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No GRACE at Bob Jones University

After a two-year-investigation of BJU Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.) suggested that at least two men be disciplined relating to mishandling charges of sexual assault.

Bob Jones University President, Mr. Steve Pettit, disagrees with G.R.A.C.E. The two men named in the investigation were Bob Jones III and Jim Berg. Bob Jones, III made public statements concerning what he termed “consensual rape” after the a jury convicted a former church usher of the forcible rape of a fifteen-year-old girl.
Jim Berg was the one who performed most of the counseling which was the focus of the Report.

My personal testimony includes but is not limited to the following:

I went to Jim Berg and told Berg about years of sexual assaults and child sex-trafficking. Berg thought it best to inform me that it was I who had sinned. After counseling me for approximately 6 months Mr. Berg became infuriated with me because I wasn’t getting better fast enough for his taste. He told me, “I can’t help you. No one can help you. Not even God can help you. You’re too damaged.”

While that is bad enough, at this time while attending Bob Jones University I was a “town student.” During a portion of this time I was married. My then husband was physically abusive. I went to what was known as the “clinic” which was East North Medical Associates. The “clinic” was the doctors BJU faculty/staff and students could see. I was sent to Mr. Jim Berg for counseling.

On more than one occasion I went to school with bruises and blackened eyes. I was told I needed to submit to my then husband and pray for him. At one point, Mr. Berg told me “You need to duck better and let God hit your husband.” During the course of counseling I divulged to Mr. Berg that I had been sexually abused from my earliest memory.

We (Mr. Berg and I) talked more about my past child abuse than we did about my marital problems. I told him that I was sold to others. I told him that I had memories of possibly being kidnapped. I told him of my finding out that Cleo Smith had never legally adopted me when I was 12 or 13. I told him I had found out that the name “Salina Smith” Cleo had called me was false – there weren’t any little girls born between 2 years of my birth with that name.

I informed Mr. Berg of the different versions of the story I had been told over the years:

1) I was abandoned in one of the rental properties in Philadelphia. Cleo took me and then drove me up to Bethel Baptist Church, Sellersville, PA . I was around 3-years-old. The pastor, Richard A. Harris saw me, claims he told her she just couldn’t keep me but the pastor never called the police or Child Protective Services.

I remember being in Cleo’s car and taken to the church. I remember the carpet in the church as red.

The pastor was always around when I was on the farm. I went to the Christian school associated with his church. If you’ve been reading this blog you know there are many other details too including the fact that I was taken in. I was given a bed in the corner of the open floor-plan basement while the the Pastor and his family their own private rooms.

2) My biological parents sold me to Cleo.

3) At other times when I asked too many questions about my Biological family they told me that after Cleo took me; my father was blamed for murdering me. That my father had died in prison.

I divulged all of the above to Mr. Berg in much greater detail. I specifically asked Mr. Berg what I needed to do to contact law enforcement because the differing stories about how Cleo got me and who was involved I had been told where not adding up. He not only did nothing but actively spoke against notifying law enforcement. At first Mr. Berg said that since those who sexually abused me were well-respected ministers in BJU-orbit fundamentalism I “would bring shame upon the cause of Christ – that would cause people to burn in hell for eternity.”

When I questioned Mr. Berg about that, Mr. Berg told me that “there is no point in you telling the cops because they would never believe you.”

I had been told all of my life if I told no one would believe me. Jim Berg – was the most respected counselor at BJU- telling me that no one would believe me once again shut me down from thinking about reporting to law enforcement for more than 20 years.

Berg served in his capacity as a counselor for 30 years. GRACE recommended that he be banned from counseling, and that the school should cease sales of his books and DVD’s. Pettit has stated that the University finds Mr. Berg’s teaching and materials “Biblical.”

It is also said that Jim Berg has been promoted to professor of counseling after the G.R.A.C.E. report was issued.

Sexual abuse and sexual assaults are hideous crimes.

Mr. Pettit talks a lot about the trustworthiness of Bob Jones University. Mr. Pettit talks a lot about the safety of Bob Jones University. Parents and students are supposed to trust that whatever occurs on the campus will be handled properly. Parents and students are to trust school administrators to act wisely in all matters. Then Bob Jones University hires an outside organization to investigate allegations of both sexual abuse and poor counseling to its victims and Mr. Pettit refuses the G.R.A.C.E. Teams recommendations? Trust is earned, Mr. Pettit.

