Act IV: The End of Days

Perhaps one of the best ways to understand the rule enforcement system at Pensacola Christian College is to think back to the Stanford prison experiment of 1971 where students were arbitrarily assigned the roles of “guard” or “prisoner” and then left in a simulated prison scenario. The guards took to their role with relish enforcing rules and inflicting psychological torture on the prisoners, who for their part passively accepted this behavior as if they deserved it.

If you simply replace the word “guard” with “floor leader” and likewise exchange “prisoner” with “student” the results you find at PCC are not identical but some aspects are strikingly similar. Put into certain situations, even people who might otherwise be decent human beings can act with surprising disregard for the well being of others. Power corrupts — especially when an authority figure believes that their abuse of power is actually being done for the good of the abused.

My Senior year I was a “Prayer Leader” in my Coberly dorm room. Allegedly this meant that I was responsible for the spiritual well-being of the 11 other students that made up my prayer group, which met four evenings a week. In other circumstances looking out for somebody’s well being might be checking on the freshmen to make sure they were adjusting well or trying to iron our personal conflicts. At PCC, however, soul care is something more akin to “rat out your roommates if they break the rules.” Due to some of the things I have already written about this week, I was in no mood to be the eyes and ear of the administration in my room and mostly took a “see no evil” approach to whatever shenanigans might be going on in my hall as long as nobody was getting hurt. (I did report a guy for reading the Book of Mormon aloud but that’s a really long story.)

Back in my freshman year my friend Dave had told me that the most important five minutes in your semester is the first time your floor leaders do room check at night. A power hungry, anal retentive floor leader can ruin an entire year at school. Unfortunately, for my last year I had two true believers named Adam and Andy as floor leaders. Both were ensemble members and both held the rule book to hold as much authority as if it had been handed down from Mt. Sinai. I should have known better than to cross them. I should have left it alone. But the last semester of my PCC career I made the nearly fatal mistake of questioning Adam’s authority over a hot pot left on a bathroom sink.

“You can’t have a hotpot in here.” he proclaimed, knowing full well that although that rule was on the books that every guy in every dorm room made Ramen noodles in the bathroom on occasion.

“C’mon, Adam,” I replied, “You know that rule isn’t really enforced.”

“I enforce ALL the rules.” he said stiffly. “They’re all in the book for a reason.”

So of course I proceeded to invoke one of the oldest and most unenforced rules in the college by asking him why we weren’t required to put a 3×5 card on our door each week proclaiming that we had changed our sheets. (Urban legend says that this rule was started back in the early days of the school and directed at one particularly unhygienic student and had almost never been enforced in the last decade). Adam left the room and returned in a few minutes to inform us that our hallway was now the ONLY one on campus that would be following that rule to the letter. The other people on my hallway were less than happy.

I thought the stand-off between myself and the floor leaders might end there. I was very wrong.

It was only a few weeks later that our floor leaders came into our room after lights out (11:00) and took each of my roommates out into the hallway one at a time to be questioned about “contraband” they might have such as video games rated T for Teen, cell phones, and music that didn’t check such as my own Phantom of the Opera CD. Under the scrutiny my freshman roommates confessed that they did indeed have squirreled away some “illegal” items. The floor leaders confiscated them and then lectured me about my responsibilities as a PL. I had failed to report which meant I was guilty too.

The next night around midnight I was rousted out of bed again and this time told that I needed to go see our residence manager, Jordan. I complained that I needed to be up at 5:00 a.m. to go to work but I was told that this was too important to wait. So down we went to the freezing cold of the RM’s office where I sat in a low chair like something out of a bad cop film and was again interrogated about my knowledge of my roommates misdeeds. I quoted Proverbs 26:17 in my defense and told them that what my roommates did was none of my business, that it was between themselves and God. Catch them if you can. Don’t expect me to help.

The residence manager and floorleaders were not amused. They were even less amused when suggested that if they thought I was a bad Prayer Leader to simply remove my title and put me in a different room. That would have taken me off my current hall and out of Adam and Andy’s reach so none of them liked that suggestion much either. After a few more minutes of lecturing me, Jordan finally told me to go back to my room.

I walked back through the hallway with adrenaline singing in my ears. I knew how encounters like this could escalate, even with no evidence of wrongdoing just on one person’s say-so. Once you were marked as a “bad egg” it was only a matter of time before they found some way to expel you instead of letting you graduate. The next day I gathered up every conceivable thing that I owned that might be construed as breaking even an imaginary rule and move it to an off-campus location. It was the smart move. A week later I got another sleep-depriving middle-of-the-night call down to the RM’s office and this time they were loaded for bear.

“We have a witness,” said Jordan in his most melodramatic tones, “who tells us that you have contraband in your room.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Who is this person?”

“We can’t tell you that,” he spluttered, “but they’re somebody who is in a position to know.”

I shrugged. “If you can’t tell me who the person is then I can’t possibly hope to explain what they might think I have. But I’ll tell you what,if it helps you can go search my room. I’ll show you everything I own.”

Jordan’s eyes narrowed. I could tell he didn’t like it that I didn’t seem rattled. The whole point of this exercise was to get me feeling guilty so I’d start confessing.

“The person who turned you in also said that you’ve moved your stuff out of the room,” he said.

I had to smile. The entire scenario was so ludicrous. Me in my pajamas in the middle of the night being sweated out under the bright lights by a man who was only a year or two older than I was. And all of this over my potential ownership of something as inane as a Billy Joel CD or a video game. I could even have been expelled outright for owning a movie rated G.

