The interest I have to believe a thing is no proof that such a thing exists. – Voltaire
Camille Lewis has a Storify page. She probably has more than one, but this is the one I’m going to talk about here.
Her point is to use various examples of BJU former students or graduates to “prove” that BJU does not put out a quality “product.” Her ultimate contention seems to be that going to Bob Jones is a) not safe for the student and b) will result in one obtaining a substandard education.
This seems an odd thing to me since Camille was a professor there for quite a number of years and didn’t seem to have any of these sorts of misgivings during that period of time. But no matter. She does now.
She begins with one of the most hated, notorious men in the nation, Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. Fred did attend Bob Jones for three semesters. According to him, he left because of the school’s racist policies. The school seems to think he was expelled for refusing to get psychiatric care (something I find hard to believe, frankly).
Regardless, he went from there to Prairie Bible Institute (what a coincidence that is, showing that real life is sometimes odder than fiction), but ultimately ended up getting a law degree from Washburn University.
So we have Case #1: a former student from more than 65 years ago who became pretty much America’s poster boy for geniune douchebaggery and general religious bigotry.
Not having access to every annual in BJU’s history (or even any at all, since I got rid of mine years ago), I have to use a stock photo of Billy Graham instead of a class photo from an old annual, but Graham did attend BJU, briefly, about a decade before Phelps did. Although I understand that now BJU has made all their annuals available online. Isn’t that convenient?
And like Phelps, Graham decided that Bob Jones wasn’t for him and left.
If we’re going to vilify BJU for having “produced” Fred Phelps, we have to give BJU credit for having done the same with Graham. Both are former students. Both attended for a brief time, and ultimately were educated elsewhere. And both said they left Bob Jones because they didn’t agree with something the school stood for or against.
From there, she moves on to Paul LaDuke, who graduated in 1968, making him officially older than I am. He was 75 years old in 2011, when he was arrested. Camille is nice enough to provide us with the link to the article, so we’ll know all about the heinous crime this man committed.
He was caught masturbating while teaching a class in a Christian school.
Let that sink in a minute. I’ll wait while you go read about it.
This Christian school had a man teaching who was 75 years old. Are they short of teachers or something? Is there a good reason to have a guy teaching school at that age? He was masturbating in class, or at least, some kid says that he appeared to be doing so. He doesn’t seem to have actually hurt anyone.
The article is very short and gives little detail, so we don’t know how this awful crime was resolved, but I’m sure they brought in counselors because the children would need it, probably for the rest of their lives.
And then we get treated to Peter Ruckman. When I first saw this, I thought maybe he’d done some really bad thing I didn’t know about, so I checked it out, but no. He’s just the same looney Peter Ruckman he’s been for many years. I’m not quite sure why he’s included except to maybe show that BJU graduated a guy who became mentally ill. You can read all about him here (another link courtesy of Camille).
Stuart Crane. I remember Stuart Crane. Camille’s comment is that he got “kicked out of the John Birch Society for being too crazy.” She provides no links with this one, though. Here’s a link to a YouTube video, if you’re up to sitting through some really far out conspiracy theories.
I spent a good long time attending an independent fundamentalist church (albeit not Baptist) during the seventies and into the eighties, and both of these men, Peter Ruckman and Stuart Crane, were marginally well thought of during that time. Our church was into the whole King-James-only thing, and most of us, as good little fundamentalists, were at least interested in various conspiracy theories even if we did take them with a grain of salt.
Our church was not weird or odd, and had a Christian school (still does) filled with Bob Jones University graduates as teachers.
Sprinkled in all this are various annual photos of BJU grads who’ve been either accused, arrested, or convicted of some sort of crime.
I counted twenty of these, with crimes ranging from the 75-year-old man masturbating in class to serial rape, and tossing in a bit of embezzlement and a Ponzi scheme or two.
From this, Camille insists that “the proof is in the product” and that “Bob Jones University is not safe.” More about that in a minute, but for now, we’re looking at 20 criminals.
This comes from the blog called Bruin Core. I would link there but it’s all been scrubbed. When David Shaffer says “we have come into possession” of something related to BJU, he means Camille Lewis has done so and posted it over on Truth Seeking Graduates of BJU. I could do a massive search over there and see if I could find the place where she posted it, but no matter. It seems Bob Jones claims to have had more than 90,000 graduates and former students.
David is unhappy with this figure, in part because he doesn’t seem to be able to read with any comprehension and insists that they are claiming to have had that many graduates, when they clearly say otherwise, and in part because he thinks the figure is inflated. And he might be right. It might be inflated.
So another person chimes in with a little math and calculates the graduate total at about 60,000.
