Everything you need to know about Bob Jones University


They intentionally turn a blind eye to their sins.

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.

But wait! Then they hired a Christian consulting group to independently help them grapple with the problem. That’s a step in the right direction.

But wait again! Now they’ve fired their consultants, because they were going beyond the originally outlined intentions, that is, they were coming up with criticisms and answers they didn’t like.

This is how BJU handles assault complaints.

Erin Burchwell said that when she accused a university employee of sexually assaulting her in the late 1990s, “their idea of an investigation and counseling was to ask me what I was wearing and whether it was tight, and to tell me not to talk to anyone about it because it wouldn’t look good for me.” She said university officials alternated between “saying it never even happened and saying I was a willing participant.”

I doubt that I have many readers among the student body at BJU, but in case there are any, here’s my advice: get out while you can. Transfer to a real college.

Comments

  1. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Wow. An entire culture built on the idea that reporting rapes makes the survivor look bad/lose worth. A group in which blaming the survivor is standard practice. People setting up a system in which the survivor is either lying or was a willing participant. Calling the victims liars and sinners. Protecting the rapists. Denying that the problem even exists.

    Why does this sound familiar?

    Oh. Right. Rape culture. Boy Scouts. Police. Society in general. These asshats are just more honest and upfront about rape denial and victim blaming than the rest of the country. Not by much, though.

    But remember, rape culture is a myth.

  2. astro says

    i wonder if it’s just a coincidence that the “it didn’t happen, but you enjoyed it” line of rape denial is exactly the same as the “it isn’t happening, but it’s nice to be warm” line of global warming denial.

  3. justsomeguy says

    I’ve heard BJU is pretty authoritarian about students’ internet use (even off-campus), so I doubt (a) that you have many readers from there and (b) that BJU would allow those students to stick around if they did.

  4. jesse says

    If administrators at Bob Jones actively discouraged people from reporting such a crime, wouldn’t they get themselves in a lot of potential legal trouble? IANAL but I would think a creative DA could make an aiding and abetting case, especially if the same employee is a repeat offender. At the very least that would count as reckless endangerment or negligence, no?

    I know some types of therapists and counselors (if legally licensed in the state they operate in) are required to report cases of sex abuse involving minors. BJU students won’t be minors (necessarily — there may be a few under-18s here and there) and BJU may not employ any licensed people, but even so…

    I ask because with other types of crime if you know it is being committed and act to conceal it you’re an accessory — or at least that’s what the DA will always threaten you with. (I’ve seen this as a way to get evidence in some financial crime situations — if you tell your accountant to not report something you can’t say “they didn’t have to listen to me.” You WILL get hammered with fines and the like).

    Anyone out there know?

  5. says

    Moggie:

    How do you “damage Jesus Christ”?

    Apparently by holding up Christ’s representatives as all too human rapists. This line of thinking seems to be the same when it comes to all those Catholic priests, too.

  6. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Moggie @5:

    How do you “damage Jesus Christ”?

    You damage his ministry by showing the hypocrisy of the older white men who are raping under the the cover of Jesus and then using Jesus to cover it up.

    jesse @6:

    If administrators at Bob Jones actively discouraged people from reporting such a crime, wouldn’t they get themselves in a lot of potential legal trouble?

    Not if you are Christian. And really conservative. And rich. And cloaked in the spatterings of Jesus.

  7. says

    Jesse:

    I ask because with other types of crime if you know it is being committed and act to conceal it you’re an accessory — or at least that’s what the DA will always threaten you with.

    As always, it’s different when it comes to rape and sexual assault. If (and that’s a biiiiig if) a case made it to the point of potential prosecution, someone who actively concealed something *might* be threatened with obstruction of justice, but even that’s doubtful. The person who concealed something can always fall back on the ever so popular “I thought they were lying!” or “I thought they were out to deliberately smear so and so!”

