The Agent of Satan

4 June 2014, 06:00



Over the past couple of years, several members of the Recovering Grace leadership team have gotten to know some of the former staff from the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC, now IBLP). Most of them talk of the great love they had for the ministry and for Bill Gothard, and they speak with great pain about the events of the late 1970′s and early 1980′s.

January 15, 1979

Letter of commendation to Tony from Bill Gothard in 1979.

One of the individuals who played an important role in unveiling the cover-up of the 1980 scandal is a gentleman by the name of Tony. You’ve read about him as “the aide” in other articles, and he has earned a great deal of admiration from our readers for his integrity and tireless efforts toward keeping IBYC accountable. Within our Recovering Grace leadership team, we sometimes affectionately refer to Tony as “the agent,” which was a moniker chosen without affection by Bill Gothard in an obvious effort to discredit Tony in a letter Gothard distributed widely. Because of the negative memories surrounding “the agent” reference, we elected to use an alternative reference to Tony in our articles.

In the image to the right, you can read Gothard’s praise of Tony in 1979. Just twenty months later, following the 1980 scandal, a much different letter would be written.

Gothard personally wrote a detailed 19-page letter of “bad report” and used it to wreak havoc on Tony’s church fellowship, his livelihood as a Christian minister, and his relationship with his family. You might remember our mention of the “19-page letter” earlier this year in our Gothard series. At the time, Tony was not convinced that this letter published in full was essential to our story. Additionally, our team was anxious not to re-victimize Tony with the letter, as we feel that he was an undeserving victim of Gothard’s 1980 cover-up, and he certainly suffered for it at the time. Not only did Bill Gothard’s letter do great harm to Tony, but it was intended to do so in a very public way. After years of teaching his followers to avoid spreading a “bad report,” Gothard did just that to Tony, utilizing his position and influence to push Tony out of active ministry for many years to follow.

Tony now believes the time is right to share the letter with you after repeated private attempts to persuade Bill Gothard to repent. He agrees with us that this letter reveals the hubris, manipulations, and character of the man behind IBYC in a way where simply telling the facts of the story can only scratch the surface. We believe that this one letter from Gothard undermines Gothard’s credibility and qualification for Christian leadership as much as almost any other evidence produced thus far. Gothard clearly lashed out in anger and retribution in this letter, and in doing so he betrayed the vanity of his inner man.

Reading the letter today, there are parts so ridiculous that they seem laughable. Tony’s own uncle wrote a response to Gothard at the time, reflecting his incredulity following receipt of the letter. Yet we understand how personal the pain of the contrivance was to Tony, and that Gothard’s evil intent was no laughing matter. The letter is ludicrous and stands alone as such–even more so in light of recent revelations of truth about Gothard. That said, in addition to sharing with you the original letter, we will also share Tony’s lengthy defense against the letter; not because a defense is needed, but because his words are enlightening as to how far Bill Gothard was willing to stretch the truth to destroy a man who had gotten in his way.

Tony has provided a number of documents and files in an attempt to provide detailed clarity to many of the issues raised by the letter, both in the past and in the present. These documents will be linked throughout this article for you to read at your convenience.

Click here to read a short chronology of Tony’s relationship with Gothard and IBLP.

Click here to read an interesting exchange of emails between Bill Gothard and Tony in late 2013, when Gothard was attempting to reconcile with Tony.

RG’s relationship with Tony

Many of our leadership team members have had the privilege of meeting Tony in person as his business travels take him around the country. Tony is extremely likable and jovial, and he enjoys fellowshipping over a good meal. He has obviously spent many years studying the scriptures and coming to a closer understanding of his relationship with Jesus Christ. We have benefited as a team and personally from our interactions with Tony, whose goal today is the same as it was more than thirty years ago–to glorify God’s kingdom in all that he does.

Tony is a prolific writer. His writing conveys his passion and his love of God’s word. Recovering Grace has been fortunate to receive much of what Tony has written, and we look forward to sharing it with you in days to come. We’ll share another glimpse behind the scenes, here–Tony’s writing style takes more than a few minutes to get through! Those of us who enjoy regular emails from Tony also enjoy giving him a hard time for the length of them! A quick question for Tony will often return with a quick response that he will get back to us, followed by a several-page analysis. We know we can trust Tony to think through his answers and that behind the intensity and verbosity is true caring and honesty. We truly believe that Tony’s driving passion is a zeal for introducing Jesus Christ as the all-sufficient source for life and spiritual growth for the believer.

Tony wants to do his best in his work, and he wants to do his best for the Lord. It was for this reason that he originally went into the ministry and joined IBYC. What Bill Gothard likely did not foresee is that when Tony’s zeal kicks in and he sees the need for justice, Tony can be like a bulldog. All of this to say, we do see glimpses of the Tony we know and love in Gothard’s destructive letter about him. But what Gothard did to Tony in that letter was to twist the character of a Godly man into a disturbing caricature of a power-hungry opportunist. Nothing could be further from the truth about Tony.

Gothard’s letter

TonyandBill copy

Tony and Bill, late 1970′s, in the IBYC Learjet

Bill Gothard had already been disqualified from ministry when he wrote the 19-page letter against Tony on Sept. 5, 1981. His Board of Directors, including men who were deeply loyal to him and were loath to push him out, found that in the face of overwhelming testimony they had to remove Gothard as president of IBYC (July 5-6, 1980). Gothard was never officially “re-qualified” for ministry after that scandal, in spite of the fact that he reinstated himself. Gothard is further out of bounds today, especially in the face of more recent testimonies of Gothard’s misbehavior.

You might be asking what Tony had done to deserve this letter? Well, he had done exactly what Bill Gothard had asked him to do: to investigate internally the scope of the scandal surrounding his brother Steve, and to present evidence of and corrective measures for the gross immorality within the IBYC ministry. However, when Tony’s investigation began to reveal that Gothard himself was part of the problem, Gothard turned on Tony, slandering him to his friends, his family, and to Christian leaders across the country. He multiplied his bad report and brought local churches into his sin.

In Gothard’s 19-page, 26-complaint letter, the majority of the “facts” Gothard shared described Tony’s initiative, determination, organization, and ability to ask tough questions and forge relationships for a greater purpose. These are the types of qualities that most employers look for. As a young man in 1980, Tony’s relentless determination to complete his task undoubtedly revealed some “rough edges” that have matured over time.  However, his dogged determination to do well was just that and nothing more. Tony wanted to serve the Lord within the IBYC ministry, and he was eager to be used for that purpose. In the letter, Bill paints Tony’s zeal and proficiency as treachery and manipulation.

Sixty-nine times in the letter Bill refers to Tony as “the agent” of Satan, stating in the introduction that, “I am not going to use the name of your nephew in this document. There is also another reason for the title I will use to refer to him. It is a reminder that we are engaged in a spiritual warfare, not against people, but against ‘the rulers of darkness…’ In this battle, we can either become an agent of the Holy Spirit or an agent of Satan’s influence or power.” Bill’s choice to refer to Tony as “the agent” suggests to us that Gothard wished to dehumanize him in an effort to better discredit him. This tactic appears to have worked with the many Christian leaders who received a copy of the 19-page letter, though it was not as effective with those who knew Tony well.

Dr. G. A. Hemwall signed the letter on behalf of the IBYC Board, and Reverend Everett Hovey signed the letter as pastor of LaGrange Bible Church (LBC).


• Bill Gothard’s 19-page letter. This copy of the letter was sent to Tony’s parents.

• Cover letters for additional copies of the letter to Ken Taylor (Living Bible Translator) and Mr. and Mrs. Wood.

• A partial mailing list for the letter, as compiled by Tony.

A number of friends and family wrote to Bill Gothard in defense of Tony after they received copies of the letter. The following are examples of such:

A (rather humorous and pointed) letter from Gerald Wiebe, Tony’s uncle, to Gothard.

• A brief note showing that Wiebe had already been pushing Gothard for an independent examination of the IBYC ministry, and that letters to that effect had been exchanged.

• Multiple letters from Pam (last name redacted), a former IBYC secretary who helped gather information about the scandal, to Gothard, the IBYC Board via Dr. Hemwall, and the LaGrange Bible Church.

Tony's home church, Emmaus Mennonite Church, as it looked in the early 1980's.

Tony’s home church, Emmaus Mennonite Church, as it still looked in the early 1980′s.

Bill Gothard followed this letter by paying for two men to fly to Kansas and visit Tony’s life-long home church, Emmaus Mennonite Church, where the two men falsely accused Tony in a secret meeting with the church elders and pastor. Tony was excommunicated on a technicality, and his family had to ask him to leave the state in order for the family business to survive. He faced repeated shunning and rejection by other churches and leaders who received the letter, loss of standing in his small rural community, and loss of future ministry opportunity in his areas of passion and preparation.

In the 33 years since this letter was written, Tony has never offered a public defense against Gothard’s 26 charges and 69 references to him as an agent of Satan. Rather, he waited on God for his defense, finding consolation in Matthew 10:24-25 and the words of Christ: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.” Tony believed that if the Pharisees called Jesus a devil, then as a disciple of Jesus and a member of His household he was to expect no less.

Tony was advised by volunteer attorneys in 1981-82 that this libelous letter by Bill Gothard, the Institute corporation sponsorship and endorsement of it, and the co-endorsement of the letter by the LaGrange Bible Church (Bill Gothard’s home church) could result in an easy $10,000,000 settlement. Tony elected instead to trust God for His provisions in life.

As we stated above, Tony has somewhat reluctantly agreed to let us share with you his response to Bill Gothard’s letter, only because he truly believes that the truth needs to be exposed now that he has exhausted many attempts for reconciliation with Gothard.


• Cover letter from Tony to Bill Gothard, 12/30/2013.

• Tony’s responses to Gothard’s 26 “facts.” This response was included in a package of 140+ pages of evidence and exhortation to the IBLP board, LaGrange Bible Church, IBLP’s advisory board (as listed online at the end of 2013), and LBC’s denominational office. All of this information was sent at Bill Gothard’s repeated request. As of the present, Bill Gothard has neither acknowledged nor responded to this document.

• Cover letter from Tony to IBLP Board, 12/30/2013.

• Cover letter from Tony to LaGrange Bible Church, 12/30/2013.

• Does Bill Gothard understand the damages that come from his hating another brother with libel and false witness? A document written by Tony listing how Bill Gothard’s letter and actions affected him.

About his involvement and devotion to the IBYC ministry, Tony confesses:

I for one bought into the overall scheme of the doctrinal distortions [of IBYC]. I have to deal with that in my community regularly. “How could you have agreed with and promoted so enthusiastically what was so rotten and contrary to the Scriptures? You knew better.” My only defense is that I eventually did come to my senses and saw the conflict between the Seminar teachings and the Scriptures and began to push back. My practice today is to agree with all who complain to me personally that I indeed was caught up in a religious system that was in conflict with the grace of God by faith, so that the promises of God are counted as the only reliable source of life and instruction. Romans 4:16.

Fishing is a favorite hobby for Tony, often as a way of ministering to disadvantaged youth.

Today, Tony seems to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ, and would be just fine without our public “intervention.” However, because Bill Gothard has rejected every opportunity on many previous occasions to right this wrong, we believe that it is necessary to present this as yet another evidence that Bill Gothard does not meet the biblical requirements of Christian leadership and ministry.

We would strongly urge Bill Gothard and the IBLP Board to seriously consider obvious corrective actions that would exhibit true contrition for the sins committed against Tony. We would also ask LaGrange Bible Church to consider if in retrospect they might have done Tony wrong, and to consider that they might have an obligation to make right the wrongs committed by their former leadership, specifically their endorsement of this libelous letter and their repeated refusal to examine the teachings and behavior of their ordained and commissioned church member.

We would also encourage the current leadership at Emmaus Mennonite Church to reconsider their former actions against Tony following Gothard’s false character assassination.

In conclusion, we would like to share with you a short story of life in IBYC prior to the scandal of 1980. Tony wrote this account as a testimony to the loyalty and sincerity of all of Bill Gothard’s employees, and as a testament to “what could have been.”  

A Great Honor Derailed by Bill Gothard

Bill Gothard, in 1980 and since, has placed a lot of blame on his staff for the troubles of the Institute, and for doing great damage to the cause of Jesus Christ. Bill blamed his staff for outright rebellion and disloyalty during the Scandal period, spreading word in forceful and desperate ways to an untold number of Christian leaders.

What Bill Gothard actually did know

Bill Gothard knew he had the most loyal, loving, adoring staff that any Christian leader could ever hope to have. He knew without a doubt that his staff had great respect for him and honored him, as proven over many, many years in thousands of situations on a regular basis. In reality, because of their deep love for him, they were willing to confront him about sin and ungodliness, speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

What Bill Gothard did not know

To my knowledge, this story has never been shared with the public or with Bill himself. You and he will learn this bit of history together.

All of Bill’s staff were working on a great honor for him in complete secrecy.

From 1978 and into 1980, I developed a plan that was presented to every staff member (except certain Gothard family members). Everyone embraced the plan without reservation. They were excited about pulling it off in honor of the founder of the ministry.

