Recovering Grace’s Response to IBLP Board Action

5 March 2014, 06:00

Moderator

78

gracenotesDear Recovering Grace Reader,

On Thursday, February 27, at 9:20 p.m. EST, World magazine broke the news that the board of directors of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) has placed Bill Gothard on administrative leave while they undertake a review of the allegations we have published on our site in recent weeks. We received the news of this administrative leave when the story was released by the media, and we have taken our time in responding to the board’s statement so that we could do so in an informed, responsible, and grace-filled manner.

Over the past weeks our team has been in contact with a number of key individuals involved in the situation. We also expressed in a letter to the chairman of the board our willingness to dialogue with them directly about the issues that have been raised on our website, including the allegations of moral failure, abuse of spiritual authority, and mishandling of Scripture.

We understand that there are three very distinct parties which we need to address in our response:

TO MR. BILL GOTHARD:

We are praying for you. Please know that in our heart of hearts we desire to see you repent for the sins that have damaged so many and find reconciliation with God. This has been our sincere daily prayer even as we’ve engaged in what must seem like nothing more than an attempt to destroy your life’s work. We are asking God to grant you the ability to truly listen to those whom you have offended, to repent, and to be restored in your relationship with the Lord.

We long for you to experience the merciful one-way love and grace of a forgiving God. Scripture is clear that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from unrighteousness. You have spent 79 years of your life under the crushing burden of “principles” and “steps”—that which the Apostle Paul refers to as the “yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). We long that you would experience—perhaps for the first time—the weight of the depths of your sin, which no good works, “lessons learned,” or surface apologies can appease, followed by the grace God offers to those who need it most. This is the same grace that Jesus expressed in the words “neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11) and in the story of a long-suffering father who extravagantly celebrated the return of the son who had disowned him (Luke 15).

We would encourage a public response and/or apology. It is our belief that more than anything else, the young ladies who have brought these allegations of sexual harassment against you desire validation that you’ve heard them and acknowledgement of the harm you have caused. Even if you believe that you are simply misunderstood, or that the intent behind your actions and behavior was harmless, what you did to these women over more than 40 years of ministry hurt them very deeply in a way that has lasted for many years. Likewise, the IBYC staff from the 1970s and 1980s deserves a public response for the way you caused damage and pain in their lives as you sacrificed the outpouring of their lives and reputations in an attempt to save your ministry. Please do not continue to remain silent on these matters, but put your own detailed teachings on how to ask forgiveness into action. Then and only then can you truly be ready to listen and understand the depth of hurt that has been caused.

TO THE IBLP BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

• We are your brothers and sisters in Christ, not your adversary. We are the “children” and fruit of this ministry. We are the ones upon whose lives the ATI and IBLP ministries grew to international prominence in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Because of this, we are qualified to speak to the damage that Mr. Gothard’s personal actions and many unscriptural teachings have caused, and we don’t want that damage to continue. It would encourage many to discover that you share our concerns. It is our sincere hope that we would all be looking in the same direction as we address these challenges.

There is more at stake here than the survival of a ministry. In recent years, the world has watched as several high-profile Christian leaders and organizations have dealt with cases of sexual misconduct and/or spiritual abuse. In some cases, things were dealt with in an appropriate manner, and in other cases they were not. Because of this, the American church has developed a growing reputation for protecting abusers and organizations in order to “protect God’s reputation” at the expense of the victims. Regardless of the conclusions you reach in your investigation, we plead with you to make it very clear that IBLP does not—and will not ever—tolerate sexual abuse or harassment in any form, and that you will take all necessary steps to ensure that these young ladies are protected and cared for in a Christ-like manner. Please show the world that you value mercy and justice, grace and truth.

This type of investigation requires transparency. We strongly believe that in situations where there are allegations of abuse in a religious organization, they should be handled by a professional and unbiased third party. Published reports indicate that there is an “internal investigation” taking place by IBLP legal counsel. An internal investigation, as opposed to an independent one, makes it difficult—if not impossible—for victims to come forward and share freely, as well as for the public to accept the results of the investigation as unbiased. There is much concern that an internal investigation will simply be a tool to sweep allegations under the rug. For these reasons, we feel it is imperative for the IBLP Board to bring in an independent third-party to serve as the investigator and/or conciliator of these matters—one who has experience in investigating allegations of sexual abuse within Christian environments.

TO OUR READERS:

• Recovering Grace is calling for a Day of Prayer. As we walk through this situation as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is easy to lose focus on our identity in Him. Ultimately He is in control of this situation, and we can rest in the assurance that He cares more for the wounded and abused that we can ever imagine. On Thursday, March 6, Recovering Grace is calling its readership to a day of prayer, seeking God on behalf of Bill Gothard, IBLP, Recovering Grace, and all involved in these difficult events. We encourage you to follow us on Twitter @RecoverGrace #RGDayOfPrayer as we send alerts every thirty minutes with specific items for prayer. We will also be updating our Facebook page throughout the day with prayer requests.

Reach out to your family members. One of the incredible things that we’ve heard time and time again is that former ATI families have used this unique time to communicate with each other about issues that have been swept under the family rug for too long. Perhaps you are a parent who knows that your child feels hurt by their experiences in ATI. Use this opportunity to reach out and truly listen to them. Perhaps you are a former student who needs to reach out to your parents and siblings. Perhaps during your family’s time in ATI, you wounded a pastor or church leader as you left their church in anger over their “lower standards.” This would be a perfect opportunity to send them a short letter of apology. There will never be a better time to open these dialogues and bring about healing.

Communicate with the IBLP board. We believe the board truly wants to hear from individuals and families who have been hurt and from others who have a vested interest in these matters being resolved biblically and in a Christ-honoring manner. Send an email to info@iblp.org, Attn: IBLP Board of Directors. We would encourage you to share with them how your family was impacted by IBLP, and we would also encourage you to ask them to utilize a non-biased third party to investigate these issues.

As we have stated so many times before, our mission is to help people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard, IBLP, and ATI. This mission has never changed. We are in a unique season of our work, but our goal remains to help people find the hope and healing that is only possible through the grace of God. We will continue to shine light on the darkness, and we will keep you updated on important developments related to these crucial issues. But our primary passion continues—helping others recover a life filled with the scandalous freedom and grace of Jesus.

