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On Thursday He gave me a little more grace

There are some useful quotations from the March 4 meeting that show the working (albeit tense) relationship between fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism in the Red-State South. As a text, I believe they offer insight for scholars evaluating the state of Southern conservative religion in higher education in the Deep South. This is my stated research topic for my ongoing project. Thus, I offer this text here without comment, eliminating the small talk, repetition, or mumbled words:

Pannell: The reality is I know about this because I’ve gotten more than one phone call about an NGU employee that’s doing XYZ.

Lewis: May I ask who?

Pannell: Well, I don’t know all of them.

* * * * * *

Pannell: I don’t know that we have it stated anywhere but North Greenville will not be seen attacking any institution.

* * * * * *

Pannell: The president said ‘I think Grant’s involved too.’

* * * * * *

Pannell: I only have one way that I keep going. Basically where I am and where the university is we just have to stop the public display of this. The last thing in the world I would want to do is have to sever or terminate or disengage as if I am taking Bob Jones’s side. I do not want to be on their side when everything does. We collaborate with them over there even in the department you’re in….I want to offer you a way to not suffer any consequences. We’re not talking about what has happened. Linwood [said] an article [is] in the works [in the] Kenneth Burke Journal.

Lewis: That was on my vitae.

Pannell: We can share the blame if that’s what we’re after. We’re just not going to attack another institution especially in our neighborhood.

* * * * * *

Lewis: So what are the boundaries you do envision?

Pannell: Anything that is public like the blog, any kind of article, anything that’s out there we just can’t take it back, it would be ridiculous. You have not done anything that I want to punish you for….If you were to continue, you would be changing North Greenville. And we’re not going to let you do that.

Lewis: Linwood said it was social media?

Pannell: That’s the place that a lot of the reaction is coming from.

Lewis: Who are these people?

Pannell: There have been multiple calls to Vice-Presidents. I don’t even know if it’s been the same person, if it’s all the PR Director over there. Now the person that we talked to here didn’t want to give us his name. This is not a BJU person, this is an NGU person and has friends over there. One of the Vice-Presidents talked to Linwood before he talked to me. I’m not putting a lot of stock in the he-said-she-said. But I can’t control that from a Public Relations standpoint. As an institution we have certain public impression issues.

* * * * * *

Lewis: It’s ongoing harassment. There’s a pattern here. And to bring Grant into it? It’s an anonymous tip kind of thing, a whispering campaign. I can’t defend myself against that. I can’t defend myself. They are going to do that. It doesn’t surprise me…that they would go to this level, it doesn’t surprise me….If someone is going to be looking for something to get me in trouble, they are going to find it. I’ve done what I can to leave NGU out of it.

Pannell: We’ve been dragged into it.

* * * * * *

Pannell: I can’t make Bob Jones desist. I can at least make it a pause. If we could figure out a way to lay low enough.

Lewis: A pause until the end of the semester?

Pannell: At least until the end of the term. What I care most about is to keep going.

Lewis: I want to finish off the semester.

Pannell: I’m not comfortable being a censor. We’re operating at their [BJU’s] mercy.

Lewis: Which is unfortunate.

Pannell: We hope that we can be influences [on BJU]….You don’t have to recant. You don’t have to apologize to anybody and say “I was wrong.” We’re not talking about that. We’re just stopping. I don’t know how you put a stop on the blog. I don’t know if it needs to be taken down. I need to be able to say “That’s stopped. We’ve addressed that. Nothing else is none of anybody’s business.”

Lewis: I understand. I can understand a pause. I can, I can affirm a pause.

Pannell: Turn it off while you’re working for us. If you and I agree on this, then I am covering you. Can we negotiate a way you’re not terminated by North Greenville?

Lewis: That’s fair. A pause. I can agree to a pause.

Pannell: If we can discover some kind of mechanism, you have choices. You have to make decisions. I don’t need to be involved in those kinds of decisions…. I want you to make a decision.

Lewis: I can decide to pause it until the end of the term. I can affirm that. I agree with that.

Pannell: Would it be agreeable to you if you were to give me a memo, send me a memo to tell me what you’re going to do? We met today. Based on our agreement, here’s what I going to do. Now it’s not so I can hold your feet to the fire. You know, we have agreed and we have a formal agreement as to what is happening and ….

Lewis: That’s fine. I will do that.

Pannell: I will believe you. I’m not going to check. Obviously somebody might threaten that and I might have to come back and say, “Look. This is what’s said. Can you show me for a fact that’s not.” But that’s not because I may not trust you, I may need a bullet or two in my gun. That’s the kind of conversation after we’re through with this. That I know for a fact that that’s stopped and you know, that’s all we can ask.

Lewis: I may be in the American Prospect article. I may not be.

Pannell: You make your own call with that. I don’t want you to be guilty of censoring her. I just don’t want anything to come down further on your head first….But you tell me what you’re doing. The things I’ve heard most about are the blog. And uh again…”

Lewis: Now see I haven’t posted on my own blog in, in weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks — months. So that’s kind of mysterious.

Pannell: This is in the realm of hearsay [since] I haven’t seen it myself. But I do remember one thing is like . . . I think it was in the conversation with the President . . . I think it was about one of the Joneses having an affair…. It’s out there. North Greenville can’t be in the middle of that innuendo.

Lewis: I will send you a memo.

7 thoughts on “On Thursday He gave me a little more grace

  1. North Greenville, SHAME ON YOU! You basically caved in to people who have preached strongly against your own religious views, who would stab you in the back in a New York minute if they could, who would not help you out if the situation had been in their favor… Basically, you’re helping someone who would screw you over and not blink, and you were willing to sacrifice two excellent faculty members to do it.


  2. One of the most heartbreaking components here is that we are the body of Christ. Yet, this adherence to law instead of grace drives us to use phrases like:

    “Bullets in my gun”
    “Operating at their mercy”
    And so on. . .
    How did the body turn on itself and become so self-destructive?

    When I was a kid I had an older cousin who bullied me relentlessly. He was older, stronger, faster. I was defenseless. He behaved dishonorably and BJU is behaving dishonorably. I pray that Bob Jones University will acknowledge its place in the body of Christ. If the school’s leadership is not part of that body I pray that they will recognize, repent, and come to Christ whom to know is life.

    This behavior is not life. It is fear. It is not worthy of the title “Christian.”

    So BJU either be the body or change your title from Christian. The sooner the better.

  3. Martyrs don’t whine about being martyred. If you’re taking one for the team, take it in strength. What need is there to smear and demean those who have nothing to do with the primary issue?

    Sacrifice what you must in the name of your mission regarding BJU or the plight of the ignored or poorly-advised abused. No one faults you for your concern for the truth, or your desire to see positive change made within systems that thrive upon image over substance.

    Dragging your former administrators and colleagues through mud does nothing for your stated goal. It makes you the center of the story and not your cause.

    Is the REAL truth here not a bit simpler?

    Is it not just a matter of an at-will employee refusing to meet the spirit of a request by a boss, then taking her ball and going home after the mere letter of the request was met?

    This seems less like an intellectual or academic effort, more like a tantrum – from someone who wasn’t truly even fully employed by the University. Does it not take a fairly sizable truckload of hubris for an adjunct to get up the head of Academics’ nostrils about a simple request to steer clear of a controversy?

    You are presenting yourself here as an expert in rhetoric and public speaking, which translates to skill in manipulating the emotions of others, and in that vein you are demonizing innocent people who are guilty only of asking you not to participate in a scandal. What’s to gain? Are you attempting to persuade people to take up your cause, or are you really just trying to generate disdain for people who you think have wronged you?

    It is befuddling to me, at least, to find this degree of surprise (on your part, or the parts of your allies) that being quoted in an anti-Bob-Jones context in the New York God-Hating Times or Al Jazeera AKA the publicity wing of the Death to America movement would earn you negative attention at a conservative Christian institution.

    How is it that you do not see grace in abundance? Immediate termination would have been my first and only solution to that problem. Instead, you were given an easy out, and you valued your cause more than your job, end of story. Is that not a fact? That’s not even “censorship” – It’s just a clear ideological difference with the institution.

    The evidence I see, from you as well as from the other Dr. Lewis, is nothing but a childish fit. Here, I see him on Facebook in a photograph with a glass of beer under the banner “FREEDOM.” What a rebel! As if that’s a statement against NGU, rather than just proof that he’s the type of fellow who would lie to get and keep a job. This is the sort of behavior we find in 19-year-olds who get kicked out for breaking a rule. This is not the sort of activity I would expect to see from a renowned PhD.

    This is the Truth I am speaking to your relatively minute Power: Focus on your cause, and not upon meaningless grudges. If you want to make an impact, and change policy at your alma mater, tearing into any and all opponents (actual, or imaginary) will only make you look vengeful and a bit tilted. You will look disgruntled, and no one will listen to you other than those who sling about as much weight as you do – which at the moment is very little.

    1. I do appreciate your comments, however, Man Krab, because you are so clearly stating what is so true in the Upstate: if you are a woman the only option you have is silence. Tone-policing is one method of accomplishing this. Or just flat-out shaming.

      And I’m no martyr. Not in the least. That may be why you never hear from martyrs when you think about it.

    2. I think that it is pretty telling that the administrators at a university would get all up in arms about the unrelated actions of a “lowly adjunct” in the first place. I think it is utterly appalling that Bob Jones University somehow manages to have the power to make a few phone calls to an unrelated institution and dictate policy to that institution. I think it is utterly ridiculous that a “professional” public relations officer takes his time to do these things and create a fake Twitter account for the sole purpose of slandering someone who hasn’t worked for his employer in nearly 8 years, behavior more befitting a “19 year old” than anything that Camille Lewis has ever done.

      North Greenville University chose to involve itself in this completely on its own. A reasonable person would have told BJU that what they do with their employees is none of their damn business. But NGU has shown itself to be the lapdog of the greater fundamentalist community that is dominated by BJU in the greater Greenville area. That should give pause to anyone who holds NGU up as being a different place than BJU.

      Oh, and the snide remarks about the NYT and Al-Jazeera are just so darn cute! It’s like I can get a little taste of Limbaugh without having to turn on the radio! Fantastic!

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