"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Monday, April 30, 2012

Standing Up to the Fundamentalist Bullies - Social Media Has Evened the Field - A Few Thoughts for Chris Peterman from the Watchdog

Readers, here is another post on the Chris Peterman, Bob Jones University, Chuck Phelps story. The old FBC Jax Watchdog - who has been through a few dog fights himself - has a few things to say to Chris, and about how social media has helped expose the tactics of the fundamentalist bullies - and about how it has leveled the playing field.

- I know this entire episode has to be incredibly painful, Chris. Not only did you not get your degree, not only do you have to figure out now where to go that you have been kicked out of your college, but you likely now are coming to grips now with how ugly religious fundamentalism actually is. I don't know your circumstances, Chris, but perhaps you were a religious fundamentalist and now are coming to grips that you WERE part of that system that through your recent circumstances you are beginning to understand how ugly and anti-Christian it actually is. A person who incurs the wrath and the lies and the scorn from powerful religious leaders that he/she once trusted - simply because they stood for what they believed was right and wouldn't shut up - causes a myriad of conflicting emotions that takes years to process. I know. The good news is there is incredible freedom at the end of the process.

- But do get ready, Chris, for the lies. I'm sure you've experienced it already since this story broke 5 months ago. You know, the whispers. The accusations that powerful religious men will make about you and your family and friends, comments that their underlings will take and repeat to others about you. People who you thought were your friends who won't call you, or who avoid making eye contact at the store. You might even have religious relatives in your own family that will tell you that you were wrong and should have shut up. Some will accuse you of hurting the cause of Christ and hampering BJU's ability to do God's work. Nope. You are helping the cause of Christ, you are doing the will of God, and you are actually doing BJU a huge favor but those in power right now can't see that. But know that you did the right thing, the Christian thing, and hold your head up high.

- People will say you got what you deserved. I've heard that for years. This is part of the zaniness of religious fundamentalism: the pronouncements by the pious holy men that the lowly abused somehow get what they had coming to them - you know, that God is sovereign so just take your lumps like a good soldier. In fact, how ironic is it that people on my blog and elsewhere are saying that you deserved this abuse from BJU, when part of your protest over Chuck Phelps being put on the BJU board was how as pastor he made Tina Anderson feel that she was somehow to blame for being raped. This is how the twisted minds of religious zealots operate: Tina was made to feel that she was to blame for her abuse, and now you are made to feel that you are to blame for the abuse perpetrated by BJU. This is religious fundamentalism at its worse: damn the individual who is abused if it means protection for  the religious leaders and the religious institution.

- You are the enemy now, Chris, of the powerful religious zealots at BJU and those that love BJU, so there is probably more dirt and mud coming your way. You have helped to expose what has been there all along at BJU, and you have and will continue to incur their wrath. There likely will be no true reconciliation in the matter, as religious zealots can't compromise with the devil, and you, in their eyes, are forever the devil. And the zealots must defeat the devil.

- But the good news for you, Chris: your struggle has done much good for Christianity and will continue to do so. Stick with it, Chris. Keep shining the light. Sometimes just enduring the scorn of religious zealots, and then daring to turn the tables on the zealots by using social media to expose their abuses and lies in REAL TIME is the best response to stop the abuses in the future.

- Chris, I hope you have sought out legal advice, and that if you believe you have been wronged, or that your rights have been violated by these zealots, that you will fully consider your legal options and see it through. Oh, they won't like it, and BJU supporters will say you are "lawyering up" and claim you are out to make money. But make no mistake, the pious and religious men you're dealing with understand two things: money and power. BJU did what they did because they believed you were the little guy, someone with no power at all. And you were only the next in line of a long list of people who they have successfully bullied. They thought they could bring you harm with little or no ramifications, because they've done it before. You were a pest they thought they could just brush aside, a coward that if a little pressure were applied to, would cave in to their demands. But the beauty of our legal system is that the little guy like yourself, with little money and almost no power at all in their eyes, can stand toe-to-toe with the powerful and hold the powerful accountable if you have a lawyer standing with you who believes in you.

