al Jazeera Reports on BJU’s Sexual Assault Issues

Claire Gordon writes:

BJU is no ordinary Christian school. It is the flagship university of American fundamentalism (some in the BJU community prefer “fortress”). Its influence extends far beyond its student body, which is estimated to be about 3,000 undergraduates. It has numerous feeder schools in pockets across the country, runs its own K-12 school in Greenville and is one of the largest publishers of Christian textbooks in the America. The university’s presidents have been philosophical leaders of the fundamentalist movement, and its graduates go on to lead thousands of churches, colleges and seminaries across America.

“I can tell you within 10 minutes of being in a church whether or not there’s been a Bob Jones influence,” says Leah Gore, who graduated BJU in 2000.

But in one way, BJU is just like many of its Christian and secular siblings across the country: it has a sexual assault problem.

More here…

92 thoughts on “al Jazeera Reports on BJU’s Sexual Assault Issues”

  1. And cries of “Oh no, the a-rabs are on to us… it’s an assault straight from the pit!” begin to ascend from 1600 WHB.

  2. I’m not familiar with AlJezeera America – are they credible? Is this a spoof or hyperbole or fact?

    1. Al-Jazeera America is a branch of Al-Jazeera, which is a news agency owned by the government of Qatar. They made Al-Jazeera America when they bought the now defunct Current TV.

  3. They prefer the transliteration to be “al Jazeera”

    And while I’m not going to agree that this is anti-Christian reporting, the flavor of irony overwhelms here.

    1. Yes, I agree totally. Irony indeed. From the culture of Honor Killings. The culture where Western women are considered fair game for rape if their skirts are too short. Ohhhhkay. Nonetheless, I believe it is an accurate article — very well written, too.

      OK, I can’t help feeling a bit of schadenfreude. During the Catholic sex-abuse scandal, the fundies were all over us like a bedspread, gleefully gloating about how corrupt those Katolicks were, with their pervy priests. Believe me, I am not by any stretch excusing our scandal or condoning the horrible crime of sex abuse. But, even at the time, statistical surveys by independent research groups showed that the incidence of clergy sex abuse was roughly the same across all communions. Yet fundy anti-Catholics acted as if Catholics had cornered the market on sex abuse. They were pure, we were corrupt. You couldn’t convince them with all the data. Nope. They were impervious to facts. They had a cudgel to beat the Catholics with, and by gum, they were going to use it.

      “Judgment begins in the household of God.” Now it’s coming home to everyone else.

      (Please excuse bitterness, please. The early to mid 2000s were a hard time to be Catholic, and yeah, I guess I am a little bitter about that. Bitter toward the pervert priests who committed these horrible crimes. And bitter also toward all the anti-Catholic hypocrites who had a field day with our problems.)

  4. al Jazeera America is run as a largely independent organization. It is owned by al Jazeera Media Network in Qatar. They have repeatedly stated that they wish to be a legitimate journalistic enterprise, and that they will not inject any middle eastern kind of opinion into their American operation. Everything you ever wanted to know and more is here:

    There’s no direct connection that would allow this to be flavored as irony, any more than if Fox News did a piece on maritial fidelity (given Ruper Murdoch’s history of divorce). A distant connection is very different from a direct connection.

    I am, however, amused that it took a non-American owned news facility to be able/willing to run a piece this in depth right here in the USA…

  5. The article definitely paints a picture we’re familiar with; a student, having been raped, is
    1) so oppressed by the atmosphere of mistrust that she won’t seek supposedly offered help
    2) is accused (indirectly) of encouraging rape. By a male authority figure
    3) Is assigned a (semi-professional) counselor who immediately breaches confidentiality
    4) AFAICT, no police report is ever filed
    5) She is not directed to a rape crisis/counseling center, even though there is one in town.
    6) Unwritten rules are cited for breaching confidentiality
    7) She is accused of lying about her rape (I guess assuming it was actually consensual sex?)
    8) She is expelled without ant apparent form of due process.

    Yeah, this sounds about right. 👿 How awful.

  6. I haven’t quite finished the article, but this jumped out at me:

    –Rebekah, who received her bachelor’s in biblical counseling in 2008 and master’s in 2010, says her BJU professors didn’t delve much into the subject of sexual violence and how to counsel victims, but they did touch on it.