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.

78 Comments

  1. mitchell chapman March 5, 2014 Reply

    FROM MITCHELL CHAPMAN

    Good contact is the Archbishop of Chicago. His name is Francis Cardinal George. His office is at 835 north rush street Chicago Illinois 60611. The phone number is 312 534 8200. If you go to protectandhealchicago.org that will give you an idea of what they are doing to help those that have been harmed. Maybe talk to him to see how they handle those that need counseling and many other issues.
    Just a suggestion so know everybody has a life to live but sounds like the archbishop has a handle on this issue.

    • Joe Blow March 30, 2014 Reply

      There goes the 81,000,000 of hard earned donated money. Give it to the women offended and close up shop on this hypocritical ministry. Or divide between the 2.5 million people who believed in a lie for 50 years. Help young people find a new approach to life huh? Take the beam out of you're own eye. We love you Bill but you are a sinner just like the rest of us.

      • esbee March 30, 2014 Reply

        how about establishing scholarships for kids whose parents cannot afford to send them to college.

        Once when we were struggling financially, I got a special prayer cloth in the mail from one of those televangelists---it GUARANTEED that if I prayed my problems over that little hanky AND SENT MONEY TO THEM- THAT ALL MY FINANCIAL PROBLEMS WOULD BE SOLVED. I was really desperate but I felt like sending them a letter (w/ a donation) stipulating that if I did not get a check in the mail for more or hit a jack-pot somewhere, could I have that money back because I was really going to need it after donating to them. I never sent the letter or donation and little by little my husband and I learned to manage our finances.

  2. Brumby March 5, 2014 Reply

    My personal hope is that my family can patch up our relationships. Thanks for clearly verbalizing the need for that in your RG response. Thumbs up! I hope for healing for many families in light of these recent events and enlightenments.

  3. Sarah M March 5, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for this statement. I appreciate the care and time that went into it. Looking forward to the day of prayer!

  4. Donna Moore March 5, 2014 Reply

    Thursday, March 6th...

  5. DAVID PIGG March 5, 2014 Reply

    "Because of this,the American Church has developed a growing reputation for protecting abusers and organizations in order to protect "God's Reputation"at the expense of the victims."May I add not the most important ones,but the least.God's mercy,desperately needed.God's Light,and forgiveness desperately needed.It's tough when all you got in this world is your "flesh."

  6. Myron Horst March 5, 2014 Reply

    Recovering Grace,
    It is now time for you as a group to go to the proper civil authorities and present to them your evidence and ask them to investigate any illegal activities at IBLP/ATI - sexual harassment, sexual abuse, violation of child labor laws, misuse of charitable donations (IRS), etc.

    It is now three weeks since George Mattix told Christian News Post that they knew of the allegations and had turned it over to legal counsel. They have not issued a public statement on the IBLP website, nor have they have not publicly stated that Bill Gothard was placed on administrative leave.

    Their silence is a statement. If the allegations were false, even some of them, they would have quickly stated that they were.

    The IBLP board can not be expected to bring in a third party to investigate. This is not just a religious issue it is even more a legal one. The members of the board could potentially face longer prison sentences than Bill Gothard if it is found that Gothard has been sexual abusing underage girls, the board knew about it and did nothing. With that potential outcome, they will not want to bring in someone to investigate. They will want to do the investigation privately and then control what they release.

    The following day after Penn State received their sentence, a Catholic Church official, William Lynn, was sent to jail for 3 to 6 years for covering up a sexual abuse case. He received more jail time than the man who committed the sexual abuse! He covered up the sexual abuse by a priest under his supervision. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Lynn had shielded a number of predatory priests, sometimes transferring them to unwary parishes, and lied to the public to avoid bad publicity and lawsuits.
    Judge Sarmina, in handing out the sentence, said that Lynn had “put children at risk by repeatedly protecting ‘monsters in clerical garb’.”
    The New York Times has this quote about the sentencing:
    “’I think this is going to send a very strong signal to every bishop and everybody who worked for a bishop that if they don’t do the right thing, they may go to jail,’ said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. ‘They can’t just say ‘the bishop made me do it.’ That’s not going to be an excuse that holds up in court.’”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/us/philadelphia-church-official-to-be-sentenced-in-abuse-case.html

    The IBLP board has a conflict of interest. This matter must be taken to the civil authorities over them who have the authority to investigate the matter.

    • Myron Horst March 5, 2014 Reply

      The organization, GRACE, does not have the legal authority to do the type of investigation that needs to be done with IBLP. They can too easily be controlled or fired by the IBLP board as has happened in the Bob Jones University sexual abuse investigation and a Baptist mission organization sexual abuse investigation.

    • Myron Horst March 5, 2014 Reply

      Here is another example that the IBLP board could be held responsible as well if Bill Gothard is found to be guilty of sexual abuse, they knew about it, and did nothing.

      In July 2012 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) fined Penn State University an incredible $60 million for covering up the sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky, an assistant football coach. The football team was banned for four years from playing in bowl games and all of their bowl game wins were removed back to 1998.
      Joe Paterno, the head football coach, had heard about Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the locker rooms in 1998. Paterno pressured the school administration not to report Sandusky to preserve the reputation of Penn State. The football team was winning a lot of games and they did not want to jeopardize their wins by losing Sandusky.
      In the following years, Sandusky sexually abused a number of other boys on Penn State grounds. Because of the win-at-all costs mentality and putting their own reputation ahead of protecting young people, the N.C.A.A. made the punishment significant to prevent this type of thing from happening again at Penn State or any other University. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/sports/ncaafootball/penn-state-penalties-include-60-million-fine-and-bowl-ban.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    • TiaraLi March 5, 2014 Reply

      Recovering Grace have already stated quite clearly that when somebody came to them with details of criminal abuse, the FIRST thing they did was to direct them to a real lawyer. As far as criminal charges go, RG cannot make an official complaint against BG with the police. Only the actual victim can do that.

