Protestant interracial dating
Anderson’s story highlighted what these critics—dismissed by the school as disaffected “detractors”—saw as a pattern in how Bob Jones stigmatized students who reported rape or sexual assault.
A senior named Christopher Peterman started a Facebook group and website called Do Right BJU, which aimed to remove Phelps from the board and called for a range of reforms; he organized the first campus protest in the university’s history to raise awareness of sexual abuse.
Tina Anderson, a 15-year-old who lived in New Hampshire, was raped and impregnated in 1997 by one of her church’s deacons, then in his late thirties, while she was a babysitter for his family.
When Anderson and her mother told their pastor, Bob Jones graduate Chuck Phelps, what had happened, Phelps had Anderson stand before the congregation while he read a confession of her pregnancy.
Phelps, who’d gone on to be president of the fundamentalist Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin, maintained close ties to Bob Jones, serving on its board of trustees as well as on its missionary and youth-camp boards.
Students and alumni had already begun to agitate online against the school’s lack of academic and student freedom, as well as its response to reports of sexual abuse.
On its compound in Greenville, South Carolina, once surrounded in part by barbed wire, faculty children were, until recently, born at the on-campus hospital, raised in the K-12 Bob Jones Academy, educated at the university, then sent out into the world armed with a list of approved churches (mostly those that send the school students or money and that are often pastored by Bob Jones “preacher boys” like Phelps).
Until the early 2000s, faculty were paid minuscule wages—hovering around ,000 a year for a full-time professor—in exchange for subsidized living and the commitment that the school would care for them into old age (a retirement plan called “The Promise”).
He is careful to say that there’s not enough data to compare the prevalence of child sex abuse in Protestant and Catholic institutions, but he’s convinced the problem has reached a crisis point. In 2012, Christian radio host Janet Mefferd declared, “This is an epidemic going on in churches. When are evangelicals going to wake up and say we have a massive problem in our own churches?
Before he came to fame, Graham was a Bob Jones University dropout who Bob Jones Sr.
said would never amount to more than a “poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.” Though the two later became friends, they split again in 1957 over Graham’s revival crusades—in particular, a crusade at Madison Square Garden that Jones, who’d warned Graham to avoid cities and politicians, condemned as too ecumenical and accommodating to modern society.
Phelps resigned from the board of trustees in December 2011, just days before the rally.
But then a few months later, on the eve of graduating, Peterman was expelled for watching , among other violations. Peterman and alumni groups active on Facebook began to hear from more and more students who claimed they had been poorly treated when they reported sexual abuse to school staff.