Monday, June 15, 2015

Attention All Prairie Bible Institute Alumni

Many of you know Selmer Hanson who was on faculty and vice-president at PBI for many years. What you may not know is that Selmer severely physically and sexually abused several children between the ages of 6-12 when he and Sharon were houseparents at a school for missionary kids in the Philippines from 1970-1974.  Immediately following this horrendous abuse, Selmer and Sharon returned to Canada where he was employed on staff at PBI.  The next 15 years, he covered up this heinous abuse of these MKs and put on the act of being a respectable member of PBI staff.  When these MKs grew up and confronted their mission about the abuse, Selmer was confronted at PBI.  He confessed to the abuse of the known victims who had come forward but repeatedly lied as more victims came forward.  During all of this, PBI kept him on staff for the next approximately three years without notifying any of the parents on staff that Selmer is a pedophile.  Children were able to run in and out of the Hanson home without other staff having any idea that their children were in the presence of a pedophile.  It was not until the parents of one MK contacted the RCMP and threatened to bring in the media that Selmer was finally forced to resign.

Since that time, Selmer has repeatedly put himself in positions of leadership and trust with access to children.  He has pastored churches, been involved with a non-profit that works with new immigrant families, and even taken families with children camping.  I have contacted many of his employers only to find out that they had no clue about his past abuse of these children or they didn't care.

I don't for one minute believe that Selmer stopped abusing children the minute he set foot on Canadian soil.  It is critical that we reach as many victims as we possibly can and bring this man to justice.  I am asking that if you or someone you know was abused by Selmer in any way - no matter the level of severity of the abuse, please contact the Edmonton RCMP at 780-412-5424.

Before you quit reading and decide to do nothing, please listen to what one of the MKs said in her story..."Selmer was alone with us children. I knew what was going to happen and hid myself in the laundry box. But he found me. And he told me, that it doesn´t matter, where I would hide, he is like God, he knows everything and knows all my hidden thoughts and hiding places..."

Read the words of these MKs as they tell their tragic stories

What Did Selmer Hanson Do to these Children?

     The children that Selmer Hanson abused were between the ages of 6-12 years old

The abuse that Selmer Hanson perpetrated on female victims included: 

• Severely beat the girls on their bare buttocks with a huge wooden spoon, sometimes 
breaking the spoon and leaving bruises and blood blisters that made it nearly impossible 
for them to sit for several days. He also used his leather belt to excessively whip them.

• Making sexual remarks to children

• Blatant inappropriate touching alone or in the presence of others

• Forcing children to undress

• Exposing his genitals

• Forcing children to see him completely naked

• Rubbing his penis on their crotches (with and without clothes)

• Lying in bed with children, with and without his pants

• Masturbating in front of children

• Forcing children to watch him ejaculate between their legs

• Touching and fondling genitals and breasts

• Digital penetration of children’s genitals;

• Having children touch his genitals, including masturbating him to ejaculation

• Forcing a child to give him oral sex.

The abuse that Selmer Hanson perpetrated on male victims included: 

• Making boys kiss each other on the lips in front of the other children for punishment

• Boys were forced to swim in the nude while Mr. Hanson made jokes

• Severely beat the boys on their bare buttocks with a huge wooden spoon, sometimes 
breaking the spoon and leaving bruises and blood blisters that made it nearly impossible 
for them to sit for several days. He also used his leather belt to excessively whip them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Selmer Hanson is a Self-Confessed Pedophile

Please share this with everyone you know.  Selmer Hanson was a long-time vice president at Prairie Bible Institute.  In 1970-1974, he sexually and physically abused many missionary kids while he and his wife were houseparents at a mission boarding school in the Philippines.

Their stories are so compelling and heartbreaking.

Please support them by reading and sharing the link with everyone you know.

Thank you!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Baptist General Conference of Canada Sicced their Attorney on Me for Asking Why They Allowed Selmer Hanson, a Self-Confessed Pedophile to Pastor

Selmer Hanson

The Baptist General Conference of Canada sicced THEIR attorney on me for daring to ask THEM why THEY allowed Selmer B. Hanson, a self-confessed pedophile to pastor THEIR churches.  Apparently, you aren't even allowed to ask them in private email exchanges why they allow this.  And knowingly allowed this, according to the pedophile pastor himself, who claims that he has been operating in ministry with full-disclosure to those he is responsible to.

Full disclosure of my own: I have been keeping my eye on Selmer Hanson for years since learning that he abused several missionary kids in the Philippines prior to coming to Prairie Bible Institute (PBI).  I am a survivor of ten years of sexual abuse at the hands of my own father, the most painful of those years being at PBI.  Later, I went back to Prairie and sat under the teaching of Selmer Hanson.  He was one of my favorite teachers.  I feel disgusted and duped!

Selmer Hanson abused at least ten missionary kids in the Philippines from 1970-1974 that their mission, OMF - Overseas Missionary Fellowship is aware of.  He then went to Prairie Bible Institute in 1975 apparently without them having knowledge of what he had done in the Philippines.  Hanson eventually became a Vice President at PBI and the missionary kids grew up and began to confront their mission about the abuse.  OMF confronted Selmer at PBI and he admitted to the abuse but was not fired.  Selmer continued to work for years at PBI under two different presidents.  It was not until 1990 when one of the mothers of the abused threatened to bring in the media that Selmer was forced to resign.  He apologized to the student body for "being unfaithful to his wife"! This left the impression that he had had an affair, not that he had sexually abused children!