      RG are not in any way, shape, or form ignoring the need for criminal allegations to be addressed in a court of law. But in some cases the statute of limitations has expired in the state they are in. In others, perhaps, a victim may be refusing to go to the police for their own reasons. It doesn't change the fact that Recovering Grace cannot turn the information they have over to the police and expect anything to be done.

      • TiaraLi March 5, 2014 Reply

        As far as GRACE goes, it is better than any internal investigation that IBLP is suggesting. BJU may have fired them, but they reinstated them just weeks later due to public pressure - with NO changes to the original agreement. The guy who started it, Boz, is a former prosecutor who has real experience in these areas.

        IF none of the victims are willing or able to go to the police, and as far as non-criminal matters are concerned, GRACE is an excellent organisation for investigating IBLP.

    • Austin Gunderson March 5, 2014 Reply

      RG has repeatedly stated that the reason it hasn't brought legal action against IBLP is because it doesn't have the legal standing to do so. It's also repeatedly stated that, in many of the reported abuse cases, the statute of limitations has expired. There are, apparently, plenty of lawyers on the RG leadership team. Do you really think they've just got cold feet?

      http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/02/questions-from-the-mailbag/

      Unfortunately, the law isn't some kind of magic bullet that'll achieve the kind of unconditional victory you seem to want. I respect RG for behaving responsibly, keeping its cool, and knowing its limits.

    • Myron Horst March 5, 2014 Reply

      Recovering Grace is not in the position to pursue legal action, as in a law suit. However, they have indicated that there are at least several people who have contacted them who's case would still be within the statute of limitations in Illinois for reporting to authorities. Some cases may have occurred in states where there is no statute of limitations. ATI has training centers in many different states.

      There is significant concern that there may have been many more victims of Bill Gothard in recent years. It is amazing how many old men are involved in sexual abuse.

      The victim is not the only person who can report sexual abuse to the authorities. But, if the victim refuses to talk with the investigators, they cannot pursue the case.

      In my research of many sexual abuse cases for a book I am writing on sexual abuse among Amish and Mennonites, a significant number of the cases were reported to police or child protection services by someone other than the victim. In some states, those who know about a sexual abuse situation and do not report it can be charged. Note the following case is from Michigan, the state where the Northwoods Conference Center is located. Note too, there are actually two different sexual abuse cases in the article, one in Marshfield, MO and one in Michigan:

      Amish leaders in Michigan learn from sex abuse case near Seymour MO
      “MARSHFIELD, Mo.-- An Amish man from Seymour, Johnny Schwartz, was charged last year for statutory sodomy and rape of two young Amish girls. His wife, Fannie Schwartz, was later charged for knowing about the abuse and not reporting it.

      “The Webster County Sheriff's Department investigation later found that elders of an Amish church near Seymour also knew about the abuse but never alerted authorities. That led to prosecution of the elders. Now it looks like that heartbreaking case might have brought some relief for a similar situation in Michigan…

      "’One of the Michigan officers talked to one of our detectives basically saying, 'Good job,' because we think the elders and bishops reported this because of what they'd seen down here in Webster County,’ said Cole.

      “Cole had a meeting with the Amish community in his county nine months ago to make clear to them the law of mandatory reporting. And, even by buggy, it seems the news traveled fast, all the way to Michigan.

      "’They had never reported it up there either,’ said Cole.

      “He said two young Amish girls who spent time here in the past, and now are in Michigan, told the elders of being abused; the elders then told Michigan police. That police department now credits Webster County with making a difference.

      "The case out of Michigan is still under investigation.”
      http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2010/07_08/2010_07_15_Forhetz_AmishLeaders.htm

      While the sexual harassment and sexual abuse at IBLP is high in our minds, it appears that that is not the only illegal activity that was/has been taking place, and those things also need to be investigated by the proper authorities.

      • "Hannah" March 5, 2014 Reply

        I think there is some confusion here as regards the laws concerning mandatory reporting. Mandatory reporting involves cases that involve someone who is currently a child and/or the abuse is ongoing. As RG has pointed out, in cases that are now legal adults, RG would not have the legal standing to pursue legal action. That has to be the decision of the individuals, now adults in question. It wouldn't accomplish much for me to call up the Illinois equivalent of CPS, tell them my acquaintance was molested over 20 years ago, she is in no danger, now, she won't talk to them, herself, and she doesn't want me to give out her name. CPS be like, What are you calling for?

      • TiaraLi March 5, 2014 Reply

        When I was a youth group leader here in Australia, we were informed that if a minor disclosed to us any abuse we MUST report it. But if someone over 18 were to disclose any abuse to us we were NOT ALLOWED to tell anybody without their permission, including the police, because that would be an invasion of privacy and we could face consequences over that.

        • "Hannah" March 5, 2014

          Kinda the way it is my profession, as well, Tiari. There could be confidentiality issues with RG. There are certain disclosures that are legally reportable, regardless of age. But a child molestation that happened over 2 decades ago, would not fall into this category.

        • "Hannah" March 5, 2014

          *Tiara* typo!

    • Ryan Sapp March 5, 2014 Reply

      It will happen in due time Myron. First the NCAA is a totally different governing body. Organizations/people instinctively try to cover up until they are forced. Happens every time whether its Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Swaggert, Bill Clinton, Ryan Braun or take your pick of christian leaders.

      A civil attorney would go after this case and IBLP's insurance in a second. That's where the board is going to bear much liability. If I was on the board and knew nothing I would resign so FAST.

      This has just been made public in the last 30 days. Justice will be served, it takes time.

      RG has mounds of evidence. You don't need 34 accounts to convict Bill on, all you need is one to prove he is not the man he espoused he was to millions.

      There is enough information out there for people to stop drinking the koolaid and if they don't, well, it's their own fault.

      My only conversation with Bill (I was 18) I asked him how you explain someone from a primitive culture who never has the chance to accept Christ. His answer, if God gives you an ice cream cone and you throw it on the ground do you think he is going to give you another ice cream cone? If he was a parent he would know the answer is of course I would (may wait a few days!!)

      Bill, RG is offering you an ice cream cone with this letter. You may not want to throw this one away!

    • Karah March 6, 2014 Reply

      I will point out that it is entirely possible that people are currently communicating with the proper authorities. The public would not know what legal action has been/is/will be taken until it becomes a matter of public record. In order not to jeopardize a case any legal action would not be discussed on a public forum!

