Act III: Keeping Up Appearances (No Matter The Cost)

Pensacola Christian College loves to talk about its high standards and the way it strives for excellence. What they don’t highlight so much is that excellence is a blood sport that often puts students at risk. It seems that you can’t make an omelette without breaking some legs.

It was early in my Junior year when the girl who I would later marry collapsed in her dorm room in terrible pain, unable to even stand. Her roommates carried to bed, hopeful that she’d feel better in the morning. The next day they contacted the on-campus clinic and were informed that their only option was  painful trek across campus to be seen by the nurse in order to get permission to stay in her room instead of attending classes. (It only takes missing six unauthorized classes to get expelled at that bastion of education so just staying in her room and hoping for the best wasn’t an option.)

Even though her roommates asked for help, explaining that Cassie was unable to sit up in the wheelchair the clinic told them to use all they were told is “That’s all we have. You’ll just have to manage.”  A slow trip down to the lobby with her propped in the wheelchair revealed even more bad news: there was no wheelchair access to the dorm. The only option was a small wooden ramp still propped up for students who were moving in heavy luggage at the start of the semester that hadn’t yet been removed. As carefully as they could, they attempted to navigate down to the sidewalk but the chair slipped, dumping Cassie onto the ground. Students, these rules are here for your protection.

After several hours of waiting in the clinic under the ever-suspicious eyes of the staff who’s main job is apparently to discourage people from skipping class, an ambulance showed up to take her to the nearby hospital where she was misdiagnosed with a pinched nerve. A representative from the dean’s office went with her and talked to the doctors on her behalf without any kind of written HIPAA authorization. She was then summarily given pain killers and whisked back to campus to her fifth floor room in Dixon tower to recuperate.

The horror didn’t end there. One night during her convalescence there was a fire drill.  Cassie was still on the 5th floor of the dorm, even though the Residence Manager and the Dean’s office knew that she could barely walk let alone descend and re-climb stairs. Her roommates were literally forced to carry her. Of course PCC isn’t known for really caring much about fire safety anyway. For years the rule has remained on the books that all female students must be in “proper” attire before they leave their rooms for a fire drill. If you happen to be sleeping in pajama pants, you must take the time to put on a skirt before you try to escape the flames. If you should perish then at least you’ll know you died for the cause of not tempting the fire fighters to lust after you.

Finally, after trying to tough it out and even trying to go back to class, my future wife had taken all she could bear. She told the dean’s office that she was leaving and they cut up her ID card, the final act of withdrawing from the college. However, since Pensacola airport is far from a major hub, her flight home was to leave at 7:00 a.m., meaning she would need to leave the college by 6:00, well before the gates opened. A good friend of ours petitioned the dean’s office to let him drive Cassie to the airport and help her with her bags. He was twenty-three years old and therefore was allowed to go off-campus with non-student girls — of which my wife was now one.  The dean’s office refused his request to help.

Rather than risk the college’s precious testimony by having a Christian guy help his injured friend to the airport, Cassie was instead forced to take a cab driven by a total stranger who left her on the airport curb without a way to carry her luggage. The college must keep up its appearances no matter what the risk to you. You don’t matter. They do.

After a few weeks of being home my wife received a letter from the college. It should have been a note of apology or a letter expressing regret at how badly they had managed her entire situation. Instead it was a bill for the remaining weeks of the semester since she had crossed the six-week threshold by a few days.  Apparently the only thing even more important than appearances at PCC is getting paid.

Keep the rules. Raise the standard. Strive for excellence. If you’re too broken in body or spirit to manage that then we simply don’t want your kind around here. How can a place that both holds and demonstrates such beliefs be Christian?

272 thoughts on “Act III: Keeping Up Appearances (No Matter The Cost)”

    1. Ok, now that I’ve read that, WHY THE HELL WAS THERE NOT A LAWSUIT OVER HOW THEY TREATED CASSIE?

      That is shocking. I’m really, really sorry that she went through that.

      1. Most fundy colleges make students sign some sort of paper promising to never sue under any circumstances. Of course, such a document isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, but it’s enough to bully many fundy young people (and their parents) into “going quietly.” (That, and the spiritual manipulation of quoting those NT verses about not suing fellow believers.)

        Not saying that’s what happened here, but it’s a pretty common refrain.

        1. PCC had us sign that paper at registration. They also had Pastor Schettler preach a pushy sermon with an extra pushy invitation in which everyone was supposed to raise a hand vowing to never sue.

  1. Shameful. Yes, that Cloud of Suspicion hangs low over every student’s head. After a while it makes you even doubt your own motives. I experienced similar (but not as drastic) treatment when I was a student at BJU. The Guilty Until Proven Innocent philosophy still exists there.

    1. Bill Gothard’s ATI teaches in one of their wisdom booklets that “innocent until proven guilty” is an unbiblical approach to criminal law. I remember my mother lecturing us for hours one day that the “French system” of “guilty until proven innocent” was more Biblical than the American system. (I have no idea if that is a correct portrayal of the “French system” or not!!)

  2. While I never heard anything that bad from my fellow BJU grads, it was basically the same thing at BJU. If you were really, really sick, you had to be checked into Barge (the hospital). If it was menstrual cramps, no matter how severe, the time limit was a few hours – two or four, I cannot remember which. (This was before Advil was even invented, or at least before it was widely available and over the counter.) I had some medical testing done at the BJU clinic when I was a freshman. It left me sick as a dog and unable to stay out of the bathroom for more than a few minutes at a time, but for some reason or another, I was not allowed to be checked into Barge. I think it was because their doctor had not checked me in to the hospital. One of the faculty men, a senior faculty member now, was proctoring History of Civ class, and he was shocked at how sick I looked. He told me to go straight back to my room and go to bed. He would not report me as absent from class. But the big concern at BJ, definitely, was to keep kids in class and out of Barge if at all possible. The humanity of some of the teachers and some of the dorm sups sometimes interfered with the sacred school policy.

    1. I think BJU may have improved in this regard somewhat. My wife was a student at BJU in the early 2000s and she spent a lot of time in Barge one year due to an undiagnosed condition. I think the professors and admin were pretty accomodating, although she has mentioned that the rules within the hospital itself were somewhat confining. However, the hospital staff was willing, in most cases, to bend the rules for students who were there for extended stays.