Selmer went on to pastor a series of churches and has been involved in ministries that have given him access to children.  I have voiced my concerns again and again.  The answer, according to the Baptist General Conference of Canada is to simply have him "resign" only to have him spring up somewhere else.  I find this is totally unacceptable.

Here is my latest effort to get this pedophile out of pastoring churches and the refusal of the Baptist General Conference of Canada to answer my questions and concerns.  And this is what caused them to sic their lawyer on me. 

 I wrote to Dr. Ed Stuckey, the Interim Executive Director of the Baptist General Conference of Canada. 

On 12/8/14, 4:17 PM, "Linda Fossen" wrote:

Dear Dr. Stuckey,

I contacted Jamey McDonald who referred me back to you. This is regarding Selmer Hanson who is currently pastoring The Journey of Christ Church in Edmonton, AB, which is one of your Baptist General Conference (BGC) churches.

I am an abuse survivor who spent eight years trying to get Prairie Bible Institute to help and acknowledge the hundred victims of abuse who contacted me to tell me their stories.  I was well acquainted with Selmer, as he was one of my teachers while I was at the school.  During my time of advocating for my fellow survivors, I found out that Selmer Hanson had abused several missionary kids in the Philippines prior to coming to Prairie.  As far as I know, PBI did not know about this abuse when they hired him but they did cover up for him when these MKs grew up and started to confront the school.  It was not until one of the mothers of a victim threatened to expose this to the media that PBI finally asked Selmer to resign.  They did not cut ties with him, however.  He was immediately given a job traveling as Area Rep for the school, in which he was promoting the school and staying in people’s homes!

Because the abuse took place in the Philippines, there was no prosecution of these cases.

Since then, Selmer has continued to lie his way from one job to the next by concealing his abusive past.  He pastored at the Ellerslie Road Baptist Church in Edmonton, AB – another BGC church.  He left there to take a job as Vice President at Canadian Baptist Seminary – also affiliated with the BGC.  It was then that I contacted Jamey McDonald and informed him about Selmer’s past.  Not surprisingly, Jamey did not know anything about Selmer’s past because once again, Selmer has lied by omission about this.  He was fired from his position.  I am thankful I made the call because the job would have required that Selmer recruit for the school and stay in people’s homes.  I thought this was the end of it as far as the BGC was concerned and that I did not need to ever worry about Selmer being involved in your organization again. Was I ever wrong!

Imagine my horror, to Google and see that once again Selmer is pastoring another church – again a BGC church!!!!  This one called, “The Journey of Christ Church” in Edmonton, AB.  I looked at their Facebook page and was horrified to see that there were pictures of Selmer and Sharon going on family camping trips with Filipino members of the congregation.  There were young children and they were camping out in tents!  I was just disgusted beyond belief!!!  I have attached some pictures for you to see for yourself.  Here is the link to their Facebook page

What is wrong with the BGC?  Have you not learned from the information that I gave you that Selmer should never be in any leadership position in any church setting ever?  Have you not learned that he should never be around children?  Are you that ignorant that you honestly believe that this man who has abused several MKs in the Philippines just suddenly stopped the minute he set foot on Canadian soil?  Do you not realize that because Selmer confessed to Jamey McDonald that he did, in fact, molest kids in the Philippines that you are now opening yourselves up to enormous lawsuits by KNOWINGLY keeping him? 

I want some answers from your organization and I want a straight answer.  I looked at the faces of these precious Filipino children and saw such naivety.  These are vulnerable people and these children are sitting ducks.  Can’t you see that? 

I am in the business of exposing abuse wherever I see it.  I expose organizations that continue to shuffle abusers from place to place without any accountability.  Is it time for me to publicly expose the BGC as such an organization?  From my standpoint, it appears that things have gone seriously awry at the BGC that you have completely disregarded my warning that resulted in the firing of Selmer only to reinstate him in another one of their affiliated churches!  Don’t bother to remove the website and Facebook pages – I have already made copies of the proof I need.

It would not be a good idea to ignore me.  This is not going away.  I am not going to take no for an answer.  We are going to get to the bottom of this.  And we are going to do it ASAP.  This is not acceptable and I cannot and will not stand by when I know there are vulnerable children in harm’s way.

Until every voice is heard,

Linda M. Fossen

The response I got back from Dr. Ed Stuckey: 

On 12/8/14, 6:26 PM, "Ed Stuckey" wrote:
Hello Linda
I did receive your note expressing concerns regarding Selmer Hanson serving with one of our churches.
Be aware that his role is a very limited one at the church, only involving Sunday speaking as an interim.
You also need to be aware that each of our churches are autonomous entities and do their own hiring.
If you give me contact information, I would be happy to talk with you further at a time of mutual convenience.

I responded back to Dr. Stuckey

On 12/9/14, 2:53 PM, "Linda Fossen" wrote:

Dr. Stuckey,

Given the past track record I have had with the Baptist General Conference of Canada, I prefer to keep everything in writing.  There will be no phone calls.  Your response was not only appalling, it was disgusting!  Don’t tell me what I need to be aware of!

