College Week: Aftermath

So you’ve fought the good fight and finished the courses at Fundy U. You’ve spent more money than someone in a developing country makes in a lifetime (and still owe more) for a degree that you’ll have to fight to get many grad schools and employers to accept. You’ve been burned out, beat down, and fed up. Now what?

Rejoice and be exceeding glad because you’ve seen the light. You’ve survived the ordeal and you’re (hopefully) well on your way out of fundyland. Here are a few truths that helped me through that transition:

It’s not God’s fault that some people are idiots.

Not all people are idiots.

There are lots of other non-idiot people who feel your pain and are happy to encourage you.

It gets better. (No, really )

Feel free to continue your journey to recovery in the comment’s section. This concludes college week and I need to take a couple of aspirin and lie down in a quiet place for a while.

57 thoughts on “College Week: Aftermath”

  1. FYI, for ex-PCC students reading some of the stories at may be of some benefit. I don’t know of any analogous site for alumni of the other schools.

  2. My junior year floor leader was the one that sent me over the edge that fundyism was an intolerable unfixable sham that it is. I probably got 100 room job demerits in the year, and by the time was halfway through spring semester I had enough. My roommate & I (Brian was always great for coming up w/ the best gags). got a huge can of sardines at the store, and planted the opened can under his dresser. It was there for a month till they found it at white glove. We apologized to his roommate, who had apparently had quite a few animated discussions w/him about getting his laundry done. By the time they did finally find it, a good 1/3 of the hall had at least a minor “fishy smell” too it. They knew who did it, but couldn’t prove well enough to give any demerits. The joy of seeing carl bring back deodorizers & like aroma things to try to cover it up made every room job demerit I got worth it!

    The best things I remember about PCC were the pranks I was involved in and some good friends, a few good teachers, but most was just mis-spending my opportunity to learning to live in faith & with normal people.. #4 it only gets better from here — very very true. Every day is another day further distanced from PCC, even w/ the occassionaly nightmare flashbacks. 🙂

  3. My oldest child is eleven years old. I’m not sure what college we should start encouraging her toward. Up until only a year ago, I was saying my alma mater BJU. Now I’m not sure. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and want to live for Christ, but I no longer think that means I can’t listen to CCM or go to movies. So does anyone know of any Christian colleges to recommend?

    1. Pastor’s Wife, I’m with you on this. I have no idea right now, either. All I’ve ever known are fundy schools. My oldest is in 9th grade and, until the past year, had her sights set on PCC. Now that we are (so very, very) slowly transitioning out of fundamentalism, though, we’re both reconsidering.

    2. Just my advice from experience and mistakes. Consider her a adult and let her decide. At least you won’t be blamed for ruining her life and pushing her into a college that does no good.

    3. My middle daughter went to Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL, and emerged unscathed. I have family who graduated from and other who are attending college at Cedarville, and it appears to be a good school. A friend’s daughter is attending Philadelphia Biblical University, and it is my alma mater. From what I can see, it is a better school now than when I went there.

      Would you consider a local college for the first year or two, then a transfer to a Christian college? That worked for both of my daughters, and it was financially doable. They both earned scholarships that helped immensely.

  4. I know that it gets better. The longer I get from fundyism the better it has gotten. I have had some trouble finding a job with my “Biblical Studies in Missions” degree.
    For what its worth, the University of Phoenix will not take credits earned at my “college”. That is saying something.

    I learned a lot at FU. How not to do things, why I am not a fundamentalist, how not to treat people, how not to interpret the Bible, etc.
    I made a lot of friends and I think there are some good people in the movement. However, I was shocked at how most of my “friends” reacted when they found out I was no longer in the movement.

    I am glad I am out. Whenever I get nostalgic for the good ol’ days I only have to sit and think about it for a few minutes before I am elated to be out.

    Forget the aspirin, I am taking something stronger.

  5. the University of Phoenix will not take credits earned at my “college”.

