About four months ago the below was left as a comment to my post The Fundamentally Toxic Christianity. For some reason I didn’t see it until yesterday. I know it’s long. But once you start reading it, good luck stopping.
I was raised Independent Fundamental Baptist; my family lived and breathed it. My mother graduated from Bob Jones University. All of my aunts and uncles attended Bob Jones University. My grandfather is a well-known IFB pastor who is also a graduate of Bob Jones University. From elementary school on I knew that I would attend BJU too, or be literally kicked out of the family on my ear.
My father was accused of sexually molesting little girls while in my grandfather’s church in Pennsylvania. We were packed up and moved in the middle of the night to Tennessee. My grandfather had made the connection for us to this other church—where the pastor, a friend of his, was another Bob Jones University graduate. My grandfather didn’t believe that my father was molesting the little girls. I do, because my father also molested me and my little sister.
The first time I tried to tell what my father was doing, my mother began to sob. Then she called my grandfather. He told my mother not to go to the police (because those evil police and social workers will come out and investigate our home), but to instead call our Tennessee pastor, who, he said, “would handle it.” My mother did call the pastor. Then she took me over to the church to talk to him.
When I started to try to tell the pastor—my pastor—and his wife that my father had been molesting me since I was three or four years old, he stopped me. “Don’t tell me,” he said. “I don’t want to hear it! If you tell me, then I am required to call the police and report this. You don’t want your daddy going to prison over a misunderstanding, do you?”
I was fourteen. I loved my dad. I was confused. I told the pastor that I didn’t want my dad to go to jail, but that I also didn’t want him touching me anymore. The pastor then told me and my mother that he had spoken with my grandfather, who, he told us, was flying down. The pastor and my grandfather were going to speak with my dad. I was promised, “You need to trust us. God won’t let your daddy touch you again.”
Grandpop did fly in. I was in the Christian School associated with the church. When my grandfather showed up, he took me out of school to go to lunch. He asked what my father had done to me. I told him. My grandfather told me that he thought I had misunderstood; that I had confused my dad’s “loving on his daughter” with “evil things.” Nevertheless, my grandfather promised to speak to my father, along with my pastor.
None of this stopped my father from continuing to sexually abuse me.
A few months later, I tried to once again tell my mother what was happening. She again called my grandfather. He got on the phone with me. He told me to stop spreading malicious lies because I didn’t like my father disciplining me. I tried to tell both my mother and my grandfather that it had nothing to do with discipline. They wouldn’t listen.
That same night, my father came back into my room as usual. That night, I tried to run away. I took my parents van, along with my stained nightgown. I decided that if I could get to Pennsylvania I would be able to show my grandfather the evidence of what my father did. Then he would have no other choice but to believe me. Then he would tell my mother to believe me too.
I drove my parents van from Tennessee to Pennsylvania. For gas I used money I had saved from babysitting our preacher’s kids. I packed a small cooler with sandwiches and drinks like I had seen my mother do when we all made the drive to PA several times a year. I drove straight through to PA. To this day, I don’t know how I made it safely, since I wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license. I kept thinking my grandfather will help me once he see’s the evidence. He will!
Once I (finally) drove into my grandparents driveway in PA, I breathed a sigh of relief. My grandparents came to their front door, but didn’t come out to greet me. I thought it was strange, but I was soooo very happy that I ran in, hugged my grandparents, and told them that I had evidence that my dad was doing those things to me. My grandfather took me into the house. My grandmother made me sit on the couch while they called my parents. To my horror, my grandparents told my father that I said I had evidence against him. My grandfather said into the phone, “I’ll take care of it.” In my naivete I still thought he meant that he would finally believe me. I thought I would be allowed to stay with my grandparents. I would be safe at last. Because now they had to believe me.
We didn’t discuss anything that night. My grandmother kept talking about how hungry and tired I must be. My grandfather asked a few questions, went into his study to make a phone call, and then returned. This went on for a few hours. My grandmother made up the guest room for me. I slept very soundly because I knew that my dad wasn’t coming in my room to molest me, while my grandparents slept. I was safe. I remember praying. I remember thanking Jesus. Jesus had made sure that I arrived at my grandparents home safely, He had made sure to give me the idea to save the evidence to show my grandparents. Thank you, Jesus for saving my soul and for saving me from my dad.
The next morning, my grandparents told me there was a counselor I needed to talk to. Rand Hummell (another BJU graduate and a “guru” in that circle) was speaking at a church in the area. I was taken to talk to Rand Hummell. I told Rand Hummell about my father and the evidence I had. He completely ignored that. He told me that I had spent too much time on the Internet, where I had been exposed to too many bad ideas. He talked about his book, The Dark Side of the Internet.
I tried to explain that I hadn’t seen any of this on the Internet. He focused on the fact that I had ran away from home. Many young girls do this, he said, because they are lured over the Internet. I tried to tell him and my grandparents that I hadn’t been lured anywhere, but had come to my grandparents house because I wanted my dad to stop hurting me. Rand Hummell told me that I needed to work on my attitude, and let God work on my dad.