Bill has so very often told the story of his early days of school and ministry, when he began to realize the importance of spending much time alone with God and His Word, memorizing and meditating on it. Bill has illustrated that effort by recounting his days as a railroad employee. He asked the railroad if he could utilize an idled caboose, where he could sit and read and pray. He memorized the book of Romans, one of his favorite texts of Scripture.

My plan was for 100% of the Institute staff, about 100 people, to memorize the book of Romans. Together, we would recite this Scripture as an honor and expression of our common and shared gratefulness for Bill Gothard’s ministry into our lives.

This caboose is not the actual one from the story, but is similar and representative of what the caboose would have looked like after renovation and installation.

This caboose is not the actual one from the story, but is similar and representative of what the caboose would have looked like after renovation.

Additionally, each staff, as they were able, contributed to an account to purchase the very same caboose from the railroad used so many years previously by Bill. The caboose was to be moved (without permission from Bill) to the Institute headquarters property and set up as a memorial to the importance and value of studying God’s Word and making it a part of our lives.

After the first year of effort, many of the staff had memorized into chapter 8, some even further into chapter 12 of Romans. Others who struggled still faithfully worked on verses as they were able. All were growing in their anticipation of presenting the book of Romans from memory to a very surprised and very gratified Bill Gothard.

I finally located the exact caboose Bill had used, and a price was negotiated, as well as movement of the caboose to Oak Brook. The staff were regularly updated with photos of the caboose. Its foundation and installation were being planned for when Bill was away for a week or two in early 1980.

You can only imagine the excitement of it all!

And now you can somewhat grasp the great sadness as this same loving, loyal, most grateful staff watched their Teacher violate every universal, non-optional principle he had ever taught, and his public disobedience and rebellion against the plain and most basic teachings of God’s Word defamed the Lord God Almighty.

This unusual gift of honor for Bill, which required a very large investment by each staff member, was never made known.

You can imagine how we each felt as we were lambasted by Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Jack Taylor, Dr. John McLario, Bob Jones III, Dr. Bob Wood, and many others. These Christian leaders accepted Bill Gothard’s word on the matter without conducting any careful inquiry before joining him in railing against what they concluded was the terrible sin of rebellion. They simply did not know, did not care, and never took the time to find out.

Bill, for many years, experienced the great love of a wonderful group of staff. We pray that even yet today he would pursue with all of his heart to understand how it is that we love only because God first loved us. And if we know God, we will love each other. “If someone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” I John 4:20-21

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.


  1. esbee June 4, 2014 Reply

    in reading the letter of 26 accusations (I pooped out at 15) here is what I get out of it and if I read all 26 I may eventually have my own list of 26 "facts" of my reactions to the letter.

    1. BG confused and hid the true issue of his involvement by a huge number of "facts"-- usually it only takes a few solid events or even one to get a person fired.

    2. BG made it clear from the beginning that he assumed the agent had a "problem with authorities".

    3. BG's "facts" were based on his personal assumptions of trying to discern what was going on in a person's mind, rather than actual "agent said this" or "agent did that".

    3. Agent's true name kept out of letter to protect BG, he could always claim since a name was never put in letter that it he could later deny who it was really about.

    4. Most of the "facts" seemed to be events or words of the agent that could be given different interpretations depending on who witnessed them.

    5. BG uses the word "fact" as what he has written about the agent that it is undeniable and cannot be disputed.

    What would a real lawyer's assessment of this letter be and how would it hold up in a real court of law?

    Poor Tony, to try to serve the Lord and get treated like this!

  2. MatthewS June 4, 2014 Reply

    That letter would be a funny parody if it weren't so painfully real. Reducing someone to a mean name like that is one way of objectifying them and making them feel like less of a person.

    This is one of the darker sides of Bill that those who only saw him "meek and mild" on the stage can't picture. But for those who have been on the receiving end of it, that kind of contempt for you as a person eventually grinds you down to powder.

    • Jay June 4, 2014 Reply

      It's a strong charge, but this letter is vengeful and indicates that Gothard murdered in his heart, as well as on paper. (James 5:6) I wonder if he dictated it once and fired it off, or if he mulled it over and revised it with great thought? Would seem the latter, with the other men signing off on it.

    • Heidi June 4, 2014 Reply

      It is also a hallmark of an abusive person, Matthew, to dehumanize someone by calling names. And like you said, "grind you down to powder", an M.O. of abusers is to keep someone down and dis-empowered so that there can be no uprising.

  3. Jay June 4, 2014 Reply

    That part about Tony quickly finishing projects for Smalley is hilarious. They kept throwing the stick farther, hoping it would take Tony longer to fetch it.

    Question: Can you name anyone that has written more lists than Bill Gothard? Seriously. Gothard’s publications are nothing but lists for other people to do.

    • Heidi June 4, 2014 Reply

      Maybe Bill needs a list of his own to do. .. written by his former victims for him.

      #1, Seek to make actual restitution, monetarily and otherwise. ..

      • Michelle June 5, 2014 Reply

        Nah...I think #1 should be: "Turn myself in to the public authorities."

        Then proceed from there....Just saying. ;)

  4. Mary Olive June 4, 2014 Reply

    Total forgiveness, according to Dr. R.T. Kendall, is threefold:

    1. Forgiving the offender(s);
    2. Forgiving God for allowing it to happen;
    3. Forgiving ourselves for our part in it.
    (paraphrased from Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall, 2002)

    Hard to do by anyone involved, I think.

    • Peter S. June 4, 2014 Reply

      Confessing and confronting wickedness (our own and others') is a necessary part of forgiveness.

    • LynnCD June 4, 2014 Reply

      We don't need to forgive God for anything.

      Forgiveness means to let go of a debt that is owed us. Tony forgave Bill in that he did not seek compensation for all the damages brought upon him by Bill's libel and slander.

      Your last statement seems to imply Tony isn't forgiving. You must not have read this:

      "In the 33 years since this letter was written, Tony has never offered a public defense against Gothard’s 26 charges and 69 references to him as an agent of Satan. Rather, he waited on God for his defense, finding consolation in Matthew 10:24-25 and the words of Christ: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.” Tony believed that if the Pharisees called Jesus a devil, then as a disciple of Jesus and a member of His household he was to expect no less.

      Tony was advised by volunteer attorneys in 1981-82 that this libelous letter by Bill Gothard, the Institute corporation sponsorship and endorsement of it, and the co-endorsement of the letter by the LaGrange Bible Church (Bill Gothard’s home church) could result in an easy $10,000,000 settlement. Tony elected instead to trust God for His provisions in life.

      As we stated above, Tony has somewhat reluctantly agreed to let us share with you his response to Bill Gothard’s letter, only because he truly believes that the truth needs to be exposed now that he has exhausted many attempts for reconciliation with Gothard."

      I am sure the damage to the young women who were abused by Gothard has factored into his current decision to make public his side of what happened to him.

      • Mary Olive June 4, 2014 Reply

        Dear Lynn CD,

        My comment didn't imply anything about Tony. Sorry if it seemed that way to you. I was simply making a literal statement about what I think. Hope that's okay.

        • LynnCD June 4, 2014

          Thanks for clarifying, Mary, and I hope I did not come across as mean-spirited in my response. I know you quoted someone regarding the need to forgive God, and I remain concerned about his use of language. I think that "guest" made a good response to Kendall's remark about forgiving God.

      • guest June 4, 2014 Reply

        I agree- it gives me pause to read that we need to forgive God for "letting it happen." You may mean that we need to let go of any bitterness towards God, but the way it's phrased is not a mindset that I want. God does not need our forgiveness, but we can let the challenges in our life mold how we look at God. If He's big enough to get mad at for "bad" things happening, then He's big enough to have reasons that we don't understand. We can let the challenges drive us to the cross, to a greater understanding of His sacrifice, and a deeper understanding of His sovereign love.

        • Mary Olive June 4, 2014

          Dear Guest and Lynn CD,

          I'm not sure, but I think the author is referring to those who might be angry with God and have turned away when something bad or tragic happened because they think God could have prevented it.

        • Lori June 6, 2014

          I would go so far as to say that the teaching that someone might need to "forgive God" is blasphemy (i.e., "the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God"

        • Jeff Gill June 7, 2014

          Lynn, guest, Lori,

          I respectfully submit that whether or not one needs to forgive God depends entirely on one's definition of forgiveness, and that one very common understanding of forgiveness leaves plenty of room for forgiving God without worrying about blasphemy.

          Forgiveness can be understood as no longer holding on to an offence. This understanding of forgiveness does not involve the one who caused the offence. If I forgive a person who cuts me off in traffic, they don't know about it. I am the beneficiary of my forgiving them.

          The fact that I'm offended also does not mean that I have been wronged, only that I have perceived a wrong. The person who I believe cut me off in traffic may have a been abiding by the rules of the road perfectly and I simply wasn't paying attention. I might still be offended if I don't realise the incident was not the other's fault (or even if I do). If I am offended, I, for my own wellbeing, need to forgive.

          If this understanding of forgiveness is extended to God, it means that if something happens in life which causes offence or hurt and I believe that God caused it, I need to forgive God. I forgive not because God did something wrong but because I feel (not even necessarily believe) that God treated me badly. When I forgive God, I am not absolving God of sin, I am letting go of my hurt/offence. I benefit from forgiving God. Very often it is this act of forgiveness that frees me to understand that God was never to blame in the first place.

        • "Emee" June 7, 2014

          Well said, Jeff Gill!

        • LynnCD June 7, 2014

          Jeff, if one needs to stop being offended at God for horrible things that God has allowed in that one's life, that one is more like Job, who, when confronted by God's astonishing series of questions to him, repented in dust and ashes. Those particular chapters of Job are kind of in the forefront of my mind right now, and I cannot fathom calling Job's retraction and repentance in dust and ashes "forgiveness" in any sense of the word.

          Human suffering can be horrible. As was stated above, God is more than big enough to handle our anger and feelings of bitterness toward Him. What you and others may call "forgiving God," I prefer to term "bowing the knee in acceptance." Having read your comment, I know we are talking about the same thing. And that is more important than a disagreement over a word definition!

        • Mary Olive June 9, 2014

          Thank you, Jeff Gill, I so appreciated your input regarding forgiveness.

        • Jeff Gill June 10, 2014

          Thanks for your replies, Emee, Lynn and Mary Olive.

          This little discussion is not the topic of the blog post, so I won't say anything beyond this:

          Lynn, what you describe definitely does overlap with the idea of forgiving God, but what I've written about does not require Job's (literal or metaphorical) God-in-thunderstorm to release one's offence at God. A person that is mad at God may be ignorant of God's character or agnostic or convinced that God should have intervened on someone's behalf. The people in these positions can choose to let go of the offence they are holding – i.e. forgive God – without gaining a better understanding of who God is and what God does. In fact, until they forgive, they may not be able to understand better. Forgiveness brings freedom to the person who forgives. (Forgiveness does not necessarily do anything to/for the one who is forgiven.)

          I hope that helps to clarify what I mean.

  5. LynnCD June 4, 2014 Reply

    Well, Bill, here this *rebellious* "agent" was orchestrating an event to what should have been the highest honor you could have received in this life. This event would include a demonstration of commitment to memorizing the Word, and make a lasting visual object lesson on devotion to the Word of God, and this is the way you treated him.


    For decades Tony has not sought what he could have sought, which is vindication of his good name. He is doing this now, presumably because he sees the ongoing damage done to so many, including the young women with whom you have not been above reproach.

    It's long past time for repentance, but even now, you can repent.

  6. Nancy June 4, 2014 Reply

    I absolutely agree with these comments. What I see in this letter is a complete lack of love and grace. Jesus' disciples were a motley crew of problem people. Imagine if Christ has responded to their flaws by writing such letters to their relatives. It's hard to imagine that people bought this hubris from this man (Bill Gothard). Charisma can be dangerous thing.

    • Don Rubottom June 4, 2014 Reply

      Awesome comment! Thanks Nancy!

  7. Larne Gabriel June 4, 2014 Reply

    I have known Tony for 35 years and he is a good and Godly man who truly loves the Lord. He has had nothing to gain personally from his seeking the truth and repentance on this issue. He has been a steadfast servant of God over the past 34 years since the exposure of the scandal.

    Larne Gabriel
    1980 Staff
    Ruth's Story

  8. Sad June 4, 2014 Reply

    From the "Does Bill Gothard understand..." document:

    [i] "Bill Gothard’s rejection of the facts on Dec. 1, 2008 when in a conference call with Gary Smalley and Tony, Bill Gothard declared that he had “never written a 19 page letter in his life” and that he “had never called another person an agent of Satan""[/i]

    Fascinating obfuscation and rejection of facts that exist in physical form via the written and published word. In other words: a bald faced lie. How on earth anyone can defend BG's actions from here on out is beyond me. Sad that so many had invested so much in this ministry.

    • Don Rubottom June 4, 2014 Reply

      Sometimes, it seems that Gothard may not be able to distinguish past events and meetings from one another. He met with Ron Allen, well, no that was Radmacher.... I never wrote such a letter, yes I did,[5 years later] please refresh my memory whether I stated anything false in the letter....

