you that sources who brought this to my attention were counseled by Crawford regarding sexual abuse.  They don’t speak too highly of him.  Because he did work as Guardian ad Litem  his word was often respected over a social worker because he was ‘independent’.  My sources also reveal that he was responsible for sending some unfortunate children to Hephzibah House, the abusive home profiled on Anderson Cooper.

Instead of constantly bumping up her post ‘I answer my accuser#2: Camille Lewis’, which never seems to get updated with new info, why not address this question?  Tell us a bit about Rev. Bob Crawford.  Did he ever recommend Hephzibah House to parents or state authorities?  Has he changed  his tune as to what he regards as abusive behavior? Or, does he back up the discipline practices currently endorsed by people like Michael Pearl?

How ironic that Jeri Massi brags of her association with survivors of Hephzibah House!  Don’t you think they might deserve some answers?

Sophie Hopkey and William Williamson: the first survivors strike back!

Sophia Christinana Hopkey came to America in 1735 and met a preacher named John Wesley. She was already engaged to Thomas Mellichamp who counterfeited money and threatened to kill Sophie if she married anybody else. Sensing her vulnerability, Wesley began grooming his prey and eventually proposed to her.

John Wesley and Sophia began a courtship which Wesley himself ended. He withdrew his marriage proposal because he felt it would interfere with his new ministry in Savannah, Georgia. This basket case of an evangelist thought Sophie should remain celibate only to him.

The girl came to her senses and she decided to marry someone a little more stable: a man named William Williamson. This incensed the minister. He began a campaign of humiliating his victim. He questioned the legality of her marriage and denied her communion. This was normally done to someone who committed a deep sin, and, in this case, the sin was not submitting to the twisted expectations of John Wesley.

What did the victim of this abusive pastor do? William Williamson and his wife, Sophia, sued the pipsqueak and presented their case to no less than 35 jurors! They got him for defaming her character because he wouldn’t administer the Lord’s Supper.

From the warrant served to John Wesley: “To the great disgrace and hurt of her character; from which proceeding we conceive that the said John Wesley did assume an authority contrary to the laws established, and to the peace of our Lord the King, his crown and dignity.”

He fled the states and went to England where he was able to inflict his private and twisted interpretations upon that country. He married Mary Vazeille but it was known as an unhappy marriage. Big surprise? Wesley was even rumored to have gone on long crusades just to stay away from his wife. Perhaps his absence was a vacation for her, too?

His cult became quite successful and today we call them Methodists. The cult exists to this day. One of their biggest cult members, Robert Reynolds Jones, Sr, eventually pulled away from this sect to create his own cult known as ‘Bob Jones University’. BJU is now known as a bastion for obsessive young preacher boys who, like Wesley, use bullying tactics to settle personal scores and excessive scripture quoting in order to get a date.

There is another side to this story, of course. Robert Wearmouth, a biographer of Wesley, wrote: “If, perchance the High Church missionary to Georgia had succumbed to the attractions of Sophia Hopkey, married her as his natural impulses prompted, made a home of her uncle’s estate in accordance with that gentleman’s wish, there can be no doubt that Methodism, an acorn planted at Oxford, would never have grown into a tree of marvelous statue.”

Nice words!

Still, what would the outcome have been if the internet existed in those days? Would Sophia alert the people in England about an evangelist, with a tendency to ‘groom his victims’, who became vindictive and used his official capacity as a minister to settle personal scores? Would the Methodist religion now be referred to as the cult of John Wesley?

The time period between 1730-1791 was the same era that witnessed the Enlightenment and Age of Reason. Unfortunately, cult leaders like Wesley flourished during that period which has the name,’The Great Awakening’. Perhaps we might now refer to that period as the ‘first Great Cult Explosion’?

Prophecy conferences would eventually be held up and down the east coast and one of these cults began calling their views ‘fundamentalist’. The first Cult Explosion justified owning slaves, making women subsurvient to their husbands and encouraged beating their children. The great, great, great grandchildren of the First Cult Explosion are still with us and, more or less, still subscribe to the views of their forefathers. Minus the justifying slavery part, unless you want to count Wal Mart apologists in that category.

Sophie and her husband survived the immaturity and attacks of John Wesley by taking him to court. The community embraced them and Wesley left with his tale between his legs. Let’s honor them as the first survivors who struck back!

References:

The Writer and the Preacher: http://edge.net/~dphillip/Savannah.html

John Wesley wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley

CSC#2: “Is the IFB a cult?”

Is the IFB movement a cult?  ABC and CNN have broadcasted reports of the scandal plagued ‘Independent Fundamental Baptist’.  What is a cult?  Is it any group that engages in cover-ups and lies?  What about the more ‘mainstream’ organizations like Bob Jones University who are now coming under scrutiny for mishandling sex abuse cases.  Dwayne Walker also interviews Priscilla Coates, cult researcher, who discusses the various types of organizations that use mind control to manipulate their followers.

Christian School Confidential – episode one ‘Should he have stopped with Chuck?”

Christian School Confidential, a webseries dedicated to being a watchdog on the IFB Christian School industry, begins with the question, “Should Chris Peterman have given up DORIGHTBJU after Chuck Phelps resigned?”

It is also a call to protest and an invitation for survivors to send videos of testimonies, protests, and memorial services for possible webcasts on the activist site, HEAL-Online.org.

If you are not familiar with the Chris Peterman story, please watch ‘A Salute to Chris Peterman’:

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.