Lastly:  how sweet is the irony that they viewed you, Chris, as someone they could bully, someone with no power or voice - yet it is precisely their own actions that has helped give you the voice that you now have on these issues. This is one of the amazing aspects of social media. For so long the bullies just squished whoever they wanted. Consider what started this entire fiasco fifteen years ago. When Chuck Phelps at Trinity Baptist made Tina Anderson confess to her "sin" of being raped and then shipped her out of state, while the perpetrator was protected - the zealots got what they wanted: the pastor and the religious institution was spared the embarrassment of scandal and police involvement.

But fifteen years had to pass until the technology would be available to set things in motion for justice to be served.

You see, when Tina was made to stand and apologize for being raped, there was no Twitter, there was no YouTube or "blogs" or Facebook. What prompted Tina to come forward more than a decade later to seek justice was information shared in an online discussion group! Then, when Tina's story came to light, blogs like this one and Christa Brown picked up on it, and people knew about it, and you found out about it and decided to stand against Chuck Phelps being placed on the board at your college.

Social media helped bring about justice in Tina Anderson's case, and it is social media helping to expose the actions BJU has taken to harm you for you standing against the pastor involved in Tina Anderson's case.

So Chris, I hope you continue to use social media to tell your story, whatever the next chapters might be. When you do it, you will be doing God's will in taking a stand against the abusive religious leaders of your day....just as Jesus did.

52 comments:

Thy Peace said...

Amen, WD. Well said.

Anonymous said...

Chris Peterman looks like a really good young man. But why did he feel the need to post Youtube videos and Facebook groups?

Is there an exhibitionist in him?

Did he seek attention to himself?

Is there a story behind this story?

Could there be something hiding in the closet?

There are whispers.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Sure, of course there are whispers. That he is jealous, he is a narcissist, angry, that he is mentally unstable perhaps. Yes, trespass him, as he might be a danger to the campus. Perhaps a sociopath.

That is how it works.

Anonymous said...

Amen! When an institution gets criticized, the institution wants to change the subject. Then people start talking about what's wrong with the accuser instead of the original problem.

Why DO these pastors stick together? Is it because they truly believe they are set apart and holy men of God, so any criticism is not from a fellow human being-it's from the devil himself. If you are "against" them, then you're on the devil's side. That must be the way they think. And they know that most of their followers will support them, cause the whole set-up is based on pastoral authority. That's what the followers want.

Arce said...

The leaders of institutions like BJU are the narcissists and they are paranoid that someone, anyone, will stand up and show them to be the petty people that they really are. Petty as in small, mean, and failing to live a redeemed life.

Anonymous said...

As a commenter from the previous post noted; If you sign up to attend B.J.U. you surely know it has a reputation as a strict/legalistic institution. IT HAS BEEN THIS WAY SINCE ITS INCEPTION.

To Chris Peterman: You chose to attend that school. They've tossed your little white butt out. They have along history of doing just that.

I believe you'll survive.

P.S., Hey Chris, the story will be a resume enhancer. You'll thoroughly enjoy it in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

" Arce said...

The leaders of institutions like BJU are the NARCISSISTS and they are PARANOID.."

So Dawg, now we're free to label and diagnose people we don't know; Call them names on your blog?

Isn't Arce a lawyer or something?

A little hypocrisy?

Anonymous said...

Watchdog,

I am not sure you understand fundamentalism--at least the BJU variety.

Most of the BJU types (can't speak for all) are gracious, God fearing people who have a different view of sanctification than the rest of us. Most of them would give you the shirt off their back.

I don't think it's fair to characterize them in this way. I certainly don't agree with their separation stance, and I know the damage legalism can do, but you can't force your version of grace on someone. The Holy Spirit does the work.

