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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?

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?

Are fundamentalist Christians capable of counseling victims of child abuse?

The Cycle of Abuse is a social theory developed by Lenore Walker to explain the origins of abuse. It basically says that abuse is a learned behavior characterized by certain repetitive actions with abuse (whether it be physical or emotional) usually being preceded by another act of abuse. This theory was developed in the 1970s and, like most revolutionary ideas that go under the name ‘theory’, are quickly trashed by fundamentalists as being not true.

The reality is very few professional psychologists, therapists, and even evangelical Christians, question the reality of the Cycle of Abuse. Those who have questioned it are generally coming from the angle that just because you came from an abusive background does not mean you will become an abusive personality.

Even Lenore Walker admitted that the women used for her studies were not ‘randomly selected’. Her original terms like ‘battered women’s syndrome’ have been replaced by the ‘cycle of abuse’ because abuse is not limited strictly to men abusing women. Both men and women have perpetuated the cycle of abuse.

The reason for contemplating the Cycle of Abuse is because a minority of fundamentalist Christians, who sincerely want to stop abuse, are not only questioning the logic of the Cycle of Abuse but are calling it ’emphatically false’. Just take a look at the thread from Stuff Fundies Like (link below) to read what I’m talking about.

Jeri Massi, the author of Schizophrenic Christianity, participates in the Stuff Fundies Like discussion with, “Definitely, emphatically, not all abusers start out as abused. That’s a myth propagated by criminals who plead victimhood to get leniency in their court trials and sentencing.”

She goes on to say that even children from good homes become abusers. She neglects to give examples or explore whether such abusive children were abused outside the family. If such a child was abused outside the family, and the family knew about the abuse but elected to remain quiet, does that family still qualify as a ‘good family’?

In my critique of Schizophrenic Christianity, I was struck by this passage, “If the stupid child is going to behave as a temptress, he will treat her as a temptress. If she is going to wear those frilly petticoat dresses to church, he will act on the lure she has provided.”



This struck me as a ‘blame the victim’ passage. I’ve posted the review which contains this quote on an earlier blog of Christian School Confidential in 2008 and she has not yet addressed this issue. Was it a misprint? Or, does she really believe that, in some cases, a child can (and should be?) blamed for the abuse ‘the stupid child’ has inflicted upon herself because of her behavior?

I am brought to the conclusion that this might not be a misprint. If she believes that the Cycle of Abuse is a theory seized upon by criminals in order to get leniency, then couldn’t her argument against the Cycle of Abuse also be used by abusive families to cover up their lack of action? After all, if no one from the immediate family abused the child, they must be a ‘good family’?

One of the posters on Stuff Fundies Like pointed out, “Aren’t we forgetting about original sin?”

Yes, original sin! That is the same motivation that drives fundamentalists into beating their children when they are mere infants and toddlers! Michael Pearl, the fundamentalist author of To Train Up A Child, believes that when an infant cries it is a sign of rebellion. It’s time for the parent to step in and show who is boss with some strikes at the crying child!

It makes me wonder if fundamentalist Christians really are capable of counseling those who have been abused. Can someone who believes in the doctrine of original sin be relied on by victims to advocate for them? Especially, if deep down, that Christian really believes the child was acting on innate sinful urges beyond his control? Who is arguing for leniency now? That sounds like an argument an accused molester, who recently found Jesus, could make!

“It’s a huge, complex problem with no easy answers.” wrote one Stuff Fundies Like poster.

It only becomes a mystery when the most obvious and logical explanation is ignored.

For information about:

Stuff Fundies Like discussion: http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=5571

Review of Schizophrenic Christianity: http://christianschoolconfidential.blogspot.com/2008/12/fact-fiction-and-blatant-exaggeration.html

Cycle of Abuse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_of_abuse

Michael Pearl: http://religiouschildmaltreatment.com/2011/11/the-real-michael-pearl/

What is a professional victim?

“Do you believe there are professional victims?” a journalist once asked me.

“Yes.” I said, although I had not really given the matter much thought. It’s been close to a year since that interview and the question has been lodged in the back of my mind.

What is a professional victim? It sounds like someone making money off their story about being victimized, or possibly making money off the stories of other victims. Now, I do not believe it’s wrong for someone, after devoting weeks, months, and possibly years, of writing their story into a book to profit from the fruit of their efforts.

If it helps bring closure for themselves and others, that is for the good. Everyone is entitled to tell their story and draw whatever life lessons they can from it. What happens after the book? Will we be reading any story about how they have overcome adversity and have now embarked on a brand new enterprise? Preferably, one that has nothing to do with being a victim?

What did they pursue before their victimization? Have they discovered what was lost before the terrible events affected their lives?

What if they weren’t pursuing anything? What if they were victimized from the moment they popped out of the womb? If you’re born in America, or anywhere else in the world, chances are you were abused at least once in life. As Bill Maher pointed out, you’re slapped on the ass when you’re born!

What kind of welcome is that? Maybe we all start out abused with the first slap coming from the doctor? If you have nothing to talk about except abuse upon abuse, and that’s your only stock in trade, does that make you a professional victim?

