Act I: The Prayer Group Proclamation

Let’s start at the very beginning because, to invoke the shade of Oscar Hammerstein, it’s “a very good place to start.”

I arrived on the campus of Pensacola Christian College in the summer of 1999 to begin the work-assistance program that ultimately paid for my college tuition. Due to the fact that my missionary parents were alumni supported by the Campus Church it wasn’t my first time on campus. I had been there in 1991 and 1996, participated in a missions conference and visited classes. However, as any Fundy U student can tell you, take off the guest button (known affectionately as a “sin pin” by students) the campus turns into a very different place.

It was during this summer that I was first introduced to the concept of “prayer group,” the nightly mandatory sit-talk-and-pray sessions that the administration believed were essential to our spiritual health. We’d sing a song or two, rattle off the usually litany of prayer requests about needing 1) more money 2) better grades, 3) a date, or 4) fewer demerits and then somebody would pray. This particular evening the guy leading the group decided to switch things up and asked for praises instead of prayer requests. I wasn’t even officially a freshman yet but I was primed and ready to go.

“I’m thankful for this college,” I said proudly, “and how easy it is to be godly here.”

Blank faced stares answered from the upperclassmen around me but I soldiered on.

“Out in the world we have…uh…a lot of tough choices.” (Note: I was a missionary’s kid and generally a pretty straight arrow. My idea of being “out in the world” mostly consisted of sneaking over to the neighbor’s house to watch Xena, Warrior Princess.) “But here they’ve given us rules to help us. In order to know we’re right with God all we need to do is keep the rules. That makes it simple.”

There was a general shifting and muttering which I would remember later with no small sense of chagrin. I knew exactly nothing of what I was talking about — and yet it my guileless freshman way I had just summed up the general philosophy of sanctification at PCC.

“Personal holiness is determined by how closely you follow the rules that are written, those that are unwritten, and those that we just made up on the spot because we don’t like you.”

I tell this story because I want to make it clear at the outset that I arrived at PCC as a true believer. I was there to be the perfect student both in academics and institutional policy and for a while I actually made it work. My first semester I had a 4.0 GPA and so few demerits that my parents got a letter praising my performance.

It took a few years for things to go awry…

133 thoughts on “Act I: The Prayer Group Proclamation”

  1. Ah, Young Tower. I was there in ’96 and experienced everything you just mentioned. Kudos on the letter. You surely have it framed somewhere…

    1. I think this was under construction when I was there; I’m not sure. All their buildings pretty much conform to the same style. That’s not a compliment.

  2. Poor misguided, gullible freshman! At least you were a missionaries kid who followed the rules. My aunt and uncle were ABWE missionaries, and their son followed the “rules” in public, but alone – he had the largest porn collection I had ever seen. His idea on girlfriends was, get out of them what you can then move one. He had the grandiose idea of “living a life of son and fun” – then that would give him a great story when he became an evangelist. He was killed in a car AC ident at age 16. God took him to prevent him from sinning anymore.

    1. ” God took him to prevent him from sinning anymore.”

      I’m pretty sure that if God killed every horny sixteen year old mankind would have died out a long time ago.

    2. If “God took him to keep him from sinning anymore” we would all be dead! SW, are you telling us that you no longer sin? Really?! Please tell us how that’s going?

    3. Oh, very nice. Shades of my grandmother, who very proudly told all of us grandkids that she prayed for us. Specifically, she prayed that if we weren’t going to serve God, He’d take us while we were young. I now talk to my grandmother once a week, a conversation in which she berates me for going to a Reformed church until my fifteen minutes is up and I can be free for another week.

      1. That type of “prayer” makes me so angry! Our 2nd child was born with potentially fatal issues & was whisked away to a NICU at another hospital. We called my parents to update them & ask for prayers. They told us they weren’t traveling to see us until they knew whether they were coming for a baby or a funeral.

        Later, my mom relayed to me her best friend told her she was praying that if our child wasn’t going to serve God, death would come quickly.

        Our child survived & is thriving, despite the “going to accomplish great things for God” burden placed on the poor kid by the Fundies.

        1. Dear me, what kind of conditions do these people want for children growing up? “Do right by our Fundy God or you don’t deserve to live!” 😯 πŸ™ What is it they expect? That God blast you and yours if you don’t get right down on your knees and bewail being such a sinner? πŸ™„
          Hope your child does go on to carry out something worthwhile, you never know.

        2. Wow. I can’t imagine saying that to an enemy, let alone someone I love. I’m so glad your child is doing well despite all the emotional “support” you received from your family.

