Botkin Sisters, Meet the Martin Brothers (for TACOs with Larry)

Botkin Sisters, Meet the Martin Brothers (for TACOs with Larry) February 14, 2019

by Cindy Kunsman

PIC #1 of the Botkin Book and Video

The NLQ readers have asked me what I expect to accomplish by addressing the daughters of Geoffrey Botkin (GB) publicly in blog posts. When asked if I am willing to forgive them (as most people find their claims to be what I’ll summarize as cruel and questionable), I hope to give them information that they will need to understand my position. Because I see the question of their own agency as an unknown under a model where the standard of what is right and good filters to them through GB, I already forgave them. However, I’m still feeling many different emotions, but the angry ones fall on their father’s shoulders. I will respond publicly on my blog and here at Patheos, offering them information that they will need if they truly wish to cooperate with me, relating to me as a fellow Christian. Good Bereans should be willing to search out the truth, and I’d like to help them.

If they are sincere about what they wrote, offering flattering words that acknowledge that I want to help people who are in pain and that we share many common goals, they need more information about the misconceptions that they hold about what I’ve written and why. I am very happy to clarify them. Much of the information can help them as well as many other daughters and parents, and all can learn more about the history and the practices for which those in this subculture developed a reputation. The nature of the letter itself speaks to a system of how Matthew Chapter 18 is misinterpreted in order to counter 1st Corinthians Chapter 6 to exempt plaintiffs from a host of imperatives laid out by both Jesus and the Apostle Paul. (That’s another blog post to come.)

Yesterday, I thought about the books that I pulled off my shelf and ones near the top of my ‘to be read’ pile while the rain poured outside. I wrote in this post about people that I’m sure that these young women know nothing or little about, and Suzanne chose to post a couple of them. As I looked at the books, I thought about the people who wrote them. It was said of me that I hurt and used people with names and faces — people that I didn’t even know — that I had allegedly hurt without conscience and without respect for them. I wrote because of those same people to one day stand before God with clean hands and a pure heart, but without a better understanding of my vantage, they can’t understand. I thought that it might be nice to GB’s daughters a bit more about the people that I know who left Great Commission Ministries and those who helped me when I left my own spiritually abusive group and the unhealthy churches that I’ve found myself in since then.

Faces of Friends

PIC #2 Martin Brothers

With the books in front of me, I saw the parallels between the sisters and brothers. The books of Paul and Steve Martin laid right beside the Botkin video in front of me. How I wish that Paul was still with us to share a message of hope that Steve now labors at along with Paul’s wife, Barbara. As I note in a comment, with their consent, it is quite possible for me to arrange for the daughters to meet the Martin brother and perhaps Larry Pile who is the resident historian at Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center and a former member of the religious group where GB first claimed some fame. If you see a picture of Barb Martin online somewhere, it won’t do her justice. She is one of those people who is so kind, serene, and loving that she seems about 100x more beautiful to me in person.

Lawrence “Larry Pile” coined the acronym of TACO within the Christian Apologetics community which he prefers over cult or cultic: a Totalist Authoritarian Christian Organization. People tend to dismiss the word cultic, and I chose to embrace the word of ‘cult’ when I left my own TACO because it didn’t try to dress up the horrible nature of what happened to me. It called a horrible thing by a horrible name, and that helped me claim my right to my own recovery. It is tremendously hard for a Christian to take a stand like that, but I found liberty in the term. People also tend to sit up and listen if a person is willing to admit that what they experienced in a TACO church was really that terrible. Some people fault me for my choice of language, but I didn’t believe that dressing things up with kinder language helped anyone. Larry would very likely not have chosen the language that I use, but I’m happy with TACO!

If I ever get the video edited from a talk that I gave in DC at an International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) meeting, you can hear Larry in the front row laughing from time to time as I talk about Christianity’s alternative mental health system. (Our own NLQ host, Suzanne, drove up from Culpepper to attend that day, too.) We don’t usually take photos at those meetings because people are afraid of ending up in a picture that might make it back to their TACO, and they find themselves terrorized once again. I don’t take many photos if any at all at those meetings, and I’m careful about how I use those that I do.