    My inquiries to them were met with the same answer.

  6. My college went left along the way. They went from not allowing charistmatics/pentecostals to graduate from the college, to welcoming Roman Catholic students with open arms. And that is a good thing. I do recall that BJU was often spoken of disparagingly when I was there. Probably the first step down the slippery slope… 😉

    My heart goes out to those of you who were so disillusioned so early in life. My experience with that kind of extreme crazy was limited to the years between when I turned 36 and when I turned 55. It’s no easier to recognize that you got sucked in at my age, than it is when you’re younger-maybe more embarrassing that you allowed yourself to be taken in. When you have three beautiful children that you dragged in along with yourself, it’s hard to not feel like you failed at life. It’s hard to trust churches and church leaders.

    The healing is slow, but it is happening. The best thing someone told me was that it wasn’t me, it was Them, and the next best thing they told me was to be kind to myself.

    I wish for all of you nightmare-free, restful days and nights.

  7. @Pastor’s Wife: my daughters both attended the local community college for starters. Although I had an ex-fundy reaction to worrying about what they would be exposed to, I found that in spite of everything, they had a faith of their own, not of their fathers, and God used them greatly in that school. They got more respect in the “secular” CC than they ever got in the fundy churches we attended. One of my daughters went from there to Southeastern, which is Assemblies of God, and I worried again — and again, needlessly.

  8. @Pastor’s Wife:
    I concur with Susan. Community college is a great place to start! A two year degree can be transferred pretty much anywhere.
    I went to Liberty University and had a wonderful experience, and I’ve heard Southeastern is great too!

  9. Look for regional accreditation – nothing else will suffice. Clearwater, Wheaton, and Master’s Colleges are all regionally accredited. I’ve found the stories of students losing their faith at a secular school are grossly overrated – and that’s being gracious. You have to decide for yourself if God is able to protect your child or not. I started leaving Fundyland when I realized there were plenty of people out there who love Jesus and wear jeans.

  10. What about Cedarville University? I hear they’re twice as expensive as BJU but hardly as strict. My husband visited there once and said it was “amazing” compared to BJU.

  11. I finished my stint at Fundy U less than a week before I left for boot camp. Even though I’d planned to leave for several years, it was quite a way to leave a movement I’d been indoctrinated into most of my life. The first few weeks after I left were rough, especially considering the somewhat harsh environment of basic training. I thought I’d made a mistake and that anything that went wrong was God’s way of punishing me for wanting to do my own thing. Sometimes it’s still hard to keep those feelings out of my head.

    A significant amount of time and a wonderful husband later, I can tell you that it was worth it and life does get better.

  12. Culture shock defined: graduating from four years at BJU and then taking grad classes at the local state university. Wow!

    1. Absolutely! I didn’t go to BJU, but I went to two other Fundy colleges. I’m in a state U now, and I still feel weird when the professors hand out a test and, instead of praying, just say, “Good luck!”

  13. I genuinely WISH I had known of Eastern or SouthEastern or had places like either of them as options when I was considering colleges. I have no idea of costs of what any of the schools are, etc. I just know PCC/BJU/etc are not good options. I personally think those places chase far more away from any involvement in church either directly or indirectly through the behavior of the grads they are proud of, than any “secular” university. I had a conversation w/ a youth pastor friend of mine a couple years ago about the colleges that try to get youth pastors to promote them in their youth groups at Youth Specialties (and others events), and we both had concluded by that point in life, that w/ as poor a decision as we made over our education attending PCC we had nothing to contribute to teens college choices other than don’t go to a fundy school like we did.

  14. Cost is a factor, but beware: at BJU, faculty work below poverty wages, so there’s a hidden price to pay for inexpensive. Chances are, if the private school you’re thinking about is considerably cheaper than private schools of approximately the same size and major content, something isn’t quite right. You do get what you pay for. I’m an advocate for state university systems – you’re already paying for them with your tax dollars, and, look around your state, you’ll find one to suit your needs.

