Victim of Bill Gothard’s Teachings Shares Emotional Aftermath

Bill Gothard, IBLP, Child Abuse, Discipline


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For some, the ramifications of following the teachings of an influential spiritual leader (or cult leader) can be lifelong. As difficult as this next personal story is to read, it is the reality for some, and that is why I will continue to post stories like this.

Part of being an advocate for those who have been abused is never forgetting the reality that they face. It is believing them and standing with them, even when it is ugly and uncomfortable. We may not be able to walk in their shoes, but we can come alongside them and let them know that we are here for them.

We’ve heard from Dash (pseudonym) before and how the teachings of Bill Gothard influenced his parents and the way they “disciplined.”  The other day, Dash sent me a note sharing his thoughts and struggles, and it made me angry and sad. Dash is still suffering physically and emotionally from the abuse and trauma he faced as a child.

While Gothard may not have specifically taught parents to “discipline” their children as Dash’s parents did, his teachings laid the groundwork for “sparing the rod.” For Dash’s parents, the sparing-the-rod teachings gave them a license to beat and abuse, all for the sake of children demonstrating godliness and good character. Basically, it was whipping children into submission so that they cheerfully and robotically complied with every command.

My family also attended Bill Gothard seminars. Gothard had an unhealthy preoccupation with children maintaining an outward appearance of joy. Whether there was authentic joy did not seem to matter. So, as I was thinking about Godthard’s teachings, I realized that it is foreign for Dash to speak out like this and to express what Gothard would view as negative emotions, such as sadness, anger, etc. Thankfully, Gothard is not controlling Dash’s emotions anymore, nor are his parents. He now has the freedom to express all emotions, even the ones that may be uncomfortable. That’s good!

I no longer believe anger and sadness are negative emotions. They are simply emotions that God has given us. Dash has become acquainted with his anger. Part of the recovery process is finally connecting abuse with the anger it deserves, rather than stuffing the anger away as something ungodly. I kinda think God expresses anger at abuse. No, I know He does. That should tell us something, shouldn’t it?

Because Dash’s angry words and emotions are his reality, I am not going to remove any “offensive” language. It is not offensive to me anymore. It conveys to me that someone is in touch with their anger. I’ve come to realize over the past years that sometimes we need to express ourselves with words that most accurately describe what we’re going through. For me, to conceal these words is a way of minimizing the strength of Dash’s feelings, and I’m not going to do that. I want us to see and understand exactly where he is and feel his anger along with him. So if you are uncomfortable with reading swear words, now is the time to stop reading. Thank you for your understanding.


Dash Shares More of His Story

I had a real epiphany today. It finally came to me that Bill Gothard basically viewed his ATI families as a kind of Off-Broadway production for advertising purposes. The purpose of ATI was/is to present the evangelical community with living, breathing examples of “Perfect Family” results that can be obtained with his materials, to increase enrollment and revenue. The family home is the “backstage” area, where the performance is produced, and herein lies the really sinister part because I finally understand that Bill literally did not care how his “Perfect Family” image was achieved outside the home. Beat the kids, break them, scream at them, molest them, humiliate them, devalue them, remove all traces of self from them by any means necessary. Anything and everything is fair game so long as the ATI “Perfect Family” image is achieved outside the home, because then Gothard attains his true goal, which is self-aggrandizement. “Look at how effective my ATI materials are.”
Son of a bitch.

Bill Gothard, child abuse, IBLPYou want to know about Bill Gothard’s true legacy? Let me tell you about his legacy.

It’s very interesting to me how y’all talk about “relationships.” Boyfriends, girlfriends, married, divorced, kids, grandkids. I’m 47 and I don’t date. I haven’t dated in over a decade. I gave up on social interactions in college. I hate people with a passion. All the goddamn drama for nothing. I’ve never been married and I’ve never had a kid. I leave my apartment to work and that’s it. I live alone with two cats; I haven’t had a roommate in 20 years. If I could just sleep all the time, I would.

A lot of you still go to churches, which frankly amazes me. Why? Not for me. Never again in this lifetime. Why the hell would I go to some building where an arbitrarily appointed authoritarian in a monkey suit glowers from the pulpit and tells me all the ways I’m living my life wrong? All you preachers out there, take your exegesis and your scholarly opinions and shove them up your collective asses. You don’t matter. The Bible is bullshit. It’s a bunch of fairy tales and stone age folk stories. It’s superstitious hocus-pocus and it’s a joke.

Am I depressed? You bet I am. I live with migraines, numbness in my hands and feet, blurred vision, tinnitus. The doctors I have worked with most recently agreed that the likely diagnosis is CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), which is a degenerative disease of the brain tissue that occurs later in life when you’ve been hit repeatedly in the fucking head.

My parents beat the shit out of us kids in my family until we were old enough to leave. Before Gothard and twice as badly after we joined ATI. Not just spankings, either, but full-on beatings with open hands, closed fists, dowel rods, belts. My mother hit me in the head hard enough to knock me sprawling and knock me out cold on numerous occasions. My dad used to start swinging with closed fists at the slightest provocation. They used Gothard’s teachings to justify all of it. They screamed and bellowed them at us. We were bad evil children deserving of death.

My mother sexually molested me when I was two. The mere idea of sex makes me physically sick.

I doubt I’ll live to see retirement. I’m not even sure I’ll make it another five years. Life is intolerable and the world we live in sucks. God does not exist, and his followers are gibbering lunatics. There is nothing in this world that I want. Even my music begins to pall with age. What’s the point of any of it? Death would be a kindness to me, and I fucking mean it.