      1. No, I think the premise was that class was more important than your pain. After all, none of the administrators (the guys who make the rules) had spent much time watching young women puke and cry because they had such bad cramps.

  3. What’s really sad is that there is a part of me that “understands” the way your wife was treated. The fundy mindset does not allow for exceptions to rules: they have to be enforced equally for everyone (from the deans’ perspective) because 1)this is how we become holy, or 2)these rules have been handed down by our illustrious founder, and they make us who we are. That second one was a big deal at my Fundy U, the one where the founder is buried in the front yard.

  4. My son went to Crown College. Once when he had the flu and was sick in his dorm room he had little care or concern from the college staff. I’ll never forget what he told me, he called and said, “Dad, the people I work with out in town care more about me than the people from the college.”

    1. IMO, it takes willful inhuman intent to disregard suffering to be able to so strictly enforce rules on sick people. Even people that dislike you aren’t capable of such lack of concern without some incentive & desire.

      1. I truly believe that an emphasis on the man-made standards ends up killing compassion in people’s hearts. Perhaps it’s done because you put rules above people or perhaps it’s because, if you keep the rules so well, you become self-righteous and arrogant and then everyone else is lesser than you and their desires, needs, or pain doesn’t count.

        (A true emphasis on the law of God should cause deep humility as we realize how far short we fall from it, but often fundamentalists ignore the OT law,which they know was done away with at the cross, but replace it with their own standards which they can actually keep, so they become confident in their own performance and scornful of anyone who doesn’t measure up.)

        1. I think there’s also the idea that following the rules brings blessing and success (usually implied but not directly emphasized lest one sound like a “name it and claim it” bunch). The flip side to this is that if you’re ill or something untoward happens in your life, it must be first and foremost related to breaking the rules or not following them in a godly enough manner. I distinctly remember Pastor Schettler mentioning that the first thing to do when illness falls on you is to confess sins. He didn’t dwell on it, but it was clearly implied that unconfessed sin could be a cause for illness. I agree that over-emphasis on the rules seems to kill compassion–I think it also leads to the assumption that illness must somehow be the fault of the person who is ill. And victim blaming definitely kills what compassion is left.

    2. My dad was a Navy doctor for several years stationed on Parris Island (Marine boot camp). They didn’t even treat sick recruits like this.

      1. Interesting, the military comparison. I had heard that some churches are hospitals, some are armies. The hospitals care for the wounded, but the armies keep marching right over theirs!

        Sounds like Fundy U’s are the bootcamps that build the army churches!

        1. Actual armies carry their wounded & dead out with them, and don’t trample them. Fundies aren’t up to that standard.

        2. I can’t remember where I heard it or read it, but there’s a famous quotation about churches being like an army that shoots its own wounded.

        3. B.G.–Are you sure it’s a quote, not just a recurring theme from those of us who have watched it happen during our residence in Fundystan?

        4. I think the comment was about most churches, not just about Fundamentalist Baptist ones. And, sadly, it’s true about many, many churches.

  5. Okay, Defenders and Waverers. Whatcha got?

    I cannot begin to describe the height of my anticipation of your defenses of these “schools” in such situations. Because this is not an isolated incident. Not even a little bit isolated.

    No doubt we can jump straight to a discussion about how the REAL problem here is Cassie’s “bitterness.”

    1. And on which note, I’d like to jump the gun by pointing out that Cassie hasn’t complained at all. She hasn’t acted bitter in any way. These incidents were known by more students than just herself because the school wasn’t ashamed of them, and considered them to be normal.

        1. Yep, in fact, we know that she wouldn’t have gotten sick in the first place if she didn’t have unconfessed sin in her life and bitterness.

      1. If she had only had a more positive, joyful attitude, she could have crawled to class, or had her roommates tie a rope around her and drag her there, and soldiered on. 🙄

        1. Ha! She was one of the most chipper people you could ever hope to meet, so that theory doesn’t work.

  6. Not much to say except that is just an evil, heartless way to treat a young girl . How terrible not coming to her aid, that isn’t Christian ethics at all. We are free to break those manmade rules to help our neighbor. I her pain from that does not linger on any level, people can be so cruel.
    On a lighter note, it’s a great photo.

    1. Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The school should be there to serve the students (by educating them), but they seem to think that the students are there to serve the school.

        1. I have known people who would argue that Jesus was Jesus and we arn’t Jesus so what can apply to Jesus doesn’t apply to us. Anyway, they would say that was a different Dispensation

    2. I think it’s a measure of how deeply both students and faculty were conditioned to obey that no one just blew off the rules to come to Cassie’s aid. If I had been there, I would have recruited about four strong male students, gotten a stretcher somewhere or made one, and carried her out of the dorm to the clinic or the hospital.

      Boys aren’t allowed in the girls’ dorm? Who cares? If your ox falls in the ditch on the Sabbath, you pull it out (not that Cassie is like an ox, but if you do it for cattle, how much more should you do for humans?).

      The bosses said to use the wheelchair that won’t go up the stairs? So what? No one is obligated to follow an unreasonable order.

      1. Early in my IT career I was paralyzed by my conditioning at PCC. I was constantly asking my boss for permission to do the most minor things. He was dumbfounded by it.

        My basic personality is to take every rule with a grain of salt, but I *still* find myself being too timid.

        1. Elijah, your comment reminds me of the scene in Shawshank Redemption where Morgan Freeman is so institutionalized that after he gets out, he is afraid of his surroundings and feels the need to ask his manager for permission to even pee.

    3. I worked as an EMT in the Security Department at BJU. We would periodically get calls to see patients in the girls’ dorms for various reasons. The policy was that we had to wait to enter the hall until the hall leader could ensure that all the residents were aware that there were men on the hall and were modest.

      At first I complied with that policy until I realized how ridiculous it was (and the liability it put on me should the 3-4 minute delay ever cause further harm). After that, I charged straight to the room, past the protesting hall leaders. I told one particularly persistent HL that I would have her arrested if she interfered with an emergency scene and since she wasn’t dressed to go off campus, she could get in a lot of trouble with the school if she were arrested.

      Still surprised I never got expelled from that place.

      1. It’s sort of weirdly beautiful that the Hall Leader may have been less worried about (a) the medical emergency at hand and (b) the possibility of being arrested than (c) not being properly dressed for the occasion.

