Should ‘Boz’ Tchividjian resign from his position as law professor at Liberty University to preserve the integrity of GRACE’s investigation into BJU? I was surprised that GRACE claimed no knowledge of the Bob Gray scandal, despite the fact that Boz is a professor at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell as a ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church) and served as prosecutor in the state of Florida.
Readers of this blog should realize I am not discouraging people from speaking to GRACE regarding botched handling of abuse complaints by Bob Jones University. Based on private conversations, and comments on Facebook and this blog, I’m reasonably convinced the testimonies are taken seriously. Nevertheless, take a few moments and read the below scenarios concerning Jerry Falwell, Bob Gray, William Menge, Sun Myung Moon and Set Free ministries, and maybe you’ll understand my skepticism.
Jerry Falwell makes himself home at Heritage USA:
Jerry Falwell confided to Bob Gray about his plans to take over the PTL Network. His plan was to expose Jim Bakker for homosexuality. The scandal would drive PTL into bankruptcy and force Bakker to sell the network at bargain basement prices.
Bob Gray traveled to Lynchberg to confront Falwell. According to the book, Ministry of Greed by Larry Martz, Gray did not believe it was a good idea to start exposing the hidden sins of preachers. Even Pentecostals. Wonder why?
Bob Gray returned to Jacksonville where he preached against giving money to the PTL. This is one of the rare moments when I was actually proud of Bob Gray.
Jerry Falwell contacted Bob Gray. The details of the conversation are not known, but Bob Gray backtracked on his sermon. His response to reporters who asked him about Jerry Falwell and the PTL was delivered in a dry tone:
“I stand corrected.”
What prompted this change? Did Falwell know anything about Gray’s predilection toward minors?
Jerry Falwell railed against the Catholic church for the way they coddled sex offenders.
“Revelations that top U.S. clergy protected pedophiles and failed to prevent them from interacting with credulous children is simply unforgivable. It is criminal!” Jerry wrote in the April 26, 2002 issue of Baptist Press. “This is not the time for compromise, settlement, or bargain.”
Tough words! After Bob Gray was arrested, I floated the question ‘did Falwell know?’ or ‘what does Jerry Falwell have to say about Bob Gray’s arrest?’. In typical IFB fashion, most ignored the question while the few who answered it shared the sentiment: Jerry Falwell is a class act! Why would Jerry want anything to do with scum like Bob Gray?
Jerry Falwell was scheduled to speak at Trinity Baptist Church in November 2006. Those who asked why Falwell would ever associate with someone like Bob Gray were now silent. What would Jerry say? “When you hit a bump in the road–the pastor has mentioned six months here of challenges–forget the bump in the road. That’s all it is. You’ve got to move on.”
That’s Jerry Falwell’s response to dealing with sexual abuse within fundamentalist churches. He was not as strong condemning scandals in the IFB circles as he was against the Catholic church. Obviously, one’s dedication to fighting child abuse is only relative to their personal scapegoats.
Jerry had more important things with which to concern himself. Financing his law school, for instance, where Boz from GRACE is now a professor.
Liberty University, like most big fundamentalist universities, always seemed one step closer to bankruptcy. Trinity Baptist Church declared bankruptcy. Jerry Falwell visited us for a stewardship banquet called ‘Miracle Night’. Offerings were taken and pledges made to get Trinity out of bankruptcy. When we were in trouble, we knew we could count onJerry Falwell. But who could Jerry Falwell count on when he was in trouble?
A South Korean minister named Sun Myung Moon.
Sun Myung Moon used to be a cult leader before he started giving money to the Republican party. Jim Jones did the same thing with the Democrats. Scientologists did it with the Libertarian party. If you ever find yourself accused of being a cult leader, start making political contributions now! It does wonders for your image.
In the case of Sun Myung Moon, who was accused of child abuse, by giving money through his front group, the Women’s Federation for World Peace who, in turn, donated that money to the Christian Heritage Foundation. The CHF purchased the debt of Liberty University after Liberty declared bankruptcy. Moon’s Women’s Federation donated $3.5 million to the CHF. Susan Fefferman of the the Women’s Federation confirmed for journalist Robert Perry, that the 3.5 million went to ‘Mr. Falwell’s people for the benefit of Liberty’. Jerry Falwell even received an award from a Moon-backed organization.
Moon went from being a ‘nut who claims he is Jesus Christ’ to a man who was ‘sent to remind us of Jesus’. When I posted information about Falwell/Moon on the FFF, someone replied that Moon never said he was Jesus Christ. Just sent to remind us of Jesus Christ!
