A Critical Review of the “GRACE Final Report” on Bob Jones University, Part Two1

by Martin Bobgan

 

[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.]


GRACE discusses BJU’s use of discipline, counseling, and counseling records. They say, “GRACE observed that the conflation [combination] of discipline and counseling records means that the confidentiality of some counseling records is compromised.”2 In addition there existed combined roles of counseling and discipline (p121). The error in BJU’s former system is that neither prospective students nor parents were informed of the implications of the counseling, discipline, and record keeping practices at BJU prior to enrollment. If they had known, I doubt they would have objected to it. I believe a poll of parents would reveal a preference for the former system once it is explained.


How serious is this “conflation” of discipline and counseling?
First and most importantly, the alleged sexual abuse/assault victims were penalized, but never penalized or falsely accused for what they did not do. If they had, that would be serious, but it never happened! The demerits or suspension were what the alleged sexual abuse/assault victims knew about in advance and for which they had signed a covenant. They rightfully deserved the demerits and/or suspensions that they rightly received, which is the most important part of how the alleged sexual abuse/assault victims were treated. Being a sexual abuse/assault victim is tragic, but for GRACE to equate that awfulness in any way to the conflated counseling/discipline that occurred at BJU is compounding the tragedy by adding another layer of victimhood and thus re-victimizing the sexual abuse/assault victims!

Cause Célèbre


Reference 777 is the prime cause célèbre3 of the GRACE report and is their boiler-plate view of all the other cases. Before discussing the details of Reference 777, I begin with the following verses, which all speak of mercy and truth: Old Testament: Psalms 25:10; Psalms 85:10: Proverbs 3:3-4: Proverbs 16:6: New Testament: John 1:14-17: John 8:31-32.


Dissociating mercy from truth is an incomplete picture of God’s love and distorts biblical teachings. GRACE has accepted and adopted this psychologically distorted biblical message because GRACE is integrationist, i.e., GRACE believes in the Bible plus the psychological wisdom of man where God has already spoken in His Word.


The case of 777 is that of a female student, about whom GRACE reports:

In the mid-2000s, a disclosure of a rules violation to Student Life staff resulted in a victim’s “withdrawal at the request of the administration.” In this instance, 777 disclosed to her Assistant Prayer Captain, the Resident Counselor, and her Resident Supervisor that she “had been abused by her pastor since she was 15 years old and was expecting a child in January.” 777’s pastor, who was married with children, came to Greenville on several different occasions while she attended BJU. During these occasions, she said they went to Spartanburg and stayed in a hotel together. During one of the pastor’s visits when she was 20 years of age, she became pregnant….

Please note that GRACE says that they “stayed in a hotel together” rather than “fornicated.” GRACE goes on to say:

Due to these dynamics, 777 told GRACE, “I had to break rules to go off campus, but I didn’t feel like I had a choice in the matter.” According to administrative officials, 777 was asked to withdraw at the request of the administration for lying on the overnight passes….

Several months after 777 left BJU, she called Dr. Berg to ask if she could be allowed to take her final exams since she had been very near the end of the semester. This request was denied. 777 stated that in the letter to her prayer group that she “loved being loved and needed” and “[the pastor] said he wouldn’t make it if I walked away and he would walk out on his family and the church if I left. So, I stayed and kept my mouth shut.” 777 also stated that Dr. Berg said, “it was some sort of consensual relationship,” so he would not allow her to take her finals (pp. 153-154, bold added).


GRACE says, “777’s rules violation needed to be put in its context. She was the victim of a large scale campaign of abuse by a shepherd who preyed on his sheep. She needed compassion and grace but received neither” (p. 160). I agree with GRACE that “777’s rules violation needed to be put in its context,” which is exactly what I will do. Let the reader decide whether 777 should have been given only “compassion and grace” or whether the required withdrawal was justified.
Should the Bible rule or GRACE’s opinions? This one case of 777 is the litmus test of the integrity of the GRACE Report and its rash recommendation on Dr. Jones III! First, all rules are made with the understanding that there may be exceptions.


This is not a case where an exception is needed!
777 is a sad case of a woman who at age 15 was preyed upon by her pastor. But, the story did not stop there. The relationship continued until she was 20 years old, at which time she was impregnated by the pastor. She admitted her part in the fornication/adultery when she said she “loved being loved and needed.” 777 was for two years as an adult at BJU self-deceived and conscienceless about, first and foremost, violating the Word of God about the family, which is God’s plan for mankind. When taken in its entire context, the case of 777 sounds like the Last Days of 2 Timothy 3: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves” (vv. 1-2a).


