Victim of Bill Gothard’s Teachings Speaks out about Josh Duggar Scandal, Mike Huckabee: Bill Gothard’s Dangerous Agenda and Influence in Political Arena and Society at Large


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:

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, 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.

Related links/video:

Video promoting Character First! program:

105 comments on “Victim of Bill Gothard’s Teachings Speaks out about Josh Duggar Scandal, Mike Huckabee: Bill Gothard’s Dangerous Agenda and Influence in Political Arena and Society at Large

  1. This is not going to be an easy thing to talk about because of what Dash has said about his life and how he was raised. First, I want to say that I’m absolutely horrified that his parents would treat him this way. It’s abuse through and through.

    As a parent who was homeschooling and joined ATI for about four years I want to say that all abuse is wrong! From everything I recall, we were never encouraged to abuse or beat our kids. Ever!! My husband and I were not raised in Christian homes. We actually both had abusive homes growing up. What actually attracted us to ATI were some of the programs they had for kids and some of the wonderful families that were in it. Whenever we went, our kids really seemed to enjoy the clean, wholesome programs that the conferences provided.

    We never sent any of our older kids to any of the out of town programs to work them. Our older kids have very found memories of their time at conferences. Now, all of that to say that we are no longer are in this program for many reasons. Things we began to see with families who were taking many things to extreme. I’ve looked back many times when someone I know has pointed out something that was said in a wisdom booklet and can see the wrongs with some of it. We have found much of what was taught in regards to history and other subjects to just be that – facts that were taught in other curriculums. Some of the character stuff was good some of it not now that I’ve looked back on some of it.

    Looking back now I can see clearly some things. For us, we joined wanting to continue homeschooling and looking for good programs that would help us. I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I’m thankful we left when we did and after all that’s come out. I also want to mention just a couple of things we’ve observed over the years with families who were in ATI. I honestly believe that many families join because they want the same for their family as we did. Some became so entrenched in it that it seemed to take over their life. If they did this or that they would have the perfect children. We’ve seen families stay in it and as the kids grew up, they bolted as fast as they could. The families had become completely legalistic. They thought the kids would turn out perfect and when it didn’t happen it all fell apart for them.

    Another thing we noticed. Families who were really struggling and messed up – parents on the verge of divorce or affairs happening, who joined to fix everything. I can’t tell you how many people we’ve seen whose marriages have fallen apart, or kids have gone off the deep end because of all of this. It makes me sick and saddened.

    I am so sorry Dash for absolutely everything you have gone through in life because of how your parents treated you and abused you. They were so wrong and I want you to know that there is a real God in Heaven who loves you and cares about you. If you will get into his word and get to know Him, he will show you His goodness. It’s there! People are the abusers!! Not our Gracious and Good Heavenly Father!!

    I’m just sickened over what’s happening in these programs and in our churches. We have to know the truth and the only way to do that is to get away from all abusers and get in the Truth of Gods word and his goodness to us. I honestly didn’t mean for this to be so long but I wanted you to know that there are parents out there who regret being in this stuff. What you went through was pure abuse and I’m so terribly sorry.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. kh, I am glad you are sharing. I think so many can relate to what you’re saying about wanting a wholesome atmosphere for your kids. Many people, myself included, joined my former cult tor the same reasons. There is no shame in that. Your motives were good. Most people bought into Garthard’s program not realizing they were ingesting the materials of a pervert.

    I just wish more people would take to heart that “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit” and trash Gothard’s teachings.


  3. I would also like to add a couple more things. One of the families we know who were in ATI sent their very mature daughter away to help. Mr. Gothard would go down in the morning while she was having her devotions by herself and join her. The sick…ended up playing footsies with her many times. She has never reported it.

    Secondly, when one of our son’s started dating, we really starting re-evaluating some of the things we had heard about courtship and dating. I mean honestly, here we had this great kid that was a strong Christian man. We honestly just could not dictate how he was to date this young woman who was also a Christian. You wouldn’t believe the crap we got for that. It was ridiculous and I actually had to tell someone that we didn’t believe holding hands was a sin. My son was in his 20’ We have so bought into this garbage in the homeschooling culture. You know–The one who wants us to buy their book because it’s the right or pure way to do it. He was a grown man with his own relationship with the Lord and my husband and I figured that if he “messed up” he could just go to the Lord like we had done in our lives. At some point in life parents have to let there kids be the adults that they have raised.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The great majority join cults with every good intention, we joined ours because the people seemed so young and good-looking and passionate about fellowship and Jesus and there were lots of kids for our to play with and big plans to grow a youth program and young people who’d quote the Bible to each other like a game. It was all fun–at first.

    Then when you slowly started to realize how even though things looked sound on the surface, both doctrine and interpersonal relationships, that everything was corrupt and rotten down under. Looks nice outside, but evil’s just below the surface, but you don’t find out about the latter until you’re usually in so deep that to pull out turns your family and life completely upside down.

    Anyone who’s been in a Christian-seeming cult like ATI, SGM, A29, pentecostal holiness, or any of the many charismatic, wealth and prosperity cults, should know exactly what Jesus meant when He spoke of “whitewashed tombs”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s just it, kh. How many of us used to courtship method to find out spouses, yet we were told we need to intervene in the choice of life partner of our adult children? I think it’s great when our adult children ask our advice/opinions, but they are the ones who will be married to them. They need to make the decision just as we did. I’ve read some pretty sad stories of courtship/marriage ending in divorce because of too much parental involvement.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, KH, the kids can’t have our faith, we don’t just transfer it into them. We teach them the truth, we try to love them and model godliness, we try to be like Jesus and then try to be open about how far we fall short and ask their forgiveness when we act nothing like Jesus but like pigs. We can do all that for them, but in the end, we must let them make up their minds and have their own faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know Julie Anne! Not that I recommend this to my kids and they all know this is how we met but my husband and I met in a bar! I love it when my adult kids ask my advice and opinions but the decision is ultimately for them to make as adults. I’ve actually tried to look up courtship in the Bible and it’s not there!! Now, I know the different stories that are there about some of the couples that met but that’s not to say how to do it today. We’ve also known some kids who did the whole courtship thing and ended up divorced. I agree with what you have said also truthdetector142. I think it’s a healthy thing to share our stories so maybe we can encourage and help others who are in the midst of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. So I watched the video with the sound off because the spousal unit has been traumatized by BG and I did not wish to cause distress. This might put me at a disadvantage in understanding this Character First initiative.

    What I want to ask is, is there anything of Christ in this? Or is it just about trying to make a Utopia-like society filled with model citizens? From just watching it with no sound I could not tell it wasn’t about some sort of Communistic or even Fascistic like social reconstruction effort.

