Biblical Counseling, Bob Jones University, Failure to Report Crimes, Mental Health and the Church, Modesty and Purity Teachings, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Spiritual Abuse, Women and the Church

Personal Account from Former BJU Student

Rachel Patrick shares personal experiences at Bob Jones University

Rachel Patrick was a former student of Bob Jones University (BJU). Although she did not participate in the GRACE investigation, she recently gave a public statement on Facebook, giving permission to share it. It is copied in its entirety as follows:


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I have made this post public and it may be shared with my permission.

I attended Bob Jones University from the fall of 2002 to December, 2005. I finished my last class via distance learning and was awarded my BA in English in 2006.

During my freshman year at BJU, my dorm counselor and dorm supervisor both became aware of certain information.
1. I was struggling from severe depression (related to a multitude of both environmental and clinical medical causes).
2. I had several times attempted to commit suicide.
3. I had experienced a sexual assault.

Their response was to place me on spiritual probation. I had to attend mandatory counseling sessions with my dorm supervisor, Esther White. At one point in these sessions, she told me that if I did not either get right with God or get saved, I would be expelled. These sessions lasted most of my Freshman year and I continued on spiritual probation through my sophomore year. These sessions entirely focused on my “spiritual” problems, increased my depression, and taught me that my only safety was in secrecy.

The summer after my freshman year when I arrived at the Wilds to work, I was called to the office of the then-director of the camp, Ken Collier. In his office he told me that he had been informed by my dorm counselor and dorm supervisor about my struggles over the past year. He said that the counseling team had erred in not involving my parents (I was 18) and that I had two options. I could call my parents and tell them about the “issues” of the past year and stay at the Wilds on probation and in mandatory counseling or he would both fire me and call my parents himself.

I believe that I had the least of the negative experiences that could potentially have been experienced through these “counseling processes.” I was friends with Esther White until she had to separate from my later “lifestyle” choices. I worked at the Wilds for two more years. I became an APC and a society Chaplain. I have spoken on behalf of the University to try and bring people to a better understanding of the great education I received and the commitment of an underpaid faculty that helped form my mind and character.

I experienced everything that the GRACE report delineated as problems at BJU, victim shaming, horrendous “counseling” methods, complete lack of confidentiality, being punished for needing help. And I chose not to speak to GRACE. I did not take the survey. I did not believe that an investigation and a report that was funded by Bob Jones University could be impartial. I did not want to revisit these issues or have a potential negative impact on my family. I actually left my position on the BJUnity board to give myself additional space from any appearance of “BJU bashing” or being one of the “disaffected.”

There are so many people like me, you cannot imagine. People who for a variety of reasons did not have their stories, stories so much worse than mine, included in this report. If you do not want to believe our stories, our collective witness, against the failings of this administration, you do not have to believe us. Believe the words of Bob Jones III, Bob Wood, Jim Berg, and Greg Mazak. Read their responses to the investigators. Listen to what they believe and what they have taught and continue to teach to generation after generation of preachers and teachers who are going out to further their work around this country and world.

God have mercy.

‪#‎bju‬ ‪#‎bobjonesuniversity‬ ‪#‎grace‬

photo credit: .brioso. via photopin cc

116 thoughts on “Personal Account from Former BJU Student”

  1. Speaking of BJU, now that the 2014 elections are over, have the 2016 GOP candidates started their pre-campaign pilrgrimages to BJU to get BJ3’s Blessing (AKA God’s Anointing) for the White House?

    P.S. BJU has its own “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Grandson”.
    Just like North Korea.

    Like

  2. Daisy and Amos, thank you for your replies.

    The Into Thy Word survey seems fairly complete. I am no statistician, but I would think that a sampling from 2 conferences would largely depend on the type of conference it was. What was the topic? Why were they there? I was surprised that the article did not link to the full study.

    NEVERTHELESS, the combination of statistics certainly puts Amos in the ballpark and has left my my jaw gaping. I have been a pastor for over 20 years and am active within our denomination and can count on one hand those who have walked into this sin. Somehow I have missed these gruesome stats.