I have met a couple of victims who immediately talk about forming nonprofit organizations. Since nonprofits can be quite profitable, does that make them ‘professional victims’? Do we really need another nonprofit organization?

Normally, I advise against starting organizations. If every victim starts nonprofit organizations, who will be left to join these organizations? We don’t need more organizations. We need more cooperation between existing organizations! That’s difficult since most nonprofits operate like small kingdoms receiving tributes from thankful subjects.

I have attempted to persuade existing child abuse groups to address the subject of clergy or religious abuse. That went over like a lead balloon back in 2006! Most of these organizations, in my view, did not want to look like they were criticizing religions. Other groups, like SNAP, began cropping up to address Catholic abuse and began creating ‘chapters’ like SNAP-BAPTIST to cover other denominations. In time, their influence began to wane as other victims, not feeling like they were being heard, began forming their own groups.

The zenith, for me, was at a convention where I witnessed a SNAP representative pleading that victims not forget those who came before them. Another blogger, not at the convention, complained she was becoming obsolete in the wake of other Facebook groups.

Today, it’s a dog eat dog world if you’re a professional victim. And yet, I’m still not sure what a professional victim is except it’s something you don’t want to become.

So what are the marks of a professional victim?

Is it a person who attempts to make a living out of their victimhood or victimhood of others?

Someone who has absolutely no other sense of self-worth except reveling in victimhood?

Someone so fearful and threatened by other groups or other people addressing the same subject that they invoke territoriality? This manifests itself in blocking those with different viewpoints and opinions on Facebook and webpages.

I’m changing tactics at Christian School Confidential. While others want to focus on the first abusers, I think it’s more valuable to contemplate the question: how do victims become the victimizers? Every abuser starts out as abused before something clicks and they carry out their abuse on others.

A few might be critical of this new path saying I should concentrate on the first abusers. However, as I see more and more ‘advocates’ utilizing the same techniques as those who cover up the deeds of the first abusers, it’s only a matter of time before a major scandal hits and reveals that so-called survivors are just as guilty of covering up the dirt as those fundamentalists they have accused.

If and when that happens, survivor culture might be given a black eye for their own hypocrisy. I say ‘might’ since transparency helps safeguard against such assaults. Thankfully, each new scandal brings a fresh crop of people who can learn from the mistakes of the past. For that reason, in the weeks to come, I will begin a series exploring the history of those who escaped religious abuse and analyze their methods of confronting such abuse. What worked? What did not?

In the meantime, what is a professional victim?

I’ve given my thoughts on the subject.

Anyone else care to comment?

Survivor Wars II: The need for Devil’s Advocacy

Do Right, Hyles-Anderson is alive and well!

I clicked on the link. It appeared to have vanished. Do Right Hyles Anderson appeared again so I rejoined the group but, once again, the group disappeared! It wasn’t until I logged into another Facebook account when I learned it had not vanished. The administrators simply blocked me.

Jocelyn Zichterman seems to be one of the administrators of the Do Right Hyles Anderson board. Jocelyn is the one who called investigators and gave them Tina Anderson’s number. A risky move since, when a similar incident happened during the Bob Gray case, the victim just told the police, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” In the case of Tina Anderson, it worked and a victory was won against Ernie Willis, the man who raped Tina Anderson.

During the Tina Anderson case, I was practically coming unglued that the media seemed to be ignoring the fact that Tina could easily have been sent to an IFB home. That’s how some victims of IFB abuse have been silenced! When I finally reached the journalist who covered most of the Tina Anderson saga, I was surprised to hear she wanted to do a story on IFB homes. Her editors killed the idea because not enough victims had come forward.

What? No victims wanting to come forward? Seriously? Had this reporter not been to Facebook? Multiply? Or even Heal-Online? Immediately, I put the word out and she was swamped with testimonies. ABC News Online finally gave that subject its due. Biblical Reform School Discipline: Tough Love or Abuse was the first national article to mention the Survivors of Institutional Abuse and their convention which was held this year in Long Beach, CA. That article proved instrumental in bringing solidarity amongst victims and survivors.

It was during this time when I found out a number of survivors trusted Jocelyn to tell their story to ABC only to find out that never happened. An ugly thread war started on Facebook.

Today, the folks at Do Right, Hyles Anderson are propagating the idea that the FBI wants survivors to give their stories to certain advocates within that circle (Jocelyn?) and then they will evaluate the stories and decide which to report to authorities. This has resulted in a number of Facebook posts where people claimed to have contacted the FBI only to learn the FBI does not use third party advocacy.

Victims who might be involved with the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana scandal are being urged to call the Merrillville, Indiana office at (219)769-3719 and speak with Agent Chikantek. All calls are confidential.

Cathy Harris of FB revealed that a person at the FBI told her, “3rd parties to gather reports and round up victims for the FBI is not how the FBI goes about an investigation.” The testimony can be tainted if the story passes through too many hands. The defense lawyers would love this!

This is not the first time I have been blocked from a Facebook page. I was blocked by Jeri Massi, for reasons that possibly lurk between my negative review of Schizophrenic Christianity and editing the protest against Calvary Bible Church in Lima, Ohio. That church supported Hephzibah House, which is a cause she apparently feels quite proprietary about.