      • Lori March 6, 2014 Reply

        Good point, Karah. It's important for all of us to continually keep that in mind.

  7. MarkL March 5, 2014 Reply

    Wonderful statement. Perhaps too kind in one line. There is absolutely no way, if the allegations are true, that Bill Gothard can truly feel he is "misunderstood", or that the "intent" behind his behavior was "harmless." If he knowingly sent young, easily-manipulated women to go live with his brother, and if he felt at least one of these women/girls up himself, he knew what he was doing was wrong. I wouldn't bother accepting an apology that has the sense of "sorry for the big misunderstanding." These types of things are willfully deceptive and malevolent, especially in light of how hypocritical they are when compared to his legalistic rules of interaction between members of the opposite sex.

    • what if? March 6, 2014 Reply

      I noticed in your second statement you wrote "If the allegations are true..."

      Good question. Shouldn't everybody also be asking, "What if these allegations aren't true?" What if, when we stand before the judgement seat of Christ that we discover that the allegations are not true, or that the truth was twisted, or that the whole truth wasn't given in these testimonies? What if you discover that you've become an accuser of an innocent brother in Christ? Do you think God will overlook this because your intentions were sincere?

  8. Daniel March 5, 2014 Reply

    This is a fabulous explanation from an article by Boz Tchividijian from the GRACE organization.

    Why do some churches and Christian organizations seem to struggle with encouraging members to report the suspected abuse of a child? At the heart of the struggle is a fear that is rooted in the need to self-protect. It is a fear of losing the “good reputation” of a ministry, it is a fear of losing ministry donors, it is the fear of losing congregation members, it is a fear of losing a ministry altogether. All such “fears” are usually masked by a rationale that the reporting of such abuse may “damage the reputation of Christ”. Do you see the great tragedy? It is a fear fueled by protecting self. This has nothing to do with Jesus.
    The Gospel tells Christians that our identity is in Christ alone, and that our reputation and all that we possess belongs to Him. Another way of putting it is that apart from Christ’s accomplishment, we have no reputation and we possess nothing. This Gospel-centered perspective gives us great freedom to confess, confront and expose sin without fear of earthly consequences. This Gospel-centered perspective liberates us to sacrifice personal and institutional reputations if doing so protects and preserves the lives of His little ones. Isn’t that what God did for us? He sacrificed His reputation, His supporters, His ministry, and even His very own life in order to protect and redeem. This Gospel centered perspective should drive us to expend ourselves in protecting children, regardless of the consequences to our church, ministry, or our very own lives."

    - See more at: http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/02/07/struggle-report/#sthash.ynCgi4UB.gN2BZuD3.dpuf

  9. Renata March 5, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for your loving but firm, graceful but insistent way of expressing your concern and intentions. I plan to join RG in prayer tomorrow for this situation. Although I never was even remotely connected to IBLP, I have been connected and concerned about this type of harassassment for many years. I feel like I can truly help by joining you in prayer for this...since I can't really do anything else.

  10. Sad March 5, 2014 Reply

    If the Board actually is reading this, I highly encourage them to investigate and learn about IL Code 325 ILCS 5/Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.

    Part of the code MANDATES that Child Sexual Abuse be reported. There are two stories here on the site where children who were counseled by Gothard reported they had been abused sexually at their homes, yet nothing was done for them. To fail to report these two crimes is a FELONY.

    From 325 ILCS 5/

    "Any person who knowingly and willfully violates any provision of this Section other than a second or subsequent violation of transmitting a false report as described in the preceding paragraph, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for a first violation and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent violation; except that if the person acted as part of a plan or scheme having as its object the prevention of discovery of an abused or neglected child by lawful authorities for the purpose of protecting or insulating any person or entity from arrest or prosecution, the person is guilty of a Class 4 felony for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for a second or subsequent offense (regardless of whether the second or subsequent offense involves any of the same facts or persons as the first or other prior offense)."

    It is high time for the abuses to stop, whoever is doing the abusing, wherever the abuse is occurring. If BG knew of abuse and did not report it, he is unfit to serve, regardless of the other allegations against him.

  11. Jeff Gill March 5, 2014 Reply

    This is a good statement. Thank you, RG. I have emailed the IBLP board the following:

    Dear Sirs,
    I am a former ATI student. My family joined during its second year, and we left the program in 1994. I am writing today to thank you for taking the first steps in dealing with the allegations against Mr Gothard and to urge you to engage a reputable, independent third party to conduct your investigation into these allegations. Whatever the outcome of an investigation, the only way I will be convinced of the validity and veracity of the process is if you give a reputable, independent organization with experience investigating matters of sexual misconduct a broad remit and commit to accepting their findings. This is no different from what I would expect of any ministry or organization dealing with such allegations. I write in the confidence that this will seem no great burden to you since IBLP so publicly values living according to a higher standard and avoiding the appearance of evil.
    Kind regards,
    Jeff Gill

    • Shannon Wehr March 5, 2014 Reply

      Excellent, Jeff!

    • Ryan Sapp March 5, 2014 Reply

      I emailed yesterday as well

    • Marianna March 5, 2014 Reply

      I sent a personalized rendition of your email as well Jeff. Thank you.

    • phyllis March 5, 2014 Reply

      Thank you Jeff Gill. Very good letter! I will be praying tomorrow for this entire situation. May God hear us and answer, not because of our merits, but because of His!

  12. Lauren March 5, 2014 Reply

    Amen! Thank you for posting this response. I will be praying with you tomorrow.

  13. Kelley Perry March 5, 2014 Reply

    Once again, excellent writing. Thank you for being a catalyst to mend relationships that have been torn apart by these false teachings.

  14. Matthew Voyer March 5, 2014 Reply

    I have read your articles with interest at first, and then grief. I don't personally know all the students who have shared their stories, but the ones I do know are not the 'lying people' that they have been accused of being by some of the people on the comment board.

    I also know that I am one of these students - I just haven't shared my story. My abuse didn't come from Mr. Gothard directly, but through some of the staff that I looked up to. The more horrible abuse of ATI for me was the manipulation of the precious word of God in the hands of my 'umbrella of protection,' in this case my former step-father.