I am of the opinion that if you are a Christian attending that school, you either obey the rules or go elsewhere. Sure, it's fine to speak up but don't expect to change the doctrine of separation all by yourself. You'll probably lose.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dog,

I am a regular reader here and pretty much agree with you most of the time. But often there is a "story behind the story" in a lot of cases. I am NOT a fundamentalist, however, I do know from the experience of growing up as one that most fundamentalists (of the BJU type) do love justice and they do try to be fair even if they have some silly rules.

Regarding Chuck Phelps, have you ever entirely read his website? If not, I think it's only fair to read it.

http://www.drchuckphelps.com/

I am probably the only reader here that has heard Chuck Phelps personally preach several times (years ago) and has been to Trinity on many occassions and has relatives and family that attend there. That church is NOT as bad as the media presented. They are not the weirdo fundamentalist type at all. Lots of normal intelligent people attend there.

If you haven't read Chuck Phelps website, I hope you do. You don't have to believe any of it, but I think it's only fair to read the other side of the story.

Anonymous said...

"Lots of normal intelligent people attend there."

Define: normal and intelligent.

I would think that "normal and intelligent" people wouldn't conform to their racist policies of the past.

Or to their current cult-like legalism.

Or approve of bullying students when one dares to take their founders words at face value.

I'm told that there were "intelligent" people (one was a doctor) in the Heaven's Gate cult. Does that validate their organization?

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Jones_University

"Rules of conduct"

"Strict rules govern student life at BJU.[131] Some of these are based directly on the university's interpretation of the Bible. For instance, the 2011-12 Student Handbook states, "Students are to avoid any types of entertainment that could be considered immodest or that contain profanity, scatological realism, sexual perversion, erotic realism, lurid violence, occultism and false philosophical or religious assumptions." Grounds for immediate dismissal include stealing, immorality (including sexual relations between unmarried students), possession of hard-core pornography, use of alcohol or drugs, and participating in a public demonstration for a cause the university opposes.[132] Similar "moral failures" are grounds for terminating the employment of faculty and staff. In 1998, a homosexual alumnus was threatened with arrest if he visited the campus.[133]

Other rules are not based on a specific biblical passage. For instance, the Handbook notes that "there is no specific Bible command that says, 'Thou shalt not be late to class,' but a student who wishes to display orderliness and concern for others will not come in late to the distraction of the teacher and other students."[134] In 2008 a campus spokesman also said that one goal of the dress code was "to teach our young people to dress professionally" on campus while giving them "the ability to...choose within the biblically accepted options of dress" when they were off campus.[135]

Additional rules include the requirement that freshman resident hall students sign out before leaving campus and that resident hall students abide by a campus curfew of 10:30 PM, with lights out at midnight.[136] Students are forbidden to go to movie theaters or listen to most contemporary popular music.[137] Male students are required to have conservative hairstyles, and facial hair is prohibited.[138] Women are expected to dress modestly and wear knee-length dresses or skirts to class and religious services.[139] The university prohibits students from wearing clothing that displays the logos of Abercrombie & Fitch or its subsidiary Hollister because these companies have "shown an unusual degree of antagonism to biblical morality."[140]"

Anonymous said...

Anyone who goes to BJU should know what they are placing themselves under and into. If along the way, even in the final weeks your whole philosophy and theology changes, walking away would be the smart thing. Who would want their diploma if they are on different ends of the doctrinal spectrum?

This is not something new for BJ, even people not attached to them know these things. I'm sorry for Chris but some of the blame goes his way for going there.

He wised up and is now out... good for him. BJ has not changed so the one who did needed to walk away.

Anonymous said...

"He wised up and is now out... good for him. BJ has not changed so the one who did needed to walk away."

Yeah, that would be ridiculous to expect the Christian college to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

The Mega-Church Pastor's favorite artist embroiled in scandal:
http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/04/thomas-kinkade-planned-marry-mistress-amy-pinto-walsh-infuriated-wife

Anonymous said...