    “You have to find out what really happened,” she remembers learning. “Because there might not have been an actual sexual assault, it could have been their perception. They could be blowing it out of proportion. That was pretty much what I took away from it.”–

    Um, what? Pretty much no. No no no no no. This is the worst perspective, the most victim-shaming perspective. They might just be blowing it out of proportion? Ugh. Just…ugh.

    1. That’s the same thing they told us in a (female-only, which is horrible now that I think of it) workshop session during counselor prep week at the Wilds Camp. It was more important to protect the alleged perpetrators than the victims, and perhaps that’s why the victims were assumed to be lying. It actually made me break down crying in that session. And I got the side-eye from several girls thereafter.

  7. Our pastor had a meeting one night and handed out forms for ANYONE who was in any type of ministry to fill out. It asked questions like: Have you ever committed a felony? What medications are you taking and for what purpose?

    I told my husband not to fill it out — this violates HEPPA laws! They have no right to ask what medications you are on and for what purpose! Even though I told people about this, the majority of the “sheeple” filled it out and turned it in!

    1. it doesn’t violate HEPAA laws. A violation would be an unauthorized publication of your medical information. If someone asks for the info and you give it, I suppose you broke the law for giving it? Let’s be passionate about things for the right reasons. You crush your credibility otherwise.

    2. I think unless the Church is a “covered entity” under HIPAA, the law doesn’t apply here at all. In any event, HIPAA has to do with disclosing information, not collecting it. The church has at least some interest in knowing about the health condition of people in ministry, although the correct approach is to ask about conditions which make ministry risky, etc. And the fleony question should be replaced by a background check request for every member in contact with juveniles. Less intrusive.

      1. No, they had no concern WHATSOEVER for the actual health of anyone. In fact King Tommy was one of those who preached that if you need medication for anything other than acceptable problems — like blood pressure, thyroid, cancer drugs, pain meds for broken bones or surgery recovery, etc. — it was a sin problem! My husband went off his antidepressant/anxiety medication because of this guy’s “teaching”.

        The only reason they wanted that information, and he said from the pulpit, was to protect the ministry!

        1. Yup, that is why that information is gathered. It is used to determine if you are fit for the position you are in or they are hiring for.

          Yes, gathering of that kind of information from employees would be used to protect the employer.

        2. It’s not a HIPAA issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for an employer to ask such questions.
          These days, churches are expected to do background checks, but all they need to ask for that is a person’s full name and date of birth. Records of arrests and convictions are public information, and doing an independent check will result in much more accurate information than insisting that people confess to their own past problems.

        3. Gee — King Tommy didn’t care to actually background check the bookkeeper (aka — the head deacon’s DAUGHTER) who embezzled $35,000 to 75,000 from the church without prosecution!

    3. Just for the record, it’s HIPAA. (I spent five years working as a medical records systems analyst)

      And, yes, asking for you disclose your own information doesn’t violate the law. However, using the information given to discriminate may violate the Americans with Disabilities act depending on whether or not the people are paid employees.

      I’m not a lawyer. I’d have to leave further discussions to people who are.

      1. I know the information was being gathered because the Christian lawyer that Schaap had (can’t remember his name) told King Tommy to have that information on file to protect the church in case anyone was brought up on anything charges or accusations.

        We had a preteen once accuse a FEMALE church worker of inappropriate touching. This is why the form was given out to start with — to protect the church.

        1. “We had a preteen once accuse a FEMALE church worker of inappropriate touching.”

          Unpossible. Everyone knows women are never the sexual aggressors. They pretty much just lie back and think of England while the pig does his thing.

        2. I hope that the female was reported to the police. You know it is perfectly possible the preteen was telling the truth right?

        3. Police came out, the girl finally admitted that she was just talking to get attention. The lady that was accused — I know her very well — she’s probably Methuselah’s sister. Kindest, sweetest woman you’d ever want to meet — completely King Tommy brainwashed, but I would have been really surprised, shocked, and totally befuddled if any part of it would have been true.

          This is what brought “the form” — let me know everything about you, your past, and any medications, what they are for, etc. was developed.

        4. Ok fine. Whatever he was going to do with it is not the point. Your assertion was that it broke the law and whatever creepy underhanded intent there was behind it, it does not break the law.

    4. These sound like reasonable questions to be asking. Too many churches allow people into ministry without any type of screening whatsoever. Especially in youth and children’s ministries it is important to do some type of screening/background check to help avoid these types of child abuse cases that we keep hearing about. It would also be reasonable to want to know what types of medications a person is on in case the medication itself or the condition that is being treated would affect that person’s ability to safely carry out their ministry.

