Friday News Roundup

photo by Giulio Bernardi

My inbox has been flooded for the past while with various stories of scandals, crimes, and strange occurrences. Here’s a quick rundown on the latest scandals going on in Fundyland.

Bob Jones University has called a halt to the GRACE sexual abuse investigation that was just weeks away from releasing its findings. Stephen Jones wrote a rambling letter that cited among other reasons that he doesn’t have time because he’s completely booked up with trying not to be president anymore. BJU’s public statement, on the other hand, makes it pretty clear that what is as stake here is the content of the report itself which the University would really like to see stuffed into the same closet that holds all of their other skeletons.

Bill Gothard has also had troubles with the release of a new wave of testimony and allegations. Gothard’s correspondence with Recovering Grace is a fascinating study in the Confrontation Initiation diversion tactic. There is no more awful sight than seeing an abuser trying to use Scripture verses as a shield.

Meanwhile, over at West Coast Baptist College former staff member Jeremy Whitman shoots from his car and murders Erik Peter Ungerman at a stoplight. Whitman then commits suicide. The details of what motivated this shooting are too complex to completely unravel here but they include the story of an illicit affair that ended Jeremy’s career at WCBC and separated him from his family. What is clear, however, is that immediately after the shooting West Coast Baptist College attempted to at the same time claim that Jeremy was not an important figure at WCBC (insisting that he wasn’t on pastoral staff) but still wrote him a glowing eulogy. And then wrote him a second one a couple days later. No such remembrance of the man who Jeremy murdered or the family that Jeremy left is anywhere to be found.

Finally, Jack Schaap is still in jail. (Just in case anybody was wondering).

171 thoughts on “Friday News Roundup”

    1. I was thinking the same thing. Obviously the plug was pulled because the accusations went a little too high up the food chain. Why can’t they release what they do have?

    2. Actually, ABWE did the same thing and it came up that, contractually, GRACE can’t release a statement once fired. All information reverts to the entity who hired them in the first place.

    3. My take on this is that grace wouldn’t want to release confidential information with respect to those who responded to the survey. As for the contents of the report itself, that would likely be proprietary to bju, unfortunately. You will notice in its letter to grace that bju offered to pay all outstanding invoices. this ensures that bju is not in breach of its contract so it can hold grace to the contract terms. Incidentally, it also puts the lie to the rumor put forward by some bju boosters that they split with grace over a payment dispute.

  1. The West Coast fiasco read like it came from Law and Order. How can a church honor a murderer who then commits suicide and completely ignore the man he murdered? It is just mind boggling.

    1. There was a throwaway line in one of their later statements about them “reaching out to the family” of the murdered man but no indication of what exactly that meant.

      1. The church set up a fund to help the victim’s family. The facts must be known before you can report them. THe personal facts are not for public knowledge. Let’s not forget Whitman has 5 kids.

        1. If you’re publicly lauding a murderer then the private facts are very much in the public interest at that point.

        2. What’s the religious establishment doing for the victim’s family? You know, the family of the guy who got dead at someone else’s hand?

        3. So, the fact Whitman wimped out on his family and left five kids makes lauding him and ignoring his victim okay? Modern, you need to step back and review your priorities. The man they are lifting up in praise is a double murderer.

        4. The problem boils down to a trust problem; when you say The personal facts are not for public knowledge. that could well be true; on the other hand, such a statement has frequently been used to cover up things that should not be covered up.

          Mr Whitman was a leader at LBC; if he committed sin, it should be publicly announced and rebuked. If he was immoral (as SFL seems to suggest), he should not be lauded by the pastor as a good man that we just don’t understand. Yes, remember the good he may have done, but don’t make the murderer the victim.

        5. I don’t accept any argument (about anything) that goes “If you knew what I know, but won’t or can’t tell you, you would agree with me.” That argument has no truth value, because there is no way to test whether or not the claim is true.

  2. From the comments on the article about Whitman:

    “Even the world can smell the stench of sin and death and walk away from it learning something, but can LBC?”

    And I think that sums up all of these scandals quite nicely. The IFB cannot smell its own stench even as those around them gasp and stagger away.

    1. There are a lot of very interesting comments to that A V Times article about Jeremy Whitman and the murder/suicide. Quite the reputation Lancaster Baptist and Paul Chappell have in the community.

  3. You know Persnickety, I know you from a fundy bible college. I won’t say which one, just to be difficult. 🙂

        1. Now we not only have White Piano fakers, but people claiming empty posts are real too! The walls of separation may not be high enough these days!

  4. I read over the BJU public statement regarding the termination of their relationship with GRACE. They really should hire a decent editor–I noticed an incomplete sentence, right there at the end. It says, “Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength.” It should read, “Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength, for we have no intention of doing shit for them–except to have a few training seminars and awareness workshops, which is the bare minimum we feel we need to implement in order to seem like we care and hopefully throw the dogs off the scent. God Bless!”

    1. It just had to be enough so the remnant who have too much invested to turn away now could argue “see, the haters were wrong, BJU cares, and has changed (even though no change was necessary), but nothing they do will make the bitter ex-BJU-christians abandon their crusade”

      1. Exactly. Some will be fooled. They’re hoping the number of fooled will be enough to allow them to ride out the heat of criticism and go on with business as usual.

        1. Yes…it’s similar to their release awhile back about music policies, basically saying that there are different schools of thought about music style/content embraced by a wide range a true believing Christians, but then at the end basically saying…we don’t give a shit and our age-old policies will not be changed or affected

    2. I bet BJU thought that since they hired GRACE as their consultant, the results were “bought and paid for”. Normally, a consultant releases a draft report for review. Maybe the draft report showed that GRACE felt a duty to tell the truth rather than whitewash scandal. Maybe.

      1. Yeah, it sure looks that way to me as well. Seen this damage control cover-up dog and pony show before. Suppress the truth. Eventually people will forget and go away. It’s worked in the past, but in our day information control is increasingly difficult. Better that they go ahead and allow GRACE to release their findings and take what’s coming to them.

