BJU faulted for response to GRACE report

Various & random comments/questions:

Can anyone tell me the source of this open letter? From the open letter it sounds like the writers were apart of Pettit’s task force to review the GRACE report and make recommendations. However, I believe someone on this thread posted a comment by BJU’s PR guy saying the source of the open letter was not from the task force. Correct? Who is the source of this open letter?

Someone mentioned that BJU adopted something like 85% of the recommendations by GRACE. OK, true enough. However, the remaining 15% is a HUGE 15%. Look at it this way, without BJIII or Berg there would never have been this GRACE report. Without BJIII and Berg the GRACE report would’ve been about 1/4 the length it was. The GRACE report basically said as much itself. BJIII set the tone and the culture and Berg was much of the day to day face of that culture especially in terms of counseling. Yes, BJU adopted 85% (or whatever the actual %); however, the remaining 15% is a 500lb gorilla - the elephant in the room that no one seems to want to do anything about - including those two men.

Earlier I said that BJIII and Berg were now toxic to BJU. What I meant was that now that the whole world knows the contents of the GRACE report, when you hear the name BJIII or Berg, it conjures up questionable thoughts about the university. I’m not saying I think they are bad people, but I do think they were gravely mistaken in a way that affected hundreds/thousands of people. BJU is trying to rebound, to grow back towards where they once were with their financial stability and student population. Keeping BJIII and Berg around is a distraction to their goal. This open letter illustrates this distraction.

I do find it a bit strange that the primary focus of the GRACE report was because of BJIII and Berg but we’ve yet to hear anything from them about it. We’ve seen apologies from Stephen Jones and Steve Pettit. The recent apology from BJIII was good, but it addressed an issue 35 years old and coming on the heals of the GRACE report was… .kind of strange. However, so far we’ve heard nothing from them about this GRACE report. Why??? Their actions affected a large amount of people. This is obviously still a sore point with many people, hence this open letter.

Some people on this thread are frustrated with some of the comments by people who are frustrated with BJU, in effect saying we don’t know the whole story or are piling on. The thing is, in terms of BJU’s target customer base, of which I would be apart of (especially as an alumnus), it really doesn’t matter what things look/feel/sound like in the BJU & Greenville bubble. From my point of view, it only matters what I see and hear about BJU. It only matters to Joe Bismarck North Dakota what he sees or Suzie Topeka Kansas. BJU and their die-hard supporters can be irritated all day long at all of this chatter about their situation. But, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, because it only matters how their customer base feels about BJU. People vote based on how they feel. It is what it is, it is human nature. From this potential customer’s point of view, I like Pettit and I think he is the right man for BJU, but I do think they whiffed on BJIII and Berg. Questions remain in my mind about BJU and BJIII and Berg themselves.

Do I dare jump in? I’ve read all comments and wondered if I should offer an opinion. As one who pretty much grew up at BJA and BJU, I have a ring-side view of many of he actions and attitudes of the past. But that was a long time ago, and I’ve had a more distant relationship with BJU for more than forty years. I’ve remained thankful for the training I received there, as well as that received by three of my four grown daughters, all of whom benefited from their years at BJU. But I’ve also had various “issues” that I have tried to address with little success. BJU has a history of listening to advice primarily (if not exclusively) from those they consider loyal friends. In other words, if you do not agree with them about virtually everything, you were usually not placed in the friends category. Maybe not an enemy, but at least viewed with caution. That has been my category. I wish BJU had been able to recognize that some of their best friends were those who had thoughtful reasons for disagreeing with them, but alas. And yet, I’ve refused to walk away. I’ve tried to maintain friendly ties, and have enjoyed many fruitful relationships with a number of faculty and staff, including BJ III. My view is that BJU has more strengths than weaknesses, and much continued potential for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. I pray for them regularly, and wish them well as they adjust to changing circumstances.

Jim Berg actually stopped down from his position as Dean of Students three or more years ago. He no longer holds the same level of authority and influence as formerly. That was accomplished long before the GRACE report was released. Was this because of recognized problems with his counsel? Was this because of anticipated fall-out from the GRACE report? I have no inside information, but believe that this was probably the case. The Jim Berg legacy is not all or nothing, in my opinion. He really has written some excellent books on subjects other than counseling, and has been an effective preacher. Likewise, BJU III stepped down as President several years ago, and also has less authority than before, though has maintained significant influence as Chancellor, especially since his son, Stephen Jones, the former President, was not in good health. Still, Stephen made a number of changes that surprised most and encouraged many. I think he was on track to accomplish more needed changes, but poor health forced him to resign.

