Abuse: ‘Protestants worse than Catholics’

Abuse: ‘Protestants worse than Catholics’

Last year, a grandson of the well-knowm evangelist Billy Graham –  Boz Tchividjian, above – claimed that evangelicals were ‘worse’ than Catholics when it came to sex abuse.

A Liberty University law professor, Tchividjian said:

Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics.

He said that mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent” often don’t report abuse because they fear being barred from working in foreign countries. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases, he said.

Tchividjian is Executive Director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) – and the work of GRACE was highlighted this week in a Guardian report about sex abuse victims at the conservative Christian Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

GRACE has just published a damning 300-page report, which details the experiences of current and former students, employees, and others who have dealt with students’ sex abuse claims –such as pastors, counselors, and family members.

The report, which BJU commissioned Grace to produce, said the findings “support a possible conclusion” that childhood survivors of sex abuse may not consider the school a safe place to disclose such experiences or seek help. More than 60 percent of respondents who identified as victims characterised the “general attitude at BJU toward victims as one of blame and disparagement”.


BJU founded in 1927 by Christian evangelist Robert (Bob) Jones, above. He was apparently inspired to so so by his anti-Darwinian mate William Jennings Bryan who warned him that:

If schools and colleges do not quit teaching evolution as a fact, we are going to become a nation of atheists.

The university has its students sign a “covenant” to indicate their intention to abide by the university’s policies, which include requiring that students abstain from premarital sex, strive towards a modest appearance, and be subject to curfews.

The report was written by a team of GRACE investigators, including mental health professionals with expertise in child abuse, child abuse prosecutors, and clergy members.

The investigators created an online survey, then conducted 116 interviews, approximately half of which were with people who self-identified as victims of sexual abuse. The others interviewed were staff members, pastors, counselors, former students, and other people who have dealt with sex abuse claims made by students.

BJU released a four-page summary of the report on yesterday. The university said it questioned some of the methodology of the report, but that the themes and recommendations it provides are ultimately valuable.

Bob Jones University is committed to making needed, substantive changes to better reflect our values and show victims the love of Jesus Christ. These changes will take deliberate thought and planning and time to implement. We ask for patience as we work with victims and other current and former students and take the necessary steps over the coming weeks, months, and years to achieve these goals.

School president Steve Pettit is set to appoint a committee to review the report over the next few days.

Because the school receives Title IX funding, it is required to report abuse claims under the Clery Act. The report, however, indicates that the university does not encourage individual reporting to the police.

In GRACE’s survey, the 66 people who reported abuse were asked about the school’s stance toward the victim making an abuse report. Of these, only five were encouraged to make a report. Fourteen participants described BJU as “discouraging” reporting, and, most damningly, 17 participants stated that they were directed by BJU personnel not to make a police report.

One survey participant wrote:

Victims heard, consistently, from chapel speakers and faculty/staff, that abusers should be forgiven, that they bore the sin of bitterness, and that they should not report abusers.

While BJU officials have said they don’t believe sex abuse can be justified, the report concluded that blaming and shaming messages found their way to students. One participant noted the use of Biblical language in shifting blame onto victims:

If a girl is raped she must have done something to provoke it. It was ALWAYS made to be the woman’s fault. We were ‘stumbling blocks’ to the men.

GRACE also criticized the school’s dress code, which it said sends an institutional message that victims could be responsible for the abuse they suffered. It said this:

Does not only exonerate perpetrators for their actions, but these messages also fail to demonstrate love and compassion to those who needed Christ more than ever.

Dani Kelley, a former BJU student who is a sex abuse survivor and a critic of the school, said she is not confident that the university could change its ways. She has never approached the school about her past abuse because of her concerns about how she would be treated.

She is especially concerned about GRACE’s recommendation that the school contact victims.

Not only would this require BJU reinserting themselves in the lives of those they hurt, I simply don’t trust them to be humble, caring, compassionate, or repentant enough for such a meeting to do any good.

The language that BJU has used all along about this investigation and those it has hurt has been distancing and minimising, including their pre-emptive response to the report that they published yesterday, in which they admitted that ‘some’ people may have ‘felt’ like they didn’t receive the help they needed.

That sort of language and attitude does nothing to inspire confidence in the university’s willingness to repair their mistakes.

Back in 2013, Tchividjian said:

Too many Protestant institutions have sacrificed souls in order to protect their institutions.We’ve got the Gospels backwards.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake

15 responses to “Abuse: ‘Protestants worse than Catholics’”

  1. L.Long says:

    Sex abuse? By a bunch of sex obsessed aholes and control freaks! Am I surprised by that revelation! Ever seen pictures of purity balls? The males have that I would really like to rape you look in their eye.

  2. Marky Mark says:

    This is funny to me as I just spoke to one of my few friends that was raised catholic as I was…The reason for the conversation was he wants to get our male group of friends from the past together again near Christmas.
    What he told me was something I did not know, and that was that he converted to the protestant religion for his wife as she was raised with that religious flavor…I also found out he was divorced going on two years now and the reason why is because his protestant wife was having an affair for over three years with another church member…LOL!!!

