A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Translation of Bob Jones University’s Manipulative Press Release Announcing GRACE Report

Last week the President of Bob Jones University (Steve Pettit) announced that G.R.A.C.E. had completed its report on how the University responded in the past to student reports of sexual abuse or assault. The manipulative language used in BJU’s press release jumped out at me. There are things we can learn from this press release because the same manipulative tactics are applied to us by our abusers and their allies.

Original text of the press release (link):

GREENVILLE, S.C. (December 10, 2014) – Bob Jones University President Steve Pettit announced to the BJU faculty, staff and students this morning that GRACE has completed its report on how the University responded in the past to student reports of sexual abuse or assault.

In November 2012, BJU initiated the GRACE investigation to make certain university policies and procedures for handling reports of sexual abuse and assault comply with every aspect of the law and ensure a loving, scripturally based response to those involved. Additionally, BJU leadership wished to have an opportunity to communicate with and be reconciled with any former students or other individuals who believe they received inadequate help when they reported to a BJU representative that they had been abused at some point in their past.

In making the announcement, Pettit said, “We are all awakening to the depth and breadth of this societal problem. Colleges and universities across the country are reassessing how they handle cases of sexual abuse and assault. We want to be part of that solution. To do that, we must first take the mote out of our own eye and address our own failings. The GRACE report helps in that effort by helping us identify areas of concern.”

While the report focuses on the experiences of approximately 20 out of over 90,000 former students, it identified a number of instances where BJU’s response was inadequate and students were not satisfied with the help they received. It also identified a number of specific areas requiring improvement.

During his presentation earlier today, President Pettit apologized to the abuse and assault victims who said they did not receive adequate help and expressed his appreciation for their courage in coming forward and sharing their experiences with GRACE. He stated, “I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault …To them I would say—we have carefully listened to your voice. We take your testimony in this report to our hearts. We intend to thoroughly review every aspect and concern outlined in the investigation and respond appropriately.”

President Pettit will immediately appoint a committee which will review the report findings and recommendations over the next 90 days.

“For those actions to be truly meaningful, we must make a long-term commitment that creates genuine, sustainable change,” said Pettit. “This will take a lot of hard work in the coming months, in fact, years. This is a process of change that must and will happen by the grace of God. This is our solemn pledge.”

GRACE, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, will release its final report Thurs., Dec. 11. The report may be accessed at http://www.netgrace.org.

———————————–

Translation in red. Comments in purple italics.

GREENVILLE, S.C. (December 10, 2014) – Bob Jones University President Steve Pettit announced to the BJU faculty, staff and students this morning that GRACE has completed its report on how the University responded in the past to student reports of sexual abuse or assault.

In November 2012, BJU initiated the GRACE investigation to make certain university policies and procedures for handling reports of sexual abuse and assault comply with every aspect of the law and ensure a loving, scripturally based response to those involved. Additionally, BJU leadership wished to have an opportunity to communicate with and be reconciled with It’s their Christian duty to forgive us. We want them to reconcile with us so we can lean on them to not blow any more whistles or call for any further change in the BJU empire. If they reconcile with us, that will rehabilitate our image. any former students or other individuals who believe they received inadequate Minimizes. Should be “whom BJU failed to” help when they reported to a BJU representative that they had been abused at some point in their past. Use the active voice when you make apologies, BJU. Active voice; make BJU the actor, not the victims. 

In making the announcement, Pettit said, “We are all awakening to the depth and breadth of this societal problem. Colleges and universities across the country See? Lots of colleges and universities have this problem. Why y’all pickin’ on poor little ol’ us? are reassessing how they handle cases of sexual abuse and assault. We’re all victims here. While we were sleeping terrible things happened. But we’re not responsible for them. We were asleep. Why do you need to be awakened? Isn’t this a Christian university? Isn’t this a basic tenet of faith? Don’t abuse and don’t cover abuse? Why do you have to be awakened? Christians should be sounding the alarm, not being awakened. We want to be part of that solution. To do that, we must first take the mote out of our own eye and address our own failings. My head just exploded. Did he really say “mote out of [BJU’s] own eye?” You’re supposed to take the BEAM, the enormous, gigantic, whopping BEAM out of your own eye. It’s the BEAM.

