How do you spell draconian? B-J-U. (a look at the 2011 BJU Student Handbook–funny grammatical errors and all!)

The more I delve into the culture and “policies” of Bob Jones University, the sicker I feel. It’s all so familiar–like a bad nightmare from my fundamentalist past.

What’s ironic about all this is that the BJU Mission Statement claims the university “exists to grow Christlike character.” (page 3, BJU 2011 Student Handbook). But after reading through the entire student handbook, I can’t help but wonder if BJU defines “Christlike character” as legalistic, rigid, punitive and cruel.

I was shocked by how extensively BJU exerts high-demand control over its students—all under the auspices of “discipleship toward Christlikeness.” At least, that’s what Stephen Jones, President of Bob Jones University, writes in his letter to the students (preface to BJU Student Handbook): “[BJU is] obligated to you to do everything we can for your physical protection and personal purity, growth and discipleship…we want to give you a handbook that will help you develop discernment and earn more responsibility and privileges over time.”

Ok, hold up. Let’s decode what President Jones is REALLY saying: “BJU is usurping total and final authority over every area of your life because that’s what God wants us to do. Once you sign the student covenant, you surrender all your God-given rights to us. We slowly let you earn them back as you demonstrate behavior in accordance with our highly-specific rules.

President Jones goes on to write that “while externals are not our focus, we do need to recognize that externals do communicate and therefore need to be addressed on some level.”

Externals are NOT the focus? That’s laughable. After reading through BJU’s exhaustive list of rules, externals ARE the PRIMARY focus and are addressed on EVERY level.

A a fairly common response from those defending BJU’s recent actions against Chris Peterman is that if you choose to attend BJU, then you have to follow BJU’s rules.

I think that argument only goes so far. If the rule setters are creating punitive, cruel and draconian rule systems, then they are unjustly wielding authority.

By subjecting their students to highly-controlled, rigid requirements, BJU unfairly binds the free-will and conscience of those under their authority.

So, let’s take a look at some of the rules in the BJU Student Handbook and ask ourselves: do these rules fit with President Jones’ stated objectives, mainly that they exist to grow “Christlike character” and are NOT about external controls? Are these rules a breach of student privacy? Are these rules reasonable?

Because, quite honestly, I can only think of one description for the BJU demerit system: DRACONIAN.

I mean, these rules are written for adult, university students–old enough to die for their country but not old enough to stay out past…10:25pm!

Here are some real rules from the 2011 BJU Student Handbook [my comments are in brackets]:

  • Only students with “advanced privileges” are allowed to study until 2am (pg. 22)–and even then, only ONCE a week.
  • Only students with “advanced privileges,” are allowed to access open/mixed media websites (pg. 22)
  • Students must get approval for leaving campus (page 24). Students must check in and check out. If working, students are to return by 10:25pm. [Translation: we must know where you are at ALL TIMES! And you better be back by TEN TWENTY FIVE. Not 10:26. Not 10:30. 10:25 on the dot]
  • Mixed groups in public places “need to include an odd ratio of genders (e.g., three women and two men) and at least one student with advanced privileges for every five students in the group.” (pg.24) [Dude, you practically need a degree in mathematics just to calculate the exact Biblical male-to-female ratio. Gender ratio for dummies? More Women Than Men + 1 Student With “Advanced Privileges.” Unless the Dean disapproves. In which case you have to solve for VARIABLES!!!]
  • Male students must have general privileges AND dean approval before dating a day-student or non-student. (page 25) [and just to be safe: get dean approval before you say “good morning” to any female whether she’s on-campus, in town or on the moon]
  • Female students “are have an approved chaperon” (pg. 25) [Yes, that is the literal reading, grammatical error and all. I’m not lying. Go read page 25 yourself.  R have chaperon? I R Haz one 2!]
  • Before purchasing tickets to off-campus event, make sure it is approved (pg.27). [also, before purchasing tissue to blow your nose, make sure the location of your nose-blowing has been approved and that you’re accompanied by a BJU student of the same gender in an odd male-to-female ratio]
  • Students may not walk or ride the bus to a public place alone. Must be accompanied by a BJU student of the same gender (pg. 27). [ I’m guessing you can’t even go to the bathroom without 1. prior approval and 2. being accompanied by a student OF THE SAME GENDER!]
  • BJU students may not listen to rap, rock, jazz or country music. Or any music with a “discernible rock beat.” (pg. 28) [Discernible rock beats lead straight to fornication. Indiscernible rock beats, however, must be approved by the Dean!]
  • “To ensure personal accountability, students are not to listen to music with headphones” (pg. 28). [To insure we maintain maximum control over your every single movement, headphones are VERBOTEN!!]
  • Carefully monitor cell phone ring-tones! pg. 28 [Ring-tones aren’t just annoying, they also could lead you into sexual sin.]
  • Movies. Pretty much, just don’t watch anything, anywhere for any reason. (pg. 29)
  • No TV. (pg.29)
  • Use blogs responsibly, “following biblical principles” [3,000 demerits for reading Elizabeth Esther’s blog]

Phew! I’m exhausted! And we haven’t even gotten to Dress Codes and Disciplinary System yet! I guess we’ll have to save that craziness for tomorrow.



  • KatR

    Well, then I guess my ringtone with the techno remix of “How Great Thou Art” is out then.

  • priest’s wife

    just. wow. 

    My siblings went to Franciscan University of Steubenville ( a ‘conservative’ Catholic school)- and I taught for FUS for 4 years in Austria. There are rules that some see as punitive (basically sex segregated dorms – no men on the women’s  floors basically almost never- with meeting rooms on the ground floors)- that’s about it. The other things aren’t official rules- just peer pressure to go to church, be pro-life, wear a skirt (!) to Mass etc.

    I live close to Thomas Aquinas College. They also have sex segregated dorms and they do have a dress code for classes. Girls must wear skirts below knee- guys need to wear tie and slacks to lecture- outside of class, it is their choice. When they leave the campus over the weekend, they sign out and in. 1 and 2 year students cannot have a car unless they work off campus

    TAC is too conservative for my tastes- but the ‘rules’ are do-able. Nothing as ridiculous as BJU. The fact is- most of the students will get married right after graduation- and they are not ready for the adult world. I am not saying that SIN is part of the adult world. A good Christian college should try and help the students find a way of living in the world- but maybe this isn’t BJU’s goal (control is). 

  • priest’s wife

    and I guess I need to hide my DC Talk CD ;)

  • Heretic Husband

    I think if you grow up in this kind of system, any kind of secular college, or even liberal-ish Christian college, seems very, very scary.  A school like BJU probably seems like a fantastic idea.  After all, who will keep out the big bad World System if parents are no longer in the picture?  It’s a culture of infantalization.  

    My sister-in-law went to Faith Baptist College in Iowa.  From what she described of the rules, it sounds similar to BJU.  Yet, she had grown up in a similar environment, so she had no problem with it.  She once earnestly explained to us about the evils of music with a 2-4 beat, because it’s “very sexual”.

    It would be interesting to see how graduates of these schools fair once they enter the real world.

    • Natasha

       “It’s a culture of infantalization.”

      You hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly it.

    • Mel

       So I graduated from FBBC in 2001, and I have to admit that as I read through part of the BJU handbook, there were far too many similarities. These types of institutions really do try to control every aspect of life. It’s scary…and possibly scarier that I survived five years and am, for the most part, still sane. I think. :)

      A lot of it has to do with the fact that my husband and I spent five years overseas with a non-denominational organization and were able to, for the first time, experience the Body of Christ without all the legalism.

      Heretic Husband, to give you a small glimpse of life after a school like this…we are now fully enjoying our freedom in Christ…and our Lutheran church. A place where we’ve found people who love God, live out what they preach, and don’t judge us for every little move we make. We truly see Jesus in these people, and it has made the difference.

      Life is good. :)

      • Heretic Husband

        I’m happy to hear that you and your husband are doing well!  

  • Anonymous

    This was interesting to read.  And while I think these rules are pretty insane, I ALSO don’t think there’s anything INHERENTLY wrong with a private university choosing to have such stringent requirements.  It’s not for everyone, but then not everyone has to attend.  I guess it reminds me a little of the military, or of a convent or monastery–one gives up a lot of personal freedoms to be a soldier or a nun, and there are TONS of rules, but that’s just part of the gig.  For some students, the Bob Jones University experience is probably precisely what they want.  (Hard as that is for some of us to imagine!)

    And yes, surely some parents are making their kids go, but in that case I blame the parents for attempting to exert that sort of control on their children. 

    I attended a highly rated public California university, and between the strippers (both male and female), drug dealing, pornography, and sexual favors happening in my dorm on a very regular basis, it was quite an eye-opening experience to say the least.  And while I don’t regret living in the dorms or attending that university, I will NEVER question anyone who opts for a much more conservative college experience, free from these sorts of distractions.

    To each his own I suppose!  

    • Tara S

      Oooo yep. I went to a secular university as well.  If I had only known… I would have just got a full-time job and went to school part-time!  What a mess that was.

      I wonder if the problem isn’t just that the collegiate environment is too much of a magnifying glass for the worship of youth and constant revelry that is favored in society today.  For some reason it seems like it almost always devolves into either the feast of Bacchus or toddler-camp.

      I’m going to encourage my kids to go into trades…

    • gocart mozart


      • Anonymous


        • Anonymous

          Taliban + Evangelism.

          • J S

            Wow, that’s incredibly offensive.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, those poor Taliban are really getting slandered, aren’t they… [/snark]

  • Tara S

    Oy vey. Reading that whole thing I kept thinking, “The kids that want to go to this school really just need to be Catholic.”  Rule of Life!  Convents, monasteries, oblates… rules of life. There are so many different ways to order your life that are not so much about what *not* to do, but about “this is what we do.”  It’s extremely disciplined, but there’s an understanding that it’s not the only way to be Christlike.  BJU seems bottom-backwards to me… not personal liberation through discipline and order, but simple and straightforward uber-control.    

    If Rule Of Life-style living is seen as too “controlling”, then maybe the only thing that is left for people who crave that simplicity is a top-down, elaborate, Big Brother style environment of “don’t do this, don’t do that” and “we know what’s best for you.”  I found myself in a cult for about five minutes once.  It was exhausting, trying to keep track of the rules and rationales thereof! Especially because the rationale seemed to be “you need us, but we don’t trust you.”

  • Carrie

    The BJU student handbook makes the BYU Honor Code look pretty tame.