In other words, some of what SI writers are calling for, the removal of Jim Berg and BJ III, has already been accomplished, at least to a significant degree. Neither has the same influence as in the past, and will surely have even less as a result of the GRACE report. Must they resign totally and leave the school? Some obviously think so. I am not similarly convinced. I wonder if that this could be more a desire for “a pound of flesh” than helpful advice. I agree that a clear apology from each would be extremely helpful. However, I believe the right people are already in place to make needed changes and move forward. I pray that they shall succeed.

G. N. Barkman

A previous commentator in this thread point out that mellinials were probably not following the BJU issue or focusing on it. I have mentioned it to some people in my church about BJU and they either did not know about it or really were not concerned about it ie Berg and Jones 3rd staying or leaving would meant nothing to them. If our culture keeps eroding the way it is, a school like BJU tweaked to resolve its counseling problems and enhancing its academics, may become more attractive to young people somewhat outside the normal BJU feeder system. Our culture morally is headed toward the toilet and a Christian college standing firm and uncompromising can survive and thrive. Now I may be living in a dream world but I don’t agree that keeping Berg is going to be an end all to BJU. If Berg and Jones 3 are not bridled and they get BJU in the funny papers again well that’s another story. Pettit seems like a guy with commonsense and everyone in this thread seems to agree with that so I see Pettit keeping Berg on a short leash with a choke chain.

I only have a few minutes, but let me chip in a little.

Someone asked about the source of the open letter; this was one of the earlier comments from someone at BJU.

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

So there are two task forces. The one that was a part of the BJU / GRACE investigation; some of those people wrote the open letter that is linked to by the Greenville News. Then there is a separate task force by President Pettite, which is apparently handling the implementation or rejection of the GRACE recommendations. The two groups are not the same, as far as I can tell. I do not know if there is overlap with members that sit on both committees.

As for the parts to the open letter that I cited - I added emphasis to specific portions because I felt as though the parts that were bolded had merit and ought to be more carefully looked at. I know that a portion of the GRACE report recommends that BJU outsource the counseling for sexual abuse and rape victims to a “Julie Valentine Center” in town, but I don’t know much about that place. That recommendation by GRACE makes a lot of sense to me and seems eminently fair. From what I understand, BJU does not agree with that and has hired their own counselor to handle abuse victims instead.

I have no idea about the ability or quality of this counselors’ role, but I think that if I were one of the people who were victimized by BJU’s bad counsel and who brought that up as a part of the GRACE investigation, this would look like a case of the University hiring someone to handle everything the same exact way that they themselves handled it in the past. I’m also not sure how much I could trust that counselor, given the ways that BJU mismanaged previous victims’ counseling, discipline, and student files, as was documented in the GRACE report.

"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

…but it appears that many of us here on SI have nothing to worry about.

The Julie Valentine Center has been toted by many in the Greenville area as the bees’ knees with regard to sexual assault/abuse treatment/therapy. Having observed the general disinterest by many to investigate any of the claims or recommendations made by the Dis-A’s regarding BJU’s complete “lack of response” and “inaction,” I became curious about this secular psychotherapy establishment and its methods and did a very brief investigation.

The GRACE report referenced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of sexual abuse/assault at least 25 times, something that both Berg and Mazak acknowledged were “a ‘normal’ response to traumatic events” (GRACE report page 89). How does the all-world Julie Valentine Center treat PTSD? According to their website, “EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, effective in treating symptoms of PTSD).”

What is EMDR, the 20% or so who are curious will ask? From the EMDR Institute, Inc. website, “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive, integrative psychotherapy approach. It contains elements of many effective psychotherapies in structured protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies.”

Without reviewing the entire process in detail, EMDR is an 8-step process, during which, at one point, “the clinician instructs the client to let his/her mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind.” Wha-wha-whaaat? Yup. Nothing like emptying the mind to bring about “healing” and whatever else comes along with it. Does anyone have any inkling at this point why BJU might be the slightest bit reticent to refer people here or to give their “methods” any credibility?

