This past weekend, we were given an audio recording of a meeting between a BJU alumnus and Bob Jones III that took place in 2011. The meeting was conducted in order ask Jones why BJU was continuing to defend embattled pastor and BJU grad Chuck Phelps. The Phelps scandal became national news at that time after a 20/20 investigation examined the failure of Phelps and others to treat a rape victim in Phelps’ church with anything resembling compassion or justice.
While the transcript of this meeting had been available for awhile now, an audio version is only now being heard, here. It’s made quite an impression on the internet, piling up hundreds of YouTube views and bringing over 10,000 visitors to this site. Much of the most interesting commentary, however, has been at Stuff Fundies Like, one of the first and still the most popular of the ex-fundamentalist sites. Here are our top 5 comments from around the web summarizing Jones’ response as heard on our recording (which you can listen to here):
“Dear SFL Reader:
Years ago, I served on a committee mandated to investigate allegations of abuse by church leaders – sexual, physical or psychological. We soon learned that abusers retain an extensive array of verbal stratagems that includes [but is not limited to] rationalizing, blame shifting, non-answers, irrelevant statements, evasive answers, denials, minimizing of one’s role in the abuse, minimizing the wrongness of the abuse, reshaping the meaning of statements or events, doubting/questioning/discounting facts, counter explanations, challenging of the questions and the questioning the questioner’s motives. The list is seemingly endless.
Those involved in such inquiries see abusers adopt and use such stratagems time and again as standard linguistic convention. Abusers fall onto these conventions and speech patterns to hedge themselves, to guard their careers, and to present themselves in the best possible light. And they do it all the time.
As a committee, we also role played scenarios where someone posed as an abuser. This was an illuminating experience. Even among themselves, committee members found that tempers flare at evasive, sleaze-driven replies. Those who posed as abusers reported feeling very uncomfortable as they played out the exercise.
Over time, our committee learned that every interruption resulted in a 2-4 minute reminder of the gravity of the accusations, their hurtfulness, followed by reminders of the difficulty of pastoral ministry, and that they [the abuser] agreed to be interviewed, an appeal for fairness, an appeal to let procedure do its work, etc., etc.
Those who role-played as abusers said repeatedly that they lengthened replies as much as possible hoping to wear-down committee, and to expire committee’s time and thus evade delving deeply into the issues at hand.
Committee eventually realized that most often, the best approach was to say nothing, thereby feeding rope endlessly until the one being questioned hung themselves with it. In other words, we allowed people to talk about multiple things to reveal their character.
From my perspective, the clip’s significance is this: Bob Jones III adopts and uses adroitly linguistic conventions employed consistently by perpetrators of spiritual, sexual and physical abuse. This doesn’t address whether or not Triplesticks has ever abused; it merely notes that under questioning, he adopts linguistic thinking/speaking patterns that are indistinguishable from the former.
Earlier, I implied that the list of conventions was not exhaustive, but merely representative. We could easily add duplicitous hypocrisy. While feigning accountability, abusers/Bob Jones III consistently refuse accountability to any outside authority. They do this precisely by relying on answers that are not answers, and then dismiss further questions in the pretense that they have answered. That sounds like a denial of accountability to me.
Why does [Bob Jones III] employ the linguistic convention of abusive persons?”
1. I am a BJU grad.
2. I had to go to another school after BJU to get an accredited degree to even become a cop.
3. I’ve had a fine career as a cop. I now oversee the police and fire service in my town.
4. I’m planning on retiring in 2 or 3 years.
5. I listened to the entire audio that Darrell posted.
6. Chuck Phelps’s guy had sex with a 15 year old female.
7. Under the law, a 15 year old is INCAPABLE of giving consent to a sex act.
8. Chuck Phelps blamed the 15 year old girl, and made her get up and apologize to the congregation.
9. Bob Jones kept Chuck Phelps on their board of trustees after all of this came to light.BJIII even defended Chuck Phelps in humilitating the victim.
10. Both Bob Jones III and Chuck Phelps are defenders of the rapist, and are complicit in blaming this little girl who was victimized before she was old enough to give consent to having sex.
11. I bet Jesus is proud of both of them.
3. From Facebook:
“It’s difficult for me to even type after listening to this because I’m so angry that a man in his position of power can be a rape apologist and not be held accountable. I’ll just say that when I was raped in my IFB community, no one wanted to help me. No one listened. And it was exactly the arguments that Bob Jones III used here that were used to silence me: questioning whether I “wanted it” (even though legally I was far too young to give consent and even though my rapist was an authority figure and repeatedly blackmailed me into silence). Thank God I stopped listening to the rape apologists and got justice for myself and my family. Men like Bob Jones III who defend the powerful and abuse the powerless will have a lot to answer for some day.”
4. Sent to us via email:
“Just finished listening to your recording of Bob Jones III defending Phelps and in general being a complete jerk to that poor woman. All I can say is that if any man I knew spoke about these matters in the way this “godly, wise” man does here, he would get a mouthful from me. To think that the kids who go to this school are duped into believing they’re in a safe environment is astounding. Is this the school’s official position, that 15 year olds can legally consent to sex? There are grade schools at BJU. Kids who are, ultimately, under the policies and philosophy that this evil man sets. Do parents know about this? Do the kids? I hope they listen.”
5. From our site:
Nothing BJ3 says surprises me, although this recording is pretty awful. A question for prospective students and parents: if you or your child are mistreated on campus, is this how it will be handled? Would you want to be spoken of in the way BJ3 speaks of a rape victim? Shudders.