      But reading it for what it says, the 19 page letter is very sad in the picture it paints. I can see why Tony's church was so easily swayed. But that excommunication also reveals the danger of authoritarianism's capacity to deny due process. Tony and his family could not present a case in his defense? How sad that the church cared more about Gothard's reputation than their own flock. The church was sucked into taking up an offense!

      This further light on the interactions in 2008 and this recent interaction in 2013 indicate that Gothard starts reaching out when he is exposed (2008 by Wikipedia, 2013 by RG). He says he wants reconciliation, but is really seeking exoneration or evidence in his behalf. His request for all documents in Tony's possession appears to be a pre-emptive attempt to discover evidence to refute what has been regurgitated in recent years.

      Gary Smalley's repeated appearance in passive mode makes me anxious: Smalley got the letter in 1981, the call in 2008, etc. When has or will Smalley correct the record publicly with the likes of Ryrie, Stanley, et al., who were used at the time to restore and protect Bill Gothard's reputation? Many of us would have avoided any involvement if such slander had been dealt with openly and fully.

      The biggest lie in the letter is the neglect to acknowledge that Tony was authorized by Bill to interview affected staff and authorized by the Board to help organize the meetings confronting Gothard. If one sentence had said: "Tony had authority to interview staff and assist the Board", the entire letter would have been meaningless. The false appearance of free-lance troublemaking is the core of the slander. For that reason alone, it seems to me that Hemwall should not have signed the letter. It places the responsibility for that false light directly on Hemwall in addition to Gothard.

      It is understandable that Gothard would accuse the nephew of cooperating with the uncle, but inexcuseable for Gothard not to correct that misperception to all recipients as soon as it was refuted.

      (PS Never believe a lawyer when they say you can get 10,000,000 in such a case: unless you are a very popular public person. You can only get compensation for the damage to your reputation and a primary defense will be that your reputation was worthless to begin with. Demand only $1 nominal damages and a declaration that the statements were slander. Then you will know your lawyer is working for the truth and not seeking a contingency fee on a confidential settlement that keeps the truth hidden for all time! It also lowers the price of admission! :-D )

      • Vanessa June 4, 2014 Reply

        Great point, Don: "His request for all documents in Tony's possession appears to be a pre-emptive attempt to discover evidence to refute what has been regurgitated in recent years."

        • P.L. June 5, 2014

          I tend to see the request for information that Bill has already seen as a stall...he hopes to wear people out with these repeated, ridiculous requests. Time is on the side of an abuser who has power; if they can just hold on long enough people get tired of trying to hold them accountable.

          If anybody challenges him, he can always claim to be 'waiting on a response' and therefore unable to proceed with his oh-so-sincere (not) desire to reconcile'.

          It's also an attempt to use another favorite weapon of an abuser: confusion! Abusers love to get everyone muddled around in the details because they're hoping noone will see the big picture of their bad behavior.

          Thus the endless arguments over words and definitions and who said what when.

        • Sunflower June 6, 2014


      • LynnCD June 4, 2014 Reply

        Don wrote:

        "The false appearance of free-lance troublemaking is the core of the slander."

        YES! If reading through the charges and Tony's response to them is too tedious, that one sentence sums it up. Tony was authorized to investigate the scandal, and then defamed as though he were a troublemaker.

        Bill, please repent while there is still time to do so!

      • Donna June 5, 2014 Reply

        Don Rubottom wrote, "Gary Smalley's repeated appearance in passive mode makes me anxious: Smalley got the letter in 1981, the call in 2008, etc. When has or will Smalley correct the record publicly with the likes of Ryrie, Stanley, et al., who were used at the time to restore and protect Bill Gothard's reputation? Many of us would have avoided any involvement if such slander had been dealt with openly and fully."

        It is abundantly clear that Bill Gothard appears to be blind to his own sin, to the point that I join some others in wondering if he is actually saved. However, what greatly puzzles and concerns me is the lack of forthrightness on the part of other leaders who by now must realize at least the sinfulness of Bill Gothard's behavior whether or not they question his doctrine and teachings. I personally know people who have remained faithful to ATI because of the apparent condoning of it by men like these. I personally know Jim Sammons (although not well enough to pose tough questions to him) because I live in the same area and at one time belonged to the same church, and our families have participated in many church and homeschool-related activities together over the last 15 years. I know that there are many families in my geographic area who view Jim's continued affiliation with the Institute as a thermometer to indicate to themselves that everything must be OK.

        • Don Rubottom June 5, 2014

          I wish someone would ask Sammons to answer some of these questions. He has been there all along, and if his love for Bill, or any monetary compensation he has received, or his fear of man has kept him from maintaining accountability of the institute to its participants, he should recognize his responsibility to all of us for a complete accounting.

  9. Nicole June 4, 2014 Reply

    When I was seeking to balance my appreciation for a ministry that had been the foundation for my youth, spirituality and the moral compass for my life, with the allegations of Mr. Gothard's lack of integrity, sincerity, truthfulness and adherence for his own rules, Tony's example was my guide. All of these months as I have grappled to reconcile myself with the slow and numbing knowledge that I had been the devotee of a man who failed to live by his own standards and further who was guilty of subterfuge whenever anyone got close to the truth, I always found little glimpses of hope in the few sentences scattered about Tony, who cared deeply about the ministry and about Bill Gothard, but who was also committed to truth, no matter the pain that would follow. Today's article confirms in my mind that Tony may be the most faithful friend IBLP has ever had. His continual patience, longsuffering, and humility, coupled with his courage to confront evil and to accept the ramifications of the truth, makes him a true Christian, a valuable asset to the Body of Christ. His example has always impressed me, and after reading this article I am more certain than ever that his quiet influences and godly responses to wrongdoing were in large part responsible for my gentle extraction from the ministry while still loving God and seeking His will in my life. The abuse Tony has suffered and the unjust accusations against his name, have not been in vain. Thank you, Tony, for your example. It has been a significant influence in the life of many strangers to you, and I am grateful.

    • Amy June 4, 2014 Reply

      Well said! Thank you Tony. The fruit of the Spirit... especially peace, patience, and self-control are evident in your response! Or perhaps "long-suffering" as it is translated in some versions fits well. Clearly you seek to honor Christ first and foremost!

    • MatthewS June 5, 2014 Reply

      Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (some wise guy said that a long time ago)

  10. Pam June 4, 2014 Reply

    What I'm about to say may make some mad. I know I do not know the heart of a man, but I do know what the Bible says is evidence of salvation. People want Bill Gothard to repent and follow the scriptures of repentance and reconciliation. But, I question whether or not he is even saved. The evidence shows that this is a man running a business. Exploiting a market that brings in heavy profits. One does not need to "believe", "live", or "agree" with what one sells in his business if it brings in money. Bill will most likely never repent or attempt any real reconciliation with anyone, because he is most likely not saved. He's a wolf and always has been.

    • Vanessa June 4, 2014 Reply

      I can't comment on whether Bill is saved, but I do think he has many sociopathic tendencies: disregard for the rights and feelings of others, lack of shame for his own behavior, manipulative, lies easily, charming, inflated sense of self-importance, incapacity for love, authoritarian, secretive. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get through to him.

    • Amy June 4, 2014 Reply

      I am DEFINITELY not qualified to say who is saved and who is not! But we all can relate to how denying sin in our lives can make us feel distant from our God. If a believer lives like that for decades... how sad and phony his walk with Christ would feel :( How huge the gap... but of course we are never beyond the reach of God's grace :)

    • LynnCD June 4, 2014 Reply

      I agree with the responses to Pam's remark. When Paul instructed the Corinthians about dealing with someone who refuses to repent, the instruction is to treat such a person as unsaved. We need to regard such a one who has refused to repent, after sin have been publicly shared, as an unbeliever.

      And how do we treat unbelievers? We pray for their salvation, and witness to them. We most definitely do not allow them to be pastors and elders of churches or leaders in Christian ministry.

      And that is because, whether they are believers or not, we need to have concern for their souls, for they, just as we, will stand before God in judgment after this life is over.

      • P.L. June 5, 2014 Reply

        I agree. BG's salvation is between he and God, but regardless he is clearly unqualified to be a teacher/minister of the church.

        • Tangent June 6, 2014

          If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

    • phyllis June 5, 2014 Reply

      Good point, Pam. It appears that the Gothards not only lived very well on the proceeds of this "business", but enjoyed a lot of power and control as well. Not to mention this power and influence, endorsed by some of the heavyweights in evangelical circles, (Charles Stanley, and others named in these documents) gave BG access to bevies of beautiful, naive young women. Not held accountable to any honest body, what could possibly go wrong?

  11. "Hannah" June 4, 2014 Reply

    Wow, no time to read the tomes of documentation. But we all know this is classic Bill Gothard: deflect attention from your own faults by a character assassination (and if possible, total destroyal) of the messenger. I have seen this twice, in my own family. If he can't "win" an argument, his focus shifts to destroying you. Either through verbal and psychological abuse or public slander. Or both.

  12. Vanessa June 4, 2014 Reply

    Gothard implies that he'd always been wary of Tony and his inability to submit to authority. So why would he have assigned Tony the job of investigating the 1980 scandal?

    A few other questions: Why did Gothard attempt to get staffers to "shade the truth" in 1980-81 (see Joy Wood's story)? Why did he go so far in disparaging Tony as to send men to his home church? Why did he e-mail Gary Smalley and try to get him to lie about what Gary Smalley saw in his cabin so that the Wikipedia site could be "cleansed"? And finally, why did Gothard attempt to "reconcile" with Tony in 2013? The answer to all questions: whitewashing and containment.

    I re-read the e-mail exchanges between Gary and Tony, and was struck by this comment of Gary's: "I pray to God that if I ever do something inappropriate with a girl that you are still alive and you have my permission to go after me. You are the very best and Christ's church is fortunate to have you."

    Then there's this one from Joy Wood, which aligns so perfectly with what happened to Tony: "He [Gothard] was determined to destroy the opposition, and he kept his finger on the pulse of where we were in order to disrupt our lives [after they resigned from the Institute post-scandal]."

  13. Stephen Butler June 4, 2014 Reply

    I like how bill says, "through Christ our Lord" to end his email exchange for awhile and then his last one just said, "sincerely Bill." Kind of cracked me up.

    • MatthewS June 4, 2014 Reply

      I say this in sincerity, not spite. Even more than uttering God's name as a curse word, I think saying "through Christ our Lord" on a letter that is in reality an abusive attack is using God's name in vain. If there is a God in heaven who sees and hears, Bill should take this to heart. God may not be as flippant about his own name as Bill seems to be.

      • Don Rubottom June 4, 2014 Reply

        ... for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. I memorized that after being motivated to memorize the Big Ten in a Father's Conference at ITC. I agree with you, Matthew. It is the same as blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Claiming Christ while outside of Christ is unforgiveable because outside of Christ, there is no forgiveness. Inside Christ, claiming him cannot be in vain. Outside Christ, it is always in vain.

      • 'Megan' June 4, 2014 Reply

        I've thought for some time that 'taking God's name in vain' isn't using a name of God as an expletive (although I don't think God appreciates that at all either..), but rather what you are saying, taking/applying the name of God in a blasphemous way. When a woman marries and 'takes a name', she's becoming a new identity. So I imagine it is the same sort of thing, 'taking' God's name as part of your identity and using it in a blasphemous way/out of disbelief, like Judas did. Etc.

  14. joy wood June 4, 2014 Reply

    Tony, now they know who walked to and from our house, rather than drive. Also, our photo of you on the Lear looks great. Compare the hair in that photo and the fishing photo...Conclusion... wisdom came after leaving. Now seriously, hooray for revealed truth! Slander and lies have been coupled and handily distributed to all who would receive accusations or listen to them. Truth prevails and after our thirty plus years the evidence speaks with a loud voice. Maybe the release can stir repentance.

  15. 'Flynn' June 4, 2014 Reply


    Thank you for your willingness to share. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to have your name and reputation tarnished like this; Mr. Gothard certainly chose to take the low road there. I am still working my way through reading all the attachments in this article, I'm sure I'll have more thoughts once I'm finished.

    As a fellow list maker, I am finding it crazy that the list making talent was used against you. I mean, us list makers get things done! I particularly liked the part where they gave you a list of things to do to keep you occupied for 2 weeks, than you turned it in completed the nest day, lol! That is hilarious. You sound like someone I'd like to meet.

    Thank you for taking the high road; your willingness to show grace and mercy to Mr. Gothard after all this astounds me. You are truly showing the love of God.

  16. David June 4, 2014 Reply

    (1) IBLP is a cult. EVERYTHING about IBLP fits EXACTLY into the pattern of any "Christian" type cult you might want to name. Gothard fits EXACTLY into the pattern of any cult leader.
    (2) It is impossible to leave a cult on genuinely good terms.
    (3) It is impossible to expose the Truth about a cult or it's leaders(s) without being called an agent of Satan. Once exposed, it is really the only option left to the cult leader to call his accusers by that name.
    (4) Gothard fans will dismiss ALL of this, "because Gothard does teach the Truth." In reality, he teaches ANOTHER GOSPEL.
    (5) Spiritual deception is impossible to break with mere FACTS. It takes God Himself to do this -- but the heart must be open to the Truth.