  15. @Pastor’s Wife– a Christian college may not always be the best option for your daughter. It will be her first major adult decision, and, if you play your cards right, she’ll accept your advice, and make the decision that the three of you arrive to together. Secular colleges offer wider variety of majors, and provide students exposure to more of a “real world” environment that they’ll encounter in the workplace, thus avoiding the culture shock so many of us who were educated in the fundy system face. The best thing I did for my confidence, leadership skills, analytical skills, and social skills was to take a job at the Greenville County Detention Center. No joke. The pay was good, and I learned that good people existed outside fundy circles (even though I was raised fundy, it wasn’t always BJU). It was the first place I wasn’t treated as inferior because I was a woman. Incidentally, my long-term friends did not come from BJU, they were my coworkers at GCDC. It was also how my husband and I paid for his seminary degree debt-free.

  16. @Dan Keller
    “I’ve found the stories of students losing their faith at a secular school are grossly overrated – and that’s being gracious.”

    I think far more students lose their faith while or after attending Fundy U than fundies would ever care to admit.

    My wife and I both teetered perilously on that brink for a long time as a result of our experiences at PCC as students and me as staff; I guess that’s where I’m at to this day. “If that’s Christianity then I don’t want any part of it” is a thought that has crossed my mind many times.

  17. The best way out of fundamentalism to find what you believe without any regard to what fundies believe. The sooner you put them out of your mind the better. Sites like these are fine for a little while. But if I let what I disbelieve guide my life, then I’ll never know what I believe. And that would be worse than being a fundie.

  18. I have been reading this week’s reminiscences with mounting horror. All of you who went through what sounds to me like some fairly hellish experiences, and managed to come out with your hearts intact and have not succumbed and become one of the broken or smug people who beats others down in turn, you all have my immense admiration and you give me hope. And those of you who think you didn’t come out whole at all, and that you’re still clawing and stumbling your way to some kind of peace and truth, well, just the fact that you can conceive of the possibility of living in love and hope and justice rather than hate and blind prejudice, that means that you aren’t nearly as broken as you might think you are.

  19. I went to BJU and got my Pennsylvania teaching certification and got into grad school (Wilkes University) with no trouble. I realize that’s not what most people experience. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t go there. I would rather come out with debt and a “normal” college experience. Because I was from a public school and asked questions when I didn’t understand, I was never spiritiual enough. My senior year, first semester, I had a sophomore APC in my room. That’s right. A girl 2 years younger than me was qualified to be my “spiritual leader.” Sure, go ahead and call me bitter. Maybe I am. But that was just plain wrong. I do not keep in contact with anyone from there nor do I want to. I often joke that they would revoke my diploma if they could. I hope to never darken their doors again. I do not have nightmares about there often, but when I do, I wake up sweating and terrified that I’m still at BJU and can’t go back to sleep.

    1. I have repeat dreams about going back to BJU. I wish they would go away. In every dream I am re-enrolling as a student, and finding my place back in the dorms. In the dream I always say to someone, “I have dreams all the time that I am doing this, but this time it is real. I am really here again.” 🙁

  20. Thanks for all the ideas about colleges! I am open to the idea of a community college or state school as well for my kids, although it’s sort of a scary idea for me, but then I’m still at the baby steps point in stepping outside the box!

    @ Theadosia, that was beautifully expressed.

  21. There is light at the end of the tunnel. My new pastor said this at a prayer breakfast Saturday morning: “The law isn’t so you can gauge your obedience level. The law’s purpose is to expose sin to make way for glorious gospel of grace!” What truth! Fundy U will teach that the laws (both Biblical and U’s) are there as a measuring stick to how far along you are on your sanctification. But the law is worth nothing to those that are not under it! It’s only those who live under the law (the unsaved) who have any use for the law, and that only to show them that they need grace in Christ! Wow! That was a revelation to me, and it has literally changed my view of the Christian life. No longer is the Christian life plodding along, living hell on earth in exchange for heaven some day. The Christian life is indeed heaven on earth, and then heaven in heaven! But it will only seem that way once you rid yourself of the burdensome law. Then you’ll be free.

