The Board at Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) has released a statement following an “investigation” of allegations against Bill Gothard.
We can learn a lot by observing how leaders of Christian groups respond to sexual abuse allegations. Let’s go through the statement together with a discerning eye and discuss any issues that you see in the choice of words and perhaps the words not said.
A Time of Transition
Dear Friends and Supporters,
We are grateful for your prayers and patience as we have all walked through these difficult months. As Board members, each of us has been positively impacted by the relationships, teachings, and opportunities available through the Institute in Basic Life Principles. It is because of our appreciation for this ministry that we agreed to serve on the Board of Directors. We also recognize our duty as Board members, and we bring this statement with great heaviness of heart.
In response to allegations against Bill Gothard, the Board sought the facts through a confidential and thorough review process conducted by outside legal counsel. Many people were interviewed, including former Board members, current and past staff members, current and past administrators, parents, and family members.
At this point, based upon those willing to be interviewed, no criminal activity has been discovered. If it had been, it would have been reported to the proper authorities immediately, as it will be in the future if any such activity is revealed.
However, the review showed that Mr. Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner, and the Board realizes the seriousness of his lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ’s example of being blameless and above reproach. As a Christian leader, he is to avoid the appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22), and he must have a good reputation, even with those outside the Church (I Timothy 3:7).
We believe God still desires to use Bill Gothard for His work in the Kingdom of God, but we also believe it is important that he be held to the high standards clearly taught in the Scriptures and upheld by this ministry. At this time the Board unanimously agrees that Mr. Gothard is not permitted to serve in any counseling, leadership, or Board role within the IBLP ministry.
We also know that the Word of God teaches that believers should have a good conscience toward God and men (Acts 24:16). We want to encourage reconciliation within families and are very supportive of efforts toward reconciliation with Mr. Gothard or with IBLP. The Board is asking that Mr. Gothard submit to and cooperate with a team of Christian leaders who will direct his reconciliation process.
The Board does not believe that Mr. Gothard’s shortcomings discredit the truths of God’s Word that were taught through him. All of us are reminded of our need to look to Jesus and to His Word “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). We are committed to evaluating each part of the ministry on the basis of God’s Word, and we encourage everyone to search the Scriptures to determine what is true, as did the Bereans (see Acts 17).
We look forward to doing all we can to advance the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to strengthen the local Church. We dedicate ourselves to help build up families and individuals in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are seeking and praying for a new permanent president for the IBLP ministries. Please pray with us to this end.
Sincerely in Christ,
Board of Directors
Institute in Basic Life Principles
Original statement can be found here: A Time of Transition
- News: Bill Gothard Cleared of Criminal Behavior
- Bill Gothard Breaks Silence on Harassment Claims by 30 Women
- From Recovering Grace site (which deals specifically with IBLP/Gothard): IBLP Board Issues Their Public Statement
- Ex-head of religious group acted inappropriately, not criminally: investigation
- Kevin Swanson Defends Bill Gothard’s Sexual Harassment Charges While Publicly Trash Talks Blogs
- Recovering Grace site releases response the IBLP statement
62 thoughts on “Learn to Discern: Let’s Explore “A Time of Transition,” the Newly Released Statement from IBLP Regarding Bill Gothard”
It’s a non-statement. There was no INDEPENDANT
investigation. The one reviewing this case for the board was David Gibbs, Jr., who is BFFs with Gothard and the current board members. Basically, it was an in-house farce of an “investigation” by one of their own with invested financial interest to do damage control for his buddies. No specific sin of Gothard’s was mentioned. No victims were interviewed, and the wording leaves open the opportunity for Gothard to return and pick up right where he left off. Just like he did last time in 1980, where he was fired and came back only 17 days later to resume control…..after firing most of the board who voted against him.
This statement really makes me angry. Does God want HIs work to be done through someone who violated their position of authority and discredited Him? Not only that, this Board is oblivious that the whole IBLP “ministry” is based on extra-Biblical teachings and twisting of scripture, elevating men to a position of authority that is not scriptural.
If you’d been sexually harassed or abused, you would NOT want to be interviewed by IBLP’s lawyer. Not without your own lawyer present, anyway. And they would just twist any testimony. Grrrrrr. Don’t even get me started. This kind of thing is why victims don’t want to come forward and press charges. I was being sexually harassed at my first job – by coworkers, no one above me. I just whispered the idea to my manager that if it didn’t stop, I would be talking to HR. Let me tell you how fast my manager made sure the imbecile behaviors stopped. (There were 4 of us fresh out of college on this team, me being the only female. If you’re ever a manager, don’t do that!)