          I’ve often wondered what my grandmother was hoping to accomplish with those oh-so-public prayers of hers. Whatever it was, it probably was not the current status quo in which all 10 of her grandchildren rarely speak to her or to each other. Outside of Facebook, I haven’t spoken to most of my cousins on that side since my mother’s funeral 10 years ago.

        3. That just makes me ill! πŸ‘Ώ How anyone can think that way I will never understand.

        4. That sort of thinking (the second thing) just boggles my mind. The first seems just callously insensitive, but I guess there MIGHT be mitigating circumstances. Nah, it’s unbelievably callous. Children, especially new parents with problems, need help & support.

      2. It was our family that made that dumbass statement. He let me borrow his materials, as long as returned in good condition. Yesterday was the16th anniversary of my cool aunts death from breast cancer, my fundy relatives said she got cancer because she left the “faith” and was attending a mainline Presbyterian church. My cousins mom told my mom that she was seriously injured in a car accident, because she isn’t going to church. They believe in the God of the Old Testament.

        1. That is so sad. I’ve told this story on here before but after a church split, the husband of one of my mother’s friends got lung cancer. My mother told them it was punishment from God for being “bitter” (Bill Gothard says that bitterness causes cancer) and for leaving the church. I was disgusted.

        2. DS, you remind me of a day many years ago when my grandmother opined that AIDS was God’s punishment for immoral behavior like homosexuality or using drugs. I asked her if lung cancer was God’s punishment for smoking (her husband was a smoker) and if heart disease (which she had) was God’s punishment for eating a high-fat diet. She told me to mind my own business.

        3. SW, if your family made the “Good took him” remark but you are not in agreement with it…I humbly suggest that you may want to go with this approach:

          “According to my fundy family, ‘God took him to keep him from sinning any more.’ ”

          As you can tell from a few of the comments on here already, if you make statements about the O.T. God killing teenagers because of porn…you’re gonna have a bad time. πŸ™‚

      3. Wow, Seanchaigirl and Kreine.
        That about beats all.

        I don’t think my grandparents ever prayed for my death, but if they did, they at least had the decency not to tell me so. 😯

        1. You are correct, that’s what happens when you type quickly, on an iPhone during your 15 minute break at work.

        1. I appreciate that. I’ve tried at various times over the past decade to cut ties and each time I’ve gotten such flack from the rest of my relatives, including my father, that I’ve knuckled under. At this point, I just tell myself that she’s an old, sick and bitter woman and that 15 minutes a week is a reminder to me of why I must continue to work on myself and my personal relationship with God so that I never, ever end up mindlessly parroting such hurtful things because a pastor once said them and they sound good.

        2. I can appreciate that. It’s a loving and sacrificial thing to do. I just hope you guard your heart because hearing her words consistently could beat you down if you’re not being built up elsewhere.

        3. When I was a teen, I had a Sunday School teacher who told our class the he & his wife prayed that if any of their children were going to turn out to not serve God, that God would take them as infants. They actually did lose an infant child (but had three other, older children).

        4. Please say that this horrible experience broke their hearts, humbled them, made them more compassionate.

        5. @MSK: I didn’t know him well; I think that when their child passed away, they “consoled” themselves with the thought that this was what they prayed for.

          As a teen learning about Christianity, he seemed like a good guy…. but he later took a job teaching at the BJ Academy. He had a daughter my age that I was interested in; I believe I was too worldly for her; she wanted to encourage me to stay in church, but she didn’t want to encourage me to have an interest in her.

        6. Re: God taking kids that wouldn’t have served Him. There are some really problematic metaphysical implications here. Namely, if God takes the kid, then obviously it won’t serve Him later. So what was the point of having the kid be born in the first place? Shouldn’t the kid be given the chance to mend his ways?

          Not to mention the fact that “serving God” is a lot mroe broad than the IFB definition which means “being a pastor or missionary or wife thereof.”

        7. Note: it has been many years, and I may be in error; it could be that their prayer was that, if their child was not going to be saved, that God would take that child as an infant.

  3. The PCC reputation regarding rules was why I stayed far away. As a freshman in high school I started hearing stories that blew my mind and I determined there was no way I was going there. The Christian schools I attended were miniature PCC’s anyway so the pattern became obvious and easily avoidable. The worst part of it all is the fact you were not allowed to “reason” with anyone in authority. It was their way or the highway. Sad.

  4. Oh, bless your earnest little heart!

    I was like that, too, when I showed up in 1988. These rules were here because they loved us and wanted to help us grow into godly adults.