Why write about this issue? To get people to steer clear of certain advocates? To argue they may be ‘moles’ working as false advocates? Not at all!

The purpose is deal with the wider issue of ‘Survivor Wars’. Angela Smith, founder of HEAL-Online, helped me edit an article about survivor conflicts that is currently posted at California Heal. It’s about the need for Devil’s Advocacy within Advocacy. Angela is no stranger to Survivor Wars having been the target of other ‘advocacy groups’ during the lifespan of her network of advocates.

HEAL has been quite successful. Not only have they persuaded some parents from sending their children to teen containment camps, but they have the distinction of shutting down a number of abusive homes. A growing amount of survivors from IFB homes are joining the cause and victims are gaining the knowledge that turns them into survivors.

There are always detractors when you have success.

If you step away from HEAL or even the two J’s I referenced, you’ll find numerous ‘minor’ survivor wars occurring on Facebook and possibly other message boards. ‘Minor’ in the sense few know about them. If you keep your ear on the virtual grounds, they’re kind of difficult to miss.

So what’s the solution? Plead that we all stand united since we all have a common enemy? That might be myopic.

We’re probably confused as to who or what the enemy is. We might say it’s the abusers and those who cover it up, but what about the philosophical beliefs used by the abusers to control?

Is it possible to stand against abuse and still endorse the concept of a patriarchy?

Can one stand against the abusive teen containment centers and maintain conservative Republican values if the party, as a whole, defends them?

Can one truly counsel a victim of incest that the abuse wasn’t her fault and, at the same time, champion the biblical figure of Lot as a just man? After all, his daughters got him drunk and forced themselves on him! Try to argue that in court.

We are all different and it might be impossible for all of us to agree. The damaging psychology of IFB group think can easily be carried over into the world of survivordom. How to stop it?

The solution isn’t to feverishly warn people about the abuses of so called advocates, but to wise up and ‘kill’ that part of us that is addicted to the ‘messiah/hero complex’. It’s that part of us still looking for a ‘hero’ or ‘messiah’ to come in and single handedly win the battle against the IFB, the Catholic Church, Hollywood, Washington DC, and the abusive father next door.

That’s our job.

It’s a tough job and seemingly impossible. The good news is each new scandal brings a fresh crop of people ready to take no prisoners in their pursuit of accountability and justice. Perhaps they can learn from the mistakes of those who came before them? However, you can’t do that if you’re devoted to never critiquing the methods of fellow survivors. It’s part of growing up.

Facebook groups are, in reality, the visions of only a few people. It’s time to recognize that and to stand as individuals. Without groups. Like a true movement. Making strong and logical arguments. And whenever we see flame wars and survivor wars, just accept that ‘such is life’. Do what we can to mend fences and, if that not be possible, just move on to the next battlefield.

First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana retakes the lead in the game of fundamental scandals!

The local news source for Hammond, Indiana reports that Jack Schaap, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, was removed from his post because of
“a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor.”

Hammond Baptist dismisses pastor for ‘sin’.

No details from the mainstream media about the ‘sin’. Not to worry! As always, Facebook goes where the MSM fears to tread. A Facebook group, DoRightHylesAnderson has just been formed: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/210248275769396/

Someone from the church allegedly found a cell phone with a picture of Pastor Jack in a compromising position with a minor. Hence, the police involvement spoken of in this article:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/07/31/hammond-pastor-dismissed-for-improper-relationship-with-young-woman/

First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana once had the reputation as the World’s Largest Baptist Church. This would eventually be eclipsed by Willow Creek and a number of other megachurches across the country.

Jack Hyles was a pioneer in fundamentalist sin and salvation, having built the ‘world’s largest church’ and creating the strategy for fundamentalist cover ups. Hyles story has been recounted in books ranging from The Wizard of God by Victor Nischick and Fundamental Seduction by Voyle Glover.

Dave Hyles, his son, developed a reputation for seducing girls in his Christian school and was fingered for the death of infant, Brent Stevens. Jack was accused of having an improper relationship with his secretary. The fundamentalist world didn’t seem to have a problem throwing Dave under the proverbial bus, as it were.

Bob Gray, the late pastor of my former church, Trinity Baptist of Jacksonville, Florida, was a good friend of Hyles. A number of Trinity members I spoke with didn’t hesitate to condemn Dave Hyles. Possibly to show they didn’t have their heads in the sand. (“I don’t know about the accusations against Brother Hyles, but David definitely did it!”)

Many of those who defended Bob Gray after Gray’s arrest for child molestation didn’t bat an eye when it came to trashing Dave. However, once the accusations moved up the fundamental food chain to Hyles and Gray, they started to get nervous.

Schaap took over after the death of Hyles. He became known for preaching wild sermons that sounded like Al Bundy had traded in his booze for a bible. He preached women were sinning by ‘letting themselves go’ and basically preached against abuse victims seeking accountability. Now, we know why!

David Gibbs, official lawyer for scandal ridden fundamentalist churches, is flying in for damage control.