    I suppose I could try watching it again when the SU isn’t around and see if it comes across any different. But from just watching, that is exactly how it looked.


  9. It is little wonder PDs and prisons are using this. They want something that “works”, i.e. lasting rehabilitation. All kinds of things have been tried, and failed, so now they try something from Gothard.

    As regards the political aspect of it, i have been hearing about this alleged theocratic conspiracy for three decades, and have yet to see it. The so-called religious right wields very little actual political power, but is trotted out from time to time as some kind of threat to our very existence. Neither the social left, nor the victims of cults, should actually fear that “theocracy” or “theonomy” is on the doorstep. It is not as if there is some network of Gothardites on the verge of taking over the USA.

    People want answers. They want rules. The spiritual entrepreneurs are always there to supply the need and collect some cash.


  10. @JulieAnne:

    Did you all notice the tagline beneath Bill Gothard’s name at the top of the page?

    You mean the domain name?


  11. “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!”

    “Special knowledge”?
    The Speshul Sekrits of Spiritual POWER, known only to The Illuminated Ones…


  12. The pain that is caused by Christians to Christians is just unbelievably astounding to me. I find it very sad – and quite un-Christ-like. That Dash was hurt like he was by “his people” makes me cry. The Golden Rule is my dogma and kindness is my mantra. Makes things pretty boring, but I’ll take it.


  13. Admin note: This person is now in permanent moderation due to blog disruption and trolling behavior.

    Admin note 2: I delted the link.

    Ok. Stop. ATI, IBLP etc is an expensive curriculum. Stop. Normal poor families cannot afford this. Stop.[deleted link] offers all the curriculum needed to help a student understand scripture and nature…… FOR FREE. Stop. Now when a parent puts their child In a public school, they are signing up for a form of ‘sexual education’ that may not be healthy for the child….. stop. You know The ones where gay people actually do get divorces, suicides, std’s higher than normal people. Stop. Every child can move on from false educational structures and towards the truth (from public school to ATI schooled). And yes the pope is not JESUS and not all Christians set up Christmas trees……. I am sure the ‘patriotic’ curriculums in public school, private school and homeschool all jump over the ‘boarding school’ era that the native American children has to suffer innumerable amounts of abuse, neglect and child molestation…… thanks Thomas Jefferson for a crooked legacy across america. it is good to expose the darkness and being it to light. But we have to remember, some children escape being victims to foraged education……. they see the light of truth….. Now we can tell American’s why we do not celebrate ‘Columbus day’ any more. It is like returning to the garbage…..


  14. “As regards the political aspect of it, i have been hearing about this alleged theocratic conspiracy for three decades, and have yet to see it. The so-called religious right wields very little actual political power, but is trotted out from time to time as some kind of threat to our existence. Neither the social left, nor the victims of cults, should actually fear that “theocracy” or “theonomy” is on the doorstep. It is not as if there is some network of Gothardites on the verge of taking over the USA.”

    Keith Blankenship,

    This is an excellent and accurate observation. I am neither a Leftist or a Right-winger, but more of a Centrist. However, I was once a victim of a cult. By God’s grace and mercy, I have moved on from being a victim. I came to the realization that as long as I remained a victim, I was still under the power and influence of the cult and cult leader which I escaped. Of course, escaping is a process and one doesn’t just go from victim to survivor overnight.

    With all that said, I too, have yet to see a Religious Conservative Take Over in this country. Actually, from what I can see, it is more likely that a Non-Religious Leftest Take Over is in the making. But then, who knows? Politics can be an unpredictable sort of thing. I can say that I am not afraid of a Gothardite take-over in the form of Mike Huckabee. He is just to Right Wing for the majority of Americans.


  15. You forgot about Taliban Dan who is another Gothard acolyte. Who knew I would end up moving to Florida and would be stuck with him. Not my fault. I did my part.


  16. Another thing that bugs me about the political issue. The construction job that became Josh’s rehab program took place at a closed VA Hospital that had been donated to Gothard and was being remodeled as yet another ministry center for IBLP. What political strings must one pull to donate something owned by the US govt by way of the VA to a Christian ministry? How does that happen?


  17. “It is not as if there is some network of Gothardites on the verge of taking over the USA.”

    As someone who met Gothard personally in the early ’90’s and attended a private audience with him in his office- during which I listened to him extoll his grandiose and rather disturbing long-term plans to my dad- I can assure you that this is exactly what Gothard has been trying to do for over 40 years now.

    I truly believe that with all the recent scandals, the country has dodged a bullet of sorts. Of *course* it’s not going to happen now; Gothard is *finally* too old and too suspect. Gothard’s organization and personal power have crumbled, and those who are associated with Josh Duggar have shot themselves in the foot politically. But whether or not Gothard could have ever actually established his envisioned theocracy as a practical matter is one thing. The fact that he desired and intended to do so, and laid elaborate and far-reaching political networks to achieve his aims, is another. The sheer amount of collateral damage that he left in his wake can be largely attributed to his grand desire to establish dominion over the United States.

    Now, here’s the real issue: You poo-poo my fears and disdainfully dismiss Gothard’s legacy as if it doesn’t matter that he basically tried to take over the country in secret, simply because he happened to fail. You speak as if because Gothard worked from behind a firewall of homeschooling curriculum and non-denominational organizational tactics, that his deflected intent to shove his warped brand of Christianity down the nation’s throat is of no consequence. This is where you are very wrong, sir, because Gothard’s program destroyed my life and the lives of my family. Whether he achieved his larger goals is of little relevance, because what matters is what he did to me and mine. My life has been ruined up to this point by Gothard’s influence.

    Have you ever heard of the ALERT program, Gothard’s paramilitary organization? What do you suppose the purpose of that program was? The cover story was that it was intended as a Christian emergency assistance group, to help with firefighting and disaster relief etc. *I* know what it was really meant for, because Jim Logan, who was Gothard’s right-hand man and high priest of spiritual warfare in the 90’s, told me what it was meant for. The ALERT team was meant as a 24-hour on-call response team that would hunt down and requisition people who had escaped from ATI families, and either forcibly return them to custody or commit them to one of Gothard’s facilities for exorcism and re-education. I have lived in utter terror of Gothard’s people for nearly two decades because I knew what he meant to do to those of us who escaped.

    Don’t speak down to me, Keith. I’m not stupid. I know what I escaped from. I have unspeakable nightmares every night of my life, I have PTSD and bipolar disorder, and I’ve been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury by two different doctors as a result of being hit repeatedly by my parents according to Gothard’s protocols. I don’t leave my house unarmed, and I’m prepared to die violently at any time rather than be kidnapped by Gothard’s people. Never again. You can laugh if you want to, but I know the real story.


