My dear friends —
I know morale’s low. Very, very low. I know you feel betrayed. Shafted. Unloved. And very, very angry. I know that denial stage comes quickly on the heels of those very big feelings. “Surely, this isn’t happening!” you think. Emotionally, the room spins. Your stomach bottoms out. Your heart pounds.
You default to the coping mechanism you’ve learned so well: keep busy and go numb. You sing it in hymns. “Oh, to be Nothing.” “Let me Burn Out for Thee!” “May the Lord Find Us Faithful!” You hear it in the ether. “Just two choices on the shelf: Pleasing God or pleasing self.”
In the end, you’re mad that you’re feeling at all. If you could only stifle these enormously conflicted and loud emotions, you’d be okay. You’d make it. You’d conquer this pseudo-“sin” of feeling. You hope for some glimmer of kindness from this organization that you’ve devoted your entire life to serving, but it never comes. You empathize with the administration’s feelings more than your own.
You finally yell out in prayer, “God, please help me to stop caring about this!” He won’t do that. Read any Psalm and you see that they are full of these conflicted feelings. The Psalms teach us that God’s okay with our most difficult emotions. He can take it. That’s why He’s God.
As you slosh through these last few months, I want you to know that God made you — a living, breathing, feeling soul. He loves you. He redeemed you. He didn’t redeem you as an employee per se or a robot. He didn’t redeem you to stop feeling. He didn’t redeem you to be a compliant worker. He did redeem you simply because He loves you, and He feels with you. He’s as angry at the injustice as you are.
And I’d like to warn you about a couple things:
- They are going to tell you how to feel. They are. They are going to just insist that you feel things their way. Gary and Stephen both did this to us personally. Do not let them. You feel what you feel. It’s okay.
- They are going to tell you what to say. Even down to how you write your resignation letter. Dave Fisher says this to nearly every employee who leaves. He has them re-write their resignation letters. It’s a control thing.
- They are going to tell you how to act. Even after you leave and are no longer in their employ, they will send you along little notes or people to tell you what’s proper behavior all while dangling the carrot of future employment at BJU. Your pastor — someone you thought you could wholly trust — will do the same (he’s been told to from the BJU administration). These are love bombs. Be prepared for them. Distrust the love bombs.
It’s hard to see clearly right now. Your feelings are actually more clear-headed and God-given than the standards of behavior that your employer imposes on you. That statement alone is so counter-intuitive to everything we learned in our life together, but it really is the truth.
The Church is out here waiting for you. With open arms. We are feeling this pain with you. We are crying with you, praying for you, and ready to help.
All my love and admiration,
37 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Current Bob Jones University Faculty and Staff”
Whew. I’m feelin’ the same vibes from staff right now, especially GAs.
Has BJ never had layoffs before? Serious question. Layoffs seem pretty common these days. Also, I can think of a couple friends on staff (years ago) who were pretty bored in their admin assistant jobs, and I wondered, do they really need people in those positions if there’s so little work?
Never put your hope or trust in an institution, no matter how noble you think it is. Only Jesus.
Also, I hate it when people tell me how I *should* be feeling. That is … abhorrent.
An open letter to Camille.
Losing one’s job is always discouraging. Period. Especially when you can see it coming and there’s not much you can do about it. I know.
But your experience of leaving BJU, Camillle, is pretty different from losing one’s job as part of a restructuring. Really, really different, in fact.
I’m not sure you even see it. Your warnings are hardly relevant. Who in this group is writing a resignation letter? People don’t write a resignation letter when the position is terminated.
For all your experience that enables you to offer such solace, you don’t seem to have much real experience to draw from outside of a very narrow range of real life. Working in academia is a wonderful experience, but much of it has been so protected from real market forces for years that employees can easily get a total misperception of how a business actually works, even a good one where the organization cares about its people and mission. (What average business runs a decent part of its budget on donations and grants, as many higher education institutions do? I’m not slamming such institutions–just noting a significant difference between them and actual businesses.) Dropping revenues results in lower employment. The sorrow we feel for how hard things are doesn’t permit us to divorce ourselves from reality.
Since being open about one’s deep emotions is being encouraged, I’ll say openly that reading your post made my stomach turn. Should I trust this feeling as God-given? I’m inclined to. But maybe if I just give it time, I’ll understand the anger, betrayal, and frustration that you feel? I can hardly wait to tap in.