      2. The philosophy is clearly, “Better a woman die than tempt a man.” There’s no two ways around it.

        They’d literally rather let a young student die in the dorms than require that the EMTs who must treat them act like professionals and not objectify and degrade the people they are treating.

        1. Much like the teaching we received that it was better to be murdered than to be raped. If you were murdered, you still had your pure testimony; but if you allowed yourself to be raped…

          The sad thing is that the teaching made perfect sense to me at the time.

  7. And they have the audacity to rip on the Catholic Church for torturing the original Baptists. I would have filed a lawsuit.

  8. I remember a teacher joking about seeing a young girl from the dorm who was closest to BARGE being put in the ambulance to be taken to the infirmy instead of walking that short distance. Now part of me realizes that men might not have any idea how severe monthly cramps can get (even if that was what it was…it might have been something different)but why joke about it? The woman might have been in extreme pain. 🙁

    This is nothing but harsh. Compassion is sacrificed for the sake of appearance of keeping the rules.

      1. In fact, quite a few colleges, even secular ones, discourage calling 911 and instead encourage students to use an internal campus emergency number.

  9. My sister was a brittle Type 1 diabetic (still is). She was put through a lot of the same crap at HAC and Fairhaven. At one point, someone even preached a sermon about how people with diabetes cause it themselves by drinking milk (and for those of you who don’t know, Type 1 is not at all lifestyle-related like Type 2, and you do not in any way “cause it yourself”). There is little or no empathy for those the colleges deem “weak” or “unfit.”

    I guess it goes along with the philosophy of work till the night is over and don’t ever rest …

    I’m sorry about your wife.

    1. Fundies don’t like to feel out of control in any area of their life. Thus, they blame every sickness on some sort of sin because that is a necessary predicate to their belief that ultimately, if we were just good enough, we wouldn’t get sick and thus that we control our own destiny.

      1. I remember admins at Christian school explaining to the staff each fall that taking sick leave was setting a bad example for the students. It was highly discouraged and made as difficult as possible. We had to find our own subs and there were two years where we did not have access to a list. Those of us who had previously had the numbers shared with the new people or no one would have been able to take a day. I was at work for two days with pneumonia before I nearly collapsed once and was harassed by the principal over lunch on the second day because I wasn’t working on anything (we were expected to always have a pile of papers to grade or something while eating).

      2. Her disease was definitely sin-related. My mom got pregnant when she was just 16 (and, obviously, not married). Although our parents got married when my mom was just four months pregnant, the sin had already been committed. My sister developed T1 diabetes as a result. Because that’s how God works: He damns the children for the sin of the parents.

        (If that sounds bitter, maybe it is. My poor sister had to grow up hearing that she was paying for my parents’ sins, and she still hates herself because of it. :cry:)

        1. Your poor Sis! That is so wrong on soooo many levels!

          Did your parents believe that too?

          I know a couple whose married life started that way, they are still married, Christians, and their first born was healthy and is now a pastor! Non-Fundie, I might add!

          Shame on all those so-called Christians who told your sister those lies!

        2. I agree: Shame on anyone who says such things.

          We don’t completely know what causes Type I diabetes, although it does tend to run in families. But the claim that it has to do with fornication by the child’s parents has to be the most crackpot theory about it yet (and there are many crackpot theories about diabetes).

  10. Sorry this happened.

    But the important part, were they able to keep up appearances or not? Does your telling of the story make public what no one noticed at the time? 😛

    The storyteller has a special duty to not harm the reputation of an otherwise fine institution, am I right? 😛

  11. My fiance contracted boils on the Jaw Bones Musical Mission Team. Upon her return to the States, she would get one boil every month. She went to the campus doctor, who monthly gave her some medication that was completely ineffective. After nearly a year of this increasingly agonizing, worsening, and debilitating condition, just one month before our wedding, she called me to complain about it (I lived in California at the time), and I strongly recommended that she go to a REAL doctor. The real doctor gave her the correct medication, and the condition was eliminated within one week, never to return.

    I wanted to choke the Jaw Bones doctor.

    Quack.

    1. They are quacks. My friends & I used to compare ridiculous treatment recommendations.

      Also, whenever you were sick at Barge, you were given a condiment cup full of salt & told to make salt water for gargling & it would help you get better. Once, I had a severe case of step throat during first semester finals. They never did a throat culture, refused to give me the “liquid diet” despite my repeated requests, and never gave me anything stronger than Tylenol. By the time I got to a Dr. at home, the strep had morphed into a super infection that affected both ears, my tonsils, & my upper respiratory system.

      I eventually needed 3 rounds of antibiotics to get well, and I was sick through February.

      Quacks, indeed.

      1. Those morons.
        I’m no doctor, but I’ve had Strep several times, and I know it goes away really fast if you take appropriate antibiotics.
        If you have a Strep infection and you DON’T kill it with antibiotics, it can turn into rheumatic fever, which can cripple or kill you. That was extremely common in the pre-antibiotics era.

      2. Duh, every good southerner knows salt won’t do anything. Now, stumpwater collected on the night of a full moon – that’s what is needed. 😛

  12. While I would make no attempt to defend this situation, I will say that I am very well aware of the concept of systematic failure. I think what happened was a consequence of dogmatic application of policy, not a malicious attempt to make someone miserable. You guys may be better than I, but I have, in my ignorance (and sometimes in a lack of self control) severely wounded people close to me. That doesn’t mean I’m not a Christian or a horrible person, it means that I’m a selfish, unreliable human being. So the only thing I would challenge is your last statement, implying that the organization is not Christian.

    1. So when you make such a mistake and you realize you’ve done wrong, do you apologize and try to make amends?

      I’ve never heard of PCC admitting they were wrong in any of the many, many incidents like the story I just told. Usually they try to blame the student as quickly as possible.

      1. PCC was entirely wrong in this situation. And it’s not isolated, I’ve been stung myself by this institution, you may not have been there, but I was almost part of the 8th floor purge of Young Tower (I think of 2004). Even unlocked my “Shadowed” achievement. My point was that I don’t think there was intentional and evil malice, so much as there was a prideful attempt to keep “appearances”. I lay the blame at mismanagement and shallow, dangerous policies.