777 said of her five-year relationship,
“I didn’t feel like I had a choice in the matter,” but God has given each one of us a conscience and God will hold each one of us responsible for our own lives! At BJU 777 was an adult with adult responsibilities, including following rules regarding lying. GRACE’s claim that for five years of being preyed upon by her pastor, she deserves BJU to consider 777 as having a diminished capacity4 will not fly before the Bible, because that denies the spiritual capacity of believers to overcome by the grace of God, the Word of God, and the indwelling Holy Spirit.


GRACE’s view of those sexually abused individuals appears to be more like the psychic determinism of Freud than the hope and power of the Spirit found in the Bible! Instead of victimizing sexually abused victims more by emphasizing their damaged condition, the fellowship of godly brothers and sisters can minister faith, hope and love through the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Note that GRACE’s antidote for the alleged sexual abuse/assault victims is their highly recommended Julie Valentine Center, i.e., psychological counseling, whereas BJU eschews such worldly forms of counseling.
The measure of every word read in the GRACE Report about alleged sexual abuse/assault victims and BJU should be: Who holds up the Bible and all it contains to these individuals who have been sexually abused victims and who re-victimizes them through having them revive the past and refocus on their victimhood?


The Freudian-like psychological, fated-for-failure ideas that GRACE seems to have reminds me of a book about the early lives of eminent people, titled
Cradles of Eminence. The authors, Victor and Mildred Goertzel, report on the early environments of over four hundred eminent men and women of the twentieth century who had experienced a wide variety of trials and tribulations during their childhood.5 It is surprising and even shocking to discover the environmental handicaps that have been overcome by individuals who should have been psychically determined failures according to Freudian formulas. Instead of being harmed by unfortunate early circumstances, they became outstanding in many different fields of endeavor and contributed much to mankind. What might have been environmental curses seemed to act, rather, as catalysts to spawn genius and creativity. This book is not an argument for poor upbringing; it is an argument against psychological determinism.


A person need not be trapped in any of life’s circumstances, for the Bible offers a new way of life. Put off the old man; put on the new. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” and He said elsewhere that new wine could not be put into old wineskins. Jesus offers new life and new beginnings. One who is born again has the spiritual capacity to overcome old ways and develop new ones through the Holy Spirit and the sanctification of the believer. One wonders why so many have given up the hope of Christianity for the hopelessness of psychological determinism.


777 signed a covenant; she knew the rules and signed knowing them. GRACE wants to have her excused for repeated lying, as an adult, to go out to a hotel to fornicate with her pastor several times, but that is not a biblical view because it lacks the truth part of the Bible. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.


I counted at least a dozen ways from the
Student Handbook, including drinking alcohol and doing drugs, that could have 777 suspended, but not according to GRACE standards. It appears from the tenor of the report that, if the pastor additionally had 777 doing alcohol or drugs or violating any of the other BJU standards for which she signed a covenant, GRACE would want her to be excused because of her preyed-upon condition. However, if 777 had violated the law in any way, because of her relationship with the pastor, the law would have held her liable, and GRACE should know that!


In reading the
Student Handbook, I find that Chapel service attendance is required Monday through Thursday; Sunday service and Sunday School attendance at a local church are also required. Thus, if 777 had attended BJU for two years she would have heard over 400 Bible messages while there, plus whatever additional Bible teachings occurred in class sessions. BJU is a fundamentalist environment with the Bible as the center of the teaching and preaching. Add to this that, over the five-year adulterous relationship with the abusing pastor, 777 had a mother and/or father, perhaps some siblings, friends at home and at BJU, and mature Christians to whom she could have turned during that period of time, but did not! And, what about deceiving her parents, who may have mortgaged their house to send her to BJU for two years? 777 has violated Ephesians 6:2: “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”


BJU, in holding her to the rules, did her more biblical good than GRACE. 777 rejected the wooing of the Holy Spirit and turned away from numerous possibilities during her time at BJU and followed her flesh to the detriment of the pastor’s wife and children and the deception of her parents. However, according to GRACE, she deserved better than being held to the rules at BJU. But her own parents and the pastor’s wife and children deserve better than that and God enables much better than that in His children when they seek Him.
GRACE says, “She needed compassion and grace but received neither.” As I have shown, that is a false accusation against BJU, which is unfortunately spread throughout the GRACE Report to other cases and a major weapon of their fierce, but fallacious, attack on Dr. Jones III.


Let’s consider what could have happened under GRACE’s recommendation if 777 stayed at BJU and did not get pregnant at twenty, but continued there for several more years working on an advanced degree. By GRACE’s recommendation 777 would be free to fornicate absent any discipline because she was, according to GRACE, deceived. Then during 777’s last year, prior to receiving her advanced degree, she became pregnant, having by then many years of an adulterous relationship with the same pastor. GRACE’s recommendation would mean that she would not be asked to withdraw from BJU. Even after, by that time, having heard over 1,000 Bible messages plus messages heard in her classes, she would still not be considered responsible for her ongoing fornication/adultery due to her being a preyed-upon sexual abuse victim, according to the GRACE ill-advised system.
That is not a biblical view!