I have lost a job that had to do not with a political and theological falling out with those above me, but with a buyout of the company (going from public to private) that triggered a restructuring–far more parallel to what is happening here. Being cut really hurt, because I had been incredibly loyal for more years than others who kept their jobs, some of whom were known to abuse company policies to their personal advantage. My performance was always rated in the top 10% of my department, and I had a specific skill set that key customers relied on. Some were our company’s key references for attracting new business.
To this day, I am thankful that the Lord helped me to resist the urge to issue any sort of parting salvo. The urge was incredibly strong. It felt righteous too. I wanted someone else, someone there, to know how much hurt I felt. How hard things were going to be and for them to feel the pain of responsibility for what they had done. Instead, I shared all the resources I had with my coworkers who remained (about a quarter of my department was cut). I maintained contact with those whom I had worked for and expressed appreciation to them (as recently as this past Thanksgiving), even though one of them was probably the one who selected me to be in the group that was cut. I helped solve some problems even after my departure when it was clear that they needed some specific help that I could give in 10 minutes that would take a continuing employee much longer. I also watched some others of my former coworkers practice a scorched earth departure, and it started them down a path that was difficult for a few of them to recover from.
There’s a better way. I’ve experienced it, having taken a good, hard look at the alternatives, one of which you appear to have taken and made into a platform.
I say all this not to brag, but to rejoice in what Jesus Christ did in and through me in navigating that emotionally wrenching time without hurting myself further or others in the process. I say “I,” but I know it was Him doing it through me. At the same time, I can hardly deny the experience of making conscious choices about what I would say (or not say), and do (or not do) in the days, weeks, and months that followed. Soli Deo Gloria.
I’ve no doubt your post grows from a desire to help those in emotional pain, but accepting the comfort you offer comes at a personal spiritual price that I hope the Lord will never let me pay. I pray and hope that none of those whose spiritual needs I watch for do so either, unless it would be of ultimate spiritual benefit to them.
Wow, dude, Passive-Agressive much?
I find it interesting that you choose to remain anonymous. Curious.
I also find it amazing that knowing about Camille’s experience you call into question her ability to to judge about losing one’s job. OK, fair enough, maybe she doesn’t understand the way things work in the cut-throat business world. (I happen to disagree, but I’ll table the issue because it isn’t relevent.) So, anyway, you acknowledge Cammile’s background and yet call into question her ability to relate or express genuine empathy and counsel from that experience to others at BJU who have lost (or are in the process of losing) their jobs. And you do all of this on the basis of your own experience of losing a job in the cut-throat business world. (As my son says in full monotone deadpan, “Yeah, yeah, you’re wonderful.”)
I know I’m not a professional counselor, nor have I ever even worked for BJU (aside from as a student), but I have lost a job in the business world due to layoffs. I do know how it feels. At the same time, I am very familiar with the BJU environment and how it is billed as more a ministry to the employees than a career. Knowing about the “system” that BJU has created, I find it much easier to believe that Camille would know better about the feelings these faculty members experience.
Camille’s is a message of empathy and concern and love. Yours is a message of, “Hey, tough luck. Suck it up now.” To suggest that Camille is asking her readers to give less than their best effort in their job is to seriously read between the lines and come away with your own thoughts. Read what she says, not what you think, want, or have been told that she is saying. It is really simple. People who have spend decades trying to make you believe they have the keys to holiness will tell you what to do and feel. But that is not their place. I don’t see Camille suggesting anywhere that people “practice scorched earth” and I definitely don’t see her suggesting anyone do less than their job.
PS – This doesn’t even address the injustice and dishonorable (and potentially illegal) actions by the university in violating “The Promise” as it was made to at least some of those being terminated.
My message is not “tough luck, suck it up.” You can certainly feel free to re-read my post.
I didn’t address the University’s actions because the point of Camille’s post was primarily about one’s personal response to them. She is presenting her experience and response. I’m presenting mine as another option. I assume that we both believe ours is the better response. Perhaps there is a third way as well.
bmp, unless you yourself have worked at BJU, or are otherwise privy to what’s going on at that institution right now, I’m not sure that you’ve any basis to disagree with Camille’s assessment of that situation. BJU is its own animal, operating differently from any other organization I’ve been around, so your experience with downsizing in the corporate realm isn’t automatically relevant.
