Phelps, who’d gone on to be president of the fundamentalist Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin, maintained close ties to Bob Jones, serving on its board of trustees as well as on its missionary and youth-camp boards.Students and alumni had already begun to agitate online against the school’s lack of academic and student freedom, as well as its response to reports of sexual abuse.Tina Anderson, a 15-year-old who lived in New Hampshire, was raped and impregnated in 1997 by one of her church’s deacons, then in his late thirties, while she was a babysitter for his family.When Anderson and her mother told their pastor, Bob Jones graduate Chuck Phelps, what had happened, Phelps had Anderson stand before the congregation while he read a confession of her pregnancy.
Outsiders call the school the “mother ship” of fundamentalism; the university prefers another moniker, “the fortress of faith.” To call Bob Jones insular doesn’t quite cover it.
Over the following months, alumni pressured the university to update its policies and investigate the school’s handling of abuse reports.
They urged the university to hire GRACE, which had investigated allegations of sex abuse in two Christian missionary groups.
Mission fields, he says, are “magnets” for would-be molesters; ministries and schools do not understand the dynamics of abuse; and “good ol’ boy” networks routinely cover up victims’ stories to protect their reputations.
He fears it is only a matter of time before it all blows up in their faces and threatens the survival of powerful Protestant institutions.