    I refuse to be bitter. I've gone down that path and didn't like the view. I will continue to pick up the pieces of my childhood and attempt to help others heal through love, laughter, good memories and if nothing else, a good kick in the pants to start living the life God wants us to, not the one that ATI claimed we should.

    Perhaps in the prayers for this situation, you could also join me in praying for the people like me, who tried very hard to follow God through ATI and are now confused as to what is truth. You could pray for the Charlottes, Megs, Lizzies - and the thousands more who will never say anything because can't. You could join me in praying for those who like me turned away from any idea of God - because in the end, THAT is the real tragedy. After years of torment, I have found God and in that I have found the message of the love of Christ. You can pray for those who are so deceived by the over-used word 'bitter' that they can't understand that they have been hurt, and they need to let the Almighty God heal them.

    If those of you who know a former ATI student who is hurting, or a family that has been torn apart by trying to follow Bill Gothard's teachings and now wants nothing to do with God, perhaps during this day of prayer you can reach out to them. The Bible is first and foremost a message of LOVE, and I'm afraid that is the part of the book that most of us involved in ATI have forgotten.

    Peace to all of you - Thank you Recovering Grace for your contribution in me finally finding out who God is.

    • greg r March 5, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for posting, Matt; I will gladly join you, the RG community, and hopefully many others in lifting up ALL parties to the Healer of our souls; fwiw: many have found some 'cold water' on the journey over at internetmonk; chap mike and friends know how to kindly deal with those who have been, or still are, in the evangelical wilderness.

    • Cassidy (Brock) Harper March 5, 2014 Reply

      Excellent words! Thank you for the reminder. You're right about the real tragedy, I think, and it's heartbreaking.

    • kevin March 5, 2014 Reply

      Matthew,
      Thank you for sharing your story. You make some excellent points.

      " You could join me in praying for those who like me turned away from any idea of God - because in the end, THAT is the real tragedy."

      This is the real tragedy. I have read several comments from those who refuse to accept the truth about Gothard,along the lines: " He did so much good. His seminars helped so many thousands of people. God doesn't use perfect people to do his work. Look at David and Moses."

      What they are missing is, why is it that so many thousands end up leaving the faith, or in deep need of healing as a result of this ministry. If Christ is 100% good and his message is that we love the Lord with all our heart and one another, why all the damages souls from a ministry that claims to have the inside track on a new a better way to be more Godly?
      Some claim to be helped by Gothard's teachings. Some say that their marriage was healed because of his teachings or that they found Jesus at a seminar. That they believe that their experience was a good one, can't be denied and I believe that in some cases good things did come to individuals. But, I have seen, in the people that I know, who would claim such positive results, a spirit of judgement for those who don't keep the standards and also a legalism in their own lives. I have seen them hurt other people, by telling them that they should not worship God with drums or an electric guitar. I have seen them judge others by the way that they dress, and whisper to others how "wordly" this or that family is. So, even for those who profess it to be the work of God, the outside observer would likely find areas that are not Godly at all.

      In the best case scenario, some good with some individuals feeling blessed and a lot of bad, with many hurt, abused and leaving the faith. And I ask, if this is of Christ, why the mixed bad? If it was of God, the more closely someone followed the teachings, the more fruit would be seen in their lives. But we see the opposite. Those who bear some fruit, are always the ones who did not go deep- the ones who balanced the teachings with grace in their own homes. The ones who took the teachings in completely, and went deep, are the ones who sustained the most damage. It is the opposite of what you would expect if an organization was of God.

      I am so glad that you found the message of love in Christ, after your years of torment, and that you have such a heart to help others.

    • Sally March 9, 2014 Reply

      Matthew,

      Your prayer requests are right on. Many, many people feel lost from God in this whole thing. Truly the greatest tragedy. May we all be eager to pray and to learn the grace we didn't know existed.

  15. LJ March 5, 2014 Reply

    Excellent!! May we each participate in this day of prayer--for all who have been harmed by IBLP/ATI teachings because of the misuse of Scripture. Also to pray for those struggling because of being raised in a legalistic environment. God's grace and mercy are far beyond anything we can imagine and He wants to bring healing to our hearts. May Bill's heart be so convicted that he will sincerely and publicly repent. May the Board realize how important it is to deal with this in the right way--not continue to sweep it under the rug. Our God reigns!

  16. Mrs. Campbell March 5, 2014 Reply

    I tried to email them and it was blocked! Anyone got a new email?

    • KH March 5, 2014 Reply

      My email went through.

  17. Mosessister March 5, 2014 Reply

    I emailed the board this morning around 9:30 EST, and it seems to have gone through, at least it was not returned, nor did I get an error message back.

    • Ryan Sapp March 5, 2014 Reply

      You should get this back if it goes through:


      Dear Ryan Sapp,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to email us from our iblp.org web site!
      We will be reviewing your feedback and will respond as needed.

      May the Lord bless you!

      IBLP Webmaster
      webmaster@iblp.org

  18. Mosessister March 5, 2014 Reply

    Hmmmm. I have not received a response back like that.

  19. Daniel March 5, 2014 Reply

    This gem from Dr. Bill Boring, Jr.'s bio as Chairman of the Board. (IBLP website).

    "Over the years he has sent more than 200 of his patients to the Basic Seminar and has discovered that after completing the Seminar, they had a 75% decrease in their visits to his medical office."

    So if 75% of your patients go to a different doctor after you recommend they give a week of their time to watch 30 year old vido tapes, it's a miracle?

    • greg r March 5, 2014 Reply

      @moderators: Great job with this appeal/letter to the board. This letter reflects a lot of careful thought and prayer. VEry well done, now we wait and see. The day of prayer is like...duh..genius.

      @Daniel: reg. Dr.Boring....oh my, yeah , the poor seminar attenders became staff who were too busy, and too poor, to take proper care of themselves... mystery solved. Please tell me that Dr.Boring is not a naturopath, please..

      • Daniel March 5, 2014 Reply

        That stat. struck me as very dishonest. You hear of all these amazing reports of people being healed by attending a seminar with very little supporting documentation. "The next day, after resolving her bitterness, Hannah reported feeling so much better! This Health Seminar heals everything!"