  8. robnyny says

    The BJU 2013-2014 Student Handbook is here:

    http://www.bju.edu/life-faith/student-handbook.pdf

    Truly a bizarre document that will cause a lot of consternation in any normal reader. They regulate everything down to your underwear. Strangest thing: In Appendix B it is stated that vehicles have right-of-way over pedestrians on campus.

    It’s worth a skim.

  9. says

    From the link in the OP:

    Bob Jones is no ordinary university. Unaffiliated with any denomination, it is a leading force in promoting a kind of fundamentalism so strict that the university’s founders assailed evangelists like Mr. Graham, Oral Roberts and Jerry Falwell as too accommodating to the larger world.

    On the campus here, students are forbidden to listen to popular music or watch television or movies; the student handbook tells them to avoid clothing brands that “glorify the lustful spirit of our age in their advertising”; they face sharp limits on dating and even leaving campus; and they are told which churches in town — usually run by pastors tied to the university — they may attend. Faculty members and other employees are expected to adhere to the university’s literal interpretation of the Bible and are forbidden to drink alcohol.

    And the university, with about 4,000 students and an affiliated primary and secondary school, is having no ordinary version of the conflicts that have rocked colleges around the country over their treatment of claims of sexual assault. Those controversies usually begin with outrage over highly publicized offenses on campus, followed by an investigation.

    But at Bob Jones, most of the stories that have been made public do not involve assaults on campus. They are about people who were abused as children and then looked for help in college. Nor is there much sign of outrage on the immaculate campus of low-rise beige brick buildings, covered walkways, spreading oaks and manicured lawns (off limits to foot traffic). Several students interviewed said they had known little or nothing about the charges and were not concerned about them.

    (emphasis mine)
    A coverup of child sexual abuse? Dismissing the concerns of adults who were abused as children? Engaging in victim blaming? That’s unethical, immoral, and absolutely disgusting.

  10. David Marjanović says

    Transfer to a real college.

    This is America, the land where you have to apply to a real college – they’re not obligated to take you. How good are the chances of a BJ”U” “student” to be accepted at a real college?

    How do you “damage Jesus Christ”?

    I wonder. Perhaps the trick is that the Church, the community of believers, is the Mystical Body of Christ™.

    The BJU 2013-2014 Student Handbook is here:

    The student on the cover is not smiling. Look at her face.

    They regulate everything down to your underwear.

    I can’t find that; they only require that clothing be “loose enough to conceal undergarment lines”.

    They do, however, bizarrely require that male students “shave each morning” – and in the next sentence (a contradiction of Biblical proportions!) allow “facial hair that is natural, neat, clean and well trimmed” for men “25 and over” provided they have already grown it to its final length before the semester starts. Also, sideburns evidently don’t count as facial hair, because they’re allowed provided they’re “No lower than the lower opening of the ear”. (…I don’t know; my ears only have one opening each.)

    Strangest thing: In Appendix B it is stated that vehicles have right-of-way over pedestrians on campus.

    …Over here that would most likely be illegal. You can, on your own land, add additional restrictions to those imposed by the law, for instance even lower speed limits, but you can’t go in the other direction.

  11. joelperkin says

    A great many of them can’t transfer to another college because they “graduated” from the Bob Jones academy high school, and no other school recognizes that as legitimate. From my understanding, they can’t even go from the Academy to the local community college without taking the GED.

    These parents honestly think that putting them in Bob Jones’s hands from the ages of 5 to 22 is the best thing they can do to protect their kids. And now we can see what kind of protection BJ offered.

  12. David Marjanović says

    Bob Jones is no ordinary university. Unaffiliated with any denomination,

    Translation: it’s its own denomination! That’s how you get 43,000 of them.

    pastors tied to the university

    Told you it’s its own denomination!

    are expected to adhere to the university’s literal interpretation of the Bible and are forbidden to drink alcohol

    Hee. How about mass? Or is this a “‘wine’ isn’t literal, it’s grape juice” “literal” interpretation?