Then suddenly I thought about the four years of my life I had given to the college. Two summers of 4 a.m. shifts in the warehouse, the heat of weeks of camp as a counselor, and months spent working lonely nights in the IT department away from my friends. And that was not even to mention hundreds of hours of classes, and thousands of dollars earned with my blood and sweat. All that might be lost because a few petty people had let power go to their heads. Suddenly I wasn’t smiling anymore.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” I repeated over and over. “I’m afraid I can’t help you.”

Finally, reluctantly, they let me stumble back to bed in the wee hours of the morning. I lay awake in the darkness willing myself to go to sleep, knowing that I would be up for work in a few short hours but when I finally managed to calm down enough to drift off, the nightmares started. In my dreams I could hear them at the door. They were coming back to get me again. This time they were taking me to the deans office to be shadowed then expelled. Four wasted years. Public shame. My life would be over.

That dream was my constant companion through the restless nights in the months that followed. Fear was my constant companion both awake and asleep. For some reason they never came back. Perhaps they never intended to do anything beyond terrorizing me a little, some misguided attempt to “scare me straight.” Maybe they just knew they couldn’t trump up enough proof to really go through with their threats. I’ll probably never know. What I do know is that through the whole incident I never received a demerit. I never was removed as PL or officially reprimanded in any way.

By the time graduation day dawned I felt numb inside. I had ironically been invited to speak a brief promotional message about my time at PCC during the convocation. I turned it down. I stood in line in my cap and gown fighting the subconscious thought that someone from the Dean’s office might be coming through the door at any minute to pull me out of line. To tell me that they had made a mistake in letting me graduate.

I walked across the stage mechanically. Took my diploma. Sat in my seat. I should have been excited and joyful, I should have been ready to dance an sing about the accomplishment of graduating from college and starting the rest of my life. Instead I just felt tired and empty. It took a long, long time before I felt anything else.

It was only in the last few years that I began to wonder what had happened to my tormentors from those last terrible weeks of school. And so I went to look. I was chagrined to learn that Jordan the Residence Manager is now a youth pastor at a fundamentalist church in Texas. But the real shocker was when I learned that Adam the floor leader is now the admissions director at the very college we attended. Verily, he has his reward.

Mine is not the only story like this. I would not be surprised if this very week some other recent graduate sits at home knowing that they should be happy but only feeling the exhaustion of being a prisoner in the four year Standford experiment at Pensacola Christian College. If you are that student then I want you to know that you are not alone. Come sit and tell us your story too. We have been there. We understand.

311 thoughts on “Act IV: The End of Days”

  1. Darryl,
    I had an almost identical experience as a senior at PCC, with things ending up in the Dean of Women’s office (Barbie Baer era). You’re right. They destroy your soul in the name of keeping up the rules. Spending a lot of money on therapy to reclaim my soul as my own. Still have nightmares. Still have crazy thinking patterns learned from PCC. You should contact Dale Fincher…he’s doing a spiritual abuse project that you might be interested in.

    1. HAHAHAHA! I love it! I often call my sister the Dolores Umbridge of West Coast.

  2. I will say one thing in defense of the students who hold “leadership” positions. Yep, most of them are assholes. But some of them genuinely try to shelter their “underlings” from the pressure of the administration and some get in trouble for that too!

    My wife was an RA at Bob Jones and she got in trouble for not giving out enough demerits. She said something to the effect of that balancing out some of the other RAs who gave more demerits than they should.

  3. My last floorleader was a great guy; he pretty much left people alone, as we were all 23+. I seem to recall that he was spoken to a few times about a seeming low amount of demerits coming from his pen.

    1. Couldn’t he say, “I’m such a good floor leader that nobody on my floor breaks rules?”

  4. Wait, hang on… what “sin of adoption”? Not to drag this off topic, but the common response I have heard from the pro-life crowd is that if a woman can’t afford/can’t care for/etc their child, that they can “put it up for adoption” rather than aborting it. So… how can adoption be wrong, especially if it’s touted as an alternative to abortion? I am sorry if this drags up a divisive issue… I’ve just never heard of anyone, anywhere, being generically “anti adoption”.(Being anti-interracial adoption, or anti-gay adoption, or some other subset or condition, yeah, I’ve heard that, but adoption in itself? What would have happened if MOSES wasn’t adopted?)

      1. So you aren’t supposed to adopt kids because their biological parents were probably sinners?
        And where, exactly, do you find parents (or any kind of human beings) who don’t sin?
        This is the worst kind of heresy (which isn’t a term I use lightly).

        1. Well, Gothard has certain incantations that allow you to release your own generational sin (supposedly it feels like dirty water draining out of you) so it won’t affect your children. (Although, funnily, this is supposed to work even if your children are already born so that kind of blows the biology argument.) So, while it’s exceedingly nutty, at least his theory is internally consistent 🙄

        2. See also: Roger Voegtlin and what he did with his own adopted children.

        3. I drain dirty water out of me several times a day.
          Wouldn’t I have gotten rid of all generational sin by now?

        4. @Deacon’s Son you man Gothard is a variant of a SCIENTOLOGIST? Why does anyone listen to this *ssclown?

        5. Gothard’s methods do look a lot like Scientology, particularly with the training groups and isolation of members. But Scientology has very bizarre idea about marriage and family, and if you’re married they discourage having children- I suspect that they feel (rightly) that it would divide your loyalties. Adopting children is ok, because they already exist, and bringing them up in the cult is a redeeming thing.

          Read some of the stuff online by ex-Scientologists. They not only look a lot like Gothard’s crew, but the accounts aren’t too far off from what we see here.