Not until they are guaranteeing they will pay 100% of the therapy, counseling, medications, whatever the victims need in their recovery. Guarantee Bill will NEVER work in a Christian ministry again. Until they confess what the “inappropriate” behavior was. Etc.
Plus, they’re still continuing with the twisted “follow these steps” and you will be successful b.s. [insert annoying wrong-answer-buzzer-sound here] The teachings are harmful. They need to dissolve.
Julie, if you want to fix my block quotes – too many different formatting options out there.. Thanks!
FYI, easy fix. Just replaced “quote” with “blockquote”. -Julie Anne
As a Christian leader, he is to avoid the appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22), and he must have a good reputation, even with those outside the Church (I Timothy 3:7).
Even if this man’s actions were merely “inappropriate”, this says that he cannot be a Christian leader. He doesn’t have a good reputation and the appearance of evil is all over him.
I don’t believe that God really wants Gothard to continue working for the Kingdom of God, unless of course it is janitorial or another humble job that needs to be done, but has nothing to do with contact with people, counseling or telling them how they should live their lives, when he himself seemingly has no moral compass.
” I was being sexually harassed at my first job – by coworkers, no one above me. I just whispered the idea to my manager that if it didn’t stop, I would be talking to HR. Let me tell you how fast my manager made sure the imbecile behaviors stopped.”
I had a similar experience: The phrase “My lawyer told me to tell you . . .” was pretty effective for me.
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“Many people were interviewed, including former Board members, current and past staff members, current and past administrators, parents, and family members.”
Funny how there seems to be one very important group not mentioned here.
Maybe instead of the next sentence reading:
“At this point, based upon those willing to be interviewed, no criminal activity has been discovered.”
it should read:
At this point, based upon those WE WERE willing to [interview], no criminal activity has been discovered.
In other words, kinda hard to find criminal activity when you aren’t talking to those who were sinned against/violated/etc.
Remind me again why parachurch organizations even bother appointing a board anymore?
It should be interesting to see who comes back into leadershp first – Mr. Gothard or Mr. Phillips.
Remind me again why parachurch organizations even bother appointing a board anymore?
Appearances and disclaimers.
What allegations? (They do not say)
What was inappropriate about it? (They do not say)
Were criminal allegations made? (They do not say)
Were victims interviewed or their published stories checked out? (They do not say)
Were staff and insiders given and indulgence to allow them to repeat a bad report if they knew anything evil? (They do not say)
Was there a detailed report given to the Board? (They do not say)
Is the investigator on contract to also defend the organization against any lawsuits? (They do not say)
May Gothard teach? (They do not say)
May Gothard have contact with young pretty female employees? (They do not say)
May Gothard RECEIVE counseling from young pretty female counselors? (They do not say)
Has any sin been discovered or confessed? (They do not say)
Has there been any evidence of repentance of any sin? (They do not say)
Was the Board investigated for its poor handling of complaints about sexual harassment and close contact with young women over the years? (They do not say)
Are all the teachings consistent with God’s Truth? (They do not say)
Do they say anything that has a fixed and reliable meaning?
Don, Welcome to SSB. Your questions are excellent. Things are surely amiss with this statement from the Board. They act like ministry can just go on like normal. La-De-Da . . .
Frankly, it just doesn’t matter if laws were broken or not. There’s plenty Bill Gothard did that disqualifies him from leadership that God wrote. The standard is higher than the law of the land.
He’ll be back.
Disgusting! The statute of limitations may have run out, but Charlotte’s story details criminal sexual offenses. In addition, as I pointed out on Recovering Grace some time ago, locking teenagers in rooms without food and water for perceived rules violations is a felony.
And even if Gothard hadn’t behaved badly with teenaged girls, he twisted and misused scripture and caused psychological damage to many people. He also failed to report child sexual abuse to the authorities and blamed victims.
The Gothards took their family dysfunction and turned it into a cult. There is nothing in this ‘ministry’ worth saving.
People asked some tough questions on the IBLP Facebook page when they announced Gothard was stepping down: https://www.facebook.com/basiclifeprinciples/posts/10151940575312041
I didn’t see answers.
Marsha, they never interviewed Charlotte or any other victim. They deliberately interviewed only those who they knew would give a favorable report. They handpicked current and former staff, families and board membets to question. Not one victim.
