Despite the bad PR, Christian reform facilities appear to have no trouble attracting new recruits

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Susan R's picture


Two thoughts- 1) if there weren't such a dearth of dedicated, involved, responsible parents and 2) if churches discipled parents to be better disciplers themselves, there'd be little market for these homes. They fill a niche created largely, in my temporarily-less-than-humble-opinion, by immature parents and lazy church leadership.

Qualifier- I can understand 'halfway house' type ministries for children who have been involved in serious criminal activity, or have become a danger to themselves and others, but sending kids away from home because the parents are inept or lazy is adding insult to injury, IMO.

I regularly talk to Christian parents who congratulate me for homeschooling like I'm Joan of Arc by stating "I couldn't stand to be with my kids all day" and "My kids drive me crazy". That. Is. A. Problem.

That's more than two thoughts, but I'm having a bad math day.

Jonathan Charles's picture

I don't see the legitimacy of such institutions. First, it doesn't seem as if some of these teens were excessively rebellious. Smoking cigarettes and stealing a friend's Playboy magazine doesn't justify being sent off to some home for youth. Second, dealing with a rebellious teenager is the responsibility of the family, first, with the help of the local church. If both the family and church are doing all they can, then they must live with the rebellious youth. It seems that some of these parents got panicky over the first sign of rebellion and wanted what they thought was a quick fix.

Darren Mc's picture

No matter their legitimacy or parents' problems, the fact that such abuse went on in the name of the Lord Jesus and under the banner of fundamentalism is unconscionable. Certainly most of the parents who sent their children there did not know what was going on, and most of the churches who supported these ministries did not understand either. But the few who did know and stood up to these people should have been given a fair hearing and not been shouted down as troublemakers by these ministries and their supporters.

No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30

Jonathan Charles's picture

When I was a kid, a group of boys came to sing in our church from the home in Walterboro, SC that was mentioned in the article. The boys were unfailingly polite. A few months later, the state closed the home down over allegations of abuse. The thing I remember from that time is the near-obsession some people had about teen-rebellion. Christian leaders ginned up the fear of teen-rebellion, and then Christian parents over-reacted when their 16 year-old boy or girl got into the habit of being smart-mouthed, used bad language, got a hold of a dirty magazine or got caught smoking or drinking. Not that any of those behaviors are good, but I think Christian parents had the fear put into them that such behavior put a youth on the brink of being nearly unrecoverable and that they (the youth home) were specialists at recovering such kids. Such youth homes could not have flourished unless doubt was sown in the minds of Christian parents concerning the parents' ability to help their own children.

Don P's picture

There is something deeply disturbing about the fact that these group homes can not only exist but be praised and promoted by the leaders of fundamentalism.

Fundamentalists rule by fear. They cause parents to fear, as Jonathan Charles has pointed out. Then palm themselves off as experts.

Don't send your kids to state schools, they scream. Send them to us for "godly" training. It isn't just group homes that mess up kids, BJU has done more than its fair share. A better option is to have your kids live at home and attend the local community college. But I digress.

The real problem is that no one is demanding accountability, and no one is calling for separation from these abusers who lord it over God's people.

Which fundamentalist leader is going to demand that BJU remove Ron Williams from it radio station lineup?

Don P's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Don P wrote:
It isn't just group homes that mess up kids, BJU has done more than its fair share.

I don't believe this is a fair assessment (The BJU comment)

It is absolutely fair. I attended BJU.

BJU taught (teaches) that they are the epicenter of biblical fundamentalism. To leave BJU is to step outside the will of God. It is an institution where teachers are afraid to share their true beliefs and students are afraid to be themselves.

The pain and suffering they have caused to unsuspecting faculty, staff, and students is no different than what these "reform" schools do to the young teens in their charge.

Authoritarian institutions damage people. And they do it in the worst way, with the Bible in one hand and harsh, uncaring discipline in the other.

Goodellsboy's picture

I "attended" BJU and graduated and have kept in touch with many of my teachers from Bob Jones University. I was never taught that BJU was the center of the fundamental universe--sounds more like an opinion Mr.P. I have never even heard of the issues that you have mentioned . . . until I found a "We hate BJU" website. I was shocked. I guess I found the students and teachers that were all helped by the incredible Christian educational help that I received from teachers who honestly rose to the occasion every day to taech God's Word to me. Can't relate to Don P. Sorry.

dcbii's picture


I also attended BJU from 1981-1985. To respond to your points:

Even back then, they in no way taught they were "the epicenter of biblical fundamentalism." It may have seemed that way to students, given the breadth of speakers who came to the university, the number of churches that sent students, the influence they seemed to wield, etc., but in no way did that reflect what we were taught.

Yes, I do remember hearing that if you left the university after having started there, that you were going against God's will, but as far as I can tell, that didn't stop some students from leaving and going on to be model Christians. However, that wasn't something drilled into us either. I'm sure some staff believed that, but I'll bet just as many didn't, and I don't remember seeing that as an official university policy.

I agree that if certain teachers held views contrary to that of the university, they either had to leave or not teach against what was required. So what? I'll bet Harvard professors have a lot of the same restrictions. Try teaching anything that goes against modern politically-correct views of issues and see how long you last. I think it's pretty clear that BJU is not trying to foster an attitude of complete academic freedom, and this is obvious even before one attends. If you don't see eye to eye with what is taught there, either leave, keep it to yourself, or don't attend in the first place. And as regards students not "be[ing ] themselves," it's pretty obvious what college age students left to themselves do at other universities. When you combine a new level with freedom with immaturity, the sin nature rises to the fore. BJU tries to do what they can to hinder this. Do they go too far in some areas? Undoubtedly -- they certainly did while I was there, at least in my opinion, but a certain amount of restraint is necessary. You can argue about the various amounts required, but again, if you think they are too heavy handed, don't go there or send your kids there -- it's that simple. For those that do go there, what you get out of it will be dependent on what you put into it. If you have a good attitude, you will get through things that happen that are not right. If you are trying to see the bad side of everything, you will.

As regards pain and suffering to faculty and staff, I've heard some horror stories, too, but even if those are completely true (and I have my doubts on a good number of them) that will happen in any large institution. You are going to deal with sinful people every day, even in Christian institutions. This should not surprise you. However, like Goodellsboy, I also found a lot of teachers and staff who went out of their way to care for me, teach me, and live the Christian life in front of me. That's the BJU I remember.

So yeah, BJU is not perfect. What else is new? I can't see how you can possibly compare the student experience there to that of a "horror home." No one was beaten, no one was starved, no one was kept from using the restroom, and in fact, no one was required to listen to sermons 10 hours a day, or got punished for not memorizing enough verses. The experiences are simply not comparable.

Dave Barnhart

Susan R's picture


What you think about BJU is a topic for another thread. These homes are for underage children who are considered very troubled, suicidal, and even criminal. The accusations being made are of spiritual, physical, and emotional abuse. The homes in the OP are not universities that people of age apply for and pay tuition to attend willingly. The comparison for this thread is not valid.

End Moderator Note.

PLewis's picture

Don P wrote:

Which fundamentalist leader is going to demand that BJU remove Ron Williams from it radio station lineup?

The link in the article regarding "the Bob Jones University radio station" does NOT link to Bob Jones station .. it links to:

I could not find Ron Williams on the WMUU schedule ..

Anytime a "blogger" or "journalist" starts tying both BJU and George Bush into some scandal I start looking a little closer .. All this article missed was Sarah Palin, the tea party and Rush Limbaugh in trying to "make their point" .. :O