This is why, to the best of my ability to recall, I show only one picture of the Botkin Family with none of the girls themselves. From among some 1500 blog posts I’ve written about TACOs and such. I still have to check, though, to make sure that my memory is accurate on that point. I may make material concerning Geoff Botkin live on the blog again so that the reader can decide for themselves whether I’m true in that. My memory assessment may just be the wishful thought of confirmation bias. I don’t believe that I have a picture of Larry, but you can see his face in his review of Quivering Daughters. I love him so much that I once told him that I wanted to take him home with me if I had someplace to put him.

Larry’s undergrad degree is in German Language, and I went up to him years ago and asked him in Pennsylvania Dutch if I could give him a hug and a kiss. (Dave Clark was there with him, the exit counselor who trained my exit counselor, but I’ll show you a picture of him in another post.). Larry was so funny! He said “My God, woman! That is practically Amish! And no self-respecting Amish woman would ever ask a man for a hug and a kiss!” I explained that many people call Pennsylvania Dutch “mix-ta-pickle Dutch,” a (very) low German dialect that is actually more Bohemian/Austrian. Dave lives in a town about as close to Dutch Country in PA as the one where I grew up, so it had some humor for him, too. So I then looked at Larry and said, “Can I have a buss and a dricke anyway?”

PIC #3 STEVE as EMCEE

And Steven Martin is a dear friend with whom I’ve corresponded for a very long time. I took this screenshot from the video where, one day when I get it edited, we can all hear Larry laughing. Steve is the author of the book, The Heresy of Mind Control., and as already noted, he’s the brother of Paul who walked away from the Great Commission group. His friendship, kind ear, and encouragement have meant so much to me, as do so many of the folks involved at Wellspring.

I have written much about the estrangement with my own parents, and I usually send what I write to three or four moms to make sure that I don’t sound like I mean to hurt them. I would then sit on those writings for weeks before I posted them. But I have also found a sweet community of people who have become a new family for me. I love them so much and am so grateful for their work, but especially for the love and fellowship that we share with one another. And I want to be a better person when I’m around them so that people around me can sense the love of God in me like I do in them. And I’m glad that my parents have that same kind of love and have people in their lives who know their loving kindness, too.

Stay tuned for some more faces and more information. Dave and Paul Martin are yet to come.

Editor’s note: I remember that day because Cindy spoke about two fo the most confusing books I was forced to study in my old church “Pigs in the Parlor” and “Needless Casualties of War”


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Iain Lovejoy

    Here’s an odd thing about Matthew 18 verse 17, the last bit about dealing with disputes, where it is said what to do if the one who has wronged you ultimately won’t listen. Firstly, the last people to take it to is literally “the gathering”, and refers (as far as anyone can tell) to the local community, not the “church” and so just means “going public” rather than any formal meeting. Secondly, it doesn’t say treat him as a sinner / unbeliever or tax collector but specifically as a foreigner or tax collector, which is significant as, thirdly and most crucially, the “you” in “you shall treat him etc” is singular, not plural, and refers to the man who has been wronged himself personally, not the assembly / church.
    This passage has nothing to do with “church discipline”: it says that you should firstly approach someone who has wronged you privately, then try mediation, and finally go public and see if public shame will persuade him where personal conscience will not.
    If that doesn’t work, Jesus then says to just give it up and write it off as if you had been wronged by one of the foreign occupiers or their lackeys, and had no right of redress.
    In the case of the dispute being serialised here, following this sequence literally would mean the last stage would be sticking the details up on everybody’s respective blogs / websites so people can decide for themselves and then dropping the matter.

  • Iain, your comment reminds me of extra credit questions that a professor of my husband’s of used to give on engineering tests. “Define the universe. Give examples.” I think that it only demonstrates just how effective and manipulative a letter like the Botkins’ own can be. I believe that it proves my thesis. Here are my immediate thoughts.