  18. It’s very difficult and extremely painful for me to dredge up some of these memories, but I distinctly recall that Gothard sat at his desk across from me and my Dad, with the sun coming through the windows behind him at around 11:00am. Gothard said to my dad, “God is looking to make great leaders of his own. He is looking for Godly men to put into positions of power, so that they may influence policy.”

    The conversation then proceeded into issues that Gothard expressed an interest in legislating, such as overturning Roe v. Wade, re-instating Prohibition, and a whole host of other absolutely loony ideas. We were having this conversation because my father was somewhat politically placed at the time, and our family was in the public eye. To this day the memory of it creeps me out to no end.


  19. Dash: I am not speaking down to you. What you describe is real suffering. Those who have been abused by cults should not fear that the cult “leader” is extremely powerful outside the cult itself. Especially now, with blogs and websites which provide for quick dissemination of information.

    As far as the “theocracy is imminent” idea, I have heard so much of this over the past decades, with so little evidence, that the concept is unbelievable to me. It is often used as political rhetoric, but that is about all it is. The so-called religious right has accomplished almost nothing. The USA has among the most lax abortion laws in the world. SCOTUS will soon impose same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. The pornography business rakes in billions. Marijuana has become legal in a couple of states. I could go on.


  20. Dash,

    I am extremely sorry for what happened to you – and many others – in your patriarchal, legalistic, ‘christian’ homes. My heart goes out to you. You’ve written a very insightful, thoughtful, and important blog entry for Julie Anne. I say ‘important’ because I believe all your stories should be told and I’ve been trying to pass that information along to many in the Homeschoolers Anonymous community for a couple of years. I think that the explosion of information available on the internet has been crucial to the exposure to these very harmful ‘teachings’.

    I also agree with you about the inherent message from some of these crackpot despots. I read this one two years ago, and bookmarked it; this guy has just had some thought-provoking suggestions about the Duggar hypocrisy so recently exposed, as well. The entry I’ve linked is long (like, it’ll take you awhile to read!) but he speaks about many of the subjects that have appeared here on Julie Anne’s excellent site. I think you will be nodding your head often, Dash.

    Keith, it’s a worthwhile read for you, too. If nothing else, it might dispel your ‘unbelievable’ contention. I’m purposely ignoring your last paragraph. . .oh, my.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Carmen: I might read it later, but am awfully busy right now. Re: my last paragraph, if you have any evidence of the so-called religious right actually being successful at achieving any of their stated goals, other than fund-raising, I would be happy to review it. Not sure what elicited the “oh my” response.


  22. Keith, not quite sure how you missed the takeover of the GOP in your country by the christian right . . . is anyone else shaking their heads??

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Another comment not posted by lauraraggedy.

    Lauraraggedy, You don’t get to come here,hijack a thread and divert the topic, especially when we are discussing such an important one. I’m not a spiritual abuser because I keep topics on track. Feel free to make your own blog to share your homeschool curricula recommendations. Actually, there is a thread a while back where I asked for curricula recommendations. You can post it there. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Keith, you may not have felt threatened by Gothard and his take-over attempt, but the way you framed your words, you did minimize Dash’s experience as if it’s a bunch of hooey. Dash’s experience is similar to 1000s of other people. If you were not so closely connected, you probably wouldn’t feel the full impact of Gothard’s driving force, but please be careful not to minimize the real experience of those who come here and risk by sharing their story. Our first directive here is to always listen and support victims, not challenge their interpretation of what they experienced.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. JA: I don’t see what I wrote that minimised his experience. I acknowledged that what he has described is real abuse.


  26. Carmen, Dash, and I all felt that your words were dismissive. To say that Gothard’s success in taking dominion is really irrelevant to the discussion. It minimizes the reality of what 1000s experienced. Dash posted your quote above his response. That’s one example.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Because [Gothard] 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.

    Hmm… Sounds suspiciously like the tactics of That Other Cult, which has created “non-religious” versions of its techniques and teachings so that they could sneak it into all of the places listed above under different names. Names like Narconon, Applied Scholastics, Criminon, Citizens Commission for Human Rights, and so forth.

    And this is a group that did manage to infiltrate the U.S. government. They got caught before they could manage to successfully manipulate policy, thank God. Still, the infiltration thing has been done.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Dash,

    The ALERT team was meant as a 24-hour on-call response team that would hunt down and requisition people who had escaped from ATI families, and either forcibly return them to custody or commit them to one of Gothard’s facilities for exorcism and re-education.

    Now that’s downright chilling. In That Other Cult, they call this the “blow drill”. It involves tracking down, retrieving and “re-educating” members who have “blown” from the Sea Org (i.e. left without permission).

    For Gothard to be thinking about students and young people in this way is horrifying. Glad he’s been knocked off his throne, and hoping he never gets to make a comeback.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Gah. I hate wading into political topics I have no leanings. IMO, “public servant” is as much an oxymoron as “servant leader.” Abuse exists in all denominations just as corruption exists in all parties.

    That said, if you follow the information trails (and the testimonies of those once involved with Gothard), it’s pretty obvious what his intentions are whether he achieved them or not. The fact that a pervert’s curriculum was in such widespread public use should give us pause. The average person (even most average Christians) will write Gothard (and the Duggars) off as a fringe nutcase with no inkling that their kids’ school or their police dept is using his very curriculum.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. It certainly was not intended as dismissive. My comment was analogous to those I make to abuse victims, who have been threatened by their abuser with arrest or prosecution. They sometimes believe the abuser who says ” I know the sheriff” or “I know the Commonwealth’s Attorney” and you will get in trouble…


  31. Thank you, Keith. I think you understand where I’m coming from on this issue and the emphasis we have here on defending survivors and allowing them a voice.


  32. Fox News host Megyn Kelly made an unfortunate linguistic error while introducing Mike Huckabee on her show, “The Kelly File,” Monday night.
    “Joining me now, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is the host of ‘F***a’ — of ‘Huckabee,'” Kelly said, immediately correcting her letter substitution. Huckabee cracked a smile on screen, but Kelly had already moved on.
    Later in the segment, Kelly addressed her mistake.

    Maybe Megyn Kelly didn’t make a mistake. ( ;

    Huckabee creeps me out, thanks for the info Dash, now I can connect the dots, my gut was right. It is beyond creepy what is being exposed, I have been having nightmares over the news stories that are coming out. Stirring up long ago wounds,
    however, I am thankful that bloggers are blogging & people are talking about the creeps. #besureyoursinswillfindyouout

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I’d better get off this ‘puter before my kids stage a revolt.