    5. That is perfectly reasonable and legal for a church (or any employer) to ask for of people in ministry. And yes, it is to cover them. What if they hired someone who had committed a felony?

      HIPAA covers the disclosure of information gathered.

      1. HE DID! The “bookkeeper” who was the head Deacon’s daughter ripped off somewhere between $35,000 and $75,000! AT LEAST 3 different families came to him after he announced this telling him that she had been let go from 2 other positions because of monies coming up missing!

      2. and then he put up security cameras INSIDE the church — not outside. Said that they had been purchased a couple years ago when we had a series of break ins, but being the technological geek that I am, I knew they were not last year’s or the previous year’s models — they were new and up to date! They were put in so King Tommy could hear what congregation members were saying and then turning around and using them as sermon illustrations (he didn’t name anyone, but more than 1 person told me that they were talking to so and so about this in the hall!)

        1. The point is, regardless of how they ultimately used the information, there is nothing illegal or unethical about them asking for it.
          If they did not use the information they had, that makes them all the more responsible that they did hire someone who had committed a felony.

          Let’s stick to calling people out on the wrong. Asking for the information was not wrong.

    6. HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was passed by Congress in 1996. HIPAA does the following:

      Provides the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for millions of American workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs;

      Reduces health care fraud and abuse;

      Mandates industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes; and

      Requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information

  8. It seems like they interviewed a large group of people from all sides of the story and came out with the a good understanding of that cesspool.

  9. Bob Jones’ foremost concern has always been perpetuating their own existence, or ‘feeding the beast.’

    My association with the school began in 1968 when my late father attended there for grad work. Children in my family were just expected to attend BJU.

    It’s no real surprise that rapes have not routinely been reported to law enforcement at BJU. Anything that might show the university in a bad light is, de facto, evil. Therefore, reporting such a horrific crime is evil. Reporting would constitute siding with the devil instead of with the university. (The university’s interests are identical with God’s interests, since BJU is the chosen vessel.)

    So the victims are victimized again–but this time, in the name of the Lord.

    Time will tell if the G.R.A.C.E. investigation is credible. At this point I have my doubts. Will the report–albeit with redacted names–be made public, or will the report be confidential? The public needs to know the investigative techniques, including the interview questions to make an evaluation. (Did the investigator use leading questions? etc.) As well, the public needs to know who widely the net was cast for victims to be interviewed.

    It would be best if Bob Jones just closed down and sold the property and contents of the art gallery. Maybe they could provide some compensation for the sexual assault victims who were mistrusted, marginalized, and penalized for reporting being raped. I fervently hope that successful civil actions are brought against the school resulting in its bankruptcy and closure.

    1. I was one of the people GRACE interviewed, and they seemed professional, knowledgeable, and committed to justice to me. Time will tell, of course, BJU just might pull an ABWE and fire them right before the report comes out. Or, they might make a show of thanking them and then make no changes of substance.

      Whatever happens, I don’t think it will be primarily a failure on the part of GRACE. But that’s just my opinion. /shrug

  10. I am a grad of BJ, and while it has its problem and I am no longer in the sphere of fundamentalism, I think this article takes snippets of the “edges of bad things” and construes its own story. First and foremost, where was this child’s parents? Why were they not doing anything? Secondly, this wasn’t even an incident that took place at school. While it wasn’t handled well, we got one side of the story. I am the last to gloss over these issues and I am the first to say that fundamentalism has an issue, I am not so sure this is a good “poster case” for the issue.

    1. I’m 100% certain that had a female student at a public university gone to a university counselor about a rape that happened off campus, even during the semester break, a public university would have offered counseling resources, help reporting the incident to police, and any other services they possibly could rather than humiliating (“did you do anything to provoke”) the student and then forcing her out. The very fact that her medical withdrawal was classified later as an expulsion is a serious problem. BJU has intense cover-up problems to say the least. Excusing it as an incident that didn’t take place at school just doesn’t cut it.

      1. Renee,

        This is just not true. Tons and tons of news stories on the internet of abuse not being reported by colleges to authorities. Just look at Penn State as one of hundreds of news stories in the last two years coming from secular colleges. While we as Christians should be above these types of issues. One incident that happened over a college break away from college cannot be compared to a problem like Penn State or many other places.