Frankly Tom, I don't think you can get a lot of traction out of this story. I wonder how many HUNDREDS of students have been tossed out of Bob Jones in its history.

More than a few; Peterman is just another one.

On to the next riveting post/expose.

Thy Peace said...

If Jesus Christ joined BJU as a student, he would be kicked out in two days max.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers - at Tina Anderson's blog there is a "thank you" post written to Chris Peterman. Go here to read it. Excellent!

Anonymous said...

BJU - Still Crazy After All These Years

Anonymous said...

" I wonder how many HUNDREDS of students have been tossed out of Bob Jones in its history."

Billy Graham was...

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, that would be ridiculous to expect the Christian college to do the right thing."

We need to understand, they think they are doing the right thing. They are standing on their convictions. They are standing on how their biblical world view. Right or wrong, we all do.

Anonymous said...

"In December of 1936, a depressed and dejected 18-year-old named Billy Graham sat chewing his fingernails in the office of his 56-year-old college president, Bob Jones Sr. The patriarch of fundamentalism had learned that Billy and a fellow classmate were planning to transfer from Bob Jones College (in Cleveland, Tennessee) to Florida Bible Institute (just outside of Tampa).

Billy’s first semester had been marked by sickness, bad grades, and a “stack of demerits” for falling short of the school’s strict standards......"

tikatu said...

Anonymous 4/30 8:49 said...
I wonder how many HUNDREDS of students have been tossed out of Bob Jones in its history.

Peterman is the only one who successfully staged a peaceful protest at BJU. That makes him unique.

Anonymous said...

BJU is a school no thinking person should ever choose.

The top line on their admission application should read: Only fundamentalist Stepford robot parrots need apply.

Jeff said...

Bullies are Bullies, whether they are fundamentalists or not.

We would assume that as a Christian, the "fundamentals" of the faith would be something every believer would learn to insist on.

Because someone is a "fundamentalist" doesn't make them a bully, anymore than being a bully makes them a "fundamentalist."

Just clarifying that the two terms are not married to each other automatically; and that to some degree, every Christian ought to come to a conviction concerning the fundamentals of the faith.

And I'm not a BJU fan

Anonymous said...

If BJU doesn't stand for something, they will fall for anything.

If you do not like the school, leave the school.

We are raising a generation of weasels and whiners and complainers.

Grow up Peterman. Does this young man work? I doubt it.

Thats our problem, we encourage kids to grumble, blog, cry, and therefore we are seeing a generation of losers.

Case in point...Occupy Wall Street.

This is no different and it makes me want to vomit.

Anonymous said...

"We need to understand, they think they are doing the right thing. They are standing on their convictions."

Their conviction that their authority should not be questioned?

Anonymous said...

"Thats our problem, we encourage kids to grumble, blog, cry, and therefore we are seeing a generation of losers."

So Peterman's voice against the choice of Phelps as a board member, given his history, is "grumbling" and "crying?" And therefore Peterman's a "loser?"

Wow. That is a truly frightening, broad brush perspective. And so typical among fundamentalist bullies.

Anonymous said...

""We need to understand, they think they are doing the right thing. They are standing on their convictions."

Their conviction that their authority should not be questioned?"

I am not saying their conviction is right but I am saying they are living up to their convictions. Question them all you want, I don't care but it will not change their convictions. Having a conviction which leads to rules like you can't date while a student, can't participate in certain things as a student (even if it is watching Glee) may be stupid, but I am not sure we can say they are sinful.

I am not a BJU fan, never have been. I could not live under their strict thumb, therefore I choose not to attend there. I do think that when we get to heaven there will not be anything supportive there for things like Glee, pr Jersey Shore. That is speculation on my part. I have never watched Glee or Jersey Shore and have no interest from what the commercials portray.

Is it fair to ask that we respect their ultra strict views as long as they are not sinful and in the case this topic is about, I have not noticed anything sinful about BJU's actions. If I missed something, please share.

Anonymous said...

"We need to understand, they think they are doing the right thing."