**You may be unaware but in December 2014, Greenville County, SC Solicitor Walt Wilkins opened an investigation into the way Bob Jones University handled sexual abuse reports from students to see if state law was broken or obstruction of justice occurred.

Greenville Police Detective Collis Flavell is currently investigating these allegations. Detective Flavell can be reached by calling 864-271-5333 or by email at cflavell@greenvillesc.gov

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9 thoughts on “No GRACE at Bob Jones University

  1. Oh honey, I am so sorry. I hope some of those horrible people who hurt you went to jail. this is just heartbreaking to read. (((hugs))) You are so brave.

  2. Pingback: Mr. Steve Pettit’s Own Disturbing Statements Concerning the GRACE Report | Once Lost Child

  3. I am never going to criticize you for speaking up against the abuser and abuse. Your abusers do need to be punished. But often the folks who speak so loud and want to get their voice heard, do tend to blame others who didnt listen to them or blame the college they went to etc. Yes, those were mistakes those people made in not giving you the help you needed. However, why be so unforgiving of those people? Why lash out and not let God give them their lesson and punishment. They may have been ignorant in how to help? They may have been unprepared and untrained in what to say or do? They may have not believed you since your story sounded so unbelievable initially, because it is so unusual of a situation. As a Christian, why strangle other believers, and those who hurt you because they didnt take action. Maybe they were very ignorant, and didnt understand. Didnt say that was right. Can you somehow let God deal with their wrong? I dont mean those who broke laws and abused. I mean those who didnt give your situation the care and counsel that you should have had. Why is it necessary to label any and all people and or churches affiliated in the Baptist or conservative groups, as dangerous and bad? Isnt it important to take the higher ground and let God work on them? When a person condemns another by use of media and blogs, and web pages, it appears to be showing anger and hurt , but as a Christian why take such vengeance?

    • @AmForgivenNOW, even if I assume you mean well, your suggestions are extremely asinine at best. Leave it go? Have you not read anything she’s written, what Pettit has said, or seen the actions (or lack thereof) taken by the institution? The institution where she tried to get help failed her tremendously, and rather than change they are doubling down on their approach that existed during all those years. The man whose counsel did the most damage is still there, counseling more people.

      This is not vengeance, as you inaccurately claim. If she doesn’t speak up, more people will be harmed. Maybe you missed I Corinthians, where Paul wrote an open letter to the entire church calling out their error. God preserved that letter in a New Testament that anyone can read, so He obviously wasn’t concerned about airing that past dirty laundry. Of course, in that situation, the Corinthians turned around. BJU, Pettit & Berg appear to have no such intentions.

      Don’t be fooled by Pettit’s (or others’) comments. They will claim to have instituted biblical counseling measures as a key response. But the devil is in the details and the meaning of words. Last month, he inadvertently clarified what he means by “biblical counseling.” He talks about GRACE’s counseling methods as “integrated,” while BJU’s counseling methods were “biblical.”

      What do they mean by “biblical” counseling? Exactly the kind of counseling that Berg and Fremont have given for years. I.e., nothing is changing, except that they’re giving more opportunities for people to get terrible counseling. (Hint: do not assume that because someone calls something “biblical,” it is. When you hear someone describe how they do things with that term, or they describe themselves by its sister term “biblicist” (incidentally a favorite of Pastor Harris, who has a part in this story), your BS alarms should go off like crazy.)

      “Biblical” counseling, in their world, is assuming that the Bible has all the instruction you need for dealing with people’s psychological health – which is such an idiotic idea it would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. I love the Bible and believe in its inspiration like any other Christian, but the Bible was never intended to be a medical instructional book, and to use it that way is to abuse it.

      If you were having open heart surgery, you’d probably like for your doctor to be a Christian, but more importantly at that moment, you would hope your doctor went through med school and studied his cardiac textbooks studiously. If his only training was reading Bible verses that talked about the heart, you’re doomed.