        The comment about the parents wasn’t to say she was still a child, but where is the individuals support structure of friends and family. That is just as much of a travesty than going to a stranger at a college. Too many times children don’t feel they can talk to the support structure that is the only support structure instituted by God.

        I say all this to put a bit of balance here, not to praise the school in anything they did, because it should have been reported to authorities ASAP.

        1. Grad, we’ve seen transcripts of materials taught by BJU which teaches their students to not respond appropriately to abuse. We’ve seen Bob Jones openly say that Tina Anderson’s rape was ‘consensual’. Grace has had interviews with at least 80 different people who claim that their abuse was covered up at BJU. I’ve heard of one situation where a student raped another student and was allowed to graduate and go out and pastor a church.

          There is not just one story.

        2. Grad, Penn State fired some Very Important People for failing to take those reports seriously, and some nonreporters may see criminal charges and civil suits over it (if they have not already).

          Contrast with BJU’s public statements in support of the Chuck Phelps brouhaha..

          And for a school that goes to authoritarian extremes in the name of “good testimony”, the “at least we’re not as bad as the very worst state schools used to be” is hardly a compelling defense, is it?

        3. BJU Grad said: “The comment about the parents wasn’t to say she was still a child, but where is the individuals support structure of friends and family. That is just as much of a travesty than going to a stranger at a college. Too many times children don’t feel they can talk to the support structure that is the only support structure instituted by God.”

          I think what you have to realize is that rape, or any form of sexual abuse, can be extremely traumatic, and people who have experienced it respond to it in many different ways. Often these aren’t the ways that the people around them would expect. And the first step to learning to respond appropriately to a situation like this is probably learning not to place burdens of “this is how you’re supposed to respond to your rape” on someone who comes to you for help.

          Young women, especially young women from fundamentalist backgrounds, may have many valid reasons not to want to approach their parents and/or close friends with this situation, at least not at first. And for someone who’s just experienced that, I can’t imagine telling her her feelings are wrong. I won’t question your beliefs, so I’m not going to try to unpack the “only support structure instituted by God” line, but I think that a young woman in that situation is entitled to any support structure she wishes to seek out.

        4. Grad, to add to my last reply, I have to admit I agree with you on one point. This sort of thing does happen at non-Christian colleges, and other places in our society. Maybe not in exactly the same way, but there have been plenty of cases of rape and sexual assault not being taken seriously enough, of victim-blaming, of covering up for abusers.

          On the whole, though, I think secular institutions, especially now, are learning to take victims at their word, and direct them to the appropriate support that they need. I also think that the secular world is learning how to talk about these things, and deal with them. But you do have a point.

          I’m afraid, though, that Christian institutions such as BJU are particularly susceptible to bungling cases like this. They seem to have a built-in cover-up mentality. We see cover ups in other places, too, I’ll grant you, but in the fundamentalist world, it seems especially strong. There’s a misconception that airing any wrongs will somehow negatively impact an institution’s testimony. That mentality is toxic. And it’s going to cause situations like this one until fundamentalist churches and Christian institutions focus more on doing the right thing than on appearing to be seen to be perfect.

    2. I believe this was a good article, without much conjecture….hardly an editorial. I believe it accurately presented the girls complaints, and even presented opposing views from other alumni that testified there are staff they could trust with problems.

      Secondly, in response to “where is this child’s parents?” Well….ummm….when you go to college, then you are not a child anymore. Unless you are a fundamentalist. There are a multitude of reasons one might not tell her parents she was raped.

      The incident didn’t happen on campus, but the university did expel her, so I think they open themselves up to criticism in that regard.

      1. Good point. And the young lady is from an IFB background, so perhaps if she had told her parents she would have been exposed to shaming or blaming from her parents, as well.

    3. Where the parents were is not an issue. Obviously the girl was scared to share what had happened to her to anyone including her parents. She is a college student which in the world outside of colleges like Bob Jones, means she is an adult and able to choose herself.

      And simply the line implying she may be to blame for the rape in and of itself is intolerable and unfortunately implied more often than not in our culture, especially the IFB realm–just look at how often pastors who have been caught in sexual abuse blamed their victims.