  • Heather’s Hodgepodge

    This brings back memories of trying to pick my college. For me, I spent time trying to weigh the pros and cons of BJU and Pensacola. I remember ruling out Liberty because it was  (no joke) “too liberal.” Thank God life intervened and I ended up at a local community college! Although I do think I would have appreciated SOME rules governing my classmate’s behavior ;)

  • Beth007

    I had no idea!! I learned something today. Eventually overcontrolling religious environments whether at home or at school have a major fall out.  Take a look at Magdelan College which is now renamed in an effort to get rid of its previous oppresive image and rules.

    When you take away someone’s choices they do not learn how to choose properly or make mistakes. I am sure there is a group somewhere called “recovering from BJU”

    They have all these rules related to being with people of the opposite sex.  Well, if you are gay you would rather be with the same sex. 

    It is really unfortunate when people use power and control in the name of religion. It is one of the reasons I would not send my kids to the local ultra orthodox Catholic high school

    • Jared

      There are multiple Facebooks for “BJU Survivors” and the like. I’m a member of 3-4 of those groups myself. I find the support from members of them to really help as I find my way outside the fundamentalist cult. I was born and reared in that mentality, and “survived” 7 years at BJU.

  • J S

    I honestly don’t understand the uproar.  If you don’t like the rules, either: 

    Don’t go there
    Don’t send your kids there
    If you’re already there and discover you the rules are too strict… leave.
    No one is forcing anyone to be there.

    • KatR

      There just seems to be a startling difference in the behavior demanded of the students v. the board members.

    • JenL

      “If you don’t like the rules, don’t go there” doesn’t really translate well to situations like the ones I encountered at my (different) private religious college – MANY students there didn’t actually choose the school.  They’d either been raised to always obey, and so they went to the college their parents chose, or the parents gave them some version of the carrot & stick.  Usually, it was some combination of:
      * go to the college of my choice, and I’ll pay your tuition.  (Maybe even throw in a car if you graduate with the degree I choose.)  
      * go to any other college, and I not only won’t pay your tuition, I won’t sign the financial aid papers.

      Students were left with a choice of going to *this* college, and living with their restrictive rules (not as bad as BJ U, but there was a curfew, dress code, required church/chapel attendance, etc….) or … well, moving out of the house and trying to find a job in the world they’d been taught was evil.  

    • Jen

       I went to a school affiliated w/ Bob Jones from kindergarten through my senior year of high school; I begged to go to a public school.   While in high school, I remember hearing graduating seniors complain of being hauled into the principals office for an interrogation on their life choices and their faith b/c they were going to a “secular” college. 

    • Herewegokids7

       Umm..yes, they are.  Unfortunately. Forcing, manipulating, expecting, guilting, threatening. Etc.

  • Dianna

    I went to a private Christian college in the Midwest that I thought was strict at the time, only to discover as I got to know students at other colleges that we were practically a state school. We were a dry campus, and had rules about what hours people of the opposite sex could be in each other’s dorm rooms, and the door had to be cracked if you had a guy in your room (or a girl, if you were a boy, etc). Students were required to take classes called “Intro to the Bible” and “Intro to Christian Thought,” but as far as I know, that was the only explicitly Christian requirement (I was a theology major, so I’m not positive what classes everyone else had to take or were just me). We were encouraged – but not required -  to dress more modestly, and chapel was optional.

    I did a semester abroad in England, and met a ton of students from other campuses who had to get special orders signed by their college so they could go for a drink at a local pub (it was a special exception for “cultural experience.”). Many of them were surprised that my university had such lax intervisitation hours, or that these hours existed at all.

    So that my experience gave me a kind of skewed perspective when it came to reading BJU’s handbook. Even by conservative standards, however, this list of rules is INSANE. As a person who dyed my hair all sorts of unnatural colorings my freshman year of college, I can’t imagine not being given that room to experiment with my personal appearance. That was one of those things that was…how do I put this? A good release of negative energy. It allowed me to “rebel” in a safe and secure way that didn’t do permanent damage to myself or others. It was VITAL in me figuring out who I am as a person, as a Christian, and as a woman. Had I not had those small outlets, I doubt I’d be able to call myself a Christian today.

    • JenL

      My college rules – no “unnatural” hair OR NAIL color, no jewelry.  Skirts had to be at least a certain length, etc.  

      The men’s and women’s dorms each had a lobby with various couches, etc., and until curfew you could sit there in mixed groups to talk – but for a guy (any guy, student or family member) to leave the lobby and enter the actual dorm?  There had to be a reason (like carrying in something heavy), and it had to be pre-approved, and they’d better check in at the desk on their way back out to the lobby!
      But *many* of the students there came from church-run high schools that were MUCH stricter.  To them, the curfew (9 p.m. most nights?  11 p.m. on Saturday nights?) was much less restrictive than what they were used to – the fact that you could leave campus (no restrictions on how many of you, or what gender ratios were acceptable) without signing out meant FREEDOM to some of these kids.  

