What happened when we protested former BJU counseling director Jim Berg

A couple of weeks ago, I organized a group to protest Jim Berg’s “Christian Growth Bible Conference” at Grace Bible Church in Colorado Springs.

I’m a recently unsheltered homeschool kid.

Social justice was frowned upon.

When Martin Luther King Day rolled around or the civil rights movement came up, my parents said racism was wrong but the oppressed group should still respect the authority God placed over them, citing verses like 1 Tim. 2:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:13-15.

Funny how we ignored that little bit about Jesus cleansing the temple, telling off the Pharisees. Oh right, Jesus was an exception because he was God and his anger was righteous. We are but flawed humans, don’t you know.

Kind of like this tweet:

rlstollartweet 1-30-2015

So my friends and I turned to social media and alerted the local TV and radio stations. 98.9 Magic FM interviewed me.

We gathered at the church with handmade cardboard signs around 6:30 pm, as the cars began to pile in.

One surburban pulled up and rolled down a window. “What does your sign say?” the driver asked.

I replied, “Berg blames victims.”

He looked confused. He answered, “For what?”

“For their rape,” I said. “Berg’s unethical counseling affected nearly 200-300 people over 30 years…”

He drove away.

But one couple approached us, said they wanted to hear the other side. They had never heard of Berg before the church announced the conference.

One of my friends handed them one of the flyers she made, with a QR code linking back to my blog.

They offered us water and asked honest questions before going in, and later read my blog post, sparking a discussion that left 17 comments.

protest 3-1
Our note read: “Cookies do not equal repentance. Thank you for the 30 pieces of silver, but we most respectfully decline.”

Deacons from the church brought coffee and cookies. The others and I decided not to accept them, leaving a pointed note.

We left flyers on the parked cars, then decided to walk down the street to warm up before the conference let out.

Then a car pulled up.

A lady pulled up, asking for me. She said she’d driven several hours to come after a friend shared our social media posts with her. She said she was going to ask some questions.

And she hugged me. Really hugged me.

I told her this was the church that had shunned me two years ago.

She said she was once a fundamentalist, and was so sorry for what I had experienced. She held me and said, “This is not your Jesus,” and blessed me in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I wanted to cry.

I never thought I’d see anyone cross over from the other side, blessing me with healing.

Follow up comments on my blog and other social media were encouraging. We told people at the church who hadn’t been following Bob Jones in the news, who had no idea about the GRACE report and Berg’s involvement.

We broke through the silence.

Libby Anne recently reminded us that Bill Gothard was brought down by a blog, that blogging is a valid form of righting wrongs.

I want to continue these kinds of efforts, to see real change in churches and homeschool communities. Which is what my next series is about.

10 thoughts on “What happened when we protested former BJU counseling director Jim Berg

  1. Hi Eleanor, I have been reading and learning and support not only your right to blog but also the need to talk about things like this. At the meeting Mr. Berg said he would address all of this after Bob Jones University put out there public statements…. I am unhappy to learn no such statement has been given by either party. I am so very sad and heartsick over the testimonies of the people so brave to share their stories of assault and rape. I appreciate your courage and determination. It is true… this is not my Jesus either. Please do not lump all people who attend Grace Bible Church as people who have shunned you. I have prayed for your healing since the night we met over card board signs.Thank you for breaking through the silence. I will keep reading and listening and thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Talking to you guys has been really refreshing. ^^
      And a good reminder that I’m not alone in questioning some of the teachings of GBC. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Eleanor. This brought me to tears, so glad to hear of at least one who turned and came to bless you. I have been banned from my family’s “independent fundamental bible believing” church and school and have received no such apologies from anyone there. God bless you as you shed light on things swept under the rug in an attempt to right so many wrongs that have gone on in the name of fundamentalism. Prayers toward you and your ministry.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. *sends virtual hugs*
      Thank you, I’m so glad this post was able to help in some way. I’m sorry for your pain.
      Being an outcast is hard. Really hard.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What you did was a great thing! If I had been near, I would have been there holding a sign with you. I’m a 1981 graduate and was on staff for 14 years. I witnessed their brand of counseling. Finally, I had enough and left. I have a letter that I cannot go on campus or I will be arrested for trespassing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have been in opposition to BJU for many years. I know many who have come from there and they all seem to be brain numbed robots, speaking as if they are reading from the same set of talking points. Pat and simplistic answers to complex questions seems to be a common thread with BJU alumni not to mention a general lack of worldly knowledge that prevents them from relating to people. I try to have conversations with some of them on current events or trends and I get a deer in the headlights look in response. When Paul was in Athens he could relate to the Greek mind because he understood it, but people like this have little knowledge of the world around them so they can’t do what Paul could do in his day. This makes them ineffective in so many situations where such knowledge is key to the presentation of the gospel. Maybe this is a product of home schooling added to the mix as well.


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