    Hopefully someone at Fundy U will read this and save himself years of struggle. I wish I had learned this long ago, but at least I learned it, right? 🙂

  22. @ Pastor’s Wife:
    I recently “transferred” from BJU (quotation marks used because nothing transferred…) to a state university. Like Dan said, I truly think the stories of kids losing their faith in secular schools is grossly overrated. To be honest, I came very close to losing my faith at BJU. Not sure if this makes sense, but I had trouble figuring out where to draw the line between making the faith my own and BJU’s faith that is force-fed you 24/7. Plus, as you know, to be a decent person at BJU you have to put on a huge spiritual front. At my state school, being a Christian is of really no advantage to me. If I’m not a Christian nobody cares. It became my choice to be and act like a follower of Jesus. In the process I have discovered many brothers and sisters in Christ on this state campus. They’re the “real deal” and not the shallow, “godly” BJU student leader who has everything to gain the more spiritual he looks.

    In essence, I don’t think all Christian universities are bad, but I think one so sheltered like BJU does more damage than good. God is going to take care of His own–even at secuar universities. 🙂

    Plus, I don’t believe we were created to hide away in gated campuses. 🙂

  23. I do believe that I feel a possible road trip coming on to visit pcc and northland again. How fun would that be? Any takers?

  24. After this week’s posts I’m pretty sure there’s a life-sized picture of me sitting in the PCC security office with a cross hairs painted over my face. I doubt I’d get very far. 🙂

  25. I drive back on the BJU campus every now and then. I just have a “U” code — standing for “Unfriendly” — in Infoman, so I can still go on campus. What’s weird is that as soon as I feel comfortable driving around, I feel terrorized. The two feelings go hand-in-hand for me, like peanut butter and jelly. It’s weird.

    It’s good though. You all should go back if you can.

  26. Oh, my word, Babe! I am so there! Let’s see how long we can stay before they have us forcibly removed. Let’s get it on in the rec hall–oh yeah!

  27. @Darrell I do believe I’m technically not allowed on campus, but I don’t think anyone would recognize me anymore. I assume you’ve worn out any welcome you had left this week. It sure would be funny to see what security told you if you tried to get on!

  28. Definately, there are many wounded left along the roadside after going to Fundie Colleges and churches. I have several friends that will not step in a church because of their experiences and really don’t want anything to do with God because of the God that was shown to them in that environment. Those of us who grew up in the fundie churches and went away to the fundie colleges have the journey to make of choosing how much of the “faith of our fathers” is actually ours. It can make or break our Christianity. If we can come out of it with our faith in God intact, God be praised! I am so grateful to God for showing me his love as I pulled away from the strict judgmental faith that I grew up a part of and I so wish my friends would have been able to experience a different kind of church, and a different kind of God before making their choice. It is so sad to me the path of destruction fundamentalism has made in so many lives.

  29. I still go to the church my fundy school was based out of, so I see the buildings every week 😀 I had to park in one of the spaces in front of the girls’ dorm last night, and holy cow, some serious nostalgia.

    Though the school has kinda ruined church, not gonna lie. The things I saw and heard in school usually don’t get preached from the pulpit in church, and now I see it in a different light. I’ve got some serious questions for them, but if I ever tried to discuss it I’d get blown off or get lectured for just not trusting “the man of God”. I got burned at the church I grew up in: pardon me if I don’t swallow everything you say, hook line and sinker.