      And then, my senior year, a group went to check out the new big thing in the city (we were 30 miles or so away in a small college town) – a new restaurant that happened to advertise itself more for its bar than its food.  About 20 students were seen leaving just in time to get back for that Saturday night curfew.  I don’t *think* anybody was kicked out, but they were disciplined for going to a bar…

      • Dianna

        Whoa. See, my school didn’t care where you went when you went off campus, or really what you chose to do in your free time. It was a place where you could make mistakes and find a safe place to fail. :/ And we had zero curfew. There were several times freshmen year when I was rolling back into the dorm at 2 or 3AM, simply because I’d been over in one of the other dorms watching a movie or having a discussion or … doing hijinks around campus (no, officer, it wasn’t me who put the traffic cone on the cougar statue’s head!). I can’t imagine going to a college where things were more restricted. 

        Hell, the rules at my semester abroad were stricter than that of my college, and that took getting used to (we had to sign out if we were leaving for the weekend, etc, which was weird to me, but I think it was just a safety thing).

        So this all? Very weird to me.

  • Natasha

    I always knew Birkenstocks were eeeevil. ;)
    Since I’m a proponent of equality, I demand that male students also have a designated “chaperon” to follow them everywhere. I will have to write to BJU about this unconscionable lapse of control immediately.

  • Natasha

    Now I’m wondering if BJU also restricts certain foods. Surely students aren’t allowed to consume tempting fruits like bananas, or pomegranates, or (the traditional fruit of sin) apples. And what about coconuts? The students could be imagining that they were drinking alcoholic fruity drinks out of them while on beaches full of bikini-clad women. They think rock beats are dangerous?  What about grapes? Grapes are clearly a reference to wine and Bacchus worship and will lead immediately to orgies. And I haven’t even gotten started on the vegetables… ;)

    • LJ

      My husband, a recovering fundamentalist and Bob Jones graduate, informed me that female students were advised to break their bananas in half before eating to avoid tempting the boys.  No joke.

      • Jas-nDye

        Yes! that is so full of WIN!

      • marie


      • Sarah

        Nothing screams sex like fleshy fruit enveloped in a YELLOW LEATHERY SKIN. 

        If you see sex in a banana, please seek medical attention, your penis is not supposed to look like that. 

        • Sarah


          • Lucie

            And a brilliant use of it, my dear.

      • rm

         That’s the paradox. When every possible interaction between male and female is regulated, it all becomes sexualized.

        But when there are no legalistic rules, ordinary life is not sexually charged.

        Those BJU people have dirty, dirty minds.

  • Scott Morizot

    From the descriptions I’ve seen a number of people write about their fundamentalist childhoods, and from little I know of the history of BJU, I would say the rules exist in order for the university to stand in loco parentis of a particular sort of parent. And just by comparing what I do know, they probably pretty accurately reflect that sort of parent.

    I could be wrong, but I doubt that most of the kids who “choose” to go to BJU have ever really had the opportunity to develop their free-will and conscience in any vaguely healthy way.

    Personally, I have never even dreamed of applying rules like that to my teens (or heck, my preteens or children), much less my adult kids. In fact, I think the only actual “rule” I gave my Baylor son what that he needed to take college seriously if he expected us to keep helping him pay for it all the way through. (And boy, has he taken it more seriously than I  ever imagined.) Of course, when he’s called or texted or talked to us about various things that have come up, his Mom and I have listened and given advice where it seemed helpful. More often than not, he’s even taken our advice. The longer he’s been away, the more he has taken initiative to pursue things on his own.

    And that’s a healthy process of growth. BJU seeks to extend an unhealthy childhood into adulthood. IMO, of course, but if you disagree with me, you’re probably going to find it impossible to change my mind.

    • Incurably Inane

      You’re totally right.  I grew up in the BJU-fundamentalist system, and there was NO growth of free will and conscience.  I also went to BJU for a bit, and it was like being at home.  Not much difference.  

    • Ron Kerns

       Sic ‘cm, Bears!

      • Dianna

         I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thought this… Woohoo Baylor alums!

    • Maggie

       Yes!  Exactly this.  How are kids supposed to develop their OWN conscience and find and develop their own faith without freedom to exercise choice and to screw up once in awhile.  These kids are given no tools to live in the real world.

      In my opinion, the leaders of of BYU and the parents who send their kids there to be controlled aren’t showing any faith at all.  It’s like they have become the Holy Spirit, because they don’t believe that the real Holy Spirit can do a good enough job as a guide.

  • Scott Morizot

    And now I’ve read the comments and seen the numerous references to “if you don’t like the rules don’t go there.” It’s a laudable attitude in many situations of life, I agree, but doesn’t really apply in this situation. I can’t imagine that very many young adults who were raised outside a particular sort of strict fundamentalism would choose to subject themselves to an environment like that. If I’m wrong in that assumption, I would like to see some hard data along with the collection mechanism so I could both validate the source and try to understand why my assumption was wrong. Barring that, though, I believe it’s a safe assumption.

    So we’re really talking about a group who have never been given the space to develop any real or meaningful freedom of choice. From my perspective, the kids who are sent there (by their parents I’m sure) have no more ability to “choose” their college than a young child can “choose” their own environment — however destructive or even abusive that environment is. It’s an *enormous* risk when a young child speaks out. I think most people don’t realize, looking back now as adults, just how limited the perspective of young child is or just how risky stepping outside even an unsafe environment appears. (Often, unfortunately, their fears are confirmed by the inaction or dismissal of adults, but that’s another discussion.)