    • Renea June 6, 2014 Reply

      Very good

  17. Amy June 4, 2014 Reply

    This brings to mind all the trademarks of narcissistic personalities... it can be SO exhausting to pin them down on the crux of the issue you need to resolve with them. Words, words, words (19 pages of 26 "facts!")... rabbit trails, deflections, twisting the words of others, misrepresenting facts, sprinkling in confusing bits of actual truth with all the lies. It takes so much energy and concentration to keep the focus on the real problem that a part of you gives up in total despair and frustration. Sadly, it seems that this method has worked for BG for decades. So many in his inner circle must either 1) walk away feeling crushed and bewildered or 2) solider on, too weary and confused to question him any longer.

  18. KB June 4, 2014 Reply

    When RG started publishing the details of the 1980's scandal it took me to a level of sadness and anger that I hadn't been to. It shook me to the core that these big name spiritual leaders treated the staff so badly. What stunned me was that they did nothing. Because they did nothing ATI happened. Because ATI happened the entire course of my life was changed. I was maligned, abused, manipulated, and controlled - by Institute staff. I have spent years putting myself and my life back together. When the information about the 80's scandal took place I was shocked that it was so effectively covered up. The story of Ruth and Larne and now the knowledge of Tony's involvement has been a lifeline for me.

    Tony, you are a hero. You stood up for the staff and for future staff and students (me) in ways that we will never know. Thank you for doing all you could, and more than you probably should have to stop this from continuing. You will never know how much it means to me (and I am sure others) to know that someone did something and continued to try when it was hopeless. I pray that you will see and feel God's blessings on your life in amazing ways. I pray for peace as you relive this horrible season of your life through this article. Thank you.

  19. Christopher Jones June 4, 2014 Reply

    Tony, as a former long-time ATI student who has often found it difficult to put the teacher and organization that outside of my parents was the most significant influence in my life until I was in my early 20s in any sense of coherent context that makes sense to anyone who wasn't involved with or familiar with Gothard's cult, I'd like to say THANK YOU. You have allowed me to understand myself and where I have come from so much better and hopefully to continue to move on.

    Thank you for your courage then and now. I can only imaging how much easier it would be to just "let it go" and move on with your life.

    What I find particularly noteworthy, and I think what reveals a lot about who Gothard really is, are the burdens Gothard places on people with whom he tries to reconcile. He started trying to "reconcile" with Tony in 2008, five years before he tried again and then quit again. Gothard seeks reconciliation, then denies doing anything wrong, then demands extensive documentation, then goes silent. I suspect that by this point, most people are going to just go away, because they don't want to argue with someone who claims he is apologizing. Gothard exhausts people even when he tries to apologize. Gothard can then in his own mind claim the satisfaction that he tried to reconcile but was resisted when in reality he was just making things worse and caused even new pain. Disgusting. Why is it so hard for him to just say, "I messed up, I'm sorry, forgive me, and "I'm going to try to make things right in a tangible way"?

    Tony, thank you for putting up with this even now. You are a hero. It's too bad the internet wasn't around in 1981 so the world could have seen the fraud that Gothard was before he entangled so many families and children in the ATI cult.

    • Samuel Lundmark June 11, 2014 Reply

      I suspect that Gothard can neither receive nor extend forgiveness because there is no grace in his system of theology. This likely ties back to thinking such as: "never expose your weakness or others will take advantage of you." In the body of Christ, this is not the call to life. In light of the gospel, this type of thinking is a distraction from finding life.

      Unfortunately, IBLP and ATI have served those in the church increasing levels of this wrong "graceless theology" albeit with "graceful", professional, 4-color smiles and packaging.

      I believe that the entire system is one of an evil rejection of God's grace and those who would continue therein remain under the wrath of God instead of being accepted into the Beloved and able to demonstrate that we have received and are empowered to freely give of God's very tangible forgiveness, grace, and mercy. As long as IBLP persists in teaching a false gospel, it will face resistence from the body of Christ. If there would be a change in IBLP theology to renounce and stand for the truth of the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ, then we have fellowship. I truly believe that this is not a personal battle but between two kingdoms. On one side stands Christ offering us freedom via forgiveness and grace, and on the other side stands the Giant of Despair guarding Doubting Castle and exacting every last farthing.

      • greg r June 11, 2014 Reply

        As days become months, it starts to look unlikely that IBLP will do the massive, and embarassing, overhaul that it would take to put things right. And 'right' would be both relationally and doctrinely. It seems they are waiting for the firestorm of bad publicity to fade, and then.... what ?? BG back as figurehead is unlikely, but what SYSTEMIC changes will be made ? I'm not that hopeful for the future of IBLP, but very hopeful for the Kingdom of GOD, which will not be deterred.

  20. Meg - author of the Sacred Grooming articles June 4, 2014 Reply

    What I am left with after reading through this is that a few good men spent a lot of time and energy trying to reason with someone unreasonable. As a former secretary of Bill's, I am comforted by the knowledge that at least someone, Tony, did try. At least we who came afterwards can rest in the knowledge that a man of integrity and truth was fighting for those very things. How it must have worried these good 1980's men when Bill rose to fame again in the '90s. Thank you, Tony, for sharing with us what clearly is a very painful part of your life. I, for one, am grateful. "Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

  21. Elizabeth June 4, 2014 Reply

    Alfred –
    If you knew of an account when your trusted friend denied writing a 19-page letter to anyone, but then you found out that his definition of pages in a letter include the cover sheet(s), and he actually HAD sent a 19-page letter with whatever number of attachments … and that since it was typed, he didn’t actually “write” it … would you consider that he was truthful?

    If you knew of an account when your trusted friend denied referring to anyone as an agent of Satan, but then found out that he didn’t actually say “agent of Satan,” but just “agent,” even though he explicitly described and implied who the agent was an agent of … would you consider that he was truthful?

    If you asked your trusted friend if he’d ever kissed or improperly touched a girl and he said he hadn’t, but then you found out that his definition of a “girl” was under a certain age, and he actually HAD kissed or improperly touched a woman of whatever age … would you consider that he was truthful?

    If you knew that your trusted friend went behind someone’s back to dishonestly discredit him among his friends, relatives, and church members in spite of his honesty and desire to do good … would you consider that he was honorable and above reproach?

    If you realized that your trusted friend wasn’t as trustworthy and honorable as you thought, would you be willing to entertain the idea that maybe he’s lied on more than just a few occasions, often using technicalities as tools of evasion … and that maybe he’s used people within his sphere of influence (under his spell) to accomplish his own agenda … and that maybe he’s even orchestrated situations to his advantage, or just to maintain his appearance of character … and that maybe he took advantage of loyal employees and crossed the bounds of the law in terms of labor practices and harassment … then maybe used his sway over them to inhibit their doing anything about it … and maybe he still continues to spout Scripture and preachy words today as he continues as long as he possibly can to sell insincere sincerity to his loyal followers, convincing them that he’s the poor victim of misunderstanding at best and malice at worst, so that they’ll continue to provide him the façade of his own engineering?

    My point, my friend (if I may), is that he may lie to you on technicalities that you may not catch, or that he will – if that’s not sufficient to achieve his goal – lie to you outright. I don’t point this out with malice. I know what it feels like to be lied to and manipulated … repeatedly and consistently over a span of more than 25 years. I also know the feeling of knowing I’ve been had, and how disgusting it is to think of the waste of it all, and how I wish I could go back and make different choices. But I also know that God is as sovereign as He is loving, and that is what trumps all.

    I encourage you to read and learn more about narcissism. It really is beyond what most people can fathom. It’s real. And it’s evil. And you’ve witnessed it up close and very personally on a scale which may never be matched.

    Talk to him if you care to. Whether you do or not will make no difference, and how he responds will make no difference. I will warn you, though, will all good intent … whatever time and energies you continue to invest in this man will be sucked from you with no return on your investment. You may want to consider investing with others who will benefit from your energies. I am very sorry that your trusted friend has not lived up to your expectations.

  22. Clay June 4, 2014 Reply

    I wish that Tony would have sued for the $10,000,000, effectively weakening IBYC's ability to sow seeds of corruption, and donated it to ministries who were doing good work.
    On another subject, the staff's motivation to memorize Scripture, in order to please one man, troubles me. The primary motivation to study Scripture should be to gain the knowledge of what is good and comforting. My concern springs from personal experience. As part of my ALERT boot camp graduation ceremony, my unit recited the entirety of 1 Peter. My pastor and his wife were in attendance, and were so impressed that they asked me to recite it again, solo and in uniform, in front of our congregation. Regretfully, I agreed and fumbled through the second recitation. I was known as a “good boy” and everyone was probably impressed by the uniform and the organization it represented, which had taught me to memorize Scripture.
    At this very moment, I can’t even remember what the book of 1 Peter is about. This is not to say that I shouldn’t have learned the meaning on my own by now, but, it speaks to the reality that ALERT and my pastor and his wife were focused more on outwardly looking impressive and did not care as much, whether or not 1 Peter was actually in my heart and impactful to my life. Also, why would it occur to me to go back and intentionally learn the meaning of the passage: I memorized it! That means I know it, right? Further illustrating the lack of concern for actually knowing Scripture, was the way in which I was punished for falling behind in my memorization. My squad leader required me to carry around a wooden log, both in my day pack and my hiking pack, which already weighed around 40 lbs. I understand that one of the functions of ALERT was to harden a young man up a bit, but I now recognize that that punishment was spiritual and emotional abuse. I understand that the memorization was one of the program requirements I agreed to, but, the resulting outcome should have been letting me fail the program if I couldn’t meet the standard. The result should not have been teaching me that God cared about how quickly I could memorize His Word and how impressively I could recite it. Where do we ever see this requirement in Scripture? Nowhere. As a child, I remember, as rewards for memorizing Scripture during VBS, being allowed to recite in front of the congregation and getting ribbons and plaques. At my old youth pastor’s weekly guy’s Bible study, I remember not being allowed to participate in the pre-study basketball game, if I hadn’t memorized that week’s assigned passages. These things seem appropriate, because, they were simply the loss of a reward or privilege, for failing to accomplish a goal. They were not the painful punishment of failing to meet some arbitrary standard. Again, in conclusion, there is a problem with memorizing Scripture to please any man.

    • Linda June 5, 2014 Reply

      I so agree with you concerning the wrong motivation and methods used to memorize scripture. SO sorry for the abuse you endured in ALERT training. Psalm 19 presents such a different view of the value of God's Word; it rejoices the heart and is more desirable than gold.
      Your leaders were certainly following a Biblical example with that log in the backpack.
      "They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they preach,but do not practice." Matt.23:3-5

      These verses aptly describe BG and those with him who depended on legalism to produce the fruit of righteousness. He adopted the woes of the Pharisees as his ministry plan!
      What an unbelievably wasted life this man has lived! Thank you, Tony, for the irrefutable documentation of his evil mode of operation.
      I can't imagine that the IBLP board could ignore this.

  23. 'Megan' June 4, 2014 Reply

    Tony, thank you for putting this out there. It means so very much to the rest of us, some of us may be able to rest easy knowing that we're not imagining things, crazy, and that such evidences take away from the common cry that we're all making things up, or assigning blame to Bill that should be on someone else's shoulders.. etc.. Thank you, and thank you for your graciousness towards Bill in not pursuing rightful justice/vengeance. It may be that this is the Lord 'repaying'. I hope the best for you and your family!

  24. Christopher Jones June 4, 2014 Reply

    The IBLP Board appears to have been entirely complicit with Gothard, especially with respect to these unauthorized payments to outgoing staff members to prompt them to sign confidentiality statements.

    These unauthorized payments appear to have been embezzlement. The IBLP Board could have had Gothard arrested. Instead, they gave him his job back.

    Because the confidentiality agreements were likely made between the outgoing employees and the IBYC/IBLP corporation, the current Board of Directors likely has the ability to void these clauses to allow the former staff members to speak freely without fear of any reprisal.

    If the current IBLP Board of Directors is truly interested in reconciliation, I believe they could go a long ways in demonstrating their commitment to the truth and to allowing reconciliation by publically voiding these clauses.

    • Jess June 4, 2014 Reply

      Wow, this is a great point. I hope the IBLP board is reading these comments and sees your suggestion Christopher.

    • Don Rubottom June 5, 2014 Reply

      On the other hand, I'm having trouble imagining a jury that would require any repayment of the hush money for breach of the confidentiality agreement. Maybe, if the Board won't waive the confidentiality, all those bound could file a lawsuit asking a judge if they are still bound by it. But many of these individuals also had confessed to things that could be brought to light and embarrass them even today. That is one reason confidentiality agreements are so poisonous. They perpetuate evil.
      Reconciliation is much better: "We agree we no longer have any cause against each other." Thus, there is no incentive to disclose things to gain a future advantage. Any future disclosure for malicious reasons would be actionable as a new wrong, but disclosure as part of some broader correction of wrongs would not be constrained.
      To my mind, confidentiality agreements are confessions of no reconciliation. The Board should waive them all and seek reconciliation while honorably protecting the reputations of the victims, not the perpetrators of evil.