        6. Gothard’s metaphysics are remarkably similar to L. Ron Hubbard’s. So are Michael Pearl’s.]

          Someone could do a good doctoral dissertation on the links between Scientology and Independent Baptist Fundamentalism.

      2. Gothard may have popularized the anti-adoption sentiment, but it certainly didn’t originate with him. My grandparents were completely unfamiliar with Gothard when they responded with dismay to my parents’ announcement of adopting me. It was supposedly “bad blood” or the “sins of the fathers” being visited on me that made them recoil from the idea.

        I am fortunate that they changed their minds upon meeting me; other children are made to feel less than by their adoptive families their entire lives. 🙁 👿

    1. The most prominent adopted kid in the NT is, of course, Jesus.
      If you accept the “Fundamental” doctrine of the Virgin Birth, then Joseph was Jesus’ adoptive father.

      Yes, I know the Gothardites would say that was different. But it nevertheless gives me great pleasure to imagine one of them trying to explain to Joseph why he shouldn’t let that little bastard into his home.

  5. OK, so I read that “Adoption: The Ultimate Act Of Grace” thing, and I am, to say the least, confused. I’m not a fundie, ex- or otherwise, but I’m married to one, and we have lots and lots of great discussions on theology, belief, etc. Aren’t two of the key tenets of Christianity that a)All are sinners, period, and, b)All sin is equal in the eyes of God? So, even taking this seemingly ridiculous idea of “sin heritage” at face value, what does it matter? Everyone is a sinner, redeemable only by Christ, and no sin is worse than any other. So it’s stupid on the face of it. Further, all other things being equal, from the perspective of a fundamentalist, would it not be better for any child to be raised in a Christian home than in another? If I were a fundie, I would argue that if you have the means, opportunity, and motive to adopt a child, but don’t, you are basically allowing the child to be adopted by a non-Christian (even worse, the wrong KIND of Christian!), and thus placing their soul at risk.

    There’s two kinds of stupid in the world. The ordinary kind of stupid involves believing stupid thing. The SPECIAL kind of stupid involves believing stupid things — and then believing something that would be stupid EVEN IF all the other stupid things you believe were true. Any average moron can draw a logical conclusion from a false premise, but it takes a special kind of moron to draw an illogical conclusion from a false premise.

    1. They put their desire to protect their own children and the “sanctity” of their home above anything else. By inviting in a child who might have had parents or grandparents who did unspeakably evil things, you could be contaminating your own children.

      Remember this the same guy who taught that having a Cabbage Patch doll in your home might be why you were experiencing sickness or other problems because it was an evil influence.

      1. Do you realize how many dust mites those Cabbage Dolls carry? I hate those ugly things and I’m not even Fundy. 😛 Okay, rant over.

    2. b) is false. It is incorrect that “all sin is equal in they eyes of God”. The Bible tells us that there is a final judgment for all unbelievers and they will be judged on what they have done. If all sin is equal, there would be no need for judgment. In addition, the consequences for every sin would be the same. It IS true that God excuses no sin, and it is probably true what I’ve heard some preachers say, that all sin is against God.

      I’ve never heard that adoption was a bad thing – sounds rather silly.

    3. And AFAICT, Gothard is SPECIAL SPECIAL stupid. Specially with this demented view of adoption.
      Now a word of experience: children who are up for adoption come from far from ideal family situations (duh!), This can mean real challenges for the parents, who DO need to know that adoption is rarely a bed of roses. But this doesn’t excuse Gothard’s refusing to trust God in a hard time (or his thinly-veiled racism?) on this matter.

      1. I think his teaching on “generational sin” is also an excuse for why the adoptive parents shouldn’t go to outside experts for help with the psychological and behavioral problems common in children who are adopted out of bad situations. So, don’t reassure the child who compulsively hoards food because he has gone hungry for much of his life; punish him instead, that little sinner.

        At the same time, it’s a way to explain why children adopted when they are old enough to already have their own families and cultures don’t act like grateful recipients of largesse and fall right into line with the ATI illusion of perfect families. They aren’t mourning their losses, oh no. And they can’t possibly be viewing ATI’s assorted lunacies from an informed perspective and choosing not to play. Nope. SIN. 🙄

  6. Class of ’94 here (barely!)

    “I had to smile. The entire scenario was so ludicrous. Me in my pajamas in the middle of the night being sweated out under the bright lights by a man who was only a year or two older than I was..”

    This made me laugh! I’ve been there myself. I’d venture to say many of us have. Ahhh, the memories-love it!

    The best thing about making it through PCC is that all my trials and hardships since then have seemed so small 🙂

    All joking aside, there have been many times in my life where I’ve thought, “If I made it through PCC, I can make it through this.” I guess there’s something to be said for that.

    Good series of articles.

  7. A question I’ve been wanting to ask (based upon one of my favorite books of the Bible): In what sense are these colleges and preachers not themselves violating Colossians 2:16-23?

    Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

  8. For TEN years at least after I graduated, I had nightmares that I was back at PCC. I would get through registration okay, but then lose my class schedule the first week and miss class. In the dream I was TERRIFIED that I would get “shipped” as we used to call it.

    It was 25 demerits for every missed class and I think a very small number of classes missed got you a one way ticket out of that place-was it four classes-I don’t remember. UGH!
    And I had a pretty uneventful experience at PCC because the rules never really bothered me because I have a very people pleaser personality(melancholy too.

    But near the end of my FIVE year bout with PCC, I began to tire of the stupidity. I was so hungry for something at the commons one night and thought, “It would be really nice to leave my cullotes on to get a snack instead of donning a skirt and nylons.” It sort of all washed over me at that point how stupid things really were and that we were all adults being treated like teeny boppers.