    There is no question that Christian leaders of all stripes bear a greater responsibility and accountability to those whom they lead. ANY abuse of this responsibility harms and scatters the sheep and brings the name of Jesus into disrepute to the watching world. May we all grow in reverent fear of God and servant love for others.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was unable to find out any details about the survey. If anyone learns more about who was surveyed and under what conditions, please post it here.

    Like

  4. Allan

    Sorry about the poor statistics for pastors leaving your “Jaw Gaping.”
    And, you only, “can count on one hand those who have walked into this sin.”

    I doubt if most pastors would admit their failures, sin, to their colleagues in the same denomination. They are used to hiding the truth from their families, congregations, even themselves. Living in fear that someone would find out who they really are. They would lose their job and reputation. They struggle trying to look good, act holy, to those around them. After all, they did take, get hired on to, a position, elder/overseer, that says, to qualify, you Must Be Blameless, Above Reproach, Holy, Just, Innocent. And they know, down deep inside, they do NOT qualify as an elder/overseer.

    When you believe the lie you start to die…
    When you live the lie – you slowly die – Day by Day…

    These statistics seemed to be accumulated at places, ministries, conferences, where these pastors were looking for help. The pressure of the job had become to great and was hurting them and their families. Don’t know for sure, but, they were probably talking to strangers, councilors, therapists, who said they would keep their names confidential.

    You write…
    “I have been a pastor for over 20 years
    and am active within our denomination”

    Will you share these statistics with pastors in your denomination?
    Will you “Admonish/Warn one another” Ro 15:14, warn these pastors?
    If they see themselves in 1 Cor 5:9-13, as fornicators, idolaters, extortioners?
    If they do NOT meet these tough qualifications in 1 Tim 3, and Titus?
    Must be Blameless, Above Reproach, Holy, Just, Manage well their family?
    They can be honest with themselves and remove themselves?
    When they know they do NOT measure up?
    And the Lord will lift them up?

    Mt 23:12
    And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;
    and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

    Jas 4:6
    But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith,
    God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

    Jas 4:10
    Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

    When you believe the lie you start to die…
    When you live the lie – you slowly die – Day by Day…

    Like

  5. Katy

    I’ve read your comment a few times @ DECEMBER 21, 2014 @ 1:19 PM…
    “Be angry and do not sin.” Psalm 4:4

    What a powerful rant.
    I’m sorry you had to endure your friends being abused.
    And the failure of “Today’s Corrupt Religious System” to help them.

    Yes – “hogwash!”
    “I have witnessed the response by the churched, those who profess to know Christ better than those of us who no longer attend 501c. 3 religious organizations of which I say “hogwash!”

    Yes – “hogwash!”
    “Within two separate denominational systems, I watched as the clegy and leadership systems swept these incidents under the rug trying in vain to keep these crimes “hush, hush.”

    “How can this be? Most of the wicked intentions take place behind closed doors as we are then required by these evil doers, to choose sides.”

    “meanwhile the victim continues to suffer,”

    “The welfare of the individual is not important when compared to the “common good” of the group,”

    “I hear often from those in my former church, how we need to minister to the unchurched to get them to go to church. And my response is, “What for?” “

    Yes – “What for?” – “hogwash!”

    In the Bible – Did any of His Disciples…
    Go to church? Join a church? Lead a church? Pastor a church? Give silver, gold or money to a church? Build a building called church? Tithe to a church? Plant a church? Get Hired or Fired by a church?

    Yes – “hogwash!”
    “I have not in all of my earthly days, witnessed “proper” church discipline within organized religion/church systems. Only abuse of power…”

    Yes…
    “LORD, have mercy upon us.”

