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Alumni Chapel Day,12/12/11

Rhonda Whiting, Event Planner, Alumni Day, 12/11/11

In support of the Do Right BJU effort, David Phillips wrote the following statement for the media explaining why Alumni were gathering for chapel on that day. Dave’s words, while filmed, never made it to the air.

Today is a historic day!  We just witnessed the first student-led protest at Bob Jones University since the founding of the school in Florida back in 1927. There are a several things that we would like to draw your attention to that stood out to us this day.

First of all, we were glad to see the resignation of fellow alumnus Chuck Phelps from the BJU Board of Directors last week. However, we are disappointed that it took a veritable tidal wave of pressure for him to do so. We are further disappointed that he has yet to apologize to Tina Anderson for his failure as her pastor.

In addition to our continued disappointment in Chuck Phelps, we are discouraged at the continued callousness and seeming inability to do right demonstrated by the current Administration of the school.  Instead of dismissing Chuck Phelps, the school’s Chancellor Dr Bob III, thanked him for his “years of faithful service” and had no words of regret or disappointment on behalf of Tina Anderson whom he failed to protect.

We also urge the Wilds Christian Camp (the de-facto BJU camp & conference center) and The Gospel Fellowship Association a.k.a. GFA (the de-facto Bob Jones denomination) to immediately dismiss Chuck Phelps from their respective boards where he continues to hold a position of influence over the children who participate in the activities and services run by these organizations.

Finally, because of Bob Jones University’s dismal track record on reporting, counseling and supporting victims of abuse, we implore the school to voluntarily partner with an independent third-party group in order to assess the school’s deficiencies in these areas and to assist in training all members of the faculty and staff in how to deal with abuse situations with the highest standards possible, both legally and morally.

Institutions that obsessively protect their external image often become places where abuse can fester and breed unabated. It’s time for BJU to be less concerned about their public image and more concerned about the people inside its walls who have been hurt and are suffering.

Today’s silent protesters wore red as a sign of their solidarity and concern for abuse survivors.  Red is a significant color for those of us who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Red signifies his blood that was willingly shed for the remission of sins. Jesus, our example, was a friend of sinners, a friend of the downtrodden and the marginalized of society. His words of comfort and love were always directed towards these types of people. His harshest words of rebuke were reserved for the religious leaders of the day.

We implore the leaders of this institution to humble themselves, to re-join the broader, historic expression of Christianity that has continued for nearly 2000 years, to let go of the works-based system of rules and discipline that “spiritualizes” the trivial. The students will thank you for it. The faculty and staff will thank you for it.  But most of all, Jesus would be pleased.  We realize that this may sound like a harsh critique or perhaps, “tough love.” But there is hope in Jesus’ words: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”