20141215_135508-1

Matthew 7:5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

This is inexcusable. Either he said “mote” on purpose because he believes this is an itty-bitty speck of a problem OR the president of this ultra-conservative Christian university is ignorant of what Christ actually said. I am writing this on 12/18/14. He’s had over a week to correct it. He has not. And I took a screenshot to record this is what it states at the time I am writing. 

When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.― Maya Angelou

I am going to believe him the first time. This is a mote to BJU. A tiny insignificant nuisance. 

The GRACE report helps in that effort by helping us identify areas of concern.” No need to be alarmed. It’s just areas of concern. No abuse or illegal behavior here. We just need some maintenance.

While the report focuses on the experiences of approximately 20 out of over 90,000 former students, Only 20! See, we’re not that bad! Give us a break already. it identified a number of instances where BJU’s response was inadequate and students were not satisfied with the help they received when we asked pervy questions and blamed them for “their part” in the abuse. Minimizes. Blames victims for not being satisfied. Sentence should’ve ended at “inadequate.” It also identified a number of specific areas requiring improvement. If it’s not already on the list, I suggest adding “reading up on what Jesus says about hypocrites, motes, and beams.”

During his presentation earlier today, President Pettit apologized to the abuse and assault victims who said they did not receive adequate help Minimizes. Should be “whom BJU did not adequately help” and expressed his appreciation for their courage in coming forward and sharing their experiences with GRACE. He stated, “I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us Minimizes. Should be “to those whom BJU did not give” genuine love, compassion, understanding and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault …To them I would say—we have carefully listened to your voice. We take your testimony in this report to our hearts. We intend to thoroughly review every aspect and concern outlined in the investigation and respond appropriately.” But right now we’ll minimize and blame your feelings. By alluding to the ‘feelings’ of victims, they subtly but deftly suggest that the complainants were just hysterical people who were making mountains out of molehills because they were emotionally unstable. 

President Pettit will immediately appoint a committee which will review the report findings and recommendations over the next 90 days. “For those actions to be truly meaningful, we must make a long-term commitment that creates genuine, sustainable change,” said Pettit. “This will take a lot of hard work in the coming months, in fact, years. This is a process of change This is a process of change. Don’t expect anything soon. It’s a process. that must and will happen by the grace of God. This is our solemn pledge.” Is it really that hard to believe victims, not blame them, and report crimes to the police? 

GRACE, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, will release its final report Thurs., Dec. 11. The report may be accessed at http://www.netgrace.org.

Own it. If the university failed its students, own it and say so. Make an unqualified humiliating apology naming WHAT BJU DID WRONG, not what anyone said, reported, believed, felt, thought. Name what BJU did. State it was wrong. State how you will change and then change. And it’s not a process. You stop blaming and you start helping. Until you take complete responsibility for what BJU did wrong, you have no business seeking to “communicate with and be reconciled with” those you have wronged. And even then you should NEVER place pressure on those you have wronged to reconcile with you. It’s really not that complicated. Either you did wrong and you OWN it, or you didn’t and you say so. BJU has done neither.

——————————–

So the takeaway for us:

  • Abusers want credit for seeking therapy (contracting GRACE).
  • They seek the opportunity to be reconciled which in our world means they pressure the victim to grant forgiveness and stay married, because they want to keep their power.
  • They will apologize for what we say, feel, believe, think, remember, etc., (if at all).
  • They will make Freudian slips (mote, should’ve been beam) which reveal what they truly think and we need to believe them when they do.
  • They will tell us that it’s just a common problem and everyone struggles with this and we’re overreacting.
  • And they will demand more time to change and act like we’re unreasonable for not understanding what a difficult process it is.

The only thing missing is the allegation that those hurt by BJU are mentally ill, but that would require believing in psychology so they’d probably claim demon possession or the like.

What did you see in the press release? How can you apply it to your situation with your abuser and his allies?

Ellie is now offering a private translation service. For more info email her at EllieCriesForJustice@gmail.com.

