Blog Archives

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.

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.