Wonder where this came from? It may have fooled Falwell-smitten fundamentalists, but not everyone. Here is my interview with Tonight Show founder/first host, Steve Allen where he talks about Sun Myung Moon at Reagan’s inauguration. He’s not buying that cover story either!
F. William ‘Bill’ Menge was an associate of Jerry Falwell who served on the church board. This is according to John Killinger, author of The Other Preacher in Lynchburg: My Life Across Town From Jerry Falwell. Menge wanted to design a ‘Christian City’. This Christian tourist attraction (possibly similar to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando) would also contain an airport to take believers to the actual Holy Land.
It is alleged Menge trafficked in drugs through the Israeli mob. Christian City would have been a cover to transport marijuana, in addition to faithful Christians, under the guise of a tax exempt ministry. According to an article by award winning journalists, L.J. Davis and Ernest Volkman, Menge wanted to purchase Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas for $10.6 million. He tried to interest Falwell in the property, then James Robison, and finally Lester Roloff who actually gave him $500,000.
Menge resigned from Falwell’s church board and is reputed to have threatened to ‘tell all’ and that people were going to jail. Days later, Menge was going to bush hog wild grass so his daughter could have a place to have a picnic. Two men from Falwell’s organization are rumored to have showed at his house days before he attempted to clear the grass. He never really got a chance to clear that grass since his body was found mangled. His right forearm and left hand were severed. Right leg nearly amputated. It was written off as a freak accident.
The reporters could not get any information from the FBI on why this was not considered a suspicious death.
Jonathan Falwell took over the Thomas Road Baptist Church after the death of his father, Jerry. Thomas Road Baptist Church is the founding institution of Liberty University. You can’t separate the two.
Jonathan Falwell recently gave a ‘shout out’ to Pastor G. of the Richmond Outreach Center. Pastor G is the son of Phil Aguilar, the head of the biker ministry Set Free which has been accused of violence and sexual abuse. Calvary Chapel led the charge against them but the tables turned as it became evident there was also some wrongdoing at Calvary Chapel.
It is for this reason, Phil Aguilar’s book, Forgive Me Father For I Have Sinned, is in a unique position. It’s probably the most honest account of rationaizations we’re ever going to get from a fundamentalist. He’s very matter of fact about his early life and the relationships that developed within the church. While some websites might shout out the age of the women Pastor G and Phil have been involved with, the book takes the attitude of ‘so what?’
Those who defected from Pastor G’s ROC are terrified to speak against him. I have been on the receiving end of emails about the ROC and can only imagine how they feel when Jonathon Falwell gives a ‘shout out’ to a man whose followers terrify them. I’m not holding my breath for them to contact GRACE!
GRACE responded that if someone made a complaint against Liberty, another group would have to investigate. Investigating Liberty would become a conflict of interest for GRACE. No kidding! One poster suggested that Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, should ask GRACE to do an independent investigation on them.
GRACE is certainly moving full steam ahead on its investigation into BJU. They will be conducting in-person interviews with victims throughout the country. GRACE seems to be well funded. Some of their money comes from the very people they are investigating.
Knowing this, why would Bob Jones 3rd, and other BJU staff, start making comments that abuse victims are ‘psycho’ and still championing the idea that victims need to confront their abusers and forgive them? Is this going into the GRACE report? Bob Jones, 3rd and all seem to be acting like they have GRACE in their back pocket! I wonder if they’ll pay the bill if the report is negative?
Who else is funding GRACE? Hopefully, not Liberty! If so, to preserve the integrity of GRACE amongst victims of religious abuse, I believe ‘Boz’ Tchividjian’s position at Liberty University is a liability and not an asset. With all these concerns in mind, I ask the question, “Should Boz resign from Liberty University to preserve the independence and integrity of GRACE?”
Christopher Hitchens on Jerry Falwell:
NOTE: Since this blog appeared, Pastor G of the Richmond Outreach Center was arrested for child molestation. Jonathan Falwell, in the tradition of his father, stepped into the scandalized ministry of the Richmond Outreach Center and is now an adviser to the board. Keep in mind, people have been contacting both GRACE and Jonathan Falwell prior to the arrest of Pastor G. The question still begs: should Boz resign to protect the integrity of GRACE?
Read this article and watch Jonathan Falwell rally the troops for the ROC (but curiously leaves off any prayers for victims) : Liberty is definitely ROC’n.