So you are telling me that you think it is completely acceptable to have a serial pedophile as pastor as long as “his role is a very limited one”?  On what scripture do you base your decision that a pedophile is fit to pastor a church, speak at a church or have anything to do with being in a leadership position at at church?  Not to mention, on what planet do you think that you have the power to protect children from this “serial pedophile pastor serving in a very limited role”?  It is absolutely unbiblical and totally ludicrous that you are allowing Selmer Hanson to be in any position in your organization.  It is reckless and utter nonsense!  I am sure that Selmer’s victims would be so relieved to know that the predator who preyed on them is now serving as pastor but only in “a very limited way.”  What a slap in the face of every child Selmer ever abused!

The Journey with Christ’s own website lists him as “Pastor Selmer Hanson – Interim Pastor”.  There is no other pastoral staff listed.  A church doesn’t run by itself.  It is safe to assume that Selmer has been pastoring this church.  See for yourself:   Then the BGCA on their own website lists Selmer as pastor of The Journey with Christ Church, again with no other pastoral staff.  See for yourself:

I don’t believe for a second that he is “only speaking on Sunday”.  There is proof that this is a complete lie on the churches’ own Facebook page where you see Selmer on a camping trip with Filipino families.  We are talking about vulnerable people and their vulnerable children!  This is despicable!

Do you even understand what a pedophile is?  Do you understand what they do to little children?  Do you understand the mindset that makes them the creeps that they are?  Do you understand the danger they pose?  Do you understand the long-term effects of abuse on a child?

So you don’t want to take any responsibility for this and you dismiss me by saying that the churches are “autonomous entities and do their own hiring.”  Fine, but that is still going to reflect badly on you when I expose that a pedophile is preaching at your churches and that you, Dr. Stuckey, knows about it and obviously don’t care enough about it to do anything.  I frankly find your response to me to be very telling.  In light of all of the abuse scandals that have plagued so many religious organizations, your response is irresponsible and certainly out of touch!  Shame on you for not caring enough about these vulnerable children to protect them.  You are part of the problem and will be just as responsible as Selmer if he touches one of these little ones and forever damages them.

You think I am being overly dramatic?  Hardly!  If you knew the pain that a child goes through after abuse, and especially when the abuse occurs in the name of God and religion, you would get off your sanctimonious, religious high horse and do something.  But you don’t care.  I will therefore have to go to the church in question myself and raise my concerns there.  And when my concerns are dismissed in Edmonton, then I will go to the media and we will tell the story and see how it plays out with the public arena.  Just a heads up - I don’t think the public will be much impressed with your pedophile rehabilitation plan.

Until every voice is heard,

Linda M. Fossen

On 12/10/14, 1:58 PM, "Ed Stuckey” wrote:
To: Linda Fossen

Re: Selmer Hanson

Thank you for communicating your concerns regarding Selmer Hanson serving in one of our churches. We do take the issue of sexual abuse very seriously, not only in the evil of its perpetration, but also in the life-long pain which it causes. 

Accordingly, we wanted you to know that Mr. Hanson has resigned from his role in the Journey with Christ Church where he was serving as interim. 

We hope that his decision will bring rest to at least your immediate concerns.

You may contact me if you have further questions.


He also cc'd Roger Helland, District Executive Coach, Baptist General Conference of Alberta (BGCA), and Bob Shepansky, Associate District Coach of BGCA

On 12/11/14, 1:10 PM, "Linda Fossen" wrote:


This isn’t even a little bit over – not by a long shot!  I have seen Selmer “resign” before only to reappear in another format with the Baptist General Conference of Canada.  Your system is completely broken and I am not going to “rest” (I know what you really meant Dr. Stuckey was “give it a rest”) until you fix it!

First of all, I take huge offense to your statement that “we do take the issue of sexual abuse very seriously, not only in the evil of its perpetration, but also in the life-long pain which it causes.”  NO YOU DON’T!!  This is the response that I got from you Dr. Stuckey:

Hello Linda

I did receive your note expressing concerns regarding Selmer Hanson serving with one of our churches. 
Be aware that his role is a very limited one at the church, only involving Sunday speaking as an interim. 
You also need to be aware that each of our churches are autonomous entities and do their own hiring.
If you give me contact information, I would be happy to talk with you further at a time of mutual convenience.


Seriously?  Does this sound like the response from someone who takes the issue of sexual abuse seriously?  I was certainly underwhelmed by your response Dr. Stuckey!  There was nothing in this response that indicated that you “take the issue of sexual abuse very seriously, not only in the evil of its perpetration, but also in the life-long pain which it causes”.   You completely blew me off and wanted to make excuses for Selmer.  You said that I had to be aware that “his role is a very limited one at the church, only involving Sunday speaking as an interim.”  I don’t care if the man only preached once a year to a congregation of three people.   You are putting him in a position of authority and trust where there is a perception that the Baptist General Conference of Canada considers him a godly man.  New people coming to the church have no idea about the abuse he has perpetrated on innocent children and by your organization giving your seal of approval you are letting the public know that Selmer is a person to be trusted.  How dare you perpetrate this fraud on the public! How dare you try to con people into thinking that this man is safe to go camping with children when you KNOW he is a pedophile!  No, you don’t take the issue of sexual abuse very seriously.  If you did, you wouldn’t have shuffled him around after he got fired from Canadian Baptist Seminary.  If you took the issue of sexual abuse seriously, you would have fired him and kept him fired.