    4. Grad, often times a rape victim doesn’t tell anyone. If the young woman in the article is from a fundy family, she might be terrified to tell her parents out of fear of the exact same thing that she encountered at college. Even if she didn’t come from a fundy family she might have been too embarrassed to tell. Rape victims often feel that they caused the rape to happen. Rape is not merely a physical event. It is mental torture. Get out of your box and try to picture yourself as a young woman who suffered a rape. Your imagination is failing you here.

      1. At my old fundie church our jr high girls Sunday School teacher (who was also the pastor’s wife) told us that if anything “went wrong” between a boy and a girl “the blame lies at her feet”. My dad also blamed the woman anytime a rape was reported in the news, the first thing he would say was “what was she wearing”. I was an angry young person and hated men and even now in my 50’s rarely wear dresses. I did not experience assault but the whole double standard thing ruined my outlook on life and caused unnecessary confusion for many years.

        1. What was she wearing? Unless it was a shirt that said please rape me, it doesn’t excuse rape. Wait, but then it would be consensual so… yeah, nothing a person is wearing excuses rape.

    5. This is a GREAT “poster case” for fundamentalism. When I first started experiencing anxiety and depression, I asked my pastor to refer (obviously not in the “medical” sense, just let me know if he knew anyone) me to a Christian psychologist. His response was, verbatim, “I don’t know any and if I did, I wouldn’t refer you to any of them. You need to come talk to me.”

      I spent 5 years not dealing with the true root of my anxiety and now I’m on medication dealing with it. It’s not for him, or BJU, to decide who needs to see what kind of doctor. It was WRONG for BJU to tell Lydia to continue seeing Rebekah, and it was wrong for them to judge her as an attention-whore. She was raped, and she needed to be counseled by trained and experienced counselors.

      Just because you didn’t experience this kind of treatment (are you a male or female?) doesn’t mean it isn’t running rampant throughout the BJU and other fundamentalist camps.

      1. Amen. And very well put. I am really glad that no one dissuaded me from seeing a very nice (Baptist) Christian counselor, who correctly diagnosed my OCD. I’ve been on Luvox for years now, and it has transformed my life. Thank You, Jesus, for Christian counselors and psychiatrists and for anti-anxiety medication.

  11. It was sad but not shocking to read that statement from a prosecutor that nine times out of ten pastors show up in court to support the offender. Sickening.

  12. “You have girls who don’t know what body parts are called, let alone what sex is,… I know a girl who didn’t realize what happened was rape, she thought it happened to everyone.”

    That’s what happens when you grow up in some fundy circles.

    1. That part made me mad too! It seems like parents in a lot us ultra conservative circles have the idea that if they educate their children about sex, then their kids will be automatically become perverts, and if they don’t tell them about sex, then they won’t know about it. The fact of the matter is that your child WILL learn about sex, it’s just a matter of who teaches them about it, you or the culture/their friends? You can avoid a lot of misinformation by just teaching your children about sex.

      Knowledge is power, and by withholding knowledge about sex from their children, fundamentalist parents are simply empowering and enabling the culture of abuse that seems to be so prevalent in fundamentalism instead of empowering their children. When you don’t educate people about sex, you end up with girls who are vulnerable because they are ignorant and don’t know what’s going on and you end up with boys who find themselves with mysterious impulses that they have no idea how to handle properly. All in all it’s a recipe for disaster.

  13. Unfortunately fundamentalists won’t take this article seriously because they will view it as a Muslim conspiracy against the IFB. I wish I were joking.

    1. You’re right Larry. It’s the same confederacy of dunces who say that President Obama is a Muslim.

  14. Excellent article. So many articles do not accurately report on fundamentalism because they do not understand it and don’t take the time to get to know it or make foolish statements (like assuming fundamentalists all like Billy Graham).

    (I do find it ironic that this comes from al Jazeera. I would choose BJU a million times over being under Sharia law. When I was a student at BJU, we complained about having to wear hose or guys having to wear ties when we were at BJU, but that is NOTHING compared to having to wear a niqab. BJU didn’t support a student who said she’d been raped, but under extreme fundamentalist Muslim rule, women who’ve been raped have been stoned to death. Does al Jazeera do equally detailed reports on human rights abuses in Muslim countries?)

  15. I will climb out on a ledge here and say that I am always skeptical of “will/can not use their full name” stories…it makes it impossible to collaborate and/or fact-check. This does NOT mean the story is false, but rather there is no way to know the story is true. (In the cases of minors, I have different standards/thoughts regarding not releasing their true names/identities.) I am also uncomfortable with some of the actions that are categorized as “sexual assault”.