  5. I think that is something that a lot of detractors of SFL don’t get. Many of us were ‘true believers’. I was at BJ instead of PCC but I went there with the intention of following the rules and being as good a Christian as possible. The whole time I was there I followed the rules and did everything they told me. I was not rebellious. Nothing ‘bad’ happened to me personally. I just got tired of always reaching and working and coming up empty…

    1. Exactly.

      (And they don’t want to acknowledge it because it would upset their assumption that we’re no longer fundies because we’re evil rebels. If they admitted that we were real fundies at one time and that we continue to be sincere Christ-followers, the only other option for them would be to start looking closely at the flaws in their own system which they will never do. “No doubt the problem is with you” is their mantra; the problem can NEVER be with them.)

    2. Me too, elfdream. When I picked Bob Jones, I had *no idea* that I was signing up for anything more than a particularly strict Christian college. I just picked it because I met some students on campus who were gracious and didn’t complain about the rules, and I didn’t want to go to a Christian college where the students complained about the rules. Rules were meant to be kept, and it wasn’t that hard to wear a skirt. Why complain?

      Then, I spent a summer working at an even stricter (KJVO, with ties to Hyles-Anderson) fundy camp in Colorado. After that, I started to complain. 😎

    3. I’ve always said that after graduating from fundy high school, I would have had no problem attending the likes of PCC, MBBC, or anywhere similar – I was used to the rules and figuring out how to get around the ones I didn’t feel like following. But after a year at a secular university, there’s absolutely no way I could have gone back. I thought about it a couple times, but knew I wouldn’t survive in that environment anymore.

    1. There’s a big difference between the hand that feeds you, and the hand that poisons the food. I’ll bite that hand any day.

    2. You could also turn it around and tell the college, which offered and accepted his labor, not to beat and berate the bodies that feed THEM.

      1. The disdain for labor that’s common in Fundamentalism always bothered me. It’s one of the things that kept me from chugging the Kool Aid.I grew up in very blue collar and very pro-labor union environment.

    3. Sounds like Schaap’s defence. “I’ve done all these wonderful things, so you can’t be mad at me at that little issue of rape.” How’d that work out for him? Ten years?

      Doing some good things doesn’t erase the bad things. Those negative things need to be talked about if they’re going to get better.

    4. Oh, brother.

      The hands that provide physical food (never mind that the inmates still have to earn it), are, in these cases, famous for spiritually starving the inmates.

      When I started my $2.85 per hour job at Jaw Bones, we were all told that we should be thankful to get paid ANYTHING AT ALL…because it was a ministry, not a job.

      Right. I signed up for a job so I could pay my school bill, and they told me to be thankful for the pittance they threw my way. They underpaid and overworked me, and I was expected to be GRATEFUL. And they made impossible for me to get a job off-campus by making it illegal to use my own car, keeping me at prison wages until my junior year.

      “Shall I praise them in this? I praise them not.”

      1. Exactly. I vividly remember waiting to scan my card at the time clock at PCC’s maintenance department so I could start another shift of painting. Right above the clock was a Dept. of Labor poster about worker’s rights, explaining minimum wage – with the one tiny phrase always colored in orange highlighter: “Except for certain student workers, apprentices, and workers with disabilities.” Awesome. Just so we knew for SURE why were were getting in scraps. I think I made $4 an hour in 1995. Half a day of scraping old paint off houses…you get 16 bucks off your school bill! Praise the Lord!!!

        1. Scraping old paint off houses? Have you ever been checked for lead poisoning? The hand that fed you may actually have been poisoning you; it deserves to be bitten.

    5. Man, you clearly have no concept of work assistance. If they were running that sweatshop in 2000 like they did in 1996-98, they got their money’s worth out of Darrell SEVERAL times over.

    6. My parents fed me. They also beat me so badly that I have a permanent disability in my left shoulder (I’m left-handed, so this is no small issue). But hey, they fed me, so it’s all good, right? Awesome.

      Feeding does not absolve a person (or institution) of all subsequent abuses.

    7. Jean, were you under the impression that the work assistance program was some sort of charity program for the STUDENTS? Long hours, the absolute minimum pay that they were legally able to get away with, and very often supervisors that were arrogant bullies (and no amount of telling the higher-ups about it ever made any changes, except to get the student who complained fired). A majority of the jobs were filled by these students, who were never allowed to have off-campus jobs, at least while I was there.

      It was actually a charity to the school, since if they didn’t have the student workers, they would have to pay real wages to outside workers for all those position, who they would then have to treat respectfully (or foot the cost of having a high turnover rate). In short, they would go bankrupt and shut down. The school would be totally unable to function without the student workers. They certainly had no reason to feel superior to them, or treat them like crap.