    Like

  6. If a BJU graduate and employee has been having an affair with a woman for 14 years, and his wife fnoe knows, would the wife put the blame on me and not her husband? Because of her beliefs? We are both consenting adults who love each other very much. In my short conversation with the wife, she seemed to blame me. Do fundamentalist believe their husbands do no wrong? Would she not divorce him knowing he is having a sexual affair? I was not raised fundamental, so I don’t understand their beliefs. He said he doesn’t care if she leaves him! But does she not see any fault on his behalf?

    Like

  7. Anonymous,

    First, I would ask if this was a rhetorical question. Then I would ascertain if this was a serious question, because the questions have obvious answers that I cannot figure out why you don’t know the answers to the questions of SIMPLE morality, that you call fundamentalist.

    To answer your questions, are you kidding? You don’t know? Seriously? Really?

    This is a joke, right?

    Ed

    Like

  8. Anonymous,
    Why the wife stays, I have no idea. 14 years, why would you stay with him seeing full well that he is not divorcing his wife. This is a Moral question, and nothing to do with anyone’s specific biblical beliefs. In the old days, there would be a stoning somewhere along the way.

    I’ve got to agree with Ed. This has to be a joke.

    Like

  9. I think this is the last post SSB made on the Bob Jones University situation, and I wanted to let anyone in the SSB community who may be interested know what’s been going on with it the last couple of years. One of the comments above mentioned the section in the GRACE report that told about a woman who had been raped on campus; well, that woman also decided to speak non-anonymously, and her story is posted on our website (as well as a few other people’s). Some of the most pertinent parts of the update can be found here, along with a link to Part One of Wendy’s account: http://bjugrace.com/2016/12/02/whats-been-happening-the-past-couple-of-years/

    And by the way, Jim Berg, the primary offender mentioned in the GRACE report, never made a public statement of any kind regarding the report or his offenses. I’ve never heard of him personally expressing sorrow to anyone he hurt (and what Bob Jones III has said has been horrific). Jim Berg lay low for a semester, but then started teaching counseling again, and as of this month, he is right back to teaching the Crisis Counseling class, which includes how to counsel survivors of sexual abuse.

    Just thought some people might be interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rebecca,

    Thanks so much for the update; it is absolutely shocking and unbelievable. “He is right back to teaching the Crisis Counseling class, which includes how to counsel survivors of sexual abuse.”
    And Satan sniggered…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The non-response by Jim Berg should scream loudly that he is not repentant, nor does he take full responsibility for the harm he caused. Shame on BJU for keeping him on staff, especially in the counseling department where his actions/non-actions caused harm to so many individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I honestly thought Berg would quietly retire–I didn’t expect a public apology from him, but I didn’t dream he would go right back to doing what the GRACE report showed he had failed at so miserably, to the harm of many. But I do try to avoid speaking of “BJU” as if it’s a person, because that’s an easy way for the real culprits to hide. It’s the BJU administrators who have made these abysmal decisions. And who are the BJU administrators? Well, the most significant one is not Steve Pettit (the current president), but is Bob Jones III, grandson of the founder, and he has made it very clear that he sees the University as standing not only without apology, but also without fault. Less than a year after the GRACE report was issued, he told a reporter that “the University came out of this looking very, very good.” That full write-up is here: http://bjugrace.com/2015/09/28/bob-jones-third-speaks-on-the-grace-report/ For anyone who even read the GRACE report, much less the brave survivors who participated, that is an unutterably appalling statement.

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  13. Thank you for sharing Rebecca, not least because it gave me a chance to read up in this thread and I was blown away by Martha’s details about the truly terrible methodology on this commonly cited ‘false reports’ “data”. I will be pulling it out if I ever see those names!

    Wendy’s story is absolutely unbelievable and hard to read. I’m still making my way through it. This part makes me want to punch everyone involved, and I am not a violent person:

    I was glad he didn’t lecture me. I really thought I was going to be in trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Right–that gives an inside look at what it’s like for the victim when she’s in the middle of the situation. The perspective is so skewed. People who say, “Why didn’t you just . . .?” really don’t get what the environment is like. Our hope, of course, is that more will continue to hear and truly listen with the goal of real understanding.

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