    So the actual “customers” of BJU are the parents who wish to keep their adult children in these tightly constrained boxes. And apparently, given that the university still survives, it appears they’ve served their customer base well. Now, that’s not to say that some or even many of the kids believe that’s where they want to be or even that they have chosen to be there. That’s the nature of indoctrination. You can make the victim believe they want what you have told them they want. And it’s easier to do when you start very young.

    I’m old enough now that a lot of people don’t personally remember the events that were the genesis of the popular phrase, “Drinking the koolaid.” But I remember them well. They left a mark on my childhood and I’ve never forgotten what I perceived as the underlying lesson.

    • gocart mozart

      The kids should rebel.  Sadly, many have been cowed into submission.

  • Des_baker

    While the student handbook for BJU shows just how fundamentalist the university is, are we really assuming they are the only party to blame here? 

    Yes, BJU has crossed the line. But so did Peterman. Am I to believe he wasn’t out to push buttons watching Glee? Really? Glee? He knew before he chose to watch it that heads would roll for several different reasons. And that’s probably why he watched it. Am I to believe he wasn’t calling for any kind of attention by posting song lyrics on facebook. Yes, I know they were lyrics to a christian song, but after 4 years at BJU, I guarantee you he knew that even most contemporary christian music isn’t allowed at the university.

    I really feel the wrong falls to both sides in this situation. I know I am not the first to say that if you don’t like the rules, don’t go there, but seriously….. If you don’t like the rules, don’t go there. If you don’t like the rules, and still go there, don’t do things that you KNOW deep within your soul will get you in trouble when you are within weeks of graduation.


    • marie

      They totally played a “gotcha!” game with him by doing this right before graduation. . .trying to screw him over.  They are attempting to make an example of him, likely due to the “Do Right BJU” campaign.  The rules above are so ridiculous to expect of a young adult that I hope at least there is a bit of a wake-up call about this environment.

      • Des_baker

        I think most people would find the severe fundamentalist culture found in the BJU handbook appalling. I find it a lot of things, including appalling. But this story leaves a lot of unanswered questions. The question I keep going back to revolves primarily around why a student who is already aware he is borderline stalked, would watch Glee, of all shows, and not think there would be consequences. He couldn’t wait a few weeks? Watch it on demand, or Hulu? I am finding it hard to feel compassion for a student who was basically flipping the bird to the authority he put himself under, as an adult, and kicks up a fuss when they flip him the bird in return.

        I’m just wondering if I am the only one who is seeing the arrogance of both parties?

        • gocart mozart

          You’re joking right?  He was a marked man and they were going to expell him no matter what.

          • Des_baker

            I’m not joking, but let me make it clear I am not defending BJU by any means. I think I could easily summarize how I feel about the ordeal given what knowledge I have, which is very small and I have a lot of questions, by saying that it would be easier to feel compassion for the expelled student if he earned demerits by returning late to campus because his car broke down, etc. But he earned demerits doing things he KNEW would be frowned upon. Besides watching Glee, he posted lyrics to a song that would be frowned upon because it probably too closely resembled rock music. And what did he post/message on facebook during class that couldn’t wait? I assume he knew he was a marked man, and everything he did was closely monitored. He was purposely being defiant, and was called out on it. I am saying there are a lot of questions I have about this situation, and while almost everything about BJU that I have learned from this ordeal makes me shake my head, I suspect there may be more to the story. Do a lot of BJU students watch Glee, but he was singled out? Do a lot of BJU students facebook during class, but only he was made an example? Is posting lyrics of contemporary christian music online a common practice among students, and only he was reprimanded? If that is true, it’s easier to have more compassion in this situation. But with the knowledge that I have been given, I don’t find EITHER party innocent in this matter. 

        • Kavalier1228

          Peterman was speaking out against BJU’s Board of Trustee member Chuck Phelps regarding Phelps’ role in a rape case. In that situation, Phelps was a former pastor of the rape victim. He blamed the then-15-year victim and made her apologize for “her part” on having herself being raped. She got pregnant from the rape. Then, he forced the girl to give up her child. That’s why Peterman was on BJU’s s&*t list in the first place. Regardless whether Peterman is just immature troublemaker or not, BJU wouldn’t want to lose face and control. Not to mention that BJU often enables as well as keeps Phelps and others like him.

          • Des_baker

            What BJU did was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I am not defending BJU. At all. In the least. I doubt Jesus himself could make it through one semester without expulsion. That being said, it’s just a little hard to feel compassion for Peterman because the reality is, he didn’t get expelled for Christlike behavior. He actually handled the situation like an immature troublemaker. They would have expelled him anyways. I know that. I’ve read several accounts of the story, and even the BJU handbook. My opinion has not changed. I would feel more compassion if he were a little more innocent in the ordeal. The reality is, I’m not sure anyone could, with a straight face, say he wasn’t in some way or another testing the patience of BJU. Anyone who has ever dealt with toddlers or hormonal teenagers recognizes this behavior. What buttons can I push? What can I get away. How far can I push before I go to far? How can I make my point with the least humility?

            I feel like there isn’t any other way to explain this. Neither party here is innocent in this ordeal. 

          • Scott Morizot

             I look at Jesus and the Samaritan woman (St. Photini), Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, Jesus and Zaccheus, and so many of the stories of the saints, like St. Mary of Egypt and I find I’m glad our God doesn’t limit his compassion for us when we suffer based on our guilt or innocence.