That the Board believes that the ministry/teachings are good makes them suspect. People have been questioning the extra-Biblical teachings for years. I wonder how much $$ is involved with this “ministry?”
waitingforthetrumpet2’s link quoted Gothard as saying, “Sexual harassment is to a large extent intent, and my intent was never to harass them.”
This, to me, is absolutely ridiculous. How is sexual harassment based mainly on intent? I have no training in this, so maybe I am wrong. It just sounds like more of the ole’ trying to “define the terms” so you can “win.”
Has anyone else here read the pdf of Lourdes Torres’s official legal complaints against Doug Phillips? In it there is an excerpt from a letter Doug’s wife Elizabeth Beall sent to her;
“During the last ten weeks, and ultimately for the last nine months, you
have been lighting bombs all across the country. Right now, you may have
a perception of peace, but what you don’t know is that these bombs are
about to explode in a manner that will change all of our lives forever. It
will affect your life, your marriage prospects . . . your parents . . .
and thousands of other people. It is far worse than you imagine.
The VFM board has encouraged me to let you know about these and to
work with you to give you an opportunity to stop impending destruction.”
Can you believe that?!
The statement says whole bunch of nothing!!
Is it wrong to pray for the demise of an organization and its teachings?
Here again, we have the legal equals moral argument — and Christians are supposed to be the ones that set an example for the world that this is untrue. The law offers minimum standards to protect freedoms in this country, not to micromanage people’s lives. Laws are not always moral. Our country was birthed on that principle. Showing their colors, they are. They want to make sure that they can’t be sued. And if they are sued, they don’t want to be in a position of having admitted any kind of guilt.
Why would we even think the board of this organization would really come out with anything different? Saving face, position. It is amazing how many people obtain self esteem from being what they think is a big shot in these organizations.
“Sexual harassment is to a large extent intent, and my intent was never to harass them.”
I can tell you the courts see sexual harassment quite differently. As part of training offerings we did quite a bit of research on the lawsuits of the mid 90’s to mid 00 and it is not about the alledged harassers intent.
I read some of the stories and it was definitely sexual harassment. He did take quite a bit of time to groom them, though. And being young and inexperienced from sheltered families they were perfect victims. The man is a lecher. Creepy. Too bad the victims could not go that route with a class action. Seems Gothard is quite well off. I read somewhere he has a landing strip at one of his homes. And now not even a slap on the wrist.
“Here again, we have the legal equals moral argument —”
Excellent point, Cindy. We were seeing that with T4G and TGC when it came to Mahaney. Same argument.
I don’t think it’s wrong to pray for the demise of an organization that leaves people spiritually/emotionally damaged.
I have never prayed for the demise of a person. I pray that people prosper in areas that honor God and that the ways that don’t honor Him will yield no fruit. If God woos us to repentance through kindness, they need God to show them kindness. The fruit of the bad stuff catches up with us eventually in the form of consequences (most of the time). I once wrote to a person in homeschooling who was pushing a book that I prayed for their blessing and that their needs would always be met. It was just my desire that they not find that blessing through patriarchy. It’s the principalities, powers, ideologies that pose the threat — not really the people. We want to see them do what is right and be reconciled to them, not to see them crushed or defeated. We want to see them be “in Christ” with us. We want to be rightly fitted together and functional as a body.
But as for the works of the flesh — is there anything wrong with praying that they cease? It’s the traditions of men that make the Word of God ineffective. We want to denounce those traditions and pray for their demise. We want the people themselves to be redeemed — bought back and to know the fullness of all that God has for them.
The board sounds brain washed, and I believe that they need to adhere to
1 Thessalonians 5:22 themselves by abstaining from Gothard and IBLP altogether.
That sounds like a threat to me, HCS.
Bridget, I don’t think so. If you are praying for the organization to loose power and there bad teaching to be stopped, you are not wishing death or any one person to be damned to Hell. I don’t think the Lord is going to look down on your request.
Seems Gothard is quite well off. I read somewhere he has a landing strip at one of his homes.
That should tell Christians something right there. Those that are truly serving God and in leadership are not going to have all of that. They will be giving back far more to the cause of Christ and a lot less to their own luxury.
How about a decent apology to the victims? It’s not in there.
When there is no remorse, an apology isn’t going to happen. They don’t seem to think there are any victims.
You’re right, Sheila. It’s pretty revealing when a Board defends their man and their program and has no words for the victims and the harm done. In their minds, “the show must go on.”
When the money dries up, the show can’t go on.
Not one word about the girls/young women he hurt. Not one word.