    I know MANY people who got burned by that place and it makes me sad that such pharisaical behavior is still encouraged by anyone. But it happens in so many places, including tiny little churches. So sad.

  9. Darrell’s story was everything I feared about “Christian” “college” when I was attending my low-bore fundie high school. Which is why I jumped right into the local community college right after I graduated….there was just NO WAY I was going to spend four years reliving the last four years.

    I feel sorry for anybody who wasted four years at PCC or HAC or BJU, and I feel worse for the people who were thrown out over rules infractions that would be laughed out of West Point.

  10. I, too, refused the “opportunity” to speak at graduation, though asked.

    Then, when graduating from grad school two years later, and my closest friend there had been kicked out (“*in absentia” was next to Dale Fincher’s name in the convocation booklet I kept staring at throughout that hollow ceremony) the week before, I deeply considered going to the microphone and saying a thing or two about my 7 years there.

    As it was, I did not.

    But I left the country to get away from those kinds of Christians, and I haven’t lived in the US since. I graduated in May ’99.

    My nightmares ended, finally, last year.

  11. I think the only nightmare I ever had about PCC is the one where they call you up and say there was an error on your transcript and you need to come back and finish one class. I haven’t had that nightmare in at least a couple years, but it usually involves me showing up to class with a beard, or in jeans, or without a tie and getting written up by someone fifteen years younger.

    But… the morning I started my seminary class on campus at Louisville I found myself in a panic about whether or not I met dress code. I think the only dress code they have there that pertains to men is “no hats inside” and it’s not even enforced. Women have a rule against two piece bathing suits and some vague language on modesty.

    1. Elijah–I’ve totally had that dream! crazy.

      Also spent the first class at SBTS wondering about dress code and coffee mugs

  12. Thanks, Darryl. I’ve be telling my story of PCC and will continue throughout the year over at I agree: once you are marked (justifiably or not), there is little you can do before the police hunt you down.

    I would like to see the church triumphant rise up and declare “no more abuse!” on institutions like PCC. But we simply help the wounded, keep buying Beka Books for the children, and let the source continue its devilry.

    1. I think that should be the church militant, no? I’ve always thought triumphant is those who have gone before.

  13. The similarities between how things were done at PCC and BJU are fascinating. I could tell the long version of my expulsion story from BJU, but I’ll just hit on the similarities in their methodologies.

    Unlike Darryl, I did not enter BJU with a determination to keep all of the rules in letter and in spirit. I thought that 90% of them were extra-biblical nonsense. In retrospect, I’m not proud of that, because I “signed up” (my total pre-college search involved my step-mother dropping the BJU admissions application on the table and announcing that’s where I was going) for the BJU experience, I believe I should have made more of an effort to adhere since I signed my name saying that’s what I would do.

    That being said, from the first day of my freshman year, I pretty much broke every rule they had. Not out of a spirit of rebellion, just because I didn’t care about their rules. So fast-forward to the 2nd semester of my junior year, and it’s caught up with me. Roughly 30-40% of the student body shared my views on the rules (based on observation and 3 years of experience). So I got jammed up because I was in an apartment rented by two college-age women decompressing one Sunday afternoon (part of my Sunday routine for years), when a couple that I was friendly with, but not friends with, happened to swing by for their weekly hookup session. I and my 4 buddies were leaving as they were walking in the door. Said hi, advised them not to break anything, then headed back to BJU before they locked the gates at 7.30pm. Never gave it a 2nd thought. Well, the couple didn’t break the bed, but they managed to get enough done that the girl bought a pregnancy test a few weeks later, and being the MENSA member she was, left it in her trash can in her dorm room. So they found it, started the process of expelling her, and she basically told them everything she’d seen or heard about during her 3 years there. One of those things was me and my buddies being in an apartment rented by two college-aged women. BIG NO-NO at BJU. We always like to hit the apartment after we came back from the beach, ATL, or Charlotte, which is where we spent almost every weekend, just getting out of there.

    It was the day Dan Quayle came to speak at BJU. So one of the 5 of my buddies got grabbed before the VP’s speech and was grilled about the apartment. So he grabs all 4 of us as soon as Quayle is done, and we get off campus before we can all be separated. We spent the next 4-5 hours memorizing whatever Buddy #1 had made up, since his Dorm Sup had covered about 2 years’ worth of accusations and dates, times, etc. We got all of our stories straight, and I went back to my room that night knowing there would be a knock at midnight, and on the other end of that knock would be my Dorm Sup, Derrick Harm. I’m not sure Derrick Harm wasn’t in Hitler’s SS in a former life, but if he wasn’t, I’m sure he would have loved it.

    DH brings me into an empty room, has me sit on the bottom of the 3-bed bunk bed so that I’m about 6 inches off the ground, literally turns one of those desk lights on that have the bendable necks, and shines it on me. He has 2 other co-interrogators sitting beside him in a semi-circle beside him, and surrounding me. He grills me, tries to trip me up on dates and times, but I’ve got it down and it matches what my buddies are saying to their Dorm Sups at the exact same time. I know this because he’s periodically calling them on the phone, and walking out into the hall to talk. So he’s pissed because he was excited about “breaking” me. This process literally went on EVERY NIGHT for 2 weeks straight. Starting at midnight, he’d come drag me out of bed, grill me til about 2am, then tell me he’d let me know if he needed to talk the next night. The funniest tactic he tried would be to ask me questions that were relevant, and about real events, then mix in something like “We’ve also had reports that you regularly go to Furman and are seen with two blonde twins at the pool there on Saturday’s.” Now, he knows that he’s lying, and I know he’s lying, but he’s trying to gauge my reaction to something he KNOWS isn’t true, to something he doesn’t know isn’t true. So LYING to me was totally justified in his mind, if that’s what it took to break me.

