From a Bill Gothard Survivor to Other Survivors: Free Yourselves

Bill Gothard, IBLP, ATI, Institutes in Basic Life Principles, Spiritual Abuse, Sexual Abuse


The following was written by David Shere, who has been reading here for some time. He wanted to share his thoughts and advice as a Bill Gothard survivor.  This was written after the news that the plaintiffs had dismissed the lawsuit against Bill Gothard.  ~ja


From a Bill Gothard Survivor to Other Survivors:

Free Yourselves

by David M. Shere


I’m not going to discuss my background here, or my experiences with the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, or with IBLP and ATI, or even with Gothard himself. Yes, I met the man, several times in fact. I remember his dark pinstripe suits and the ever-present dusting of dandruff on his shoulders; that should be enough to verify my claim for anyone who doubts me.

I’m not going to talk about what I believe. My beliefs are irrelevant here.

I’m not going to hold myself up as a role model, because I honestly don’t care what other people think. You do you; I’m busy with my own stuff, thanks.

And most of all, I am not going to talk about God, except to say that if God exists, He will do with me as he pleases. That is the meaning of Omnipotence. If I am damned to Hell, I accept it as my fate; and no amount of begging, pleading, bargaining, or doing of good deeds from me will ever change the will of God. Believe me, I’m more than OK with it. It’s kind of nice knowing how little control anyone ever actually has over anything.

Anyway, this essay is a call out from me to all of you out there, past and present, who like me have ever known Gothard or have ever been involved with any of his programs or literature. I empathize deeply with all of you. I know that at times you feel insurmountably trapped. I know that you may even despair.

I know that many of us had hopes for the recent lawsuit, which unfortunately was simply too little and too late. I’m sure there’s nothing more frustrating than realizing decades later just how expertly you’ve been had, how deviously you’ve been played and manipulated. I’m sure Bernie Madoff’s investors had similar feelings.

Anyhow, my message is a simple one. It’s not advice, it’s not commiseration. It’s not a plan or a rule or a Beatitude or a sermon. It’s not a well-placed Bible verse. It’s not a message from God or a prophet’s exhortation. It’s simply an idea, a suggestion if you will. A recommendation.

Ready? Here it is:

Free yourselves.

Bill Gothard: Who is he? He’s nobody. He’s not a friend or a family member; he’s not a relative or an employer. He’s not the Second Coming of Jesus. He’s not your pastor or your therapist or an accredited teacher. He’s not even an acquaintance or a friend of a friend. He’s just some guy, guys.

You know what Bill Gothard is? He’s the equivalent of a salesman on one of those late night infomercials you see on cable access television, only instead of selling Thighmasters or Snuggies he’s selling “49 Non-Optional Principles” and dozens of other laughably argued, badly written, cheaply printed “theological” pamphlets. Why are we paying attention to him again?

Do you know why any of us, why any of our friends or family members or parents got sucked into Gothard’s literature in the first place? Because we were weak, that’s why. We were damaged, and we were weak. And in our moment of weakness, we turned to a man who sold us the cheap television infomercial equivalent of theology. Boy, don’t we feel dumb, right?

And you know what? THAT’S OK. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone does stupid things in moments of weakness. I still drink beer once in a while even though I know I won’t sleep as well (wine is definitely better). I still smoke cigars occasionally because they taste amazing. I still eat pizza even though it’s basically just a belly fat train wreck on a plate. We’re human, and being human means being weak and stupid occasionally.


So what’s the solution? Free yourselves.



You or someone with power over you bought you into Bill Gothard’s theological infomercial of ridiculous rules and outlandish promises. And only you can get yourself back out of it.

For those of you who are parents, using Gothard’s infomercial-theology on your kids: Your choice is easy. Throw the books away. Open your window blinds. Send your kids back to school, and find a less oppressive church to attend.

For those of you who are kids or young adults, squashed under the thumb of Gothard’s endless regulations: I feel your predicament. Your situation is once removed from the source so to speak, but the power is still in your hands, yours and yours alone. You know what you need to do to get loose. Only you can see the path you must take. Argue with your parents against Bill’s teachings. Insist on being sent back to a public school. Go away to college. Get a job. If you are being abused, contact the police and file a police report. Move in with friends. Stop going to church. Establish a presence on social media and find a support network.  Contact the good people here at Spiritual Sounding Board if you need resources.  Love yourself and defend yourself. Stand up for your life. Fight your circumstances. Whatever it takes.