* * *

web stuff on BJU and the GRACE report:

Final report on BJU by G.R.A.C.E. (trigger warning)

Bob Jones University, Boz Tchividjian, and GRACE: An Unprecedented, Historic Report on Sex Abuse  by The Wartburg Watch

Bob Jones University Sex Abuse Investigation and BJU President Steve Pettit’s leaked chapel message
by Spiritual Sounding Board

BJU News — a watchdog site that holds BJU’s feet to the fire. The link takes you to their GRACE tag.

Bob Jones University Apologizes for Failing Sexual Abuse Victims  — Christianity Today

29 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    “Reconciliation” is one of those trigger words for me now that I have heard it used in what I formerly would have considered to be a “safe place”: my church – and employed by someone I was raised to respect and have authority over me: my pastor. I wish it weren’t one of those “buzz words” now, but I have heard it wielded and used against me (not unlike “forgiveness”) and out of proper Biblical context. So when I see it – such as in the BJU statement – it makes me cringe.

    I usually try to grant the person(s) employing that word the benefit of the doubt that s/he/they are trying to live according to God’s Word, from whence they draw the language, but I find it most often isn’t properly understood. I think I need to do a word study on it or examine it more closely in proper context myself to be able to defend its true meaning. I tire of seeing it used to draw abuser and victim closer to one another.

  2. Still Reforming

    Oh, btw, Ellie, I forgot to say how edifying these translations are! My abuser left me a letter awhile back that I had at the time set aside, but eventually when I had the inner fortitude to actually read it, I did a translation/response akin to what you did here. It was remarkably cathartic and enlightening. I’d encourage anyone with an abuser’s written arrows to do the same. It helps to clear that fog – and may even provide some assistance in one’s legal battles.

  3. First of all, if it werent for this website, I would have seen NOTHING but sincere and “going out of their way” humility. It is amazing how brainwashed I have been after 3 decades of “wordplay,” so thank you , thank you, thank you! Now that I can spot this stuff more easily, I appreciate that you put the whole article, without comment, first so I can go through it and see what I can see (I found a few things right away so I am improving!) and then see your comments so I can “practice” and still be learning. What really jumped out at me was the sheer number of times they said things like “who felt that they had been…” I never would have caught any of that before and my abuser has used that tactic for years. “I’m sorry ‘if you felt that I hurt you'” crap, pushing that off as an actual admission that he had done something wrong.

  4. dcnner

    you say the only thing missing is the allegation of mental illness: I would say that that is actually present. The gas lighting with insinuations of mental i stability is quite present with the powerfully derogoratory “felt”. Especially in evangelical circles where feelings are derided as lesser and sinful….apologizing for the victims feelings or thoughts is a clever and powerful way to continue to victimize while turning the victims supporters against them and whitewashing the tomb

  5. Jeff Crippen

    In keeping with true repentance, I maintain that BJU would, if genuinely repentant, go away. Yep, go away. Close its doors. BJU has been a bastion of legalism for decades, not true Christian liberty.

  6. Bridget

    “They will apologize for what we say, feel, believe, think, remember, etc., (if at all).”

    This is their cowardly way of not accepting the wrongfulness of their own actions and instead making the “issue” the victim’s feelings, emotions, thoughts, and memories. Some abusers often then try to discount those issues by saying you were perceiving their actions wrong. In other words, you were applying motive (the wrong one according to them) to what they were doing and now you are the evil one because you are judging them. According to abusers, you can never judge (discern) righteously.

  7. Betty A. Crews

    A book you might appreciate knowing about, which reveals the inside workings of Bob Jones and the greater network it is a part of, is I Fired God: My Life inside and escape from the secret world of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult€, by Jocelyn Zichterman. She was also once on an episode of 20/20 (or some other news show of that nature) revealing the manipulation and abuse she suffered.

    Betty A. Crews, Ph.D.
    Assistant Registrar
    503-251-5376
    bcrews@multnomah.edu

  8. When I read this from Christian news and opinion sites I was astounded to see that none of them took note of the self-serving nature of this “apology”. Have Piper, Falwell, Robertson and Richard Land played this card so many times our collective ears have gone numb? Thanks Ellie for pointing out the obvious lack of repentance in this statement.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Have Piper, Falwell, Robertson and Richard Land played this card so many times our collective ears have gone numb?