  25. Sunflower June 4, 2014 Reply

    I can't help wondering why so many people are still calling for his repentance and presuming he is a Christian. I'm not saying that he is not, just not presuming one or the other. So many wives have stayed in abusive marriages, and why? Because they thought that if they 'appealed' in yet another way, with yet another 'word picture', that their husbands would 'see the light' and be oh so sorry. But it very very rarely happens. Why? We have grown up with the secular idea (and lots of movies and books) that man is born good and just needs the right opportunity, the right logic, and 'ding!' the light goes on and they are changed in an instant, becoming such nice people all of a sudden. We think that they truly, down deep (WAY deep)want to be good. Nope. We are born sinners and Satan is an angel of light, using counterfeit mixed with some of the real stuff to deceive many. How better to get what you want than to pretend you've become a Christian? Then you can get away with almost anything if you are even a little bit charismatic or generous-looking and have the gift of the gab (or writing). I see here that so many people have wasted so much time and effort actually expecting a true repentance from a man who has never showed any inkling of doing anything even close to that. Dr. Phil keeps saying, "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior." Hello!! We've had how many years of past behavior and still expect him to break character? I seriously doubt that's going to happen. If there was going to be repentance, it would have happened a long long time ago. This boy knows all he needs to know. He has a good thing going and is not giving it up without taking as many down with him as he can. Somehow we as Christians feel so guilty admitting that someone is a narcissist, that there are people that really don't want to do what's right. And keeping all these great people on a leash just keeps them from real ministry.

    • Vanessa June 4, 2014 Reply

      My hope has little to do with Gothard. That's between Bill and God. RG needs to keep up the pressure for an investigation that thoroughly justifies his victims and that repudiates Bill and his teachings. I pray for a complete dismantling of IBLP and ATI (as with Vision Forum) as a lesson to legalists everywhere, and so that grace, joy and love may abound. There are still so many captives to be freed...

      • Heidi W June 4, 2014 Reply

        I wholeheartedly agree--this is my prayer as well!

      • Linda-Lee Bowman June 5, 2014 Reply

        I could not agree more.

      • Amy June 6, 2014 Reply

        "There are still so many captives to be freed.." Yes, yes! As for BG... I can't know how likely true repentance is at this point, or how realistic it is to expect it! But regardless, I think it's still something to pray for! God has been known to do many things that seem impossible. And regardless of the depth of his sin, despite the serious consequences he will face for his false teaching, his soul still has eternal value to his Creator, and Christ died for him as well.

        I don't mean to sound "preachy"... I am talking to myself more than anyone! It's one of those hard things to wrap my human heart around!

        • Beverly June 6, 2014

          I agree with you, Amy, and feel the same way. I am praying for God to grant Bill both justice and mercy---Justice in the eyes of the law so he will understand the depth and seriousness of his sins so that he can then repent and find mercy with God. I have not given up on the grace of God, and pray often that God will break through to his heart and bring him around to a radical personal understanding of God's grace, forgiveness, and love. In human terms, it feels impossible that he would change, but with God, nothing is impossible!

      • Dee June 6, 2014 Reply

        I totally agree. It is up to God how He deals with Bill. It is the victims that should be supported by us now and allowed to heal. Certainly, IBLP and ATI need to be shut down and stopped in spreading the lies and fraud of this cult.

  26. Daniel June 4, 2014 Reply

    I've been trying to wrap my mind around this whole thing for a long time. How does this happen? Is Bill a good man that did bad things or a bad man that seemingly did good things?

    The answer is of course complicated, but here are my results.

    How did it happen?

    Bill basically created an elitist "club" whose membership was so desirable that people were willing sacrifice to be in it. You were either in the club or out. Staying in had certain rules, but it also had bragging rights, lavish retreats, etc. You were either fully on board, or personna non grata.

    Is Bill bad or good?

    Bill is the ultimate product of his beliefs. That's it.

    • Sunflower June 4, 2014 Reply

      I don't think he's the product of his beliefs, but the product of his selfish desires. I don't think he even believes what he's been preaching all these years.......did he even write all that much of it? Seems to me he used people to do that, and 'borrowed' some of it.

      • Patrick Jayne June 5, 2014 Reply

        Bill often taught (a recycled or plagiarized teaching, but that's beside the point) that a "Mans Morality dictates his theology". There was much in Bill Gothard's teaching that seemingly conflicted not just with Scripture, but with basic understanding about how people are. I'm not a professional and can only offer my opinion, but it seems in light of all that we have discovered, Bill has/had some of his own personal sins and weaknesses that he used his position to cover up, but in retrospect you can see the nexus between his moral failings and his errant teachings. I pray that God uses this exposure of the damage he has wrought on hundreds and even thousands, directly and indirectly, to help him understand his own "root causes".

      • Daniel June 5, 2014 Reply

        Sunflower, let me give an example of what I mean.

        Bill's main beef with Tony is that he violated the "Authority" principal as taught by Bill Gothard. In that system, the ultimate sin is working against an "authority." We now laugh at how ridiculous this sounds, but this is what was believed.

        Authorities recognize and assert themselves as God's direct representatives (I'm not sure how President of Seminar Ministry got to be equivalent with the Pope). In the hierarchy of values,one under authority that tries to do anything else than what is demanded is looked on as an infidel, basically an agent of Satan. Those in "authority" may do whatever needs to be done to keep the order, because that is the most important thing.

        If you follow that type of teaching to the logical end, you get behavior as seen in this story.

        • MatthewS June 5, 2014

          Agree with Daniel about the authority thing.

          I think one phrase for that is "lording it over", or in the colorful way of the Message:

          So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”

      • Mary Olive June 5, 2014 Reply

        Dear Sunflower,

        A lot of the IBLP teachings seem to be patterned after the old order Amish Ordnung, the descendants of Anabaptists, who settled here to avoid persecution in Europe.

        The "rules" were handed down from generation to generation, including the part about the "anointed" one or bishop, who makes decisions for the members of the congregation.

        Children are taught to obey their parents and have a "meek and quiet" spirit, but when they become of age, they choose whether to be baptized and join the church,or not.

        The time prior to joining the church, usually the two years before they become of age, is called rumspringa. Bill Gothard gave his opinion of the practice of rumspringa during the 2013 family conference in Sacramento.

        • J June 6, 2014

          I've heard of rumspringa. What was Bill's opinion on it?

        • Mary Olive June 9, 2014

          Dear J,

          I meant to respond to you sooner, but my computer is having issues, so I'm borrowing my husband's computer for now.

          Rumspringa literally means "running around" in Amish lingo (Pennsylvania Dutch).

          You asked me what Bill Gothard said about rumspringa. In my above comments, I wrote he gave his opinion of it at the 2013 Sacramento family conference that we attended.

          Bill Gothard didn't say that he didn't agree with the practice of rumspringa. He simply explained that Amish parents with offspring going through rumspringa often "look the other way," and he was worried that the adolescents might do something they would later regret. A video transcript of the conference might have his exact words, for I am paraphrasing, and most likely not very well.

          What concerns me more is when I told Bill Gothard that my daughter, son-in-law and their eight children had withdrawn from ATI after eight years because their pastor told them it was a cult.

          We were standing in a lobby of the Sacramento Conference Center and Bill stopped to talk with us before a session began. He was quiet for a moment, then he said there might come a time when we might need to choose which side we're on. As literal as I am, I didn't know what he meant. We had no idea what had occurred in his life just prior to that conference and he did not share it with us.

          That conference was one of the seven ATI annual family conferences and three ATI regional training seminars I've attended. I've also attended 11 basic seminars, four advanced seminars, three anger resolution seminars and three all-day ministers and Christian leaders seminars. I'm wondering if I'm still considered a "casual seminar attendee" or if I've been promoted into the "devoted follower" category. I have almost all of the IBLP materials and about half of the ATI wisdom booklets. And I just finished reading Basic Care Bulletin 5 on How to Make Wise Decisions on Adoption.

          I've seen several comments that indicate a person cannot possibly understand unless that person had been a member of the "inner circle." And that may well be true. The thing that comes through loud and clear, for me, however, is the pain and anger that lingers in the hearts of many who regularly post comments here. I wonder if all those who are affected, including the leaders, are learning something from all of this. I know I am.

  27. Former bill gothard girl June 4, 2014 Reply

    Just want to say how much I appreciate your heart for Jesus, Tony. As someone who has been falsely accused by Bill and reprimanded in front of others by him multiple times, although on a much much smaller scale than you have been, this article has been very healing to see your response to Bill. I was made to believe it was always my fault for how he treated me, that I was just not spiritual enough. Seeing this helps me see just how selfish, fallible, and wrong he is.

  28. Mike June 4, 2014 Reply

    From the letter: "Love does not keep account of evil..."

    Except, of course, 26 facts about an irritating critic of the ministry. A ministry that God, according to Bill, will "protect against any attack."

  29. Bill Wood June 4, 2014 Reply


    We have known each other now for almost 40 years, we did many seminars together and had multiple funny experiences in our travels. The worst thing I have ever seen done to one man is what Bill Gothard did to you in that letter. It was reprehensible and showed his true heart. I only hope and pray that one day, Bill will seek your forgivness without qualification, and start the long process of contacting all the people with whom he communicated this lie.

    I would also like to see the letters of apology from the main group that received this letter, such as Charles Stanley etc...

    Bill Wood former 1980 staff and a proud husband of Joy Wood!

    • P.L. June 5, 2014 Reply

      Bill Wood,
      Given the tales on this site of how woman have been disregarded, lorded over, mistreated, and abused, it warmed my heart to see you say that you are the 'proud husband of Joy'! You're a gem.

  30. Joel Horst June 4, 2014 Reply

    Tony, thank you so much for everything you did, tried to do, have gone through and are doing now. As a former Mennonite myself, I know that the Mennonite church runs uncomfortably like IBLP in its handling of sin (blame the victim). It's not terribly surprising that they did what they did.

    God's blessings to you.

  31. Libby June 5, 2014 Reply

    I am aghast! At the same time, I am encouraged by the humble patience of Tony! He has demonstrated selflessness in the face of lies, and lived Gal. 5:22 for over thirty years.

    When I think of the reproach that the sins of these legalistic ministries are to the nature and character of God it grieves me. How in this world does the church overcome such abuses? I see the havoc my own legalistic approach has wrecked in my limited sphere of influence. The level of offense by BG, IBYC, IBLP/ATI is incomprehensible.

    Certainly, fear of exposure goes all the way back to the garden; denying, covering up and casting blame have their origins there as well.

    God has been so very merciful and long-suffering. I pray for justice for the people who have been victimized. I pray for true repentance and healing.

    Thank you RG for your persevering help in exposing the truth. Thank you to the courageous, gracious victims who have relived abuses so that fellow victims can receive help/validation in their healing process.

  32. Myron Horst June 5, 2014 Reply

    Last year, before the articles that came out about Bill Gothard this year, my one daughter had a prophetic dream in which she went into a room. In the room were three demons. One was Bill Gothard and the other two I will not disclose for political reasons. On the floor was a pile of bones which was Doug Phillips. When she told us her dream, we laughed like it was a joke that Bill Gothard, who we thought was such a Godly man, was portrayed a demon.

    As I read the 19 page letter that Gothard wrote accusing Tony of being an agent of Satan, I realized that a number of the accusations that were given as proof that Tony was an agent of Satan are basically what Bill Gothard has done to Jesus. Gothard was not under God's authority or under the authority of the IBLP board. Gothard in his most recent statement confessed that he had put his own agenda ahead of Christ.

    Gothard also demanded a loyalty and obedience from the staff that should only have been given to Jesus. No Christian leader should ever demand the type of loyalty, obedience, and standards that Gothard required of the staff.

    It is obvious from the lying, deceit, sexual sins, sexual perversion, slander, the demonizing of Tony, and the lack of true repentance that Bill Gothard has not been a Christian for many years.

    It is hard to imagine that Bill Gothard, who appeared to be so Godly and to have so many insights into Scripture, could be a false teacher and an agent of Satan. But Jesus warned us over and over to beware of false prophets and teachers and we have not been as alert as we should have been. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing (conservative navy blue suits), but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits..." Matthew 7:15-16

    The revelation of Bill Gothard deceiving us is a wake up call to each of us to be alert and discerning. God has told us that Satan's ministers will transformed as the ministers of righteousness in an effort to deceive us. Gothard's teachings were from Scripture, but were slightly twisted and made into the work of Satan to lead us away from following Christ to following Bill Gothard. I am grieved that we were so easily deceived by Satan.
    "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
    2 Corinthians 11:13-15

    • 'Megan' June 5, 2014 Reply

      Whoa. I will say that I tend to be a bit skeptical when people talk about 'prophetic dreams', probably because of ATI's teachings on prophecy, not because I don't believe they're a real thing.. (That and anytime you see someone claiming to be a 'prophet' on the internet or whatever, they NEVER give specific prophecies, just stupid stuff like, 'The Spirit of God is moving in a big way, get ready!'.... ok, yeah, I coulda said that..)

