an open letter to another GRACE Task Force Member
June 27, 2016 original mailing date
November 18, 2016 letter resent (with introductory cover letter)
Dear [Task Force Member]:
Out of all of my post-graduate contact with the university, it is you with whom I am most hurt. And, ironically, it is portions of this letter than I can address to your eyes only. Ever since we met, I have questioned my involvement in that committee. By choosing to speak with gentleness, was I not heard? Was my self-control and politeness too restrained for you to hear the veracity and enormity of our collective damage received from Bob Jones University?
[confidential section redacted]
I believed you. I wanted to see you as part of true godly leadership who would rise up out of these dreadful, agonizing ashes of belief systems and behaviors that labeled themselves Christian.
How foolish I was to believe anything that EVER came out of Bob Jones University. Then or now. The lies are the same. The sugar coating is the same. The cover-ups are the same. The system of attacking victims and protecting “important” names remains in place.
And you. Are. Helping. Lead. This. Place.
How can you possibly live and walk and breathe within this environment? Knowing what you know? Meeting the people you’ve met? Seeing the documents you’ve seen? How do you call yourself a follower of God? Is this how Christ dealt with sin among His people? Does this decision-making honor the God you love?
I simply don’t understand. How do you live with such duplicity? How do you pray? How do you choose to view me in order to make the truth of my experience fit into your little world at that school? How do you promote growth and help lead an institution built on lies? How do you accept a paycheck for that? How do you face your family? How do you see yourself standing up as a [person] of God?
I ask these questions because I don’t understand it. I just don’t get it.
You can do what you choose with your life. But you owe me a massive apology. You have damaged me. You have cost me. Your lies have triggered massive amounts of pain and sleepless nights. You have cost me multiple hours of lost work for two years as I have been in counseling and even hospitalized. I have no vacation pay, so every hour spent on this Task Force meant lost income plus childcare expense. The depths of my soul, my family, and even my physical body can’t absorb the deception that you personally presented during and subsequent to that meeting to finalize the report’s recommendations.
You can blame all of this on a supposed lack of spirituality on my part or however you’d like to spin it. But the cold hard truth is that you seem to have lied.
You may believe that you didn’t lie, that you really felt you had influence. You may have thought things would turn out differently. You may have figured you could maneuver people’s actions to help everyone come out happy. Yet you had to have known that the group of us on that Task Force could never leave the meetings as trusted friends, nor that that we’d be content no matter what the university did next.
If you truly believed [redacted], you would have resigned by the time the university’s response went public. Since you didn’t, you made yourself one of “them.” You joined the force of perpetrators who continue to whitewash death and call it holy. You signed up to battle against the tender children that God calls close to His heart.
How much I have struggled with the tenants of Christianity because of its poor representation at BJU! I am glad that I know where to find truth and that it does not rest on men who portray themselves as godly. I am eternally grateful that God’s character is astoundingly different from what I see in you and other university leaders. I can find my rest in the Father who sees worth in embarrassing himself publicly as he hikes up his robe and runs through the dirt to welcome me home. He doesn’t ignore my poor choices (not that my on-campus rape was in any way my fault) because he has ached along with me at every turn. He gives up his own attire (his best robe, his very own ring) to clothe me in forgiveness and compassion and belonging and security and truth.
Christ’s death was so much more than atonement for my sin. He identifies with me in being ignored. In being a misfit. In being stripped. In being beaten. In being wrongly accused. In lacking comfort from those I trusted most. In being homeless at times. In being someone different than others understood. In being verbally attacked and deceived. He knows my heart intimately. And because he has always been true to his character, I can trust him. Despite the ways you have portrayed him.
You have thrashed whatever respect I mustered up for you prior to that meeting. I hope never to meet you again unless you come to grips with the devastation you have caused my life. Yes, God is caring for me and I am growing. But that does not excuse your part in this deep wound. I can forgive you but that in no way removes your sin against me.
May God demonstrate mercy and grace to you as you sort out your conflicts of interest.
The most recent press releases [in June of 2016, prior to date of original letter] depict yet another opportunity for truth and healing. What will your choice be?
GRACE participant and Task Force Member
When Wendy sent her original letters to Bob Jones III, to Jim Berg, and to her fellow GRACE investigation Task Force Member in June, she hoped for a reply. When she failed to receive one, she resent them all in November, with the following cover letter:
This letter will not make your list of favorites. I predict common possibilities for your response. Knowing that you will not care for the content you’re about to read, let’s go ahead and consider the end from the beginning:
- You may never see my words – Your assistant most likely screens your mail. In fact, she may even have been instructed to dispose of letters such as mine before you see them. So, dear assistant, should you be tempted to peruse and toss, you may wish to make an exception for this one. Not only does the content warrant the addressee’s attention, but also you will soon see that your efforts to protect him and his time will be futile.
- You personally may quickly dispose of this sheet. I believe that this was a common response throughout my years of attending BJU, and I wonder how many other letters have been similarly ignored throughout recent years of investigation(s). If someone articulates a perspective that is unwelcome, it is deemed to be worthy of no further attention by “the man of God.”
- You may resort simply to praying for me, the critical author. The favored adjective when I was a student was, “bitter” or “unrepentant.” Somehow, anything painful or angry or dissenting seemed to fall into this category, leaving the questioner no hope of having questions answered, truth revealed, nor reconciliation reached. We were taught repeatedly that to pray for someone was the very most you could ever do; however, I believe that it is more often a copout couched in lazy language for the spiritually ill-equipped to address questions, dissention, sin, or self-fault. It is, I believe, indicative of a leader who is able to lead in name only.
- You may confide in a chosen few people to determine amongst yourselves if my words have merit and, since they do, then determine what insights or perspectives you can muster to provide spin control to your supporters and your own egos, as your hearts must surely be tired of hearing yet another verse to a very familiar tune. (In case you’re wondering, it’s a tune that is sung in a minor key, with much cacophony, halting lyrics, and a disruptive rhythm. It is a tune that demands truth at all costs.)
- Lastly, you may choose to make my concerns public in order to address them thoroughly and completely, once for all. Since I am certain this will not be your choice, I will make that decision for you. This letter will be public by the time you hold it in your hands. No need to ask a larger “trusted” group for their wisdom, as you know that those you choose to consult will simply agree with your own mindset. The results that I seek can come about only by inviting other voices to the “public square” wherein real dialog can occur.
Now that your choices are simplified, let me begin. . . .
Wendy said the letters “would be public by the time you hold [them] in your hands,” but in spite of that, she once again allowed for the possibility that perhaps she would receive a reply. Once again, she did not, not from a single one of the recipients. So now the letters have been made public.