        1. You are gracious. Good on you.

          I try to become more gracious. It would be easier if I saw any desire for improvement on their part.

        2. But the question still stands: if your systems are such that the rules are more important than the person, if people are harmed by your systematic and systemic abuse and neglect (note that these issues are SYSTEMIC, not occasional), what right do you have to call yourself Christian?

          Mistakes will happen. But we are talking about DECADES of “mistakes.” The body of evidence points to what has said so many times before: we are dealing with Pharisees, who most certainly were not Christian. “These people draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

        3. But the decision to choose conformity and adherence to policy over concern for an individual (and a young person at that) could very well be malicious and evil. It’s just a malice that is pointed at a very broad target (anybody who disrupts the norm) rather than at a specific individual.

          There is still a choice in there, to close eyes against what is right and obstinately cling to policy.

          I don’t want to sound like a paranoid “everything is always abuse” mongerer, but I think chalking these events up to mere status quo or administrative mismanagement is a mistake of overlooking how vital and relevant conscience is to the Christian faith. To deny or suppress the voice of conscience and the witness of our knowledge of what Jesus taught is not mere neglect. It is sin.

        4. I agree with you, Blizzards, when you say, “I think what happened was a consequence of dogmatic application of policy, not a malicious attempt to make someone miserable.” Where I would disagree with you is that I think putting one’s own rules, reputation, and convenience over the needs of one of the “least of these” (a student, young and alone) is evil. I don’t think they had to have malicious intent to purposefully hurt people; all they had to do was NOT CARE.

          Jesus broke Jewish law by touching those who were unclean and by healing on the Sabbath. He cared more for people than for the law. How can an institution say they are following Christ when they are so hard-hearted toward someone in need (and persisted in their policy even after they KNEW that their rules were causing difficulty for Cassie.)

          PCC behaved with arrogance, and God is FAR from the proud.

        5. You’re probably right (full disclosure – I have never lived in the fundie community, and so do not speak from an insider perspective). But that could be said of a great many other forms of evil, too. I’d argue that evil *rarely* comes from outright malice, and is much more frequently associated with arrogance and legalism. In even the most obvious examples of horrific evil that I can think of just off the top of my head (*cough* Godwin’s law *cough*), most of those involved had become convinced that they were in fact working for the greater good. It’s no coincidence that Jesus condemned the self-righteous hypocrites of his community, not some knowingly and willfully malicious population.

        6. Institutional evils– for example, racism, sexism, classism, or religious discrimination– generally do not target individuals per se. But they do harm to individuals. So the fact that no personal animosity is behind them is no mitigation at all.

    2. Or do you follow the Indy Fundy model by doubling down, persisting in the behavior or intensifying it, and demonizing your victim… or by giving that famous non-apology:

      “If I have offended you in any way, then I apologize. I have no desire to listen to you, so don’t try to discuss the issue with me. And you have no right to bring up whatever it was ever again, even in some misguided attempt to really come to closure on the situation. If you try, I will walk away from you, or ignore you while nodding vacantly with an empty smile on my face, and I will condemn you forevermore as ‘bitter.'”

    3. I think a good “biblical”* case can be made for calling out PCC here…

      1. PCC should be judged by the standards and rigidity with which they judge others. (Matt 7).

      2. Schools and teachers are to be judged more strictly (James 3:1), in spite of the recognition that everyone fails at times (v2)

      3. When one’s faith is not backed by deeds such as caring for the sick, that’s evidence of a dead faith, and there’s no harm in calling it out as far as I can tell (James 2:15-16 & 26)

      * scare-quote marks are intentional

  13. That’s despicable.

    Not the same thing at all, but when I was @ BJU, a GA with narcolepsy repeatedly fell asleep when her choir was seated during the Sunday Morning (pseudo)Mass.

    She was called into the Dean of Women’s office where she was told sleeping during services was a poor testimony, and if she couldn’t control it either with will power or medication, she would be removed from the choir. And of course she needed the choir credits for her major.

    1. Reminds me of a lady that attended the non-denominational church that my parents went to before they became fundies. She was a nurse and she worked the night shift in the emergency room on Saturday nights. We only had one service a week because we didn’t own our building (shameful, I know :roll:), so she really wanted to attend the Sunday morning service but it was really hard for her to stay awake. She used to walk up and down the corridor next to the auditorium that we rented so that she could stay awake. Everyone in the church was so kind and accomodating to her. They even set up a speaker, and later a TV feed, in an “overflow” seating area so that she could be part of the service. I never heard anyone say a word of judgment against her.

    2. My church had a lay leader who had narcolepsy. We would just nudge him awake whenever he nodded off during a meeting (it was easy to tell because he snored loudly). It was never a big deal, and no one minded.

      1. Maybe it wasn’t nacrolepsy, it was lack of sleep from staying awake at night worried about all of God’s Rules he might have broken

  14. One of my favorite roommates ever (at BJU) had a congenital heart condition that would periosically cause her to have seizures lasting about 10 minutes. We would all do what we could to help her diring and after these routine episodes. WELL, the dorm sup and admin decided, after my roommate had the NERVE to have most of her seizures during (gasp) prayer group, that her problem was in fact NOT a physical heart problem, but a spiritual one, and that there was no excuse to be disrupting prayer group. Needless to say, her mother had a few choice words for the admin….and my list of these lovely acts of compassion could go on and on and on…… 😕 😕 😕

    1. BJU turned me into the mother I am now. I never let my kids get builled and I will call a person on the carpet quickly for mean spirtedness on a young person. ANY young person not just mine. It helps that I am a nurse. I whip that card out and a “don’t be crazy, they are really sick” always helps. I always wonder when I hear these stories, where is the women or man that stands in the gap and helps these young people?

      1. The students often have no adult figure to whom they can go. Far from home, often in another state, the only adults they know are usually admin, faculty, or staff whose primary purpose is often just to keep the rules. While there are faculty members who would care, a student may not know who those teachers are or may not have any way to contact them. (BJU was very strong on keeping strict delineation between students and nonstudents. I remember the fun two years in grad school when I had to eat in the faculty room instead of in the main dining room with my undergrad boyfriend.)

        So that leaves students to be the one to stand in the gap, and some of them have come from very controlling homes where they were taught to be obedient and never question authority in any way. So it could be difficult to find someone to stand in the gap.