    In the end, one of my buddies caved about 2 weeks into it. He was a few dorms over, but I knew somebody had caved because the last night Derrick had about 10 guys in the room when I walked in. I worked out a lot, and was considered a “big” guy at BJU at the time. So LionHeart Harm was worried that when he told me I was expelled, I might snap, and then snap him in half. As soon as he told me I was expelled, the next thing out of his mouth was “If you try anything, I’ll call the cops. Now, let’s pray.” LOL!!!! Heard several years later that his wife left him. Not sure if that’s true or not, but I hope it is. The guy would take a shower and put a tie on every night before he interrogated me. He LOVED it. He was a tiny little man, terrified of his own shadow, and drunk on what he thought was power.

      1. Hmm, Derrick Harm. He was from my neck of the woods. He and his parents were at my church for a while and were considered the cream of the crop.

      2. Derek was from Grand Junction, CO I believe. I grew up in Denver, so did lots of “fellowshipping” with his church. Also worked at the WILDS of the Rockies for two summers with him and his wife. She was a sweetheart – him, not so much…..

    1. BTW, the situation that you describe is one reason why I started getting really frustrated with the rules. They’d have really silly, onerous rules like not talking to anyone of the opposite sex in the library or not walking on a sidewalk next to them after 7:00 even if you were going from the soccer field to the snack shop, yet all along, if people WANTED to have sex, they found a way to do it.

      So why did they have to load us with all these humiliating rules? The students who wanted to remain virgins would have done so without such rules; the students who didn’t found a way around them anyway.

    2. “You Americans are all the same, always overdressing for the wrong occasions”

  14. Why are torture techniques being used in ‘schools’ of ‘higher education’? How is this legal?

    1. For the same reason it’s legal if I pay Mistress Cruella to whip me. Consenting adults volunteered for this — and paid for the privilege.

      1. So can you show me the page number of the student handbook that details specifically that middle of the night torture sessions will be used at the school’s discretion?

  15. You may not like him, but the only one kept me sane while there was Pastor Schettler. He was a different preacher when he wasn’t at PCC. If u think he was fiery there u should’ve hear him elsewhere. I’m Southern Baptist now but I still like the fiery style of preaching just without the legalism. There are guys out who are that way.
    Mac Brunson, Herb Reavis Jr and Junior Hill just to name some

  16. For like a year after I graduated PCC, I would subconsciously check my clothes to see if I “passed.” Took a long time to get that out of my head. And I had nightmares too. Not a healthy place. Caused me great anxiety.

  17. For anyone that has attended West Coast Baptist College they will probably be familiar with a few of the people in this story. I had no desire to attend the college but like so many others I decided to do it for one year and then my plan was to enter the Army. I met what would be my future wife Katie at the mall in Lancaster where she worked at a store there. She did not go to WCBC and had an Assembly of God background. At the time we got to be friends and I invited her to come to Lancaster Baptist Church with me. For the next few weeks she came with me and sat next to me during the services. One Sunday night there was a High School play that was being put on by the academy and I invited her to go to it with me. I remember as we sat watching it together Dr. Rasmussen’s (Vice President of WCBC)wife standing right next to where we were sitting watching us intently. The next day during chapel my name was called to come after the service and meet with Dr. Rasmussen, as was customary if you were in trouble. He proceeded to question me on my relationship with this girl. I told him that she was my friend who I had been bringing to church for the past few Sundays. He then asked me if we were either texting or talking on the phone, which I said that we occasionally did. I was told that this was dating and was not allowed between someone of her religion and mine. He then wanted to know if I had told my parents about her. I replied that she was a friend who I had brought to church with me and there was no need to talk to them about it. He disagreed and said that he would call them if I did not. To get him out of my face I told him that I would let them know the next time I talked to them. The very next day this guy calls up my mom and tells her that I am having an unapproved relationship with an unsaved girl that does not go to the school and gets her all emotional about it. It took me about 15 minuted of talking to my mom on the phone to calm her down and assure her that nothing was going on. So the next day in chapel I have the Dean of Men Dr. Weaver (disciplinarian) come up to me after the service and grill me in front of everybody about whether I was having sexual relations with this girl that I had brought to church with me. The following day in chapel after that I had Paul Chappell come up to me and question whether I was following all of the rules and if my heart was right with God. All of this for bringing a “good looking” person of the opposite sex with me to church.
    Ending to this story is that Katie and I have been married for almost seven years now and our son Caleb is a little over two. I am currently in Afghanistan finishing up my 3rd combat deployment. I’m a Chief Warrant Officer 2 and I fly the UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter.
    It’s sad to think about all of these people that are so wrapped up in their little kingdoms that they miss the whole picture. How many souls have they forever turned away from God that will never step back into a church because of their pious, legalistic, and holier than thou attitudes.

    1. I have a real problem with their assertion that she was unsaved. Did they have a window into her soul? Do they really think that anyone outside of their denomination is completely outside of God’s will?

      I was once Assembly of God, and I have my own issues with them, but I don’t think I would ever presume to say that they were not Christians and their members were not saved.

    2. They just assumed she was unsaved, because she was not extreme IFB like they were…

      Yeah, I went to Lancaster Baptist Church and know all the bad leaders mentioned. They have the audacity to call their power kick “servant leadership”.

      Instead of Christian love, priesthood of the believer, etc. all they give is double-speak.

      I am glad you are left that sick environment. Thank you for your service to our country.

      1. You’re exactly right with your response about why they assumed she was unsaved. Pretty much much if you are not and independent fundamentalist then you most likely are not really saved. Thanks for your appreciation.

    3. If my parents heard I was bringing a pretty girl to church, they’d say, “That’s great! Good for you!”

  18. I’m coming in late on this, but the parallels here, IMO, are a much watered-down version of the Stanford Experiment compared to the dynamic I experienced in an IFB kids prison.

    I posted only last night in another forum about getting to the point, at 14 years of age, that I had been sufficiently brain-washed and compliant enough to to be promoted to what was called a “floor-walker” at the New Bethany Girls Home. Floor walkers had the responsibility, not to mention PRIVILEDGE of working in shifts during the night with piercing flashlights to make sure all girls were in their beds, completely covered up from the shoulders down so as to not expose any body part that might temp someone else to sin (I am not kidding about this, we were all considered potential lesbians, a tag you most CERTAINLY didn’t want hung on you), and clothed only in pajamas because some girls would put layers of clothing on under their nightwear with the intention of running away, not to mention fully asleep, although floor walkers did have the authority to wake up whoever they wanted for a “bed check”.

    In the wees hours of one morning, right after a dorm check, the alarm got triggered and I ran outside in time to pull a girl off the fence like any good little Mack Ford robot was expected to do.

    And with not saying much about the course of events afterward because I just recently rehashed this elsewhere, I KNEW what would happen to this girl because I was able to keep her from running. I saw the results of my being a good little brainwashed, obedient, chicken-shit, fearful little mouse.

    The shame from that dutiful little act (not to mention a few more) has stayed with me over the last 30+ yrs. OMG! THAT is really what I had become back then! How utterly disgusting. I am responsible for the beating and torture of another human being who was only trying to get somewhere safe.

    Maybe it’s easier for those appointed as “floor-leaders” and what-not at the IFB colleges have an easier time dealing with past behaviors that border on tyrannical, or even cross the line into sadistic. I don’t know. I did get a little help with understanding this recently when I was present for Marcus Chatfield’s discussion about his study of “Institutional Pursuasion”. I recommend anyone still struggling with the WHY of personal behavior while influenced by cult tactics to watch this, as well as anyone trying to gain a better understanding of it.

    I guess, if when becoming an adult, one chooses to stay confined within the cult-like thinking, they never have to personally deal with the fact that they caused harm to someone on some level or another. I just know this has always made me feel horrible in thinking about it. I wish I knew where this girl was so I could apologize to her.

  19. As someone who visited, but never attended fundy colleges, I am not amazed at the tactics used against the students. I am amazed that the administrators at these colleges have not had anyone call them on FERPA, or the Buckley Amendment. Especially when it comes to notifying a student’s parents/boss/pastor/friends/etc. about what a student is doing in college, with only a few exceptions.

    The exceptions to FERPA are given here: .

    They are related to disclosure of info regarding (1) financial aid for which the student has applied or is receiving, (2) transcripts when transferring to another college, (3) breaking of federal/state/local/college laws regarding alcohol or drug use or possession, and only if the student is under 21 years old at the time of infraction, (5) health or safety emergency. I suppose the catch-all exception that these colleges can claim is the dependent exception – colleges can disclose educational information to both parents if a student is claimed on their tax forms as dependents. (But there is still no way a college could ever be justified in saying anything to a student’s boss, friend, pastor, or other family member). I wonder if BJU/PCC administrators check to see if each student is a dependent before they start their interrogations?
    I wonder if any student at a fundy college has ever called an administrator on FERPA when they resort their shenanigans.

    Lest someone claim that a college like BJU does not receive any federal funds, let me show you a letter that is supposed to have been written by their President Stephen Jones:

    Dear Pastor,
    Each year Bob Jones University, in keeping with the Clery Act, reports campus crime to the U.S. Department of Education. In the report submitted this fall, the University reported nine forcible sex offenses during the last academic year. We are limited by FERPA student privacy laws on what we can disclose about individual students, and therefore, we have been able to explain only limited information to the media.

    If that isn’t strong enough evidence, here is the statement regarding the Peterman dismissal (from CNN):

    Carol Keirstead, BJU’s Chief Communications Officer, denied these allegations, and said the university could not comment on Peterman’s case because of a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [FERPA].

    So obviously, BJU is very aware of FERPA (it’s even on their “lingo” web page for accepted students – but nothing said about what it actually means), and BJU is very concerned about keeping the law with respect to FERPA in cases where doing so could possibly protect their reputation.

    1. Of course, BJU could be invoking FERPA to keep people from demanding they release more info when, in fact, they actually aren’t bound by it. A lot of people will simply shut up if they’re told there’s a law involved, and not check to see if the law actually applies or is enforceable under the circumstances. I don’t know — I haven’t researched it myself. I am also unsure if you can get boilerplate permission from students, as a condition for admission, to contact parents for reasons otherwise forbidden.

      1. Do BJU/PCC students have to sign a pledge or “honor code” document before attending? Wonder if that has some kind of waiver that can be used to ignore FERPA regulations.

        I work at a large state university. During orientation for our incoming students and parents, the parents are expressly told about FERPA and what the college administrators can and can’t tell parents about their kids at school. The only time I have ever had contact with a student’s parents in 15 years is when a student had a life-threatening accident on the way back from spring break and was hospitalized for 2 weeks and his parents called to ask me about making up quizzes and exams.

        Regarding private universities such as BJU/PCC receiving federal funding, I believe federal student aid is included under that umbrella. There are very few private universities that eschew all federal funding like that. I believe Hillsdale University (Michigan) at one time did, and maybe they still do.