    3. A transcript of the leaked recording made by Stephen Jones this morning is available at

      A little excerpt:

      “But over just the past months, the last several months, we grew concerned that in the process
      GRACE had begun going beyond the originally outlined intentions.

      And so we wanted to sit down and talk about them, because they had gone askew.

      And so we terminated our agreement with GRACE, so that we can sit down and get it back on track. And that was the entire intention of terminating the agreement and if you look on it, instead of on GRACE’s web site or ours, that’s clear in my letter of termination.”

      so GRACE was going beyond the “originally outlined intentions”. Wow. That means that the GRACE investigation was going somewhere good old BJU didn’t want to go.

      Good old BJ: lies, mendacity, and prevarication.

      1. Good God. I know speculation is dangerous, but this makes it sound like BJU hired GRACE to investigate one particular misdeed, and when GRACE found evidence of perhaps more than one, or even, God forbid, a whole culture of cover-up/abuse, BJU bailed. As the recent Penn St. events show, those leaders who cover up abuse are as liable to earn time at the Graybar Hotel as those who abuse. Sounds like it’s do or die time for BJU.

        I am usually very good at giving the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been out of fundy circles so long that I have no real personal investment, except for being a human being that cares about the vulnerable and abused. And that’s enough. Having seen this kind of behavior too many times before, my patience and generosity toward cowardly ass-coverers is pretty damn thin.

    4. Yup. Bob Wood preached a sermon — or was it a lecture series at a church? – in which he asserted that if you had been abused and you weren’t just fine afterward, you were at fault for not taking advantage of the grace of God.

      Having the abuser dealt with? Seeking justice against an abuser? Not one mention of that.

      Bob Wood is very, very good at machine-gun quoting snippets of Scripture to make it seem that his assertions are right and you are wrong. And he gets to say that if you disagree with him, you are disagreeing with God’s Word!

      I used to be very impressed with that man. But this report wouldn’t have been canceled if someone very high up the food chain hadn’t been implicated. They have to have been so high up that the University couldn’t throw them under the bus. So I have to wonder.

  5. I think the new about BJU was predictable given it’s history and the fact that GRACE was INVITED to investigate. After all, we can’t have let then start getting too close to certain members or the executive administration now can we? 😯 😯

    As for Bill Gothard i’m only too happy to see the beginnings of actions against him. This would have happened sooner from former ATI students but it takes time for us to adjust to the real world after being in a cult that our parents were only too willing to force us to adhere to.
    I believe the addressing of sexual abuse by Bill and other ATI staff is just the first wave. Next will be the physical abuse and torment that was done to so many ATI children by the Institute and finally the methodic brainwashing will be evaluated.

    Any former ATI student or family could not possibly be surprised by the findings of Recovering Grace. But even though we know Bill and IBLP/ATIA it’s difficult still to not feel as if God is somehow ashamed of us if we encounter difficulty. After all, Bill told us that if we made ourselves subject to HIS OWN authority and followed a “few” Basic Life Principles we would be in the favor of God..that God would give to Bill…..who would ration out what he felt we deserved….

    1. I have a question for Bibb and everyone else who has been in the Gothard orbit:
      How big is Bill Gothard’s organization and movement? How many people are involved and have been involved in Gothard’s various projects?

      1. I’m not sure of numbers but the yearly conference in Knoxville, Tenn. where it used to be held usually had over 100,000 people and that was estimated to be about half of the families. Although I’ve heard it’s not nearly as big as it was when my family was involved.

        Most of the work is done by highschool aged to early/mid-twenties students who work for free. Gothard calls it “character training” and assures them that the blessings God will give them for doing free labor is better than being paid in filthy lucre such as money.

        Gothard has a federal judge who, for some still unknown reason, signs his name to whatever whim Bill has.

        And for scope of influence?…well, when a certain European country’s government collapsed in financial debt, Bill and IBSP was there give all the support answers to which the government was only too willing to make Bill the head.

        The Institute also has very strong ties and liverties with rulers in Moscow, Russia and government lap dogs in Mexico.

        You know, because Bill likes to have harems all over the world, not just in Oakbrook, Ill. 👿

      2. Bibb Graves mostly has it right. The peak was in the late 1990s. Lots of “training centers” all around the globe (I worked at the Moscow and OKC ones and attended events at the Dallas, Big Sandy, Indianapolis, and South Campus ones.) Bill G is a shameless self-promoter and egomaniac so some of his “stats” were grossly inflated. It’s much smaller now because they stopped focussing on growth from outsiders and just assumed all the kids that grew up in the program would stay. Big mistake. Lots stayed but more left the program. The strong anti-college bias doesn’t work in today’s economy so there’s not as much appeal as there ones was.

        1. Where, exactly is the Dallas center?
          Because I lived in Dallas then and I wasn’t aware of it.
          That doesn’t mean it wasn’t big. The greater Dallas area has so many fundamentalis/charismatic/evangelistic institutions that one has to so something pretty scandalous to stand out from the background noise.

        2. The Dallas training center served mostly as an elite conference center for internal ati events. They didn’t do much local outreach (this was the case with most training centers, in fact). It was located in the historic “Ambassador” luxury hotel south of downtown (in what is now sort of the southside ghetto) near the farmer’s market and the old city park.

        3. Oh, I know that hotel! Right by Old City Park.
          It was once a rather luxurious hotel, but by the 1990s it was more or less derelict.

        4. Big G, the story of the Dallas training center was pretty typical of how ATI gets its properties. It was, as you say, a fairly derelict property that was condemned (or something close to it) by the city. One of Bill Gothard’s closest henchmen is a man by the name of Jim Sammons, who was the “President” of ATI (BG’s homeschool organization) and was also a real estate guy in the DFW area. It was through that connection that ATI offered to take the old hotel off of the city’s hands. They fixed it up pretty nice (one thing I will say about BG is that he DID put a lot of money and work into his training centers – well, the parts of them that the public say anyway). Different ATI training centers had certain trademark programs (e.g., the Indianapolis training center, also a revitalized hotel, was where they had their juvenile delinquent counseling program, the Nashville training center, a revitalized hospital, was where they tested out BG’s medical theories, etc.). The Dallas training center was kind of the “elite” conference center for wealthy ATI couples to get away for couples conferences and retreats and other such events. My parents attended many events there.