        1. yeah, i have to say most of my teachers were genuinely wonderful people. The only ones i had a problem with were some of the Bible teachers, who coincidentally, were usually members of the Admin….

  15. I’m at a loss for words. Such cruel treatment. 🙁

    These stories have helped me understand some things I’ve questioned for years. My husband and I attended a small Bible college that was part of the GARBC. Fundy, but not nearly as fundy as most of the schools mentioned here. We were introduced to Baptists for Israel Institute by friends who were alumni and a rep who came to our church. We had no reason to suspect any problems…our friends had very good things to say and the rep was just as blind to the truth as we were.

    A few years later we found ourselves part of the largest group of students BII had ever taken to Israel. They were used to 3-9 students p/year and we had 25. Its the only way we survived, but meant that we were much harder to control. Partly because the vast majority of us were not fundy, or barely fundy compared to the founders.

    I had to laugh a bit reading your story yesterday of the mean and angry woman yelling at everyone to smile and look joyful. The founders wife was truly one of the meanest women I’d ever met. She had a few kids in the group that she liked, a few more that she tolerated, and the rest of us who she treated with disdain. We did our absolute best to avoid her.

    Throughout our time there we had a few people leave…one for health reasons, another because her parents were terrified of the intefada, and another because he couldn’t take the ridiculous rules and constant control. At the end of our time 2 guys in the group asked to go home early so they could take summer school classes at their college. That didn’t go over well, but was allowed. The wheels fell off when one of the girls found out her cousin was getting married 2 weeks before we were due to get back home and asked to leave too. 3 people wanting to leave resulted in a temper tantrum of 2 year old proportions from the founder. The other guy on staff was told that he wasn’t allowed to take them to the airport 2 1/2 hours away and instead they would have to take a cab ❗ I don’t remember the other circumstances, but he made their departure as difficult as possible. He also said that there would be a new rule for incoming students…no leaving early. I have no doubt that he made a big deal of it the next year. There is power in numbers and we all contacted the only other person we thought could help…the school rep. He did what he could to help and coincidentally found himself without a job not too far down the road.

    I wondered for years what it was that put a target on our backs before we even got to Israel and met the founders. Turns out most of the staff were PCC grads…they were used to such behavior. Though, to their credit, the rest of the staff referred to PCC as “doing time”. I’ve struggled to “forgive” the founders for their spiritual abuse for over 10 years. Reading this blog and these recent stories has helped me realize something. It was never about me. It wasn’t something I’d done wrong…it was their twisted view of God and need for complete control. I feel like I’m finally starting to let go of the hurt and pain they caused and it feels good.

    1. Let me guess this one is in Clarks Summit? “According to my high school” which was IFB, that place is “calvinistic.” OF course, being a closet 5-pointer at the time, I wanted them to tell me more! Then I found out that the place was composed of a lot of 3.5-4 point calvinists… 😐

      1. Ha Yes!! Though they never advertised themselves as Calvinists, the majority of students were in some way. I would say the majority were 4 pt., but there were also 5 pointers and many rousing debates between the two.
        During our “training” before leaving for Israel, I asked a girl whose parents had graduated from BBC why that wasn’t one of the schools they let her chose from. She told me without bating an eyelash that it was far to liberal. 🙄 🙄 Oy vey.

  16. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I heard a story of a friend of a friend who went to PCC (and left early, not long thereafter). He had been swimming on the beach and received an injury. Because he was wearing swimming clothes, he wasn’t allowed back on campus to get to the clinic until he changed. I don’t know how the story ended, but he clearly recovered and later went to a community college and is now living [hopefully a bit more happily?] ever after.

    That was bad enough, but Cassie’s story shows even more clearly the evilness of the administration. Thing is, many are aware on an intellectual level that people have been doing really s***ty things in the name of God for ages, but example shows the power of story to bring it home, touch hearts, and – just maybe – effect a bit of change.

  17. This is a textbook example of why “fundamentalism” as we have known and experienced it will wither away. You cannot treat the next generation of potential fundies like this and expect them to keep towing the party line once they have seen behind the curtain.

  18. Dear God! What would have happened if Cassie had been suffering from appendicitis? If PCC treats all its sick students like that, I’m amazed that they haven’t been sued into oblivion.

    1. There’s a three step process they use to deal with being sued.

      1) Intimidation. Tell the student and their parents that everything is their own fault and that nobody will believe them. Basically lie through your teeth.

      2) Send the Campus Church pastor to lay a guilt trip on the person for suing a “fellow Christian” and hurting a “ministry” that is doing so much for the “cause of Christ”

      If all else fails:

      3) Settle and require a Non-Disclosure Agreement. That way the person can’t tell their story to other people to warn them.

      1. I wonder if it’s illegal to establish a fund with the explicit purpose of supporting lawsuits against a particular institution?

        I’d put some money into such a fund……

        1. Probably not necessary. Most plaintiffs’ lawyers take cases on a contingency basis, meaning that they take the risk of the lawsuit in exchange for a percentage cut of the damages award or settlement at the other end. Beyond that, a lawsuit arising out of these sorts of facts would not cost a huge amount up front.

        2. It’s not illegal. Such funds are commonplace. They are usually called “legal defense funds.”

          Whether or not one is needed in this situation is a more complex issue.

    2. I personally know of someone that was seriously injured on campus and the clinic sent the person to their room instead of sending them to the ER. The parents found out and took their child to the ER. That person is still living with the effects of that injury. The parents tried to sue, the case dragged on for years, and in the end they lost.

    3. I’m aware of a situation where an assistant dean of men yelled at a student to *stop performing CPR* on somebody. I’m not exactly sure why but the student ignored the dean and the person lived.

      1. “I’m not exactly sure why but the student ignored the dean …”

        Maybe because the dean was clearly insane?
        Or are Fundy students not allowed that degree of discernment?

        1. I meant I don’t know why the dean told someone to stop giving CPR. The people who witnessed it thought he was scared of the liability. Better to let the person die than risk a screw up. THAT is the PCC spirit. 🙄

        2. CPR, done properly, sometimes breaks ribs. But that’s no reason at all to not do it. Compared to not breathing or having your heart not beat, a broken rib (or three) is a trivial injury indeed.

          (I had CPR training, although my certificate has now expired.)