    The political connections are continuing to effect the fallout from the Duggar expose. One Arkansas senator, Bart Hester, called for police chief, Kathy O’Kelley, to be fired for releasing the report. I have seen comments on another blog that the release of the report was somehow illegal, though nobody offers a shred of proof.

    “Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said O’Kelley and Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate determined after researching the matter that the report had to be released under law.

    “From every indication I have the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state FOI (freedom of information) law,” Sprouse said Saturday (May 23).”

    Now, remember judge Stacy Zimmerman who ordered the report destroyed?

    “Hester is doing nothing more than carrying water for his friends in the anti-gay jihad, the Jim Bob Duggar family . . .State Police jurisdiction in this matter — which Hester seeks — is questionable. But if there is to be an investigation, let’s investigate how and why Zimmerman hurriedly ordered an official record of a public policy agency destroyed, without apparent notice to anyone but whoever made the complaint? Was the complainant Jim Bob Duggar, an old political ally of Mike Huckabee, to whom Zimmerman owes her place on the bench?”

    Liked by 3 people

  34. OK. I watched it again with the sound on. That did not make it better. There is definitely something creepy about this. Besides its cheesiness, I do get the sense that there is some agenda driving it. In spite of it being about character, it has a Trojan Horse feel to it to me. In short, it feels deceptive. I keep thinking “brown shirts.”

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Wasn’t Huckabee GOD’s ANOINTED CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT(TM) in the “Not The Mormon!” GOP Primaries frenzy of 2012? At least for a week until GOD changed His mind and threw a new Next President up there?

    Think what clout a PRESIDENT Huckabee could put behind a Duggar coverup…

    Liked by 1 person

  36. @kh:

    Headless Unicorn Guy..Were you in ATI?

    No, but I did grow up with a brother who was a master manipulator, survived High School Hell, and got mixed up in a Shepherding/End-of-the-World Cult in Jr College. Even if you were never in a cult like ATI or have any real abuse horror stories, that gives you an education in abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. @JulieAnne:

    Did you all notice the tagline beneath Bill Gothard’s name at the top of the page?

    You mean DOCTOR Got Hard’s PhD?
    Let me guess… Honorary Doctorate?

    Liked by 1 person

  38. @Dash:

    The ALERT team was meant as a 24-hour on-call response team that would hunt down and requisition people who had escaped from ATI families, and either forcibly return them to custody or commit them to one of Gothard’s facilities for exorcism and re-education.

    Ah, Blow Teams from Scientology Gold Base…

    By “facilities”, do you mean the RPF basements or The Hole at Gold Base specifically?

    Liked by 1 person

  39. @Headless Unicorn Guy

    I am truly so sorry. I’m seeing here just how prevalent spiritual abuse is. Do you have a good support system now and family you can trust? I really just hate that this happens to people and pray they are not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Thank you for being one of the willing to speak out, Dash. I’m right there with you. I’m so sick of the Christian response to this stuff being excuses, shaming victims, dismissiveness, apathy…

    Liked by 3 people

  41. “Ah, Blow Teams from Scientology Gold Base…

    By “facilities”, do you mean the RPF basements or The Hole at Gold Base specifically?”

    There’s no denying that there are some disturbing and unavoidable parallels between Gothard’s organization and Sea Org. I have no idea what that means, other than Gothard seems to have taken a few pages directly from the L. Ron Hubbard playbook.


  42. JA, thank you for your response to that curriculum plug. I had a bad feeling about it, but checked it out anyway. Just the table of contents in their PDF catalog was enough to make me physically ill and start to shake with reaction. It is so similar to things we used in the past. Blech.

    I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do anything labeled “biblical” again, or even bear the stench of it.


  43. (JA, as a second thought, maybe you could put a “trigger warning” moderator’s comment on that curriculum plug comment for people who are inclined to click on the link. I was familiar with Sonlight — we used their reading list for readalouds and discovered a lot of delightful classics — and so I thought that was what it was. I was confused by the “free” part and was thinking maybe the commenter was referring to the booklist in the catalog. Only to end up feeling deceived by the similarity in names, and sandbagged by the content.)


  44. I missed it the first time around, too, and had to go back to look at the blurb under Gothard’s picture. “Dedicated to helping youth and families make wise decisions.”


  45. If you’re referring to Sonlight, I actually don’t have a problem with that curricula. A side note: they have a great list of reading books and I applaud the owners of the company who included Young Earth Creation AND books that contained evolution and Old Earth references. They felt it was important for parents to let their children have understanding of all creation beliefs. (This also cost them, as their state-run homeschool convention banned them because of this. They don’t allow any vendors except Young Earth proponents)

    There were 2 other comments that I either removed, or didn’t publish. Now she has me named on a blog with 2 other bloggers as being spiritually abusive. Alrighty, then.


  46. Good idea. Actually, after what has transpired since, I will remove the whole comment.

    (Update: Ok, I couldn’t find the comment, but did put an ADMIN note on an existing comment.)


  47. That’s exactly what I was referring to, refugee. Maybe it should be:” dedicated to helping youth and families know how to sexually abuse, blame the victim, and get away with it.”


  48. refugee – -Quick question – are you referring to the comment that includes the Sonlight curriculum? That’s the only one I see on this thread unless I’m blind. If you can copy some keywords in the comment, I can find it that way (or copy and paste the timestamp). Thanks!


  49. “Is there any sort of a definitive list of the municipalities, law enforcement agencies, and businesses who have used the character brainwashing techniques?”

    I’m sure IBLP headquarters has those records, but you’d need a court order to get at them.


  50. Thanks a lot, she muttered sarcastically. Seriously, I do wonder if there is a link between the current escalation of police violence and demands for obedience to authority and orders. I know that a couple of the more malicious incidents come out of law enforcement agencies which use the program. It could be coincidental, but I think it is a topic worth studying. What I can’t get over is how difficult it is to get copies of some of the educational materials.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. It’s a great question, SJ. I’m not surprised that it’s difficult to get the materials. I remember when our friends were using the curricula, they were very private about it and didn’t want to show me. I found that very odd.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. In that aspect, it is like other secretive cult like organizations. I know you can find things, every once in awhile on Ebay, and sometimes on Amazon, but not often. I just can’t see paying those prices in order to do a little research.

    Why are people so secretive about it?

    Liked by 1 person

  53. “Why are people so secretive about it?”

    From what I recall about the ATI curriculum, the reason why those involved are so secretive is because some of the printed material is blatantly racist. Gothard has a pamphlet against miscegenation, and a pamphlet explaining the Quiverfull movement which basically makes it clear that it’s meant to encourage white families to reproduce. Also, the material about blanket training describes child abuse in detail, as does the material about spanking your child with a rod.