    2. I was lamped to the Gothard stuff from Libby Anne’s blog. What’s heartbreaking is that some of the young women have been shunned by their families for speaking out and besmirching Gothard’s good name.

  6. I personally don’t see why people aren’t getting more upset about the whole GRACE thing. I mean the others are pretty bad, but that affects literally a whole campus of students and they are just trashing it on a whim because they don’t like what was found (presumably). I know so many people from BJ, and I haven’t seen them talk about it once. Saddening they seem to care infinitely more about announcing a mascot (blew up my Facebook feed) than they do about cancelling the sexual abuse program 1 month before its due.

    1. I don’t know details, but if it did close down I’d assume some serious $$$ would go to the Joneses. Probably along with that multimillion dollar art collection.

    1. Yeah, victims have a way of doing that.
      The same way banks force otherwise honest people to rob them.

      1. Blessed are the perpetrators, for they shall.. i dunno… so long as they keep their mouths shut and ignore all the fuss, get away with it
        Cursed are the victims, on the other hand, because they just won’t shut up and let it go like the sensible perpetrators do. So they deserve whatever they’ve got coming.

        End of.

        Bad Jesus.

    2. Yes those victims are “hurting the body of Christ” and not the sociopaths and egomaniacs who are drawn to positions of power in the IFB,

  7. I am an IFB pastor that finds it appalling that Paul Chappell would ignore the fact that one of his former staff members murdered another and then committed suicide. I can understand paying the funeral costs to help the family (as it is not the family’s fault). I cannot understand establishing a scholarship fund in the name of a murderer. THAT is DISGUSTING!

    No matter what this former staff member did for good during his life, he will be remembered for a murder/suicide. If he was away from God and out of church at the time of his sin, the church has no business praising such a man, according to Scripture. Instead they should be helping the families of both sides and condemning the sin before all. Sadly, we know that will not be/is not the case.

    It is times like this that I am ashamed of bearing the Baptist name (just like w/the hypocritical Crown debacle a few weeks ago where they had a 7th-Day Adventist speak). May God help us all to be scriptural, despite our feelings and personal ties, loving Christ above all these things.

    1. Well, it obviously wasn’t a spiritual issue, I mean, most people I know who have shoulder pain and go on prescription medication for the pain end up being involved in a murder-suicide, its pretty much unavoidable.

      All sarcasm put aside, the words of Jesus are pretty damning…its not what goes into a man that defiles him but what comes out. Even Mr. Jim Berg of BJU fame would tell us that clearly this mans teabag was full of something that the hot water of life revealed to be something other than what was thought by others. Being investing in externalism and a denial of reality doesn’t mean that life circumstances, and the hand of God won’t reveal it.

      My own journey out of fundamentalism was accelerated by a pastor’s response to a suicide by a young person who was the model church member. The denial that anything was going on with the young man and that it was a one time sin problem that he could have easily avoided was so ridiculous that we could no longer avoid the truth that our supposedly Christian environment was so far from any connection with reality and with the actual teachings of scripture that we had to initiate an exit strategy for our sake and that of our children.

    2. And Lancaster Baptist Church lied to press when they told them Jeremy Whitman was NOT in a pastoral role, but only a clerical one.

      Quotes from Antelope Valley Press 1/22/14

      “He had worked at Lancaster Baptist Church in what was described as an office clerical job rather than a pastoral role, though he had led Sunday School classes and a high school Bible study.”

      Tim Christoson, Asst. Pastor acting as the church’s spokesperson said:

      “We were co-workers for a number of years and his role at the church was not a pastoral role. He had a clerical office role.”

      According to this link he WAS a Junior High YOUTH PASTOR at some time, and he served for 15 years at the Church.

      “As our ASSISTANT PASTOR, Brother Jeremy Whitman, helped me this morning, we were able to encourage God’s people through teaching and through a video presentation about West Coast Baptist College.” Pastor Paul Chappell

      1. Aaaannnddd…

        Lancaster Baptist Church immediately started scrubbing away all references to Jeremy Whitman from the internet. It was weird to see something about Jeremy that morning only to have it disappear by the end of the day. Their IT dept. was hard at work.

        One former Asst. Pastor at LBC, Cary Schmidt (now senior pastor of a IFB church in CT), even removed a blog post referring to Jeremy as an asst pastor. Thankfully the article was retrievable via the wayback machine:

        The evidence is very clear: Jeremy Whitman had served as an asst pastor at LBC. If they had reason to demote him before he left why was the congregation not told? Why was this not known to many members? Chappell likes to write books about being a healthier IFB and being transparent, but is clearly neither.

        1. If Chappell hides the abuses of his brother, who is now serving in another church, why wouldn’t he sing the praises of a murderer?

        2. This links to a thread about Paul’s brother and father. Please note his brother is a very welcomed guest at LBC/WCBC conferences, bringing a large contingency of members (including teens!!!) and Paul has the WCBC tour group perform at Mark’s church. WCBC found an asst. pastor for his dad.

      2. Used-To-Be-Fundy, perhaps they should have simply said that Jeremy Whitman served LBC in the capacity of a cleric.

    3. Try reading the 1689 London Baptist Confession. I know that made me more comfortable calling myself a Baptist.

        1. That may be true, but it doesn’t have any real effect on the question. Phillips failures were because of character deficiencies, not creedal/doctrinal misunderstanding.

        2. Yes, that was exactly my point. I don’t rightly care if the abuser is IFB, Reformed 1689 confessing, Catholic, Orthodox, Santeria, JW, non-denom, First National Church of the Right-Believing, whatever. Appealing to some supposed doctrinal purity shouldn’t be used to assuage bad feelings over the bad behavior of fellow religionists, as if the problem is always “over there with the heretics.”

          Not that this is what Joshua was doing. I was just saying that no one’s nose is clean.