          There are a bunch of lawyers among my family and friends, but I have never heard of anyone successfully suing someone for trying to save the plaintiff’s life when the person had stopped breathing.

  19. I came down with strep as a junior (I think). I went to the “clinic” and was told that I couldn’t possibly have strep because I didn’t have a high enough fever. Two weeks of missing class later, I returned and convinced the moron to run a quick test. It came back positive. I was given a course of amoxicilin or something, and was back to normal in a few days. At the end of the semester, all my grades were reduced by a letter grade for missing too may classes. I petitioned Dr. Beemer to reconsider since my absence was caused by a severe disease and accompanying mis-diagnosis. I was denied. Later, I found out that having strep for so long had caused irreparable damage to my endocardium, resulting in atrial regurgitation and a lowered EF (the anti-bodies naturally produced to combat strep often degenerate the endocardium, the part of your heart from which valves are made). I have the “before and after” echo prints to prove the damage.

    1. I had strep as a sophomore. I went to the clinic but they said I was fine. I didn’t believe them and went to the ER, even though as a girl I needed 2 other girls to go with me. My roommate, whom I hated, had a car but wouldn’t go because she had class the next day. So I went to Miss Simpson and she asked over the PA if there was anyone willing to take me. Two wonderful girls did and stayed with me the whole time I was at the ER. I think we were there til 2am. Sure enough I was really sick and got the proper antibiotics. No one really cared except those two girls, who I didn’t even know.

  20. My sister went to Heartland where they had a very serious outbreak of some kind of sickness (flu?) Instead of sending the kids to the doctor, my sister (who was one of the first sick) was left in a quarantined part of the dorms with someone only chekcing on her twice a day. She had a raging fever and was dehydrated. She said that she eventually got better and they kept bringing more and more sick girls into the quarantine area. One of the girls had a fever so high that she was delerious and was talking out of her head. My sister was bathing her in cold water and doing everything she could to get her fever down. I believe my sister finally threw a big enough fit warning the staff of brain damage if this girl’s fever didn’t get down and they took her to the hospital. It was all hush hush though because the shool didn’t want it to go around that there was a major plague going on in THEIR school… idiots. Heartless MFrs

  21. Jesus had some choice words for people like this in Matthew 23! It’s nauseating that such awful people dare to invoke Jesus to excuse their thoroughly un-Christlike behavior.

  22. Darrell, did you have to hide the fact that you were in contact with a former student? That seems to be something they would frown upon, since you might get influenced somehow. (I assume you stayed in contact, since by all appearances you still have contact with the young lady in question)

    1. What I want to know is how you got away with taking that picture where your shoulders are touching. It looks like she may even have her arm around your back.
      Doesn’t PCC have about forty bajillion rules against such proximity?

  23. I decided to look on the web for link about health/ mortality at PCC. Without getting to far I came across this interesting article on local medicine from a student looking to get into medicine: http://www.pensacolachristiancollegeblog.com/index.php/2011/10/21/moral-stamina-in-medicine/#comment-2212

    Of course the predicable conclusion about “abortions” being the leading cause of death requires some classic statistical gamesmanship. I’ve posted a reply asking why natural pre-birth “deaths” are not counted, we shall see if the comment passes moderation….

  24. This floors me. Most institutions (these days) anyway, would bend over backwards to ensure their behinds were covered due to liability. Especially in the case of a minor, assuming let’s say Cassie was 17, at an institution that could be considered in locus parentis. What if it were appendicitis, as TOJ mentions?

      1. It’s a system of having people sign forms that may not even be legal, and then playing on the person’s sense of duty to keep their word.

        1. Definitely. After all, the college is your spiritual authority. You gave your word to that spiritual authority. God expects you to keep your word. And blather such as that.

  25. This remains me too much of that incident in Saudi Arabia, which let several girls burn to death rather then let them escape WITHOUT THEIR HEAD SCARVES. 😥
    No doubt there exist “Christian Talibaners” who would be nodding their heads in approval. 👿

    1. Well, have you noticed that no matter how hard fundies hate the “Islums,” that they NEVER criticize their morality enforcement?

    2. Columnist Molly Ivins referred to the stripe of Fundies with all these crazy rules as “Shiite Baptists.” Her editor received many letters from Shiites saying the comparison was unfair to Shiites.

  26. Sick. Just sick. Looking at it from a parent’s POV, it breaks my heart. I can’t imagine my daughter being sick and in pain and being treated like this. 🙁

  27. Sooo, from Act II and Act III, I can safely conclude the Fundy U treatment for depression or any other kind of mental illness is SMILE?

    Heartless dastards to do this in the name of Jesus.

    1. Oh, yes. Mental illness is just that – mental. Surely someone who is a Christian couldn’t possibly have a chemical imbalance like any other human being. Oh, you’re depressed – smile – read Scripture – pretend everything is fine! Places like this couldn’t possibly be responsible for you being depressed. 😡

      1. Mental illness is not mental, it’s SPIRITUAL!!! I had the odd experience of growing up in a fundy home where my father was a psychiatrist. So, fortunately, I was spared most of the anti-mental health nonsense. Our pastor also did a 180 on the mental health issue after his adult daughter died and his wife and son-in-law became severely depressed and almost suicidal.

        1. It’s odd that they often preach one way, but when you approach them one-on-one, they seem to be different. After our 2nd child was born, my wife became severely depressed; it was diagnosed as a chemical imbalance. The pastor had been teaching something like most depression is spiritual in nature, so we had some quiet talks in his office about my wife’s case, and he readily admitted that sometimes it is medical/chemical. While I was glad that he wasn’t thinking that my wife was some kind of heathen, I was puzzled at the disconnect from what had been said in public and what he was telling me in private.

      2. I have personal knowledge of preachers who rail and wail against meds for “mental health” issues, but who ingest a variety of meds for their own physical ailments. Ok for the body, but not for the mind. One wonders why preachers feel compelled to interfere with the patient/doctor relationship when it comes to mental health ailments.

        1. The brain is part of the body, Dudes. It can malfunction just as a liver or a stomach can.

        1. Oh, I do too. I often read Psalm 34:1-8 when I’m feeling down. I didn’t mean to say that scripture isn’t worth reading when we’re sad, just that mental illness is often downplayed in fundy circles – when it might actually need medical treatment.

