Really? I doubt this comes as a surprise to anyone involved in holding religious institutions accountable for past and present handling of abuse.
This is the second time G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) has entered into a contract with a US fundamentalist institution, only to be shut down shortly before the report has been released.
The letter sent to G.R.A.C.E. by Bob Jones U President Steven Jones and Board Chair explaining the termination of the investigation agreement is something else. I don’t believe for a nano second BJU leadership wants what would be in that report made public. Transparency, openness and truth are not words I’d put in the same sentence with American independent fundamentalist baptists – but hey, they’ll pay their bill:
G.R.A.C.E. received the termination notice the end of January. There has been discussion, this was a contract, and G.R.A.C.E. employs lawyers, investigators and professionals bound by law, contracts and integrity. When up against people who are masters at protecting their institutional reputation, wedded to their ideologies and hell-bent on maintaining power and control, I wonder how any discussion is between equals? The report was to have been released in March, if the fundies hadn’t done their end run around the investigators. And what an end run it is – despite discussion G.R.A.C.E. is in the dark:
Remaining open sounds a lot like discussion has ended. The G.R.A.C.E. response was released yesterday. 10 days of discussion, and another opportunity for an institution to bury sins, avoid accountability and repentance and justice.
As always the victims of abuse in the 86 year old controversial school, who believed this time things would be different are left knowing better. Again.
Sure, Bob Jones University had to clean up some of it’s act, state laws have tightened, independence from accreditation has left BJU re-thinking policies and its ‘separation’ from ‘the world.’ Rival Liberty U, started by Jerry Fawell has left BJU in the dust.
Bob Jones University’s reputation is well earned. Known world wide for its past racism, misogynist, manipulative, controlling, and repressive bullying – what has changed? Little. With the termination of the independent investigation BJU has had to at least appear to adhere to the letter of the laws in South Carolina. Leadership, ruled by the Jones family for four generations has to appear to care about the trail of broken students, shamed and shunned because of crimes committed against them by men who do not fear repercussion. This is the height of hubris from an institution blinded by it’s pride. From the BJU announcement G.R.A.C.E had been hired:
It is our prayer that this partnership with GRACE—operated with complete autonomy from Bob Jones University—will create an atmosphere of trust and complete honesty, allowing Bob Jones University to identify any cases in which we need to exercise authentic repentance and demonstrate biblical love to those we have always desired to serve to the best of our ability for the Lord’s sake.
Really? From the termination BJU pr:
BJU independently implemented a number of initiatives to raise awareness of sexual abuse. BJU provided live Sexual Abuse Awareness Training to all 3000+ students and 1000+ faculty/staff members—unprecedented in institutions of higher education…
That bar BJU claims to have raised is just another stumbling block. BJU has been nothing if not unprecedented in the morally bankrupt and putrid swamp of American independent fundamentalism.
I’m going to end with words penned by John Shore:
The heart of anyone familiar with how the Independent Fundamental Baptists threatens its own will quicken at that final sentence of the BJU statement. Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength is a veiled threat, a blow expertly administered to leave no visible bruise. What it is ominously reminding those attuned to its message is that it is always dangerously ludicrous to turn anywhere but toward God for help, justice, or comfort. And no one conversant in the language of the IFB or Bob Jones University doubts that by “God” the men who crafted this message mean themselves.
A great many students and former students of Bob Jones University will not be sleeping tonight. Or tomorrow night either. They will be too afraid to.