    All that being said, I am more uncomfortable with the thought of an institution making these determinations and setting courses of action. Law enforcement MUST be brought in to investigate ANY allegations of criminal conduct. For an example as to why, look no further that Tim Curley. This case is going to have massive repercussions and will effect how all institutions handle these types of issues from here forward.

    1. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to figure out who Rebekah is. More research than I would care to do, but certainly not impossible to find out, especially since a time frame was given.

  16. Mohammed was a pedophile so that’s like calling the kettle black.

    In fact, Mohammed state in the Quran that he married his favorite wife when she was six, but that he waited until she was nine when he consummated the marriage.

    Islam in the IFB on steroids.

    1. Old King David shared a bed with a young virgin. And Mary was a probably a teen when god knocked her up.

    2. Hey Jeanette,

      Al Jazeera is a news agency, not a religion.

      Just because a company has got an Arabian name, doesn’t make them a mosque.

  17. The Article by Al Jazeera was fair. What is more astonishing, the tone of the article was pretty much as neutral as it could be. It reported the facts. It reported how the University reacted to people, and how students and former students reacted to the University’s reactions.

    If the report is damning — and it is, it isn’t because the report attempted to take a damning stance. Rather, the fact that the University would take a position of unbelief against the victim of a crime, expel her, expel people who spoke up to support her and those like her is the great source of damnation. Even the half-hearted public attempt to “address the issue” is damning, because ultimately the process is rigged. BJU will be exonerated — mostly. BJU will never really apologize to those it hurt. BJU will be righteous in its own eyes.

    It really hurts me, because I am a BJU grad. I also realize that I wouldn’t have been a BJU grad if I had stayed in the dorms. I married, lived off campus, and so was not watched nearly so much. My opinions had time and energy to form on their own, without punishment, so long as I did not voice them too loudly to others.

    But considering the home I’d come from, keeping one’s thoughts to oneself was normal.

    BJU has a bigger problem than its reaction to sexual abuse and rape. BJU is much more political than it is religious. It has descended into a slippery world of policy for the sake of control, suppression of dissent as a substitution for doing the right thing, making a show of repentance to get the heat off its back instead of actually being repentant.

    That kind of rot is what destroys relationships. It destroys institutions as well. In being against everything, BJU forgot what it was for. And that is why it will die a slow, lingering death.

    1. I agree. It was a very fair and balanced article, IMHO. The tone was extremely professional. Western news outlets should be so objective!

    2. I also agree about the article; I wish more news articles were written with this level of objectivity, accuracy, and detail.

      I also agree about the damaging policies at BJU of control and suppression of dissent, but I’m inclined to think that there will always be people who WANT that for their college-age children.

  18. Is is just me, or does anyone else find it ironic tht this website posted one religion’s Fundies’ evaluation of another religion’s Fundies’s problems? This news organization started in Islamic Fundamentalism. That is undeniable.

      1. No. I don’t. I don’t think they care (or have enough evidence). I also don’t think CNN, MSNBC, ABC, or the rest will ever report the truth about Ben-Ghazi. Fox either. Neither group cares.

        I just find it ironic, and humorously predictable that one Fundy is pointing out another Fundy’s oppression of women.

        Nobody can deny A-J’s roots, and I wouldn’t be surprised when they do some “Islam is Great for Women” segments with how free women feel under Purdah .

        Fundy-Hypocrisy at its best.

        1. “I just find it ironic, and humorously predictable that one Fundy is pointing out another Fundy’s oppression of women.”

          Umm, Claire Gordon is not a fundamentalist Muslim. I don’t think she is Muslim at all.

          Neither is the president of Al Jazeera America, award-winning American journalist Kate O’Brian:

          Nor is David Doss, senior vice president for news programming (who came over from CNN), or Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president of news gathering.

    1. Just you. Al Jazeera is a respected news reporting agency. They’re mainstream in Europe, not just the middle east.

  19. Sexual assaults happen at secular universities and some of those universities have not done a stellar job of reporting the crimes either. In matters of sexual assault, institutions seem to want to crawl into the fetal position and wait it out. I suspect that Fundamental schools struggle even more than secular schools in accepting that rape can and will occur when men can’t control themselves.