^^^THIS is Gothard’s real legacy.

Other articles by Dash:

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Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – It’s All About Who’s in Control

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Control, Submission


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 to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2

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Debi Pearl thinks Lori’s book gives “hope.” However, it seems that even she could not read through all of it.

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Chapter 3 – Let it Go!

No, we’re not busting out a Disney show tune. We’re talking about women letting go of control over their husbands.

Tired of watching your husband eat unhealthy junk food all day? Let it go!

Tired of your husband constantly watching sports on TV? Let it go!

Tired of watching how your husband wastes away his free time? Let it go!

In order to have a good marriage, Lori thinks a wife must stop criticizing and controlling her husband. He is a big boy and can choose to live his life how he wants. Lori doesn’t want her life controlled, so what gives her the right to tell her husband how to live his life? Really, Lori? If you want to use that argument, what gives you the right to tell women how to live their lives. Maybe it’s time you started following your own advice and let it go! (Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. Moving on…)

Lori blames women’s need to control their husbands on Eve.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Genesis 3:16, KJV)

Lori translates “desire” in this passage as “control.” This is typical complementarian thought on Eve and the fall. Lori goes on to tell us, “The more I gave up control, the more Ken became the husband I always wanted him to be.” All I can say to this is, yes, no one wants to be controlled. However, Lori’s simple statement sounds more like a magical spell. Do this and you can have a wonderful marriage just like us! I’m sorry to say that there’s a lot more complexity in a controlling marriage than simply no longer nagging can solve.

Moving on, Lori gives the following advice for when a wife needs to confront her husband:

  • Do it in a gentle and submissive way. Maybe Lori should do some role play videos with Ken to demonstrate this.
  • Don’t argue.
  • Say your piece and give it to God.
  • Ask your husband to hold you accountable for your faults. Is this a reciprocal request? Should the husband ask his wife to hold him accountable for his faults? On, no…we’re told to let it go!
  • Have your husband challenge you when you are trying to control. I can see that working out really well.

Lori again closes with an old blog post about how wives do not have the right to control their husbands because he is a man and can live his life how he wants. I guess that means he can do whatever he wants (within reason of course – no sinning allowed) whenever he wants. Why should he care how it affects his family?

Husbands don’t want their wives to nag them, withhold sex, give the silent treatment, or vent their emotions. A wife’s job is to love, serve, please, submit to, obey, and most importantly, make her husband feel comfortable at home.

We are left with a power differential here that is so common in complementarian ideology. While comps say that their ideology promotes healthy marriages and allows no room for abuse as long as there is a “different but equal” mentality, someone will always have the upper hand of control in a relationship.

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. (Proverbs 21:9, KJV)

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. (Proverbs 21: 19, KJV)

A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. (Proverbs 27: 15, KJV)

Christian Blogger Invited to Speak at Free Thinkers’ Meeting about Abuse in Christian Churches

Free Thinker, Atheist, Christian Blogger, Thought Reform, Patriarchy, Spiritual Abuse, Cults




Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at a Free Thinkers group. Privilege, some might ask? You bet. I will take any opportunity afforded to share the truth, set the record straight, and especially let people know that I, as a Christian, am displeased by the state of the Body of Christ when it comes to abuse and our response to abuse.

I feel I have a connection with many atheists. You see, when my defamation lawsuit went viral, I received over 500 emails of support. Many of those emails were sent by people who were harmed in the church, and then became atheist. This was originally a surprise to me, and  it saddened me. So many of these folks get spiritual abuse. They see the dysfunction and hypocrisy of celebrity pastors and leaders. Many of them are upset by what they see, and rightly so. If only those within the Body of Christ would get worked up about it!

It all started when I was in my Environmental Science class at school. Continue reading

Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Why Lori Does What She Does

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Mentoring, Titus 2


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It doesn’t matter if a woman works outside the home or stays home and raises children. She will always have to juggle time.

-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 to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1

Continue reading

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

Pastor Phil Johnson Shows His Heart toward Domestic Violence Victim

Domestic Violence, Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, John MacArthur

Continue reading

Book Review Series: “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Lori Reveals Her Mindset

Lori Alexander, The Power of a Transformed Wife, Book Review, Gender Roles

Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – Get to Work! and Is This the End?

Complementarianism, God’s Design, Gender roles

Owen sitting on book.jpg

The Watch Dog may not be a sheep dog, but he’s fluffy like a sheep.

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

This is a very sad day, children. This is our last day to talk about God’s Design. I know, I know….we’ll get through this together. Today, we will talk about work and summarizing everything we’ve learned. Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – The Church and Learning About Things We Already Know

Complementarianism, Women in the Church, Gender Roles, Proper Church and Family Roles

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-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about God’s design for the church and how to learn God’s ways (as if this hasn’t already been said enough). Continue reading

Spiritual Sounding Board: Updating the Legacy – Year 5

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Boy, oh boy, it’s been FIVE years today since the beginning of my blogs, and tomorrow marks five years since being served with the lawsuit by my ex-pastor Chuck O’Neal of Beaverton Grace Bible Church. It’s a good milestone moment to update the legacy.

Here was my profile summary from the original blog (on Blogspot): Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – Married/Single; Husband/ Father; Wife/Mother

Complementarian, Gender Roles, Being Married, Being Single, Desiring God’s Influence

married-couple

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about marriage and singleness, husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers.  Continue reading