        Um, so how did she "feel" the next day?

        • Brumby March 5, 2014

          @Daniel: Exactly. Classic cult characteristic. Agreed!

    • Kevin March 6, 2014 Reply

      The bios of the board members I found to be deeply concerning. It does appear as though the inmates are running the asylum, as they say.

      • greg r March 6, 2014 Reply

        How many of the board members were pastors with advanced seminary training? Which seminaries ? Just wondering..

    • Beth March 6, 2014 Reply

      Its possible the patients were so weirded out by the seminar that they took their health concerns elsewhere!

      • Nicole March 6, 2014 Reply

        I attended a counseling seminar where Bill announced from the stage that he was very close to finding the spiritual cure to AIDS. What the what?

        • Beverly March 6, 2014

          Oh. My. :-O

    • Ryan Sapp March 6, 2014 Reply

      Maybe they went to the seminar and realized he was crazy for sending them to the seminar and that they needed to find a sane doctor...

  20. Joshua Carden March 5, 2014 Reply

    This is a beautiful response. I will be joining your day of prayer. Thank you for writing this and the spirit behind it.

  21. Betty March 5, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for sharing the letter. And thank you for offering joint-prayer tomorrow. I will be praying with you.

  22. findinghope March 5, 2014 Reply

    thank you, recovering grace!

  23. "Hannah" March 5, 2014 Reply

    "Scandalous freedom". I really like that. And no, it isn't license. If BG and cronies think that it is, they've never experienced it.

  24. JJ March 5, 2014 Reply

    My heart feels so strongly- regardless of the allegations or guilt or harm to be investigated, it seems imperitive that in our comments- particularly, I guess, in those directed toward the board, that we be ever mindful not to heap assumptions (upon them as individuals) of which we have no evidence. Would we, if in their shoes, want to be treated this way?- for we are making presumptions which turn to gossip, and then almost begin to seem true because talked up so much- even if not true at all. "Love always trusts, always hopes...," and if we are to walk in love-as Christ- then it seems we must be careful in how we perceive and portray the members of the board. For all anyone knows at this point, they have been as unwilling participants as any of us, and are just perhaps the unfortunate ones who got caught holding the hot potato when the time ran out. If there was something being hidden, that will be brought to light, but in the meantime, we must realize the "lying awake all night"-type burden that these individuals and families are carrying at this juncture. They need the same grace and prayer that any of us do, and perhaps even more at this moment. To spew thoughtless assumptions out so casually seems to just further bring hurt and finger pointing, when everyone involved so desperately needs graciously applied compassion and healing. Just seems what each of us would want if we found ourselves in their very difficult spot, the disposition that promotes healing in and among us all, and what would honor the One we ultimately serve. We must never for a moment forget the bigger battle, and that satan is ever more in search of spreading his destruction even further- he cares not if that be spread within us, or spread through us- as it harms others in its wake. Praying for all...

    • greg r March 6, 2014 Reply

      Well said, those are good words; scrutiny is ok, but cynicism> boo. thanks, JJ

      • Janel March 6, 2014 Reply

        I know one of the members of the board personally and have for many years, he and his wife, and they are wonderful people! Down to earth, gracious, young-at-heart, pouring out their lives in service to the Lord to the best of their knowledge and ability...she esp (whom I know better) is an absolute gem! They are to be commended for sticking it out this long in trying to serve the Lord and His Body in this way. They were certainly "caught with the hot potato when the timer went off," as you put it so well, JJ. Perhaps they could be called victims too. Yes, please pray for the board right now!

        • Sad March 6, 2014

          Janel you make a perfect point to support having a third party do an investigation. The board members themselves are doubtless reeling at the current events. It would be doing themselves, as well as the victims, a supreme disservice to attempt to do an investigation during such a trying time.

          IBLP has GOT to bring in an outside independent party to do the investigation.

  25. Cole March 6, 2014 Reply

    Thank you RG for the insight you have given me as I have followed the developing stories over the past month. I wasn't raised in ATI or IBLP, although my family attended one seminar thankfully my parents saw the dangers of BG's teaching. However, I did marry a beautiful woman that grew up in a church that is heavily influenced by BG and the teachings of quiverfull peoples. I have spent the past several years trying to understand why simple decisions can seem to paralyze my wife even if I give my full vote of confidence in her ability to make the decision. Since finding RG (thanks to a FB post by old friends who unfortunately did grow up in ATI, they don't seem the better for it but that is another story) I have been investigating the teachings that were drilled into my wife as she grew up and discovered that, as I already knew, she doesn't lack the knowledge or wisdom for decisions. Rather I learned that she lacks confidence because she was taught that since she is a female she cannot make decisions on her own. Thanks to this new understanding we have been able to have significant discussions about her childhood, her needs, and how we can raise our own girls to be strong women of God.

    To those who have been so open and tell your stories, thank you! As a daddy to little girls I burned when reading your stories. And since my wife knows Rachel personally it hit home that this really can happen to anyone. Thank you for reminding me to be vigilant in watching out for my children and to teach them that no matter what they can talk to me cause I will listen to them.

    Again thank you all! I will be praying for and with you!

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  29. MikeM March 7, 2014 Reply

    A few comments here. I attended several IBLP seminars growing 85% of the teaching I like and I consider A+, I committed my life in new ways to God memorized scripture, spent time in prayer and fasting, and tried to live a more committed pure life after attending his conferences, etc. but for goodness sake use your head, the guy is human, the people who come here with psychological problems it is only because they take it all as some sort of Gospel as if the guy is Joseph Smith Ellen White, or the Watchtower society or something. Make it that way and you will be screwed up and the Bible & Jesus will be second!

    Even in Gothards material which is quoted here it quotes scripture saying that abuse needs to be reported otherwise it continues to be perpetrated. You can also take stuff out of intended meaning and draw out other conclusions from any of his material, to say it supports this kind of behavior, I thought I remember him saying leave the door open with counseling, yet he doesn't seem to have done that! What I am saying is that he hasn't seemed to follow his own teaching.........
    I do remember him recounting a story of a Christian leader who had women in different destinations he traveled to and nobody believed it until more than one women came forward, and how much his ministry had suffered as a result............... Funny that!