  54. Dash, Thanks for sharing your story with us. I come from a very similar background and know all too well that what you are saying is accurate and very REAL. It took a lot of courage and personal strength to be so open and I really appreciate that you were. Many people have a very hard time talking about what happened to them and thus the perpetrators succeed in continuing their mission, and hurt many more people. You very well may have saved a child from experiencing the same thing you did by speaking out. You should feel very good about that. Also I want to tell you that some of what you have written here over a period of time has encouraged me to finally attend a recommended recovery group. I’m not the kind of guy that does that and without your contributions here I probably never would have. I’m a couple of months in now and it has helped me tremendously. Somehow we get the idea we are the only one and need to feel ashamed by what was done to us as children. Once we move beyond that, the walls around idiots like Gothard start to fall and the world sees the _________ for what he is. When you really see all the Christian bullies that have fell hard in the last few years it’s pretty amazing. The three stogies for example : Gothard, Doug Phillips, and Jack Schaap. Then off course Josh Dugger who can certainly be added in as a sex abuser. All four of these guys brought down by weird sexual choices, sexual offenses or harassment. Basically being a pervert. I find that interesting.

    Recently I met a woman that moderates one of the break out groups that was raised by her Hayles Anderson graduate parents in similar ways to the Gothard methods. For even the most minor transgressions she was beat. Things like not finishing a homework assignment because she didn’t get a particular math problem, being late to school during a snow storm, wearing out her shoes too quickly. Typical kid stuff of no real importance or significance unless your parents are psychopaths.

    If her parents concluded she was guilty of “direct Disobedience” (whatever that is) or displaying a prideful or rebellious attitude they would take her to the barn at night. There she was stripped nude, her hands tied to a rafter and both her parents would take turns beating her with switches, belts, and even a horse whip. More than once she was beat so bad that she was bleeding on the buttocks and legs. Somehow she has managed to get beyond all that and forgive her parents. She doesn’t allow them to be alone with her children so unaccompanied trips to visit them are out of the question but she has forgiven them. Her older brother on the other hand left home at 16 and disappeared. She has not seen him since and was unable to locate him a few years ago even with a private detective agency.

    This is why “exposure blogs” are necessary. The JD Halls and imbeciles like him may NOT get it but that’s the reason.

    Liked by 2 people

  55. scott, I cringe when reading your comment about that woman’s beating. Then I remember that my FIL threatened to take a 1×4 to one of my nephew’s back side more than once. This is the same man who used to tell his boys that an elder in our former cult told him to spank them until he drew blood. That his boys needed to believe he would kill them if necessary. I didn’t allow my kids to be around my in-laws unsupervised after that either.


  56. I believe it that Gothard’s teachings are not easy to come by. What is he so afraid of?

    I remember when the same elder who told my FIL to spank his boys until he drew blood stood up in a Sunday service and said, “we will never tell you to use corporal punishment.” Say what? They taught us that we should get the majority of our spankings in by the time our kids were three years old. He lied. He LIED!

    Except for Michael Pearl (bless his little heart) few who teach these harsh discipline methods will own it. Why is that? Could it be . . . (SATAN) that they know how it will look to people outside of their little bubbles? But, if it’s really from God, aren’t they supposed to not deny Him? They are all a bunch of frauds.


  57. Why are people so secretive about it?

    Because knowing these Levels of Tech before you are properly Clear will activate 75-million-year-old entheta Engrams that will freewheel you until you DIE of pneumonia?

    Really, the more I learn about Got Hard and his racket, the more he reminds me of Elron Hubbard:

    * Speshul Sekrit Tech (available only from Him — for a price, of course) with miraculous results? And Dire Warnings/Curses if ignored?

    * Old Man surrounds himself with harem of voluptuous teenage females? (At least Elron’s “Commodore’s Assistants” were decked out in string bikinis instead of denim jumpers…)

    * Closed facilities with special Blow Teams to track down and drag back escapees?

    * And going after Political Power and Influence, starting with police and prisons and progressing to GOP Kingmaker — Hello, Huckabee! (During the “cruise” where he founded Sea Org, Elron’s stated goal was to “Clear the Planet” — find a Third World country he could take over, “Clear”, and use as a base to “Clear the Planet” — Tomorrow the World!)

    I mean, all that’s missing are the E-Meters and Galactic Emperor Xenu!


  58. Gothard’s materials are hard to come by. I was unable (thank God!!!) to attend the seminars but I had a friend who did. (All my troubles with Gothard are from those who did attend and had some degree of power over my circumstances, which was bad enough, thank you.) My friend, of course, had a Red Book. She was not supposed to allow me to look at it. She did once anyway and I remember being overcome with depression at what I was reading. Something about how to dress or something like that. I do remember wondering why on earth we were not supposed to be allowed to look at the material. I believe the excuse was something like having to have paid for the seminar, or something similar. But I was too young and naive to look any deeper or ask hard questions.

    But it is true that outsiders are not supposed to be shown the material.


  59. I come in to contact with many Gothard families in my work. I have always been confused by the amount of ‘secretive’ meetings and things they go to. The parents or children would mention– we are going out of town on that weekend. And I would say “oh, are you going on vacation” and they would say something really vague like ‘no, we are going to a meeting’ and I would say “a meeting?” and then they would say something equally vague but acting as if they were explaining– like they would say “we are going to a ‘leadership’ meeting”– and I would think they had gotten a new job or something and would say “oh, that’s great– did you get a promotion?” and they would be uncomfortable and then mumble something that made no sense. After many times of this I finally found out through someone that would divulge more that there are these ‘meetings’ of all sorts all over in many communities and regions on a continual basis– but they never divulge what they are trying to accomplish– it felt bizarre to me. Normal people are excited if they are involved in a new thing or a new group and would be willing to say– oh yes, I am meeting with the …… and we are planning a convention or whatever they do— I have gotten used to this weird secrecy over the years, but it is definitely bizarre and abnormal (especially because they are like that even around other long term Christians)


  60. @BTDT:

    I remember when the same elder who told my FIL to spank his boys until he drew blood stood up in a Sunday service and said, “we will never tell you to use corporal punishment.” Say what?

    oceania has always been at peace with eurasia, comrade.
    to remember any different is doublepluscrimethink.


  61. While we would all like to see recidivism reduced, there is no need to use programs developed by a cult.

    I spent a number of years evaluating prison programs and there are quite a number of them which effectively reduce recidivism. A combination of education, life skills, job training, addiction recovery, and moral education is enormously effective and even more so with support after release. And I have never seen anything in the moral training part of successful programs that Christians would object to. It is about the Golden Rule and establishing boundaries for yourself and respecting others.