But none of this surprises me.  You seem to have a “good old boy network” that is very much alive and well at the Baptist General Conference of Canada.  I see that you Dr. Stuckey used to pastor at Ellerslie Road Baptist Church – the same church Selmer used to pastor.  I see that you, Dr. Stuckey teach at Canadian Baptist Seminary – the same place where Selmer got fired.  I see that Bob Shepansky graduated from Prairie Bible College and would have been there the same time as Selmer Hanson.   Am I seeing a pattern here? No wonder why you just dismissed me and sent me on my way, Dr. Stuckey – you are all friends with Selmer and wanted me to leave the man alone.  Well I am not going to leave him alone because he keeps reappearing in positions he has no business being in.  I am not going to sit back and just wring my hands and hope someone else does something to protect the children for me.  I know the danger Selmer poses and it is my responsibility stop him from hurting another child.  This has nothing to do with revenge; this is just standing up for what is right. It is not right for a pedophile to pastor a church, take kids camping or work with immigrant families. He needs to stay away from those kind of positions for the rest of his life.  Period.  End of story.

Why is this so hard for the Baptist General Conference of Canada to understand?  It should be a no-brainer!  I shouldn’t have to be the one “communicating my concerns about Selmer” to you.  These should be YOUR concerns!  The fact that you found it perfectly acceptable to allow this man behind your pulpit tells me that you just don’t get it.  And you probably won’t get it until you have a judge tell you that you are responsible for a child being abused and you have to fork over a pile of money when you get sued.  You are responsible for any child who gets abused if you hire Selmer – whether you knew he was a pedophile or not.  When you hire him knowing he is a pedophile, then the courts will likely consider that an aggravating factor in favor of the victim.  You cannot hire a pedophile! Ever, ever, ever!!

I know churches love the idea of forgiveness and am all for forgiveness too.  God did a wonderful work in my heart when I was brought to the place of forgiveness for my own father who abused me.  But forgiveness does not mean we throw away our common sense.  Yes, God will forgive Selmer if he repents – absolutely He will.  But that doesn’t mean that we should put Selmer in a position of authority and trust where he has access to children.   I have talked very candidly to several pedophiles who have asked God to forgive them, who love Jesus and have prayed the prayer of salvation.  When I very pointedly ask if I could trust them with a child again, the answer is always the same – they could not be absolutely certain that they would not abuse again.  They tell me that any pedophile who tells you otherwise is a liar.  The truth is that Selmer is a pedophile.  We cannot be absolutely certain that he will not abuse a child again.  Anyone who would knowingly trust their children to Selmer’s care is a fool.  But for the Baptist General Conference of Canada to allow parents to unknowingly trust children to Selmer’s care is not only abhorrent; it is criminal. By allowing these Filipino families to bring their children on a camping trip with a pedophile the Baptist General Conference of Canada is perpetrating a horrible crime on these precious people who assume that Selmer can be trusted simply because you have given your seal of approval by naming him pastor of the church.

I know you like Selmer, you feel sorry for him and you want to help him.  This is not about helping Selmer.  This is about protecting children and I see nothing here that indicates to me that the Baptist General Conference of Canada even gets it.  Nothing at all.  There is no guarantee here that Selmer will not reappear again somewhere else.  There is no public statement of apology for allowing a pedophile to serve in the ministry.  There is no mention of policies and procedures in place to address the issue of sexual abuse in the Baptist General Conference of Canada.  There is no mention of firing Selmer – he is just allowed to resign and save face.  There is no mention of what is being done to protect children in your camping programs, youth programs and every aspect of your ministries. Which tells me there is none.  You are not prepared for the next Selmer who comes along. The Baptist General Conference of Canada is a pedophile’s dream organization – they love stupid people like you!  And you are stupid.  You are completely clueless when it comes to abuse, it’s effects on children, their families and on society as a whole.  You are completely clueless and being a completely clueless religious organization in today’s day and age it very dangerous.

No, I am not at all pleased with the way this was handled.  Selmer being able to quietly resign resolves nothing.  Dr. Stuckey was rude and dismissive to me, like I was “the problem”.  I am not the problem; the problem is Selmer and what you are going to do with him.  I want a public statement on your website apologizing for knowingly employing a pedophile which names Selmer so that people know that he is the one you are talking about.  I want it to be written plain and simple, taking full responsibility without making excuses.  I want to see you explain to your constituents how you plan on protecting their children in the future.  That’s what I want.

Until every voice is heard,
Linda M. Fossen

As expected I did not get a response and sent this back to Dr. Stuckey, Roger Helland and Bob Shepansky

On 12/19/14, 10:02 AM, "Linda Fossen” wrote:

This is precisely the non-response I expected.  There is not a single one of you that is willing to be a man and take a stand.  Shame on you!  Well Ed, Roger and Bob, your non-response is a  BIG response and a very telling one.  And like I said, this is NOT over.