          • Des_baker

            Once again, bad wording on my part. To rephrase, Peterman makes it very difficult to “take his side” in this situation. This is not in defense of BJU. BJU makes it hard to take their side, too. I am just surprised at how quick people are rallying behind Peterman, when something about this story isn’t quite right. After some digging (bored and curious) I am positive there is a lot more to this story than Peterman is telling us. 

          • Kavalier1228

            All Peterman and his friends did to speak out was create a FB group/page about BJU abuse victims/survivors. While he didn’t handle his black sheep status very well to his own detriment, why are you limiting your empathy and compassion? Do you only feel that compassion and empathy for those suffering who are only perfectly innocent and sinless? That’s not very humane or Christlike.

    • gocart mozart

      Andy Dufresne: It’s my life. Don’t you understand? IT’S MY LIFE!
      Warden Samuel Norton: I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.

    • jeanelane

       Maybe this was his way of rebelling as so many others suggested that kids do.  Maybe it took til his senior year to be able to figure out a way to do so, because it is not just rebelling against the school, but his parents or whomever paid for him to go there.  Maybe he finally got some gumption, maybe not enough to drop out, but it worked.  And he threw some light on the whole mess.  I myself didn’t know things like this existed in the 21st century outside of Asia and the Middle East

      • Des_baker

        Definetely his way of rebelling. Which is bound to happen in such a strict, and harsh invironment. And fundamentalism is alive and well here in America. The culture wars won’t end anytime soon. And they won’t end when we act with such immaturity, in an effort to shed light on situations, rather than with patience for each other, loving each other through our differences, and communication. Neither BJU, nor Peterman, acted in any other way but pride.

    • Des_baker

      It is amazing how scripted this has been on Christopher Peterman’s part. Reality is that BJU is publically on the record, saying they will not expell any student for taking part in the DoRight protest. I actually believe that this is one time in their history they weighed the consequences of expelling a student.
      He knows from his weekly meetings that they are reading his social media posts, and questioning about him with documented pages of his screen shots, and he continues to make these posts right up to the moment of his expulsion.
      He receives about 70 demerits prior to making his big political statement. This is not someone who is trying to lay low to get off their radar.
      Glee is so well played, because if BJU responds to it at all the entire LGBT community worldwide will ridicule this as homophobic. He also chooses to do this within two weeks of his expulsion so that he doesn’t have to deal with the inconvenience of being campused for most of the semester. He also chooses to do this in a public place where he can always plead that he had no control over the remote, and was just sitting there drinking his coffee.
      He posts the lyrics for a song that just barely doesn’t check. The mastery is that he only copies the lyrics, and not a link to the video. He is perfectly able to be totally in their face, and defensable at the same time.
      He posts a video the night before he gets shipped telling how bad the academics in his major were.
      He touches the girls hair in the video even though he is socialed.
      He posts to his Facebook status during class, which is rude in any academic setting.
      He ignores the Dean of Mens request to come in for a meeting for over two days. I love this! I am sorry, I can’t get to you right now, I have a speech to give, and I will work you in in the next day or so.
      While he is allegedly trying to appeal his expulsion he is contacting any outside authority and the media to flex his muscles.
      Then he and the LGBT community worldwide put it out that this is all about Glee while he knows that his final straw is disrespect, and insubordination.
      And then cried foul when he is expelled? Maybe he did get expelled for protesting Phelps. But whether the Phelps situation played out or not, I can’t imagine they would have stood for this type of behavior from any student. 
      Peterman is not telling the whole story. Both parties are in the wrong here. 

  • Christian H

    So here’s what I’m thinking. The Christlike character bit applies to the students. What they want to see is students who are like Christ (as they think he is like). This is their focus. But they can’t check your insides, so they can only check your outsides. For this reason, even if they do care more about internals, they wind up focusing on externals–though it looks like they are trying to prevent influence rather than anything else, so they will see this as a focus on internals (since they are trying to prevent your insides from getting rotten by limiting possible contagions). In order to enforce Christlikeness in students, they must not be Christlike themselves; or, at least, they must become a new version of Christlike, which adheres itself to those external indicators of internal purity while forcing them on others. Really, this is more like Moses than Christ (at best). So I suspect what is happening is that they are not being self-reflexive; they want so badly to have Christlike students that they won’t be Christlike themselves. (To be fair, though, it’s really hard to be Christlike.)

    Though, really, as I think out loud here, I’m wondering if they’re not really interested in Christlike students after all. They’re interested in having prelapsarian students: students like Adam and Eve pre-Fall. But that is the same as Christlike; Christ may have been pure, but he wasn’t ignorant of good and evil.

    • Christian H

      Whoops. That isn’t the same as Christlike.

  • Rachel Strietzel

    It sounds like it would be preferable to be a gay student at BJU than straight.  Not really, obviously, but seriously…their strict rules do not seem to acknowledge any sexual relationship other than a straight one. 

    • gocart mozart

      It seems that humanity is verbotin and sharia law is mandated.

    • Hannah C.

      I’m guessing you would be expelled before taking your next breath if anyone caught you in homosexual activity, however…

  • Stitching Seams

    Until this year – until the past three months, actually – the student handbook was not publicly available. Students didn’t get to see the handbook until they were checked in and moved in on campus. So, until three months ago, new students didn’t actually know what the rules were until they were already on campus for the semester. For most of us, that was a little too late to make the decision to leave.