  13. carlie says

    They are about people who were abused as children and then looked for help in college. Nor is there much sign of outrage on the immaculate campus of low-rise beige brick buildings, covered walkways, spreading oaks and manicured lawns (off limits to foot traffic).

    Of course not. The people doing the abusing are the ones paying the tuition, so of course the school would keep it very, very quiet.

  14. carlie says

    Hee. How about mass? Or is this a “‘wine’ isn’t literal, it’s grape juice” “literal” interpretation?

    Not an interpretation: many protestant denominations do use grape juice. Fun fact: that’s why Welch’s grape juice was invented, to give a non-alcoholic option for Mass/Communion/Lord’s Supper.

  15. David Marjanović says

    and manicured lawns (off limits to foot traffic)

    “The Germans will never have a revolution, because for that they’d have to step on the lawn.”
    – attributed to Lenin

    many protestant denominations do use grape juice

    I know. If any of them claim to interpret the Bible literally, that’s funny; that’s why I asked if BJU uses grape juice.

  16. jimmyfromchicago says

    Unfortunately, transferring to a real college won’t necessarily solve the problem. There were some pretty disturbing events at Northwestern, and it sounds like the university’s response to the victim was entirely inadequate.

    Most institutions just look out for themselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Catholic Church, some nutjob fundie “school,” or one of the world’s great universities.

  17. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    You just need to have faith that Jesus was real and that your rape was not real.

    Follow the rules, do the rituals, give your money, lose your self-respect, and don’t learn a damned thing.

  18. says

    In Appendix B it is stated that vehicles have right-of-way over pedestrians on campus.

    Of course! Otherwise they might not be able to blame the victim in a car/pedestrian accident!

  19. jnorris says

    Advice to any student anywhere, not just BJU, if you are sexually assaulted or abused report it to the local police. Do not go to the campus police or administration. If the campus police need to do anything about it, let them find out from the less compromised police.

  20. Jacob Schmidt says

    Not surprising at all. The human rights department at my university told my partner that she had to forgive her rapist since he said he was sorry. When he then spent 8 months harassing my partner, the woman at human rights told me that those months didn’t count, since human rights wasn’t involved until 6 months in.

  21. Chaos Engineer says

    I can’t find words to express how disappointed I am.

    I knew that BJU used to have a racism problem. But that was a long time ago. They’ve been admitting African-American students ever since 1975, and they dropped their ban on interracial dating way back in 2000.

    Who could have guessed that they had other problems besides that?

  22. Pteryxx says

    If the campus police need to do anything about it, let them find out from the less compromised police.

    …They aren’t necessarily less compromised (remember this, for example) and the real police can do a lot more damage. The safest place to go to initially is probably a crisis center or hotline (link) if the students even know such things exist or where to find one. They can provide, among other things, local advocates to be present and wise to all the dirty tricks police and administrations may try to pull.

    Whoever comes forward to report, through whatever system, needs most of all the support of someone willing to believe them. That means all of us random bystanders. We’re responsible to each other.

  23. jimmyfromchicago says

    The human rights department at my university told my partner that she had to forgive her rapist since he said he was sorry. When he then spent 8 months harassing my partner, the woman at human rights told me that those months didn’t count, since human rights wasn’t involved until 6 months in.

    This is the kind of thing that makes my skin crawl. So sorry this happened to your partner, Jacob. Can’t have the parents/donors thinking there’s a rape problem on campus, can they? And the months “didn’t count” because the department wasn’t involved then? The bureaucratic mindset at work…

  24. says

    Paul @21:
    LOL. It’s sad that this is actually believable.

    ****

    Jacob @23:

    The human rights department at my university told my partner that she had to forgive her rapist since he said he was sorry

    Fuck that noise. It’s her choice whether or not to forgive him and no one should attempt to impose upon her one way or the other.

    When he then spent 8 months harassing my partner, the woman at human rights told me that those months didn’t count, since human rights wasn’t involved until 6 months in.