        3. Ah, thanks for clarifying. Pardon my reading comprehension failure. I blame the reading version of George.

        4. No problem, Campbell–I wasn’t as clear perhaps as I should have been. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t trying to be so clever and oblique. I think it does sometimes cloud my meaning. I can’t help it, it’s the demons inside of me that make me this way. 👿

  8. Sad times. I’m glad sin has come to light, but hurt. It harms all of us who follow Christ when anyone else who also claims to follow Him publicly scandalizes the faith.

    To be clear, I’m not advocating cover-ups.

    But let us all take heed lest we fall…

    And hopefully we’ll all spend some time praying for the victims and other innocent family members and associates of the guilty.

  9. Then there’s Mark Driscoll’s shady doctor that he was promoting, until he suddenly wasn’t and all mention of the doctor disappeared from his website, Soviet style.

    1. My now-wife and I went through a shitstorm for two years when she was at home and at her old church. It was more at her home than at the church, but I was amazed at how closely her treatment hewed to things I’ve read from Solzhenitsyn and other writers about the USSR.

      And I don’t think her home-people were intentionally aping Stalinism, but it enlightened me as to how similar are the methods and actions of people who want power, and if they all seem to be reading from the same playbook, they are–their hearts. The Soviets just did it on a scale that affected millions, and had bullets backing them up.

      1. Hey petrushka1612!

        You have hit on something I have commented on in places like HuffingtonPost for some time now.

        The Religious and Political Right are using Soviet-style tactics, “purging” (and using the word!) opposition, “purifying the party” (Nazi idealism, anyone?), working toward a mindless membership and a dictatorship over all.

        They do it in Fundy ranks, of course. It was done at BJU back in the 80s when I was there. Interestingly enough, I didn’t seem to mind it when I was a complete fundy myself. But once I started asking questions and realizing that the University position was not always “right” or “do right,” then it began to grate on me.

        It is the modus operandi of the churches they plant and associate with. Get rid of anyone who disagrees, who points out a problem, who is concerned with fairness and justice. The MOG is to be above reproach — and if he isn’t, make sure he is by getting rid of all who might reprove him!

        No, they can’t use guns and bullets. Yet. Give them time.

        1. George Godfrey was a member of First Baptist Church Hammond and a highly respected faculty member of Hyles-Anderson “College.” Fact is, he was even awarded an honorary doctorate by that institution. This occurred maybe just before he left employment there.

          Later as a matter of conscience, Mr. Godfrey dared to speak out against Jack Hyles. Not long after that, Wendell Evans (then “college” president), while speaking to the students, indirectly referred to Mr. Godfrey and, I think it may fairly be said, left them with the impression that Mr. Godfrey was an unstable nut. I believe sometime after that students from HA”C” broke into Mr. Godfrey’s home and stole that honorary degree.

          Just another small example of revisionist history.

        2. Funny you say that about the “cleansing” because when there was a scandal in our church and half of the members left, a big letter was sent out to the remaining “faithful” that said that the church was simply going through a purging and the “dross” was being scraped off by God. Yep, we were the dross.

        3. At my old church, I heard it referred to as an “enema”. Some of the same people who referred to it that way were out the door during the next split, five years later, when the new pastor got voted in.

          Of course, the way he turned out, I don’t blame anybody who left. O.o

        4. Ah yes, 1 John 2:19 is the Fundie proof text for this situation… and I have actually heard it used (and to my shame used it) when speaking about folks who have either been run off or left.

          They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

        5. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; …”

          Which turns out to be a good thing for those who leave, especially when you are refusing to eat the rotten fruit of a rotten tree any more!

          Yup, I went out from fundamentalism because I was no longer a fundamentalist. Glad to own up to it.

  10. Sadly it’s stories such as these the confront us with the reality of just how ugly and destructive sin is. And part of sin’s deadliest power is its ability to deceive us of its destructive presence in our lives.

  11. Wow. So much to say. All I can say for now is my heart goes out to those who responded to the grace survey and had old hurts reopened only to be betrayed a second time. Sickening!

  12. Acts 20:28-30
    Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

    The natural outcome of greed, lust for power, and desire for control that is readily found in the position of: Pastor.

    1. Don, you never miss a chance to decry the office of Pastor. Guess what? The evidence sure seems to suggest that your protestations are firmly rooted in the truth. Ignoring for a moment whatever bible evidence either side might produce, just look at the fruits of this top-down mode of church organization.

      The abuse and horrific actions of church leadership cross denominational lines. No closet is without its skeletons. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, non-denoms, independents, you name it. There seems to be something inherent in having a “professional” minsterial class that breeds abuse. Preach on, brother! Maybe someone will heed.

      1. I know that it seems that I have it in for pastors… and I guess I do. I just haven’t had many good experiences with them. Power grabs, manipulation, lying, cover-up, control, felony arson, felony attempted murder…

        All because there is no one to whom they are accountable to other then their god. And I know that I have said this Ad nauseam as well, but when you are only accountable to “God” then you soon become the only god you are accountable to.

        My experience is that the Pastor sees himself as Clergy-elite that is spiritually and therefore socially above all the sheeple under his preaching/control. I know I have said this on here before as well, but, I vividly remember being told I needed to excuse myself from the conversation since I was not a preacher/evangelist/pastor because there was no way I could understand the burden of the pastor. Of course now, in hind sight, I know that I was being dismissed so they could talk freely and privately (read gossip) among themselves.

        I know there are good men out there in the position of pastor doing the very best they know how but the position itself is the enabler, the seducer, the tempter… even the best of men with the noblest of intentions will at some point succumb to the temptation, and give into the seduction of the power the position holds and use the position for their own agendas and gain. That is why the single ruler template is so dangerous, and as we have seen all too often, so prone to abuse.

        1. No george, not: “the Pastor sees himself as Clergy-elite that is spiritually…”
          it should read: “the Pastor sees himself as the Clergy-elite who is spiritually…”

        2. Yeah, it’s a tough thing–I’ve known some pretty decent pastors/priests in my time as well, but the good ones always seem like they are actually working AGAINST what is normally expected of the MOG.

          I haven’t seen an alternative that has worked well, either. There may be one out there, but I’ve yet to see it. In some Orthodox parishes the priest is hired and serves at the pleasure of a parish council. In theory, this should reign in any pastoral shenanigans or power trips; in practice, the priest becomes the council’s lackey, and becomes subject to council politics.