He also points out that people like me are absolutely not “serving Christ across the globe,” to put it mildly.
And here’s a quote from Wikipedia which places the number of graduates in 2008 totalling 35,000. (This is the number of graduates, not the number of students altogether.)
So, we have the school saying they have ~90,000 grads and former students, another estimate of more like ~60,000, and finally, David Shaffer’s very low estimate of someplace north of 30,000.
Let’s pick the one in the middle. Remember, we’re dealing here with graduates and former students. We do that because Camille does it. Several of the people she has pictured on her Storify page are not graduates.
If we do the math, we’ll find out that 20 criminals is a little over 3/100 of one percent of the total former students and graduates, using a low estimate.
Obviously, Camille has not got an exhaustive list here. Surely there are other former students and graduates who have been arrested or convicted of all sorts of crimes. But even if we were to pad the numbers rather generously, like ten times, we’d still come up with a very small percentage, far less than one percent.
Being crazy is not a crime. Having a kind of out-of-the-mainstream theology isn’t a crime, either. Believing in conspiracy theories is not illegal – a whole lot of people do that regularly.
A good portion of Camille’s Storify page which is not devoted to all the many criminals is about Jim Berg. She really, really doesn’t like him. But he’s not a criminal either. People have accused him of all sorts of things, with incompetence being the most often cited fault, but so far, he hasn’t been indicted for anything at all.
Jonathan Hagen didn’t do anything except object to Camille’s Storify page. He’s not guilty of any crime or even of being especially weird. He just doesn’t agree with Camille.
I have more to say about him on another page.
Here are the stats from Bob Jones University. We can argue all day that they haven’t reported everything, but nobody seems to be able to absolutely prove that (asserting that you know Susie, and that she says they didn’t report her assault doesn’t count), and furthermore, even if it’s true, we don’t know if that is true for every other school out there as well. Many of them, if not most, are thought to be guilty of under-reporting sexual assault in particular.
And if I’m not mistaken, the nine sexual assault incidents reported here are all due to one student, one assailant. That doesn’t mean it’s not bad. That doesn’t mean that, what the hell, why didn’t somebody do something about this with incident number one? It does mean that there weren’t nine people floating about assaulting people.
Should we start a Storify page with all the reasons why people should quake in their boots while contemplating going to North Greenville University to school?
And while these lists don’t factor in schools with less than 6000 students, the figures are per 1000 students, so it’s easy to compare.
And here are thefts. I’ve included more schools just because I thought it was interesting that my alma mater (Western Illinois University) ranked number ten.
Does that mean that Harvard is “not safe”? Should you not go there because of fear for your physical safety?
If you send your child to Bob Jones University (and a very good case needs to be made that what in the hell are you doing sending your grown child anywhere – shouldn’t the adult be making his/her own decision?), should you be petrified with fear that something horrible will happen? Should you worry yourself half to death that your daughter will be raped almost the second after she arrives on campus? Will your son be murdered in his sleep?
As far as physical safety is concerned, Bob Jones University might well be truly a “fortress,” not of faith, but of physical well-being. Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt anything to put some locks on the dorm doors, though. Not having them is just one symptom of the larger, more devastating problem with schools like Bob Jones University.
Here’s the bigger problem, the one I think deserves attention and concern. These are Christian college students. They march in order. They all look just alike. And they all have their minds locked.
Students at these types of schools aren’t exposed to new ideas. They aren’t encouraged to think for themselves or to question anything at all. They are expected to absorb the philosophy and theology of the institution and be able to reproduce it on command.
This is why there is a tendency for these institutions to treat their paying customers, their students, like children, with dress codes and rules about lights out in the dorms and music codes and rules about the internet.
Here’s what college students are supposed to look like. All different colors (and if the photo were better, they’d be all different sizes and shapes too), and all their minds unlocked.
Sure, it’s scary to watch a young adult explore ideas, especially if you’re afraid s/he’ll adopt ideas that are foreign to what you’ve taught that child for years. It’s sort of messy when they are all scattered about, with their locks open, instead of being neatly lined up. But that’s what growing up is all about.
And rather than 3/100 of one percent of the student population ending up in criminal activity, there is a terrible risk here. A very large percentage, probably the majority, of students who stay at one of these colleges through to graduation remain locked in that mindset for life.
Camille is right about one thing. Bob Jones University is not safe. I totally agree. But the danger isn’t about embezzlers or poor counseling or sexual abuse. All those things occur. I’m not trying to imply that they don’t. But they don’t occur at a higher rate than in the average local neighborhood or the average college.
Bob Jones University (and every other conservative authoritarian Christian college out there) is not safe for the minds of the students.