From Blog on the Way:
Chris Peterman, one of the founders of the Do Right BJU group, has been expelled from BJU just days before graduation. In a move that was clearly retaliation for his role in organizing the protest against BJU’s decision to put the corrupt and deceitful Chuck Phelps on its board, BJU has pleaded its demerit policy. According to BJU, Peterman was racking up the bad boys necessary to earn an expulsion and they have cited Peterman’s viewing of an episode of GLEE as the major contributor in getting demerits.
Unless they’ve been living under a rock, it’s unlikely that anyone in current or former fundamentalist circles has not heard of the expulsion of Christopher Peterman from Bob Jones University mere weeks before he was to graduate. Although his list of alleged crimes ranges from the inane to the obscure to the downright confusing, there is a deeper story here that is worth considering.
To fully appreciate the significance of this action it’s necessary to retrace the steps of a horrifying story that is all too familiar to many of us. It begins when a man named Ernie Willis raped a young girl named Tina Anderson. The pastor of Tina’s church at the time was Chuck Phelps, a man who by his own testimony not only failed to vigorously pursue justice for Tina but also required her to give a confession of her alleged sin before the church and then aided in removing her from the state and apparently out of the reach of local authorities.
Yet with the fact of his actions revealed both on national television and in a court of law, Chuck Phelps remained a person in good standing with several fundamentalist organizations such as The Wilds and Bob Jones University. Bob Jones not only continued to call him a friend of the college but after the conviction of Ernie Willis then went on to proactively show their support for him by placing him back on one of their own boards. This past December, a few alumni, students, and other concerned individuals attempted an on-campus protest in an institutional environment where protesting is almost unheard of. As may be expected in such an authoritarian environment, very few students joined in to the calls for BJU to “Do Right.” One student agitator, however, stuck to his guns and decided to take the risk. That man is now ex-student Christopher Peterman.
At that time, with the news cameras rolling and the social media spotlight shining on them, Bob Jones University took no disciplinary action against the protesting students. But they did take note of them. They always take note of those who do not come to heel and fit the “spirit” of the University and they wait their chance to exact revenge for this perceived disloyalty.
Outside outcries over the treatment of this student will fall on dismissive deaf ears. It will take those inside Bob Jones University and the authoritarian world of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists to stand with Peterman and stop feeding money, time and loyalty to these draconian leaders.
How vindictive and draconian? This is the Demerit record put together by a residence assistant assigned to follow Peterman’s every move. He received demerit points for not shaving – at midnight. The Do Right BJU Group brought outside scrutiny to the rot at the core, and these men play for keeps. Chuckles Travels has a copy of the drummed up Demerit record.
Why would anyone subjected to such blatant harassment stick it out? Why not just leave? Peterman in his own words:
Peterman also released a statement after being expelled.
Media is picking up this story. I doubt the attention will help Peterman get his earned degree; other students who participated in Do Right BJU will probably be targeted and I doubt the US Department of Education and Peterman’s congressman can do anything. Perhaps another conservative religious university will step up and give Peterman an opportunity for a degree, perhaps BJU alumni can help him with any student debt. Perhaps the cast and crew of Glee will come up with a creative way to help out. The more attention Bob Jones University gets, the more they will cry persecution.
Background: Chuck Phelps resigns from Bob Jones University