    One more ‘fuck that noise’.
    Yes, those months count.

  25. says

    Chaos Engineer:

    They’ve been admitting African-American students ever since 1975, and they dropped their ban on interracial dating way back in 2000.

    You probably didn’t mean it this way, but “back in 2000″ really isn’t that long ago. BJU is waaaaaaaay behind the times. Also, they don’t give a shit about people.

  26. Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive] says

    Tony, I read Chaos Engineer’s comment as sarcastic.

  27. Rich Woods says

    @Moggie #5:

    How do you “damage Jesus Christ”?

    With nails, a spear and some vinegar. It’s one of the easier magic spells, apparently.

  28. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    How do you “damage Jesus Christ”?

    With a +3 weapon and a good die roll.

  29. Chaos Engineer says

    Tony, I read Chaos Engineer’s comment as sarcastic.

    Yes – what I was going for was this: The laws relating to segregation and interracial marriage changed in 1963-1965, and BJU was using a religious exemption to get around them. They ended segregation in 1975, which means they were only ten years behind the times. So that was racist, but in context it was almost “mainstream racism” and not really extraordinary. (The Mormons didn’t integrate until 1978.)

    But it takes a special kind of mind to keep the ban on interracial dating going all the way until 2000: Stopping interracial marriage is a battle that was lost almost 40 years earlier, and they’d been paying a tax penalty as a direct result of their policy.

  30. rogerfirth says

    @robnyny

    The BJU 2013-2014 Student Handbook is here:

    http://www.bju.edu/life-faith/student-handbook.pdf

    Wow. Now that’s just fucked up.

    Definitely worth a read. Sorta mind-blowing what kind of control they exercise over their inmates er, students. I can think of no better way to produce “adults” woefully unprepared to deal with the real world.

  31. U Frood says

    I haven’t been a Christian in many years now, but I’m pretty sure the Jesus I believed in would be more upset about the abusers than the people who turned in the abusers…

    Good to remember that it’s not just the Catholics that cover up this sort of thing.

  32. joelperkin says

    @ U Frood #36: That is the fastest and most entertaining way to get someone who has drunk the Fellatio U juice to blow a gasket: compare them to the Vatican.

  33. rickk says

    I’m glad to see Bob Jones University will respond to child abuse in a “loving, scripturally-based” way. I wonder which Biblical parent they will use as a model: Lot? Abraham?

  34. No One says

    In a related area, because of the sensual nature of many of its forms, dancing is not permitted.

  35. Jacob Schmidt says

    Can’t have the parents/donors thinking there’s a rape problem on campus, can they?

    jimmyfromchicago

    In fairness to that department, my partner didn’t tell them he raped her. She couldn’t prove it to them, and didn’t feel like dealing with the fiasco of accusing a classmate of rape. She did report that he was abusive and wouldn’t leave her alone after they split up.

    Still, “He said sorry, now forgive him” is an unacceptable response, to a rape victim or to an abuse/harassment victim.

    And the months “didn’t count” because the department wasn’t involved then? The bureaucratic mindset at work…
    jimmyfromchicago

    One more ‘fuck that noise’.
    Yes, those months count.
    Tony!

    Aye, I regret letting that go. It was rather shocking to hear, I’ll admit. I sat in on that meeting with the department and my partner. I expected some bureaucratic nonsense, but “You aren’t really harassed until we step in” was just astounding.

  36. ck says

    robnyny wrote:

    The BJU 2013-2014 Student Handbook is here:

    Very scary. Lots of thoughtcrime and heavily authoritarian.

    From the Student Handbook:

    Weapons
    Per S.C. law, students are not to possess handguns if they are under age 21.
    Residence hall students are to turn in all handguns, rifles and shotguns to Public
    Safety (ext. 5900). All handguns are to have trigger locks. In addition, students are
    not to bring concealed weapons to campus and are to keep martial arts weapons in
    their vehicles.