Furthermore, the website goes on to acknowledge this treatment’s controversial status, “Despite its demonstrated effectiveness, similar to most new approaches in psychotherapy, EMDR has been surrounded by controversy. While some critics have labeled EMDR a ‘pseudoscience’ others have commented that these conclusions are based on misinterpretations of the literature.” Huh. Whaddaya know.

One doesn’t have to look far to find those who aren’t raving fans of the treatment. From My PTSD, one person recounts their experience with EMDR, “It is like the EMDR is burned into my brain.. and it won’t stop. It’s painful and gives me migraines and my body shuts down.. not to mention the horrid anxiety this event causes. I have no idea if this will ever go away at the present, nor what is causing it.” Another testimony regarding treatment similar to that of EMDR, “i had a session of “thought-field” therapy that sounds very similar. the therapist was tapping me on the forehead and hand and shoulders, and asking questions, but i didnt’ answer outloud, just think of certain trauma. it was not good-i was shaking so hard i couldn’t hardly walk out of the office, and i had a sick headache. later that night i became very suicidal.”

Sooo, before everyone jumps on the (in GRACE’s glowing terms: recommended experts) Julie Valentine bandwagon and genuflects to them as the end-all, be-all, perhaps we who claim to know the Book should exercise some discernment. I’m not saying avoid them completely - they can certainly be used as a resource in things like identifying sexual abuse/assault and responding appropriately, but using them for counseling Christian victims who have the indwelling Holy Spirit? Not on your life.

…I’m beating a dead horse. But this is just too rich to ignore.

GRACE and consequently the Dis-A’s have made (and still are making) a huge deal of Berg’s lack of professional training, certifications, etc. He learned on the go. Never got past a Master’s Degree. Blah-blah-blah. “Dr. Berg’s lack of formal training and professional supervision was evident in several judgment errors in the counseling he offered.” Also, the current Women’s Counselor at BJU “acknowledged that she did not complete an internship or resident program in order to receive a Master’s Degree.”

Now let’s examine the revered Francine Shapiro, who developed EMDR (see post above), the PTSD counseling technique of choice used by GRACE’s “recommended experts” (note - those are their words, not mine) at the esteemed Julie Valentine center. Ms. Shapiro, according to Wikipedia, “holds a B.A. (1968) and M.A. (1974) in English Literature from Brooklyn College, City University of New York. In 1974, while employed full-time as an English teacher, she enrolled in a PhD program in English Literature at New York University. In 1979, having completed all but her dissertation, she was diagnosed with cancer. Her post-recovery experiences shifted her attention from literature to the effects of stress on the immune system, based on the work of Norman Cousins and others.

Over the next few years she participated in numerous workshops and programs exploring various stress reduction and self-care procedures. During that time she enrolled in the Professional School of Psychological Studies, San Diego (which at the time was regionally unaccredited but approved by the state of California for psychologist licensure, and now defunct).” ~ emphasis mine.

What? She’s an English professor who got her doctorate from a regionally unaccredited university, which a number of authors essentially regard as a now defunct diploma mill for psychotherapists. Here’s one example:

  • It is also not uncommon to find persons practicing under a “Masters” or “Ph.D” from the Professional School for Psychological Studies which was once located in San Diego, California.
  • The Professional School for Psychological Studies is a now-defunct school which was “authorized” by the State of California. “Authorized” is the lowest level assigned to proprietary schools in California, followed by “approved” and “accredited.”
  • Some graduates of this school developed or advocated therapies (or theories) which are regarded by mainstream Psychologists as “pseudo-science” [for example, Francine Shapiro’s “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)”]
  • Because the school no longer exists I have not been able to find more information about when it was founded (or when it failed, for that matter), or what the course requirements were. The only things that were clear in my investigation were that the school was never accredited and no longer exists.
  • This, of course, makes it near impossible for patients of therapists with such credentials to know whether or not their therapist is qualified or not (simply holding a degree from a non-accredited school doesn’t necessarily mean they are not qualified, as they may have other more legitimate - but lower - credentials).

Interestingly, the EMDR Institute gives this background on how Dr. Shapiro stumbled upon the foundations of EMDR: “In 1987, Francine Shapiro was walking in the park when she realized that eye movements appeared to decrease the negative emotion associated with her own distressing memories. She assumed that eye movements had a desensitizing effect, and when she experimented with this she found that others also had the same response to eye movements. It became apparent however that eye movements by themselves did not create comprehensive therapeutic effects and so Shapiro added other treatment elements, including a cognitive component, and developed a standard procedure that she called Eye Movement Desensitization (EMD).”