      Yes, Loren, I think so.

      I think also it sounds just enough but not exactly like a real apology that it actually tickles the ears of those who really don’t want to hear a real apology, lest such prick their own consciences.

    • I agree, Loren. I read quite a few of those Chrsistian news and opinions sites too, and I was disappointed that so many commenters and journalists didn’t pick up on the manipulative language in BJU’s press release and Steve Pettit’s announcement.

      • Ellie

        AND IT STILL SAYS “MOTE.” How is that possible? Did no one read this? BJU is proudly KJV friendly and Pettit referred to this in KJV terms. Many folks nowadays think mote is a body of water around a castle. But BJU and its alum know what a mote is. They know better. AND IT STILL SAYS “MOTE!”

        Maybe he meant to write “beam” but N Korea hacked his account. That could be it.

      • Maybe he meant to write “beam” but N Korea hacked his account. That could be it.

        LOL !!!

      • Using this kind of language says they concede to give (admit to) as little as possible while getting away with (have people laud them for their “effort”) as much as possible. Sounds like my h who wants a 7-course-filet-mignon-feast reconciliation for a leftover-hamburger-in-the-bottom-of-McDonald’s-dumpster “apology.”

  9. Nick Sykes

    The link to ‘The Law & the Gospel’ at the White Horse Inn website is broken. I didnt know where to direct web admin messages, so figured someone reading it here was the next best thing.

    • Thanks Nick for letting us know; we’ll try to fix it.

      If you or anyone else ever want to give us feedback of this nature, just email The Woman Behind The Curtain twbtc.acfj@gmail.com who is our indefatigable back-of-blog assistant, and she will do her best to fix the problem. And our email addresses are in the About tab at the top of the blog. 🙂

    • Hi again Nick, here is the correct link to The Law and The Gospel (by Mike Horton, at the White Horse Inn website)
      https://www.whitehorseinn.org/resources/free-articles/180-horton-law-gospel

      We will change it in the sidebar too.

  10. Anon

    He stated, “I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault …”

    I read this last week and saw red. It’s not just minimizing. It is a complete rejection of all responsibility for what they did. They blamed the victims for being raped and assaulted, and now blame the victims for not feeling the “love” they offered. Which, in fact, they never offered. So what BJU is really doing is condemning the victims for being angry and upset with BJU for their straight-from-hell treatment of them.

  11. StandsWithAFist

    Shivers me spine, the “God Almighty Committee” strikes again: “President Pettit will immediately appoint a committee”. That’s code for doing nuthin’.
    May I humbly remind BJU that “God so loved the world that He didn’t send a committee”.

  12. Ann

    Pastor Crippen I would appreciate if at some time you would write an article on true Christian liberty vs. Legalism. The church I attended was heavily supportive of Gothard’s teachings (I find BJU and Gothard to be similar) through the annual IBYC [Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts] Seminars and it also hosted the Pastors’ Seminar. I attended the youth seminar 3 years in a row & continued to receive the “booklets” over the years. Being married to a “Christian” man who abused me in many forms I ordered Gothard’s book “The Rebuilder’s Guide”. (today I see how ludicrous it was that I bought and read this, as I was the one being abused and taking responsibility to repair it.)
    Here is a review from Amazon that provides an example of his twisted views on Scripture and marriage:
    —“Oh, I suppose this book could keep some folks married, but only by requiring some women to submit to pretty much any abuse. For example, under a section headed “The Difficulty of an Innocent Party”:

    1. If the wife has strayed, the man has this call to action: “God holds him responsible to cleanse his wife from all impurity by the Word”. Yeah, straighten out, lady.

    2. However, if the husband has strayed, the wife is reminded that she must follow Scripture or “rejects the ministry and rewards of suffering for righteousness’ sake, which God calls every Christian to accept”. Note that the authors don’t see the need to remind the husband of this. So, tough it out lady – God commands that you suffer at the hands of an abusive spouse (?!).