    Quick, someone notify the NRA that Bob Jones University has been designated a “Gun Free Zone”.

  37. se habla espol says

    BJU endeavors to teach students to know God and to imitate Him in His character and in His works

    So BJU has courses (or at least coursework) in manipulation (ref “heart-hardening” of the pharoah, etc), child abuse (ref Abraham, etc), harassment (ref Jonah, etc), torture (ref JC, Egypt, etc) and genocide (ref Noah, etc)?

  38. says

    “If administrators at Bob Jones actively discouraged people from reporting such a crime, wouldn’t they get themselves in a lot of potential legal trouble? ”

    You can Graham Spanier, the former president at my alma mater, Penn State, how discouraging people from reporting a crime can get someone in trouble. His trial is coming up soon.

  39. says

    Chaos Engineer:
    My apologies.

    ****

    BJU endeavors to teach students to know God and to imitate Him in His character and in His works

    Ok, this may be a bit off topic, but this is related to something I’ve never understood: what is the deal with teaching students to know god so much? From early childhood, through elementary school, middle school, college, at home, at Sunday School, it seems that many believers are constantly trying to force teach children and young adults about god.
    How much damn teaching is needed? If they’ve had it shoved down their throats for 21 years, how much more do they need?! If they don’t get their daily indoctrination, will all the godcrap drip outta their brains?

  40. jesse says

    @46 d.c. wilson — that’s what I mean. I know that the BJU people are largely white and wealthy, but so are a number of their students. And if a string of sex-abuse allegations appeared from there, well… even with the victim blaming they would do it seems to me that the administration would run into serious problems. DAs ma not be the best people in sex assault cases but I know darn well they don’t like to get played.

  41. carlie says

    What strikes me on reading their document is how much energy must be spent in policing all of those policies. How much does it cost them to pay people to keep tabs on all the students like that? How much mental energy has to be expended on making sure you don’t break any of the rules (groups must have an odd number of students at all times with one being a student with advanced privileges but never together in a parking garage…) ? What an ingenious way to keep students or staff from ever having any time to think.

  42. anuran says

    No “physical contact” between “unmarried persons of the opposite sex”.
    And groups that go out together have to have mis-matched numbers of men and women.
    So you can only get your freak on in adulterous threesomes.

    That’s … more adventurous … than my undergrad years

  43. Christopher says

    No “physical contact” between “unmarried persons of the opposite sex”.
    And groups that go out together have to have mis-matched numbers of men and women.
    So you can only get your freak on in adulterous threesomes.

    That’s … more adventurous … than my undergrad years

    Especially when you throw in the ‘loophole’…

  44. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    From the handbook:

    Believers also communicate in ways that build up instead of tear down, including wholesome language that avoids profanity and euphemisms (Eph. 4:29; 5:4).

    So, avoid profanity and euphemism? How do they talk about sex, then? Or shit?

  45. anuran says

    They don’t even understand their own religion:

    Leviticus 5:1 – If someone sins because he has heard a public call to testify and he is a witness or has seen or learned about it and he does not report it, then he will answer for his error

    1 Timothy 5:20-22 – Reprove before all onlookers persons who practice sin, that the rest also may have fear. 21 I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the chosen angels to keep these things without prejudgment, doing nothing according to a biased leaning. 22 Never lay your hands hastily upon any man; neither be a sharer in the sins of others; preserve yourself chaste.

    Matt 7:21-23 – Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness.

  46. Pierce R. Butler says

    Ogvorbis… @ # 8: … the older white men who are raping under the the cover of Jesus …

    Neither of those adjectives apply to all the Christocriminals at issue here.

  47. says

    It’s interesting to see martial arts weapons mentioned in the handbook bit ck quotes. You’d think participating in martial arts would be a big no on, since many of them involve non-Christian ideas of things like qi/ki. Not to mention the general air of nativism, for lack of a better term, that runs through BJU’s history and current policies. Fraternising with Asians might lead you away from the Christian path, as well as introduce you to non-American food and culture.