I received an email from Selmer in which he indicated that he has resigned from all ministry positions in order to care for his dying son.  While I am truly sorry for what his family is going through during this difficult time, this changes nothing as far as the victims are concerned.  This changes nothing as far as why the Baptist General Conference of Canada and Alberta thought it was acceptable to hire a pedophile and allow him access to children.  This changes nothing as far as the terse response I got from Dr. Stuckey when I made contact with him and questioned him about Selmer.  He gave the impression that this was “none of my business”.  It is my business and it should be the business of anyone who cares about children.

So don’t think that by not responding that you are gotten rid of me.  You will not hear less from me but more from me – just not in the format that you would prefer I am certain of it.  I am through with these private emails.  You have shown your true colors - you are just part of the “good old boys club” that will protect your friend Selmer at all costs.  Again shame on you!

Instead of responding to my concerns, the Baptist General Conference of Canada sicced their attorney on me.   It should be noted that he is also has been attorney for Prairie Bible Institute for many years and I have had my run-ins with him before.  He is a Selmer’s very close personal friend and has tried before to intimidate me when I have tried to hold Selmer accountable.  Hence, my lack of respect for the man.

On 1/9/15, 1:05 PM, "Stephen C. Snyder" wrote:
Please see attached correspondence.

Stephen Snyder

I responded back to Stephen Snyder:

On 1/9/15, 7:05 PM, "Linda Fossen" wrote:

Seriously Steve, your email made me laugh out loud!  I was wondering when I would hear from you.  Seems every time Selmer gets in a jam, you come to his rescue.  And you certainly didn’t let me down.  Your email could not have come at a better time – perfect timing!

First of all, if you are going to “play lawyer” with me you have act like a real lawyer.  Real lawyers don’t send emails – they send real letters on fancy bond paper with their real signatures in real ink.   Then they put a stamp on it and take it to the post office.  They don’t send emails.  But I humored you and read your attachment anyway.  Okay, so you read my correspondence to Dr. Ed Stuckey and his ridiculous responses.  Goody, goody for you!  No big surprise Dr. Ed Stuckey doesn’t want to answer my questions so he runs to you and you “play lawyer” and tell me the matter with Selmer is now closed.

Selmer resigned only because of the pressure that was put on The Journey with Christ Church by Pastor Jason Hemsley of Australia and the pressure that was put on the Baptist General Conference of Canada by me.  None of our concerns were addressed.  Selmer was once again allowed to quietly resign.  This is totally unacceptable.  Just because you, or Dr. Ed Stuckey or anyone else says it is over, doesn’t mean it is over.

You can’t muzzle me Barrister Stephen C. Snyder.  I have every right to ask questions and get to the bottom of this and I don’t need to ask your permission or go through you!

I am in contact with several of Selmer’s victims.  They found me – I didn’t find them.  I spent over eight years trying to find them and couldn’t.  Ironically, they were able to find me because of the firestorm that ensued on Facebook over me bringing up the fact that Selmer had molested MKs in the Philippines that prominently linked our names together. How glad I am I took that stand, as unpopular as it was and as much viciousness as I had to take from his supporters.

If you think you can intimidate me, you are sadly mistaken.

Linda M. Fossen

So there you have it folks...all transparent and out in the open.  This is precisely what the Baptist General Conference of Canada did not want you to see.  This is why they sicced their lawyer on me.

My final word to you Barrister Stephen C. Snyder. You have absolutely no jurisdiction to stop me from speaking up about this matter.  You practice law in Canada, not in the US.  Your letter is nothing but a bully's attempt to intimidate me and I will not be intimidated.  If you want to try to file a court order to stop me, then go march down to your local courthouse and talk to a judge about how you want a woman in the United States to stop talking about why the Baptist General Conference of Canada is allowing a pedophile who has confessed to molesting children in the Philippines to pastor in their churches. Lots of luck with that!  It is plain to see that it is a waste of time to talk to Dr. Stuckey and company, so I am more than happy to make this public in the hopes that someone in the Baptist General Conference of Canada will see it and be as outraged as I am.

In the meantime, if you are a parishioner in the Baptist General Conference of Canada, please pay attention to this.  If your leadership could be this lax with one pedophile, they certainly could be doing the same with another.  Parents, if Selmer Hanson had access to your children, you need to have a talk with them and ask them if there was any inappropriate touching.  If so, please contact your local RCMP office.  There is no statute of limitations on child sexual abuse in Canada.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Speaking the Truth in Love, I Mean Disgust!

I have never been one to mince words and certainly now is not the time for me to start.  I have refrained from speaking out about the GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) report since its release out of respect to the BJU survivors who had the courage to come forward and for those who were not able to.  This is a sacred time for them to process this report  - many of them have waited decades to hear the validating words contained in this historic document.  Although the ramifications of this investigation affects all of us who were abused in the name of God and religion, this is not our time to speak – it is time for the BJU survivors to speak and be heard.  Everyone else needs to graciously step aside and give them their chance to be heard while they have the undivided attention of the media, alumni and administration. 

