Classical Conversations #7: Business or a Non-Profit; Cult or a Christian Homeschool Group?

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Feminism: Is it a rebellion against God?

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BREAKING NEWS: Dr. Paige Patterson Terminated, Effective Immediately: No Title, No Housing, No Ongoing Compensation

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Lori Alexander Dishes Out Heartless Advice to Wife Who Was Sexually Abused

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal Continues to Pull the Wool over His Evangelist Friends’ Eyes

Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, Evangelism Reformation Conference, Reformation Fire Conference

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An Abuse Survivor’s Response to Pastor Phil Johnson’s Insensitive Tweet on Domestic Violence

Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, Sex Abuse, Domestic Violence, Twitter


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Blog reader, Christina, left an important comment on yesterday’s post regarding an insensitive and callous tweet Pastor Phil Johnson sent out regarding domestic violence. His tweet created quite an uproar on Twitter. Because Christina’s comment is addressed to Phil Johnson, I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle. It is excellent. Thank you, Christina for sharing.  ~Julie Anne


Response to Phil Johnson

Dear Phil. I guess you are a teacher, not a pastor, maybe that accounts for your lack of compassion. Perhaps we expect too much of you since you work and speak for John MacArthur, and so many people hold you in high esteem I used to be one of those, even though I am not a Calvinist, I always respected your teaching. Lately however, I can’t bring myself to listen to you. Continue reading

How our Pastor’s Biblical Interpretation Can Affect Our Understanding of Scripture and God

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This is a very insightful statement from C.J. Mahaney.

 

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A Challenge to Abused Christian Women Regarding Teachings on Divorce

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A Spotlight on Abuse and Death of VCY America Founder Vic Eliason

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Spiritual Abuse: What Was the Last Straw That Caused You to Leave Your Abusive Church?

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After The Gospel Coalition Staunchly Defended CJ Mahaney in Sovereign Grace Ministries Sex Abuse Scandal, They Now Promote the Movie Spotlight (Sex Abuse Coverup)

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Attorney David Gibbs III Discusses the IBLP Lawsuit and Answers Important Questions

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The Blogger at “Biblical Gender Roles” is Taken To Task Proving that His Discipline Advice is Really Domestic Violence

How Biblical Gender Role’s Discipline Advice is Actually Abuse

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Is homeschooling the vehicle by which abuse can be more easily facilitated?

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Sex abuse, identification abuse, social isolation, food deprivation – Is there a common denominator?

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Kevin DeYoung Pushes Church Memberships and Making Vows

Church Membership, Pastor Kevin DeYoung, Making Vows, The Gospel Coalition, here we go again!

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Mark Dever’s New Book and Pastors Who Use Language to Control Their Members to Not Connect with Others Outside of Church-Approved Groups

Mark Dever, 9Marks, and other pastors using language to control and coerce members to not engage in outside activities without church endorsement

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Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children, Part 2

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Personal Story of Abuse following the teachings of Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP

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The following is Part 2 of Dash sharing how the teachings of Bill Gothard influenced his parents to “spank” his siblings. Although I know Dash’s identity, he has asked to remain anonymous. Dash’s account shows that they were not spankings, but abuse:

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.

I asked Dash questions about his childhood and more specifics about how he was disciplined. Again, I must issue a trigger warning to those who have experienced abuse.  There may be some parents reading who used to follow Gothard’s teachings and have now left that behind. This, too, might be difficult for you to read.

In the following, Dash responds to my questions. My questions are in green:

What kinds of things did you and your sister do that resulted in “spankings?”  Can you give an example of what disobedience looked like, i.e, talking back, not doing what you were told to do, etc.?
It’s hard to dredge up specific examples of behaviors that resulted in beatings (I’m going to use the term “beating” rather than “spanking,” because that’s what they were), because frankly my recollection of the events leading up to the beatings are hazy. However, punishable offenses included: Not getting a chore done on time, or to the required degree of perfection (chores included dusting, vacuuming, taking out the trash). Arguing or fighting with my siblings (to clarify, I have an older sister and younger brother), and I mean trivial things like arguing over which record we were going to listen to or who got to play with which stuffed animal. Arriving home late from a friend’s house, arriving home late after school, not getting out of bed promptly in the morning, complaining about going to church. The list is endless.