  48. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    @48 – What strikes me on reading their document is how much energy must be spent in policing all of those policies.

    Me too … How can you keep it all straight?

    What if you are running and are partway around the track when the streetlights come on?

    What if you are rehearsing a musical trio and one of the trio has to pee? Do you cal in a chaperone for the remaining two?

  49. fourtytwo says

    How do you “damage Jesus Christ”?

    I wouldn’t recommend Crucifixion. You’ll just turn him into a martyr.

  50. fernando says

    It is shameful to see any organization protecting criminals.

    They – Bob Jones University – should be the first to suport the assaulted student, and join her when she goes to the police file a complaint.

    But that is expecting too much from an religious integrist organization, such as this university.

  51. rogerfirth says

    No “physical contact” between “unmarried persons of the opposite sex”.

    Nowhere does it say no physical contact between unmarried persons of the same sex.

    I didn’t realize BJU was so open minded.

  52. Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness says

    The Penn State case is somewhat different from BJU because many of the victims in the Penn State case were minors. That fact brings in some laws that don’t apply when exclusively adults are involved.

    There are crimes inherent in failing to report or counseling not to report a serious crime, including criminal charges such as accessory or obstruct justice. Further, there are probably significant civil liabilities, too. “Hushing up” a crime may lead to the commission of further crimes by the accused, and the failure to ameliorate the damage done to the person assaulted, among other things. All of this may leave the University wide open for damage suits.

    A big problem, of course, is that although there may be a legal remedy, it is hard to get there from here.

    And I haven’t even commented on the extraordinary damage such an attitude inflicts on the (usually) girls and women who have been assaulted.

  53. ledasmom says

    I wouldn’t recommend Crucifixion. You’ll just turn him into a martyr.

    How about one arm and one leg, then?

  54. glodson says

    I doubt that I have many readers among the student body at BJU, but in case there are any, here’s my advice: get out while you can. Transfer to a real college.

    Many may find this difficult, if not impossible. The school isn’t regionally accredited, and getting into a new school from BJU may be extraordinarily difficult. This, I suspect, is by design.

    And I also want to note that the BJU also has a private school that covers from pre-K to High School. Not all, but quite a number of students, know nothing else than Bob Jones. Take a look. This is located on the campus of the university. And they have facilities so that high school students to live on campus.

    People have mentioned the draconian school policies. I’ve known a number of college aged kids who lived in mortal terror of the administration as they feared they might be caught, at any moment, doing something against the code of conduct away from school grounds. Like going to a movie. And I say kids because this school reduces the student’s agency, college age students, to a degree that can hardly be explained.

    I am not surprised they fired GRACE. I do hope this gets more and more attention. BJU already has no business in education, and this story makes me revile the place even more.

  55. David Marjanović says

    @ U Frood #36: That is the fastest and most entertaining way to get someone who has drunk the Fellatio U juice to blow a gasket: compare them to the Vatican.

    *snortle*

    Quick, someone notify the NRA that Bob Jones University has been designated a “Gun Free Zone”.

    *giggle*

    How much damn teaching is needed? If they’ve had it shoved down their throats for 21 years, how much more do they need?! If they don’t get their daily indoctrination, will all the godcrap drip outta their brains?

    …und sie werden nicht mehr frei ihr ganzes Leben.

    Yep, I went to immediate Godwin. It’s a Hitler quote: “…and they don’t become free anymore all their life.” It refers to the plan of keeping people, once they’re out of the Hitler Youth or the League of German Girls, in National Socialist organizations (one after another) for the entire rest of their lives.

    What an ingenious way to keep students or staff from ever having any time to think.

    Exactly.

    …ihr ganzes Leben.

    Believers also communicate in ways that build up instead of tear down

    …Of course this time I leapt straight to building Socialism