    I’m speaking to these things with knowledge and previous personal experience and study of the theology of Theonomy/Covenant Theology, not from within a vacuum. (My response to the Botkin letter comes from a position that is informed by my knowledge about their doctrines and teachings, well established history of their subculture, and how “real people with names and faces” fared after their experiences with this subculture. I don’t know whether GB’s daughters accept this doctrine that Doug Wilson teaches to which his friends in ministry ascribe, but many believe that in a time of war, a Christian may lie without consequence in time of war like Rahab did when she hid Joshua and Caleb. GB, the great champion of Western Civilization, is at war with the cultures and the ungodly Christians who don’t measure up because we don’t ascribe to his beliefs. Given how prevalent the Rahab’s Lie Doctrine is used in the subculture, I consider the source, especially when it comes to TACOs.

    Though establishing that history is hindered by the fact that most of my writings are currently offline, I would hope that readers can consider this matter and its implications captured in a single blog post. Their rabbit hole is very deep and the learning curve very steep. I did put this post back online, however. http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2008/12/who-is-geoffrey-botkin-vision-forum.html

    Single posts that address this issue are already quite long (as is this one). I have stated in previous discussions that it will take some time and focus to expound upon the letter’s many topics that require ‘unpacking.’ An explanation of ‘getting Matthew18ed’ will take at least four blog posts to introduce, though one might read the following guest post from another blog until that time. http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/08/05/peacemakers-ministries-true-conflict-resolution/. This concerns Ken Sande only and lacks mention of the similar system that Doug Philips established for himself in Texas with which he bullied and significantly altered the life of Joe Taylor. https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/11/21/chalcedon-foundation-privately-donated-funds-to-joe-taylor-to-help-his-legal-defense-against-doug-phillips/

    As the writings of the Martins and Pile address, only 10% of the Scriptures (220 sections) about false teachers, false prophets, and Pharisees pertain to doctrine. 47% of them teach us to identify them by observing behavior, 31% concern fruit, and 12% concern motive. I believe that this letter from GB’s daughters alone proves my existing thesis that Geoff Botkin classifies as a modern day Pharisee. His doctrine and his claims about his own background read like Swiss cheese.

    As I’ve established firmly in the past, while I once thought of those who were leaders within Vision Forum as my own brothers in the faith who were misguided and aberrant, by 2009, I’d changed my mind about that. In another long discussion in many blog posts about what they called “multigenerational faithfulness,” I present the evidence that changed my opinion. They preach a religion of works by conflating justification and reconciliation. That is not the Gospel preached in the New Testament. In his celebration of Rushdoony and North, he identifies as a Theonomist (although I’m certain that if I asked him, he would deny Theonomy for the sake of political expediency). Theonomy is something of a fringe cult of Covenant Theology that denies that believers in the New Covenant are not subject to the laws of the Old Covenant as suggested by the term itself. My Lutheran understanding of grace is repudiated as ‘antinomian’ (a long discussion dating back to Calvin’s Geneva). That too is another critical consideration.

    As I don’t hold GB’s daughters as fully informed agents because of bounded choice imposed by closed culture, I’m not addressing the young women as I respond to their letter. While they may now be morally responsible for their own actions as adults, my response to their letter is, in fact, addressing their father, holding him accountable for it. In my opinion, I’ve never blogged about the daughters of GB in isolation. I’ve blogged about their family’s model for family life which, per their own writings, is established and dictated by their father whose ‘vision’ they serve.

    Men of this theological bend teach a model that makes individual fathers over into sacerdotal priests for household members. By their own model, GB is ultimately responsible for the actions of those under his authority.

    I see no evidence to date that GB is a New Covenant believer in the Gospel of Christ. I do see evidence of his own false witness, if only considering how he has distorted his own past to mislead others (including his own family to which this letter to me attests). From my perspective as well as his status as a public figure, any appeal to Matthew 18 is moot.