      Anyway.. but I'm impressed with your daughter's dream. Was that all there was to it besides the unnamed demons? (one of whom's initials are most likely BHO?)

    • wolf hunter June 5, 2014 Reply

      One of the wisest things I recall being said on this subject is that when looking for wolves in sheep's clothing, most of us are trying to spot wolves. What we are supposed to be looking for are sheep.

      A good way to distinguish between the two is to look at the crap they leave behind. A quick Google image search for wolf crap and sheep crap will show a very distinct difference in the two.

      If you want to know the distinguish between a wolf and a sheep, look at the mess they leave behind.

      • P.L. June 5, 2014 Reply

        By their fruit you shall know them! Wise counsel.

  33. Karen June 5, 2014 Reply

    Tony's faith puts me to shame. What a wonderful example to emulate. What a sad thing that BG could not take advantage of so many good opportunities to come clean.

    BG has apparently had numerous such opportunities over the years and yet resists. I feel profoundly sad for this man and his lack of genuine faith in God's mercy and grace to love him as he is to true spiritual wholeness, rather than as he would like people to think he is. What will become of him if he takes this stiff-necked resistance and pride to the grave? What will become of those who enabled and who still enable him to live such a lie? Lord, have mercy! Ultimately, there is only one hope for this man--that all those who know of his true spiritual state and have entrusted themselves to God's grace pray fervently and with love for BG's deliverance from the death-dealing principalities and powers to which he is in bondage.

    • Tangent June 6, 2014 Reply

      Enabling, that's what Alfred and all those in attendance at Big Sandy (whatever it was) are doing. That is what the board of directors, and all those other nationally known leaders are doing. I hope some of them will step up to the challenge and call BG's bluff.

  34. Don Rubottom June 5, 2014 Reply

    Did Gothard sell Stanley's and Ryrie's books? Did Gothard sell Smalley's books? Did any of these men owe some of their market to IBLP? Did Gothard give big money to his home church or just bring honor to them? Did IBLP give money to any of the ministries that cooperated, wittingly or unwittingly in the cover up and restoration of Gothard to leadership of IBYC/IBLP?

    I remember that Bob Jones literature was promoted in ATI. Did the Board know that John McLario lied to Bob Jones about being a Mason and then claimed to have repudiated Masonry but refused to allow that to be used publicly? Who told Tony about McLario's secret sin? Was McLario recommended as a hit man or just Gothard's most available at the time?

    If Gothard's lawyers got all of Tony's documents during depositions in the lawsuits in the 1980's, why did Gothard ask Tony to give him copies again last year? Has Gothard employed a lawyer to represent him in the present controversy? Have any lawyers presently employed by the Board been in past (or are in present) attorney/client relationship with Gothard? Does the Board fully understand the conflicts of interest that now exist and have they waived any conflict of interest in employing any attorney?

  35. phyllis June 5, 2014 Reply

    To Don Rubottom,
    This is a great list of questions and it would be very interesting to see the answers to all of them. I pray they will be answered, and publicly. I have personally been a supporter for many years of the Bob Jones University in the form of buying their home school curriculum for at least 15 years and listened to Charles Stanley on the radio often.

    I did not know about BJU's involvement with Bill Gothard in any way.

  36. Betty June 5, 2014 Reply

    It is interesting to hear De Boer's name in this article. It makes me wonder if he has a daughter-in-law or granddaughter(niece, etc)-in-law who was so willing to be an instrument in carrying out Gothard's backlash at my family (me in particular). Having met her in person during that time period I do not believe she was innocent of what was going on at that time.

    I also know the local area committee coordinator. I worked in the area office for several years. It is interesting to put the facts together. Did he know what was going on? He obviously joked about Gothard with another area coordinator as well as headquarters staff and held Gothard at what appeared to me to be disdain. Now that behind-the-scenes information is coming out their attitudes, comments, and reactions make more sense.

  37. Jeff Gill June 5, 2014 Reply

    Over the past six months RG has driven so many nails into the IBLP coffin that it's starting to seem that there are more nails than coffin. (Of course, I am heavily biased towards the nails, and I think a coffin is an apt metaphor. It may look different to an enthusiastic ATI fan.) This particular post was more like a railroad spike. Thank you for your willingness to share, Tony.

    I am utterly fascinated to see what the IBLP board's eventual public response will be.

    • greg r June 5, 2014 Reply

      I am utterly fascinated to see what the IBLP board's eventual public response will be.

      Myself, as well. In addition to all the sexual, psuedo-sexual creepiness, this testimony puts several different areas in brighter light: Bill was mean, vindictive, and not above being a bully. I find that very ironic: any FARGO fans out there ? Lester Nigard anyone ???
      The point, for me, is not so much bill this, bill that, but be careful that the leadership you follow TODAY is not-like-Bill. That's the takeaway.

    • KariU June 5, 2014 Reply

      It is entirely possible that the board is so untraditional for a typical board of directors that its members were initially unaware of their role when catastrophe strikes. After several months of public silence and many long private phone calls with people who do know what their role should have been--there are really no more excuses.

      At this point, I suspect there may be some embarrassment. Perhaps some regret that they found themselves in this position at this unfortunate time. I have to say for me personally, though, that I find it to be so refreshing and healing when an individual or entity discovers that it has been in the wrong and publicly admits it. There may be many things going on behind the scenes at IBLP Headquarters right now. The board may be on the phone with each other and meeting regularly to determine what to do next. I hope they are, and pray that they will come to a workable resolution. But at this point it is all really too little, too late. Their leader has fallen, and there was not one man or group of men prepared to step forward into the gap and take responsibility for what needs to happen next.

      To the board of directors: you may be reading through the comments at some point, and if you have made it as far as mine, you may be feeling frustration. You may be feeling misunderstood. You may even be rolling your eyes, because many of us are speaking without knowledge of what is actually going on behind the scenes even now. My response: That is exactly the problem. The secretive nature of Gothard's ministry is still so secretive that nobody has a clue as to how the board actually feels about it. The staff isn't allowed to speak more than in generalities. The public has been left almost completely in the dark. The empty silence is growing, and people are filling it in with conjecture, concern, and clamor for responsiveness. They are right to do so. The work of Christian ministry does not require privacy--and in fact should never find itself in such an environment, lest it become twisted, as was IBLP.

      I would like to humbly make one more suggestion to IBLP's board: get rid of your counselors. Anyone who ever had Bill Gothard's ear should be considered suspect in your minds, including yourselves. In order to remove the veil of chains that is clouding your judgement, you need counselors. But right now, you are perhaps the blind leading the blind, without even realizing it. Seek counsel outside the IBLP ministry. There are many wise individuals in ministry now who have weighed in publicly about IBLP's current situation. Go read some of their blogs, make some phone calls outside of your comfort zone. Pray. But whatever you do, please do it quickly. Real people with real families and real life problems are waiting, even hanging their very faith on what IBLP will do next. Fill in that empty space, or the rest of the world will fill it in for you.

      • Jon Owens June 5, 2014 Reply

        Thank you Kari for your wise words. You put into words what I have been thinking but have been unable to type.

  38. Daniel June 6, 2014 Reply

    A couple more thoughts... 1 A key characteristic of a good "Systems Analyst" is "Impertinence," meaning that they question everything.

    2. Tony's kindhearted plan to honor Bill by memorizing Romans and buying a caboose brings up a really interesting dynamic. This is a really odd/extreme level of appreciation for a Christian leader. Think about the belabored applause at seminars. Low/unpaid staff bought him a brand new minivan. Think about the crazy feats of excessive work that staff would accomplish (printing department, construction crew, decorating staff, secretaries up at all hours, etc)to please Bill. And he liked it.

    I'd be interested in seeing an analysis of this by some good minds.

    I think the need for adoration drove this train off the cliff.

    • P.L. June 6, 2014 Reply

      I believe the technical term is 'narcissistic supply', Daniel! And those who supply the supply are the 'narcissistic extensions'. I have a narcissist family member, so I'm coming to understand the supply part. But those who allow themselves to be extensions (so named because the narcissist sees others as mere extensions of himself) are harder for me to understand.

      I think in a church/ministry setting it is even more complicated, because the extensions conflate serving and honoring the narcissist with serving and honoring God.

      Wow, even writing that it seems scary close to idolatry. I'm not applying it to any one person or story here, just commenting in general.

      • wolf hunter June 6, 2014 Reply

        What a great observation about idolatry. The sad truth is that we can only blame ourselves for our own idolatry. We can not blame the idol. Also, we are accountable to God for it. Should be a warning to those "narcissistic extensions" who blindly follow or passively enable.

        Wolves are wolves. It is in their nature to operate in stealth. That is how they get their prey. We are no less devoured because the wolf is very crafty in delivery, or really did a lot of good for a lot of people, or that they can assemble large crowds of unsuspecting wanna-be me-too-ers. You could say the same about witch doctors. But at the end of the day, the fruit of their efforts will indicate their heart.

        When ministries come crashing down, you can tell a lot about the heart by what they try to resurrect. If fallen leaders try to resurrect themselves, it indicates whom they serve. If fallen leaders try to resurrect those they have wronged in their relationship with Jesus, they are on the path to restoration.

        This is all that they should have ever done in the first place.

        • Vanessa June 6, 2014

          One of the difficulties in the Christian life is loving with abandon and at the same time not enabling wolves/narcissists/sociopaths in our lives. My mother-in-law is a narcissist, and she spent several Christmas holidays with us. The more we served her, the more unpleasant she became. We finally had to say enough.

        • P.L. June 6, 2014

          Excellent comment, wolf hunter, particularly the part about watching who the fallen leader tries to resurrect. Very helpful, as I am even now keeping an eye on a wolfy pastor. Thanks.

          I hope the Bill Gothard fiasco makes many more people aware of the characteristics of abusive spiritual leaders, and willing to stand against them.

        • Jim K. June 9, 2014

          You do a narcissist no favors by feeding his/her lust for attention and submission, any more than you do an alcoholic any favors by paying his/her bar tab.

          Jim K.

      • Karen June 7, 2014 Reply

        Actually, it is not just "close to idolatry"; it is idolatry. Those who allow themselves to be "extensions" of the narcissist are taking their identity and life from the narcissist and not God. Any form of what might be more broadly termed codependency like this is idolatrous. It is a struggle we all will have to some extent and in some circumstances--and to which the young still forming their sense of self are especially vulnerable. Narcissists are so skilled at manipulation and deceit, it is very easy for someone without a very stable and healthy support system, and without the resulting firm connection with the unconditional love of Christ, to become so ensnared. Anyone who finds themselves in a ministry or church headed by a narcissist should run, not walk, as far away as they can get from such a place! If it's in your family, it's much more difficult to completely avoid, but the ability to "detach with love" (a principle from the 12 Steps of AA) from the narcissist and establish and keep firm boundaries will be essential to the maintenance of personal spiritual and relational health in such a family.

  39. Daniel June 7, 2014 Reply

    "Fact 14" is very interesting.

    Let's talk a scenario. Steve Gothard buys some swampy, scrubby property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Not worth much. Now imagine that that land was improved with connecting roads, proximity to a lodge and vacation resort. Imagine that an the property was desired by said lodge and posh conference center. I wonder what the value of the property would be then? What kind of tax write off would he be due as a charitable donation that would be a DEDUCTION FOR HIS OTHER BUSINESS ENTERPRISES?

    Good question, Tony.

    • Daniel June 8, 2014 Reply

      I have some impertinent questions to add, if I may.

      1. Would getting Steve married do something for his tax rate? For example, when he was "kicked out" did he sell remaining property to the Institute for a large capital gain?

      2. Did Steve have a mortgage on his property? If he was putting his entire paycheck into the property, it would speak of incremental payments.

      3. How much money did the Institute put into the North Woods property? The Oakbrook property?

      4. If the Basic Seminar has 2.5 million alumni, and the Advanced has 500,000 alumni, that would be 3 million attendees. That would be $180 million dollars at $60 each. Of course there were facility expenses, but a lot were hosted at churches. That's a lot of dough, right? Where'd it go?

      • Don Rubottom June 9, 2014 Reply

        What is the fixation on Steve's taxes? Is there evidence that anyone involved was in a high tax bracket due to big salaries or any big investment "gains" (which require a sale or transfer for value)? There may have been a marriage "penalty" in the tax code before Reagan rewrote it. A gift may only be deducted at the cost of acquisition or less if depreciated. The typical integrity AND tax problems in similar organizations is moving business cash into private real estate through free labor or materials for improvements. It sounds as if this is the likely reason the Board demanded Steve to "give" his interests to the Institute.
        It is reasonable to ask how much IBLP money was invested in real estate, but these investments have been open to observation for decades. It is also reasonable to ask if business resources were consumed by officers for personal benefit without accounting for such benefits as income. But some grand tax benefit from any of this does not seem likely.
        Moreover, the best explanation for Gothard shopping a marriage was to "cure" at least one case of fornication in a "Biblical" manner, rather than any significant marriage tax benefit. Typical legalism, of course. (In my view, marriage is no more a "cure" for lust or fornication than a banquet is a cure for gluttony. Our entire "christian" view that marriage as the "legal" way to satisfy lust completely misses the point of Genesis 2 and Jesus's teachings on marriage and lust. Purity is matter of the heart, not of civil papers or other externals like Talibanish clothing.) If one of the abused had married Steve, that might be one less offended person to war against, and one more abused person compromised by promises of love and forgiveness. And the "honor" coming from merely offering marriage in each case of fornication might merit much grace for the brothers (in their self-justification).
        It does not appear to be tax planning that drives them.