As our family began to seriously decay and slide toward doom, punishments extended to include: making a salad incorrectly, accidentally dropping a dish or a milk bottle, getting the bathroom floor wet during a bath, not setting the table for dinner quickly enough, forgetting to put clothes in the laundry basket, putting a book back on the bookshelf in the wrong place. In other words, any trivial perceived imperfection became grounds for beatings.

One of the worst beatings of my life was administered by my mother around nine years old when we were making chocolate chip cookies. I was given the task of running the hand-held mixer, which I was happy to do because then I might get one of the detachable beaters with cookie batter on it after. I was standing on a stool, and I turned to ask my mother a question. Being an absent-minded kid, when I turned I unconsciously lifted the mixer out of the batter and cookie dough flew all over the wall. My mom went livid and slapped me full in the face, knocking me sprawling off the stool. She then dragged me bawling upstairs and beat me with the 3/4″ dowel rod for almost 30 minutes.
What made them stop the beatings after an hour or however long?  Was there something you or your sister did that helped them to stop? Were your parents looking for signs of remorse?  Did they finally give up?
The stipulation was that we had to hold still and submissively accept the beating, and we had to stop crying and be silent and not make a sound. This was a specific part of Gothard’s beating protocol, found in one of his pamphlets: the silent, limp submission to a beating was his metric for a “repentant spirit.”

To this day, I cannot show normal emotional responses to my environment as a result of this aversive conditioning; I reflexively suppress every emotional response. I cannot maintain a long-term relationship with a woman because of this emotional dysfunction, which is why I am still single at 44. I have had therapists hint that I might be a sociopath because of the superficial appearance of this emotional dysfunction, which I know not to be the case. I have emotions, I just cannot show or express them properly. It makes me want to kill myself.

Did your parents talk to you while you were getting “spanked?”  How was their tone of voice? Were they yelling or did they use a normal tone of voice?  Did they use scripture while “spanking?”  Did they pray with you after?
They would yell and scream and bellow. They would tell us what bad, awful, evil, horrible, sinful children we were. In the beginning, there was no pretext of spiritual context; later on as I got older and the beatings continued, my father began making attempts to pray with us after a beating, as if it was a spiritual exercise. For the most part, however, the beatings took place in an atmosphere of apoplectic, psychotic rage, especially when my mother was administering them. I use the term “psychotic” because my mother has been diagnosed as bipolar, and her fits of apoplexy were probably manic fugues. It was terrifying. To this day I have nightmares about it.
Did they realize you were bruised?  Did they ever acknowledge they went overboard or apologize?
The bruising and other injuries (which at one point for me included a broken finger, and for my brother once included a broken forearm) were never acknowledged by my parents. It was implied that we deserved it. “That’s what you get for your sinful disobedience” was the message.
My parents have never really acknowledged the specific details of what they did. Both of them have acknowledged that hitting us was wrong, but we can’t discuss details properly because they are so horrified and humiliated by the recollection of what they did to us. My mother has sobbing fits when I try to bring any of this up. Both my parents have tried to make amends through financial reparations: paying for therapists, occasionally helping with rent or medical bills. But I’m still broken, so everyday life is a constant struggle. I wake up every morning and look in the mirror, and I have to find a reason not to kill myself.
I have a cat that I adopted 13 years ago who snuggles with me and is my little buddy. Having a cat is the only thing that keeps me going; I have to take care of my cat, so I can’t kill myself. I have to focus on something other than myself in order to go on living. It’s pretty bleak.
I’d like to state again for the record that Gothard apologists are remorseless sadists, and this includes that Alfred character who comments on your blog. These people KNOW THAT THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THE IBLP/ATI PROGRAM, AND THEY ARE FINE WITH IT. They are sociopaths. And Gothard is a monster, because he knows about these events and he ENCOURAGES THEM.
photo credit: bark via photopin cc

Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children

Personal Story of Abuse following the teachings of Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP

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Last month, “Dash” commented on an older SSB article, Bill Gothard’s New Program/Ministry: Total Success Power Teams. He used some strong words to describe his experience:

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.