    Christian organizations from mission agencies (New Tribes for instance) to christian schools can’t seem to wrap their minds around sexual violence that occurs in their ranks and the need to report it to the police. There are so many predators who are walking free due to this blindness. Organizations who claim the name of Christ don’t hesitate to throw the victims (primarily women and children) under the bus. Christ must weep in shame.

    1. I think a huge part of the problem is that Fundies have very narrow definitions of “violence against women” & “rape.”

      To them, coerced sex is neither violent, nor rape. Which is why they almost universally place at least some blame on the victim.

    2. “when men can’t control themselves”

      when men *won’t* control themselves

      I refuse to think so lowly of men (or women) as to believe they are mere animals, helpless to physical urges.

  20. I found this blog through a post I read on a Patheos blog a few months ago. I have read many posts here since then, but this is the first time that I’ve commented. I don’t want to argue and I don’t want to offend, but I feel compelled to contribute.

    I grew up Muslim and am an American, and I believe that God comes to each of us differently. The problems that fundamentalism causes in Islam are well known, and I’ve had to deal with some of these problems through extended family. I like to see Christians speaking out against Christian fundamentalists, because I from experience how important it is to do and how hard it is to do. Fundamentalists don’t like people who don’t obey them. I relate to many of the women here who have had to deal with fundamentalist notions of female modesty that have nothing to do with modesty and everything to do with strict control of women. Like many of you, I have strained relations with some of my family members because of my refusal to conform to their fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. I’m fortunate that my parents love and support me even though I don’t practice Islam the way they do, but my late grandfather disowned me when he found out that I stopped wearing a hijab in public and my cousins have been discouraged from contacting me.

    Unfortunately, some of the commentary on this post had soured my opinion of the SFL community. I know that many Americans are unfamiliar with Al Jazeera, and I understand not trusting an unfamiliar news source. What disappoints me is that some people here, without asking any questions or even doing a quick Google search about it, immediately came to the conclusion that Al Jazeera = Arabic = Islam = Islamic fundamentalism = Evil.

    I was a teenager when 9/11 happened, and many Christians called me horrible names to my face. Some boys in the public high school I attended spat on me. People would glare or say nasty things about my parents if they overheard them speaking Arabic to each other in public. Not a single person ever asked me what I thought about the actions of the 9/11 terrorists before they decided I either was a terrorist or supported terrorism. I work in an office, dress like every other female professional (stopped wearing a hijab about five years ago), and speak English like any other person born in America. Yet some people find out that I’m Muslim and are shocked to hear that I’m “allowed” to work, drive, vote, talk to Christians, walk alone outside, read, etc. I know plenty of Muslims just like me, and I know even more that aren’t like me but accept me. What shocks me is that Christian people think that Muslims are all alike when they know from experience that Christians aren’t all alike. If a Muslim saw you in a store that played popular music over the speakers and sold women’s jeans, wouldn’t it be a little insulting for that person to tell you how surprised they were that you are “allowed” to be at such a place like a normal person? It would suggest that they hadn’t bothered to learn anything about Christians (or, if you’re not Christian, assumed that you are just because of your appearance/heritage/language).

    There is nothing ironic or funny or weird about a news organization writing about injustice done to women by religious fundamentalism. This is exactly what news organizations need to be doing everywhere. I would sound very bigoted and stupid if I saw a New York Times article reporting the horrible things that Islamic fundamentalists do to women in their countries that I know for a fact are true, but dismissed the New York Times as a news source without doing any research because the New York Times = English language = American = Christian = Christian fundamentalist = Evil. It’s not that Al Jazeera or the New York Times shouldn’t be questioned, but writing them off without knowing anything about them because of preconceived notions about what “all” Christians/Muslims believe is exactly the sort of enforced ignorance that helps fundamentalism thrive.

    I apologize if this comes off as ranting, especially in a Christian space. But this is the sort of prejudice I deal with every day in a Christian culture and I was disappointed to see it here after reading so many good things here. Fundamentalists need prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance to control people and they hurt everyone around them. People who believe that God loves everybody (or, not believing in God, that people are of equal worth) should support each other in fighting against abuse of any of God’s children.

    1. Gahdir, I am sorry that some of our community were offensive to you. I hope you know that it is not all of us.

      If we can convince you to stick it out a while longer, perhaps you will see that. There are many welcoming people here. And I very much appreciate your posting. It was reasonable. It was not a rant.

      The fact is that some of us have come out of fundamentalism only to find that fundamentalism has not come out of them — at least not completely. And many of us finding out what prejudice against what we believe and experience have not yet put into application that gentleness that helps us avoid prejudice.