    Back in the fifties, criminologists concluded that reducing recidivism by ten percent was about all you could expect to do. Today, we have widened the net so far in incarceration that just about any well designed program can make a difference. Once our women’s prison moved to a new facility with space for programming we cut recidivism in half. There is not much you can do with determined predators until they want to change but most people in prison these days are people my grandmother would describe as people ‘who don’t know how to act.’ They can be taught.

    I don’t want to hijack this important topic but I did want to point out that there is no excuse for using a Gothard program in prison.


  62. JA said: “refugee – -Quick question – are you referring to the comment that includes the Sonlight curriculum? That’s the only one I see on this thread unless I’m blind. If you can copy some keywords in the comment, I can find it that way (or copy and paste the timestamp). Thanks!”

    Yes, the comment refers to *a* Sonlight curriculum, but it’s not the same as the Sonlight curriculum I’m familiar with (and no doubt, you are thinking of). I went to the link, and downloaded the catalog. Do so at your own risk. I repeat, it is not *the* Sonlight company with the excellent booklist. It is, instead, a heavily Christianized work (though I didn’t get past the table of contents, I think, and actually not much past early elementary in the table of contents. There is an emphasis on forming character, rather than academics.

    Actually, go ahead and click on the link, and go to the catalog linked from the website. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on the matter.


  63. JA said: “It’s a great question, SJ. I’m not surprised that it’s difficult to get the materials. I remember when our friends were using the curricula, they were very private about it and didn’t want to show me. I found that very odd.”

    If anyone would like the Character volumes for study and comment (I don’t mean to study for their children, I mean to study to find inaccuracies and unbiblical thinking), let me know. I have them here somewhere. I bought them one at a time, used, because we were never a part of Gothard’s program and yet the ATI families we knew just gushed about them.


  64. Dash said: ““Why are people so secretive about it?”

    From what I recall about the ATI curriculum, the reason why those involved are so secretive is because some of the printed material is blatantly racist. Gothard has a pamphlet against miscegenation, and a pamphlet explaining the Quiverfull movement which basically makes it clear that it’s meant to encourage white families to reproduce. Also, the material about blanket training describes child abuse in detail, as does the material about spanking your child with a rod.”

    Hah. And here I thought it was because, “The materials are reserved for the families who pay $700 (for the whole family, what a bargain if you’re quiverfull!) and go to the yearly training conference. It wouldn’t be right to let someone not in the Program use it.”


  65. Actually, go ahead and click on the link, and go to the catalog linked from the website. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on the matter.

    Ohhhhhhhh. Ok, now that’s making sense. I thought it was the popular Sonlight program. Oh boy.


  66. refugee, the link worked perfectly. Thank you.

    I have no deleted the link. I did not download the pdf because who knows if it’s a safe pdf. I saw enough on the site to know that is not what I want to be referring people to. Thanks much for letting me know!


  67. So now Foxnews which has been mostly silent on the Duggars scandal is giving the family a platform to defend themselves in an interview.

    One of Megyn Kelly’s leading questions posed to the parents: “Do you think the backlash has been greater because people object to who you are and what you stand for? Do you think your Christian beliefs are at issue here?” So this is all about their “Christian beliefs” and the liberal backlash. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are the real victims here, and their liberal critics the real villains.

    The Duggars are also using the platform and their political friends to bring the heat to the police chief over the release of the molestation report. They are very sorry that they got caught.


  68. Refugee, It’s a group that operates kind of like AA and deals with depression, grief recovery, childhood sexual abuse, PTSD and other abuse issues. Most of them are focused on one primary area but as you can imagine there is a lot of overlap as these issues and the people dealing with them are very complex. I was connected with one that operates almost in secret through a friend that was encouraging me to go for over five years ( yes I know there are some great programs on procrastination , LOL) .I always was dismissive of it having been through the accountability group & shepherding fads at a couple of churches. I’m just not the type of guy to go that route. Somewhere along the line of being trained to survive firefights and kill people from 0.8 miles away I depressed sever emotional injuries from my childhood & teen years. Being in situations where you have to be a ” tough guy ” when there really is no such thing is a great place to HIDE.

    When the Sovereign Grace case became local news it was a huge trigger for me and I had no experience with that kind of trigger and had no clue what it was. I briefly thought I was having a nervous breakdown as the night I read of the sexually abuse of children (even a little baby girl ) at the location a few miles from my home I was physically sick and unable to sleep for days. I went on a bunch of very long walks that week and literally all night one evening. I never had such raw emotion take me down so hard, it was scary. I slowly begain to process some things from my past and knew I could work it all out over time by myself in a very private and (manly way) LOL. That worked just great. A few years latter I’m still dealing with it. In February a chance meeting with someone connected me to the group I attend. It took me a few months to actually go but I’m there now for as long as I need to be.

    Along the way I learned the whole “talk to God & no one else” is the biggest lie ever told. It’s a cowardly cop out and overly dismissive of the hard work some people are doing to heal broken people. Unfortunately many of these folks have been attacked, abused, raped, lied about and then discounted by church people (some of which are probably real Christians). I also learned that I trust women way more than men and thus I hit it off with one of the break out leaders. She experienced some of the same things I did ” growing up Gothard ” and is now counseling me. Normally during long walks around a huge lake, so she figures she will drop a dress size before this is over if I quit bringing snacks. I trust her because she has been there and gets it. The church as a whole sure doesn’t, but a few Christian here and there do. I’m very thankful I connected with a few who do and that I went. Honestly, the first night I went I drove there, parked and never got out of the car. A few weeks latter I made it into the building but was scared to death. It took me months to go and months to say anything beside “good evening I’m Scott” but eventually you reach a comfort level. I trust these people more than anyone else I know. My group is mostly women, most married with children with a few single / divorced folks sprinkled in. I’m one of three men that attend but not the only person with the same past experiences.

    Once when this woman right next to me started telling how her grandfather raped her, I got up to slip out thinking that would be the respectful thing for a man to do. She reached up and took my hand and said, ” it’s ok Scott, please stay”. I sat there and held her hand while she told her story. That is where my armor cracked and I was able to discuss things that I had neatly filed away deep within me. I’m still amazed that she knew what I was thinking & why I was leaving and I’m so glad I stayed. Some of these folks are so incredible.

    I also have come to realize why blogs like this and the one I was visiting when the SGM news broke are so vital. In a word: Catalyst. A catalyst for change and a catalyst for taking the power away from the abuser and placing it in the hands of the healer.


  69. How do we respond to people who were raised with the Gothard teachings when they will acknowledge that child sexual abuse is a crime, but that’s not what happened with the Duggars? I was commenting on a friend’s Facebook post last night, and the three people who were defending the Duggars were all raised with his teachings. Jim Bob even made mention in that interview that they had talked to other families and this kind of behavior happens in a lot of families. He was trying to make it sound commonplace.