Moreover, I can’t see what “spiritual price” comes with “accepting the comfort” that the Church waits to help those who find themselves on the outside of that unfriendly place. Indeed, that statement is the truest thing I’ve read today. If those coming out from that punishing subculture understand it and accept it, it will set them free.
I like this post a lot, the links are spot on. Gaslighting, love bombing. Oh yes, fundy lurkers, manipulation is the name of the game. We are on to the game.
I have 2 dogs. One thing I know a lot about is dog poop. I’ve seen dog poop on snow. I’ve seen dog poop on the grass. I’ve seen dog poop on the floor. I’ve put dog poop in the toilet. I’ve put dog poop in the trash can. I’ve cleaned up nasty dog poop out of the carpet. Now, I can say I’ve read dog poop.
“…accepting the comfort you offer comes at a personal spiritual price that I hope the Lord will never let me pay”
Sorry, I’m a total outsider to this situation but I’m intrigued – what exactly is the spiritual price for accepting Camille’s comfort? Can you be specific?
Oh, AJ, I suppose the price is freedom in Christ. Freedom from controlling, cult like religiosity. Freedom to experience grace. Freedom for forgiveness. Unfortunately, bmp chooses to stay in that graceless system.
An open response to bmp:
First, a point of order. In an “open letter”, you need to plainly name yourself. Failing that, it is not open, just an anonymous response. You will find my identification below (plus I’m quite certain my name links to my blog).
My story of BJU is significantly different than Camille’s, though no less sad at its end. I came as a Freshman in 1981 with the ideal that the business program was excellent and I could, for the most part, pass through without wholly subscribing to the extra-Biblical rules and regulations. I would remain compliant and “in check” with them, out of respect, but they would not rule my life in areas of Grace. How wrong I was …
By the middle of my 3rd semester, I found I was a target of the Dean of Men system. The hall monitor (who was also a Sophomore, albeit much older) targeted me for reform – or more accurately to “conform”. I had reservations about the tax case and other matters and was openly considering leaving at break. The monitor and dorm super plainly informed me that God’s will hadn’t changed in respect to my being there and the issue was my own heart. So, rather than encourage and counsel an impressionable teenager, I was strong-armed and told I was failing in my relationship with God. I left as I planned, saddened, bruised, and feeling without worth both academically and spiritually. Had I stayed (or ever returned), I would bear the “Spiritual Probation” label for at least a semester. It took many years and good, Biblical counseling to work through all of those issues. By God’s Grace, I have moved beyond and that is why this situation pains me as deeply as it does.
To equate the school with a business is to fly in the face of everything they have claimed to this point. Certainly, some will be laid off in the traditional manner. They will, doubtless, be asked to leave quietly and not make any waves. And they will leave empty-handed and heavy-hearted. Others will be asked to step down or will do so out of their own conscience. As Camille suggests, their departure will be tightly controlled and their letters of resignation manipulated to the n-th degree. They will also leave with empty hands and heavy hearts.
For BJU to laud its history, claim academic excellence while hiding behind a pseudo accreditation, flatly refuse to pursue regional standards they claim to already meet (they don’t, not even close), and maintain that it’s “just business” is fraud and contempt of the very God the Founder, Son, and Third claim to serve so vigorously. They have run amok and failed at nearly every turn, yet there are always others to blame for being bitter or contending with their version of God’s will or plan. That is, as Dan Keller so aptly put it, “dog poop” of the highest order.
I can only hope that Camille’s efforts will save some their dignity and demonstrate how broad and deep the Love and Grace of our Heavenly Father and Divine Brother really are. That, friend, is the ONLY thing that will save them and carry them forward to a place of peace in this world and the next.
Would-have-been Class of 1985 (Accounting)
Left to ultimately find Light January 1983
Raleigh, North Carolina
Dear loving (and anonymous) bmp,
“I say all this not to brag.”
Talk to me about the pain of losing a newborn child and then preach to me of how you reacted with nobleness of spirit and courage in the face of such devastation. Then perhaps I’ll listen to you.
Talk about not having much real experience to draw from outside of a very narrow range of real life. Grow up.