  28. How is this story much different than the news story from Saudi Arabia a few years back that had everyone up in arms? Some girls burned to death because the firemen refused to rescue them because they were not dressed correctly.

      1. “For years the rule has remained on the books [at PCC] that all female students must be in “proper” attire before they leave their rooms for a fire drill. If you happen to be sleeping in pajama pants, you must take the time to put on a skirt before you try to escape the flames.”

      1. *raising hand vigorously* Big Gary, I know! I know! It was the one with that fat slob in a cheap polyester suit and tie lying about how some poor native in a third-world country world country wouldn’t take much needed aid from someone who let their women wear pants. Am I right?

        1. George – “third world country world country” is redundant…now stop it.

        2. Correct!
          Five points for Brother Bluto.
          You get the other five points if you can name the country involved.

        3. “… that fat slob in a cheap polyester suit and tie lying…”

          That narrows it down to about 274 posts. 😆

        4. Big Gary – that is a trick question. I am certain that story has been told in the first-person by thousands of fundy MOGs and each time they change the location (country) to match their audience and/or where their missions dollars go.

        5. Of course it’s not the Fat Slob, let alone his sweat-stained Polyester Leisure Suit said third-worlder would object to, oh dear me no. 🙄

  29. Sadly I’ve seen similar or worse treatment while at Oklahoma Baptist College years ago. When OBC would kick students out, they emptied everything they couldn’t pack with them into the dumpster behind the building.

    I went out there one day to find a poor student’s personal journal, clothes, and photos from home. I collected these items and made sure they got returned the proper way.

    I despise places like these with a passion! 👿

    1. “When OBC would kick students out, they emptied everything they couldn’t pack with them into the dumpster behind the building.”

      Which is theft and willful damage – both illegal.
      The police should have been called.

      1. If you left a personal belonging someplace at PCC where it was recovered by the janitorial staff, you would not get the item back until you paid. If you did not pay by a certain time, your belonging was sold in an auction.

        It was totally theft, and I told them that once when my Bible was picked up by cleaning staff. “Oh don’t even try that argument” they said. There was so much stuff that place did that was just plain illegal.

  30. I attended TTU back in the Jennings era….flu went around campus one winter like wildfire. Jennings sent folks around to each dorm room with Niquil and ‘goodies’ for the sick. Guess he’s going to hell for that. 👿

    1. To digress, when I was at Temple in the early 80’s, I worked in the Dining Hall. The only campus-wide outbreak came from there. I was at early supper preparing to go to work when I noticed the beef stew seemed to have an awful lot of leftover “corned beef” in it. (I like corned beef. I’m not sure that was corned beef, but the menu made the claim.) I opted for a chicken sandwich from the snack bar. Good decision. The bathrooms were later filled with noxious gasses and a lot of students missed classes the next day.

      That was one of the best decisions I made during my two years there.

  31. One Sunday after church, Miss Baer signed a pass for me – in the church lobby – to go to a doctor for what turned out to be strep — and I didn’t get demerits for getting a pass at the wrong time!

    There. Because of that good experience, I cannot believe that any bad things ever happen to anyone regarding health problems at PCC. Except, of course, for the shabby way the admin treated my very sick wife when she was a student.

  32. “Welcome to the Clinic. What brings you here today?”

    “I fell down the stairs and broke my leg!”

    “Oh, diagnosing ourselves, our we? Sounds like we’ve been reading too many medical journals in the library and have gotten ourselves all puffed up with prideful thinking that we know what’s wrong with ourselves. You’d better be pre-med or nursing, as those magazines are off limits due to the pictures and discussions of…naughty bits. Perhaps you have unconfessed sin in your life; tell me – how is your relationship with your parents?”

    “No – look at my leg – there’s bone sticking through my pants!”

    “Hmmmm. Yes, I do see something that looks like a bone. Let’s make sure you’re not faking this – I’ll just grab that pointy end and give it a shake. STOP SCREAMING AT ME! AND WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE! I’m going to have to write you up for having a bad attitude, using profanity and disrespect for authority, young man! What? WAKE UP! WAKE UP! How dare you fall asleep and ignore me!”

    “S-s-s-sorry. Passed out. It just…hurts so bad, and you made it bleed when you grabbed the bone. Please call an ambulance; I think I’ll be better off going right to the hospital.”

    “With your attitude and hardened heart, why should I do that? Go back to your room and call a cab if the Clinic is beneath you and your ‘broken leg.’ Were you roughhousing? Is that why you fell? True Christians don’t fall like that; are you saved? If your greenstick fracture were to go septic and you were to die today, where would you go? Let’s get this taken care of today, young man!”

    ***two weeks pass***

    “Say there, young man; you’re getting pretty good with those crutches. Too bad about the amputation, but God does everything to you for a reason! Make sure not to develop a root of bitterness over this, as bitterness is a sin!”

  33. That’s astounding! My daughter wasn’t in as bad of shape as Cassie, but she did have the same maltreatment and received an inordinate amount of demerits for missing class this semester. Her dad kept telling her, “There has to be some method of getting missed classes excused.” She’d say, “Dad, you have to go to the clinic.” Well, why didn’t she go to the clinic? he’d ask. “Because I was too dizzy to walk,” she said. He still doesn’t believe that the college would be that unreasonable. Thankfully there were a couple nice teachers who gave her a little leeway, or she might have been expelled in Feb. (She only has twenty-five demerits to go before expulsion–it could still happen in two days, right?)

    1. It’s sad when a “college” is so out of control that you find yourself secretly wishing that your child (or sibling, in my case) WOULD get expelled so that they can get out of there!!! 😥

  34. Sadly, I am not at all surprised. I wish I had had the clarity to document what happened to me so I could have sued.

    I developed weird shooting pains in my foot my freshman year. Within three or four steps, I would become unable to walk on that foot because the pain was excruciating. So I went to Barge, where it was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis*. I was told to wear sneakers and get on crutches for a few weeks. Of course, I had to go see Miss Barker and ask for a dress code exemption. When I got in that office, she almost didn’t give me the exemption. She was so concerned about how bad it would look for someone to wear sneakers in chapel. Never mind my pain, never mind the crutches. Sneakers looked bad. She eventually and reluctantly gave the permission, but she made sure I knew that looking perfect was far more important than dealing with real pain in an appropriate manner. I also got no slack about being late to classes and such while on crutches, so I developed a very creative way of getting around that god-forsaken campus… using the injured foot in a way that didn’t seem to make things worse. I got chewed out for not using my crutches correctly.