A few weeks ago, I became very concerned about those who were setting themselves up to speak on behalf of GRACE and decipher the GRACE report and tell us how we all should respond.  In particular, my concern was for the blatant attempts by Dale Ingraham, founder of “Speaking the Truth in Love Ministries” and Rebecca Davis, self-proclaimed victims advocate and author of missionary stories.  They preemptively set up a website and Facebook page that I will not mention because I don’t want to drive any traffic their way.  The name they chose gives the illusion that they are affiliated with GRACE.  The average person going to their sites will assume that they have the blessing of Boz Tchvidjian and GRACE to do so.  I pray to God this is not the case because frankly, I find their whole approach insulting.  People are fully capable of reading and coming to their own conclusions about the outstanding document that GRACE put together.  They don’t need pundits doing it for them.  And no one needs to dilute the clear message that the GRACE team has painstakingly put together after two years of thorough research and investigation.

Just one day, ONE DAY after the GRACE report was released Dale Ingraham and Rebecca Davis made an announcement about a new book they are peddling.  Seriously?  You are going to peddle a book at a time like this?  Who does this?  The BJU survivors I have personally talked to are feeling raw after reading the report.  And you Dale and Rebecca are going to use this time to peddle a book?  You couldn’t wait six months – you had use this time to exploit the survivors by peddling a damn book.   And you are bragging about how bang on your book is to the GRACE report.  Amazingly, you are now insinuating that you speak for Boz even before he speaks for himself!

Dale, I have known you since 2008 and I tried to deal with this in private but you refused to respond to my email. That was a big mistake Dale – a very big mistake. I have watched my survivor friends bleeding in pain after you lashed out at them when they expressed their outrage that you would peddle a book at a time like this. You refuse to even acknowledge their pain or apologize to them. I cannot and will not keep silent any longer. I must speak the truth – in disgust!

I believe Dale that you started out with good intentions but something has gone seriously awry with you lately. Many survivors know that Rebecca has been involved in attacking an abuse victim and discrediting her story. She is known to gossip to anyone who will listen. This is a survivor she has never personally talked to – a survivor who extended an olive branch to her and was flat rebuffed by Rebecca.  Instead, Rebecca continues to gossip and disparage the character and reputation of this survivor. Now would you call that “speaking the truth in love”?  By aligning yourself with Rebecca, Dale you have alienated some of the most solid and respected abuse survivors I have had the privilege of getting to know. And by announcing that you are now peddling a book with Rebecca and announcing its release on the heels of the GRACE report, you have completed the alienation in just one day. You destroyed years of trust that can never be rebuilt and being a pastor, you have shattered their faith on top of it. You will forever serve as an example of yet another pastor who betrayed them. I hope when you cash in on the pittance that you make on your book that came at the expense of these survivors that you have now betrayed that you feel it was worth it.  It won’t be. What you are doing is so tacky. It is exploitation and it is disgusting.

I don’t know what happened to you Dale. You are not the same man I thought I knew. You should have more discernment than this. I see some big changes in you and they are not good. You seem to be using Boz and GRACE to promote your own agenda and trying to be a wanna-be GRACE. If you want to start your own investigations ministry than go do it; but don’t take advantage of GRACE. You are confusing people with the name of your website and group. You are not affiliated with GRACE so don’t fool the public into thinking that you are. This is dishonest.

You may think you speak for Boz but let me be the first to speak the truth in love, I mean, disgust. Dale, I know Boz and you sir are no Boz. Therefore you can’t speak and shouldn’t speak for him. The message you speak and the message Boz speaks are as different as night and day. Boz speaks from a heart of compassion and love. He has no agenda. He speaks words that are life-giving, validating and without a hint of exploitation. Dale, your agenda appears to be to become a wanna-be GRACE and it shows. You want to be the “poor man's” version of GRACE for those organizations that don’t have or don’t want to spend the kind of money that is required to hire GRACE.

I am no longer in ministry Dale and for good reason.  I realize that I am not fit to be in ministry.  I have a lot more healing to do for myself before I am able to help others heal.  My time fighting for the PBI survivors showed that there was a whole lot more that I have not yet dealt with.  I resigned from ministry.  I am not speaking to you as one in ministry but from the perspective of a survivor.

Dale, if you have a shred of decency you will stop the release of your book out of respect to the BJU survivors. You will pull down your website and FB page and you wipe all references that make it sound like you are affiliated with GRACE. You will apologize to those survivors you lashed out at for having the courage to speak the truth to you.

And you will have the graciousness and humility to listen to us canaries in the coal mine who can smell the toxic fumes a lot sooner than you might be able to.

And that is what speaking the truth in love, um...disgust is all about.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Pass the Salt" a video by Matthew Abeler

Special Request to readers of my blog....I am friends with the dad in this video and want to help get his son's brilliant video the attention it deserves.  Let's get the family on the Today Show - we need about a million YouTube hits to make that happen....please watch this and share with your friends.  I promise you will love this!  

If I told you there is a hilarious video that is short (less than 2 minutes), brilliantly written and produced, cast by the director's own parents would you watch it?  Of course you would!  If I told you that it packs a powerful message that nearly every family can relate to would you still watch it?  You bet you would!  If I told you that soon nearly a half a million people will have seen this video, would you watch it?  For crying out loud!!  Why are you still here answering my stupid questions - go watch the video yourself and share it with your friends!  Here it is...a perfect video to share for the holidays!