        • Daniel June 10, 2014

          Don, the questions about the taxes are attempts to understand the strange behavior. Someone that used other Institute assets so freely should at least be asked some hard questions.
          Point definitely taken about the marriage proposals, but it seems like there are other things going on... just like to understand.

  40. Jerrod Forrest June 8, 2014 Reply

    I'll be among the many to laud Tony's approach to the matters at hand, and give him high marks for his admirable attitude from 1981 (and much earlier) to the present. I'd also like to join the chorus of those who seriously question the ethics of a businessman who claims to call himself a follower of Jesus, but who for decades has displayed behavior that's diametrically opposed to that of our Savior's love-focused commands.

    As I've mentioned in other RB articles' 'comments' sections, I heartily commend those who call for repentance from BG, despite the likelihood of his snickering behind his hands at repeated, sincere attempts to induce spiritual reconciliation. Were I to make a humorous allusion to which we can all relate, I'll quote the innocent-minded Aunt Abby character in the 1944 dark comedy "Arsenic and Old Lace".

    Viewers will recall her earnest line near the film's beginning, after reading of Germany's dictatorial leader, and his nefarious doings across Europe. So reluctant to pass judgment on anyone despite strong evidence to the contrary, she remarks with genuine disappointment that "I've almost come to the conclusion that this Mr. Hitler isn't a Christian." :) I'm not making THAT strong a statement, of course, but after years of testimony from a variety of credible sources, perhaps it's time that we too, come to solid conclusions, and then act on them accordingly.

  41. DAVID PIGG June 9, 2014 Reply

    The comments made by KariU,Don Rubottom,Gregr,and David are always great.ButI have a chance now to respond to a comment made by Matthew S.,this one about when Gothard "turns on you" and "grinds you down into powder",in your words,Matthew.This probably would have been many years after the events of this article from Tony,an awesomely brave and honorable guy, transpired.By this time[and I'm saying it was Matthew a young teenager]Gothard ground this young man into powder;[far from the meek and mild demeanor he often hides behind],Gothard took the wrong turn on having to pass thru many moral crossroads.Crossroads that caused the 19 page letter,going to Tony's church in Kansas,hooking up with Charles Stanley,etc.Moral crossroads that made it small potatoes to grind young impressionable naïve boys into powder if they dare cross him on a small infraction.I wonder how devastating that feels like if you are a young man?I wonder who out there is still hurting from it?I also wonder from the vantage point of the Kingdom of God,if there is just as much moral weight put on this infraction as others?On behalf of the Kingdom of God,you are required to repent of this transgression,Bill Gothard.Sometimes few words are needed in exposing the moral gravity of the thought that God may be reduced in the transpiration of His gentle urges to bring one to repentance,to have to rely on His Sovereignty for justice.And to have to bypass what He up to a certain point in time would rather not do.May compassion come for all those young men so devastated.

  42. X-Staff June 12, 2014 Reply

    Although I find it sad, I have agreed with RC on many points they have made. But this is one which I think they are incorrect, and reading the above letter from Mr. G again, (I had seen it before while on staff) only further convinced me. Tony's actions sound very much like that of Absalom's. Any time there is money and power to be had, there will be people who seek to promote themselves, often by putting down the current leaders.

    And the little pity party sob story at the end... Who memorizes scripture to impress or show affection for someone else? His whole life and motives while at HQ smell of bad intentions, through and through.

    • MatthewS June 12, 2014 Reply

      Honest question: applying Bill's teachings, how was it not being "defiled by an evil report" for you to read his letter against Tony?

    • "Emee" June 12, 2014 Reply

      "Who memorizes scripture to impress or show affection for someone else?"

      I did. While a child in ATI, I spent over a year attempting to memorize a large passage of Scripture that one of my parents had previously memorized. I did it out of love for that parent and a genuine desire to imitate them (and, ok, a healthy dose of self-righteousness and pride). So, no, I don't find it hard to believe that Tony and the other staff wanted to memorize Scripture due to their love for BG.

    • Jerrod Forrest June 13, 2014 Reply

      As a 24-year U.S. diplomat, my thoughts on this statement can be summed up through an historical analogy. If after examining the exhaustive body of evidence from the Nuremberg Trials or Stalin's 1930s political purges, one still resists reaching logical conclusions, I have to wonder what's behind the denial.

      Even as someone who has had no involvement with BG or ATI, I and any other reader can make 'parachute-drops' onto the RG site, read well-documented, reasoned arguments about what was wrong with this organization (I can't call it a ministry), and understand that unbridled greed, lust for control over others' lives and a self-absorbed pathology underlay the entire sordid structure. To therefore express disbelief in this case about who wore the white hat, and who had the black hat firmly ensconced on his head indicates, IMHO, an unhealthy bias for the wrong team.

      I'm all for people expressing their opinions - which is more than what BG allowed under his decades' long reign - but the obviousness of the flaw here would be chuckle-worthy, if the charge weren't so egregious.

    • Don Rubottom June 13, 2014 Reply

      I don't understand how you can approve the Gothard letter, even if you find Tony unsympathetic. Do you believe Tony had no authority from Gothard or the Board to interview the staff? Do you believe that Gothard correctly accused Tony of provoking his uncle to write Gothard demanding reform when the uncle denied that? Do you believe it was appropriate for Gothard to approach Tony's church and demand his ex-communication without a hearing? Was it appropriate to use information against Tony that he had confessed in a pastor-penitent relationship? When did Gothard go to Tony with a second witness? Why is your view so different from the Woods' and Gabriel's who were involved in all the events described? Was Dr. Schultz trying to take over too? Why was Bill Gothard unwilling to be wronged? I believe Gothard's letter is very convincing as well, but only if I refuse to hear another side of the story. I believe Proverbs speaks to that. If you have additional evidence based on your own observations and first-hand knowledge, I would be delighted to understand these events better. But your apparent primary reliance on Gothard's letter seems very injudicious at this point in the story. Wow. Do you write letters like that about people? Did Paul write a letter like that about John Mark? Do you see no spite in that letter?
      Also, just to understand, at what point in time were you shown the letter on staff? Do they bring it out annually to remind staff how evil critics are and how they will be handled? I can't imagine a good reason to show a letter like that around after the fact.

      • David Pigg June 17, 2014 Reply

        Samuel Schultz's resignation spoke volumes on top of these points you made,but then when you've been steeped in the simmering intoxicating personality cult,nothing may offer a valid reason against BG.Thanksfor good points,Don.

        • Don Rubottom June 17, 2014

          I'm not so sure that Mj is steeped in the personality cult, but possibly in the "father is patriarch" cult. That is intoxicating for a young father, as long as his wife keeps her peace about any trivial imperfections that might appear, such as unaccountability, harshness, self-will, isolation from the Heb 10, "assembly". But after about 20-25 years, she will probably unload on him, or one of the children will jump ship and then he will have to face it. It's not BG, it's what BG represents for all those who would emulate him. That is why men and women are reacting so very differently to the disclosures in this matter. Women don't want to admit that blind submission enables. Men don't want to admit we are unworthy of blind submission.

    • Joy Wood June 16, 2014 Reply

      Dear x staff member,

      You are so wrong and lack understanding about the implied charges of self promotion and asking for money. I am very interested in how you read the letter about Tony. We are talking about an letter from the archives.

    • Alfred Corduan August 18, 2014 Reply

      Regardless of the tone, the intent, the distribution . . . let's be clear. Bill never called Tony an "Agent of Satan". Not once. What he did was suggest the possibility, leaving the reader to decide whether "The Agent" is working for Jesus or the devil. Obviously his conclusion on the matter was clear . . . but this is nothing like the angry, unbridled railing I was lead to believe this was. For the 10 years I have been hearing about it.

      Read it.

      "In an attempt to help you to be more objective, I am not going to use the name of your nephew in this document. There is also another reason for the title I will use to refer to him. it is a reminder that we are engaged in a spiritual warfare, not against people, but against "the rules of darkness. In this battle, we can either become an agent of the Holy Spirit or an agent of Satan's influence or power.

      You, and any future reader of this document, must determine whose agent your nephew has allowed himself to become. Please carefully consider the following twenty-six facts."

      He proceeds to use the term "the agent" throughout the rest of the document. It bothers me when facts are misrepresented. Nobody wins.

      • GuyS August 18, 2014 Reply

        "let's be clear. Bill never called Tony an "Agent of Satan". Not once."

        I think what you said is technically true. Furthermore, I think that most of the time you might be technically correct. That was my summation of BG. However, I would say that both what you and BG promote is false by misdirection. I think you both are very expert at swallowing gnats.

        • GuyS August 18, 2014

          Correction: gnats and especially camels

        • Don Rubottom August 19, 2014

          More accurately, he chokes on gnats and ignores the camels. I can't believe this latest assertion. It is not "technically correct" when it is obviously substantively false. No man who writes such a slanderous letter can be defended on the grounds of being "technically" misrepresented.
          This is what Alfred sounds like to me: "The accused did NOT intentionally and gruesomely murder 101 people! Two of the 101 died of heart attacks! And I won't allow you to lie about that!"

        • GuyS August 19, 2014

          Don I think I agree with your statement

          "It is not "technically correct" when it is obviously substantively false."

          There are 2 times "it" is used in your statement. I am assuming the "it" refers to the over 200 word reply Alfred made on Aug 18 beginning with "Regardless of the tone..."

          There is no question in my mind that Alfred is way out of line with his obviously substantively false over 200 word reply. Words fail me when I think about responding to such madness. Of course both BG and Alfred write slanderous trash and should be condemned never defended. Only a naive fool would do so. (Lord forgive me for being such a fool for so many years)

          However, there are 13 words of that over 200 word reply that I think are technically true but false by misdirection. In my option, that makes it way worse than false, it is deceptively dishonestly evil and false. But that seems to be the way both BG and Alfred play there games. Without a little truth mixed in, no one would swallow the Kool Aid. The small amount of "technical truth" does not make it less poisonous and evil, it only makes it more deceptive.

          The Alfred crowd (Lord forgive me for being part of that crowd) love to beat on their chest and shout, "I have the truth." Yeah, well a small part may be true, but it always comes out how much poison and how many lies there are.

      • Aila H August 18, 2014 Reply

        You want readers to disregard the intent, the tone and the distribution of the letter. Why? Any thinking person will consider the intent, the tone and the distribution of such a letter. It is obvious what BG is implying. You once again have jumped to a new topic, when you hit a dead end in another thread.

        • Becoming Free August 18, 2014

          "You once again have jumped to a new topic, when you hit a dead end in another thread." Exactly what I was thinking.

        • Lemons August 18, 2014

          Becoming Free said: "You once again have jumped to a new topic, when you hit a dead end in another thread." Exactly what I was thinking.

          You are not the only one...

      • Elizabeth D August 18, 2014 Reply

        Maybe I missed something ... did someone say that Bill SAID, "Agent of Satan" when he referred to Tony? IF so, then yes, that is technically incorrect. I remember reading the posted letter and taking note of that.

        I also noted how clear his inference was as far as whose agent "the agent" was ... he spelled it out with great insult at the top of page 2, then kept repeating the thinly veiled but cutting slur in 24 of his following 26 points ... to the man's own UNCLE, no less, while he maintained an air of infallibility.

        And you DEFEND this man because he didn't string the letters "a-g-e-n-t-o-f-s-a-t-a-n" in that particular order?? IT DOESN'T MATTER if he said "agent of Satan" or asked the reader to "determine whose agent [his] nephew [had] allowed himself to become" while listing two multiple choice possibilities (the Holy Spirit or "Satan's influence or power"). The inference is the same, and he took the more insulting route, in my opinion. THEN he kept drilling it in over and over, ad nauseum, throughout his righteous tirade.

        So if somebody says that your friend called Tony an "agent of Satan," I'm willing to give them a pass on that one. How about you??

        It's beyond dumbfounding to see you come to your friend's defense over a hair-spitting technicality, with no apparent regard for the fact that he referred - purposefully and repeatedly - to Tony in that way ... regardless of how the words were strung together. Are you proud of that? Can you justify that?

        It's not quite as dumbfounding, though, as your statement that you're bothered by misrepresentation of facts. What about the time your friend denied writing a 19-page letter ... does THAT bother you??? It should. And it seems like maybe you're not aware that Tony authored a 31-page response to a whole bunch of allegations against him. Because if you were, it seems like you would be at least a little bothered about some of those facts.

        Unless Bill told you to disregard it.

        It's so clear and you're the last one to see it ... you're being played, Alfred.