    *Why the star with my diagnosis? I spent years dealing with recurrences and other foot pain after the original incident which affected my health negatively in all kinds of ways. I told a doctor about the original problem over 15 years later, and her response was quite interesting: She said I had plantar fasciitis for sure by that time, but whatever I had in college was anything _but_ that.

    1. These stories are blowing my mind! I was in war and we treated the captured enemy MUCH more kindly and humanely than what I’m reading today.
      What can I take from these stories? 1) I can learn to be shrewd enough see this hypocrisy from afar. 2) Be aware of other’s pain, sickness, and struggles, that I might help them and love them… not condemn them. 3) Be thankful that our Lord is good and He is kind.

  35. OK, after reading this rather shocking tale, I have a question & a comment:

    1) If it’s not too personal of a question, what WAS your wife’s real problem (you said it was mis-diagnosed as a pinched nerve).

    2) I attended a secular college; as long as you paid them the money, they didn’t really care if you skipped class or not – they figured that if you weren’t responsible enough to attend class, you’d probably fail and have to take it over again, costing more money.

    My friends and I don’t claim to have any kind of super-character, but we looked at is as we were paying for the education, and we didn’t want to miss a lecture. I don’t recall missing any classes in college.

    A college like PCC is too big when institutionalized rules and regulations trump decency and common sense.

    1. I can’t answer for Darrell about what the correct diagnosis should have been for Cassidy. But the part about insisting on attending class is easy. Part of it is the theory that they are training you to work in the real world, and in the real world you wouldn’t be able to get away with just not showing up for work one day. The other part is just plain discipline: you show up for what you say you will show up for, whether you feel like it or not. Discipline is its own reward. Sidebar: they talk a lot about discipline, but not much about common sense.

      1. Plus I think they really do think they answer more to the parents than to the students. I’m guessing that a lot of fundy parents pay for their child’s education at Fundy U so they want to make sure the students are in class by giving demerits if you’re not there.

      2. Almost every employer in the “real world” lets you miss work when you are sick.
        Employers who come under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) have to do this by law– not just for your own illness, but also to care for a spouse, child or parent who is ill.

        1. However, if you actually invoke the Family Medical Leave act, you get moved to the head of the layoff list. Companies don’t forget or forgive when you cost them money.

    2. Actually, some state universities do have attendance policies, depending on the class. The midwestern state university that I got my M.A. degree from allowed students to the equivalent of three weeks of class. After that, they failed.

      Obviously, allowances could be made, but the reasoning was that because class was participatory, the student wouldn’t really develop in a particular area unless they attended.

  36. I went to that “hell hole” for 2 semesters many years ago. I had friends who were very sick, but they were forced to go to class and chapel and put on the “plastic happy face” regardless of how they felt. One day these people will have to answer for their actions. I am extremely allergic to cats and one of my roommates had a cat at home and when he would come back from home my eyes would tear and puff up to the point where I could barely see. I was told that the allergic reaction was “all in my head” and it was because I had “sin in my heart” that this was happening… 👿

  37. I don’t think Cassie was truly living for the Lord at that time; maybe she wasn’t even saved. If she truly was growing in Christ, she would have been obedient until the end and not have left the school. Did she even open her Bible once while she was bed-ridden? 😆

  38. Concern over someone’s physical health over and above pride in their standards? Surely you jest! Of paramount concern in all these fundy confabs is their “standards,” of which they are bloatfully proud. And no, I did not just call you “Shirley.”

  39. How about the girls whose father passed away unexpectedly while she was a student at BJU? She had the audacity to be crying that night in the prayer room, right after hearing the news, and the noise she made was disturbing the students trying to study. The hall monitor tried to give her demerits for breaking the sanctity of Quiet Time.

    (Hope I didn’t steal her thunder. I don’t know if this woman reads this page or not.)

    1. Honestly, that hall monitor ought to be taken out and shot by a firing squad.

      Yeah, I know, I’m wicked, graceless, wrathful, and bowlegged. But still.

  40. 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.

    1. When I was at Patrick Henry College (evangelical fundy lite, when it came to most rules), they would give one incoming freshman male and one female a full-ride scholarship each year. The criteria to merit that scholarship were quite inscrutable but once you got the scholarship, you were golden: couldn’t get kicked out or anything else bad. Evidently, the college was worried about how it would look to have to discipline a student who was the recipient of such a “prestigious” scholarship. (Sort of like the way that most colleges pamper students on athletic scholarships.) The recipient my freshman year had an extreme temper problem and regularly physically assaulted his roommates but never got in trouble for any of it.

  41. 🙁 This story is so horrible, but unfortunately, I am not surprised after my years of dealing with these people.
    Darryl…you said your wife was “misdiagnosed.” What was the final decision made in reference to her health? I do hope your wife is doing better now in her latter years!
    I also recall a very sad story about a girl I was friends with in Dixon Tower. I met her in one of my education classes, and noticed there was something “off” with her after a few months. She was always very tired, and friends told me she would pass out sometimes, and had other health problems. I asked why she was not going to the doctor’s, and told PCC basically discouraged her from doing so, and blamed her “issues” on her choice of friends.
    It is true that one of the women she hung out with was kicked out because she was spreading around “beliefs not in accordance with Biblical standards upheld by PCC”, but don’t know if it’s fair to blame one’s medical issues on another student. What I do know is that my friend was walking to PCA one morning, but never made it there. Security finally found her a few hours later, lying on the railroad tracks.
    Of course, she was promptly whisked away off campus, and no one knew why or what was going on. I tracked her down, and she told me the story…she was dizzy and tripped and fell down there, but they tried to tell her parents she was suicidal, and were going to revoke her rights to graduate even though she was just weeks away from receiving her diploma. I found her when I left the college to take a job at a nearby boarding school. She was holed up in a room there “recovering.”
    So odd…she wouldn’t even talk to anyone for my entire first month working there. Something had seriously gone wrong, and I think if PCC had responded differently, they could have maybe helped her instead of prolonging all of her medical issues.

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