    I’m only willing to extend compassion to GB’s daughters because of the closed system demanded of their culture and their own bounded choice as SGAs. They have only ever been pawns that have been used by GB, but for their sakes, I’ve gone to this trouble to address this matter in order to honor their personhood. They may be my own brethren with faith in Christ as they understand Him.

  • Please take note that I might have been around this mulberry bush before. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/726e98457ad7bd29c199b077c0504562f1334a5813f22127fb667777a6ffc6d5.jpg

  • Jennny

    Wow, jaw-droppingly arrogant. How did you respond? These folk seem to live on a different planet to me. I’ve thought a few times since NLQ has been posting your Botkin interaction, not only how arrogant these folk are, sure they and only they know the truth…but I think the word bullying comes into it. It’s the only way they know to deal with (often imaginary) problems. And they’re snowflakes too.

  • This letter from the Botkins strikes me as a legal thread speaking what sounds like a demand for financial compensation for the theoretical losses that they allege that I caused.

    Private emails among this crowd don’t tend to work because they like to waste the precious time and energy of many at nearly any cost. I would also like to point out that like GB, the party who sent this email to me never contacted me thereafter (nor did any legal representative on their behalf) because I could document what I’d written about them and their own abuses.

    As Mel notes elsewhere, GB or his daughters might hire an attorney to hire to sue me, but because I have not lied and can defend my use of language and the material from the addictions and recovery literature, I don’t see how they could possibly win. I wouldn’t have published anything that I believed that I could not defend. His daughters may believe whatever comes out of GB’s mouth or from his pen is gospel, their belief doesn’t make it so, It’s not libel if it’s true.

  • I didn’t respond to this email, and the previous one they sent me reads much like the Botkin letter. A woman that I once counted as a friend received an email letter from an attorney which I refused to receive. I mean, if I’m going to be sued, don’t they have a duty to inform me? They only sent it to her, and I didn’t consider an email threat to be legitimate.

    I do understand from what two people have told me is that in the letter sent only to the other party, the plaintiffs level threats that also offered a tight timeline. I’m told that they name me therein, and I’m told that they claimed that I was guilty of racketeering.

    I’ve never earned money from any of this, so those charges are moot, and I believe that it demonstrates that this is only an attempt at manipulation. I was amazed at how many people were willing to give me documentation that I understand that the woman (who has used the Surname of “Faye” in the past) used that material to counter the plaintiff. That person tried to offer me up to the plaintiff’s atty as a bargaining chip to the plaintiff, so everything I know after “Faye” went no contact with me is through third parties who were concerned about my welfare. I also understand that she has recourse to pursue legal action against the plaintiff. But that is all here say.

    The material to which they objected still stands online, and even the blog platform company did not remove it. I have no idea whether they ever made an attempt to report it. It is nine or ten years old now.

  • Looking at it now, both of these communications basically say,

    “Liar, liar, pants on fire, you destroyer of worlds! Do A, B, and C by this date, and if not, we’re going to make you pay. Get bent, and God bless you. Blessed are the peacemakers, you sorry excuse of a creature, but we know that you really want to help people. You’d know that if you’d have come over to our place so we could love bomb you with tea and crumpets.”

    Ain’t nobody got time for that!

  • deleted

  • SAO

    One of the things the comments of McDonald and the Botkins points out, which was also visible in the writings of the Botkins and the Mally book Mel reviewed is that they don’t appreciate that people have different viewpoints, not to mention that other viewpoints might be equally valid or even (the horror!) more accurate.

    Like that woman quoted here some time ago whose husband treated her like a queen and wouldn’t even let her change a lightbulb, but he didn’t always get around to stuff very promptly. I don’t think anyone reading that thought that sitting the dark for months was being treated like a queen.

    No, there’s one truth and they know it and it is out of the pure kindness of their hearts that they try to enlighten the rest of us. How dare we challenge their words?

  • They highlight the T and the A in the TACO. They are totalist and aberrant/authoritarian. Oops! I think I wrote the wrong definition of TACO above! The totalist part makes the term authoritarian redundant. I should be “Aberrant”!

    There, an example of what to do if you realize that you made an error: you repent.