It is pretty evident where their priorities are, isn’t it, Tim? Defend Gothard and defend their “ministry.” Blech!
I just added this link to the bottom of the post. Recovering Grace blog (website for Gothard/ATI/IBLP survivors)responds to the IBLP Board statement: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/06/our-response-to-the-iblp-board-statement/
“It is pretty evident where their priorities are, isn’t it, Tim? Defend Gothard and defend their “ministry.” Blech!”
Many of these things are good examples of what we should be looking at in any so called “Christian” organization. If you all noticed, SGM, T4G, TGC and many churches do this same thing when some sort of embarassing issue comes to surface. It is always about protecting the organization. Never about the actual people IN the organization who were harmed by it.
Start watching for it. Some will throw bones pretending like they care about the issue by having statements against child abuse or some of their fellow travellors writing about it. But note how they steer clear of any mention of the actual victims at all.
Unfortunately, many still fall for their “mention” of the issue and do not connect the dots that it is only about saving the organization.
Let’s ask ourselves why this is and go from there. Can it possibly be Christianity?
BTW: These situations should make everyone very cautious about joining any Christian organization that requires signing anything. I don’t care if they call it the “Love the Lord Covenant”. Don’t sign. If you agree to any sort of arbitration (watch the wording cos they might not use that word) all you might be doing is protecting evil.
That’s not Christianity. Jesus had strong warnings for those who committed spiritual abuse of children.
Excellent point, Lydia!
Rank Hath Its Privileges.
And GAWD’s Anointed Overseers have the highest Rank and most Privileges of all. (Including Jus Primae Noctis.)
All grovel at the feet of the Highborn.
Some years ago out here in SoCal, this law firm got exposed running an extortion racket. Acted as an agent for some environmental regulations and shook down small businesses with threats to sue and shut them down for violations — or if they paid to settle out-of-court…
Their defense when everything blew sky-high all over local talk radio (including street action with all the small business owners they’d shaken down filling the street in front of their law office)?
“EVERYTHING WE DID WAS LEGAL!”
(And it was — they dodged any criminal charges that way. Every one of them got disbarred for shady business practices, though.)
Again, “EVERYTHING WE DID WAS LEGAL!”
Remember Gothard’s teaching about the “creeps” going into women’s houses? Always got a good laugh on that one at the seminar. Little did we know that he knew all about creeps being one himself.
“Some years ago out here in SoCal, this law firm got exposed running an extortion racket. Acted as an agent for some environmental regulations and shook down small businesses with threats to sue and shut them down for violations — or if they paid to settle out-of-court…”
The gay lobby is doing something similar with businesses for sponsorships to various events/parades, etc in most big cities. Either you pay up and we use your logo or we position you as homophobic. It works because that is the new civil right. Not illegal either.
And on top of everything wrong in this “statement”, there’s this little nugget from Gothard (courtesy of the Sun-Times article):
“I just have a desire to work with and encourage the young people that I have served in the past and I want to continue that on a personal basis.”
You haven’t served them, Gothard — you used them, and made them serve you. And you’ve already done enough to girls and young women “on a personal basis”. Just stay far away from them all, you creep. You’ve lost any right to be a part of their lives.
Serving kids, what does this say about any parents who would still send their teens to anything to with this organization. That is what is scary.
Like HUG said, ““EVERYTHING WE DID WAS LEGAL!”
(And it was — they dodged any criminal charges that way. Every one of them got disbarred for shady business practices, though.)”
Even the lawyers get are held to a higher standard than just what can be proved in a courtroom. They even have ethical behavior rules. All the more the Christian leaders ought to be held to the biblical standard for leaders.
Re: Hot Curry Sandwich
JUNE 19, 2014 @ 7:50 PM
Wow! The excerpt from the letter Elizabeth Beall (Doug Phillip’s wife) sent to his victim, Lourdes Torres, shows such a willingness on Beall’s part to protect her husband the abuser and damage the victim of the sexual abuse that it’s sickening. She made threats about Lourdes’ ability to marry and about how the knowledge of what has happened will hurt her parents if it gets out. She makes no indication that she understands how much damage her husband has already caused to this poor woman.