  20. According to wikipedia, , the law only applies to schools receiving funding from the US Department of Education. If BJU does *not* receive such funding, but claims that FERPA is what keeps them from commenting, then, either the wikipedia article is wrong/outdated, or, BJU is out-and-out lying.

    1. ” FERPA applies to all educational agencies and institutions (e.g., schools) that receive funding under any program administered by the Department. Parochial and private schools at the elementary and secondary levels generally do not receive such funding and are, therefore, not subject to FERPA. Private postsecondary schools, however, generally do receive such funding and are subject to FERPA.”

      From the official website.

      1. It’s the “generally” that concerns me. If BJU receives federal funding, then, yes, FERPA applies. Does it? As I understand it, the law as written does not state “Since most private postsecondary schools receive Federal funding, all private postsecondary schools are covered by this law.” Do we know for sure if BJU and PCC do/do not receive such funding?

        1. BJU students can take out federal student loans (that’s why they got TRACS). That’s enough to trigger FERPA. Pensacola is probably NOT bound by FERPA at this point.

  21. I attended this week’s graduation from Mackenzie great hall because we have 2 young children. Behind me? Jordan and his 4 young kids. Almost stole my convocation guide too lol. But he did not recognize me eventhough I said ‘hi’.

    Fwiw my brother said things really do ‘feel’ different now. The floorleaders are so much more laid back. Even lights put werent really enforced on his floor.

  22. Reading through these past few days’ posts and replies, I have been appalled by the absolutely fractal nature of the cruelty and control-freakery exercised at these Bible colleges. I knew it was bad, but–!

    And what is it all in aid of? When school administrators break federal law in order to pry into students’ mail, who is served? When injured or sick people have to wait for care until the “right” people can be alerted, who is saved? What exactly does it do for the cause of Christ, that rumormongers and petty little kommissars are allowed to decide whether people can remain in a so-called Godly university?

    And if America is riddled with these institutions where the rule is “keep your head down and do whatever they tell you, unless you have the right connections, and then you can do as you like,” what does that do to America?

    1. What a beautiful, eloquent post. I have no answers to your questions, but they are great questions. And I love the way you put them!

  23. Don’t turn around, oh oh
    Der Kommisar’s in town, oh oh
    You’re in his eye
    And you’ll know why
    The more you live
    The faster you will die

  24. (Urban legend says that this rule was started back in the early days of the school and directed at one particularly unhygienic student and had almost never been enforced in the last decade)

    I’m not sure when you went to school there but I was the roommate of that particular unhygienic student in the ’02-’03 school year and I could tell you horror stories. It didn’t require a new rule to be added though. All the floor leaders would have had to do was look the other way while we tortured the kid until he started to bathe, wash his clothes (he did that once my first semester down there–*once* in 4 months). Natural law and natural consequences are oft times much better than any man-made law. 😈

  25. My senior year I had a similar experience. I wasn’t a PL or APL (I had “lost” those titles when I refused to be a puppet of the admin) but there was a guest speaker, Shelton Smith for those of you who remember this “blessing” to our ears. I remember distinctly that he preached a message in which he said “God has an overarching plan but He is not in direct control until the Millennium.” Now for those of you who know Shelton Smith, you know him to be a grade-A legalist, completely at home with the religious hypocrisy common to PCC but for those of you who don’t know him: lets just say if he were 1/2 as spiritual as he thinks he is, he’d be twice as spiritual as he is. Anyway, as soon as he muttered these words, Prov. 21:1 came to mind: “The king’s heart is in the hands of the LORD; as the rivers of water He turneth it whithersoever He will.” The man had just stood up there and blatantly denied the sovereignty of God. Now, whatever your beliefs about Calvinism and Armenianism, you cannot deny the simple truth that God is sovereign in the affairs of men and, as a Bible major, I felt it my duty to return to my prayer group and publically remind them all that what was said in the service was a pure lie. I was joined by a fellow Bible major and our protestations were not reserved to our own floor. Within a few hours, the entire building was buzzing either by our testimony or the testimony of other like-minded Bible-believing Christians who call out lies for what they are. It is still unclear exactly why Shelton Smith said this-my personal belief is he has a “reinvent the wheel” complex so he can display to everyone how holy and righteous and smart he is: “Look how much God talks to ME!” Regardless, I and my fellow truth-teller were pulled out of our rooms for the middle of the night interrogation. One at a time, as if we were living in Eastern Europe under the Soviet Bloc, we were ushered, half asleep by curt, distant “authority” figures and sat down alone, surrounded by three people, dazed and feeling, as Darrel, scared that all the sacrifices we had made in this place were all for nothing. I was first (probably by random choice) and it was only afterward that I found out in that first moment that we both shared a brief word of prayer: “Lord, give us boldness to speak Your truth.” It could not have been anyone else but the Holy Spirit that we should have discerned what this meeting was about and shared the same prayer with no prior preparation or collaboration on our part. For 30 minutes, the floor leaders and RM grilled me about stirring up “discord among the brethren” to which I responded with “mark them which cause divisions…and avoid them.” I was told I could disagree but was told to be quiet about it to which I responded “they that hold the truth in unrighteousness.” I was told that I needed to “by loyal to the man of God” to which I responded “what about being loyal to the God of man?” Finally, I was threatened with being campused (at the time giving me the equivalent of 62 demerits for this one offence) and told not to speak against the guest preachers of the campus church anymore to which I responded “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Finally, they let me go back to my room and it was my partner’s turn. He received an even more grueling time, nearly an hour, before he was released. The next day, we shared our experiences with each other during which time we found out that the report had been filled out to be sent to the administration and we both figured that our time at PCC was done. Three days later, one of our two floor leaders approached us and said that he had been given the report to give to the administration but he had conveniently “dropped” it and it blew away and so never made it to the admin. I guess I share this story, like Darrel, to let others know, you are not alone. Not only do they terrorize completely innocent students but they actively persecute those that stand for Biblical truth. I am thankful that at least one of my floor leaders that year still had his head on straight because had it been given to my RA, I would likely have been expelled: narcissistic drone that he was. To those of you who learned to think for yourself and stand up for what is right, continue the fight the good fight whether you find yourself still at PCC or whether you are long gone from that place. Heaven knows, earth could use a few more people who’ll take one on the chin for Jesus Christ.