No they don't. They know that having a person who covered for a rapist on the board is wrong.

That's why they got defensive and kicked out a student who was just about to graduate.

Because he embarrassed them by following their founder's philosophy.

They absolutely know that what they did was wrong.

Anonymous said...

"We are raising a generation of weasels and whiners and complainers."

Said the WEASEL who constantly whines and complains on this blog.

LOL!

Anonymous said...

"They absolutely know that what they did was wrong."

I can't read minds or hearts on why they did what they did. Maybe they and you know something I don't. Has this person you speak of repented? Has he made amends with those he believes he needs to? Maybe BJ leadership has dealt with these things and put them behind them. When God forgives he does.

Anonymous said...

I think glee is not a good show for anyone that is trying to focus on things above but I wouldn't expell him that close to graduation. If I did then he would get a full refund. What gets me is they put a RA in the room with him to spy on him. He is a grown man. BJ does not a history of making sound choices themselve. At one point they did not allow interacial dating and marriage of their students. Moses and Joseph would of been given bad points and expelled for that. I do think BJ finally let up on that. You can not regulate people to make them live the Christian life as you seem fit. You must install the things of God into their life and trust the Holy Spirit to do His job.

Pastor Chris

Anonymous said...

"I can't read minds or hearts on why they did what they did."

Thanks for clearing that up, because it did sound like you could read minds and hearts when you wrote:

"We need to understand, they think they are doing the right thing."

Anonymous said...

"Has this person you speak of repented? Has he made amends with those he believes he needs to?"

You would need to ask that person (not sure who you are referring to) yourself.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe BJ leadership has dealt with these things and put them behind them."

What evidence do you have that this is the case?

Anonymous said...

"When God forgives he does."

And when he doesn't he doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"I think glee is not a good show for anyone that is trying to focus on things above but I wouldn't expell him that close to graduation. If I did then he would get a full refund. What gets me is they put a RA in the room with him to spy on him. He is a grown man. BJ does not a history of making sound choices themselve"

1 - The school has strict written policies about a students behavior. Sadly, they get the final say. These standards are built upon their belief system. Most see it as skewed, they do not.

Maybe a case could be made that anyone who goes to BJU has trouble making sound choices.

Why would the student want their diploma after they decide the morals and convictions BJU chooses to live by are totally in contradiction to their own, no matter how close they are to graduation. if a person goes there, pays the tuition and is expelled bue to a belief difference, I see no need to give a refund. The person got what they paid for. An education they now do not like.

Anonymous said...

"I can't read minds or hearts on why they did what they did."

Thanks for clearing that up, because it did sound like you could read minds and hearts when you wrote:

"We need to understand, they think they are doing the right thing.""

Not reading minds at all. I am stating facts from what I do know. They believe what they did was right.

Anonymous said...

""Has this person you speak of repented? Has he made amends with those he believes he needs to?"

You would need to ask that person (not sure who you are referring to) yourself."

If I wanted to know, I would. I would not spread things about a person, not knowing all the facts. If he did wrong, tell someone. If he repented is something that I think we would want to be known before we as a Christian takes out the He's guilty brush and start indoctrinating people with only a possible part of the story.

Anonymous said...

""When God forgives he does."

And when he doesn't he doesn't"

Has He?

Anonymous said...

"Not reading minds at all. I am stating facts from what I do know. They believe what they did was right."

You would have to be able to read their minds to determine whether they were sincere or not.

Since you do not understand their motivations (only they do), you don't know what they truly believe.

Anonymous said...

"If I wanted to know, I would. I would not spread things about a person, not knowing all the facts."

You will never know all the facts. So, according to your own standard you would never stand up against wrong.

"If he did wrong, tell someone. If he repented is something that I think we would want to be known before we as a Christian takes out the He's guilty brush and start indoctrinating people with only a possible part of the story."

As a general rule, when someone ends a phrase with a question mark, they want to know soemthing.

Not wanting to know is a cop-out for not being willing to condemn unbiblical behaviour.

The fact that the man resigned the day after the protest and then denied that it had anything to do with the protest, tells you all that you need to know.

In addition to that, I'm sure you can find all the details in the court records where the man was sent to prison for 30 years.

Anonymous said...

"Has He?"

No, not for persistent and unrepentant sin.

God is a God of love and judgment.

You are only looking at 1/2 of the picture.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from BJU and I never ran across anyone as sad as Chris Peterman.

I would be afraid to go outside in a thunderstorm if I were to question the authority God placed over me.

Who put the President of BJU in his office?

God could change the rules at BJU if He wanted them to be different, so the rules are His Will.

So, therefore, the rules are in place at BJU because our Father in Heaven put those rules there to protect us from evil.

Don't question God...Chris.
Don't question God's wisdom..Chris

Submit...pride goes before a fall.

I thank God I haven't fallen

Anonymous said...

"I thank God I haven't fallen"

Wow - you are either trying to be funny or the world's biggest idiot.

You know, of course, that any cult could make the same claim that you just did and be just as wrong, right?

Jim said...

Hate to break it to you Anon 4:16, but I doubt God has ANYTHING at all to do with who is or is not the president of BJU. It is just a right decided by inheritance. Nothing more. In fact, I doubt God has ANYTHING at all to do with that university. Of course, they and their followers think God is involved, but the god involved is one they have created over generations of tortured interpretations of the Bible. That campus is like another place described by Jesus in Matthew 23:27. It is thoroughly putrid. You would't know it by just looking, but dig below the layers of PR and it stinks. It just does.

Anonymous said...

I just see this as an institution faced with an embarrassing situation (someone on their board responsible for covering up something immoral and illegal.) So they wouldn't be too thrilled if a student at the school brought unwanted attention to their decisions. Then this student refuses to get his mind right and get back under their authority, so they figure out how to move him along as quickly as possible.

He's a threat and a negative for the institution. Maybe any institution would do the same-get rid of him. But the original problem was their choosing to retain Phelps on their board. Isn't it somewhat similar to Penn State covering up an inconvenient evil?

Anonymous said...

First, it was Moses.

Then Abraham.

Then Jeremiah.

Then Malachai (my fav prophet)

Don't mess with God's man.

Chris, you found out the hard way.

You got the boot planted on your spanking spot.

It is very dangerous to touch what God has set apart.

If you want to do investigative reporting, go to your local Democratic headquarters.

You probably voted for Obama anyway.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Wow - you are either trying to be funny or the world's biggest idiot.

Both. It's just the resident TROLL.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've never commented here before, but this was too much:

"God could change the rules at BJU if He wanted them to be different, so the rules are His Will."

According to such 'logic', had you lived in Germany more than 60 years ago, you would have said, "God could change what's taking place in Germany if He wanted things to be different, so the holocaust is His Will."

God IS fully in control of everything, but that doesn't mean that when horrific things happen we should do nothing to fight evil, on grounds that "if it's happening, it must mean it's God's will". Wilberforce fought slavery and didn't assume it was something honoring God. William Carey fought against the burning alive of widows in India... and I could go on. You don't watch injustice with indifference on the grounds that since it's happening, it must be God's will. Christians can and should fight evil, and that doesn't make them fight God.

Brindusa

Anonymous said...

"According to such 'logic', had you lived in Germany more than 60 years ago, you would have said, "God could change what's taking place in Germany if He wanted things to be different, so the holocaust is His Will."

Ignore the TROLL.
He's an idiot.

Anonymous said...

"We are raising a generation of weasels and whiners and complainers."

I dont believe the ten percent tithe is the real issue, but a piece of the architecture. These megas have plenty of money or they would have collapsed a long time age.

If you give ten percent thet know they have you, this is the issue. If they have they can move mountains, figuratively speaking.

The generation of weasels and whiners are the new preachers. They expect their ten percent but produce nothing!

Advice, Dont let suck you in.