HomeCrimeChristian College Tells Rape Victims to Repent and Search for ‘Root Sin’ That Caused Their Own Rape

Christian College Tells Rape Victims to Repent and Search for ‘Root Sin’ That Caused Their Own Rape

Rape victims at Bob Jones University must seek out and repent of the sin that caused their rapes, according to Al Jazeera America’s investigative report. A 19-year old woman, whose supervisor raped her several times, sought help from the dean of the school two years later. The victim, Katie Landry, said that the dean told her:

“Well, there’s always sin under other sin. There’s a root sin. We have to find the sin in your life that caused your rape.”

She told Al Jazeera America that she just ran after that, dropped out of school, and didn’t tell anyone else for five years. She’s not the only student to receive such cruel treatment, either. Other students told Al Jazeera America that they were given similarly damaging advice. These students talked about victim blaming, and a culture that’s very heavily focused on purity and reputation. That culture doesn’t help rape victims; it makes them feel even worse than they already did.

Bob Jones, located in Greenville, S.C., started looking into how they’ve failed rape victims on their campus last year. They could, and should, start with not blaming the victims. Bob Jones is a Christian university, and if they’re trying to teach about God’s love, then telling a rape victim that some sin in her life caused her rape is not going to bring her closer to God. Nor is it going to help her work through the trauma; it’s going to make her feel even worse, even more ashamed, even more afraid, and force her to carry a deep, dark secret she shouldn’t have to carry. In fact, these students reported that hearing that their sins caused their rapes, and being told that healing could only come from forgiving their rapists, were the most damaging things they heard. Christian universities that do this are contributing to rape culture in one of the worst ways there is.

Even worse, the school follows a teaching that says most mental problems are the result of sin, not just the trauma that comes from getting raped. The book that they teach counseling from, called Becoming an Effective Christian Counselor, actually says, “Most people in mental hospitals are not sick; they are sinful.”

This is probably one of the most backwards ideas imaginable, and doesn’t teach anybody how to help anyone suffering from anything at all, like depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, or anything else. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if they still held to the ridiculous notion that schizophrenics were demon-possessed individuals. That, of course, doesn’t help the schizophrenic any more than blaming a rape victim for her rape helps her.

While that book is supposed to stress that the blame for the attack lies with the attacker, and not with the victim, it also says that feelings of anger, bitterness, and fear are sins too, because they’re a type of “rebellion against God.” Repent of that, and the victim will be fine.

Har de har har.

Another student, known only as Julia, said that abusers can repent of their sins and move on, while victims are left to struggle through the trauma of their rapes. They, too, are supposed to forgive their attackers, repent of their sins of anger, fear, and bitterness, and just move on as though it didn’t happen. When they can’t, it’s their fault.

So how did Bob Jones University fail rape victims? By sticking to this ridiculous teaching and treating the victims as though they were the problem. Apparently, this isn’t uncommon in the Protestant world. The idea that sin causes rape, and that the trauma resulting from rape is also a sin, is common teaching, and rape victims, who should receive good, proper, helpful support and counseling from clergy and school administrators are instead hurt even worse.

h/t Al Jazeera America.

More from AATTP on vile college campus rape culture.


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About Rika Christensen

Rika Christensen
Rika Christensen is a writer of several years' experience, and loves writing about and debating politics. She's also a strong animal-rights and welfare advocate. Engage with her by following her on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her blog, They Need To Go.
  • https://www.facebook.com/tori.elmquist.1 Tori Elmquist

    Forgiveness does heal. Forgiving the person who hurt you does help make you better. Too many studies have been done that prove that for it to be denied. Demands of forgiveness shortly after an attack are ludicrous. Time, Counseling, and Support are very important components of this.

  • http://gravatar.com/wveth Wveth

    Rika, I really appreciate the tone of this article, which is considerably more level than many of the articles on this site. I applaud your style, and hope to see more similarly handled stories from you in the future :)

  • http://batia1981.wordpress.com batia1981

    If this is an example of how Christians would run the nation…..why would we want to be a “Christian Nation”?

  • Ms. Andry

    Another telltale sign that Christianity is on its way out. Good riddance.

    • November Rain


    • BobTrent

      Back to outright paganism? Or do you prefer Islam? Hinduism? Those religions are so-o-o-o kind to women. Or humanism? Socialism, Communism, Fascism, other humanist “isms” treat women so well. :-p

  • Opietheparrot

    Bob Jones may call itself Christian, but anyone familiar with the teachings of Jesus is aware that nothing right wing is or can be Christian unless they give up their entire ideology.

  • joel hackbart

    Tea party nuts always blaming the victims. If someone swings a baseball bat at you and cracks your skull, they would say it’s your fault for not ducking fast enough, and Hannity and Faux would be all over you, calling for you to repent.

    • BobTrent

      Asinine comparison and blatantly false. Poor satire?

  • voice_reason

    it’s real simple, these damn people are the most hypocritical SOB’s to ever walk the face of this earth. they can rail against islam all they want; if they were in control they would be just as bad, but from a “christian” perspective. extremism is extremism no matter what

    • https://www.facebook.com/tori.elmquist.1 Tori Elmquist

      Many people have already pointed out most of the problems with this idea. I like it in theory- but only so far as it doesn’t wind up getting woman sued for defamation of character or some other stupid charge, and it does not take into account that the internet provides a great place for people to do things for the sole purpose of harming another. While women reporting rape falsely to the police occurs less that 2% of the time, I imagine lack of consequences and anonymity offered by the internet would make that number much larger.

  • MotherEarth

    “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: It IS wickedness.” Leviticus 19:17 It is amazing that this verse is right next to the “abomination” clauses that the GOP likes to quote regarding homosexuality, but, apparently, they cannot read on their own and are only able to spout the “wickedness” talking points that they find convenient to their cause…keeping women in the “place” …barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Neanderthals one and all. I guess they want us all to go back in time into the Dark Ages.

  • George M Melby

    Bob Jones University… South Carolina… no further explanation needed!

  • David Saint

    women should start posting names of rapists who get away with it all over the net. If the locals wont shame them, the rest of us will.

    • Justin Thompson

      While I agree with you. The rapists could press charges against the victim for internet bullying. It’s a felony in most states. It’s not right, but that’s how it is.

      • Chris Reed

        And it’s becoming more so, daily…

    • clevertitania

      It sounds great on paper, but it will have horrible backlash. What happens the first time some rapist who was already borderline homicidal, kills a woman who outed him for his crime? Or the first time someone makes up a fake persona, and starts accusing someone of raping that fictional person, just so smear them?

      Who we need to be shaming publicly, are those who blame the victim, and perpetuate institutional violence against women. And when they learn the error of their ways, they will work harder to make sure rapists face juries of their peers, to answer for their crimes.

      • David Saint

        no you make a good point..

        • Jeremy Yoder

          A bullet in the head is a great cure for rape, don’t piss your pants girls, whip out a 9 and make him piss his pants.

          • BobTrent

            Real bright. Few colleges and universities permit carrying guns, knives or other weapons on campus. Those under 21 are prohibited from buying handguns.
            Thanks for your help.

    • BobTrent

      Sure, if they want to add to their trauma by being sued for defamation and possibly be prosecuted for harassment and stalking.
      Even if a rapist has been bragging to his frat brothers, fellow athletes or drinking buddies, persistent public accusation may irritate him and incite him to retaliate.

  • Eleanor Earley

    Bob Jones has always been off the wall. Always blaming the females. Never admonishing the males.

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