Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bob Jones University Fires Sex Abuse Investigators

Via The New York Times, conservative Christian school Bob Jones University has fired the Christian consulting group it had previously hired to conduct an investigation into the university's response to sexual assaults and abuse.

From the article:
"Catherine Harris, who attended the university in the 1980s, is one of several people who said it was very hard for her to talk to Grace investigators about being abused — and she now feels betrayed that Grace has been sidelined. 
'Nearly everyone at Bob Jones grew up in a fundamentalist environment, so if you were abused, your abuser probably came from inside that bubble, too, which is what happened to me,' she said. 'The person who supposedly counseled me told me if I reported a person like that to the police, I was damaging the cause of Christ, and I would be responsible for the abuser going to hell. He said all of my problems were as a result of my actions in the abuse, which mostly took place before I was 12, and I should just forgive the abuser.'”
About a year ago, I started a re-read of the book Amish Grace, which explores the Amish value of forgiveness.  About 3/4 of the way through the book, I wanted to fling it against the wall.

Although it's easy to utter nice-sounding platitudes about how we should all forgive those who hurt us because that supposedly sets us free and so forth, I noticed in the book that the majority of those being forgiven, or at least talked about as being forgiven, were men and that the burden seemed to be disproportionately on women, often, to not make "too big a deal" about their pain "for the sake of community" and "keeping the peace" and "being a good Christian."

In the Bob Jones article, a former student and faculty member says, “As always, [school officials] are worried about protecting the church and the university, not the victims."

Boy Scouts. The US military. The Catholic Church.

Protecting institutions rather than victims seems to be an essential feature of some types of institutions - often, it seems, the major male-centered, gender essentialist, and historically homophobic ones. Those correlations are notable and worth further exploration.

Missing Gender Narratives in Penn State

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