"Pass the Salt" by Matthew Abeler

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sexual Predator Threatens Bob Jones University Rape Victim

It should come as no surprise that when a Bible school is embroiled in something as controversial as a sex abuse scandal that the news will pit loyal (but clueless) alumni against abuse victims.  Fundamentalists who have spent their whole lives preening their "respectable reputations" don't want the stigma of saying they graduated from "that school with all the child molesters".  Contentious words will be thrown about from both sides as some refuse to believe that sexual abuse could happen at their alma mater and the survivors and their supporters refuse to be silenced.  Most enlightened people are smart enough to realize that sexual abuse happens everywhere so they don't try to whitewash the issue when abuse survivors come forward. They call for their alma maters to deal with the scandal  transparently and honestly.  Such has not been the case with Bob Jones University, a bastion of conservative fundamentalism located in Greenville, South Carolina.  Recently the contention reached a fervor pitch when nearing the completion of a 13-month independent investigation school president Stephen Jones, abruptly terminated the contract with G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).  National news picked up the story and ran with it.  The school bristled under the intense scrutiny as even the mighty New York Times posted stories that seemed to indicate the school was afraid of what G.R.A.C.E. would issue in their final report.  No one wanted to hear about cover-up, least of all the survivors.  The investigation was resumed without BJU explaining why they have abruptly terminated it.

Just as the dust had settled from that fiasco, I was contacted by a BJU rape victim and told about a Facebook message that she received from a registered sex offender who happens to be a BJU grad.  His name is John Howard Edwards.  He lives in Sellersville, PA.  This is what he had to say…

"Who do you think you are? I am going to report you to the authorities. Why are you slanding(sic), shaming and humiliating innocent people? You made up your entire story. None of it is true. I'm going to file police report against you to back it up. That's a promise. John Edwards"

When I read the message, my first response was “Oh hell, no!”  It's bad enough to be privy to some of the ghastly intimidation I have seen the BJU survivors go through from the administration but a sex offender trying to intimidate a victim?  Over my dead body!  One has to wonder what set this pervert off and gave him the impulse to defend his alma mater - it isn’t like Bob Jones University is likely to consider him one of their “distinguished alumni”.  But whatever the reason, I take offense to any sex offender threatening a rape victim and trying to silence them through intimidation.  This is wrong on so many levels; I don’t know where to begin. 

First of all this is no ordinary sex offender but the man is designated a Tier III level sex offender.  Tier III means he poses a high risk. And yes, he is out of prison already.   What is he doing on Facebook anyway?  I know that Facebook doesn't knowingly allow sex offenders on-line but what about his parole officer?  I don't think any state would be okay with a Tier III sex offender being on Facebook.   

Let’s take a look at his felony record.  On December 13, 2004 Edwards was convicted of several sex offenses ranging from Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Rape of a Child, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse with a Complainant Who is Less then 13 Years of Age, Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault – Complainant Less than 13 Years of Age.  

This is one serious sexual predator that will be on the sex offender registry for life – and for good reason.  

Shortly after sending the message, Edwards either blocked or suspended his Facebook account because we were unable to find him on a search.  That doesn't make the threat go away.  Because I have no way to privately contact him, I will have to send my message to John Harold Edwards publicly right here on my blog.

John Howard Edwards, 

I know who I am and but more importantly I know who you are.  You might have threatened to report this rape victim to the authorities for "slanding (you might want to use your spell-checker for these big words you are trying to use), shaming and humiliating innocent people" but it is no crime for a victim to tell their story.  And just because you don't believe it doesn't mean her story isn't true.  Who the hell cares what you think anyway?  Unlike you, I am not one to make idle threats.  Today I started the process of reporting you to your parole officer for this threat you made to this rape victim.  I will see this through to the end - and that's a promise.  Hopefully this violates your parole and they send you back to prison until you learn not to threaten other victims.  

Have a nice day!  

Linda M. Fossen

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Beware the Bob Jones University Attitude Cops

I received an email the other day from a fellow blogger covering the Bob Jones University abuse scandal that left me shaking my head (again). This is what he had to say:

"I see the need for sexual abuse victims to be able to communicate in this conversation. I understand in my limited way the reason for the deep hurt and anger they often express. But the extreme antagonism is a self-defeating barrier for large numbers who like me have never experienced abuse. The problem I kept running into is how to let the voices communicate without the barrier to the many in my audience who are like me."

Instead of responding to this "attitude cop" in private, I felt that a public response would do more to help educate.  If I had a dime for every time I have heard these comments, I would be one rich woman.  

If there is one thing an abuse survivor knows, it is the intense struggle we go through to find our voice.  It takes immense courage!  Many of us have spent decades suffering in silence, reliving the memories of our abuse, and waking up to nightmares and flashbacks.  We wonder if anyone will ever believe us.  We fear that our abusers are right - we will not be believed.  We wrestle through the quandary of whether to tell or not to tell.  Is it better to suffer in silence and not deal with the uncertainty of what others will say or is it better to come forward and deal with the fallout of potentially losing friends and family?  We go through a million scenarios in our heads trying to gauge each and every person’s reaction.  We start to speak and stop a million times.  And finally the day comes when we blurt it out.  It is the day when the pain of keeping the secret is much more painful than the fear of the unknown.  We take the plunge and spit out our words.  Instead of the carefully planned speech we have rehearsed a million times in our heads, we fumble our words.  Some of the words are reluctant and come out slowly and deliberately.  Others spill out of our mouths like angry hornets from a disturbed nest.  One minute we are mournful and filled with grief at what was stolen from us.  The next minute we are so raw with anger and rage that we could feel capable of murder.  We have finally found our voice and opened Pandora’s box.  Whether we like it or not, there is no going back.  We have burned the bridge to the land of silence.