    I told him that I had turned full atheist since the last time we spoke and he needs to read Christopher Hitchen’s book “God is Not Great”…and he said if I bring my copy on the purposed meeting lunch date he will read it.

    I think we will have another convert soon people…and I’m sure he will tell his children after reading it, as well as his students since he is a high-school teacher.

    One at a time is how we do it people

  3. Robster says:

    Well said Marky Mark, why bother with that jesus or anyone of the many others on offer in a competitive faith market when a quick read of the mighty Christopher Hitchens fixes everything. Who needs a resurrected Iron age deity when a resurrected Hitchens does a better job. All his output must be included on the High School Compulsory Reading List, if there is such a thing.

  4. Newspaniard says:

    Is it a competition now to determine which religion is the worst with catholics saying that protestants are far worse that us? Oh, and I’ve just ordered the Hitchins book, thanks for that tip. (Not that I need any reassurance but I do like to read authors who “nuke” the loonys).

  5. Michael Glass says:

    Obviously something has to be done about institutional sexual abuse. It’s not just a Protestant thing or a Catholic thing or a Jewish or Hindu or a religious thing, but something that affects all institutions, whether religious or secular.

    At the moment in Australia there is a Royal Commission into institutional sexual abuse. It might come up with recommendations that can help put an end to this significant problem.

  6. Broga says:

    @Marky Mark: Well done, Mark. I regularly ask an innocent question as a searcher after knowledge. A religious friend was going on about Advent or whatever and something to do with lighting a candle. I asked her if Mary could have been a virgin as she was married to Joseph.

    Long pause then: “Quite often people get married and the marriage remains unconsummated.”

    I suggested that it was far more likely that Mary was not a virgin than that the marriage was unconsummated. And Jesus did have a brother.

    She is going to “discuss this with our vicar who is excellent at dealing with these kind of questions.” She added most interestingly that “The vicar gets a lot of this kind of thing these days. It’s all these books people read these days.”

  7. andym says:

    Your encounters with religious friends and neighbours are a fertile source of amusement. TBH they seem too old to change their ways, and more than belief, they would lose their sense of belonging if they really confronted the inconsistencies in their religious beliefs.

    As ever, the future is with younger generations. They won’t, in the main, be actively hostile to religion. Even now some studies are showing that they just see the religious and all the reactionary and homophobic baggage that goes with it, as an irrelevance,

    Even in the South of the US, a generation is growing up that just can’t understand the homophobia of their elected representatives.

    There’s always an exception. Today it’s Islam. But even there, the militants are in a minority. There is some evidence that the general trend among young Muslims ,particularly in the UK,is to enjoy secularism,but don’t want to rock the boat and upset family.

    Go back to ,say, the 1950’s and the C of E. How many regular churchgoers of that time went there on Sundays just because it was the thing to do ? They didn’t want to offend friends and family, but didn’t believe a word.

  8. Brummie says:

    @ Broga.
    Didn’t the wonderful Christopher Hitchens shoot down the Virgin Mary myth once and for all when he said something like;
    “Which is more likely? That the laws of nature were suspended is this one case, or that some Jewish bimbo lied”.

  9. Broga says:

    @andym: You are right. These older people will never change . The woman I met here did not see “these books” as something which might raise interesting questions and challenges. She saw the questions being raised by the books as irritants. She already knew what to believe regardless of the books. The vicar’s job was to provide a biblical explanation.

  10. Broga says:

    @Brummie: That’s a great quote from Christopher Hitchens. He has a stunning ability to reduce a lengthy explanation into a brilliant aphorism. There was a brilliant cartoon linked to this site not long ago. Couple trudging across the desert. The woman says, “So you still don’t believe me?”

    “No” says the man.

    I also liked Christopher Hitchens’ demolition of Mother Theresa. This grisly woman, who thought suffering was good for those in her clutches and denied them drugs, was mentioned recently on Thought for the Day. She was, of course, used as an example of human kindness.

  11. Brummie says:

    Some catholic schoolchild in an exam once described the virgin birth as “The Immacleate Contraption”.

  12. Brummie says:

    Oops, I made the common mistake of saying “catholic schoolchild”. As Dawkins says ” There is no such person. Only children of Catholic parents/guardians”.

  13. andym says:

    About Mother Theresa. Hitchens quotes where Malcolm Muggeridge becomes almost hysterical about the light in a film where he was interviewed about the vile Mother T.
    It turned out that the cameraman was trialling a new type of film…

    Pity really. Before he became Catholic, Muggeridge was an incisive thinker.

  14. Marky Mark says:

    A mention about hitchens and mother theresa, what he did point out in his book was how she denied others drugs and pain relief, but when she became seriously ill she flew herself to France and received the best health care, and pain medicine that money could buy… An Albanian dwarf is what Hitchen’s calls her…LOL

  15. dennis says:

    I just left one of those xtians things tonight loaded with young children I cried inside at this crap coming from the preacher. yes my wife which I love very much has the god virus. the preacher who knows my position acknowledged my presence by the christmas salutation from the pulpit at the end of the service and I responded with Happy Winter Solstice reminding them it was 12/21 but the kids seemed intrigued by the non conformative response or the earlier date for opening presents.