    I assume these are minors we are referring about but it seems we are talking about "playing footsies" "lingering handshakes" "he put his hand on my waste when I got on the bus" etc, apart from the one testimony which is "feeling her up all the way" which is very difficult to prove of course. The fact that Gothard is on leave seems to confirm that there is no denial.

    It is still in complete contrast to his teaching which is the whole point.

    I am not trying to defend Bill here, he really should have gotten himself married, I am sure he has had enough opportunities, and if this is the case it is truly sad if he preferred to live this life of "friendliness" with young girls than a pursue a normal relationship and have a natural God Given avenue for "playing footsies" and fondling behind closed doors.

    I was somewhat annoyed about the inside circle and outside of the institued.
    If you are on the inside you are considered pure and on the outside not something like that.
    I would say make it a cult and it becomes one, but for me 90% of Gothards teaching is good stuff. But the other ten......., like following Gothards teaching you would tell your wife about your past homesexuality on his advise, and then the following week she leaves you. I have heard of several stories like this where the advise wasn't necessarily scriptural but Gothard advise and the outcome "ruined" everything. Gothatd presents everything as you do A and B and you get C. But only stories replicate this "truth" are shared. If you were to tell a story how if you stood with your girlfriend and you said, "we will know it is God's will if the sky changes colour" and it does. From what I remember Gothard will teach that it can be/is Satan doing it so you made the wrong choice to mary your wife, following this it screws up the person and there relationship. Besides anything else there is a fleece in scripture that came up dry, then wet, and that was also a sign. So that is the 10% you need to look at, but to any normal person we look at that and say Rubbish which of course in saneness should be the normal response right, but there have been people who have built there lives on every word spoken from his mouth.........

    So I say the stuff that is given by IBLP put it on a plate look at it there is a lot of really good stuff that Gothard taught that doesn't seem to be uplifted here like so much of it uplifts Godly good morals and behaviour and principles, but don't base your life on anything else other than Scripture, otherwise you will end up a basket case like some of the stories here.

    Mike.

    • michelle March 7, 2014 Reply

      Thanks... I would agree... I have not eat under a single pastor that I agree with 100%... Unfortunately this will bea baby and the bathwater scenario... I am so sad at all of this... I don't agree with all of Gothard's teaching, but some of it was good... Life changing... But I never put him on a pedastal... After all, he is only a man... Look at the line of Jesus... David was an adulterer and a murderer, yet, he is called a man after God's own heart... Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more... this is for wiser minds then mine... May Jesus prevail!

  30. Curt March 8, 2014 Reply

    My wife, my daughter, and I supported and gleaned from Bill Gothard's ministry back in the mid-eighties to mid-nineties. I very much appreciate the "good" in our lives that came through attendance of many seminars and help with the educational resources used with our daughter. For the most part, the teaching was Scripture-based and better than other educational material available to us. However, the Bible warns against, and rehearses the damage from, placing any man other than Jesus Christ on the throne of hearts, lives, family, and church. How foolish to make a "god" of anyone other than Yahweh (existing in three persons, of course). Apparently, though, that is just what folks have done in the person of Bill Gothard.

    Like many heroes of faith listed in the Bible who fell short of the mark, Bill and staff members, apparently, have followed in like fashion. King David, a man after God's own heart, committed atrocious sins (a couple are listed in Scripture, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that the few words written about him contained the whole of his life--both good and bad). The exploits of Samson, Jacob, and Solomon need not be mentioned here, but the total of their lives put to modern media would likely shock us all.

    I have no reason to believe the allegations written about Bill Gothard. Likewise I have no reason to disbelieve the allegations written about Bill Gothard. I have lived long enough to witness and experience so much of human nature. I have been amazed at the beauty and horrified at the evil of human beings, even though the Bible clearly portrays both equally well. And let's be clear here--every word of the Bible is God-breathed, inerrant, and true. This God of ours warns us about being judgmental and gossiping and a host of other sins that damn us. A careful read of Matthew 7 is likely in order here. This passage clearly warns of false teachers and doctrines and the reality that by far most of the people who ever lived will spend eternity in hell. Why will most people not make it to Heaven? Humans, by nature, are looking for a way to not be bound to the clear teachings of God and will formulate any excuse to experience so called "freedom," even blaming their Christian parents, circumstances of life, the church, the rigidity of Scripture, or the teaching of a Christian organization like IBLP or ATI. For those who have supposedly "left the faith," Scripture claims "they were never of the faith." Attending seminars or a certain church or professing allegiance to an organization doesn't "save" anyone. A relationship with the Lord Jesus saves us, but Jesus makes it clear (again in Matthew 7) "the defining issue is obedience to My Father in Heaven."

    In obedience to My Father in Heaven, I will pray for all those who have been influenced by Bill Gothard's ministry. I will thank God for all the good that has been accomplished through the ministry, but pray the truth will be made crystal clear concerning every member of the staff and every person who claims damage as the result of exposure or encounters of any kind. However, when human nature is involved (these "desperately wicked hearts" as Scripture defines us), we will likely find the truth to be somewhere close to the middle, not the extreme, story-making news flashes we are constantly exposed to.

  31. Curt March 9, 2014 Reply

    I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about all this, asking God for insight, and praying for all involved here. I have reflected on all the years involved in ATI and the teaching and written material associated therewith. Although it has been a couple of decades since that time, I do recall teaching I thought to contain some error, but I have listened to many Bible teachers and preachers with no association to IBLP who "wrangled" Scripture to prove a point. It doesn't excuse the IBLP team, but much of what was presented was not new, but a newer version of older material and teachings.

    Obviously, the issue of most importance involves the allegations of sexual abuse. It is hard for me to understand how a man, especially a man in Bill Gothard's position, could abuse these precious children (though I do understand that apart from right relationship with God, any evil is conceivable and doable). The shear number of girls coming forward with these allegations is telling and I hope that God heals them completely. I also hope that Bill Gothard and all involved with this ministry confess, repent, and take responsibility for any and all harm they have done.

