A brief analysis of BJU’s response to the GRACE report

BJ logoOn March 10th, Steve Pettit delivered Bob Jones University’s official response to the GRACE report, a response people had been waiting for for three months, since the GRACE report had been released.

The official response can be viewed here: http://www.bju.edu/grace/

A transcript of Steve Pettit’s speech can be viewed here: http://www.bju.edu/grace/transcript.pdf

On our Facebook page, we linked to a post made on another blog, in which the voices of some of those affected were heard.

Someone expressed some puzzlement about the depth of emotions in the reactions the BJU response to the GRACE report such as that expressed here, not quite able to get it. For others like her, we want to briefly delineate two of the most important problems with BJU’s response.

FIRST, the Bob Jones University response said the following:

We believe Scripture is sufficient for addressing and meeting the spiritual needs of individual believers, and we remain firmly committed to a biblical counseling model as the basis for all of our on-campus counseling. In view of the size of our student population and our firm commitment to providing a biblical counseling model, we will maintain an on-campus biblical counseling function and will continue to counsel abuse/assault victims. If a student selects on-campus biblical counseling, he or she is provided a clear description of biblical counseling and confirms in writing an understanding of the nature and scope of biblical counseling. At the same time, students continue to have the option to pursue off-campus counseling from a counselor of their choosing.

A careful reading of the GRACE report makes it very clear that their current counseling model has been very damaging to trauma survivors. However, in this statement, BJU has clearly said they will not change their counseling model for trauma survivors. For BJU to stand without apology on their current counseling model is a slap in the face to all those they have damaged by it.

To claim that counselees will be informed as to what kind of counseling they’ll be receiving and allowed to counsel elsewhere is insufficient. Traumatized people are often not in a position to analyze the appropriateness of a counseling model. A wise counselor will know when a trauma victim needs trauma counseling and refer him or her to someone trained in this type of counseling. We had hoped that the Julie Valentine Center would receive a positive reference in this response, but there was no reference to them at all.

ALSO, the Bob Jones University response said the following:

The reviewers to date have found no evidence that the University protected any perpetrators or failed to comply with its reporting obligations.

We’re wondering who the “reviewers” are. We’re wondering how they came to this conclusion, since in some of the cases of abuse we’re aware of, it’s definitely true that other underage people were in danger at the hands of the same perpetrators.  And by “protection” of perpetrators, we don’t necessarily mean that they found them a place to hide. More like they may have allegedly suggested they join the military or allegedly had them quietly leave the school and go back home, or something like that.

This has been a dark and difficult few days for many. However, we believe that there was still an important purpose to the GRACE investigation, and that the true God of love and mercy and truth and righteousness is still at work. The voices of those who were harmed have been heard, by more people than would have heard them if it hadn’t been for this investigation. There are many who care. We still hope in the one who is Judge over all.

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