  70. This behavior is commonplace in the church. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time on Facebook trying to share that it is not normal. That is how pervasive this teaching is. They don’t understand why the world is so mad at them, so instead they blame it on left-wingers trying to attack conservative Right. They are missing it entirely.


  71. The three women said they got why the world hated them, but they were upset that the Christians were “attacking” the Duggars.


  72. I think Megan Kelly softpeddled that interview. I have seen her interview other people and she was obviously holding back and basically doing PR for them. I find that irresponsible for a media professional. Mr. & Mrs. D obviously had rehearsed their answers and it seemed entirely scripted ( almost like their corney show). Hopefully with all the Gothard folks ( Jack schaap, Doug Phillips , Bill the Creep himself, and now the Duggers) hitting the pavement hard and being exposed, people will begin to back away from some of this extra biblical & unbiblical teaching that has corroded the church. Whether it’s the Purpose Driven clown from California taking scriptures out of context, Doug Phillips perverting scripture ( when he isn’t climbing in a 19 year old’s window and depositing his DNA) or creepy Bill inventing ” basic biblical concepts” from thin air the church is in crisis from all this lousy teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

  73. All of our 10 years of ATI curricula were lost in a basement flood 4 years ago. First flood in 20 years here. We were glad to get rid of it by then. We stopped homeschooling ATI in 2005. We paid dearly for that curricula, signed a contract/interview stating we would follow the rules…no tv, no pets, no outside friends, use ATI curricula exclusively, no music but hymns/ no sports for girls…on and on.
    They would send 8 wisdom books a year for the $700, but only IF your yearly report indicated you had used all 8 books. The last 2 years were had 5 little ones under 8 so we were lucky to get through 4-5 books. By 2005 we paid our $700 and when we go to Knoxville convention, where were pick up the curricula to save mailing, we only had TWO books for the $700. We were so ashamed that we could not cover the 8 required a year. WE FAILED ATI!! They were geared for older kids with Greek Studies etc. and our little kids were tortured with them. We were never to sell the curriculum to an outsider.
    FYI Did you all note the Mike Huckabee was an ATI DAD? He spoke at Knoxville several years and I remember we had a special blessing for him, as he had won the Governorship.


  74. No TV, no pets, no outside friends, use ATI exclusively, no music but hymns/ no sports for girls….

    Unbelievable. The ” church” we went to growing up was into Gothard but never this far. I wonder where they got the no pets & sports rules. I’m not a pet person, I’m an allergy person but making that a spiritual issue is just plain stupid.


  75. It was the beard thing and women wearing only dresses that got me. No way am I only wearing dresses, thankyouverymuch. But, I have to admit, after attending the Advance conference, there was definitely a tug and a feeling of “I’m not measuring up” if we don’t take this a step further and join ATI.


  76. Dresses only, well that one I can go for if the women all have great legs and mini- skirts qualify.

    I guess we know now why Gothard’s program thought that women’s hair should be touchably soft. Apparently he had a thing for fondling young ladies hair. I don’t know what is next in fundieLand, maybe a course from Doug Phillips that teaches that 18-19 year old girls shouldn’t be allowed to live in rooms unaccessible with a 12 foot ladder.

    Nothing would surprise me anymore. The church loves to talk about how awful the world is getting but refuses to honestly access itself. Especially if it might effect their cash flow. That is their real creed, protect the income stream at all costs. Even if you have to discard a few families, destroy a few more and trash a person’s reputation. The almighty dollar reigns supreme and is worthy of our worship.

    Liked by 1 person

  77. Bill Gothard saved my life and my family’s lives because of what he preaches. It is because of Bill Gothard’s teaching that I learned about the great falling away. I owe my life to Bill! Because of Bill’s preaching about living debt free we paid off our home almost 30 years ago and I’ve lived debt free for 30 years. I love living debt free!

    I didn’t homeschool my children through Bill’s homeschool program. I didn’t get involved with that.

    I find that a lot of people who are talking about Bill don’t know what they are talking about. They are twisting doctrines that Bill teaches.

    It is like the bible says, you can’t have bitter water and sweet water coming out of the same fountain!

    Rumors can spread online! That is all I can say.



  78. Kim,

    You must be having difficulty keeping your stories straight. I see earlier you posted this:

    “I and my children were spared from some of the errors that would creep into Bill’s ministry.”

    “My twin brother and some close friends of mine also attended Bill’s seminar but we were fortunate and saw that some things were wrong with what Bill taught. Many of his principals just didn’t make sense at times. If you followed them, often times it didn’t lead to good things.”

    “My kids were never involved with Bill’s ministry, so they never experienced any harmful things that happened there.”

    You don’t get to defend Bill Gothard here. I’ve talked with him personally and I found him to be proud, dismissive of his sins, and uninterested in full repentance. Those are not characteristics of Christians, especially from someone who touts Character First. He has failed.

    Liked by 2 people

  79. Kim, if it was just rumors spreading on the internet the internal review of Mr. Bill’s conduct would not have resulted in him being removed from ministry. I grew up in a bit of Gothardism. So did another here that posts under the name Dash. I assure you we are not lying about our experiences. Please don’t kid yourself and dismiss the incrediable harm done as mere rumors. Many people had an experience different than you present and are still dealing with the struggles this created in their life.

    Liked by 2 people

  80. “I owe my life to Bill!”

    Bill Gothard is not Jesus, (By a long shot!) You are worshiping a man. A sexually perverted one at that.

    Liked by 3 people

  81. Once again, Julie Anne, thank you for protecting the victims of gothardism, I personally have seen families destroyed and harmed beyond devastation by bg’s twisted theology and legalism. My family homeschooled through ATI and there are so many painful stories I could tell. The layers of lies are so painful to pull off. No one could owe their life to bg. He stole it and brain washed hundreds.

    Liked by 2 people

  82. Deb, any time you would like to share parts of your story, I’d be interested in posting them. We hear a lot from adult children posting their personal stories, but not so much from parents and it would be great to hear from your perspective as I’m sure it would echo what many others have experienced, but maybe haven’t articulated.

    I have heard some of these stories from both moms and dads and my heart aches for you and for them. I’m so glad you are free.