          I just don’t know. No priest. No pastor. No collections except for charity. No temple or church building. Just a group of people meeting at someone’s home from time to time to discuss God, life, whatever comes to mind. Small. Nothing worth getting partisan about. No positions to strive for. Every voice equal. A real community. Even then we’d find a way to ef it up, I think. But keep it up, Don. I truly appreciate your passion to make a difference.

        3. Looks like my thinking about the Pastor-King had me use “reign” instead of the correct “rein.” You know what I mean!

        4. 😀

          george is sneaky like that sometimes.

          And you are right. I don’t know the answer to how church should be done, but I don’t think the way it is being done is right. It puts too much power and control in the leadership and leaves the pew dwellers in passive mode with no outlet for ministry. Church today is best represented by the Dead Sea. It has only an inlet with no outlet. Stagnation kills the life giving effects of the water and it becomes poisonous and abrasive to all it touches.

    2. It’s been said here before that there are humble men out there pastoring good (probably small) independent, Bible believing churches. Even with churches that are merely Fundamental though, a lack of oversight and accountability seems to be a weakness in the church model that can make it easier for abusers to operate freely. I don’t know whether the solution is to be found in a courageous, biblically literate congregation, an elected group of elders, or whether it would come from the outside, maybe in the form of some kind of denominational leadership. Greed, pride, and a lust for power are always going to be problems within any organization and the problems are probably going to become worse as the organization increases in size, and the problems are certainly going to become worse when these sins are allowed to grow unchecked.

      I would make a distinction between your garden variety Fundamental churches and full blown Fundy churches, however. In the latter case, character defects such as narcissism, egoism, and an excessive desire to lord it over others are not seen as faults, and utterly unbiblical teachings on loyalty turn idolatry into a virtue. When men such as Jack Hyles are able to convince a pastor that when he walks towards the pulpit, he is “like a king ascending to his throne,” and to convince those in the pew that as long as they are members of the church, they owe the pastor unconditional loyalty and obedience, you have a disaster waiting to happen. Take a preacher with an inclination towards becoming an authoritarian bully and, even though he may actually be saved and mean well, instilling those beliefs in him is like spraying water and growth hormones on weeds.

      Even when it comes to being “independent,” perhaps a lot of these churches weren’t as independent as we’d been led to believe. The big boys often know each other, preach in each others’ churches, preach at the same conferences, and most of the time have received their training from the same small handful of schools. That’s a separate issue, but I think it’s one that also has the potential to cause trouble.

      Just my opinions.

      1. *I think some “Fundamental” churches actually do have some system of internal checks in place to provide oversight and accountability, but Fundamentalism in general has a problem with this issue– just my $0.02.*

  13. Hey you forgot to mention the other headline, the Ham on Nye debate. Both were asked what would change their minds: “Evidence” said Nye. Ham simply said “Well, I’m a Christian.”

    1. Ricardo – If you hover your mouse over the picture, you will see that Darrell did in fact mention Ham v. Nye.

      And that answer from Ham is so telling.

    2. I would love to ask Ken Ham what he would suggest those radiometric dating laboratories staffed exclusively by Christians do. What should they do when their results indicate dates older than ten thousand years -by several orders of magnitude. Should they lie or falsify their results in order to defend God?

  14. Re: the GRACE investigation. I’m already hearing from BJU apologists that they’ve heard “through the grapevine” that GRACE hasn’t been acting “above board” in the investigation. Anyone else hear this? Any idea what they could be referencing?

  15. Disgusting and heartbreaking that BJU would fire GRACE. I pray this action opens eyes and people are freed from their unhealthy bonds to this place. It would also be awesome if a protest was organized shedding light to this scandal to the community and shaming BJU’s decisions.

    I pray the sexual sins and abuses of Bill Gothard and any other staff/members would be fully exposed. I pray for justice, strength and healing and restoring love to the victims. May they have their day in court to tell their truths!

    Paul Chappell, may your empire be brought down and from the rubbles of humility may Jesus finally get the honor, glory and praise. My heart goes out to the victims in this situation as well. I pray they are freed from LBC and its damaging affects.

    Phew! Glad he’s still in jail and I hope men like him will also be brought to justice.

      1. Oh I see. 😕 I was thinking possibly former students or members who live in the area…

        1. My older brother is a loyal BJ grad and lives near Greenville. When I asked him about the GRACE investigation he had never heard of it. Then I think he wiped the Kool Aide from his lips.

  16. So, can these abused people just SUE BJU? No one can stop that, right? As in the Catholic scandals, a lot of the abused got together and hired an attorney. That would be my next step, if they refuse to go forward. Yes, how about protestors in front of the bju and call the news stations.

    1. News stations near and far are reporting this and not always to BJU’s advantage. Part of the problem with protesting them is so few come out to do so.

      Suing them might work in some of the more recent cases. Where BJU really needs to change is something that can’t be sued over, really: their response to those who have come in after being abused outside their walls. Cathy Harris is an excellent example of this; you can find her story here.

      1. Thank you for sharing the link to Cathy Harris’s story. It is compelling, and may shed some light on why the GRACE investigation was terminated. It’s likely that the investigation showed the abusive teaching by BJU faculty members, whether in the classroom or in area churches. If this is true, female students who had been molested as children were seen as impure, broken, and to be avoided by the sacred BJU preacher boys.

        If the GRACE investigation revealed this, it might expose the university to class action litigation. I’d like to get Deacons Son’s legal opinion on this.

        I was a preacher boy at BJU in the late 1970s. I was not exposed to this sort of teaching. I know that times changed in the past 40 years, and sexual abuse (which had always existed) came to the fore. If the story linked by Tikatu is true, it’s simply horrific. There are no words to express my sorrow for these little girls who were molested; then were made to feel worthless in the name of The Lord; then were re-victimized by the termination of the GRACE investigation.

        It’s really no wonder that I refuse to darken the door of a church. Although I have a hard time believing in a literal eternal lake of fire, if such a horror exists, these men are prime candidates for occupancy.