    • Kara @ The Chuppies

      Thank you for explaining this…I did read through it (hoping this was some sort of misunderstanding) and couldn’t figure out how someone would know what they were walking into and agree to it (excluding the push-by-parents-etc).

  • jbrown82

    My junior year the handbook was misprinted as “2002-2003 Student Handook”.  Seriously, the front cover?! Come on people.

  • Holly

    I went to a private school during the 80′s that was affiliated with BJU, and all of the teachers were graduates.  It made the military seem tame.  I have strong memories of hours of kneeling on the gym floor, rows upon rows of girls, while the “Dean of Women” walked the rows measuring the distance of our skirt hem from the floor.  A quarter of an inch infraction meant being sent home for the day.  That culture was why I ran screaming away from Christianity for the next decade of my life.   Our code of conduct books were very similar to that one, and back then, the book was just the example.  How these things are actually interpreted on a daily basis are beyond extreme.   Sad.  Very, very sad.

  • JenL

    Oh, my…  All this inspired me to pull up the student handbook for the college I attended, to see if anything had changed.  So far, the one thing to catch my eye:

    On the “things to leave at home” list, along with weapons, fireworks, and pets – Role Playing Games!      ;-)

    • Jenvogie

       I recall fire and brimstone preachers going on and on about role playing games when I was a kid.   I was so confused by what they meant by their tirades against make believe and imaginative games that I thought I was committing the ultimate sin for playing house.

  • ImprisonedDaydreamer22

    Does Vincent Price quoting the raven count as an uncheckable ring tone??? Hmmm a celebrity and a darkly themed poem by a death obsessed writer. . . Yeah pretty sure that won’t check. Darnit.

  • Anonymous

    Haha, what a total crock of shit. These morons live in a fantasy world that has never existed and worship a demiurge that hates their dicks/pussies.

    They deserve nothing but ridicule and condemnation.

  • Kelly @ Love Well

    If it weren’t true, it would be hysterical. 

    But since it is true, it’s horrific. 

    They are “protected” from grace. Legalism is a strong wall against it.

  • Lynne

    Ok, I’m not terribly au fait with the American system, but aren’t these students LEGAL ADULTS? And don’t adults have certain basic rights of self-determination? (except in the fundy-verse, obviously)

  • theresaEH

    OHMYGOSH!!!! Are parents paying for their kids to go to school or to enter a NAZI concentration camp!!!  BJU gives christianity a really bad name eh!

    • J S

      I don’t care how strict it is, comparing it to a concentration camp is ludicrous.   Not to mention offensive.

      • TheresaEH

        How about sharia law in the middle east. Which is creaping into north america very quickly, and it would appear the BJU is following its rulebook.

  • Miles O’Neal

    Did they ever abolish their ban on inter-racial dating? That already had publicity in the  late 70s or early 80s, but then Steve Taylor released “Color Code” (which violated at least their rock beat rule, and probably a couple of others) and they had *lots* of publicity.

    A friend of mine’s parents sent her to Tennessee Temple around 1974 or 1975, which had similar rules to BJU. Girls were not allowed to wear pants *at any time while they were registered students*– including summer breaks back home, etc. Students could *not hold hands with anyone of the opposite sex* during that time period, either (I suspect holding the hand of a same sex person was proof of homosexuality and led to burning at the stake). Not sure about guys, but girls:
    - could not go barefoot;
    - could not be naked except while showering or changing clothes, even in their own rooms because;
    - could not have short hair;
    - etc.

    I took my long haired self up to visit Jennifer. I did dress up nicely, but still got a lot of looks, as you can imagine (she had begged me to visit). We were just good friends, but I couldn’t sit within three feet of her on a couch. When we went for a walk on a well kept mountain trail, she took off her shoes, and took my hand; she needed reassurance and human touch. We came around a corner to find four of her fellow students, all student leaders. She thought she was in deep trouble until it dawned on her those couples had been holding hands, and one of the girls had her shoes off.

    She eventually just left and ran and hid from her family. If you can believe that.

  • W Regier

    If you choose to go to an instution like Bob Jones, then you are COMMITTING to abide by those rules….just as you would adhere to the policies of a new job opportunity. If you have a problem with the rules, then DON’T GO. That’s all there is to it. The majority of people who have a bad attitude about the college, are people who have never stepped foot on the campus, know nothing about a personal relationship with God, and are purposefully stretching the truth and gossipping about “non-issues”. You all are just furthering the lies and the misconceptions, and it is neither attractive nor mature. You think that by bad-mouthing an instution, you can shut it down and solve the problems of the world, but believe me, you won’t. You won’t because you aren’t fighting BJ, you’re fighting God….and so far, He hasn’t lost.

    • Sarah

      Oooooh noes Elizabeth! You’re not attractive anymore! What on earth will you do?!? 

      I don’t know how you can give page number references for lies…

    • Tommy Tsunami

       I went to school there. Nothing she posted is a lie. By saying that what she says is a lie, you lie. That is neither attractive nor mature.

      When I went there, the handbooks weren’t given out before I arrived on campus. I lived 800 miles away, so my parents dropped me off (freshmen can’t have cars) and began the long journey back home.

      It wasn’t until they were in Tennessee that I saw the handbook, and by then, I was stuck.