      Don’t forget that psychological health is really physiological when you get down to it. It’s the brain, and all its folds and synapses. That’s a physical thing, where memories and emotions are stored. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet figured out how to rewire the brain physically, so a trained counselor’s job is to help the person heal in other ways. There’s a lot of medical science on that, but BJU, Berg, & others associated with that institution choose to eschew it as evil and worldly. And that is bound to bring harm to the students who go to them for help.

      I’ve typed too much, so I’ll stop now. It’s a personal thing to me for a number of reasons. But that’s why she should not stay silent – that harm will continue for more girls who have had experiences like hers, until they repent.

    • “Let” God? God’s big enough to handle things on His own whether or not we mere mortals “let” Him. To think that we are on the same level of power as He is is an old fundy idea that I know I have rejected long ago.

      As for the rest of your guilt-laden questions, they too are just old fundy tactics which, in essence, say, “shut up.” Nothing new here. . . .

      No, for believers, God is big enough to let us pursue justice. In fact, He commands us to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” — qualities that are not present in your comment.

    • AmForgivenNOW, are you a perp? You sure sound like it. They are usually the ones who beller the loudest about all this religious gobbly-gook you are spewing out.

      First of all, you need to understand the meaning of the word “BUT”. It means to disregard what was said previously and now pay attention to what I am going to say next. You said, “I am never going to criticize you for speaking up against the abuser and abuse. Your abusers do need to be punished. But…” So we can skip the whole, “I am never going to criticize” and see that you DO criticize.

      You say that “often the folks who speak so loud and want to get their voice heard, do tend to blame others who didnt listen to them or blame the college they went to etc.” Did it ever occur to you that the reason some of us have to speak so loud to get our voices heard is because of people like you who want to drown out what we have to say?

      You admit that “those people” made mistakes and didn’t help Cathy. Mistakes? No these were not little boo-boos. Jim Berg/BJU et al destroyed Cathy. They took a helpless woman who came to them in desperation and they beat her down emotionally to the point where she was silenced for 20 years. And they did it using the Bible and God against her. Shame on them! How dare Berg tell anyone that they “would bring shame upon the cause of Christ – that would cause people to burn in hell for eternity.” Or tell them that “there is no point in you telling the cops because they would never believe you”. That is despicable and disgusting!

      Oh I knew it was coming – the old forgiveness trump card. You fundies all love to play that card. You wouldn’t think of forgiving Cathy for the slightest thing she might have done wrong but you are ready to preach at her about how she needs to forgive “those people”. Forgivness is a work of the Holy Spirit and he doesn’t need your help! So take that stinking self-righteous “you gotta forgive” attitude down the road. We don’t want to hear it!

      I was amazed that out of the 268 words you said in your little essay that 203 of them were meant to silence Cathy, AGAIN. You asked why Cathy takes “such vengence” and then you use words like blame, unforgiving, lash out, strangle, label, dangerous, bad, condemns, anger, hurt and vengence. Why are showing such vengence? Maybe you are like “those people” who are ignorant, unprepared, untrained, not believing, unresponsive, and hurtful. And I can go on and on.

      It is people like you who make us survivors have to work so hard to be heard. What you have said here to Cathy is disgusting. You came here and poured a bucket of your religious trash on her and the rest of us who are survivors. And you patted yourself on the back for being such a “good little christian”. Don’t you ever read your Bible? Didn’t you even read what Jesus was like? He went around doing good, helping people, showing compassion, being empathetic and loving and kind. He didn’t go around beating people who were down, or banging them over the head with a religious club. He understood their pain. He reached down and lifted them up. He didn’t kick them when they were down. And when the Pharisees put down obstacles for those who were brokenhearted to stumble over, Jesus got ripping mad and called them vipers and snakes. He didn’t put up with people like you! He told them off but good.

      I think maybe you need to rewrite your little 268 word essay over and see if you can come up with something that is more like how Jesus would respond because your response was stinks. Just sayin’

  4. “When good men do nothing, evil continues.” Elie Wiesel/Holocaust survivor, etc.

    “What was once whispered in secret, will one day be shouted from the rooftops.” We are supposed to confront evil/abuse!!!

  5. He not only did nothing but actively spoke against notifying law enforcement. Re: Then you need to notify the Greenville Police Department at once, and give your real name to Greenville Police Detective Collis Flavell.

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