We then find others who were abused and are shocked to realize that we were not alone.  All this time, we felt so alone.  No other relationship can compare to the ones we now share with other survivors.  We have a depth of understanding that we simply cannot experience with those who have not been abused.  And knowing other survivors helps us to see that we no longer need to feel like a victim – we gladly band together as survivors.

Invariably when a group of survivors bands together to fight to be heard corporately as is the case with the Bob Jones University survivors, there will come along those who want to help frame the message and make it more palatable for those who are not survivors.  There are calls to “tone down the hostility”, “quit being bitter”, “don’t be so angry”,  “stop swearing” and “you need to forgive”. 

In the secular world now days, a survivor who finds their voice is generally celebrated and supported.  Not so in the religious world.  In the secular world, abusers are vilified and seen for the scoundrels they are.  News article comment sections are filled with calls for capital punishment and to “let the inmates take care of them”.  But in the religious world, we generally want to coddle the abusers, rehabilitate them and restore them back to fellowship.  If they are a ministry worker, then we go completely bananas trying to figure out how to get them back in their pulpit as if nothing happened.  God forbid we should lose a pastor, school president or missionary over something as “insignificant” as a little kid being abused!  Oh we tell everyone how we want to see justice served and abusers punished but the truth is we evangelicals are loath to do that.  We would just as soon cover for our child molesters so as not to “hurt the cause of Christ”. 

How could survivors speaking their truth “hurt the cause of Christ”?  Aren’t we called to walk in the light and speak the truth?  So why do we fear what the survivors might say or whom they might expose?  Why do the bystanders who haven’t been abused feel the need to step in and reframe the message?  It isn’t their message – it’s the survivor’s message.  Why do we recoil from what they say or how they say it?  Could it be that hidden in our criticism, we secretly don’t really want to walk in the whole truth?  Could it be that secretly we don’t want to see dozens of our “men of God” exposed for the reprobates they are?  Could it be that secretly we would just as soon leave things status quo?  It is so much easier that way.  So much easier to go to church and sing “Blest Be the Tie that Binds Our Hearts in Christian Love” than to see our churches split down the middle over the scandals that erupt from survivors exposing their abusers.

I have good news for you.  God is not sitting up in heaven wringing his hands all upset about the abuse scandal that has erupted at Bob Jones University.  He is not the least bit nervous about anything the survivors could expose about BJU, its staff and students.  He already knows what has been going on – nothing is hidden from him.  So if he is not nervous than we shouldn’t be either.  We need to understand that these scandals are all part of God cleaning up his church.  He is weeding out the wheat from the tares.  Instead of being repulsed by these scandals, we should be rejoicing knowing that evil is being purged and righteousness is being restored.

So to my fellow blogger, and other BJU alumnus I say:  Quit being "attitude cops"!  If the survivors are offending you – that is your problem, not theirs.  Quit being so condescending and insulting!  If you are offended, then you need to learn how to hear hard truth without taking offense.  Child sexual abuse is ugly – the truth of it is ugly.  There is no way to sugar coat it.  If you want to be involved with survivors then you need to be prepared to sit back and do a whole lot more listening than you do speaking.  Look past the anger and rage and see the pain that is prompting those emotions.  Look past the cynicism and see the deep pain hidden behind it.  Don’t preach – just show love and support.  Healing from sexual abuse is a long and arduous process.  It takes time and lots of love and encouragement.  You never ever get over what happened to you but you can learn to live with a productive life despite the abuse you suffered.

The last thing a survivor needs to hear is you being critical of what they say or how they say it.  It is not your job to reframe the survivor’s message.  It is not your job to critique their message delivery and make it more palatable.  Your job is to listen and be compassionate.  You need to stand for truth and righteousness.  Instead of trying to change the survivors, try to change the heart of Bob Jones University.  Let them know that you are supporting the survivors and demand that they be transparent and accountable for keeping their word and finishing the G.R.A.C.E. investigation.

If you don’t want to be on the losing side, then don’t side with those who are hurting the abused.  Right now Bob Jones University is hurting their survivors.  This is not pleasing to God.  God is always on the side of the oppressed and broken – always.  BJU needs to humble themselves before God and repent for their wickedness.  They need to listen to the rebuke of their survivors.  They need to take the counsel of G.R.A.C.E. on how to respond to these survivors in a godly manner.  They need to acknowledge that they were wrong in so many ways and have hurt countless numbers of their students and children.  They need to make amends for these wrongs by cooperating with police and allowing the legal system to punish those who have been sexual predators.  They need to make policy changes and bring in trainers to help every one of their staff to know exactly what to do if they become aware of abuse.  They need a complete overhaul of their school.  Will they be willing to do this?  Only God knows.  In the meantime, BJU continues to arrogantly dig in their heels and refuses to budge.  Behavior that surely is not impressive to God.  If they do not change, then God will harshly judge them for it.  And the judgment of God can be far worse than anything a group of survivors could do to the school.

So pray and support the survivors.  And for Pete's sake quit being an "attitude cop"!