From Wikipedia, “Her observations regarding the beneficial effect of eye movements, and the development of procedures to utilize them in clinical practice became the basis of her dissertation. She received her PhD in 1988 and her thesis was published in the Journal of Traumatic Studies in 1989.” That’s quite the timeline!

So, let’s review. GRACE wants BJU to refer students to the Julie Valentine center, where they employ a form of therapy, developed in about a year, defined as a “questionable practice” according to Quackwatch and divined up by an English Professor who took some classes from a now-defunct non-accredited Psychotherapy diploma mill…because “Berg/BJU aren’t qualified.” Oh, and by the way, you too can receive your “Basic Training” in EMDR techniques in two weekends for the measly sum of $1530 from the EMDR Institute, Inc. Doctorate, shmoctorate.

OK. Got it. Does that about sum it up? Talk about Sharper Irony.

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day!!

KKD your point is good and shows a weakness in the Grace Report but misses the main point. Also both sides have pretend Drs ie Dr Berg. The thrust of the report is you don’t counsel the victim of sexual abuse and blame them. What kind of clothes were you wearing. Did you wear anything tight that tempted a Christian man. Did you enjoy the sex experience. You are bitter therefore you are sinful so go forgive your perp for you being bitter about him raping you. Like say sorry to your Fifty year old dad or uncle for raping you when we’re 13 or 15 years old. Do you know how insane that type approach is. Yikes. Berg can’t claim this was not his approach because all this was bore out in Bergs protege Chuck Phelps handling of the Tina Anderson matter. So attacking the Grace Report in that area KD is missing the whole point and sin Berg did. Berg messed up big time but BJU is not going to fire him even though I think and others think he deserves it. Every one criticizes the US government for cArrying the protection sexual preference to far but in doing so they also go out of there way to protect women from sexual harassment or abuse. Something BJU Bill Gothards organization and ABWE had never done. So the obvious is the most important and the minutia is not. As I said before hopefully Pettit will keep a tight leash on Berg with a choker chain.

KD you may not like the other methods and I Kind of agree but they still did not blame the victim like Berg did. At least they sought to help them and you can bet they would cAll the police. Bottom line the Grace report methods are the lesser of the evils by far. Berg does not recognize PTSD he sees every problem as being rooted in sin. How can anyone say someone can’t have PTSD. In world war 1 they finally recognized it as shell shocked. Initially they practiced the Berg method of it being rooted in sin. Take the lousy coward out and shoot him. That’s the Berg method. The real treatment is helping the poor soldier not accusing him of being a coward. I believe my father suffered from PTSD from being in heavy combat in WW 2 and the Korean War. My father was a West Point grad who ended his own life by hanging himself. He never got treatment for PTSD. Let’s say that after my father retired and decided to go to BJU Seminary in the mid 80s because he felt the Lord was leading him to get trAining for the ministry. Now while at BJU he starts getting flash backs like his buddies getting blown to bits by the Japanese at Iwo Jima. He also goes in to a depression and he goes to a young Dr Berg for counseling. Dr Berg tells my father that his problems are due to a bitterness sin he holds against the Japanese and the Koreans he fought and he needs to confess his sin and forgive his enemies. Like send a letter of apology to Hirohito. Dr Berg then tells my father God can never use him unless he puts this bitterness behind him . Now how ridiculous does this sound and it is as ridiculous as Berg telling a young girl who was raped by an older christian man when she was 14 that her problems are due to her bitterness about the rape. KD if you can’t see this as a sinful act by a Christian man to a young christian sister I don’t know what to say because most normal Christians and non Christians can see the wrong. It’s like WW 1 just shoot the coward for being shell shocked.

KD to sum up everything I said before every man or women’s psychee can only take so much from a violent act towards them be it combat or rape or mugging. Every person is different in how much they can handle. How can anyone see this as sin and not a wound to ones mind just like if a person shot you. You would have physical and psychological trauma form being shot. So is the psycho part sin. No one with any commonsense would recognize that as sin ie Berg was an extremely incompetent Counseler.