Thanks the variety of feedback. Some of you are totally blowing it. I’ve expressed typical religious, proletariat sentiments. You’re the liberators. You need to remember the goal of Camille’s post: comfort and freedom from the oppressed mindset. Fundamentalism is my opiate. I’m trapped–you’re supposed to be helping me see my condition for what it is. Despite my stated disagreements with Camille, hers are the only open arms on this thread.
Having grown up in what could best be described as broader evangelicalism (my dad was a board member of a group within the Navs and also chairman of the board of a small Bible college and seminary). I visited Houghton, Wheaton, Cedarville, and the Master’s College before choosing to enroll at BJU. I’ve traveled with OM. I’ve been to conferences at Glen Erie. I’ve been to more camps that I can count. Most were great, spiritual experiences. But if the question is one of whether fundamentalists or non-fundamentalists are nicer, more loyal to Christ, and His cause, I’ll at least say that the infighting and verbal animosity I’ve witnessed and experienced outside of fundamentalism (not here) easily matches anything I’ve seen within it. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
God bless wherever He has you today.
Good to hear from you. We’ve lost three children. Each has been devastating. I’ve lost my dad very suddenly with whom I was very close, as I know you have. My comment about real life experience dealt with job loss and work experience, not with personal loss. I’m sorry that you interpreted it otherwise. I have utmost respect for the comfort and advice you’ve given all of us so openly regarding these kinds of loss. God bless.
“Some of you are totally blowing it. I’ve expressed typical religious, proletariat sentiments.”
Thanks for enlightening us lowly serfs to your “enlightened” state of mind.
Let’s get the facts here, you came on Camille’s blog, to make a comment to *start* something, then turn around and call foul! This is par for the course with people associated with BJU style fundamentalism. Used to think that the admin over at Bob’s bubble were good people, just mistaken. However, after living within 1/2 mile of BJU’s front gate for nearly 20 years, don’t believe that as I did as a naive 20 something. Your IP address was traced and has given you away. Don’t come on here, and claim to be someone your not.
I understand what BMP is saying. I do. But its different when you work for a ministry. You are sacrificing daily, constantly giving more than you have to give because it is the “right thing” to do. Your view of God and faith get sucked up and mixed up with the authorities you serve God with. You’re weary (emotionally and physically) to the bone – but you just know that you are burning out for God. You’re told that you’re in this together. You become dependent on their praise and perceptions. You lose yourself piece by piece as you submit to their perceptions because – after all – you are serving God together and they are the authority and you want to do what it right. And then, one morning, they wake up and decide for seemingly no reason that you are no longer “with them.” And after that initial shock, you try to show them logically that that cannot be true. But they aren’t persuaded by logic; it’s all about how they feel. And then you realize that everything has been a lie. And because your faith and view of God has been screwed up by these people you’re been loyal to….your faith in the only One you can really trust is tattered and torn. And for some of us…. it takes a long time to recover from that. So I understand what BMP is saying….but it is different. We’re not talking about just loosing a job. You cannot understand unless you’ve been through it.
What we’re discussing isn’t “personal loss”? Sorry, I cannot (will not) compartmentalize my life that way. These people are most definitely facing personal loss. Yes, the loss of a child, parent, sibling, etc. is different, but loss is loss and has to be handled.
This isn’t about somebody’s personal pedigree, either. It is about real life – a life that is about to radically change for many and didn’t have to, or at least didn’t have to be such a protracted “surprise”.
On a side note — sorry for all the switcheroos with the themes. I’m trying to trouble-shoot.
My Dear Bump,
If you’d do us the courtesy of stepping out of the shadows and showing an honest, human face rather than this mask of anonymity, perhaps you’d find a more sympathetic and receptive audience. But for all we know, your supposedly honest forthrightness is nothing but a caricature and a sham. Either you’re blinded by your own pride, cognizant of your own duplicity, or goaded by the same fear that drives the entire BJU herd.
In the above posts defending Camille you’re looking at a small number of people who represent a much larger number, all of us victimized by a system that perverted the loving embrace of our Savior into a icy clutch that ended with a knife between the shoulder blades. If you perceive that you’re getting an angry response, you’re damn right. And until you remove the mask and show us who you aren’t, then you will continue to represent to me and to others the corporate expediency that twisted my Creator Sovereign God into a gorgon of greed and gracelessness.
