Bill Gothard, Mike Huckabee, Sex Abuse Coverup, Political and Social Influence, and an Agenda
Some may remember Dash’s (pseudonym) personal story I posted a while back. Dash was raised with parents who adhered to Bill Gothard’s teachings and suffered severe emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse. I covered his story in two articles:
- Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children
- Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children, Part 2.
While the news of Josh Duggar was unfolding, I reached out to Dash to see how he was doing. He wrote me a response and said that I could share it with you. But it’s important that I give a little background. I don’t want anyone to misconstrue Dash’s words to be politically motivated, because they are not. He’s discussing a system of abuse that reaches far into the political and social structure of our society. He describes how Bill Gothard used his position of influence beyond the walls of his Institute in Basic Life Principles IBLP organization into government, public school systems, police departments, prisons, and even schools and governments in countries overseas.
I have written articles on Christian Reconstructionism. Reconstructionism, which is closely related to Dominionism, found a niche with homeschoolers, especially conservative Christians who bought the idea of being fruitful and multiplying (Quiverfull Movement) in order to take over or subdue the earth. This is a foundational verse you often read at Reconstructionist sites:
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth. Genesis 1:28
People who espouse Reconstructionist/Dominionist teachings are known to become involved in political and social activism, with the goal of taking dominion of the earth in all social spheres. Reconstructionists also believe the Old Testament law should be in effect today. For example, some Reconstructionists speaking on the Doug Phillips/Lourdes Torres sex scandal were doubting the credibility of Torres’ claims because she failed to “cry out” during her abuse. This response is based on Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 22:24). Also, be mindful that when Jim Bob Duggar was a candidate for political office, not long after Josh Duggar confessed to his sexual offenses as a minor, he said that rape/incest should be a capital offense. Again, this is a modern-day man, Jim Bob Duggar, saying we need to go back to Old Testament laws for our land, well . . . except if it’s your own family member committing the crimes, I guess.
Understanding Reconstructionism is important because it sets the framework for the political and influential connections of Bill Gothard. We will take a closer look. Now, to be clear, this article is not meant to bash anyone who would call themselves right-wing Christian conservatives. I am a Christian and have conservative leanings. When we get to Dash’s words, you will read heated words against the “Religious Right,” and it may seem abrasive, you might take offense to some of his strong words. Instead, I would encourage you to try to look at the bigger picture of what he is saying. He is painting a picture of Bill Gothard and his far-reaching influence in the lives of many families, politicians, governments, police forces, schools, and countries. Gothard is not just some guy who has been on the conference circle selling his brand to a select crowd. This is the whole undercurrent of Dominionism – to take these teachings to the world by storm, and Gothard has been quite successful in doing so.
Let’s start off with the influence of Bill Gothard in Mike Huckabee’s life. The following was posted on Huckabee’s Facebook page as he defended Josh Duggar:
Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. Source
In the article, The Political Reach of Gothard, we can see Huckabee’s connection with Bill Gothard. This article also makes mention of the mayor of Little Rock, Jim Dailey. His connection with Daily led to Gothard opening a facility purchased from Hobby Lobby (we’ll get to Hobby Lobby shortly):
Gothard touts former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee‘s name on materials promoting his “Character Cities” initiative. The two were photographed together at a private campaign luncheon in Houston in late 2007.
For years, Gothard cultivated close ties to Huckabee, an alumnus of Gothard’s “Basic Seminar”, and to Jim Dailey, mayor of Little Rock. With encouragement from Mayor Dailey, Gothard opened his Little Rock Training Center in an empty VA hospital purchased by Hobby Lobby and donated to Gothard’s Institute.
Despite Gothard’s grandiose vision, the enormous structure was in poor repair and was never utilized as fully as the Indianapolis facility. Still, it served as a base for the Institute’s prison ministry. Gothard quotes Governor Huckabee’s support for conducting his seminars for Arkansas inmates: “I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people.” Having gotten his foot in the door in Arkansas, Gothard combined forces with CCA, the nation’s largest operator of privatized correctional institutions, to promote his intense lecture-based seminars inside more prisons.