    The book is replete with this degrading slant – degrading to both partners in a marriage.
    LilyBelle & David”
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/cr/0916888061/ref=mw_dp_cr

    That book nearly crushed me with its false guilt; I’m happy to say I threw it out along with the seminar syllabus & booklets. Having been indoctrinated with these false teachings for so long it has been hard to shake all the legalism.

    • Hi Ann, I’ll let Jeff respond to your request for a post on Christian Liberty v Legalism, but in the meantime you might like to peruse our Patriarchy tag. https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/patriarchy/

    • Jeff Crippen

      I made a note to write that article, Ann. Oh yeah, Gothard, BJU, Sword of the Lord “Jack Hyles” type fundamental baptists — Christ is not in any of them. They are cults. Welcome to bondage is their motto.

  13. Ann

    “I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault …”

    Bill Gothard said much the same in his “Statement” to the victims of sexual abuse by him (who were also sexually assaulted by his brother).
    [one example: “…over the years many people have been offended in different ways because of my lack of genuine love.”(http://billgothard.com/content/statement-bill-gothard )

    • Ann

      This blog article by Heresy in the Heartland’s blog
      dovetails nicely with the BJU “apology”:
      “”When Apologies Make Things Worse”
      http://heresyintheheartland.blogspot.com/2014/07/when-apologies-make-it-worse.html?m=1

      • Thanks Ann. That link is very telling. What a creep Gothard is!

        Readers, if you go to the link, have your armour up. The post is very good, but be aware that is contains an email exchange between Gothard and one of his former victims, in which he tries to re-groom her so she will ‘reconcile’ with him. But it has a good ending! The victim brilliantly squelches him. 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ann – We all need to understand that what we are dealing with here in these cases is incredibly wicked men. They aren’t “Christian” men who “stumbled.” They are serpents of the worst kind. Romans 3:13-18 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” (14) “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (15) “Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) in their paths are ruin and misery, (17) and the way of peace they have not known.” (18) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

  14. Wishing for hope

    My heart is breaking in reading and observing BJU’s responses. I knew better than to hope, but I had to. I had to hold onto some shred of hope that BJU could potentially do the right thing.
    Am left hurting and feeling shattered. I feel sick. I wonder if any of us reporting made any difference at all. The media erupted in immediate coverage, but that has died down. The solicitor’s office mentioned possibly looking into it to see if the school broke any laws, but this is BJU. They can pretty much do what they want. They have been able to do so for decades. I will be shocked if they are suddenly held accountable.

  15. I am not a graduate of BJU nor a attender of a IFB church. I am a born again Christian who was rasied in a baptist church. I am all on board concerning these alleged men of God ie Chuck Phelps, Jones III and Dr Berg being of questionable character for how they mishandled sex abuse victims. I am a retired criminal Investgator with the U.S. Treasury Department so try to be objective in all matters. So the above being said I think you need to see if Pres Pettit will follow up on the Grace Report Recomendations and wait for the result of any follow up criminal investigations before saying BJU is continuing business as normal. If BJU does not sack Jones III and Berg and his counseling program than start ranting and condeming there response. Try not to read anything in his speech to the students. Pres. Pettit is not going to tell the students the ship is sinking and the life boats have holes in them and no sane administrator would do this. So go by what BJU does in response to the GRACE Report not by what you think they will and won’t do. BJU at least let the report come out that is more than that could be said Assoc of Baptist World Evangelism (ABWE). ABWE still has a hospital in Africa named after that scum bag Wendell Kempton and was still rasing money with his name even though they knew what he did.

    • Joe, we accept your point that BJU may, in time, take actions that will be unstintingly in accord with the GRACE Report’s recommendations. However, since our blog is so focused on prioritizing the voices and perspectives of the victim/survivors, we believe that critiquing Steve Pettit’s use of language in that speech is not a wrong thing to do. The language he used was potentially quite hurtful to many victim/survivors.

      And his mote/ beam inversion is downright appalling.

  16. Joy

    The BJU/GRACE interviewees continue to appreciate Boz’s ongoing efforts.
    http://www.romancingvictims.net/boz.html

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