You are nothing more than a troll. Here everyone else stands, all our faults and sins plainly on display, while you stand with smug superiority in the shadows like some craven rodent, casting aspersions and blabbering advice. It gives you some kind of perverse pleasure. But you’re not a real person — insofar as any of us can tell.
prime example of double talk and circumventive reasoning. LOVE BJU because it is DIFFERENT. Except oh by the way, BJU is just like every place else so when it behaves like every place else, that’s okay.
Well said. You can’t emphasis the logical fallacies enough when it comes to cults.
Grant, I’m sorry for the offense.
Oh yes, I can see that tear in your eye.
This is my last response to you. I’ve fed the troll long enough. No go perish somewhere.
What? You mean the tear isn’t sincere? (Ooh, that rhymed!) Next you’ll be telling me that Gary Weir was choking up on purpose at that Faculty meeting, and it was a calculated bit of theater! 🙂
By the way if you’re interested in hearing the audio of the faculty meeting where the layoffs were announced, it’s here.
I particularly liked the way cuts were announced followed by bonuses!!! Yay – sorry for you suckers we couldn’t find enough students to major in your programs (in a normal university setting, faculty do a fair amount of recruiting, but they’re too busy to do that at the BOB), goodbye, don’t let the door hit you on your ass as you leave, and, don’t forget to turn in your keys at the end of the semester. And for you great people, who we especially want to keep – cash bonuses!!! Yay!!! So much for tact and diplomacy. What I’ve learned in 30+ years of being away is SSDD (Same Shit Different Decade).
This is what bothered me the most about that meeting. Well, other than all Gary’s lying of course.
“Ok, you all have to leave. But before you leave, please applaud as these other folks get the money that we can’t afford for you!”
“BJU: Because You Suck. And We Hate You.” (TM)
“Grant, I’m sorry for the offense.”
Sorry for the offense?
Sorry dude! To smart for that one. Big difference between being sorry for the offense, and being sorry because *you* offended Grant and Camille.
Been there, heard that all before, just to be slammed in the face with a proverbial brick once again! Not going to stick our faces out of the same window to get slammed in the face with the same brick. Not this time.
Your kind of “sorry,” put’s it on Grant and Camille for their being offended. The second takes responsibility for *your* actions that caused offense.
Through a relatively small amount of sleuthing, we’ve figured out the identity of our anonymous bmp. Honestly, though I’m not entirely surprised, I am disappointed, and I am filled with the same . . . well, nearly visceral understanding that motivated my “open letter” in the first place. It’s scary living in fundamentalism. It is. And so you lash out at the first whiff of Christian charity. You learn that lesson well. See the link to the faculty meeting posted above to get *at* that. As soon as someone’s saying something nice or kind to you, you know that the blow is coming. And it’ll be hard and painful and the scars will endure.
So it’s easier to react first as soon as you sniff gentleness and pleasure than to sit around and wait for the hitting. . . . It’s exactly like a Narnian dwarf. Exactly.
My dear, dear friend, BMP. God bless you. I understand more than you know. I sat near you in church really not that long ago and understood some of the deep hurt you and your family had endured at the hands of the BJU administration. It takes a long time to recover from that. A very long time.
God bless. And peace.
The thread of this interaction is a perfect example of the pathology that results from that place. It illustrates perfectly the way good people, thanks to the damnable abuse they suffer, wind up as snapping, snarling curs that no one in his right mind would reach out to offer aid for fear of pulling back a stub.
Abuse and trauma at the hands of well-intentioned people is still abuse and trauma.
Thank you for this post. I have never personally been associated with BJU, but did attend a Christian school for 13 years wherein 90% of the faculty were alumni. I was mired in fundamentalism and it has taken three years of therapy and God’s grace to recover since I graduated in 1995. However, I thank you for an entirely different reason.
Your description of the behavior of the BJU administration in this situation reflects my experience in a secular business. I am not being laid off, but I now have some terminology to describe the abuse I receive from my boss. I am starting to think I am a glutton for abuse.