The Cincinnati Beacon described Huckabee as a “long-time admirer” of Gothard. The former Arkansas governor wrote a letter used by Gothard to promote a program aimed at infiltrating city governments with core principles of the ministry stripped of overt religious references.
Bob Allen, wrote an article for EthicsDaily.com, Huckabee Linked to Controversial Bible Teacher Bill Gothard, which discusses how Huckabee has endorsed Gothard and his teachings:
“As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people,” Huckabee wrote in a letter promoting Gothard’s prison ministry. Arkansas prisons had been using Gothard seminars and materials since 1996.
Huckabee also endorsed Gothard’s “Character Cities” program. Gothard described a meeting in Little Rock as laying groundwork for “the most exciting opportunity I can imagine” to merge his institute’s teachings with government programs.
Hobby Lobby was mentioned in an earlier article. You cannot dismiss these close ties with Gothard:
Steve Green, Hobby Lobby’s president, has spoken alongside Gothard at an ATI conference (attended by the Duggars) at the Big Sandy center. Last year, he was a keynote speaker at a businessmen’s seminar held at Gothard’s headquarters in Oak Brook, IL (and also advertised on the very strange website of the “World Trade Center of Illinois“, of which Gothard claims to be president). Steve Green is a featured speaker for Gothard’s Embassy Institute. (Source: Hobby Lobby: Deep Pockets.
David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby (and Steve Green’s father), is a billionaire (yes, I typed the Letter B, not M) and a philanthropist, donating to evangelical endeavors. David endorsed one of Gothard’s books:
“Through the example and teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, we have benefited both as a family and in our business. It is as we take those lessons from God’s Word that Bill clearly articulates that we live the full life that God intends.” (Source)
And of course, Bill Gothard certainly acknowledges their friendship:
“The secret of their success,” he says, “is their generosity.” He adds, “They’re friends. I see and talk to them periodically.” (Source)
When we lived in Virginia, we took our family to Gothard’s Basic (over 2.5 million have attended) and Advanced seminars. We were friends with families who used Gothard’s ATI curricula for their family’s homeschooling. These families helped support and encourage the spread of his Character First! program (see Character First! Video at the bottom of this article). I remember the hype well, and at that time, I was pretty impressed. From the Chicago Tribune:
“I originally created the materials for the program in 1991, for Russia,” explained Gothard. “After I presented a seminar on Basic Life Principles in Russia, President Boris Yeltsin contacted me and asked if I would create a character program for Russia’s public schools. So I created a program for them, which they still use.”
Gothard’s program spread through Romania, Taiwan, China, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, and Honduras before he crafted a version for the United States. Because he realizes some people might take exception to the original program’s religious overtones, he rewrote the program with non-religious content and has expanded its target audiences to cities, families, schools, businesses and prisons.
Look how far it spread:
“I revised the materials we did for Russia, and they tried them out in eight Oklahoma City schools,” said Gothard. “By 1998, 33 Oklahoma City schools used the program and in 1999, 50 use it. Across the nation, over 700 schools in 40 states are using Character First!” (Chicago Tribune: Staying In Character)
With that background, when reading Dash’s words, please consider that this is a man with appropriate anger. He and his family has been harmed. He can see the intricacies and interweaving of relationships Gothard has with individuals in powerful positions, with the intent of pushing his harmful agenda. We need to listen to survivors and their anger.
Hi Julie Anne,
As we discussed by email, I have some thoughts about the recent accusations of molestation against Josh Duggar, coupled with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s very public statement in defense of Josh Duggar’s behavior:
First, I am absolutely ecstatic at the news that “19 and Counting” has been shot down in flames from the TLC airwaves. It’s a show I never watched, but its existence was blatant and pervasive propaganda for the ultra-Conservative faction and I’m ecstatic that they’re currently experiencing such a negative backlash. The Quiverfull movement is an abusive, irresponsible failure of human values, behavioral morals, and common decency, and to pretend otherwise at this point is ludicrous. It’s long past time for this ridiculous Religious Right-wing disinformation to be removed from the airwaves. The only sympathy I feel in this matter is for the Duggar kids, who have a long, messy road in front of them.