        1. This is a very tricky area for someone to try to bring a lawsuit. An attorney who is very well versed in South Carolina law would need to examine this issue. I hope that one can be found who would be willing to donate some of his or her time to look at this whole mess.

      2. Oh my! That story is absolutely horrible.

        I knew Jim Berg. He was Dean of Students. I had seen him and talked with him a few times. At one point he counseled me for an issue.

        I knew that he and Bob Wood put the blame for abuse primarily on the victims, not on the abuser. But this is far beyond what I had expected.

        Were it only one or two people testifying such horrid things, I could think such things were made up. I do know that false memories can be created, and that good people have been sent to prison over false memories implanted by unscrupulous individuals. But to have so many people exposing the filth….

        I feel like I was very fortunate, somehow protected, unnoticed and able to get out of there with minimal scaring.

        And I *do* hope, somehow, that they have to face the music publicly for the hurts they have heaped on others.

        1. This reminds me of a BJU friend of mine who went to Dr. Liverman and/or Jim Berg for counseling. He was doubting his salvation. He was threatened with expulsion. That stopped his doubting. 👿

  17. I’ve heard nothing about the situation at WCBC. Is there a place where the story can be unfolded more? From what PC wrote, it seems that this man was a good church member/staff member/whatever, then got involved with painkillers that messed him up.

    Is the big dislike here on SFL due to PC not mentioning the victim, or is there more that I’ve missed??


    1. I recommend reading the now 633 comments to the local story in the A.V.Times.

      Many former members are of the opinion he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. For example, writing that IFB’s must not support perv pastors while supporting his own brother’s and father’s ministries. Issues over claims the books are really audited vs merely compiled and presented, etc. Taking money from a liberal organization for a sabbatical while preaching against such organizations. Writing about the need to be transparent while clearly NOT being transparent. On and on it goes…

      1. That’s a lot of comments; I’ve read many comments; most of them ignore the victim and keep saying what a “good man” Jeremy was.

        1. Yes, those are typical comments from current members. Former members and community members are also posting there.

        2. Yes, those are typical comments from current members. Former members and community members (including a few from the victim’s family) are also posting there.

        3. Still slogging through the comments… odd how few mention the real victim, Erik.

          I have seen a few, general posts about LBC, but nothing about the Jeremy/Erik relationship hinted about here.

  18. When Father Jack Hyles comes back on his crystal space ship, he will makes us all pay for our cunning whit. We will bow before the great Zod, Dr. Hyles himself!

    Dr. Altar Ego

  19. Here’s my lawyerly translation from reading between the lines of the BJU letter.

    “Please accept my thanks to you and your team for responding to our request to ‘raise the bar’ at Bob Jones University by helping us achieve our objectives of appropriately responding to reports of sexual abuse and identifying opportunities to ask forgiveness of individuals we may have underserved when they reported to us they had been abused at some point in their life.”

    Meaning: WE hired YOU. WE are in the driver’s seat, NOT YOU. Don’t you forget that. WE hired YOU because WE are SUCH GOOD PEOPLE, NOT because we thought there might be something wrong with US. It is POSSIBLE, BUT UNLIKELY that we “may” not have properly handled abuse that occurred OUTSIDE THE BJU SETTING. THIS IS WHAT WE HIRED YOU TO CONFIRM FOR US.

    “Since the events of November 2011 (Penn State), we have joined many other educational entities in a desire to better understand sexual abuse risk, the laws related to reporting abuse, and BJU’s responsibilities to students and the community.”

    Meaning: We both know the real reason we hired you was because of our Chuck Phelps scandal, but we are getting tired of your efforts to resist our attempts to sweep that under the rug and spin this as just something that any other college might be doing. We both know that there aren’t any “other educational entities” working with you (GRACE) to assess their response to sexual abuse situations but let’s agree to pretend that there are so that we don’t look like we thought we might have something to hide.

    “GRACE has been helpful in directing our efforts.” [Next paragraph is more of the same.]

    Meaning: WE are in charge and ultimately WE direct our own efforts. YOU were supposed to come in and make it look like we were actually giving you access to expose any misdeeds that might have taken place. But YOUR job was to make it clear that there was nothing to see here other than lauding us for our astounding efforts to support those who report sexual abuse.

    “While undertaking these efforts, there has been a great deal of change here at the University.”

    Meaning: At this point we know you found some stuff, but we aren’t like that anymore, so why are you insisting on bringing it up?? [Lawyers always sandwich their weakest points and their begging in the middle of a demand letter.]

    “As you know, I recently announced my resignation as president of the University effective in early May.”

    Meaning: If you insist on fingering someone, let it be me. PLEASE don’t point the finger at anyone else. PLEASE!! They’ve got me covered if I take the fall for this. It’s my sole job now!!

    “As you can imagine, this has redirected a significant amount of our focus and energy.”

    Meaning: We’re pretty sure all the hubbub has died down so we just don’t see the point anymore. Wouldn’t you agree??

    “While remaining resolute in our desire to achieve our stated objectives, in view of the ongoing challenges in leadership change, pursuant to Section VIII, Bob Jones University hereby notifies GRACE that we are terminating the Nov. 16, 2012, Engagement Agreement for Independent Investigation. This termination is effective immediately.”

    Meaning: Here’s our veiled legal threat. We got you guys under a contract and we are going to SUE YOUR ASS if you don’t do exactly what we want. Is that what you want, Liberty University law professors? Hmm??

    “As you know, BJU has received no Notification of Completion; accordingly, we respectfully request that all work by GRACE be halted.”

    Meaning: [NB, I guarantee a lawyer wrote this part at least. The syntax and the use of the word “respectfully” are dead giveaways. They teach you in first year law school to never demand something: always “respectfully request” it.] This is your final warning to BACK OFF OR ELSE!!

    “If there are any unpaid or outstanding expenses that have been incurred by the GRACE team, we are pleased to pay these immediately upon receipt of an invoice. We respectfully request that all documents, information, and interviews be kept confidential.”

    Meaning: We are going to uphold our end of the contract so you better uphold yours. C’mon, guys, name your price? What is the cost of your silence?? Let’s settle this like the polished, suave lawyers that we are.