        • 'Megan' August 18, 2014

          In other words, 'yes that picture of me with a marijuana joint in my mouth is really me, but I wasn't actually smoking it!' (Another Bill.)

      • kevin August 18, 2014 Reply

        "the rules of darkness. In this battle, we can either become an agent of the Holy Spirit or an agent of Satan's influence or power."

        This is your own quote. When someone makes that statement, and then goes on to make 26 points, referring to the person as the "Agent", when all 26 points argue that they person is acting as an agent for Satan, they are making the argument that the person (Tony), is an agent of Satan. No room is left to the imagination as to which Agent Gothard believes Tony to be. His letter seeks to bring that point home, over and over. So, he is, in fact, arguing and suggesting that Tony is an "Agent" of Satan. The fact that the does not actually say it point blank, takes nothing away from the fact that the letter is arguing that point.
        You're really grasping at straws here.
        It is a silly game, this searching for gnats, and then acting as if you have uncovered some untruth in the discussion about the letter. Gothard is clearly communicating that Tony is an agent of Satan in this letter. He says he is either A or B, then makes 26 points to argue he is B- yes, he is communicating that he is B.
        The fact that the letter was composed, that it told lies about Tony, that it was sent to his friends and family, and that Gothard denied having composed the letter, these are the camels. Playing some game with words to argue whether someone actually used a name, or implied it is really grasping.
        Do you now do what you did with the supposed truth you uncovered with the sitting on the lap incident? Do you believe that now we can cross another one of the items off what you call "the list of bad things Bill did"?

      • MatthewS August 18, 2014 Reply

        To use the KJV, "A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight." Alfred, you are continually using a false balance. You pick over everyone else's statements with a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass, looking for anything to draw attention away from the obvious problems. Meanwhile, you are fully willing to ignore "tone and intent" of Gothard's own letter in order to defend it from charges that it says what in fact it clearly communicates. How many years would it take you to defend Tony from Bill's charges if you were to apply a consistent standard? How much could Tony get away with if you used the same standard of evidence which you apply to Bill? But that's not your game. Your game is a weighted scale, a false balance. It is not unloving to warn you that based on Scripture, you are engaging in an "abomination to the Lord" when you do that.

      • Nick August 18, 2014 Reply

        Alfred you failed the Logic Test.

        Using just basic logic we can see Bill is calling Tony an Agent of Satan in this letter.

        The entire letter is Bill's attempt to demonstrate that Tony was NOT an agent of the Holy Spirit.

        Bill himself said if he's not an agent of the Holy Spirit, then he's an Agent of Satan.

        The only conclusion left to us at the end of the letter is:

        Bill not only calls Tony an Agent of Satan, but presents 26 points to prove that he is an Agent of Satan.

        Alfred if you don't understand or agree with this, you not only fail basic tests of logic, but it's FURTHER proof that you have ZERO business researching this topic.

        • Don Rubottom August 19, 2014

          Your honor, my client can't be guilty of murder because the indictment does not say he "is guilty of murder". It only says he intentionally and with premeditation killed his friend and that killing intentionally with premeditation is murder! Therefore, he is innocent!

      • rob war August 18, 2014 Reply

        Since he was calling him an agent, what do you think what kind of
        "agent" Bill gothard meant? Just reading the 2013 email exchange betweent Tony and BG make me wonder about BG. Does he really not know what he did and how he sinned and make the victim retell so BG can discount the person or pick it apart or find a way to wiggle out of it? I am not sure why you focus on the people pre 1980 and try to pick apart their stories?

        • Don Rubottom August 19, 2014

          Rob, you know that intent only matters in sexual harassment and lapsitting.

      • P.L. August 18, 2014 Reply

        Alfred says, "It bothers me when facts are misrepresented. Nobody wins."

        You mean like Bill Gothard's 26 'Facts' presented against Tony? You mean misrepresentations like those?

        Glad you're concerned Alfred.

      • P.L. August 18, 2014 Reply

        "...this is nothing like the angry, unbridled railing I was lead to believe this was."

        Nobody used those words here, though we can all see clearly Bill Gothard's ugliness (and hear the voice of the accuser of the brethren). If you want to argue about those words, go talk to the people that used them.

        For your edification, here is a link to the definition of the "straw man" argument, of which you are so inordinately fond:

        Perhaps you don't realize that you are repeatedly engaging in this logical fallacy. But we do.

      • Alfred Corduan August 19, 2014 Reply

        Wow! A lot of air time.

        No . . . my point stands. It is a tad personal because this has been tossed at me in private for 10 years. Never was given a chance to read the letter. A man screaming "You agent of the devil" 60-some times in a 19 page letter is, well, vile. This, on the other hand, is a carefully reasoned out and documented historical account of accusations which, if you took a word processor and replaced the phrase "the agent" with "Tony" would not read any different. Try it.

        10 years. Just me, amazed . . . at what I find when the actual item appears after it has been described to me. Sorry . . . you just can't take that away from me.

        • GuyS August 19, 2014

          "you just can't take that away from me."

          True. But some adults on this site can offer correction, reproof and so on. Even with all these adults and air time, it seems like you have not seen anything new. There is no force used to wrest away your point. It still stands in your mind. Perhaps the many hundreds who read this see otherwise.

          If you choose to hold on to your beliefs and loyalty, see how that works out for you in a few years with your kids. It is clear how you respond to adults with years of wisdom and experience. We adults seem to have no voice to reach you.

          Others here have pointed out how your kids may respond in time to you. I am guessing that it will not be pretty.

        • Don Rubottom August 19, 2014

          Alfred, ask a God-fearing non-Gothardite pastor who has never heard of the incident to read the letter and evaluate it's tone and intent. Please, for your own sanity.
          You can't take away from me that it is the close to the most railing letter I've seen and I read angry letters to politicians regularly as part of my work. That letter is pathetic and childish, and if even one statement is false, it constitutes a horrible crime against the church and all of us who were kept from knowing the kind of man that BG has been all these years.

        • Aila H August 19, 2014

          Actually, Alfred your point does not stand. Many have tried to engage you with thoughtful responses. Elizabeth, Matthew, Kevin, Nick, Rob and others have challenged your assumptions and conclusions, and you simply ignore them and proclaim your "point stands" as if saying something loud enough and long enough will make it true. There are people on this site who care enough about you to try and interact with you, but you don't appreciate that. You claim to have suffered, but ignore all those who have suffered because of the teachings and behavior of BG. Without even realizing it, you are also a victim of BG's errant teaching.

        • Elizabeth D August 19, 2014

          So (if I’m reading you correctly) you’re saying that since someone described something you didn’t have access to as the 10th degree of horrible, and then 10 years later when you finally saw it for yourself it was only 9 degrees of horrible because they’d paraphrased something a little too harsh for your tastes. So you complain about the paraphrase and the paraphraser?? What about the content and the author – nothing wrong with them??

          This is not the harmless document you describe. It is character annihilation. It was a desperate attempt by a person backed into a corner with no defense to turn all the attention to his accuser … the fine, upstanding person once in good graces who had been charged with investigating facts, but who had discovered facts that would be far less than flattering to your friend.

          Think about why this letter even exists. Why did Bill feel the need? If he was truly infallible, he wouldn’t have needed to verbally assassinate anybody … the truth would have come to his defense. People that are innocent tend to fare much better when they back off and let the chips fall. People that are innocent don’t have to rail former associates, MUCH LESS send copies to their family, churches, and other associates. People who are innocent tend to focus on their own defense when falsely accused, not the undermining of those armed with the actual facts. He was in a desperate situation and had to come on strong against his accuser. He succeeded, at least to a degree, because this was his only way out, and he had to play hard or go home.

          You don’t owe me the time of day, Alfred, but I’m still rooting for you, and would love to hear a direct response to a couple of very specific questions.

          (1) How do you justify in your mind what your friend Bill taught about giving and listening to bad reports with this letter that he authored? (Was there an exception clause in what he taught to others, or was there one only for himself maybe?) And
          (2) DID BILL LIE when he said (sorry, I can’t find the reference right now, AND [warning] I’m paraphrasing) that he never wrote a 19-page letter to anyone.

        • P.L. August 19, 2014

          Alfred says, " It is a tad personal ". Umm, hate to break it to you Alfred, but not as personal as it was to Tony, when the "26 Falsehoods" were sent to his family, friends, and church.

          Once again, you elevate your personal feelings above those of the true victim. Once again, I call narcissism.

        • Nick August 19, 2014

          Alfred: "Never was given a chance to read the letter."

          Because it's none of your freaking business. And it's none of my business either. The only reason you and I had a chance to read the letter is because Tony decided to share it publicly. So thank you Tony.

          You seem to have no concept of privacy or personal boundaries. This combined with your lack of care and respect for others is un-Christlike - is this how Christ would act? Come on, man!

          Alfred: "A man screaming "You agent of the devil" 60-some times in a 19 page letter is, well, vile"


          "if you took a word processor and replaced the phrase "the agent" with "Tony" would not read any different. Try it."

          DUDE it's the exact same thing. "The agent" = agent of satan. The entire letter is Bill quietly and firmly calling Tony "You Agent of the Devil"

          You say "but Bill didn't write those exact words."

          Dude what??? It does not matter!!!

          That's like saying "The doctrine of the Trinity is false because God never says 'I am a Trinity!!'"

          Use some logic here.

  43. Beth June 13, 2014 Reply

    Tony, my hat goes off to you! I read almost all the documents there and it just blew me away. You had your life wrecked and torn open trying to bring out the truth when you could have just walked away. Truth sometimes comes at great cost and I'm so impressed at your sacrifice even up to 30 years later just for truth and righteousness. I imagine it took a lot of guts to let the world see the letter that wrecked your life but if it's any comfort, after reading it, it really made me think that Gothard had completely lost touch with reality and it made me think more of you.

    On a different note, what in the world happened to the caboose? I should not think that is funny but to me it is halfway amusing that his poor devoted broke staff went out of there way for that and then they all got fired. It's not funny for the poor people that were hurt through this at all but there is irony realizing what sort of devotion he had and how he responded by shooting himself in the foot by throwing all his well meaning staff out.

  44. Lance July 6, 2014 Reply

    Realizing that gross immorality was evident way back in the 70's and that Gothard never 'repented' publicly or admitted wrong-doing but instead shamed and slandered those who called him out on his misdeeds is a clear indication....that... Gothard, at the very least, has had serious issues since the 70's (Can an unrepentant sinner have fellowship with the Lord?). Heck, even Lance Armstrong has admitted to and apologized for many of his 'abuses' and he is not even a believer. Tony is a greater and finer man than I am as that letter 'murdered' his reputation and livelihood for many years and I may have brought litigation so that at least my lost wages were recovered. I also would have written off the Institute by now and wished for it's dismantling. As I said, I am working on that sanctification thing. It pains me to realize that the Board and Gothard even now glaze over abuse and possible criminal conduct and downplay the plight of the victims (Read recent statements by them). The recourse may be that criminal charges be brought against the Institute so that Justice might prevail. Involving civil authorities is a contentious issue among believers and the 'statute of limitations' comes into play as well. Many victims may not desire to open old wounds and revisit the pain and confusion but I am concerned that this physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse may continue as Gothard and his Lackies I mean.. Board, plan to continue with the ministry.

    • rob war August 19, 2014 Reply

      I think it is rather sad that good Christians are afraid to bring charges against BG and the institute. When civil laws are violated either in the labor practices, the sexual misconduct etc and so on then good Christians ought to get the courage and bring charges because the only way evil will stop is when people stand up to it t do so. ignoring or sweeping it under the carpet isn't doing anyone any good and that has gone on here too long. My favorite parable of Jesus was about the widow and the unjust judge where the widow constantly and persistently never gave up her fight for justice. She eventually received it because she didn't give up. This web site has started something, I don't think he would be gone now without people coming forward to bring attention to his behavior as well as teaching and the connection between the old scandal of the past is just continued on for today. When people fight for justice for themselves and the other affected, real forgiveness, healing and closure can follow.

  45. rob war August 19, 2014 Reply

    I forced myself to reread Bill's 19 page letter again. First of all calling Tony "the agent" not only belittles and dehumanizes him but doesn't even answer the bigger picture of the gross immorality on staff and under Bill's nose. So Tony tried to investigate with the staff to get to the bottom of it in order to deal with it and you side with Bill? The letter tries to build some kind of case against Tony in that he has some kind of spirit of rebellion in him and that Tony didn't know how to deal with authority. Really? All of the so called evidence that Bill used in this letter was all judgement calls on his part as if Bill could know what was in Tony's heart and this based on a few fleeting out of context comments of which we don't have the whole conversation of. Yet, his brother can screw with female staff, rent porno movies and do what he wants. Who really has the "rebellious" spirit here, a concerned staff member or a pervert? And to add insult to injury, Bill can't remember this letter in his feeble attempts at reconciliation with Tony in 2013. Either Bill is really senile or his attempt at reconciliation is a ruse to silence his critics again. I am not sure what you see in this man but tolerating perversion on his staff while teaching others to have high standards and live a moral life with a good character is just beyond the beyond.

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