GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environment), which was founded by current Liberty University law professor, ‘Boz’ Tchividjian, has responded to a question I wrote at their facebook group asking where was GRACE during the Bob Gray saga. GRACE is currently conducting an internal investigation into the handling of sexual abuse on the campus of Bob Jones University.
GRACE was founded in 2003, according to their webpage, and, considering the close ties Jerry Falwell had with Bob Gray, I wanted to know if GRACE had been involved. After all, Boz was the attorney for the Child Advocacy Center in Daytona Beach, Florida and he was a Speaker at the Florida Conference on Child Abuse . Between the Liberty connections and the Florida connections, and considering that Bob Gray was news in the state of Florida and IFB circles (although Falwell had defected to the Southern Baptist Convention without actually admitting it), I would imagine that he might have ‘heard about it’ even if he may, or may not, have been involved with Falwell.
This is how I worded it:
GRACE was founded in 2003 and I see ‘Boz’ Tchividjian is currently law professor at Liberty University. What was GRACE or Boz doing during the Bob Gray scandal between 2006 until Gray’s death in 2007? Was GRACE or Boz involved in this saga at all?
Considering that Falwell came to Trinity Baptist Church with the message we would look at this scandal (which was over 30 years in the making) as a ‘bump in the road’, does Boz have any criticism about the comments by the founder of his law university? Since Boz still professor, and to my knowledge Liberty does not offer tenure, is he allowed to share his opinions on this matter?
Even though the Bob Gray case is in the past, I am concerned when an organization devoted to confront and respond to abuse is allied with an organization that has a history of going soft on these matters. Even today, the current pastor has given a ‘shout out’ to Pastor G of the biker church ROC. Pastor G seems to having nothing but warm praise for currently imprisoned IFB pastor, Jack Schaap. And Pastor Falwell has great things to say about Pastor G. Any comments? See article for videos of this.
Here’s the answer:
It’s not a surprise that GRACE would have no knowledge of Bob Gray. After all, when interviewed by ABC’s First Coast News, nearly half the congregation members of Trinity Baptist Church also had amnesia! They didn’t know who Bob Gray was and he pastored their church for over 30 years! I guess if a tree falls in the forest and Facebook doesn’t capture it, it never happened?
It is for that reason, it is time to stroll through memory lane. Walk with me! Talk with me! We shall reconstruct the story of Bob Gray (using 20/20 hindsight! always the best!) to show his relation to Jerry Falwell, Liberty University, and an equally interesting and colorful cast of characters.
Bob Gray achieved national prominence in 1956 when he appeared in LIFE magazine preaching against Elvis Presley. If you buy the TIME/LIFE book ELVIS: A LIFE IN PICTURES, you will see a two page spread of Gray holding a poster of Elvis in one hand, and a bible in the other.
The caption quotes Gray saying that Elvis Presley has achieved a ‘new low in spiritual degeneracy’.
A few might disagree. Bob Gray’s earliest recorded victim dates back to 1949. Mary Lou Hall remembered him approaching her while she waited in a car. Gray had returned from Germany. He allegedly covered the Nuremberg trials for the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes.
Bob Gray was an assistant pastor for a church in Hampton, Florida, when he grabbed the nine year old’s breast.
The young graduate from Stetson University became pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Trinity was a Southern Baptist church, but Gray pulled the church out of the Southern Baptist Convention. He helped establish bylaws giving him absolute power over church affairs.
Congregation members were powerless to vote on anything, and they liked it like that.
Bob Gray appeared in The Grim Reaper. This Christian film about the torments of Hell was directed by Ron Ormond, a contemporary of Ed Wood. Ron Ormond, in fact, loaned Ed Wood music for his exploitation classic, Jailbait. Ormond was responsible for steamy drive in classics like Mesa of Lost Women, Please Don’t Touch Me and Untamed Mistress.
The Ormond organization made a number of films featuring Bob Gray. Joseph and His Brothers is the most notable film. Bob Gray is shown reading the story, about a man framed for a sex crime, to his children.
The Grim Reaper features Bob Gray leading a character to Christ who, ironically enough, is played by Cecil Scaiffe. Cecil Scaiffe did PR at Sun Records. It was his job to keep the peace whenever rockers like Jerry Lee Lewis got out of hand. Scaiffe was at Sun Records during the heyday of Elvis.
Jerry Falwell and Bob Gray were close friends. Gray was instrumental in helping Falwell establish the Moral Majority. Specifically, he helped Jerry get a foothold in North Florida.
The church was originally on McDuff Avenue, but the facilities became so crowded it became known as the ‘Sardine Church’. Property was found on the westside of Jacksonville at 800 Hammond Boulevard. Now that the church was out of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the bylaws gave him power, it was now time for the final step: isolation.
Wally Bebe, the associate pastor, was called upon to create a novel design for Bob Gray’s office. One that had two doors, so a guest could leave in private without walking through the lobby, and a sound proof office.
“I put a much thicker carpet pad in Dr. Gray’s office so people would immediately sense when they walked into his office that something was different. They were now in the presence of the PASTOR.” Wally Bebe, Bob Gray’s first associate pastor, wrote in his book The Second Man.
“My office had no such carpet. I made the walls of his office soundproof so there would be privacy for him. You do that by filling the concrete block walls with fine sand.”
It was his job, Bebe added, to, “Think of things that will help the pastor.”
TO BE CONTINUED. (next time, bring popcorn!)