  30. @Pastor’s Wife

    Does it have to be a Christian college? The first thing I learned right out of FU was that they lied to me. The reason I went to a Christian college (turning down good opportunities at other schools) was because I was convinced that Christianity does not happen outside of Fundamentalists schools. I was convinced that even in grammer class that my Christianity would be ridiculed and destroyed. I heard preached that if I went to a non-fundy school that I’d loose my faith and become a sinner. I was told that there were no Christians at those schools and even fewer Christians (less than 0) in the faculty or staff. So I avoided it out of fear of the unknown. I didn’t want to loose my faith or become a sinner. And who wants to go to a place where you are the only Christian?

    Then I got a job at a state university. That meant that we were going to live in that city, attend a church in that city and I’d be rubbing shoulders with faculty, staff, and students. What I found out was that there were plenty of Christians, oh they weren’t Fundamentalists, but they were certainly Christians. My church was so overwhelmed with students from the school that we had to meet in the gym during the school year. I had an elder who worked as faculty in the same building as I. Since then I and my wife have attended private, secular, universities and at no time has our faith been ridiculed or tried. To sum it up…we would have been just fine in secular school.

    Now to be sure there is temptation and not everyone would have been able to handle it. Who knows perhaps at a younger age I would have succumbed to temptation and fallen by the side of the road, but baring that the rest was a lie. So for now if I discern my child can handle making adult decision I plan on sending them to a college of their choice, with strong goading towards a secular reputable college.

    But I’ve mentioned before on the site that I’ve met several Gordon grads and they seem well prepared and adjusted for the real world. Gordon is accredited by the same New England accreditation as MIT and Harvard. I’ve also met several Cederville Grads and John Brown. Again both being regionally accredited and still very Christian, but without all the horrible cross the line rules.

  31. Boy, do I ever regret the four years of my life that I flushed down the toilet at Fundy U. When I came to my senses about what kind of crap independent Baptist fundamentalism was, I was married, had two kids and a degree that was about as useful as a two tonne paper weight. It was impossible to go back to school so I persevered and today I make a good living despite a poor choice in my youth. My faith in God is intact but the seeds of my discontent with fundamentalism were sown at Fundy U.

  32. Well I go to a technical college right now. I don’t think I would have been able to stand PCC with all those Demerits just for falling out of line in one little point.

  33. I would have been shadowed in the first week, OR, I would have been the worst “bojo” ever. I learnt some new words this week.

  34. @ Mark, thanks for the input! I wonder if the people telling us there are no Christians in secular colleges are the same ones who ask for support as they go to plant a church in a town where “there are no Gospel-preaching churches” (meaning of course no KJV-only, or hymn-playing only, or some such man-made rule).

  35. @Pastor’s Wife: I agree with what Mark said earlier. I spent grades K-3 in an IFB school, 4-12 in public schools, undergrad at an IFB college, and grad school at a state university. Not only did I get a much better education in the public schools, my faith was actually stronger there. I never had my faith ridiculed, and I have always been very open about it. In public schools/grad school I’ve had the opportunity to make friends with many other wonderful Christians (and have had teachers/professors who were believers), as well as to form friendships with unbelievers, some of whom I’ve been able to share the gospel with. If I could go back and do it all over again I would *definitely* choose all public/state schools all the way.

  36. @Pastor’s Wife,

    Well that was the next thing that I learned. See I lived really close to the University of IL growing up. In fact, I’ve always been a huge fan even if I couldn’t ever attend there ;-). Anyway when I left BJU I got a job at the University. So I lived maybe 30 or 40 minutes from my old town and old church. Far enough away that I wasn’t going to drive all that distance, but close enough that I still saw people. Anyway when I first got the job and my wife and I were moving they gave me 1 possible church. They assumed that outside of that I wouldn’t find *anything*. And these were the same people that told me that I shouldn’t go the U of I because there aren’t any Christians there, or I’d lose my faith. Needless to say that if you don’t require KJV, Hymns only, but do require orthodoxy and fundamentals of faith there are actually quite a few. In fact we had plenty of choice outside of that one church.

