A Critical Review of the “GRACE Final Report” on Bob Jones University, Part One
by Martin Bobgan
I received a copy of the “GRACE Final Report: For the Investigatory
Review of Sexual Abuse Disclosures and Institutional Responses at Bob
Jones University,” hereafter referred to as the “GRACE Report” 2
or “GRACE” when referring to the investigatory team. GRACE, an acronym
for “Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment,” is an
organization formed to educate Christians “to recognize and respond to
the sin of child abuse.”3
In Defense of Dr. Jones III
I do not know Dr. Jones III, in whose defense I will be coming, or
anyone else at BJU.4
I am in disagreement with GRACE’s recommended “personnel action upon Dr.
Jones, III.” GRACE has erred grievously and egregiously in this
ill-supported recommendation. GRACE’s ignorance and naiveté about
college governance and the delegation of responsibility would be
forgivable if their report were private, but when they impugn the
reputation of Dr. Jones III publicly with their insupportable reasoning,
it is appalling!
The following is GRACE’s condemnation of Dr. Jones III, which I will discredit:
Robert (Bob) Jones, III: As President of BJU during much of the time
that was the subject of this investigation, Dr. Jones, III is
for many of the difficult findings of this investigation. Dr. Jones, III
has also repeatedly demonstrated a significant lack of understanding
regarding the many painful dynamics associated with sexual abuse. Due to
the central role Dr. Jones, III played in the many issues outlined
within this report, it is recommended that
the university impose personnel action upon Dr. Jones, III
(p. 231, bold added).
The footnote to the above reads:
“‘Personnel action’ includes, but is not limited to, termination,
suspension, probation, transfer, remedial education and training, or any
other form of corrective action consistent with transforming the
employee’s teaching, conduct, or overall disposition regarding sexual
Be aware of anyone who carte blanche, with deficient evidence, and with
insufficient experience in college governance blames college and
university chancellors or presidents for what transpires at levels below
them. Particularly be wary of anyone who has no idea of the gory and
glory of the office of chancellor or president and condemns without
The chancellor or president of any university or college is “ultimately responsible” for all that occurs under his administration, but should only be cited if he had knowledge before or afterward that an action of his would result in dire detriment to faculty, students, and others and had failed to take appropriate action. As I will demonstrate, this is not true in the case of Dr. Jones, III! It is unfortunate that no one on the GRACE team is or has been a college or university chancellor or president, who would understand the expression “chain of command” and how it works in a college or university, in spite of GRACE’s references to it (pp. 138, 148, 187, 252).
I found on the internet an alleged sexual abuse/assault victim interviewed by GRACE who was subsequently interviewed by the media as follows:
Jeffrey Hoffman, who spoke to GRACE investigators about abuse he suffered as a child by someone who worked at BJU at the time, said he was gratified to hear [President] Pettit’s apology but hopes another is forthcoming…. Hoffman was born on the Bob Jones campus and attended school there through his first semester of his freshman year at BJU.5
I went to Hoffman’s website and found him explaining why he became the “executive director of a fledgling gay rights organization.” He says:
So why do I find myself preparing to lead a group of LGBTQQI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Intersex] and affirming former students and alumni of Bob Jones University down Fifth Avenue next month in our first-ever participation in New York City’s Pride March? 6
Hoffman then goes on to explain why in a diatribe against BJU and then declares, “I am not a fundamentalist. I cannot be a fundamentalist. God does not want me to be a fundamentalist.”7
Hoffman describes the situation before the “GRACE Investigatory Review” started and prior to their survey. He says:
Slowly, a group of lesbian and gay survivors coalesced as one by one we cautiously came out to each other in private messages or in the survivor groups. Then some bisexual people joined us, trans people came out, some questioning people would private message me or another of my colleagues here at [bjunity.org].8
It is clear that the LGBTQQI activist community was greatly galvanized to support GRACE’s efforts and would be a strong motivation, through social networking, for them to volunteer for the GRACE survey and also to desire to be interviewed. This raises a question about the number of alleged sexual abuse/assault victims in the Grace Report who were LGBTQQI individuals who allegedly suffered because of their sexual orientation. I would guess a goodly number of them after having visited numerous LGBTQQI websites.
Bob Jones University believes that any form of sexual immorality—such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s biological sex—is sinful and offensive to God. God’s inerrant and infallible Word, the Holy Bible, is unambiguous in its declaration that sexual sin, such as those named above, is an offense to our holy God. We believe God offers redemption and restoration to all sinners who will repent of their sin and seek His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ— but that those known to be unrepentant practitioners of sexual sin cannot remain in a Christian assembly. Allowing them to remain in an unrepentant state, whether they be students, faculty, staff or volunteers, brings God’s displeasure on the institution and forfeiture of His blessings. Further, we believe that Christian marriage has only one meaning and is defined by God in His Word and that His Word limits the definition of marriage to the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union. God the Creator ordains sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and woman who are lawfully married to each other. Sexual relations apart from such marriage is a sin which God will judge. Adherence to God’s definition of marriage and the practice of acceptable moral conduct as the Bible defines it is expected of all who study at or are employed by Bob Jones University.9
In order to dramatize this difference, I quote Dr. John MacArthur’s teaching on Romans 1:18-32. The following is from the transcript of his sermon:
What you see in Romans chapter 1 is the sequence of what happens when God abandons a nation. First, verse 24 says, He gives them over to “the lust of their hearts to impurity,” sexual sin, the dishonoring of their bodies among them. When God abandons a society, the first thing that happens is it becomes pornographic. It becomes obsessed with sex, obsessed with fornication, adultery, every kind of sexual behavior. We have gone through that already in the sexual revolution a couple of decades ago.