      1. Crud, that sounds like Scientology. Sign up to clear the planet, end up doing unpaid construction work all day in the hot sun and eating ramen and expired hot dogs.

  6. We played Uno in my prayer group. Of course, that was at Liberty in the mid-80s — we only had prayer groups twice a week (such reprobates!!).

    I always figured the rules there were things I could either live with or get around. For the most part I succeeded.

  7. God, what a deluded fool I was… I remember my freshman year at PBC I “preached” a “sermon” at my home church about how important soulwinning was and then blasting the church because they weren’t up to par… Thank God I’m not a part of that anymore. BTW, thanks for the flashback πŸ‘Ώ

  8. A minister who is a big PCC supporter has just become pastor of a heretofore pretty moderate church in which I was once involved. I shudder. πŸ˜₯

  9. When I made two preliminary visits to PCC in 1998 I was pretty much told I wasn’t fundie enough for them, from the eye rolling when I pulled out an NIV Study Bible to the throat clearing when I mentioned I listened to DC Talk and Audio Adrenaline. (Because Liberty and Kentucky Christian were too liberal for allowing electric guitars, obviously.)

    One of my favorite encounters was touring the arts department and the professor said they don’t believe in abstract art because it doesn’t uplift Christ in an obvious enough way. πŸ˜†

    1. I don’t know about PCC, but @ BJU, very few of the art faculty have doctorates. Because they would have to draw nudes in their post-graduate classes. 😯

      1. At most art schools, you draw live nude models in your *intro* classes.

        So I’ve got to wonder if they studied art at all, and if so, where.

      2. As always, the Fundy preoccupation with sex prevails. I guess they haven’t reached the level of enlightenment in which they realize that the human body is a beautiful thing. I mean, drawing a nude, you’re in a room with a bunch of other artists, and the model is covering up the essential bits, right? Not like you’ll be tempted to go hit on the model. Sheesh.

        In some ways, the Renaissance/Baroque aesthetics were so much better – judging by their art, anyway. Funny how BJU owns so much of that art, yet misses the big picture behind it all.

      3. That’s not surprising actually. Very few art faculty have a Ph.D. The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is considered the terminal degree. People with an MFA are the only academics without an doctorate who are permitted to wear the tam, because that is as far as that subject goes academically. Faculty with a Ph.D. have them in Art History or some other non-Fine Arts subject.

      4. My sister was an Art major at PCC, which surprised me as I wasn’t sure how they studied classical art or did life studies. Most of the sketches she showed me were of fully clothed people; useful if you want to know how fabric drapes, not so much for if you want to know how joints bend.

        1. I got my art degree at a state college, and I kind of wish we had more clothed models. Drapery is hard to draw, and I would have liked to have a bit more variety. Costumed models would have been even better.

          Did the models at PCC get to wear interesting/historical clothing, or did they have to wear stereotypical fundy attire?

    2. The fundy u approach to modern art is so facile. (Or, as my fundy family calls it, “modern junk.” Pathetic, I know.) I think there are genuine Christian criticisms that can be leveled against various modern art forms (e.g., distortion, deconstruction, post-modernism, etc.). However, “it doesn’t glorify Christ” is a pathetic cop-out in lieu of coming up with a Christian theory of art criticism that is rigorous, debatable, and intellectually honest.

      When I worked at Bill Gothard’s Moscow Training Center, I remember we were all supposed to guffaw heartily any time the assistant director told us his “the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg has a very beautiful floor” joke. Supposedly that was all he and his family could look at because of all the nudes. All I remember is thinking how tragic to go halfway around the world to a famous art museum and then not actually look at the art!!!

      “I don’t go to the theater because I can nap at home for free. And I don’t watch movies because they’re trash and there ain’t nothing but a bunch of naked people in ’em. And I don’t read books because if they’re any good, they’re just going to turn them into a miniseries!” Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias.

    1. Well put, Doctor. It is the fundy equivalent of alchemy – trying to change law into grace by adding more man-made rules. I thank God every day that I left Fundydom (actually they asked me to leave) at 16 years of age and then attended a non-denominational Christian school (which I loved) and a Reformed (and accredited) college (which I loved even more). Grace is sweet.

      1. The assumption of many of these institutions seems to be that the problem with legalism is that it doesn’t have enough rules, or that it doesn’t have strict enough rules.

        1. I call it The Baptist Talmud. It’s an ongoing work in progress that is never finished, and as time goes on, becomes more arduous, hefty, and (most importantly) unattainable. The proctors of the Baptist Talmud have designed it this was so that people are always under their thumb. What begins as a “commentary” on so-called godly rules and regs, becomes law as the commentary become policy, and then policy becomes gospel with binding authority.