777 is a prime example of the issue and problem with GRACE, as their psychological integrationist view controls their conclusions at times, and
their contorted conclusions are what led to the indictment against Dr. Jones III. 777 reveals the psychological integrationist gulf that existed from the beginning between GRACE and BJU and resulted in the kangaroo-court-like excoriating recommendation on Dr. Jones III.

“Case # 1” (On Campus)


The reader is told in the alleged sexual abuse/assault victim case that “Witness #1 (the victim) reported to GRACE that she attended BJU in the late 1980s and was sexually assaulted on campus while a student.” She said she was assaulted in a practice studio by the perpetrator, a “former student.” GRACE says, “After the assault, the victim stated that the alleged perpetrator attempted to kidnap her, but the victim escaped into a nearby campus building to hide as the alleged perpetrator drove away” (p. 276). GRACE then reveals, “After the rape, the victim wrote a letter to her boyfriend disclosing the incident.” The footnote indicates that she did not reveal to her boyfriend “fully what happened” and that “the letter describes with significant and disturbing details the manner in which the alleged perpetrator came to campus, found her in the practice studios, pinned her to the ground, straddled her, and touched intimate areas of her body as she struggled to get away” (page 276). This incident and its aftermath raise questions. We are expected to believe that after being raped she got herself together and passed others on campus as she “escaped into a nearby campus building to hide.” Why didn’t she look shocked to others? Why didn’t she ask for help? Why wouldn’t she divulge to someone the rape that was supposed to have just happened in the violent way she described?


Witness #1 says she was raped, but extraordinarily she did not report the rape to anyone at BJU or elsewhere at the time. Instead she wrote a “letter to her boyfriend disclosing [only part] of the incident.” How long after the rape did she do this? How long before the boyfriend received the letter? How long did it take the boyfriend to turn over “Witness #1’s letter to a BJU Public Safety Officer,” who “did not recall the incident” (page 276)? Rapes are not easily forgotten, even by those to whom they are reported, and since rapes were unusual on the BJU campus, one would think the officer would have remembered a rape, even many years later.


GRACE describes the interchange between the Dean of Women and Witness #1:

… the victim explained that though she did not explicitly disclose to the Dean of Women having been raped, she said she expressed fear to the Dean of Women that the attack may have caused her to become pregnant. Witness #1 also told GRACE that the Dean of Women said she needed to call her parents and “…said that it might be good if my parents made an appearance.” Witness #1 said that the Dean of Women talked to them and “the way she talked was that ‘we had a little incident on campus, everything is fine now,’ and that she ‘just thought they should know’” (p. 277).


This report is startling, to say the least, and raises more questions. Wouldn’t the Dean of Women conclude a rape had occurred from Witness #1 telling her that “the attack may have caused her to become pregnant”? Did Witness #1 not tell her parents about her rape and fears? Would not a normal parent be terribly upset, want something done, and find out why something was not done immediately? The final responsibility to report to the law or explain why it was not reported belongs outside the chancellor or president’s office. If it should have been reported and the Public Safety Officer did nothing about it, then he would be guilty, but not Dr. Jones III. In fact, if the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) were in place at the time, the Public Safety Officer could have been violating Witness #1’s rights by reporting the alleged rape to law enforcement without her permission.


GRACE quotes Witness #1 saying, “I got a call slip to appear seven minutes after chapel.” Question: Has Dr. Jones III ever requested to meet with anyone 7 minutes, 9 minutes, 11 minutes after or before any meeting?! Witness #1 continues:

I didn’t know how or why so many people knew…. The [T]hird was the one talking to me. He told me that I had a choice to make that I could be positive and trust in God or I could let the enemy take over my life. It was a simplistic either/or. There wasn’t compassion of how I was feeling right then. I was glad he didn’t lecture me. I really thought I was going to be in trouble (p. 277, bold added).


“[I]n trouble” for what? This last statement raises one more question about this entire incident. In trouble for being raped?!

Witness #1’s remark, “There wasn’t compassion of how I was feeling right then,” begs the question, “Can a woman always tell when a man is being compassionate and do men always show their feelings?”6 This issue is interestingly covered in psychotherapy research, which reveals that men do not normally express their emotions as women do. In fact, the need for expressing emotions and talking about them generally discourages men from seeking or participating in psychotherapy. Psychology Today discusses this topic in an article titled “Man’s Last Stand: What Does It Take to Get a Guy into Therapy?”7 According to the article, men are being cajoled or cudgeled into the counselor’s office in greater numbers than ever before, and in the process they are being brainwashed to think womanly thoughts and to learn that, to save their marriages and salvage their other relationships, they “have to become a woman”8 (bold added).