MacArthur further says:
Our responsibility is to tell people about the Kingdom of God and who can be in the Kingdom of God and who is excluded from the Kingdom of God. That’s the ministry of the church; that’s what we do; that’s what every preacher must do. And I’m not the one who makes the terms. I am only the one responsible to God to proclaim what God has revealed. And I’m here to tell you that if you advocate a life of sexual sin, adultery, fornication, effeminateness, or homosexuality, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. What that means is, you’re on your way to hell, not heaven. This is the spiritual kingdom of those who are in Christ. The church is made up of people who were like this. Please notice, here’s the good news, verse 11, “Such were some of you.”10
Did the GRACE team, all of whom are professing Christians, affirm or warn the known LGBTQQI sexual abuse/assault victims about their possible eternal fate? Because of the biblical condemnation of the LGBTQQI immoral sexual activity and the chasm that exists between them and BJU, such witnesses should have been excluded.
So, what compelled me in 2012 to become an activist for gay rights? The abusive system that fundamentalism has become. The young man I know who attempted suicide after a “counseling session” at BJU. The young woman I know who survived a rape only to be expelled from school for having “spiritual problems.” The middle-aged man who recently confided to me that he has never had a meaningful intimate relationship in his entire life. The memory of the near-daily rants from the chapel platform that echo in pulpits across the United States; those rants that drove me to despairing self-hatred and suicidal thoughts. The many people I have known over the years who received ungodly, hurtful counsel from BJU Administrators. The knowledge that the homophobic hatred that has seized so many within Christian fundamentalism is going to continue to destroy lives unless someone steps in and pulls them out of the fire…”11 (bold added).
I have read Hoffman’s testimony repeated similarly by others in various ways by various LGBTQQI individuals, including their invective “homophobic hatred,” which is their shibboleth and can be seen repeated throughout the various sites. How much of this unbiblical, ungodly language did GRACE hear without having concern for their souls?
Yancey further contends that the success of movements for human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights, disability rights and even animal rights “reflects a widespread empathy for the oppressed that has no precedent in the ancient world; classical philosophers considered mercy and pity to be character defects, contrary to justice. Not until Jesus did that attitude change.”13
She grew up on Bob Jones campus and attended BJU in the late 90s. She says that’s when a male graduate student assaulted her on and off campus over a 2 year period.
“He did not rape me, so it can’t be considered a rape case,” Burchwell said. “But he molested me multiple times. I mean, probably 40 or more times.”
Burchwell claims when her parents finally reported the assaults to university administrators, they were told not to go to the police….
Spokesman Randy Page said the university has no knowledge of any crimes against Burchwell on campus.14
Burchwell’s testimony raises many questions. I assume that during the “2 year period” Burchwell was an adult. I also assume that she was an intelligent adult as she even completed a four-year degree at BJU. It is clear from her own testimony, “He did not rape me.” Question: What was the alleged sexual abuse/assault, as this would make a great difference. Be aware that “40 or more times” of either unwanted sexual remarks directed at her or unwanted kissing would constitute sexual abuse/assault. Without knowing what the male graduate student did, it is hard to respond to Burchwell’s accusation.
The worst part of the GRACE Report is the seemingly smug and self-righteous, overblown, undeserved indignation against BJU. The idiom, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” applies here. GRACE’s psychological integrationist views are far more detrimental to the church at large than BJU’s mere conflation [combination] of counseling and discipline.
The 301-page GRACE Final Report is available at: http://www.sccadvasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Final-Report.pdf. I urge readers who believe as I do that there has been a great miscarriage of justice in GRACE’s recommendation regarding Dr. Jones III to email Chancellor@bju.edu.
1 Excerpted from entire article by Martin Bobgan, “A Critical Review of the ‘GRACE Final Report’ on Bob Jones University,” http://www.pamweb.org/pdf/bju_grace_new.pdf,
2 GRACE Final Report: For the Investigatory Review of Sexual Abuse Disclosures and Institutional Responses at Bob Jones University, http://www.sccadvasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Final-Report.pdf. Hereafter page references to this report will be in parentheses within the text. Also, all references to GRACE apply to the organization or team.
4 Disclosure: Because of my unfamiliarity with BJU, I have been in email contact with Randy Page, Director, Public Relations, asking questions and confirming my impressions of BJU, but I do not know him personally.
5 “BJU investigation announcement to be made Thursday,” http://greenvilleonline.com, 12/11/14.
7 Ibid, p. 2.
8 Ibid, p. 3.
9 Randy Page, Director, Public Relations, email re: Bob Jones University biblical position statement, 4/4/2015,.
10 John MacArthur, “Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality,” Grace to You, http://www.gty.org.
11 Jeffrey Hoffman, “Why I Became An Activist,” http://bjunity.org/confronting-hatred/jeffrey-hoffman-activist/.
14 Tim Waller, ”Former BJU student claims sex abuse was hidden,” http://www.wyff4.com/news/local-news/greenville-news/former-bju-student-claims-sex-abuse-was-hidden/24358248, 2/3/14.
15 Ethan Waters. Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. New York: Free Press, 2010.
|(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, July-August 2015, Vol. 23, No. 4)|
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