I am the assistant director for two group homes and a sheltered workshop for adults with mental retardation and autism. I have worked at this company for 11 years. My boss constantly tries to control me (and certain others) by:
*** “I never said that.”
*** “That did not happen, this is what happened.”
*** “I believe you can succeed. That is why I do not fire you; however, if you make one more mistake, I will fire you.”
3. Telling me how to feel, directly and indirectly:
*** “You should feel bad about yourself; it was an egregious mistake” (turning in a minor report late).
*** “I am NOT losing *employee’s name* because of your mistakes” (implying she’ll fire me before she loses this person).
4. Telling me what to do by describing her former employment experience:
*** “When I was in your position (at another company), I worked from sunup to sundown in that group home and did all the work myself.” (what on earth did her employees do?).
*** “When I worked at the institution, I accrued 1000 hours of comp time. Then those b****ds took it away from me. So what did I do? I built up 1000 more hours.” (I wanted to ask why she was so stupid).
5. What to (or not to) say:
*** “You cannot say that, it will make (the corporation, herself, myself, employees)look bad.”
*** “When in *random situation*, you need to say this *bald-faced lie*.”
6. Giving directives with no instructions/ feedback.
*** Once, when I forgot to do something, “You should have a list.” I told her, “It was on my list of things to do. What else can I do?” Her answer, “You need a bigger list.” (How big… posterboard, wall-sized?)
*** After giving me three things to do, I asked which was the priority. “All of them.” When asked what order she wanted them completed in, “The same time.”
One would probably ask why I haven’t quit and I haven’t for several reasons. The job market is poor in my field in my area. My boss is exactly one year away from retirement age. A very powerful woman of God prophecied that I would make a great difference in this workplace. God has not opened doors for me elsewhere.
I empathize with anyone who is abused psychologically, and I admire the grace of which you speak. May we all experience it each and every day. God bless.
Does anyone know what graduate programs were discontinued? The MA in English and history?
From here: http://www.bju.edu/news/2011-02-15-academic-changes.php
you have let God use your past pain and suffering, to comfort and help others. I do not sense any bitterness or unforgiveness in your life at all. Anyone who would say the kinds of thoughtless things to suggest that ‘you’ had some kind of a ‘problem’ that would cause some ‘spiritual loss’ to those who connected with the human reality of what you have so honestly shared on this particular thread and theme,is ‘not dealing with reality’. Such a person is also practicing a most insensitive and degrading practice of INVALIDATION. Invalidation is a most hurtful and disrespectful behavior, that is unfortunately a common practice among those who, think they have it ‘all together’, but don’t really listen to, or care about people, and in reality suffer from spiritual and emotional constipation. You really have let God replace all that pain and hurt, with the compassion of His Son Jesus. And also, God has filled those healed places in your heart, with His light. Your compassionate thoughtful words, to BJU staff who were hurting from yet another, devastating experience of being treated like ‘throw away friends’ the BJU Administration didn’t ‘need’ or ‘want around’ anymore, your words were so kind and understanding. Using you web page as you are doing, really makes it an arena of such helpful information, and a safe place where people can unload their true feelings. This is really helping a lot of people, take that first step toward true freedom and ultimate healing from being treated so badly by people they once trusted and looked up to. Thanks for everything you placed on the LOVE thread. Reading it this morning has really blessed me. and I am so sorry for all those loyal, faithful BJU staff who were being hurt last winter in February. I am also very sorry to hear that, the so called ‘accredation’ BJU wangled out from the Educational Communty at large, was only by the letter, in name only, but with no real substance to ‘change their selfish ways of exploiting good, loyal people, who only want to love God, follow Him and serve Him, in a Christian insitution where they sincerely desire to make a good, positive difference for young people. How sad, that in reality, like a spoiled child to its bag of marbles ( that childish need to control) and that, nothing has really changed at all. Different people with different names, still being hurt by ‘administrative politics’ being practiced by people who really do not now how to serve! And BJU administration, has remained attached to their ‘my way or the highway’ agenda. Camille, you really are a kind and understanding voice to those who are hurting in the wilderness. Barbara Quinn
After reading the above postings I can only say that I am most thankful to God for a series of events that “closed the door” to my accepting the invitation to teach at BJU. God has richly blessed me beyond all measure over the past half century in my choice to teach elsewhere. I feel sorry for those who became trapped by the internal machinations of BJU and its administration, and have suffered painful consequences.
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