    When we moved to Boston my wife’s family attends a Fundy church in NH about 1.5 hours north of the city. Of course their reaction upon us moving to the city was, “good luck finding a church.” With the tone of, yea right you are going to find one. Again, assuming that you don’t require a KJV, Hymn only, staunch republican church than you can find plenty in Boston otherwise. That made me change my perspective on the whole US missions idea. I was always under the impression that the cities of the US were godless heathen cities with no church in sight and no hope for them unless the Fundies invade the city. Then I found out the truth.

    It isn’t only our strain of Fundyism though. I have a friend who grew up dutch reformed. He grew up so conservative that even talking about babies makes him blush. Anyway when he moved to Boston years ago to attend Boston College they told him the same thing. “Are you going to be able find a church?” With the assumption being that if he could there’d only be 1 church. When he told that to us my wife and I almost lost it!

  37. @Mark Rosedale. I WONDERED if your name sounded familiar for a reason. I knew the older Rosedale’s (not all that well, but just realized who you were, wanted to say hi).

    M = Miller as is Patti Miller’s son (6th grade teacher, or may have been doing some Jr High by the time you were that age).

  38. I’ll make a plug for big state universities! You’ll find large, passionate Christian student groups on big “secular” university campuses. You’ll get to rub elbows with students of other faiths and since universities are big on pushing diversity and tolerance, you’ll find many opportunities to discuss differences in beliefs in a civil, respectful manner. You’ll get to participate in awesome ministry outreach projects in your local community. And you’ll get to take advantage of the wealth of things to do at a big state school – concerts, plays, sporting events, clubs, game nights, etc.

    I’ve observed that students at “non-Christian” universities are often more passionate about their faith because it’s not assumed that anyone is a Christian (or of any particular religion at all), and so they actually have to work on their relationship with God and others. But campus Christian groups (there are a lot to choose from, and you can join one or join several!) are very supportive and are also a lot of fun.

    The bottom line, though, is that at ANY college, you will find what you look for. If you’re looking for druggies, you’ll find them. If you’re looking for committed Christians, you’ll find them. If you’re looking for constant hookups, you’ll find them. If you’re looking for fellow vegan environmentalist Republicans, you’ll find them. It doesn’t matter what school you go to – “secular,” “Christian,” or otherwise – you will find what you seek out.

  39. Well said UptownHippie. Well said. I see the same thing. I knew guys at BJU who immediately found the “bad kids.” I knew people who did all sorts of horrible things or “sinful” things while at BJU…it wasn’t as obvious and certainly not in the open but all forms of debauchery were present at Christian schools. If you wanted to find them you could and pretty easily. At secular schools it is just out in the open for all to see. So it is easy to pick on. For a weak Christian who is easily tempted by that then perhaps a Christian school is good for them, but for a good Christian there shouldn’t be a problem.

    Oh and Yea for Campus Cru and InterVarsity.

    My current church has quite the outreach in Boston. Boston has a ton of schools packed in a tight space. And we have a lot of top schools. What is amazing is just how many students and faculty attend Park Street from these schools. If I were to talk to most fundies and throw down the names of schools that are represented at Park Street they probably wouldn’t believe it.

  40. Ditto to UptownHippie and Mark. I’ve been much more encouraged by the Christians I met at Clemson than the Christians I spent five years in the middle of at BJU. The deception involved among the “bad” kids at BJ was vastly more depressing than the rabid atheist I worked beside in a supposedly godless school. And you know what? I liked the atheist more. He was genuine.

  41. Ditto on the state university thing. Another plus – you’re already paying for them with your taxes. Take advantage of them. You can’t make choices for your children the rest of their lives – you get 18 years. Unless your child has a learning disability or psychiatric diagnosis, that’s long enough to teach them. Prolonging adolescence by sending them to a strict, religious school doesn’t really help, it only prolongs the inevitable.

  42. “Prolonging adolescence…..only prolongs the inevitable”

    I’m not sure that fundy parents understand the damage that this does….

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