Methinks you are leaning a little too heavily on the psychobabble in your judgment and not enough on scripture. Nor, if you investigate a little more fully, is it as simple as the accusation makes it sound that the victim was told they were in sin because of their suffering being a victim. Talk a little to a competent biblical counselor to more fully understand what is actually being taught from scripture before casting so many stones (Donn Arms is an active member on SI and a biblical counselor you could use for research).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

I am going to be vulnerable and share about PTSD since I was diagnosed with it after having a gun pulled on me along with having numerous traumatic events take place over a 15 year period while ministering to gang-members and drug dealers (I had 15 years of nightmares and depression until I got help) My counselor was a licensed Christian therapist and a former missionary. He utilized a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy in our counseling sessions (you can read about these forms of theories here ). There was alot of wrong thinking on my part as well as fears that resulted from my wrong thinking that I had to deal with. And there was even some sinful actions that I had to take responsibility for. I blogged about it a year ago

The one thing I am grateful for was that my counselor did not have a “blame the victim” mentality. His questions did not at all give me the impression that I was to blame, yet at the same time the things he asked me to do did expose my deep heart problem.

Chip, I don’t know what you consider psychobabble, but I am very thankful for how my therapist carefully handled my situation, drawing on the knowledge of PTSD, yet filtering it through the grid of Scripture. Needless to say, my life has been nightmare-free and depression free for about 6 years…….


Joel Shaffer wrote:

…. after having a gun pulled on me
  • Were you wearing suggestive clothing?
  • Did you enjoy it?

That was sadly funny! So sad that those who victimized had to face those kind of questions. But very funny to show the absurdity by asking the questions……

Chip I guess you don’t believe in PTSD and it’s just psycho babble. So all are fine young men who have come home or are coming home from numerous tours from Afghanistan and Iraq damaged physically and mentally are in sin. Boys just get rid of your bitterness and you will be fine. So my neighbor who knows the Lord is in continual sin since he stills suffers from the physical and mental damage from an IED and is disabled. So my father who saw all his buddies blown up when the Japanese first opened on the beaches on Iwo Jima never suffered PTSD and when fighting and leading his men in combat against the Chinese human wave attacks and killing so many Chinese that they melted the barrels on their machine guns to survive. I guess my father would not suffer any damage to his psychee going through this. Just pshyco babble. Those girls In Cleveland held as sex slaves for 10 years and repeatedly raped and beaten by the perp. I guess they did not suffer any PTSD. Oh that’s right they could not have because according to those Tea Party senates canadates it’s Gods will that women get raped. Chip if your daughter gets raped and she can’t recover from it are you going to tell her she is in sin and should get rid of her bitterness and go right away and forgive the perp for her sin. Also are you going to ask her if she was wearing suggestive clothing. I guess you agree with those Ww 1 generals just shoot the bastard coward deserter. Being Shellshocked is just phsyco babble. What I’m saying is the whole point of the Grace report in how offensive it was the way Berg handled the counseling. And yes I will throw stones when something like this is so obviously wrong. So obvious like you protecting your wife from a person who is going to kill her. Thank God Pettit is in charge at BJU and not you. You sound like those ABWE missionary parents who just rolled over and allowed Wendall Kempton and his minions to accuse his 14 year old daughter of tempting poor 60 year Dr Kechum into keeping her as a little sexual pet. Kechum took a12 year old girl had her giving him regular oral sex for two years and her parents did not say a thing or defend her. Her parents allowed the godly Wendall Kempton to cover it up.

Jim’s last post illustrates well the callousness of the counseling techniques used in the past at BJ and why I think it’s a good idea to outsource that kind of counseling. But a friend did email me and let me know that BJU has said that if anyone wants counseling with someone in Greenville, they will accomodate that:

At the same time, students will continue to have the option to pursue off-campus counseling from a counselor of their choosing. We recognize there currently may be limits to our ability to deal with certain aspects of trauma present in some cases of sexual abuse/assault. While we will strive to offer as much help as we can in such cases, students have the option to go to agencies and or organizations that at this time may be better equipped and prepared to offer help in their specific situations.

I think part of the underlying discussion here is the legitimacy of psychological diagnoses like PTSD. It has been my experience that there is such a thing as PTSD, and that it should not be treated as a sin issue, which is, whether we like it or not, kind of the default tool set we go to for counseling.

I don’t think that anyone is arguing for the superiority of contemporary psychoanalysis like Freud, Jung, or others. Where I do think the conversation is breaking down, in part, is whether or not we should counsel based on the Bible alone or take other factors like PTSD into consideration when it comes to properly addressing these issues. I fall into the latter category.

"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