    2. I agree 100%. It was interesting that fundies spend so much time preaching against Catholicism and its “works-based salvation” while never realizing that they themselves believe in a works-based Christianity as well.

      1. Deacons Son – I am with you on that. I have always thouoght that fundydom was a first-cousin to Romanism. The parallels are too close for it to be a coincidence. Besides a fundy MOG being a Baptist popette, both hold to a version of extra ecclesiam nolla salus (there is no salvation outside the church). Except that the pope sees the church as Catholicism while the fundy popette sees it as only his “independent baptist church” and whatever other churches are run by his Fundy U cronies.

        1. And with that, I think you just gave me some insight into my own spiritual journey.

          For over a year now, I’ve been going back and forth about converting to Catholicism. In the process, I’ve read books by converts in both directions and cases made by both sides for their brand of Christianity. One of the books I read was Rome Sweet Home, by a couple who grew up in the Reformed tradition and were actually in the ministry at a Reformed church. One of their big stumbling blocks on the road to conversion was papal authority. Having grown up in a IFB-lite church, I was stumped by that. Of all the things that give me pause about Catholicism, the investing of authority by God to one man doesn’t really register for me. I wonder if I’m more accepting of this because I grew up being taught that the pastor had the red phone to God and his word might as well be in red type on onion skin pages. The idea that the red phone is located in Vatican City instead of on the desk of Brother So-and-So isn’t really that much of a leap.

        2. Seanchaigirl:

          That’s one of the reasons I -didn’t- become Roman Catholic. I rejected the idea of papal authority in the form of the pastor; why should I accept the idea of papal authority in the form of the Pope? Same idea, different human.

          I went Orthodox instead. All the good things of Catholicism; none of the later innovations (like the “Pope has a red phone to God” idea).

        3. Seanchaigirl – You are correct…ANY church or religion that has anyone other than Jesus Christ as the head (real or titular) is a conterfeit of the true church.

    3. It’s not so much law keeping that is the problem. It’s that they keep adding to the law in completely arbitrary and capricious ways.

      1. Actually, it’s both.
        But mostly, it’s that they do not understand that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

      2. I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one, EC. I think the NT in general and Hebrews in particular make it plain that sanctification does not come through keeping God’s law. In fact, the paradigm is backward. God’s grace frees us to walk in good works which he has prepared for us. The law can never do this.

        1. Scripture contains many apparent paradoxes. I don’t think it’s as clear as some Protestants make it.

          A few hours ago I read a helpful analogy. Running on a treadmill might help one be a better marathon runner, but running on a treadmill five hours a day doesn’t actually make a person a marathon runner. The only way to be a marathon runner is to run a marathon.

          There are spiritual disciplines that are helpful in sanctification but keeping them doesn’t make one sanctified. The only way to be sanctified is to be sanctified.

  10. I was a true believer for a time as well, but my drug of choice was Bill Gothard’s ATI. Yep, I was so spiritual, I wasn’t going to go to college ANYWHERE because it was so humanistical and all that sort of thing. At least, that was my outward attitude. Inwardly, I was just desperate to get out of my abusive fundy home.

    Anyway, I spent two years working in BG’s empire, first in Moscow and then in Oklahoma City. (Man, I sound like a Mormon missionary.) Gradually, it dawned on me that the emperor had no clothes. Some random memories: the director of the Moscow Training Center/Orphanage shutting down a Bible study with some new Muslim converts to Christianity because “we are here to reach the Russians”; my best friend at Moscow being falsely accused of child abuse because he got the director in trouble with BG for doing nothing to encourage the kids’ spiritual growth and then lying about it; my boss at the Oklahoma City Training Center standing outside the Oklahoma Bar Center and “rebuking” it for not allowing unaccredited Oak Brook College of Law grads to be members of the Oklahoma Bar (item: I am now an Oklahoma attorney who went to a real law school); getting in trouble because I was assigned a “troubled teen” to stay in my room (even though I was supposed to have a private room because I was on full-time staff) and he went through my stuff and found a joke that someone at the Oklahoma Capitol had given me and he took it home and showed his family and they called and complained and got me in trouble because it referred to “giving someone the finger” and I was forced to call and apologize.

    I could tell many, many more stories, because ATI training center stories make the worst Bible College stories sound like lesbian frat parties at Berkeley. The point is, two years of ATI innoculated me against fundamentalism and I left to attend a real college and earn accredited bachelors and law degrees. I didn’t drop all my fundy beliefs in masse, but it was the start of a long journey that culminated with a fundy pastor falsely accusing my wife-to-be of impurity and wanting to do church discipline on her based on an accusation from a Heartland Baptist College student (and former friend) whose husband got kicked out of Heartland for looking at child porn. That was the last straw and I haven’t been a fundy since.