      THAT is underhanded, wouldn’t you say? They wanted to take the place of my parents, but my parents didn’t know the rules of the institution.   I wish that would have thrown up red flags back then, but we were the trusting sort.

      A culture of control and fear permeates everything about the place. I firmly believe that fighting Bob Jones isn’t about fighting God. God hasn’t given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-control.

      The Holy Spirit is barely taught at Bob Jones, so there goes the power. Love certainly isn’t taught. I couldn’t even hug a grieving friend. And self-control? Nope. Institutional control.

    • Ron Kerns

       the problem we have with “the rules” aren’t really the rules…but, the belief that these long list rules somehow deepen and strengthn  our personal relationship with God…that these rules are somehow “biblically based”…..hardly.

      funny thing is….when i
      lived in NC (raleigh), right after i graduated from college, I was
      involved with a church that had a great campus ministry for students at
      NCSU (I helped out the campus minister, and was kind of like a ‘big
      brother’ for the guys..especially freshmen)….all those students we had
      (which grew in numbers due to evangelism and such), pretty much all GREW
      in their faith while going to that school…due to the outreach efforts
      the church made, and the discipleship from the campus ministry, along with others…and, that they were so “welcomed” by the congregation
      each year…they knew that was “their church” (even if only
      for the school year)… bizarre “rules” needed….
      no one was there to make sure they “got in” by 10:25, nor did anyone follow them around like the KGB…
      and, I can almost guarantee you…those students we had grew much more in their faith, and their “personal relationship” in God than most any BJU student…as they saw and experienced love & grace…not rigid rules and legalism…

    • Herewegokids7

       BAHAHAHAHA, ad infinitum. That’s the funniest thing I have read in a long old time. Thanks for that.

  • holly j

    Ah, yes.  I went to a similar school.  :)  And yes, my homelife was so controlled/controlling that it felt like FREEDOM!!!  :)

  • Ignatz

    The restrictions on music make me want to sit down with a Bob Jones administrator and have him (surely “him”) vet my music library. Cut out all the rock, jazz, hip hop and country! Hell, take blues and Anglo-American folk music out for being too closely related to those! Cut out jazz-tinged genres like mambo and rock-inspired genres like reggae and Afrobeat – and for that matter, let’s decree anything electronic with noticeable drums or drumlike sounds to have a “discernible rock beat,” or if black people made it we can probably declare it to be hip-hop.

    Bottom line is, after scrapping anything that could possibly violate their stated musical guidelines I’d be heading off to Bob Jones with a bunch of polka, gamelan, abrasive experimental music, vaguely creepy 20s/30s pop records, and Balkan choral groups. Plus some shape-note singing and Blind Willie Johnson, for proper Christian devotional measure. And every music-loving BJU student would have (apart from the classical and white-bread gospel I’m sure they’re ACTUALLY pushing with this policy) a similarly whacked-out mix of remnants.

    I know there’s no way on Earth it would actually work out like this, but the music scene in the Bob Jones University in my head is AWESOME.

    (it also kind of makes me happy that there’s somewhere in the US where rebellious youngsters could still conceivably express their defiance of authority by playing the Coasters or Benny Goodman. It’d be like every climactic scene from a teen rock movie, except the authoritarian old farts weren’t even born when the music they hate came out!)

  • Joy in this Journey

    One of the worst things about BJU is that even if you manage to graduate with an impeccable record, they aren’t accredited. So all the agony and time and money is WORTHLESS. It’s tragic.

  • Sarah

    I was one of those submissive teenagers who visited BJU’s campus as a college option.  I’ve been there, and it’s a very oppressive atmosphere. Do you know the BJU rules for interracial dating/marriage fueled by some passage in the OT about Israelites marrying Phillistines??  At least back when I was visiting and had one friend going there, that was an issue.  Perhaps it has changed.  The whole institution sickens me, and it’s hard to even think about.

  • Ron Kerns

    The saddest thing about this…is that they are led to believe that all of these lists of rules have a “Biblical Basis” to them….my “conservative” Pastor, a very well known guy (most of you have probably heard of him)….he plays the drums…and, quite well, too….i guess he would get kicked out! (and he’s one of the most faithful, strongest Christian guys I know!)…

  • jeanelane

    It is my understanding, as an 11 year old Christian (and a 59 year old person), that Christianity is based on God sending Jesus to die for my sins.  Because of this and my belief in this and the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, I am a new person, a saint if you will.  I have been freed from sin and death.  It is now the Holy Spirit who is guiding me.  God looks on my heart.  I can behave perfectly, but if my heart is showing where I really am, my behavior is meaningless.  You can’t legislate heart.  But I guess BJU and others are trying to do exactly that.  I am sorry – I am just flabbergasted!   I never really thought of myself as sheltered, but I guess I have been in a way – out in the world and sheltered from religion.  Thank you, Jesus!

  • Herewegokids7

    Probably WAY more than 3000 EE.  ;)  You know, the goofy rules aren’t all bad. Where else could  you get SO much satisfaction out of waiting until approximately 8 minutes after lights-out, carefully estimate that the hall monitor is at the exact opposite end of the hall,  push *play* on your boombox preprogrammed to the local thrash rock station for precisely 8 seconds (*not* long enough for said hall monitor to locate the sound), roll over, and let the sounds of the panicked, furious search lull you to sleep?  Bliss.  Not that I did that.