In the comments, Dash was asked to share more, and did so with me privately. I have compiled them into this article (and at least one more article). Dash’s words were difficult for me to read, especially because of my own abusive childhood, but also because of many years of teachings I was subjected to as a parent, including Gothard’s materials, so I am going to issue trigger warnings for anyone who might be triggered by childhood abuse, by spiritual abuse, etc.

Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries

Dash Explains Why He is Telling His Story Now

I have chosen to share my story with you because I’m 44 years old and it’s time for me to start talking, to anyone who cares enough to listen. I’ve already lost more than half my time to Gothard, and I want my life back. He’s 80 years old and I believe he is still damaging people in alarming ways, and he is leaving behind a deeply rooted, vile and secretively violent institution that seems to be poised to grind forth in his absence and continue churning out his awful work upon the next generation. I want to put a stop to IBLP, and I want to end Gothard’s legacy as utterly as possible. Everything he has ever written, touched, or talked about is poisoned and poisonous, and it must be destroyed.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about those aspects of Gothard’s teachings which were protocols for physical abuse: examples include blanket training, beating children with rods, and the sheer exasperation of parents whose children failed the rules of the program which would result in explosions of rage and indiscriminate hitting. In particular, Gothard’s distortions of the following verse were extremely detrimental:

Proverbs 23:13- Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Gothard devoted a great deal of written material, both IBLP and ATI, to using this verse as a premise for encouraging brutal beatings, albeit using roundabout phrasing and “soft” language which absolved him legally of any actual responsibility. At least, that’s how my parents interpreted it.

Part of my frustration in confronting Gothard stems from the fact that my family threw out a lot of Gothard’s most offensive ATI literature, some of which included blatantly racist arguments encouraging white followers to apply the “Quiverfull” practice, and to avoid miscegenation (in addition to the pamphlets encouraging beatings). So I can’t document a lot of these anecdotes. The basic literature quoting Proverbs 23:13, however, is part of the Red Book I believe; so it begins there.

“Spanking” vs Beatings

Also, I would like to be very clear about this point: “spanking” was not what we experienced in my family. These were actual beatings, ranging anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more. The beatings were delivered to the buttocks, thighs, and lower back, and sometimes the hands, fingers, and forearms (defensive injuries), in response to any perceived slight, offense, or rules violation.

Depending on the severity of the of the punishment, anything from a wooden spoon to a 3/4″x2′ dowel rod was used. My parents actually had an array of dowel rods to choose from (at least a dozen) ranging from a thin one about 1/8″ thick to the 3/4″ terror previously described. Occasionally my dad would use his belt, a heavy leather belt with a weighty brass buckle. Not often, though, because the belt would leave visible bruises.

My sister and I would go to school with huge black and purple welts across our buttocks, carefully placed so that they were covered by our clothes, and we would sit at our desks in excruciating pain with tears streaming silently down our faces. This was during our initial participation in ATI, but before we enrolled full-bore in home-schooling.

My parents were very clear that these practices were part of our Gothard instruction.

On the few occasions when I met Gothard in person, he actually stated that he believed spanking made children healthier and more successful. He would then quote the proverb about beating. He was very good about mincing words in order to evade responsibility.

If you have questions at this point, it would help the dialogue. I’m happy to type everything I can think of, but I get so bogged-down and blinded with rage that it becomes difficult to think clearly. Answering questions is very focusing for me.

(JA note:  On the next post, I have asked Dash specific questions and he responds to those questions.