I was told to repent for running away, and for causing so much pain. I did apologize for running away.
Unbeknownst to me, my grandfather had been calling not only Rand Hummell, but also another one of his pastor friends, Pastor Jason Casey. Jason Casey is the Pastor and Director of Victorious Valley Baptist Church and Home for Girls in Sunset, South Carolina.
My grandparents asked me if I wanted to go somewhere that would help me, and where I would be safe.
Of course! I wanted to be safe.
I still thought I was going to be staying with my grandparents.
I was very wrong about that. That evening my parents flew in. My grandparents and my parents went out to dinner, where I now know they discussed how it had been set up by my grandfather for me to go to Victorious Valley Home for Girls. I was sent back home with my parents to pack. Within a few days I found myself at Victorious Valley. There I was made to confess that I had made up malicious lies, and to repent for my having caused “pain to many.”
I was forced to “repent,” because if I didn’t I was severely punished. I was put in solitary, where I was forced to constantly listen to the preacher on tape constantly. I was “spanked” (read: beaten), and denied what they called “privileges,” such as showers, meals and use of the bathroom (other than when they decided I needed such things). I was, at heart, a good girl: most of the girls there were good girls. It didn’t take long to break us.
Once I “graduated” from Victorious Valley I went home for the summer. As expected in my family, I attended Bob Jones University. A few nights before leaving for college I saw my father entering my little sister’s room. I went to college, haunted by the knowledge that my father was now hurting my little sister. I didn’t know what to do.
I was a student at Bob Jones University in 2010. One of my roommates complained that my nightmares were keeping “the room awake.” She was the Hall Leader. I was called to my dorm supervisor’s office, where I explained that I had been having nightmares. Without asking any other questions about me or my nightmares, she said, “That is the price one pays for watching horror movies.” I was then sent to the dorm counselor, who ordered me to not wake my roommates any more.
I finally told the dorm counselor about my father. I told her that my little sister had told me that since I had left for college he was coming into her room. The dorm counselor gave me a copy of the Dr. Jim Berg’s book, Changed Into His Image. Dr. Jim Berg was then Dean of Students at Bob Jones. He is now the head of BJU’s seminary. (Dr. Berg and Rand Hummell are good friends.) The dorm counselor also told me she that she would pass my story along to BJ’s Dean of Women, Miss Baker.
The next day, the dorm counselor called me to her office. She told me that Dr. and Mrs. Jim Berg had counseled hundreds of students who had been sexually abused, and that I was to report to Dr. Berg in a few days. (Please remember, that besides my grandparents, my dorm counselor was the first person I had ever tried to tell the whole story to.)
When I went to see Dr. Berg he asked me a lot of questions. One thing he told me was that I was not to tell anyone I had attended Victorious Valley. He went on to say that he had spoken with his wife, and that she would be “happy to counsel” me for the rest of the semester. Dr. Berg was not suggesting that I speak with his wife; he was not asking me to consider doing so. He was telling me that I would, without question, speak with his wife.
The next day, Mrs. Berg and I began meeting. One of the first things she told me was that if I had ever had any pleasure from what happened between myself and my father, God required me to repent of those feelings. She said that I needed to give up “control,” and a lot of other things. I started crying as I told her that I was worried about my little sister.
The next morning I went to class as usual. Upon returning, I had a message to come to my dorm supervisor’s room. I did. She told me that Dr. Berg had called my father and told him what I had been saying about him. My father denied it all, of course. My dorm supervisor talked to me for a while about how God expects us to tell the truth. Though tears, I told her that I had told the truth. I was sent to the Dean of Women’s office and confronted again.
Miss Baker called my mother. My mother has known for years about the abuse. My mother was crying and angry, because, she told me, “You are tearing our family apart.” I knew my mother had called my grandfather too. I’m sure he made calls to the University and told them all about the “little family liar.”
The penalty for “lying” was 50 demerits. I was also put on “spiritual probation.” I accumulated a lot of demerits, for small things that added up. Right before Thanksgiving break, my Hall Leader roommate turned me in for playing “un-checkable” music on my violin in my room. The next day I was, as they called it, “shipped.”
If Bob Jones, the Dean of Women, Dr. or Mrs. Berg ever reported any of this to any law enforcement agency, it is news to me.
They say that G.R.A.C.E is investigating Bob Jones University. [Here.] I will be getting in contact with G.R.A.C.E. It’s hard for me to have any hope after all these years that Christians will believe me, but I’m going to contact GRACE anyway. I pray that this time Jesus, who I prayed to as a fourteen-year-old girl, will come through.
I’m running this comment as a post for two reasons. The first is because if I have learned anything in this world, it’s that people—particularly if they’re trying to communicate an injustice visited upon themselves or anyone else—need to be heard. When you’ve been traumatized an affirmation of your trauma by others can spell the difference between salvation and desolation. I have no idea who has or hasn’t read this girl’s story. But having read it myself robbed me of any excuse for not making at least some effort to ensure that more people read it.