    So, yes, I do understand the whole “drinking the koolaid” / “true believer” stuff. That was me, for a short while in my late teens. Honestly, I liked the feeling of superiority that I got. I was so beat down at home that fundamentalism was the only thing I had to make me feel some self-confidence and feel like I had worth as a person. Of course, once I realized how harmful and hurtful fundamentalism itself was (and how it justified my parents’ own abusive treatment of me), I was done.

    The problem is that my parents learned from me and now they bend over backwards to ensure that none of my siblings see the dark underbelly of fundamentalism or experience the consequences thereof. It’s maddening to try to warn my siblings of the dangers of fundamentalism and hear them say “well, that happened to you but it won’t happen to me.” Ahh, but it will. I can only wait until that day arrives and be ready to receive them with love when they emerge, broken and bruised and ready for real life.

    1. Since you were in Oklahoma City, did you ever know Jim Vineyard? He’s quite the character I hear. Also did you know anyone from Heartland Baptist College. They used to be in California originally when I was young before heading for the Oklahoma Hills.

      1. We were on the Heartland side of OKC fundystan, not the Jim Vineyard side. All I know about him is that local media (which generally is so conservative that it makes Fox news look liberal) treats him and his church like some sort of David Koresh paramilitary cult that may one day explode.

        Heartland grads are basically kids that are too stupid to get into other Bible colleges that at least have SOME admissions standards (however low they may be). I recall one memorable conversation with a Heartland grad who educated me on why no American could vote for Obama because he doesn’t say the pledge of allegiance and he was sworn into Congress on the Koran and he doesn’t put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem so on and etc.

        1. “All I know about him is that local media (which generally is so conservative that it makes Fox news look liberal) treats him and his church like some sort of David Koresh paramilitary cult that may one day explode.”

          In Vineyard’s case, they aren’t wrong about any of that.

        2. I still can’t get over two fundy colleges in the same town. I’ve heard Jack Trieber speak of Jim Vineyard ans he sings his praises but of course anything that Trieber spews out is gibberish.

          Oklahoma is referred to as the buckle of the Bible belt and that there are churches on every corner. The church I go to now in San Jose is partners with Craig Groeschel who is based out of Oklahoma City with his own megachurch.

      1. That story about the musical seeds is pretty fascinating. To me, the most poignant part is that when people asked “Does it work?” the author answered honestly (“No”), but only a couple of people asked.

    2. Your story about the teenaged roommate brought back memories for me. In my second and last year at Fundy U, I was appointed Assistant Prayer Leader. I didn’t get a say in this matter, but the previous year I think I had a grand total of 7 demerits and a 3.8, so I was judged worthy. I had no idea that one of my assigned roommates had almost been booted the previous year and was, in short, trouble.

      All year, girls from our hall noticed things going missing but since there are no locks at Fundy U, there wasn’t much to be done about it. In maybe April of that year, we accidentally found my friend’s missing wallet with her ID and credit cards still in it in Bad Roommate’s backpack. Once we started looking we found all kinds of other items from shoes to other wallets and even a men’s watch that belonged to a hallmate’s boyfriend. We dithered about what to do; I was in favor of confronting roommate directly but one of my roommates went to the hall leader while I was at work and told her.

      Bad Roomie assumed I had busted her and turned on me, telling the dean of women about the handful of CCM CDs in a box under my bed. To make a long story short Bad Roomie, who was in possession of stolen goods including state-issued IDs that she had used in various places, received exactly the same punishment that I did for possessing unapproved music. We were both given demerits to bring us to 149 or whatever the magic number was. I don’t know if I would have been asked not to return the next semester because I withdrew as soon as fall registration opened. I know Bad Roomie didn’t return either, but I don’t know if that was her choice or theirs.

      Fifteen years later, I should probably try to locate Bad Roomie on Facebook and thank her for being the impetus for my departure from Fundy-ism. I transferred to a Christian liberal arts college that accepted my credits in a block and was actually accredited so I’ve never had a problem getting into grad schools. Plus I don’t have to list PCC on my resume. πŸ˜€

      1. Obviously listening to Chris Tomlin or DC Talk is just as bad as kleptomania is just as bad as pedophilia. Specifically, it’s as big or little of a sin as those in power want it to be. It can be grounds for dismissal / firing or it can be something that must be forgiven.