  83. One of the most devastating LIES was the authority principle. Gothard instructed wives to obey husbands with no exception as hubby was an agent of God for good in our family. ATI families have suffered so many consequences from this one major LIE. It has lead to abuse, physical, mentally, and spiritually; husband on wive and then parents on children. Immediate obedience was the goal. Many stories of wives leaving children behind!! for fear of their lives. Wives totally having mental breakdowns from the stress of being perfect Prov. 31 woman. No excuses accepted from bg, no mercy, no grace, no love. Marriages died with the part of the formula, as woment were openly reduced to another child who needed to just obey.
    I struggled to submit to my passive husband, who suffered with severe depression. This pattern worsened over the ATI years, as the “formula” failed and we blamed each other. As our family failed and suffered, the daddy shepherd sat down in the ‘field” and gave up…so I watched the family suffer more until it ws time for oldest to “sit around and wait for prince charming”. That did it for me.
    I started a college search for my very talented and bright Godly daughter. Hubby said I was a terrible example to my 4 daughters!! Those words caused us to separate emotionally and physically since 2005. Although together in this house, our children’s needs have been my focus, so that they have a LIFE to look forward to living. The shepherd had given up on LIFE and I determined that was not best for the girls, who had been taught to serve and worship their daddy, (Doug Phillips) style. The depression is a contributing factor, ( shared by ATI Dads’ perspective as victims also), ATI dad-guilt exacerbated hubby’s illness.
    Just 2 weeks ago he consented to go to the dr with me and accepted help! The dr diagnosed him on the spot with a very severe form of depression. Doc asked “can you think of the last time you had a happy moment” Hubby could not think of ONE happy moment ever!! This is how severe his depression is;35 years of no happy memories. I am praying the meds will help him find joy for the first time in 35 years. ATI was horrible for the fathers as it heeped pressure lead perfectly and produce MANY perfect (looking!) children and generate an income for sending them all to conferences/camps/training etc for exhorbatant fees. These students ended up abused by forced fasts. withholding necessary medications, forced humiliating public false confessions and violations of every child labor laws, as they physical ran all those many training centers for gothard!!! NO pay many of them.
    In 2005, I had a breakdown that lead to courage to break free; seeing hubby give up on life, I went into Momma bear survival mode and I went back to school to renew teaching certificate. Totally without husband approval I carved out a life for the girls and I. This was after getting #1 enrolled in college. I went to school for one year on the state’s dime, finding funding through a little known law for those displaced by workforce changes. I home educated 16 years and LOTS had changed in education. I then started part time teaching assignments, put the girls in private schools (on Music scholarships they earned saving over 20000 a year in tuition!!) God did this all as I could not have done any of this. The girls all earned mega scholarships and went on to private colleges. One just graduated with her Masters in Music performace, One is in dental school and one is in Med School. one is a freshman pre-med. They are all LIVING life, one they chart. but still 10 years later hubby says, I am still a terrible example of a MOM, having finished a Masters in Education degree in 2012 and teaching at the local private university, and 2 part-time private school jobs. All because i rebelled against the ATI lies in our family. God did this, not me. But when the God given authority, hubby, gave up to the ATI guilt and pressure, the strong faith-filled woman in me said, My family is done with this! God is the True Shepherd and He has Never failed us. None of this is of me, as I was a weak-spined obedient, denim wearing, homeschooling ATI Mom, exhausted by the “formula” of lies with the hope of producing Godly children to serve the Lord (bg??).
    This has been a grueling year of seeing truth for the first time and understanding why our family went down the tubes in ATI. And we are just one sad example of the devastation wrought on by bg on thousands of broken families, with abused children, many at the hands of their parents, trying to teach them obedience. Cleaning a bathroom drawer last week, I found the wooden spoon kept in the bathroom. I was crushed with memories, not of fun bathtime play, but military style obedience from 4 little girls with LONG tangled hair, who dared to cry! I am still weeping, confessing and grieving the loss of so many years with my now grown, (and forgiving) children.
    Kim,these are the faces of ATI and the fruit of bg’s victims. Kim says I don’t know what I am talking about, that bg saved her life. She is to be pitied for living in such darkness, void of any truth. 20 years with bg’s lies, and I finally see the damage in so many ATI families.


  84. I had completely forgotten (repressed might be a better word but I do not want to even pretend to compare to have been as wounded by this very sick man as so many of you – which breaks my heart- have been) my time with what was then called something about “Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts” (I still don’t get that name, we weren’t kids in conflict with anything) My Mom has completely forgotten that she and my Dad and my brother and I went to some week-long seminar when I was in Junior High. I am so grateful to God that these lasted so late into the night that my dad realized this wasn’t good for kids who had school the next day (and he had work!)… so we were there just two nights. I’m so sad for everyone who had to listen to that dreck all week.
    You know it is bad when you repress a memory as deeply as I had, it all came flooding back when I was researching, & found this Gothard connection, and I LOST IT, luckily I was home alone when i started crying my head off – for what Gothard instructed the parents there to do to us, how many good people have been so deeply wounded by his teachings, how far-reaching and often insidious it is.

    Back to the “Seminar” I attended.. I already knew and loved God. Church was my favorite place, church camp. BG told all the parents to look at their [something negative, I don’t want to mis-quote] kid and when the parent found our “worst sin”, they were supposed to label us with it. How sick is that? I will now never forget that because all my Mom could think up for me was that my room was often messy, I was labeled a SLOTH. I remember a drawing of a sloth hanging from a tree and how it broke my heart to be labelled like that. It hung on the wall of my bedroom all through middle school (I have to skip some stuff, for length, etc)
    I spent a lot of years trying to be MORE of a Good Girl, which is hard when you aren’t really interested in being “naughty”, but the power that stupid man had, to make my Mom inadvertently hurt me like that…. especially and rather ironically, I was diagnosed about a decade later with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue. It took forever to get the right diagnosis since Gothard had said I was a lazy idiot. This was before I really learned about grace. (I wear that word around my neck now! Grace trumps “sloth”, every day! yay!!) and since FM was not diagnosed even at Mayo Clinic in the early 1990s, I did often think “Is this [my illness] spiritual? Am I not having enough quiet times/praying enough/room not clean enough?!”. That sloth thing…. it was in the back of our minds still, I guess.
    So while i in no way have suffered like so many have by this man who, frankly, does NOT speak for the loving God of grace, he did bruise me. Messed up my relationship with my Mom for a long, long time…. I’m using my real name and it looks like my pic will go here too, so I don’t want to throw her under any buses. She had good motives. I do pray and HOPE so much that everyone who lived and/or is still living under the thumb of Bill Gothard and his, let’s face it, cult and false teachings… that you already have or will really get to experience the love of God. The real one, the one who doesn’t mock His beloved children. Ever. I think it was Brennan Manning who talked about God being like the parent who is given a terrible scribbly “piece of art” from their child, and they carefully place it right on the refrigerator door, and to them… that is the BEST art ever. That is how God sees us. Precious and beautiful and loved without condition!!

    Liked by 1 person

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