BJU faulted for response to GRACE report

I do not mean to pile on Michelle Schuman here, but I have noticed that there is, especially in fundamentalism, an assumption that negative feedback is by default a personal attack and an attack on the ministry. I am not quite sure why this is, but it would be HUGE for fundamentalism as a whole if her leaders learned how to respond to criticism in a Godly, logical way.

I would suggest that it might have something to do with too many leaders never learning, or learning the need to apply, basic logic and rhetoric, but of course the last time I wondered that, a few fine brothers pointed out to me that they had indeed studied logic in Bible College. So obviously there is a little more work needed in why this occurs.

Regarding BJU’s bad press, however, I would submit that one reason BJU continues to get bad press is that they have earned it so often in the past. That does not excuse real examples of “round up the usual suspects” in journalism, but if we ignore the fact that we’ve drawn a target on our heads, we are going to continue to take shots and wonder why it hurts so bad. Might as well (per earlier comments, some of mine included) simply admit that historically, we’ve had that red paint out and have drawn a fine little target—and explain how we’re trying to get it removed.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.


Do you and Larry live here and watch the news? I do both. The first one Larry mentioned is a political issue that the Greenville News is using to support their side in something the majority don’t want. If you don’t know the issues with our County Council right now, then you want understand this. One article is from a news source at the coast and 2 others are from lesser known media outlets. The main news outlets here are much more negative than positive about BJU. If the Bruins get a mention, it is buried in the news. People do like the Living Gallery and so it always gets positive advertising and reviews.

Its hard for me to take “rebuke” from someone who doesn’t even live in Greenville. There is a reality here that you can’t see from afar unless you get the newspaper in your hand, read it online daily, or watch the different news casts.

Michelle Shuman


Wow! That’s quite an assumption about my leaders and me considering you don’t even know me.

Did you read my post about the supposed “open” letter? Did you comprehend that it is not an “open” letter? Do you watch the news and live here? It is not about leaders graciously or not graciously responding. As a matter of fact, most of if not all of them currently are.

As for BJU, of course they’ve done some things wrong, but then so have you and I. The problem is we have a strong, vocal core of BJU haters that have the ear of the media here. When any criticism of the BJU is done, that is who is on the interviews. Not the people who truly want things to be right. I think BJU has done a fairly good job of trying to make things right and not be responding to these people.

Face it, this letter didn’t need to be public. These people need to approach BJU directly first and then kept their mouth shut especially since they are protecting themselves while publicly accusing others.

Michelle Shuman

In regards to the racial issue, I agree that the racism of a few decades ago was not limited to BJU. It was widespread actually and in small pockets, exists in fundamentalism to this day. My problem with BJU in regards to racism is that they held out longer than practically anyone in changing their racist positions. For example, they did not allow African Americans to enroll until years after other schools desegregated.That is hardly leadership to be proud of. On that issue, BJU was wrong and the world was right. Exactly the opposite of the way it should be.

In light of that kind of thing and also the general tenor of the way they have historically publicly presented themselves, it is quite understandable that they are not the recipients of great admiration from the press. Maybe they can get past that. I think they are trying. But it will take some time.

Michelle, like I said, I’m not trying to pick on you personally. Rather, what I see is that too often, there is a “bunker mentality” in fundamentalism where any criticism is seen as a personal attack or an attack on the ministry. It might be pointed out that when you say “quite an assumption about my leaders and me”, you’re ironically confirming my point. Feedback is automatically assumed to be a personal attack.

See what I’m getting at here?

For my part, whether it’s the same cast of characters criticizing BJU each time doesn’t make a difference to me. Either their criticism is factual, or it is not. If it is, you take your lumps and go on. if it is not, you send a note to them, send a letter to the editor, step in front of the microphone yourself to explain what the facts are. As Dan Rather and Brian Williams can tell you, once word gets out that you’re not a reliable source, your career in journalism or advocacy is done.

