The stormy history of faculty turnover there testifies to that fact. Nelson Bell, 1957 Bob Jones University repeats its Origin Story so frequently that every graduate becomes an apologist, a shopkeeper of the “Show Window.” A gifted but poor teenager, the second youngest of a scrappy peanut farmer, Robert Reynolds Jones begins holding brush-arbor meetings in the Alabama Wiregrass.
He attends college, meets a lovely young thing, and they run off together into the evangelistic sunset.
I’m going to build a school.” To which she responded, “Robert, are you crazy? That’s what we were taught to repeat, and nearly every history you pick up repeats that same Origin Story. E must finish and report, not just to foreground a counter-narrative, but so that justice can be served. I’m identifying the patterns over the last 100 years in this mill town now in 29614.You can look at an academic dissertation-turned-book or BJU’s own version. The big-picture matches the smaller pictures of the individual abuse survivors at BJU.I’ve got book chapters and journal articles and single paragraphs that repeat that homespun, Horatio-Alger-esque story. This metanarrative from the overlooked and silenced voices isn’t as appealing as Bob Jones, Inc’s narrative of goodness. When we left BJU in 2007, I wrote my students first before I tendered my resignation.Current BJU history professor John Matzko is working on a more complete official biography of Bob Jones Sr. There’s no single rags-to-evangelistic-riches hero who conquers home-spun troubles to build a glamorous, prosperous life. A Horatio Alger story is attractive to Americans, but the survivor stories are just frightening. I joined the faculty as a graduate student and a new wife in 1990. Seeing all those faculty that I truly cherished asking me to support them and their life’s work, I was sold. My husband and I worked there as faculty from 1992-2007, with a four-year leave of absence while we earned our doctorates at Indiana University. It was a power move on my part like it was for Morton Brown.He will probably arrive soon here under his alias John Foxe or Anson Mills to correct us all. My dissertation was an Esther-like attempt to woo Bob Jones University to its better self. The men found their voices, but for some reason we women have to be more nuanced or altogether silent. One of my students called me the “Miss Frizzle of Oral Comm” a few weeks back. When you teach public speaking, you not only have to demonstrate how to speak but you also have to create a healthy communication climate in the classroom where students can feel safe enough to try. I knew as soon as I had resigned, I would be locked out of my email, my office, and their lives. I ended the note like this: This whole thing began when Grant and I spoke out against the injustices we saw the students enduring.
I am immersed in an ongoing project to tell a more complete story of Bob Jones University’s history from the sources that are too often overlooked. Jones fired faculty member and local Presbyterian pastor, William J. investigation corroborates the counter-narrative, BJU’s fiction falls. The 2006-07 school year was a turbulent one for us. This is who I am and what God has brought me through. We are now experiencing firsthand that same treatment.
Secular historians have done a great disservice by simply repeating the BJU’s scripted narrative of goodness. After I left BJU’s employ myself, I dredged up archival research from all over the country to understand my own departure. Their 29614 zip code is a mill town with working class whites trapped by the place and the power. Hall, in the middle of a semester for the terrible moral failing of calling Harry Emerson Fosdick, a “great Christian man.” Bob labeled Hall “a dangerous modernist,” but a survey of the local Panama City, Florida papers at the time reveal him to be an ordinary small-town, orthodox, Scotch Presbyterian pastor with an opinion and a backbone, and nothing more. My dean scolded me for spanking my 2.5yo, for having the audacity to publish my dissertation, and for gifting Jeff Van Vonderen books to my students. It’s a major part of my CV and the subject of my first published work. So like William Hall and Jack Peters, like Ted Mercer and Morton Brown, I speak. And rather than sit silently by, we have chosen to let our departure speak for us.
And I was pleasantly surprised to find so many kindred spirits among the former BJU faculty and staff. These are smart people who are simply too poor to leave and too busy to imagine anything different. Bob soon learned to hire ‘em young, impressionable, and troubled. Our ultimatum came the next July, with President Stephen Jones stating that if we didn’t keep quiet about our “Reformed” theology, we would be fired. Many of my peers can just drop Bob Jones University from their resumes. If you are ever in a position where you are asked to violate your own conscience, I pray that you will remember that doing so is neither right nor safe.
“I will no longer let the fear of vicious comments or replies stop me from speaking what I believe to be right. At the same time, Bill Gothard has been put under administrative leave as his board finally investigates years of complaints about alleged sexual harassment/abuse.
I will also never give a message that everybody will agree with. TWW attributes both of these actions to the brave voices who spoke out on blogs: Recovering Grace (Bill Gothard) and Do Right Now BJU. Without the brave pressure of these well-spoken bloggers and victims, neither of these two events would be happening. Today, TWW is excited to post an original article by Dr. Dr Lewis, a long time advocate for an investigation into the reports of alleged sexual abuse at BJU, was recently quoted in the New York Times, responding to questions about the Bob Jones University controversy. “As always, they’re worried about protecting the church and the university, not the victims,” said Camille Lewis, who spent two decades at Bob Jones as a student and faculty member before leaving in 2007 and said she had tried to help several abuse victims over that time.“They said not to go to the police because no one will believe you, to defer to authority like your father or especially someone in the church,” she said.
I know that even my most faithful followers will never agree 100% with what I say. Not here.” ― Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing link This has been an rewarding week for bloggers. “They said if you report it, you hurt the body of Christ.”Dr Lewis holds Ph. (Indiana) and was formerly the Chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Public Address at Bob Jones University. She is a gifted communicator who takes us through some of the history of BJU.