    1. Wow.

      They’re not training you to be true Christians. They’re training you to be “yes, men” for the IFB.

      How awesome that you could answer with Scripture.

    2. So Sheltong Smith is a Deist of sorts?
      That’s pretty interesting, given his status in Fundy Baptist circles.

    3. *Claps* Bravo. I marvel at your courage to stand for the cause of Christ and to have the courage to disagree with Mr. Smith in light of Scripture. As for me I left WCBC because I saw that they were not doing certain things according to scripture. I recall a person once saying to another person there, “Whatever the Pastor says, goes.”
      I thought about that saying as I laid down to rest and I thought, “Don’t they mean, whatever God says goes?”

      1. Oh, they totally meant “Whatever Pastor says, goes”. That is how it is at West Coast Baptist College.

  26. A question for former Bible college students: Did your college do stuff like this to students back when guest speakers could talk about the Communist menace without sounding like complete crackpots?

  27. My husband and I graduated from there. It is as you say. My husband was a Prayer Leader for 2 days. He got demoted from being a Prayer Leader because he didn’t turn anybody in. This place….ugh…this place makes me sick.

  28. While I will agree that a lot of unfairness happened to you and others at PCC, I can’t help but observe that there is a lot of bitterness too—a lot relishing in it. Where is the life of Christ in that?

    1. Hey, 200+ comments before the first ‘bitter’ accusation!



      1. having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood, or aloes.
      2. producing one of the four basic taste sensations; not sour, sweet, or salt.
      3. hard to bear; grievous; distressful: a bitter sorrow.
      4. causing pain; piercing; stinging: a bitter chill.
      5. characterized by intense antagonism or hostility: bitter hatred.
      6. hard to admit or accept: a bitter lesson.
      7. resentful or cynical: bitter words.

      Yeah, I’d say bitter is correct. And appropriate.

      1. These people are amazing little drones, aren’t they?

        “Yes, the ‘christian’ organization might have done horrible things, and might be unrepentant, and might continue to do bad things even after being challenged. But the REAL problem is that you are trying to hold them accountable for their deeds, and to warn others about them, you BITTER MONSTER, you!”

        They often ask “where is Christ” in holding people accountable for bad behavior (because Jesus would NEVER do such a thing, right? 🙄 ), but I have yet to hear them ask “where is Christ” in those who are guilty of such horrible behavior. And so, I ask, WHERE IS CHRIST in the Defenders? I don’t think they know my Jesus. They have been led astray by a cheap imitation.

      2. You know, I don’t mind being called “bitter.”
        Maybe its because some of my favorite things are bitter.

        The smell of chrysanthemums
        Blues music
        Goya’s paintings

        1. Brahms? Bitter? 😕 Always considered him more lyrically profound, or profoundly lyrical; Mahler is similar. But I do agree with the rest of the list. 😉

    2. I recently read a brilliant quote on facebook:

      Being called bitter means:

      Hey, you have stopped drinking the Kool-Aid!

  29. Oh.My.Gosh. That’s so funny and NOT at the same time. I went to BJ…both my younger brothers attended Pensacola. (one graduated, one transferred). I never heard much from either of them that was terrible but I’ve always heard Pensacola is like BJ on steroids rule-wise. My own dad, a BJ grad in the early 60’s, and the original compliant goody-two-shoes? They never made a rule he wanted to break? Even HE almost got expelled b/c he didn’t rat out a roomie who harbored an overnight guest who didn’t have permission. Dad was a square dude but he wasn’t a narc. Myself on the other hand, I’m still amazed I didn’t manage to get kicked out. I tried pretty hard.

  30. I WAS ON THAT HALL!!!!

    It was my first year and I was in Andy’s room.


  31. Let me just say that these stories are appalling, disturbing, and disgusting!!!

    I thank God I was an off-campus student after reading these horror stories. I actually began to feel the stress, anxiety, and fear you felt as I read each story. It reminds me of a movie called “The Experiment” starring Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker where volunteers arrive for a psychological study in which participants will be divided into groups acting as prison guards and inmates. The ones chosen to be guards begin to abuse their power, sound familiar? Also reminds me of our country going down the crapper, as in police state. Where they are asking you to spy on your neighbors like they do in Syria and other control-freak countries. Be a good slave and rat out your friends.

    Talk about psychological warfare, outrageous!

  32. WOW. I attended 77-80 but did not graduate because I married and was pregnant and could not finish my education practicums due to the pregnancy! Fortunately, I lived at home so didn’t have the 24/7 pressure of my friends. Sounds like things have not changed much. Jim and Jason were the two preachers in the limelight… each ready to make their mark on the world for Christ. We know what happened to Jim… Jason seems to have slipped into neverland. It also took me about 10 years to shake off the ultra fundamentalism that was no where in the Bible. Perhaps it made me stronger? I’m not sure, but none of my children went to school there!

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