What you don’t do is adapt a bunker mentality, because that’s where good journalists really sharpen their claws because they (often rightly) think you’re hiding something. So while it is true that mainstream journalism is harder on religious and political conservatives, that really doesn’t change the fact that even the most biased journalists eventually need to concede that ideas are outright frauds.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

The trick, in my opinion, is not whether there are embarrassing stories to tell about any institution. It is whether we confess our sin appropriately and point others to the Biblical reasons we were wrong. Regarding BJU specifically, I would dare suggest that there are certain things that BJ I and BJ Jr. did that BJ III and Steve Pettit ought to specifically disavow…

For whatever reasons, the writers of that that letter do not feel that Bob Jones has actually done this. That’s why they wrote the follow up letter. So it would behoove BJU, just as it would behoove any one of us when confronted on a wrong, to go back and try to understand where the issues lie and do whatever is within their power to remedy those issues.

I get that not all of the recommendations are realistic and easily implemented. But if these are the people who were the ones interviewed by GRACE, then it’s safe to assume that they were wronged by the school’s handling of their cases. Read their testimonies again, from page 79 of the GRACE investigation report:

1. The newspaper claims this is an open letter, but when I approached them, they will not release the letter or the writers. Therefore, it cannot be considered “open.” These people can say anything and have it published, but we aren’t allowed to make our own determination about the credibility. If everything they claim is true, then they broke their confidentiality agreement with BJU and that says volumes.

I get this argument - and it makes a ton of sense. But does it make more sense to expect people who have already been victimized twice (by their assailant and then by bad counsel) to just put their names and information out in a public letter on the internet? How do you know that these people that ‘don’t allow you to determine their credibility’ aren’t actually, say, reading this website right now? What makes you so sure that they aren’t credible? Do you think that the people interviewed by GRACE are making all this stuff up for grins and giggles?

I get it - Part of my concern is that some of these writers are the crazies from DRBJU. But judging from the GRACE report, some of these people have been grievously wounded at the hands of BJU, and part of repentance is working to restore as much as is possible and to ask for forgiveness from those who have been wronged. That’s justice and the fruits keeping with repentance.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Call it “foot in mouth” or “painting a target on self” or ” magnet for bad PR”, but BJU III has invited it upon himself

Like calling the first lady (Betty Ford) a “slut” is an example (see paper linked below dated October 24th, 1976)…

And then redefining “slut” which means ” a promiscuous woman; especially : prostitute” as “someone whose publicly expressed position is unbecoming of a lady” is disingenuous

1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

We are promised that the world will hate and try to discredit those who are doing things in a Godly manner, but as Peter points out:

1 Peter 2:19-21 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

It is not really suffering for Jesus when we have done things that gives the general public reason to attack. When BJU supporters complain about the press not being fair, they are ignoring the fact that BJU has done things wrong that deserve to be criticized. Worse than that, they ignore the passages that remind us to respond to persecution and the hatred that world spews as Christ responded.

I, for one, am pleased that as far as I have heard the current administration team has kept silent about the criticism while trying to implement most of the recommendations. That is a Biblical Response. I am FAR from a BJU supporter, but I have been encouraged by the direction so far. It is a challenging process to change the culture that has been BJU for decades, but I am hopeful that it will continue to change into a more Biblical place.

As a point of clarification, the “open letter” on BJU’s response to the GRACE report which was sent to the media purports to be from the abuse victims who served on a GRACE task force that reviewed and provided input to the recommendations in the final report. It is definitely not from the committee which President Pettit formed to give advice and counsel on the University’s response to the recommendations. - Randy Page, Director of Public Relations, Bob Jones University

When someone has a long history of casting stones at sinners (actual and supposed), one should not be surprised when the sinners start throwing stones back.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

It looks like the Greenville News has published a copy of the letter that was reported on at their website. Here’s the link, and some of the salient text:

Over two years and countless hours were invested by wounded souls who poured their hearts into the GRACE Report, detailing how Bob Jones University treated victims of sexual assault–not just in the past, but in the current student body. The Report powerfully documented our stories and ultimately wove together a tapestry of our lives displaying not only our greatest heartaches, but also our greatest hope: The hope that, through our stories, healing and change would be achieved. That hope was shattered by BJU’s official response.
As members of the Abuse Response Task Force, we were asked to be the voice for the hundreds of victims impacted by the GRACE Report. This Task Force, which consisted of 1 representative of GRACE, 2 representatives of BJU, and 2 survivors who had participated in the GRACE investigation, was formed to review the contents of the GRACE Report, develop a list of recommendations, and help transform the university into a safe, healing, truly spiritual institution (GRACE Report pages 23-24). We personally sat with you for days, pouring out our hearts and our personal stories. We provided a face to the stories described in the GRACE Report. We took this responsibility seriously and believed that BJU would take the hard, but necessary steps to change. We are angered that the official response was an attack and blatant disregard of the Report’s recommendations. We are saddened that, despite days of meetings and impassioned conversations, our voices were not heard.Working with BJU on this committee came at an enormous cost: We were forced to relive one of the most painful chapters of our lives because we believed that BJU truly wanted to make things right. Your response has triggered intense shame at our alma mater, repeated nights of lost sleep, agonizing prayer, and a demand that we cannot remain silent. Although we have little hope of seeing lasting, deep-rooted change at the university, we must communicate truth that is being ignored and omitted…
Instead, public statements minimize, obfuscate, and blatantly misrepresent facts. Why have no public apologies come from those who were implicated as causing harm? We also urge the many university individuals mentioned in the GRACE Report, albeit not by name, to show true repentance and apologize to those whom they have hurt. The university modeled that public sin warrants spiritual probation and a season of intense accountability…
…While some statements from the university sound good to the general public, they are couched within blame-shifting phrases like, “those who felt or perceived” which puts the onus back on the victim. Instead of apologizing for our feelings, own up to the full impact of your actions! The qualifying phrases have no place in a humble apology. We realize that “some were helped” by the individuals named in the Report, but that does not in any way nullify their responsibility towards those they have harmed…
…You referenced speaking with “one victim” and stated that she left BJU “disappointed, deeply hurt, and confused.” In meeting with you, the victim specifically described damage caused by the counseling received at BJU—damage so extreme that she was left “suicidal” and her “faith was shattered.” Your minimizing words show that you do not yet grasp the damage caused and the long-term impact that has resulted as a consequence of the University’s actions. This is not the deep, heart-felt listening that the GRACE Report recommends. If those 300 pages of agonizing detail of our trauma were not enough to compel you to change, then what will? When the very counseling methods that caused the damage and the same individuals who perpetrated such damage are still in employ at BJU, how can any victim trust you? The GRACE Report is filled with accounts from survivor after survivor who state direct damage as a result of the counseling they received at Bob Jones University. Your counseling, those who counseled, and the system that enabled it are flawed and have had devastating effects on many lives. We ask you to pause your counseling program and learn from the ones whose lives have been negatively impacted by it–the survivors.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

It seems you are piling on man. You really think the blogosphere of Millennials is dumping on BJU because of something Bob Jones III said when their parents were in diapers?


It seems you are piling on man. You really think the blogosphere of Millennials is dumping on BJU because of something Bob Jones III said when their parents were in diapers?

  • First of all I am not piling on. Making the point that BJ (the persons) have negatively affected BJU the school
  • Also the so-called “blogsphere” is broader than the “Millennials”
  • There is a certain “hubris” with Bob Jones that has indeed hurt the school - and has hurt fundamentalism


It seems you are piling on man. You really think the blogosphere of Millennials is dumping on BJU because of something Bob Jones III said when their parents were in diapers?

Like it or not, people have long memories. Ask a black man about slavery or Jim Crow, a Croat about Serbian behavior in the 1990s, a Serbian about Croat behavior during WWII, a Russian about Napoleon or Hitler, a native American about the Indian Wars, a Red Sox fan about that ground ball to Buckner, Cubs fans about that wonderful series in ‘08 (1908, not 2008)……you get the picture. It’s human nature. The choice is whether one will “man up” and deal with things, or whether we’ll just let it fester.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

You have to separate BJ the person from BJU the school.

BJU the school:

  • Academically strong. I really have no doubt about this. Delaying regional accreditation was a strategic miscalculation, but their focus is now correct. (no links … but grads with appropriate majors and grades have been able to get into medical schools …. )
  • Steve Jones made incredible contributions towards pointing BJU in the right direction.
  • There’s absolutely no doubt that there are thousands of BJU grads who are lovingly following their Lord and that their time at BJU assisted them in this!
  • While Steve Pettit has a lot on his plate (inheriting the G.R.A.C.E. investigation and response), he is the right man for the job
  • Also true: Fundy churches, fundy CDS’s … and fundy instititutions of higher education face headwinds. The CDSes feed the colleges. And the feeder system is in decline.
  • Also true: parents and perspective students have greater options (PSEO, community colleges, et cetera) and are being more selective.