Should Boz Tchividjian of GRACE give the same presentation he gave at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, South Carolina, to Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida? And, if so, should I go? Yes! Yes! Yes!
I spent yesterday watching the three presentations posted at the North Hills Community Church by Boz Tchvidjian, Victor Vieth, and Diane Landberg. The two presentations by Tchvidjian and Vieth were on the money and there’s very little to criticize. Victor Vieth even goes into some detail about Michael Pearl and his violent methods of disciplining children (and infants). Yes, I’d like to be in the Trinity congregation when this presentation is given! I think most people will be looking for reactions from some of the associate pastors more than paying attention to Victor.
And then came. . .Dr. Diane Landberg. Speaking about power junkies and their lust for power . She certainly seems to be an expert on that subject! Landberg is from the American Association of Christian Counselors. The AACC appears to be a full blown supporter of noetic counseling and has recommended abusive group homes like Teen Challenge. Boz Tchvidjian also served as an advisor for the AACC and even contributed to their video series, Caring for Kids God’s Way.
The AACC recently made headlines by trying to stop Governor Jerry Brown and Governor Chris Christie from signing into law a bill that outlaws gay conversion therapy. The American Psychological Association opposes this quackery. The Liberty Counsel filed a suit protesting the ban on gay conversion therapy, but it’s been a losing battle for them.
This has been my biggest beef with GRACE: the groups they associate with! The American Association of Christian Counselors is practically a neighbor of Liberty (AACC is based in Forest, Virginia). The Liberty Counsel is run by Mathew D. Staver, who serves as a dean at Liberty University’s law school. Boz also serves as a professor at Liberty University’s law school. And I’m supposed to ignore these ‘connections’?
I just want to know how far removed is GRACE from endorsing the idea that pedophilia is related to homosexuality?
I want to know what homes Boz Tchvidjian sent ‘troubled teens’ to when he was a prosecutor. If he did not, what homes does he currently endorse and what are their standards? How transparent are these homes? Do parents have the right to visit their children whenever, or do they have to wait a few months?
True, that is not his job description at GRACE, but his friendly connections with Liberty University, the Liberty Counsel, and the American Association of Christian Counselors is a pretty difficult hurdle for me to get over when it comes to ‘endorsing’ the work of GRACE.
It is refreshing that we’re finally coming to the point where child sexual abuse is spoken about in churches. Just like only Nixon could go to China, if anyone can talk about religious abuse to a fundamentalist church, that person would be Boz Tchvidjian. So I don’t have a problem with him giving out this information, my beef is with the unspoken solutions beyond ‘call the police’.
When Victor goes on about the ‘happiness quotient’ in religious believers, I have to wonder if he considers a survivor, who happens to be a non theist, ‘angry at god’ and in need of Christian counseling? That happened to the late Michele Ulriksen who, in her book, Reform at Victory, revealed that one of the main reasons her parents sent her to the abusive (now closed) Victory Christian Academy is because she questioned the tenants of Christianity. When he shows slides of military chaplains and suggests there should be chaplains in our criminal advocacy system, I get a little nervous. I don’t want the kind of mentality that holds non belief and certain sexual orientations as a disorder that must be treated by ‘Christian’ counselors anywhere near our legal system.
Boz Tchvidjian did announce in an article (the one where he says evangelicals are worse than Catholics when it comes to abuse) that he’s talking to Pepperdine University regarding a national GRACE center. Pepperdine University, along with BIOLA, USC, and other private universities, recently opposed SB 131 which would make it easier for victims of sexual abuse to be compensated by careless institutions. Over $250,000 was spent to defeat this bill!
This piece of legislation (which was defeated) was opposed by Catholic organizations and other groups who have an interest in not being sued due to their negligence. Opponents of the bill claimed it left public schools exempt. Not true, since in a public school there are procedures you can go through if a staff member has abused children. Not so much in a private school!
All that aside, if Boz Tchvidjian and Victor Vieth went to Trinity and gave the exact same presentation they gave at North Hills Community Church, I would be on the first plane to Jacksonville, Florida! Throw in former Trinity student, Tim Tebow (who is working with children through his various ministries) and you would have the biggest thing to ever happen in Jacksonville since Paul McCartney performed at the Gator Bowl.
When I watched Boz’s presentation, I couldn’t help but wonder about the effect a similar presentation would have had at a Trinity Christian Academy chapel service circa 70s/80s. Not only would the students be talking about it hours after chapel, but a number would have been thinking, “Isn’t that what Brother X did to me in his office?”
I would not want to go to Trinity by myself, though. That’s why, if this happens, I will definitely extend invitations to all my Facebook friends who have done time in fundamentalist homes like New Bethany, New Beginnings, VCA/Lighthouse, and any other religious home to accompany me. In the annals of fundamentalist abuse, they have been left out of the equation. And I’m not waiting for the American Association of Christian Counselors to release their private study (if there is one) of abuse in Christian treatment facilities. You’re dealing with children who were sent away to be hidden from investigators of abuse, or kept in solitary for minor offenses (like thinking?), only to find themselves shortchanged in both educational and psychological development. It’s easier to point out the faults of other organizations than your own.
Trinity might be reluctant to have GRACE speak before their church or student body. That’s understandable, but notice that not once during the entire Boz/Victor presentation was the name ‘Bob Gray’ ever brought up. Jack Schaap now bears the sins for the entire IFB (see here, he’s the one teaching his congregation how to fish).
People might still squirm in their seats, though. Especially during the anti-spanking segment!
If you went to Trinity during the 70s/80s, just listen to Boz and think about how his speech would have impacted your life during that era:
I have my reservations about GRACE. Trinity must have theirs. However, once it’s all over, I bet everybody will wind up praising Trinity for their ‘courage’ and a good time (and good press) will be had by all.
P.S. This video shows what I was up to the last time I went to Jacksonville. It was to hold my own public awareness event for survivors. Official organizations wanted nothing to do with it, but that little coffee shop meeting was the lead in news story the following evening and trumped the Obama news coverage (notice the very end). What’s interesting is the comment ‘Churches should be doing what I’m doing!” Some are finally attempting just that: