Kathy, a BJU-related abuse survivor, offered for us to use her words, as she processed Bob Jones University’s response to the GRACE report.
Wow. Bob Jones University’s response to the GRACE report is beyond disappointing. So much for change. If they’re what Christianity stood for, I’d be ashamed to call myself a Christian.
I had hope that they were headed in the right direction when they issued their apology statement. However, an apology is meaningless if actions aren’t taken to fix the problem. That’s what repentance is (a term they’re very familiar with) — saying you’re sorry, but not continuing in the wrongdoing. Their response was riddled with Christian jargon and lingo that basically did nothing but dance in circles around the core issues.
On one section, they denied that certain things ever happened, and I know first-hand that those things did indeed happen. They didn’t take GRACE’s recommendations at all. Shame on them, and shame on doing what they do in the name of Christ.
I had an excellent education there, scholastically speaking, and there are several good, good people there — faculty and staff who I believe truly want to do what is right. But I would never send my child or any other of my future children there — to the CDC, elementary, academy, high school, or college — and I would never recommend that anyone else go there either.
I also want to say that I have no bitterness toward the school at all. I’ve taken my mom’s wise advice — forgive them, and move on and forget about them. Otherwise letting anger toward them and hurt consume me only harms me.
The GRACE report wasn’t just both sides telling their side of things. It was a 2 year investigation headed up by a prosecuting attorney to look into allegations that the school was mishandling reports of abuse (and that’s a very, very abridged version). I was actually one of the people who took the survey and met with the GRACE team. I’ve gotten to know the lead investigator Charissa Dvorak somewhat well since talking with them two years ago. I read the entire 300 page report from GRACE. And I read the entire response from BJU.
I’m not defaming them. Defamation of character means that you say something untrue. Everything I said about the school, I not only said with truth, I said it with love and grace. Yes God shows us grace and expects us to extend that grace toward others and forgive. But he also used some pretty harsh words to describe the religious leaders who were practicing false things and doing what they do in the name of Him. He called them vipers, etc.
There are good good people at that school who I believe truly have good hearts and want to do what is right, people who greatly influenced my life in a positive way. But saying that every school has problems and we need to show them grace is like saying so-and-so murdered someone, but we all sin, so we need to show him grace and let him go. No.
Yes, we all sin, but people, and schools, still need to be held responsible. I also said above that I’ve forgiven them and hold no bitterness toward them. And by saying I won’t send my child or any of my future kids there is not boycotting them. It would be the same thing as saying I would never send my child to a Buddhist temple. Am I boycotting Buddhist temples? No — but I don’t believe or agree with them, so I’m not sending my child there, or advocating for them. I even told a potential future employer in an interview last week when she asked me about my experience at BJ — “I received a top notch education there.” Because I did.
Yes, I feel like the school wronged me. I say the school because that’s what it is — an entity. No, not every single person at that school did, but people in leadership who has the power and ability to do something and help me, but didn’t, and only made the situation worse. The GRACE team even wanted to talk to my therapist to see how their “counsel” has affected what I’m going through now.
I still stand by my original statement — shame on them, for doing what they do in the name of Christ, just like Jesus said shame on the Pharisees for teaching what they did in His name. And if I were a non Christian looking at this situation, I would turn and run the other way from Christianity. I actually have a friend who is not a Christian who said to me, “if that’s what being a Christian entails, then count me out.” And that makes me so, so sad.
BJU had the chance to make things right. The GRACE report gave many wise and good and do-able suggestions to get them started. And all they did was defend themselves.
They claim that an attorney reviewed the files and found nothing illegal. How did he/she have access to those files? I had to sign a waiver for GRACE allowing them to view mine. I never got any kind of waiver or anything sent to me from this attorney that BJU hired.
I had a friend who called and begged to speak with the president, but she was told that he wasn’t speaking with any of the survivors until after their response was made public. Why is it that ANYONE ELSE can call anytime to talk to the president about something, but those of us who he supposedly wants to hear from and apologize to had to wait? They don’t think they wronged us, but want us to come talk to them now that their response is out (he said that in the answer). Why would I do that, when they were the initial ones I turned to for help? So they can tell me that I’m not “thinking on things that are lovely,” and that’s why I have flashbacks and dissociations, like they told me the first time I went to them for help?
And btw, I say all this as factual, based on my personal experience, what the GRACE report outlined, BJU’s response, and from what one of the other survivors has told me.
I also want to add that I’m not a “BJU hater.” There are people who will never be happy with anything the school does, and that’s not me at all. I actually thought and hoped and prayed they would make these changes. I was proud of the school actually when they initiated the investigation. Sadly, I realize now that I was being naive.
For me personally, I believe part of the school being held accountable is to pay for every survivor’s counseling, who they gave wrong/more hurtful counseling to. Therapy is EXPENSIVE. A psychiatric hospital is EXPENSIVE. I’m not saying they are entirely responsible, like my abuser is, but they are partially responsible for my feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, hopelessness.
But, I’m taking my wise mom and dad’s advice — learn from what they did (or didn’t do) so I can treat others better, and forgive them in my heart.