Then Beall (the wife of the abuser) claims the board (people who are supposed to hold Phillips the abuser accountable) asked her to tell Lourdes (the victim) that she was about to hurt thousands of people so she should stop telling the truth. Seriously? That’s messed up on so many levels I don’t even know where to start…
From a commenter on Recovering Grace:
Some great quotes from a couple of well-known Bills…
“there is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship or any other kind of improper relationship.”–Bill Clinton
“Sexual harassment is to a large extent intent, and my intent was never to harass them.”–Bill Gothard
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”–Bill Clinton
“I do want to state that I have never kissed a girl nor have I touched a girl immorally or with sexual intent”–Bill Gothard
“These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.”–Bill Clinton
I just have a desire to work with and encourage the young people that I have served in the past and I want to continue that on a personal basis.”–Bill Gothard
For what it’s worth, Boz Tchividjian said in his latest post:
I was also reminded of this when I read about the founder of a large Christian organization who has allegedly victimized dozens of young women and recently told a news reporter, “I just have a desire to work with and encourage the young people that I have served in the past and I want to continue that on a personal basis.” This same Christian organization hired a friend of the leader to conduct a “thorough review process” of the abuse allegations and concluded that God still desires to use this individual “for His work in the Kingdom of God.” – See more at: http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/06/20/denomination-confronts-child-sexual-abuse-positive-step-forward/#sthash.6k9XAqQA.dpuf
There are a couple of links within the original post to Gothard.
Thanks for your dogged coverage and exposure of hidden sin within the church. May your, and Boz’s, tribes increase.
The “outside legal counsel” cannot determine if any criminal activity occurred; that is the realm of a trial. Let all the evidence be given to law enforcement and prosecutors, and if they find cause, take Gothard to trial and settle the matter there.
Otherwise what this counsel stated is nothing more than an opinion. It is not a finding or fact. And as such it is of little value.
This statement by the Board, as lacking as it already is, doesn’t even get into all the possible labor violations or alleged incidents of false imprisonment over the years, which really need to be looked into as well. I don’t know what IBLP’s tax status is, but I would also be interested in an IRS investigation.
Whatever the whole truth, I suspect not all the books about Gothard have been written yet.
Boy, I never thought of that, NJ. You are right. It’s interesting that both Gothard and Phillips both used young interns for “ministry” work. That is free labor. Also it is very sad to note that many parents wouldn’t think of allowing at least their daughters to go to college for fear of bad influences, yet they willingly sent them to Vision Forum or Gothard’s places.
I think some would have been better off going to public college. At least at public college you expect people to sin, be corrupt. This is the problem with putting people on pedestals.
I don’t understand why they wouldn’t ditch Bill like the plague to try to keep some validity to the ministry. If you defend an immoral man, logic says the whole ministry is immoral.
At least at public college you expect people to sin, be corrupt.
That right there is a huge problem, Julie Anne. Parents became thoroughly impressed with celebrities Gothard and Phillips, along with their teachings. They looked like such super-Christians who surely would surround themselves with likeminded people; ergo, they could trust their teenage children to these men.
The Recovering Grace blog has multiple accounts of older teen or young twentysomething interns being pressured and coerced into working the hours you would expect of an ambitious paralegal or medical student in their residency. We’re talking 16 hours a day or sometimes even more. All for free or less than minimum wage, and for those who did get paid, their paychecks never went over 40 hours even though overtime was practically mandatory.
I have no doubt that just about any one of these interns would have been better off at a public college or university.
I wish there was a “like” button so I could like Don’s comment. Dead on questions.
I have one more question I would like to ask the board. If any of the interns had behaved in exactly the way Bill did, what action would have been taken?
Great question, JaneyN!
Thanks, Julie Anne. I have been thinking about how Gothard ran his empire and I keep wondering if anyone ever asked him the obvious questions. Why can you be alone with young girls/women, but that is not okay for anyone else? Where do you come up with some of these ideas that are not Biblical, such as no facial hair for men and women and girls must have long, softly wavy hair? Why no higher education? Why have ALERT for young men, yet none ever entered the military, at least that I have heard in ATI/IBLP families? Did no one ever question Bill? When Gary Smalley saw Bill with a girl sitting in his lap, why was that not investigated?
I guess I have lots of questions for Gothard and the IBLP board! It just amazes me that Bill’s behavior was ignored for so long, especially in a culture which is so focused on purity, avoidance of lust, sex, sin…yet Bill and his interest in young women seemed not to be included in that. And no board member ever asked questions?
JaneyN – I linked to this on the SSB FB page earlier: http://heresyintheheartland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/a-real-investigation-into-iblp.html?utm_content=buffer3f121&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
It makes no sense whatsoever to have a close friend connected with the organization head up the investigation. The whole thing simply wreaks.
Have any of the women brought a law suite against Bill Gothard?