    “Bob Jones University is prepared to meet with GRACE immediately. We think that it is in the best interest of both GRACE and BJU to meet and reach a new agreement that will enable us to accomplish our objectives as stated above.”

    Meaning: We can hurt you a lot more than you can hurt us. You’re going to be “meeting” us in one forum or another, so you might as well do it on our terms. Remember, WE are in charge, YOU aren’t. Just keep repeating that to yourselves. You are such a silly little organization not to realize that’s how this was going to go. Go ahead, do your worst, see if we care. We have the means to DESTROY you!!

    “Again, I want to thank you for your service to the body of Christ in a very difficult realm. We look forward to further discussions.”

    Meaning: Let’s not forget we are Christian organizations so we can smear you guys on that front just as easily as the legal and PR fronts. You’re in our “realm” now, boys!! FUCK YOU!!

    1. Excellent translation, DS. That’s how I saw it–a veiled litigation threat. BJU is covering up so much. I hope that the donors, parents and students quit that school and leave it to decay. Glad we have an attorney on the translation team.

    2. Yes. Yes. In my unprofessional, unlawyerly reading, I gathered the same meaning but was without the necessary skills to lay it all out like this. I hope you’re wrong, but I fear not.

  20. Here’s my take on the today’s statement to the BJU student body about the termination of the GRACE contract. This is based on my background interviewing felony suspects. They almost always lie. They virtually always try to use confusing syntax, disjointed words that, when parsed, make very little sense. But the words themselves almost sound ok at first. When they’re strung into a sentence, they say nothing.

    Sometimes, they keep talking, to control the floor. If they keep talking, the interviewer has trouble hitting the pause button to ask himself, “Now what did he just say?” That’s what I see when I read the transcript, and listen to the audio. Somebody is lying.

    1. Good insights. Often, what’s NOT said is the most telling. And in this case, BJU has decided to muffle the report. Yeah, all does not seem above board.

    2. Sometimes, they keep talking, to control the floor. If they keep talking, the interviewer has trouble hitting the pause button to ask himself, “Now what did he just say?”

      John E. Reid helped me with that one.


      1. Dear George,

        Can’t you see that the real B.R.O. actually said the same thing below?



      2. Dear B.R.O., Are you (like me) a graduate of the Reid School of Interview & Interrogation? I attended in 1996. -BJg

  21. Sometimes, they keep talking, to control the floor. If they keep talking, the interviewer has trouble hitting the pause button to ask himself, “Now what did he just say?”

    John E. Reid helped me with that one.


  22. I agree with 90% of this site, but you’ve gone too far with your comments about the tragedy in Lancaster. Have you no sense of boundary?

    1. Do you dispute the facts as they have been presented or just disagree with the fact that I mentioned the story at all?

  23. Sometimes I just don’t understand why these fundy entities even bother to lie. They know that they are more or less untouchable, so why bother fabricating? BJU’s website front page currently says: “On Feb. 7, 2014, Dr. Stephen Jones, president of Bob Jones University, gave the faculty, staff and students of BJU an update on our relationship with GRACE and what led to the termination of the contract.” This blurb links to a chapel video in which “Dr.” Jones does everything but explain “what led to the termination of the contract.” Why lie??? It just gets really annoying after awhile.

    1. Wow. I read GRACE’s response to ABWE, and while they were professional and courteous, they really took ABWE to the woodshed. It seems clear that ABWE not only knows nothing about investigating child predation, but they were trying to cover their own backsides. Very sad.

      1. Exactly. Now it’s my hope that GRACE writes a similar letter to BJU, and publishes it.

    2. Wow! Thank you for the link. It is a valuable one, and completely discredits any complaint of unfairness BJU might try to connect to that case. All one has to do is present their rebuttal.

      I am pretty sure that if this case with BJU is not resolved correctly, Grace will have to write another letter like it, further exposing the University’s weak position.

      I wonder who and how many of the upper echelon are implicated in this growing scandal. And it is growing. If nothing else, BJU has ensured a more focused spotlight on its doings by canceling the contract than if they had gone ahead and faced the music.

  24. Who fired GRACE first?

    Did GRACE put out any updates concerning the BJU investigation like with ABWE?

    The GRACE response to the ABWE firing was compelling and, quite frankly, made ABWE and BJU each look like a horse’s ass.

  25. Darrell,
    Regarding the sordid details that are ” too complex to completely unravel here” in the Jeremy Whitman case, do you have any sources? I don’t doubt that something is afoot, but I have been unable to find any information regarding the affair or dismissal from LBC. I was just wondering where that information came from, and if it was published anywhere. Thanks!

    1. I do have sources. I am not at liberty to reveal who they are. As far as I know, the entire story is not currently documented anywhere in a news article or the like.

      1. Thanks for the response. I hope my question didn’t come across as, “Are you making this up?” I knew you had sources; I was mainly asking if there were any published anywhere that we could look at, as well. Sorry if I came across the wrong way! Keep up the good work!

  26. Amazing how corrupt the Chappell’s are!! Mark Chappell was the youth pastor at heritage baptist in Wallingford Ct while I was student there in 85-89; I was there when he admitted to having sexual relations with a student! He was caught more than once but the pastor Stephen L Baker hid it from everyone including the minors parents! Until it could no longer be hidden. Crazy thing is during this time pastor Stephen Baker was busy with his own multiple sexual “transgressions”!! Today Stephen Baker is a pastor of a fundamental baptist church in Ct and Mark Chappell is a pastor in AZ!!! The sexual abuse that went on was so wide spread its hard to imagine and pastor Baker is as guilty as they come!! He knew and did nothing I also personally know of another child who wasp learned by a teacher Mr West when brought to pastors attention the student was punished and shunned….several years Later Mr West was arrested for molesting his own daughters!!! Looking back its amazing how these were the same men that screamed about the dangers of rock music and condemned those who went to a public beach!!! Their hypocrisy knows no bounds!

    1. This thread about Mark Chappell on the SFL forums is just mind-blowing. Victims have posted as well as a letter from the pastor who took over the church where the abuse occurred. Even folks familiar with the adulteries in Long Beach have posted.

