The New York Times is reporting that Bob Jones University is faulted for halting an abuse study. The first paragraph starts with a bang and gets more heartbreaking from there.
GREENVILLE, S.C. — For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.
I recommend you read the entire article above. Other sources reporting on this include:
- Washington Post | Bob Jones University fires firm hired to investigate sex abuse
- NBC News | Bob Jones University Fire Firm Investigating Sexual Abuse
- Christian Post | Bob Jones University Abruptly Terminates Relationship With GRACE, Led by Billy Graham’s Grandson
- Christianity Today | Bob Jones University Fires GRACE as Sex Abuse Investigation Nears Completion
- Patheos | Bob Jones University Breaks with GRACE, Prematurely Ending Investigation into the School’s Culture of Sexual Abuse
- Inside Higher Education | Bob Jones U. Hires Firm Hired to Investigate Abuse
- Opposing Views | Bob Jones University Ends Contract With GRACE One Month Before Sexual Abuse Report Due Out, Raising Suspicions
- The American Conservative | Why Is Bob Jones University So Nervous?
I’ve never been bitter about the fact that I attended and earned 2 degrees from the university. In fact, in some ways I remain grateful. But I’ve been growing more and more ashamed of this family business. Yes, ashamed.
And yes, that’s what I see it as now—not a Christian university, not a place of ministry, just a lucrative family business that “underserves” its patrons by providing them with very expensive degrees that, when trying to make a living in the real world, are too often worthless unless you remain in their tiny, insular, frequently impoverished, self-serving bubble (or go on, as I had to do, to actually earn degrees from regionally accredited schools).
I’ve learned in the past few years, that this family business was more deeply steeped in racism than I could ever have imagined—sadly, a past they have never renounced.
This family business does not appear to value academic peer review/credentialing*.
And now we learn that the family business itself is alleged to keep the reporting of sexual abuse from the justice system because victim’s seeking justice might risk hurting the “cause of Christ”—which, of course, is equated as synonymous with the family business.
All of this would be unacceptable behavior for any business but is especially egregious for a business that works to educate children ages 4 – young adulthood. Moreover, this level of being “underserved” (the term the university president repeatedly uses) rises to a moral outrage of cultish proportions when the business purports to speak for God when telling everyone (faculty, staff, students, and anybody else who will listen) precisely how to live their daily lives!
Yes, we all knew the university chancellor worked feverishly to keep a board member (a pastor and graduate, Chuck Phelps) on the university board when the chancellor stated he knew the board member had knowingly harbored a practicing child molester, Ernie Willis, in his congregation. Even after Willis’ conviction and imprisonment, the chancellor specifically stated that the board member, Chuck Phelps, was an “honorable man” and that his congregant’s (Ernie Willis’) repeated instances of pedophilia were actually “consensual rape.”
But I don’t think university president Stephen Jones’ firing of the Christian independent sexual abuse investigative team, GRACE, has much, if anything really, to do with the chancellor’s, well, at the very least in my opinion, calloused indifference to this child’s being ravaged by abuse. (I’ve written in detail about this tragedy at this link and at this link.)
But the firing of the independent investigators has got to be raising questions in the average person’s mind: What do they want to hide? The reporters are certainly raising this question. (I know Jones says they aren’t hiding anything. If this is true, then get out of the way, and let the independent investigation finish. To do anything else is to attempt to hide something.)
Is this business trying to mitigate financial liability and perhaps avoid any risk of prison time for employees who may have “underserved” the young people in their care?
The university announced yesterday that they will sit down and meet with GRACE, the independent investigative team, next week. The press release states that they “remain hopeful this project can be completed with GRACE and in so doing raise sexual abuse awareness and minister to victims whose lives have been ravaged by abuse.” Now that is tricky wording, isn’t it!
Is the family business interested in only the future or also the past? Do they have any interest in righting any wrongs, making amends, to those who may have been “underserved” when they reported to the family business that they had been “ravaged by abuse?” Does the family business have any interest in holding anyone accountable for any wrong doing, even if accountability results in potential prosecution through the justice system?
I know you can’t please everyone all the time. It’s impossible. But, you know, I am unaware of any other educational institution that has such a significant amount of negative social media presence. Something, which I don’t think can be blamed on those so disaffected, is wrong.
For many parents and graduates who had been willing to give the family business the benefit of the doubt for years, trust is now broken. Certainly, if I had children bound for college I could never trust their education to an institution with such a dark past when there are other more viable choices.
Isn’t it time to rethink college plans? $80,000 is a tremendous amount of money! May I wholeheartedly recommend your considering a regionally accredited school for your child’s education before s/he looses a/another single credit earned through hours of hard work and hard earned (or borrowed) money?!
Yes. I am ashamed of this family business.
An Important Footnote
*Were those who were trusted to counsel abused students properly credentialed to do so? I know of the family business’ distrust of science, their distrust of regional accreditation, and now what seems to be a distrust for the justice system. But, are the men and women counseling students who have been “ravaged by abuse” legitimately certified to do so; or, do they hold pseudo-certifications from “plastic” organizations that are not recognized and accepted by mainstream science; or, do they have no certifications at all? I just do not know the answer to this question, which is why I ask. Does anyone know? Perhaps the GRACE report can shed light on this?
- Bob Jones University stifled sex abuse claims: ‘If you report it, you hurt the body of Christ’ (rawstory.com)
- Everything you need to know about Bob Jones University (freethoughtblogs.com)
- Bob Jones University Shut Down Sex Abuse Complaints For Decades To Save Jesus (crooksandliars.com)
- Morning Roundup 2/13/14 (christianitytoday.com)