Bill Gothard has resigned . . . but is that enough?

Bill Gothard has resigned . . . but is that enough? March 7, 2014

Yesterday Bill Gothard resigned from the Institute for Basic Life Principles. As my regular readers know, Gothard has been under increased scrutiny due to accusations that he has sexually molested girls and young women for decades.

More on this development from Ryan Stollar of Homeschoolers Anonymous:

Last month the IBLP board placed Gothard on administrative leave. . . . There are rumors that David Gibbs, Jr. — the former president of ACE who was the longtime attorney for convicted child abuser Jack Schaap‘s church, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana — was hired by the IBLP board to spearhead the investigation.

Today, however, David Waller — the Administrative Director of the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) — sent out an email to families involved with ATI and announced that Bill Gothard has resigned from the Institute in Basic Life Principles and all its affiliated organizations. . . .

Waller did not state if Gothard planned to return to leadership at some point. He did say, however, that IBLP and ATI will continue as is. Their upcoming conferences in Big Sandy, Nashville, and Sacramento will be held as planned. The organization also “expects to appoint interim leadership for IBLP in the very near future.” . . .

You can view David Waller’s email in its entirety as a PDF here.

How the mighty fall. First, Doug Phillips, and now Bill Gothard, both within six months. This is huge. I do have some concerns, though. I worry that these leaders may fall while their ideology does not. Yes, Bill Gothard was a problem, a big problem, but the underlying problem is actually what he taught. I worry that these individual leaders will receive all of the blame while their ideologies are allowed to evade scrutiny.

The Institute for Basic Life Principles and the Advanced Training Institute will go on, and homeschooled children will continue to be raised on the same teachings Gothard promoted. To illustrate why this is a problem, let me offer up IBLP’s guidelines for counseling victims of sexual abuse (trigger warning for abuse victims):


I can’t even begin to say how toxic this is. Okay fine, I can.

The message here is that while the perpetrator damages the body, the body is unimportant compared to the spirit, and the victim damages her spirit with bitterness and guilt. In other words, it is the victim actually damages herself far above the way the perpetrator damages her. Toxic does not even begin to describe this.

We also learn that God allows people to be sexual abused as a result of immodesty, association with evil friends, or being out from under their parents’ protection. And these are the only reasons listed. I am almost left speechless. What if someone is sexually abused by their parent? Is a child who is sexually abused to be blamed for immodest dress? The handout then calls on abuse victims to confess this guilt to God and ask for forgiveness. 

And then there is the call for victims to forgive their abusers and either turn their abusers over to God for judgement or else ask God to forgive their abusers. Earlier there was a mention of reporting abuse, with reference to Deuteronomy 22:22-24. So I looked the passage up. Here you go:

If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

Yes, really. This is the passage sexual abuse victims should read? Really?

And yet IBPL and ATI will continue with business as usual, teaching these same toxic messages. I think you get my point here. Bill Gothard is only part of the problem. Business as usually is the real root of the problem. Business as usual is what allowed Bill Gothard to do what he did and get away with what he did. Business as usual needs to change. 

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