      How Mark is not in jail is beyond me.

      The fact Mark attends Paul’s conferences and brings along a large percentage of his church and that the tour group from WCBC goes there…Paul obviously accepts Mark as a pastor.

  27. The BJU letter of 1/24/2014 to GRACE states, “While remaining resolute in our desire to achieve our stated objectives, in view of the ongoing challenges in leadership change, pursuant to Section VIII, Bob Jones University hereby notifies GRACE that we are terminating the Nov. 16, 2012, Engagement Agreement for Independent Investigation.”

    However, Dr. Stephen Jones stated in a video posted on 2/7/2014 on BJU’s official PR blog the reason for halting the agreement is that GRACE went “askew”. See the video at approximately 4:50.

    These statements from Dr. Jones provide two differing reasons for terminating the contract.

    The video:

    Listen carefully to what Dr. Jones says. Throughout the entire video he appears very nervous, rambles at times trying to be careful with words, and seems to be “tip-toeing through the tulips.”

    At about 2:25 in the video Dr. Jones says, “The review was initiated completely on our own. It was not spurred because of any existing “smoking gun” or allegation of abuse that we were responding to.”

    Just because BJU initiated the contact does not necessarily mean there were no problems on campus. Further, other than government authorities in response to allegation, who else would initiate a contract like this? GRACE couldn’t initiate the contract. Repetition of the fact BJU initiated the investigation means very little.

    About 2:35 he states, “And the vast majority of those instances of which we were aware, and have been aware of as an institution, involved abuse from sometime in the student’s life before they arrived at BJU.”

    Dr. Jones’ point is that the “vast majority” of the abuse occurred BEFORE the student was at BJU. His choice of words implies that a minority of instances happened while a student at BJU.

    Around 3:00 he says, “But the committee, the same one, the board that reviewed best practices helped us revise the handbooks, they also recommended that we engage an independent ombudsman to do this for us, to do this kind of investigation, looking back at any allegations of abuse that might exist.” [He clearly did not like saying this.]

    He later states their objectives are “To evaluate how we have handled or counseled students who report that they have been abused at some point in their lives, and to adjust our policies and procedures if necessary. So to look back at how has it been handled and counseled previously and to make any adjustments necessary, again moving forward. And then the second outlined objective was to appropriately reach out to those from the past who may have been underserved. That in the past we didn’t counsel them correctly; or we could have taken better care of them in their situation, and in dealing with it.”

    So all BJU wants from the investigation is (1) to know what BJU has done in the past; and (2) “reach out” to those in the past who were “underserved”. For BJU this is the scope of the contract.

    Around 4:29 he says, “But over the past several months, we grew concerned, that in the process GRACE had begun going beyond the originally outlined intentions. And so we wanted to set down and talk about them, because they’ve gone askew. And so we terminated our agreement with GRACE so that we can set down and get it back on track.”

    Why terminate a contract just to set down and discuss the work? They terminated the contract so the work will immediately stop. If what GRACE has discovered while “going askew” is truth, why wouldn’t BJU want the truth to be known (and in a way that also protects the victims involved)?

    Later in the video (9:38) Dr. Stephen Jones puts forth an argument that BJU is not covering anything up; if they were, they would not have hired an ombudsman. This is an invalid argument since utilizing an ombudsman does not necessarily mean there is nothing to hide or that the ombudsman will discover everything pertaining to the investigation. It may be that use of an ombudsman is the perfect plan to hide something.

    Jesus said there is nothing hid that shall not come abroad and be known.

    1. That was one of the most accurate news articles about BJU. So many just assume BJU is evangelical or equate them with Liberty, not realizing that there are not just nuances of differences that separate the two but a huge divide which primarily comes down to the fundamentalist doctrine of separation, keeping fundamentalists isolated from the rest of the evangelical world.

      (I liked the detail about the beautiful grass that can’t be walked on!)

  28. I wrote a letter to BJU just now telling them what I thought about their early termination of this investigation. UGH when will Christian organizations LEARN.??

  29. Well, this church will now be taken off the list of approved churches in the area. There will be no reason given, except perhaps that they are “apostate” or “liberal” or “have unBiblical associations.”

    The statement is an excellent analysis.

    My hope is that BJU will have to actually release the information, or that it is released anyway. As a graduate, I am not wild about the idea of my Alma Mater going defunct, but it might actually be for the best if this stonewalling continues.

  30. Ah huh. Of course it *couldn’t* be the case that Dr. Jones decided to either continue with Grace or bring in a third party *because* there was such a hullaballoo over canceling the “contract,” now could it?

    And of course, the Collegian is not a student-run paper with freedom of the press. It is another arm of BJU’s self-promotion, advertising, and whitewashing ministries.

    I think it is fair to say that belief in BJU’s bad faith is not unwarranted. We should believe in BJU’s goodness as much as we would believe the murderer is rearranging the crime scene to make forensics easier for the police.

  31. heavily biased news report:
    ” No such remembrance of the man who Jeremy murdered or the family that Jeremy left is anywhere to be found.”

    direct contradiction to the actual linked material:
    “My focus this week has been on Jeremy’s family and their needs. The family has requested a private memorial service in the coming days, and in the future they have requested a public reception and memorial open for all to remember and rejoice in Jeremy’s life. Details are being formulated by the family. It is our desire and plan to honor their wishes. ”

    Right, no mention.

  32. @ Darrell: I think the little bit of pushback that you are getting from the Whitman tragedy is perhaps at the lumping together of all of these names. To those of us who were led by schaap, suffered under gothard, are in desperate need of GRACE, and called Whitman friend at some point in long ago history…they are not the same story. This was a tragedy beyond tragedy. I think what people are trying to say when they say over and over again in the comments, “he was such a good guy” is really, “he was one of us. He just didn’t get out in time.” Sad for umberger and family…sad for it all.

  33. I just found out about the shooting (#totallybehindthetimes).

    I knew Jeremy when I was a student of WCBC, and I saw him when I worked for Crown College in Public Relations. I am totally shocked by this behaviour. It seems totally out of charater.

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