According to GRACE:

Dr. Jones, III disclosed that he had no memory of this particular situation or the chapel conversation with the victim. Dr. Jones, III expressed, “…letting things drop that should be attended to is just not my style. Nothing irks me more. I expected everybody to follow-through on every report that they got to find out the veracity of it and to deal with whatever the truth was and to get to the truth. That is the way that we operate (p. 277, bold added).

When asked whether this case [#1] should have been reported to the local law enforcement Dr. Jones, III replied, “I don’t know the case. I can’t comment on it.” But he claimed, “our public safety people know the law and work closely with our law enforcement, and we have a criminal justice program. They know what they are supposed to do.” Dr. Jones, III also stated, “[i]f they were supposed to report this, then they better have reported it. And if they should have and didn’t, I would be the first one to insist that they do. So, they’re delegated the authority under [the] law to know what they are supposed to do, and if they were supposed to do it, they would have done it (p. 278).


Perfectly said, but imperfectly understood by GRACE through naiveté and not knowing  the role and responsibility of a college or university chancellor or president.


Witness #1’s testimony as provided by GRACE raises more questions than it answers.
Witness #1’s story is unbelievable and should have been realized as such by GRACE. There is nothing in the Witness #1 case that would lead a rational person to recommend “that the university impose personnel action upon Dr. Jones III” (p. 231). However, Witness #1’s story does raise the question of how many other unbelievable stories might have been told and believed during the investigation.

Summary: GRACE Report Failures

The GRACE Final Report has failed in a number of ways which are summarized here:

The first and greatest failure on the part of the GRACE Report is its atrocious and outrageous recommendation on Dr. Jones III.

The GRACE Report on BJU contains some of the same failings as occurred with ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism).

GRACE and BJU are theologically and functionally a mismatch, which influenced the resulting evaluations and recommendations of the Report.

GRACE team’s lack of having the same fundamentalist beliefs as BJU influenced their evaluations and recommendations.

In contrast to BJU, the GRACE team follows a psychological integrationist position, which influenced its evaluations and recommendations.

Because of the conflict of interest as it applies to Basyle (Boz) Tchividjian, the “executive director of GRACE,” the Report should not have been made public.

The GRACE team lacked a fair balance by not having a team-member who is in a role similar to Dr. Jones III.

The “Confidential GRACE Questionnaire” permitted hearsay information from third parties, which could have dramatically affected the questionnaire results.

GRACE failed to provide BJU with the open-ended questions used in their interviews, which may have contained leading questions.

GRACE may not have segregated the witnesses they interviewed at the off-campus locations, which could have tainted their testimonies, as occurred with ABWE.

GRACE unnecessarily scrambled the reference numbers so that it is possible that most of the accusations could have come from just a few individuals.

GRACE unnecessarily did not reveal important witness data, which would not have revealed identities of the witnesses, such as: (1) number of each gender, (2) number of witnesses who were solely positive, (3) type of enrollment (full-time, part-time, extension, or online), (4) number of academic dropouts or suspensions, (5) length of time at BJU, (6) number of LGBTQQI individuals.

GRACE failed to provide the type and level of sexual abuse/assault reported by each witness.

GRACE failed to confirm whether or not the questionnaire-only completers and those who did not sign a release form actually attended BJU/BJA or were ever sexual abuse/assault victims.

GRACE should have eliminated all LGBTQQI individuals from the Report, because they would be openly antagonistic to BJU for what they regard as “homophobic hatred.”

Referral to the Julie Valentine Center showed either ignorance or great insensitivity of the BJU stand on the Bible for ministry versus the psychological wisdom of man.

A number of testimonies lacked authenticity, were therefore suspect, and thus should not have been used as evidence in the GRACE Report.

Tchividjian needs to describe his belief in “women’s rights” and “gay rights,” as these beliefs could have influenced the acceptability of the volunteer witnesses and the evaluations and recommendations made by GRACE.

Endnotes:

1  Excerpted from the 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, p. 130, 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.

3  Cause célèbre: http://dictionarysearch.yahoo.com.

4  Diminished capacity:  http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Diminished+Capacity/

5  Victor and Mildred Goertzel. Cradles of Eminence. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1962.

6  Conversely, can a man always know or understand a woman’s feelings?  See Louann Brizendine, MD. The Female Brain. New York: Morgan Road Books, 2006.

7  Carl Sherman, “Man’s Last Stand: What Does It Take to Get a Guy into Therapy?” Psychology Today, Vol. 37, No. 4, p. 71.

8  Steven Stosny, “Case Studies,” Psychotherapy Networker, Vol. 33, No. 2, p. 65.

 
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, September October 2015, Vol. 23, No. 5)

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