Secondly: if you are a Christian, then you have an immediate and profound moral responsibility to be absolutely, 100% certain that the Christianity you espouse and practice has nothing whatsoever in common with the systematically vile and manifestly depraved Christianity that, in its appalling arrogance, so cravenly sought to brainwash this poor girl into thinking that she was the cause of the nightmare she was forced to live.
One test for discerning whether or not your Christianity is entirely too much like the morally bereft brand of Christianity that informs Bob Jones University is to ask yourself this single question: Do I believe that it is God’s will that women be subservient to men? If your answer to that question is yes, then you are consistently helping to perpetuate the exact same value system that inevitably dehumanized this girl—which made it easy to grossly violate her, and even easier to insist that afterward she shut up about it.
That doesn’t make you a person of whom Christ would be proud. At best it makes you an ignorant agent of destruction. It means that, as sure as the wind causes the reed to bend, you share in the guilt of what happened to this girl. Her perverted father, her degenerate grandfather, the wretches of Victorious Valley Home for Girls, the craven reprobates who run BJU … those people are all your friends. They believe what you believe. They are your comrades, your partners, your soul brothers and sisters.
And if the hell in which you believe is real, then they, thank God, will one day see you there.
→ Rand Hummell (above), who holds a B.A. in Bible and an honorary doctorate from Bob Jones University [read: wouldn't know a book from an eggplant], is Director of The Wilds of New England, a 105-acre camp in Deering, New Hampshire, where “using the unique benefits of Christian camping,” they “serve people by presenting the Truth of God with the love of God so lives can be changed to the glory of God.”
From the camp’s registration brochure for its 2013 summer camp for kids grade 7-12:
Ladies/girls note: Please bring knee-length skirts or dresses for the evening services (slits must not come above the knee). Any fashion worn must come at least to the top of the knee and cover the shoulders. Low necklines (front or back) are not acceptable camp attire. Loose-fitting pants, jeans, or knee-length fashions may be worn except when otherwise specified. Swimsuits should be one-piece.
“Dr.” Rand’s book, The Dark Side of the Internet, was published by Bob Jones University Press.
→ Victorious Valley Home is still in business. The home page of its website reveals nothing but this … unique use of English and the space bar:
God help us here at Victorious Valley to faint not. The world we are living in has become a hard place. We are seeing young people destroyed by the wickedness allowed in our society. They come to us with so many scars to carry and so much wickedness to fight in their minds. Homes are being destroyed and the children are suffering in a great way! Because of all they face, their hearts are filled with bitterness and anger. Please pray for us as we minister to the hurting youth of America and their families. The work is great!
With the economy in the shape that it is in, we would appreciate your prayers and financial support. If you would like to support a child monthly, please contact our office at 864.878.3070
The Lord has shown Himself faithful to this ministry throughout the years and we praise His name for that! If you would like to be a part of financially helping the hurting youth at the homes, please contact us or go to the donations page. By giving $25 a month, you could help one of the kids get their personal needs. You also could sponsor a girl or boy in their school tuition. This would be such a blessing!
→ Jim Berg (above) was dean of students at BJU from 1981 to 2010, and today teaches at BJU Seminary. All six of his books were published by Bob Jones University Press, including When Trouble Comes (“Written both for those in trouble and for those helping others, When Trouble Comes takes the grieving and downcast by the hand and leads them to the still waters they so desperately need.”) Berg received his B.A. in “Bible,” and his M.A. in Theology from Bob Jones University. He also boasts an honorary doctorate degree from Tabernacle Baptist Bible College and Seminary of Virginia Beach, VA.
To give you some idea of the academic standards held by (unaccredited) Tabernacle Baptist Bible College and Seminary, here’s a bit (under “Distinctives”) from its website:
The foundation of the entire academic program of TBBCS is the fact that God has revealed Himself and His design for human existence, and that He has recorded that revelation in the Scriptures, the Bible, the Holy Word of God. The faculty and administration of the College and Seminary are committed to establishing this foundation in each student, and thus, every teaching and every practice must honor God and the Word He has given. No human entity … can be allowed to usurp the authority that alone abides in the Word of God. …
For all classes and activities, the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible will be the basic text; other versions will not be used or recommended. …
As a ministry of Tabernacle Baptist Church, the College and Seminary is an institution of higher learning that is not bound, nor will it be bound, to any external convention, council, or group that would preclude it from exposing any violation of God’s righteous design. In accord with this position and the truth that the character of God is not and cannot be different from His Word, the College and Seminary repudiates all belief systems and theological perspectives, regardless of their name or religious association, which in any way tend to exalt human reasoning … .
→ For a Christianity worthy of the name, try Unfundamentalist Christians.
If you are mentioned in this post, and would like to have corrected something I’ve written about you, I wholeheartedly invite you to contact me.
The post’s lead illustration is Satan Wins, by Susan D Miller.