    However, isn't it human nature to find someone or something (other than ourselves) to blame for all our wrong decisions, problems, and misfortunes of life? Certainly we had rather do this than accept the blame and live with it. Let's face it, we can't blame Bill Gothard or any man or woman for all of our disregard of God and His life principles. This disregard brings us disillusionment, pain, remorse, etc. (the reaping what we sow kind of regret). I have talked to many folks who blame every mistake in life on someone or something else. Nowhere, it seems, is this more prevalent than with those who were in ATI, even though most folks who were never involved in ATI made the same or worse mistakes.

    There is an inherent danger in this Recovering Grace kind of media forum, because such forums justify past (and present) mistakes and sins by encouraging other folks to gather around, embrace us, and tell us "it's OK, it wasn't our fault." "What's wrong with that," you might ask? It keeps us from admitting our part in the whole mess, thus delaying or even preventing repentance, the correction of wrong behaviors, and much needed healing. I hope, as we point fingers in every conceivable direction in order to "fix blame," we also look deep into ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit to find the core of the problem--ourselves.

    In thinking and writing this, I'm not necessarily referring to any young girls who were sexually abused; that would be the root cause of all sorts of issues that can be healed only by God. My heart breaks for abused children, girls and boys, the world over. Hearing of such abuse and hurt often takes my imagination to existence as a secret superhero exacting justice on the ones guilty of such, freeing abuse's victims. Readers might think this strange or the result of too much TV. Both may be true, but these thoughts are followed closely with prayers to the only Superhero who ever existed or ever will exist, that He would help the helpless and heal the hurt. May our Lord come soon to put an end to this, and all, evil. In the interim, may we all fellowship with God, for in Him only, we find health, peace, security, and the ability to forget our past. In Him only, we find the desire and the power to be and do good, and a yearning for the end of the race and receipt of the Prize which gives our life's journey purpose and fulfillment.

  32. anonymous March 9, 2014 Reply

    I appreciate you, Curt. I appreciate your tender heart toward victims, and your desire that all affected may be healed and not hindered from a right relationship with their healer. Thank you for pointing to Him.
    You are right that This will never be a perfect venue.

  33. Seth Smith March 9, 2014 Reply

    ATI and IBLP have blessed our family greatly and changed our lives and how we live. I understand how some people could take some of their principles that they got from scripture and used them for cruel,evil,wicked purposes. But to say that IBLP is at fault would be the same as saying the Word of God is at fault. The people that did these things are just modern day hypocritical Pharisees!
    So before you start cheering that a ministry that taught the word of God has fallen remember there is a GOD that is watching and he will not keep silent!(psalm 50:3)

    Your brother in Christ Jesus,
    Seth Smith

    • KH March 9, 2014 Reply

      Seth Smith, please read the prayers posted just last Thursday and tell me if you see any cheering! And while you're doing that spend some more time reading about the wreckage that is left in the wake of Mr. Gothard's actions.

    • 'Megan' March 9, 2014 Reply

      Hello Seth Smith. I am glad you seemed to have a good experience in IBLP. Many of us were not so fortunate, and I know for most of us, it wasn't because we 'took something too far', but because we obeyed what we were taught, as we were taught it.

      If I may add, I think it's very dangerous to suggest that IBLP (or ANY other ministry) is equal to the actual Word of God. Very dangerous indeed.

      I am not cheering that a ministry of God is falling, because this ministry is not 'of God'. Perhaps at one time it might have been, and certainly God can and does use anything He wishes to bring about His will in the lives of people. But it is not anymore.

      Quite frankly I'm not sure I'm really cheering at all either way. There have been too many wonderful families torn apart because of this 'ministry', there is little cause for cheer for me at this time.

      Please read more of the stories and articles here for more information. The scandals, cover-ups, and other wicked things have been going on for a very long time, and as the Scripture says, 'Be sure your sin will find you out.'

    • Shane March 10, 2014 Reply

      Not cheering; pleading for it's collapse.

    • Rich March 10, 2014 Reply

      Seth,

      I appreciate your sentiment for the Institute. I have many good friends whom I met through that program and despite some problems I enjoyed my time in Oak Brook. I learned a lot and made some deep friendships that helped me theologically and spiritually.

      However, I would caution you. You say that if we say IBLP is at fault, the word of God is therefore also at fault. That is not a connection to be made lightly. What Gothard put together is his own interpretation of the Bible, it is not the Bible itself. What the Scriptures encourage us to do in these circumstances is to look at the fruit of the ministry. There are countless broken lives in the wake of the Institute all over the world.

      So, I am hopefull that your experiences are the exception, that your walk ever and only grows deeper from your time in the Institute. But I suspect that is more uncommon than common.

      As for your last comment, it is my belief that God has been watching, and is no longer silent. He is giving Bill a chance to repent before the end. And He is merciful to us, too. We many have struggled to work through Bill's theological corruption in our lives. Reconciliation would do wonders for so many. God is indeed merciful to we wretched sinners.

      Rich

    • Jim K. March 10, 2014 Reply

      Hold the phone, my friend... you -can- -not- equate IBLP with the Word of God. To do so would be to imply that the Institute is God-breathed, inspired, faultless and totally reliable. Like Megan said, it's dangerous.

      Inasmuch as the Institute pointed you TO the Word (and handled it properly in the process), then of course you could say that it did you good. On the other hand, it is comprised of people who are vulnerable to error, compounded with a top-down view of authority that effectively stonewalled any effort to maintain some measure of accountability. In addition, there have been volumes written on some highly questionable handling of the Word in synthesizing many of the teachings of the seminars. You can point someone TO the Word but once you start adding to the Word, you are on very tenuous ground. It is IMPERATIVE that the people of God be Bereans, do their due diligence and search the scriptures whether these teachings be so.

      These teachings have had far reaching influence in my lifetime. I'd like to direct everyone's attention to a brilliantly written piece regarding that influence (it's the March 8th entry):

      http://roxanneswildworld.blogspot.com/

      Jim K.

  34. Joe-DS March 9, 2014 Reply

    KH
    Brother, I am still sensing some venom. As a former IBLP employee with no official 'authority' I want to apologize for the pain you and your family have endured. As we have observed the road to heaven is not paved with best intentions. If those we have led have gone astray remember God is in control, and that His grace is not of ourselves but a free gift that no one should boast.

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