I’m not interested in confronting Gothard on Christian terms, in accordance with church protocols. He forfeited that privilege decades ago. I want worldly justice. I want a genuine reckoning from the man. I want to burn his entire legacy to the ground, and stand amid the ashes and say to the world, “This was a man who ruined thousands upon thousands of lives. Nothing to see here. Please move along.”

The greatest and most dangerous fallacy that I keep hearing from Gothard apologists is the argument “Gothard my be imperfect, but his teachings are still right.” No, no and no. This is a lie: an ugly, flat-out foul and evil lie, intended to continue perpetuating Gothard’s abusive legacy. Everything Gothard teaches is wrong, all of it, even his direct Scripture quotes, because the CONTEXT is wrong. It places Gothard in the seat of worship instead of Christ. Everything Gothard ever taught or ever will teach must be discarded. If people want answers, they should listen to the Holy Spirit, and not any human teacher.

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The Dangerous Fallacies of Gothard Apologists

I’ve stated this in a previous email, but it bears repeating. The greatest and most dangerous fallacy that I hear from Gothard apologists is the argument “Gothard may be imperfect, but his teachings are still right.” This is blatantly false. Everything Gothard teaches is wrong, all of it, even his direct Scripture quotes, because the CONTEXT is wrong. It places Gothard in the seat of worship instead of Christ.

Everything Gothard ever taught or ever will teach must be discarded. If people want answers, they should read the Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit. They should not listen to Gothard or any other human teacher; they should make up their own minds.

 he second greatest fallacy I hear from Gothard apologists is “Many families have a great experience in IBLP and ATI. If your family had a bad experience, it’s because you misinterpreted Gothard’s intentions.” This is also blatantly false. I believe Gothard does in fact intend for parents to beat their children. I would argue that anyone who claims to have had a good experience with Gothard, IBLP, or ATI is either lying, deluded, or sadists themselves. If you got 4-5 years into ATI and you actually applied everything in the publications that Gothard sent you, especially the material based on Proverbs 23:13, you would have had an identical experience to mine.

I would argue that those who believe that they had a positive experience with Gothard are the ones who are in fact misinterpreting his intentions… just as I would argue that those who defend his behavior from the ongoing accusations of sexual misconduct are deluding themselves as to his true nature, and are blind to the damage he has inflicted.

Dash Believes Bill Gothard to be a Con Artist and Explains Why

I believe that Gothard is a consummate con artist. In spite of the endless documentation of the damage he has done, Gothard still manages to convince his inner circle of friends that he is a good man with good intentions who merely stumbled a little bit, and his victims are more to blame than he is for making such a big deal out of “nothing.” There are two explanations for this phenomenon:

  •  The first explanation is that genuinely hurting people, like my mother, who are desperate for real answers and a real connection with God, are easily misled by Gothard’s overpowering charm, his carefully crafted image, and his claims of secret knowledge and a special understanding of the Bible. These people are broken to begin with, and the hurt piled on hurt that Gothard inflicts is too much for them to comprehend; they defend Gothard out of reflex as all abuse victims will defend an abuser, due to Stockholm syndrome and an inability to comprehend their own damages and failures.
  • The second explanation is that Gothard appeals to genuine sadists and sociopaths, such as your commenter Alfred who obviously has zero concern for Gothard’s victims and is committed entirely to defending Gothard and behaving as vindictively toward his accusers as possible. These people are reprehensible scumbags. I would use a more graceful word to describe them, but there isn’t one.

JA note: Alfred, who was mentioned above, is Alfred Corduan, who commented on this SSB post. You can also see his comments on articles at the Gothard survivor site, Recovering Grace website, where he continually defends Bill Gothard. 

I would like to close at this time by saying that while I no longer call myself a Christian, I never gave up on Christ. I still believe in the Great Commandment:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I don’t do so well with the first part; loving God is next to impossible when I don’t know who God is, and I blame Gothard for that. I may yet end up in hell, and there’s nothing I can do about it. So I focus on the second part, and I try to love my fellow-man as best I can. That’s the best I can do. I can’t save myself. Only God can do that, if he wants to.

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photo credit: bark via photopin cc