        1. And typically the deciding factor is $$$$.

          Kids of rich fundies (doctors, lawyers, etc.) get special treatment.

          Kids who pay their whole school bill up front get special treatment.

          Kids who come from churches that send a lot of kids to the Bible college get special treatment.

          Kids from families of pastors/missionaries who send a lot of kids to the Bible college get special treatment.

          Kids who are the older children of big families get special treatment. (This is currently my two sisters who are at West Coast: numbers 2 and 3 of 7 kids.)

          Kids of church/college staff get special treatment so the staff won’t get pissed off and quit working for a pittance.

          And so on.

  11. The way the SFL page appears on my computer, the bottom part of the picture can’t be seen unless I scroll down, so at first glance, this pic of PCC makes it looks like a prison: the institutional building, the spotlights, the fence.

  12. In order to know we’re right with God all we need to do is keep the rules.

    Ah, such a good teaching opportunity wasted.

    Such did not work out for the Jews; the prayer group lead could have had a good discussion about the necessity of a relationship with Jesus Christ, not just adherence to the “rules”.

    1. Exactly. Doesn’t the Bible say that the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, so that we could be justified by faith? The Law was never intended to be an end unto itself. It was only to show how incapable we were of satisfying God’s demands, so that we would rest in His provision for us!

      Of course, we all know that Galatians isn’t the favorite book of the Indy Fundy, since it destroys his ability to scare people into submission to him.

    2. Heavens, no. The prayer group leader could have been accused of being a liberal or possibly a Calvinist. Relationship with Jesus talk is only for the unconverted. Once you’re in it’s all work, work, work. (She says, tongue firmly planted in cheek)

  13. I started attending Fundy U after three years in State U… honestly Fundy U gave me the creeps for the first couple months. I chose to stay– leaving just seemed too hard, for family reasons– but I spent a couple years really wondering if I’d made a mistake. I don’t wonder that so much any more as there’s no point. It was over 15 years ago.

  14. Well, this story resonated with me. My mother brought me up to be the perfect BJU preacher boy. She seemed to enjoy showing off her brainwashed trophy to impress her old friend who were still there. 😳 I became an education student instead of a Bible major, to her disappointment. But, that was still OK.

    I quickly learned that things were not what they appeared on the surface 😎 . One could fill volumes of student handbooks with the “unwritten” rules. I very quickly learned that my only means of surviving the next four years was 1)To shower at least once a day. 2) To accept what I was told to think and believe without question. 3)To do everything I was told. 4) To keep my stinking mouth shut and mind my own business.

  15. I still have nightmares of running from my former M.O.G. Dr. Trieber. I dream I’m back at NVBC playing Eagles songs with Bro. Martinez and Trieber’s face turns into a jackal and he’s chasing me throughout the church with Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On” playing in the background. Then I wake up and realize I’m no longer apart of that cult πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

      1. Great song by one of the Eagles!! Plus that song is definitely Jack Trieber’s song. He can’t stand the “Heat” of losing NVBC students to West Coast Baptist!

        1. No.Cal. Niners and Giants all day. Currently in San Jose and I left fundamentalism and Jack Trieber’s Man Made laws behind!!

        2. @Heat In On….You came out of the Hyles’ IFBx brand of Fundamentalism. Congrats and thank the Lord! I know all too well what you’ve experienced there, and the history of that church and school. From what I’ve observed in my many years as a Christian, that camp is the extreme of all those that call themselves Independent Fundamental Baptists, at this time in church history. The man-centered, pastor/hero worship, shallow preaching, and legalism should be exposed for what it is. Still my heart goes out to those currently trapped in it, for I was once blinded in the very same way, by the attractive, polished facade they call “old fashioned” Christianity.

          Unfortunately, commenting here at SFL labels you as bitter, hateful, and godless by those who refuse to look outside their Fundie bubble. Welcome!

        3. We went to North Valley’s youth conference every single year. I should have stopped after the first couple because it was so ridiculous, the manipulation.

  16. I attended a fundie high school and that convinced me not attend any type of Baptist college. I did not want to deal with the ever changing set of rules based on one’s social status or the social status of one’s parents.

    1. Fundy colleges are “Fundy High Grad Schools”. Same curriculum, rules, worship of the Pastor, no CCM music etc. As you can tell from my posts, “The Great” Jack Trieber isn’t popular among me and former NVBS cult survivors.