Survivor Emily Jaeger Responds to Bill Gothard’s Reactions to Her Revealing She is “Jane Doe III”

Bill Gothard, sex abuse, cults, lawsuit, Emily Jaeger, freedom, IBLP


A note of introduction from Julie Anne:

Emily Jaeger is one of the sexual abuse survivors and plaintiffs in the Bill Gothard/IBLP sex abuse lawsuit. Her official statement about the lawsuit was posted on Spiritual Sounding Board a few days ago.

Then someone close to Bill Gothard contacted me. He runs the Discovering Grace website, which is devoted to supporting and defending Bill Gothard and his teachings. We communicated at length, during which he asked me if I wanted to post Bill Gothard’s response to Emily Jaeger’s statement (per Bill’s suggestion). After I declined, it was then published at Discovering Grace website.

I initially said no, because I do not want my blog to be used as a platform for an abuser. However, then I saw Emily Jaeger’s new reply to Bill Gothard’s response statement, and it made sense to me to post both.

I may have more to say later — in fact, I am thinking of doing an SSB “learn to discern” post to analyze these statements in depth. But for now, I’ll say I think his statement is a perfect opportunity to see a spiritual abuser in action, violating boundaries, and hers shows what it looks like when someone leaves the influence of a high-control environment, thinks independently, and makes their own decisions. See what you think … Continue reading

Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Ken Alexander has the Final Word

The Power of a Transformed Wife: Lori Alexander, Submission, Control, Godly Marriage


Comment and response on The Transformed Wife, 2/13/18

-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10   Chapter 11  Chapter 12   Chapter 13   Chapter 14   Chapter 15   Chapter 16   Chapter 17


Chapter 18 – A Way to a Man’s Heart… Continue reading

A Personal Story and a Sad Conclusion When Pastors Failed to Respond Appropriately to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, Church response, Rob Porter

Continue reading

A Preacher’s Bible? Why?


JA is scratching her head. I don’t get it. Do you?



Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – “Healthy,” One of Lori’s Favorite Buzz Words

The Power of a Transformed Wife: Lori Alexander, Healthy Living



Owen, the Watch Dog, does not approve of this book.

-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10   Chapter 11  Chapter 12   Chapter 13   Chapter 14   Chapter 15   Chapter 16


Chapter 17 – Serving Healthy Foods Means Healthy Families

We’re getting to the point in the book where I’m wondering why some of these chapters are even in here. I’m beginning to feel like they’re merely pages to fill up a book. The last chapter was about decluttering your home, and this one is about healthy food and DIY household cleaners. Which leads me to question:

What does this have to do with being a “transformed wife?” Continue reading

BREAKING: Leaders at Doug Wilson’s Christ Church Put Woman in Abusive Marriage Under Church Discipline

Mike Lawyer, Counseling, Abuse in Marriage, Abuse of Authority

I have been in contact with a woman named Gen, who has agreed to let me post this letter she received from Mike Lawyer, “on behalf of Christ Church Session.” Christ Church is Doug Wilson’s church in Moscow, Idaho. If you would like to learn more about Doug Wilson and his extra-biblical and spiritually abusive ways, see his name in “Categories” in the side bar.

Gen told me she was in an abusive marriage. She was not physically abused, but was emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and financially abused. She and her husband sought counseling, and were in counseling both together and separately.

Gen also told me that she didn’t respond appropriately to the abuse – that she reacted by yelling and crying. I don’t think that’s an inappropriate response to abuse, do you? That seems very normal. I’m not sure where she learned that she was responsible for her response, but that concerns me because it takes the focus off the perpetrator and places it on the survivor – as if they are both equal sinners.

This following letter was sent to Gen on January 18, 2018. Mike Lawyer has decided he knows her spiritual condition and has determined that she is not living up to being a proper wife, etc. Because of her “unwillingness” to deal with her sins, she is being put in church discipline.

It’s important to understand that Doug Wilson believes that husbands are the heads of the home. He believes in Patriarchy. If husbands are the priests of the home, who do you think they would believe first, the husband or the wife? Continue reading