      For my part, I hope you will stay. Your perspective would be invaluable.

      We already have people who are atheist, others who are still involved in fundamentalist churches, people who are rebuilding faith (like me), and a whole host of others in between.

      In a forum like this, you will not only see the best side of us, but also the worst. I like the honesty here, the ability to speak and to realize that what you say will resonate with someone.

      We are a lively group. But I think every one of us can admit that being a part of it has changed us for the better, because we were able to listen to perspectives different from our own.

      Please. Please do not leave! And keep posting.

    2. Gahdir,

      That was an excellent post. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

      I’m sorry that you have to deal with prejudice on a daily basis in the mainstream US culture. That’s wrong.

      I know this is close to meaningless, but I’m studying to be a high school history teacher. In my classes, I’ll do my best to promote understanding between different religions and cultures by listening to the people of those religions and cultures speak, in their own words. It’s not much, and I won’t be able to reach every student, but–that’s what opened me up to realizing that my experience isn’t the only experience in the world. And that’s what showed me that other people’s experiences are as valid as mine.

      Thank you for posting here!

    3. Gahdir, welcome! I appreciate your post. I came out of “professional Christian fundamentalism” (including ten years on staff at Pensacola Christian College) and the parallels between fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam are many. I do hope you stick around…the world would be a better place with less fundamentalism of any stripe, and I suspect that a lot of our “Fundyland” experiences have parallels with yours.

    4. Thanks for posting, Gahdir. I appreciated everything you had to say. If that was a rant, it was a very reasonable one. I’m only an occasional reader here, and very occasional poster, but I hope you’ll stay. I think your perspective here could be valuable. As you point out, there are more similarities between fundamentalists of differing faiths than many people realize. And, of course, I’m sorry that you were offended by comments here, but especially for the bigotry you’ve had to live through. There’s absolutely no excuse for that, and I’m so sorry to hear it.

    5. Dear Gahdir:


      Here is something of which you may be unaware. The BBC publically commended aj Jazeera for journalistic integrity.

      Another point I wish was more generally known – by Christians as well as Muslims. After 9/11, some [not nearly enough in my view] Christian clergy dressed in clerical garb locked hands and used their bodies as human shields to form a safe corridor for Muslims as they went to their mosques to pray.

      I asked no Muslims what they thought of 9/11 assuming [s]he would be as horrified as anyone else. A point I wish Christians would recall – there were undoubtedly practicing Muslims at the WTC that day. Who but an idiot thinks otherwise? Lastly, I didn’t ask out of concern that the question might carry the unspoken assumption that, ‘being Musilm, you would be expected to agree the attack… do you not?’

      As an aside, I was first informed of al Jazeera many years by a young Jewish girl who is an outspoken advocate for a free Palestine. I have many times gone to al Jazeera not only for more in depth coverage, but to get stories that the western press won’t cover. Many nations have multiple English language newspapers. I have often googled ‘newspapers of the world’ and found many intelligent, well written articles from mid Eastern and other countries.

      I am truly sorry for the less than positive experiences you have had in the US. If it is any consolation, African-Americans, Britishers, Chinese, Latinos, Japanese, blacks, and whites not part of the Confederacy as well as whites in the Confederacy together with many others [not the least of which are First Nations peoples – Native Americans] have all been singled out for brutality. So this is nothing new. All I ask is that you know that people do this not because they are Christians, but because they are ignorant pigs.

      Lastly, I believe your participation here is invaluable. An immigrant myself, I have often said that the US needs desperately to hear the stories of the people of the world who come to our shores. You can bring much here by helping us to reflect on fundamentalism through your own vision/experiences.


      Christian Socialist

  21. I understand al Jezeera’s spring line-up include the following shows:

    1) Everybody Stones Raymond
    2) That 1370’s Show
    3) It’s Always Sunni in Philadelphia

  22. Aside from the unfortunate topic of the article, the most disturbing thing to me was the close-to-life-size baby doll on the dorm room bed in the 1948 photo of the prayer meeting…which was accurately portrayed as “mandatory”, and obviously staged for the photo. These are 18-22yo WOMEN treated and acting like children!!! That, to me highlights what to me was the most frustrating aspect of my experience at the fortress…you were only allowed to mature and develop under THEIR terms and according to what THEY deemed right.

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