  17. I visited PCC on one of their high school weekend things. As I was ice skating with my long skirt on, (Oh my goodness, have you ever tried that? It’s nearly impossible!) I decided that this was not where I wanted to be. Well, it was at least one reason. I just had a feeling of something weighing down on me for the entire weekend. πŸ™

  18. I’ll tell my lone PCC story:

    I stopped on the way back from Houston to visit a friend who was in his senior year. I got there on a Sunday night, late, because I had stopped at a casino (I figured I’d spend $20 and try to get enough back to pay for the trip. No such luck). I was wearing flannel and jeans, and I had a respectable beard.

    Since I got there too late to go to the service in the main chapel, and my friend was already there, I went to the gym (I think) to watch the satellite feed. The only distinct memory is getting several dirty, snobbish glares by the students walking by.

    The end.

  19. I remember visiting PCC when our P3 squadron went to Pensacola Naval Air Station for some training. A friend from church was attending there, and I thought I’d drop by for a visit. First impression: not unlike a military base with regards to security, except the rules seemed to be less about security, than about control.

    FFWD 20 years; my oldest son attends for 1 semester, and leaves. Then, my oldest daughter attends for 1 semester, and leaves. Then, #2 son attends for one semester, and leaves. Sensing a pattern, none of the other 5 remaining siblings wanted any part of it. My visits to the campus during those years were for drop-offs and pick-ups. During those visits, I noticed the campus security police, who rode around on Segways. They reminded me of a mixture of Darth Vader Stormtroopers and Barney Fifes.

    My 3 oldest kiddos were looked down upon by my fundy in-laws for not “sticking it out”. I, however, am proud of their discernment (b.s. meters) and happy to have well-adjusted adult offspring with whom I can discuss, debate, and respect on all matters; spiritual and otherwise.

  20. OK, I wasn’t going to tell my only PCC story, since that’s *your* theme this week, Dar-El. But since you specifically mention prayer group, I feel led to do so. (Yes, that “feel led” was totally smart-butt.)

    I went to a hyper-fundy Christian school. During my junior year (Feb of ’83), we all piled on the bus for the annual “college trip” where we went and visited Christian colleges in the Southeast. One of the places that we visited was PCC. We arrived late-evening, so the plan was to stay in the dorms (each of us was in a room with 3 PCC students) and most of the indoctrination, er um, I mean recruitment would occur the next day.

    I was exhausted, so once I got to my dorm room, after about 5 minutes of chatting with my roommates, I went ahead and changed into my sleeping clothes (a pair of shorts and a t-shirt — probably my PE uniform, to be honest). My roommates *then* informed me of “prayer group” occurring across the hall and two doors down. So I grabbed my Bible and headed for the door.

    “Where are you going?” they asked. “To prayer group,” I responded. “Dressed like that?” they asked. Then they proceeded to tell me (though not in so many words) that it was immodest for me to wear shorts 10 feet down a 3rd-floor windowless hallway in a men’s dorm that was roughly 8.3 light years from the women’s dorm.

    So I quickly changed back into my slacks and shirt (thank God those liberals didn’t require me to wear a tie) and barely got there on time. In retrospect, one would think that this was just a hazing prank on the high school kid, but everyone else was still dressed up too.

    1. At my fundy school, The High School Boys had to wear ties on chapel day. One boy forgot to come to school wearing a tie and one of the teachers grabbed his ear into the Principals office then marched him over to the Pastors office (Jack Trieber 😈 ) and that boy got suspended for a week. True story. The young man eventually left NVBS and his family left NVBC. My whole family got fed up with it and once I graduated my family left fundamentalism for “Non-Denominationalism”. After I graduated I played “Already Gone” by the Eagles in my car! πŸ™‚

  21. I never even dared to go to any of the Fundie colleges; I’d had enough of the control freakery in grade and high school. It also didn’t hurt that I understood what “accredited” meant.

  22. “I got so few demerits that my parents got a letter praising my performance.”

    I’m trying to translate this to actual college life.

    I just . . . I can’t. The only times anybody at college would have contacted my mother would have been if I were arrested, hospitalized, or killed, or possibly if I had had to leave in the middle of the term due to some issue that would have a decent human being worried that a peson was going to get home OK. And they might not have bothered calling her about an arrest, seeing that the police would have been handling that.

    “Congratulations, Mrs. Dow! Your grown adult son is neat and clean and recites the correct shibboleths!”


  23. This brings to mind something I’d forgotten about. I had a roommate get cut with a knife by another student. I stopped by the front desk on the way to the car to let them know I’d be transporting the kid to the hospital. They said I’d have to get a pass.

    I was just going to drive away and deal with the consequences, but someone higher up, perhaps the dorm manager or Dean O himself happened by as other students were arguing with the desk worker. They told me to just take the guy to the hospital.

    Both the stabber and the stabbed were expelled.

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