Second, thank you for asking me how I’m doing. The ongoing story about the Duggars is a trigger for many cult survivors, myself included. I’m doing OK. I’m very, very angry with the Duggar parents, with Bill Gothard (who is the Duggar family’s cult patriarch), with Mike Huckabee, and with all those who support this abusive, patriarchal cult lifestyle in which women are treated as nothing more than broodmares. It frustrates me to no end that Bill Gothard, Josh Duggar, and others like them will likely never see the inside of a prison cell, which would be proper justice. My anger hardens my resolve to keep speaking out against these frauds and liars. It’s my job as a survivor to continue adding my voice to the dialogue. It is the collective voices of those of us who have survived these types of cults which will bring change into the world, and we must not shy away from speaking out.
Third, everyone in the mainstream of secular society seems to see the Duggars, Gothard, Huckabee, and their supporters for what they really are, and for that I am immensely grateful. The propaganda that they put forth is as follows: “See how Godly we are! We follow the Bible to the letter of literal interpretation. We have special knowledge of God and special beliefs and practices that make us better than you, the Average Sinner. Come, join us! Learn our special knowledge of God and believe and act as we do! God will do a New Thing on Earth if we all follow the special principles set forth by our patriarchal leaders!” But despite their claims of perfection, scandals like the current situation have been exposing these people as the whitewashed con artists they tend to be, saying one thing and doing another, then frantically covering up their bad behavior.
It is amazing to me to watch Mike Huckabee publicly and angrily defend Josh Duggar despite the allegations that Josh molested a number of young girls. It is frankly incredible to me that Huckabee can do so with a straight face, and with zero regard for Josh’s victims. Huckabee is more concerned over losing a well-placed political supporter in the build-up to his presidential bid than he is concerned with the immense damage which that political supporter has done to other people’s lives. And this brings us to the real issue: politics. Politics, religion, and power.
The real tragedy of the Duggar family’s story is that their children do not have any real value as human beings. They are merely pawns in the political and economic aspirations of their legal guardians, and in the political and economic aspirations of influence peddlers such as Mike Huckabee and Bill Gothard who have intimate personal ties with those legal guardians. Why is there always such a vigorous backlash against those who expose misconduct among so-called “Christians”? Why is it that so-called “Christians” can be counted on to (as the old adage goes) “shoot their own wounded”? Politics, that’s why. Men like Mike Huckabee are concerned with one thing, and one thing only: political power, and the freedom to use it with impunity. Anyone who exposes his propaganda as fraudulent is damaging his sales pitch.
Take a good long look at the Duggar story, folks. Mike Huckabee is an avid Bill Gothard supporter (Gothard now stands accused of sexual misconduct, since October of 2014), in addition to being a devoted advocate of the Duggars. Huckabee has an agenda: He wants to establish a Right-wing Christian theocracy in America, legislated from the White House right on down to your local city council. Huckabee will do anything to achieve the White House, up to and including defending pedophiles and abusers as long as they uphold his theocratic Christian agenda. Huckabee’s political aspirations are undermined and he loses vital credibility if his supporters are attacked, which is why he is more concerned with defending Josh Duggar against accusations of molestation than he is concerned with seeking justice for the victims of a pedophile.
In closing, I would like to state that despite my very real feelings of relief that “19 and Counting” is being taken off the air, I am genuinely saddened for the Duggar kids. If my personal life experience as a survivor of the Gothard cult is anything to go by, the Duggar children are going to have a rough life. Those that defend and promote the Gothard cult lifestyle which has brought such pain and confusion are awful people, and they need to be held accountable.
- Character First and Bill Gothard
- ‘Character First!’ program works, Owasso police chief tells audience
- Silence led to no case for Duggar
Video promoting Character First! program: