Sacred Grooming, Part Four: A Secretary’s Account of Life With Bill Gothard

27 January 2014, 06:00



[Editor’s Note: The young woman referred to only as “she” and “her” in the following account is the author herself, “Meg,” but she has written it in the third person. The author was twenty years old during the events in this post. The following is a true story. Click here for Part One of Meg’s story, here for Part Two, and here for Part Three.]

A MistakeThe Staff Center at IBLP Headquarters, photographed by the author

On a busy afternoon she was taking phone call after phone call for Bill Gothard. In the rush she put a call through that she shouldn’t have, and Bill had to talk to a very mentally imbalanced longtime fan. She was so busy, she didn’t even notice Bill standing in the doorway until she put the phone down and looked up.

He was frowning at her, and he looked displeased. Her heart started thumping and she felt the blood rushing from her face. What had she done wrong? He looked upset.

He asked whether she knew who that was on the phone and told her what kind of conversation he had just endured. He said she needed to be more careful who she put through to his phone, that it had worked out okay this time, but he’d rather it didn’t happen again.

She nodded. She was sorry, she said, and would pay better attention next time. She could feel her heart rate slowing down and the color returning to her face. He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t going to fire her. But she felt terrible that she’d let him down and made something difficult for him. She wanted to be the best secretary he’d ever had.

He came over to her and said he knew it was an accident and was sure it wouldn’t happen again.

How Shall You Love?

In the summer warmth of the afternoon, the office was quiet. He’d gone out for the afternoon. She thought she might just dash over to the house and pick up her mail while it was quiet. As she stepped out of the office into the bright afternoon, she saw a woman walking towards her. The woman waved and called out her name. It was an Institute in Basic Life Principles [IBLP] Board member’s wife. She knew this woman quite well and enjoyed her company. She stopped and waited for the woman to catch up, and, leaning over, she gave her friend a hug.

The woman said she wanted to ask something very specific.

“Okay. Sure,” she replied, thinking that this sounded interesting. She had the sudden instinct, though, to put up her reserves, to be on her guard. Somehow she knew the question was going to be personal.

In asking this, the woman said, she wanted her to know that she had only her best interests at heart. She said she was asking this because she was concerned about her, and that was all. Did she understand that?

Of course she understood that. She understood what her friend was saying, but underneath it all, she knew that the concerns would be about him. All the Board members were fiercely protective of him. If they felt that anyone was hindering him, then they’d have no hesitation in making sure that person didn’t come anywhere near him, ever again. She knew this.

The woman was talking. She said that some people had expressed concerns about “the attachment between you and him,” then fell quiet for a moment. She put her finger over her mouth and tapped her lip a few times, as though thinking.

“People are starting to notice that he is paying you special attention.”

So? So what if he does, she answered. She was away from her family and hometown. Wasn’t it natural for him to show her special attention? He was being very kind to her, she said. She didn’t have much time to socialize with the other girls, and she supposed it was his way of making up for that.

Look, the woman said, could she ask a question? “Have you formed an emotional attachment to him?”

She laughed a little as she replied that, sure, of course she’d formed an emotional attachment to him. It would be pretty hard not to, working with him day in and day out—nearly 16 hours a day. How could she not form an emotional attachment? She had become very, very fond of him these last months she’d been there, and she knew him so well now. She said she almost knew him well enough to predict what he was going say and do next, and that it was the same for him with her. But she saw that as a natural outcome of their working relationship. They just went together nicely. So well. Their personalities fit, and she loved him for that. She loved him for his kindness and his care of her, and because he was a good man, trying to help others, giving his life to God.

She asserted that she was not in love with him, that in fact she was still in love with a boy back home whom she’d broken up with only a few months ago. She’d been in love with him since she was 13 years old, and she didn’t expect that was going to change anytime soon. To be honest, she said, she was starting to get a little tired of all these insinuations that she and her boss were in love with each other! It was like everyone had a fixation on the subject. She didn’t see anything wrong. She said it was a natural human relationship: when you put two people together in a close environment, they were either going to love each other or hate each other. It just so happened in their case, she said, that they’d become fond of each other, and close.

The woman nodded, but she looked grave. She looked concerned.

“I’m glad to hear you say that,” the woman said. “I’m glad to hear your side of it. Just be careful. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“I know. Thank you,” she replied.

Love Like There’s Nobody Watching

On Sunday afternoon it was all quiet in the house. A warm wind was blowing outside and the late spring sunshine was beginning to wane as she stepped outside the front door and walked across the lawn and driveway to his office. His car was parked in the driveway, and he was expecting her.

Sundays were always quiet around here. Local staff went home to their families, and those who stayed normally slept or did quiet things around the house, preparing for the week ahead. Nobody went to the office, and that was why he liked to be there, on his own. It was peaceful and quiet in the lull of the weekend. She found him in the little back room, putting some files away.

“Come here,” he said, holding out his arms. She went to him.

He said he knew he’d said this before, but just couldn’t say often enough how much she meant to him, how much he looked forward to coming to work every day, just because she was there. “You are my jewel,” he said, “my gem. You are my energy-giver.”

He spoke softly into her ear as he held her in a close embrace. She closed her eyes against his shoulder as he began to run his hands up and down her back, pressing her closer to him. He turned his face and his cheek brushed against hers.

“I’ve never kissed a woman before.” He whispered.

She said she knew. He was famously known for that.

He said he wouldn’t kiss anyone until he got married, that “I said that I wouldn’t, and I won’t.” He spoke now as though to himself, as though he needed to remind himself of this vow.

She could feel his breath on her face. She could feel his words as he spoke them softly against her skin. She could feel his chest heaving up and down as he held her. The pale late afternoon light from the small window fell on her face as he held her head against his.

They were so close. So close.

And it was quiet. So quiet.

This Is No Game

When they both climbed into the van later that night, she tucked a small note into his hand.

He was sitting next to her, and they had decided not to work on the long drive up to Detroit. They would be in Detroit for a week. He was speaking and having meetings, and it would be a busy week for all of them. The van was full. They were taking extra staff with them this time. He flicked on the overhead light and pulled out her note before the van began to fill up with bodies.

The note said, I love being your Gem. I love being here with you.

He folded it and tucked it into his coat pocket. He smiled down at her, that special, soft smile that he kept for her. She smiled up at him briefly and dropped her eyes, turning her head to look out the window. She felt his hand on hers and he held it there between them, resting on the seat in the dark. Nobody would see.

As they sped through the night, he kept his hand over hers. She liked the feel of it there. She liked the connection she felt to him. This lonely older man, who told her he had never kissed a woman before, had almost kissed her. Her soul was so connected to his now that she felt that she could read his thoughts, read his heart, know what he would be thinking, know how he would act.

As she was sitting there next to him with her eyes closed and head resting back on the seat, leaning slightly towards him, he was leaning slightly towards her, and she felt his foot brush up against her leg. She had her office skirt on. There hadn’t been time to change into something more comfortable before they left.

When they had started driving, she had taken off her navy pumps and enjoyed the feeling of bare feet, stretching her toes out under the seat in front. She had long legs, and sitting still for so long always made her feel cramped and awkward. She was relieved to get the shoes off. He had done the same, unlacing his business shoes and leaving just his socks on. She was always glad to see him do this. He so seldom relaxed. His life was always focused on the ministry, on what needed to be done. He barely allowed himself time for recreation, for letting go and being casual.

When she first felt his foot run up the back of her leg, she was startled. He was taking a big risk, in this vehicle with other staff members in close proximity. One of his male assistants was sitting just on the other side of him, but she saw that he was asleep, oblivious to the advances her boss was making towards her in the darkness of the van. He locked his leg under hers, and she felt his foot rubbing against hers. He was playing footsie with her!

But it was more intimate than that. This was no game. His foot stroked the back of her leg, played with her toes, explored her leg all the way up her calf muscle and back down again, again, and again. All the while he gripped her hand with his, hands between them. It was incredibly intimate and very sensual.

She lifted her hand up to intentionally break his hold, but as she did he pulled her hand over to his thigh. She resisted slightly, feeling that they were getting into dangerous territory, but he held her hand tight and rested it on his thigh, covering her hand with his. Patting it, massaging it, rubbing her fingers with his thumb, running it slowly up and down between her fingers, over and over. He was breathing slowly, methodically. She looked up at him in the dark, and he looked down at her. He didn’t smile.

For the first time, she began to wonder how all this would end.

You Could Have It All

All that following week there was a new presence in their relationship. She would often look up and find his eyes on her. There was a greater softness in the smile he gave her. Something had changed. She didn’t know what, but something had. He was becoming more affectionate with her. More physical.

He couldn’t be in love with her! No, he couldn’t be. He was too old for her. Too powerful. She was a nobody. They’d never let him fall in love with her. As for marriage? No. No. No.

She thought of Bill’s sister’s question, “Do you want to marry my brother?” Why did she think that? What was it that was making all these women ask that question? That caused her to pause for a minute, to be honest with herself.

And without knowing why, she thought of the boy, her old love that had abandoned her back home. She could see the boy’s dark eyes in her mind. She could see him looking at her. She could feel his arms around her. But he had hurt her. He didn’t want her.

She suddenly felt a hand on her back as she shook herself out of her reverie. Bill was rubbing her shoulder. He was here. He was here now. The boy wasn’t. The boy had gone. The boy had abandoned her. But he was here. He was loving her. She was important to him.

The Toothpaste Scandal

She was coming down the stairs in the hotel when an IBLP staff member who had come with them to Detroit joined her as she stepped out of the elevator.

“Where are you going?” the girl asked, walking beside her as they took the last flight of the grand stairway to the ground floor.

She said she was just popping out to the hotel store to get him some toothpaste. Apparently he’d run out, and he’d asked her to go and pick some up.

“Toothpaste?” the staff member repeated, incredulously.

“Yes,” she said, “why?” What was so odd about that?

The girl frowned, “I don’t think that is the sort of thing you should be buying for him.”

“Why not,” she asked? What was wrong with that?

“Well….” the girl’s voice trailed off, “well it’s kind of a personal item, isn’t it?”

She nodded. Yes, she said, but we all have to use it, and he’s run out, and you know he doesn’t like going to buy these sorts of things.

Sure, the girl responded, but why send her? Why not send one of the guys?

She supposed he sent her because she was the only one not busy at the moment, she answered, and it was such a small errand. It wouldn’t take very long. Really, she was fed up with these girls and their uptight, over-active morals.

The staff member just looked at her. “Well, I just don’t think it’s appropriate, that’s all.”

She thought about that statement and said to herself, I’d love to tell you what else he does that isn’t appropriate. Toothpaste is nothing.

But instead, she parted from the staff member, hooked her bag up over her shoulder, and set off for the store.

My Body Is Not My Own

They sat together in the doctor’s office waiting room. He reached over and squeezed her hands.

“It’ll be okay,” he said, “It won’t hurt.” This was a very good doctor whom he’d known a long time.

She nodded quietly, smiled wanly and looked around her at the waiting room. They were the only two people sitting there in the vinyl seats, waiting for the doctor. The clock said 3:45 p.m.

Just a few days before, she had gone over to the office for their regular Sunday afternoon Bible study. He’d asked what she’d been doing that afternoon.

She told him she’d had a lovely, long nap after lunch, and that morning had phoned her grandmother overseas and had a wonderful chat with her.

He nodded. He said he was glad she got to call home, that it was important to him that she keep those connections up, and that he didn’t mind how many times she called her grandmother or her family.

She thanked him and said she knew it was not cheap to phone, and that she appreciated him paying for it. She couldn’t afford to  call otherwise.

He stepped closer to her. She had on her white blouse with the large white collar. The neckline sat wide on her shoulders and dipped into a V-shape.  It was one of her standby work blouses, but she knew he liked it because he’d told her several times how nice she looked in it.

But today he was looking at her neck, just where it met her shoulder. Her hair was loose, not tied back as she liked to do it for the office. She had let it fall where it wanted today, and it softly curled over her face and down her back. He stepped close to her now and with one hand tenderly smoothed some loose strands back off her shoulder. He reached out his hand and flicked her long, wavy hair that had fallen over the front of her shoulders, and pushed it behind her back. Then he did the same to the other side, quietly and without a word, smoothing it back with his hand until all her hair was curling down her back.

“I like it like that,” he said. “It looks better than in the front.”

He touched the side of her neck.

“You know, you have these … things … here on your neck.”

She reached over and felt on her neck where his fingers were touching her. It was two tiny little nodules, skin tags, each the size of a grain of rice.

“Oh those,” she said. She’d always had them. She told him they weren’t dangerous.

He smiled at her. “I know, ” he said, “but they’re a distraction. When I look at your face, I am distracted by them, and it draws my eyes away from your eyes — away from your countenance.”

She was taken aback by his words. Instinctively, she laid her arm across her throat and covered the skin tags with her fingers.

He said he thought they could get them removed quite easily, that he would take her to see his doctor. He would be able to get them in quickly. He would phone first thing in the morning.

Her fingers played with the skin tags while he was talking. She had this funny, irrational thought that she didn’t want them removed, that they were part of her. She liked them there.

Later on, as she walked back to the house, she wondered why they were a distraction to him. Was it just that they caught his eye, or was he trying to make her as perfect as was humanly possible? She was pretty, young, slim, and well-dressed. She had long, lush hair and large eyes in her pale face.

But this — it was as though he were starting to control her body as well as her thoughts.

She would do this to please him, so that she wasn’t a distraction to him or to other men. So that he looked at her eyes instead of her neck. She did not wish to be a distraction. She did not wish her body to cause him or other men to look “elsewhere” other than her eyes, her countenance. As godly men they were not supposed to look at her throat or her neck or her shoulders. 

He was right. They were a distraction. They would come off.


[Click here to read Part One, here to read Part Two; here to read Part Three, here to read Part Five, and here to read Part Six.]

See how the experiences Ruth, Annette, Charlotte, Rachel, Meg, Lizzie, and Grace had with Bill Gothard fit together chronologically here, and behaviorally here.

Meg’s family was in ATI for more than ten years. After leaving Bill Gothard's office, Meg continued to work for IBLP for several years before she met and married her wonderful, non-ATI, Mr. Right. She is now busy raising their family and enjoying a happy and ATI-standard-free life.

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. Larne G. January 27, 2014 Reply


    As I have read each one of the installments it hurts my heart that you had to endure a harassment of young women that has gone on for over forty years. My late wife Ruth was Bill's secretary for almost ten years 1970-1980 and was one of the women involved in the 1980 scandal. From the stories she shared with me you could substitute her name for yours and there were other names before and after her. She has similar reactions from various family members about her relationship with him. You and your husband are brave to share your story and my prayer is that it will bring Bill to repentance for the damage he has caused throughout his lifetime. He can deal with repentance now or when he stands before his Lord and Savior when he crosses to the other side.

    Larne Gabriel
    Gothard pilot 1979-80

    • Julia Fetters January 27, 2014 Reply

      Thank you so very much for sharing this comment Mr. Gabriel. I am not at all singling you out but if people have known of this for 40 years, shouldn't someone (or the Board)have alerted the proper civil authorities? So very many years of heartache and hypocrisy could have been avoided. I am sorry if it seems like I am pointing at you or those you know - I am not- but this question begs an answer.
      Again, I thank you for coming forward and using your full name. Mine is Julia Fetters. We need to have the truth come out and have this organization (not ministry) closed down. We were part of it for at least 11 years and saw and continue to see so much heartache and devastation.

      • MatthewS January 27, 2014 Reply

        Julia, fwiw, I'd like to speak up in Larne's defense. Something to bear in mind is that in the days before the Internet age, some of these folks were very alone and were being attacked from all sides. There was no Internet, only expensive long-distance phone calls. We are all benefiting now from the aftermath of the Catholic church's abuses having been exposed and of the flow of information and social contacts online. I know I have some questions for those who continue to this day to profit from the "ministry." Even so, as frustrated as I am with them, I understand that they are being given a lot of smoke and mirrors and they are not seeing what we are seeing. The time has come for those who prop this thing up to take a real look at it and see what they have been denying. But that is hardly something we can all lay at the doorstep of those who were fired and whose reputations were blasted by Gothard. Many people tried, but Gothard had the money, power, and platform. How were these guys supposed to counter that?

        Bockelman wrote a column and then a book, Dr. Ronald Allen wrote some pieces, Dr. Radmacher wrote some concerns, and "A Matter of Basic Principles" was published. There are folks who went on record in the LA Times piece. Those kinds of publications have been out there, some of them dating almost to the beginning of Gothard's career. But very few people really read them and considered them. Gothard had such formidable platform and resources comparatively. Larne and many others have paid huge personal prices for the fact that they did stand up to Gothard. They were the fore-runners for all of us now, so hats off to them.

        The ones who continue to profit from it all, or who know what is going on but refuse to acknowledge it, those are the ones that it's hard for me to understand how they can maintain status quo.

        hope I'm not speaking out of turn

        • Larne G. January 27, 2014


          Well said and thank you. Now we are joined in the fight old and young. Thank you RG.


      • Larne G. January 27, 2014 Reply


        You ask a valid question. Over the past 34 years since the scandal broke there have been many attempts, by many groups, seeking Gothard's repentance. There was even a legal action taken at one point (Not related to the sexual harassment). Gothard has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting this battle. Personally we have been threaten with legal action for our outspokenness yet we have continued to speak out, after seeing the continued damage caused by the ATI program we even reconnected with Gothard in the late 80s in an attempt to influence him. This was another failed attempt and we broke contact when we saw he was using and lying to us.

        What is different today is Recovering Grace. It has become the focal point of this discussion. A ground swell demanding Gothard's repentance and change. So to speak the cat is out for the bag.

        When Gothard was in his heyday he had the strong support of other Christian leaders because their camps were full of the same problems. The ex-staff were labeled as rebellious and "Agents of Satan". That support is now fading as Gothard has become more cult like figure.

        When the majority of the staff left in 1980 we just wanted to get on with our lives. For Ruth she just wanted to heal. We were engaged shortly after leaving and she just wanted the past behind her and get on with her new life. The institute offered no professional help and the women learned of their dismissal in a letter to pastors and the national press. Prior to that Gothard had offer to bring the women back but when faced with external pressure he chose the cowards approach.( I don't know of any who were planning on coming back) Dragging this into court would just have made the victims to be victimized again, thus keeping the focus off Gothard and on those who were hurt the most. I hope that answers your questions.

        Larne Gabriel
        Gothard's pilot 1979-1980

    • Kevin January 27, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for coming forward and sharing. I hope that you write an article for Recovering Grace about your wife's story and your story as his pilot. I believe it would be very powerful.
      I share your hope that Bill is brought to repentance by this story. I believe if it is shared with those involved in ATI and those would are in danger of becoming involved, that this could be what actually brings that about. But, I believe that your story may be critical to bring that about as well.

      • Larne G. January 27, 2014 Reply


        I'll keep that in mind:)


    • Vera January 28, 2014 Reply

      //He can deal with repentance now or when he stands before his Lord and Savior when he crosses to the other side.//

      I do not say this lightly but according to what Scripture specifically states, these are not things that God takes lightly. God has no problem casting someone into hell that refuses to repent of the things He hates. That is not what I say but Scriptures like Galatians 5 and 1 Cor 6:9-11 warn us, as believers not to be deceived of.

      There are many ministries today that are just like this one and we play a huge role in why this stuff is never exposed. The Young Earth Creationist ministries, Joel Osteen, John MacAurthur, John Piper, Paul Washer, Ray Comfort and the Catholic Church to name a few. They are given megatons of money through tax deductible donations. The poor and needy never see any of it. You show these people where the message is off and they know they can't recant even when it is obvious that they could not possibly be right. If the Catholic Church came out tomorrow and said, "We realize now that the rosary is inconsistent with Scripture and idolatry," I shudder to think of the angry response. This then means the money train stops. If Bill came out tomorrow and said that his message was off, people would stop buying, big businesses would stop giving, and the empire would crumble. Religion is big business.

      Doug and I also have a ministry. We do not have a 501c3. All our ministry expenses are paid out of pocket for this very reason because we want the ability to self correct if we are in error. I work night shift at a hospital to pay for family needs. Nobody idolizes us because we don't allow it. We invite people to question us and give us counterarguments because it helps us and them. We have been defriended and rejected by oodles of people on FB especially the legalists (totally unassociated with ATI). We love to dialogue with atheists, homosexuals, and anyone else who will talk to us. We can't even get in the door with ATI. All ATI discussion lists, for the most part, are highly moderated and as blocked as they ever were when Bill was overseeing everyone. Bar none, of all the people we talk to who call themselves Christians and are living in flagrant sin, those coming out of ATI are the toughest to get through to. We say "repent and be free" and they hear "standards and bondage." And some of these young people, we know for a fact, are in big MAJOR trouble. The sin coming out of this organization makes everyone else look like saints whether they believe or not. But that's what the law does. I put a link to one of our videos from Fantasy Fest in Key West.

    • LA Committee January 28, 2014 Reply


      I remember you! I also remember Ruth. I was a member of the LA (Los Angeles) Committee during the 1970s through 1980. I was very young at the time. Our group was the group that both spearheaded and led the confrontation to Bill, his brother Steve, and the board regarding the sexual immorality of both Steve and Bill, inappropriate behavior by Bill and Steve with staff, mind control and abuse of staff, illegal payroll practices (for example not paying for overtime worked by staff, not paying people what was promised, proper, or legally required), etc. Larne, you will probably remember, our Area Representative's brother was on staff with IBYC (Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts--IBLP's former name) at the time and was one of the senior staff members--along with Gary Smalley and other senior staff members--who had multiple meetings with Bill, Steve and the board in efforts to confront the issues and motivate repentance with Bill, Steve and the IBYC organization.

      In response to Julia Fetters' and Matthew S.' comments regarding what was or was not done at the time (1970s through 1980s) and how come, I agree with both Larne's comments and Matthew S.' comments. Bill--and his family--had an abnormally strong influence on and control of the IBYC board, many church and other Christian leaders at the time, and many individual and group supporters at the time. Bill had such a Svengali influence on all these groups that they believed Bill and his family's every lie and distortion, and Bill convinced all of them that disgruntled staff and individuals or groups such as our LA Committee were the ones in the wrong. Matthew Henry once said that there are "None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see." That was definitely the case in this whole situation. Bill, Steve, the Gothard family, the IBYC board, and IBYC supporters refused to see the truth.

      Some readers to this site may not know that Bill was also abnormally influenced and controlled by his father. When the 1980s' scandal broke, Bill stepped down from his position as president and totally stepped away from IBYC to participate in a restoration process. Bill's "step-down" only lasted three weeks because his father convinced him to go back, that he (Bill) had done no wrong and the staff members and LA Committee confronting him were in the wrong.

      The comments on this site regarding Bill and his supporters maligning, castigating, alienating, and ostracizing those who spoke anything negative about Bill, his family, and what happened at IBYC during the 1970s and 1980s (and probably up to today) are true. That was one of the most heartbreaking aspects of this whole matter for us on the LA Committee. The LA Committee enjoyed a very special relationship with Bill and the staff who traveled with him. Maybe the specialness of our relationship was contributed by the fact that California put on the most seminars in a year at the time and we saw Bill and his staff quite often. Maybe it was also contributed by the fact that one of Bill's own senior staff members was the brother of our Area Representative. We got to know Bill personally, and we also got to know personally the women involved in the 1980s scandal. I can say unequivocally that each of us on the LA Committee deeply loved Bill, the women involved, and IBYC and its mission/ministry. We were all shocked and heartbroken as this tragedy unfolded and Bill's continued defiance and rejection of acknowledgement and repentance of any kind.

      It was not easy confronting Bill, his family, and the board because of how Bill and his organization was viewed by so many as I have described above. We realized by taking on this task we risked alienation and separation from Bill and the IBYC ministry and maligning, castigation, alienation, and ostracization by Bill and all who supported him. We spent much time in prayer, counsel with Christian pastors, Christian leaders and organizations, legal counsel, etc. before we moved forward. At every point in the process we checked our documentation, our attitude and motivation, testimonies, etc. before proceeding. Readers to this site need to know the actions we took were not done lightly or in haste. Even after our committee resigned and withdrew our invitation to Bill to have his seminars in our area (which withdrawal Bill ignored and disrespected), our committee continued to reach out to Bill and the IBYC board for repentance and restoration purposes because of our love for him and IBYC. The victims of Bill and IBYC's abuse and damage include not only IBYC (and all the offshoots of the IBYC organization) staff, but also families who participated in any IBYC program (and its offshoot programs), and volunteer committee members. The IBYC secretary for the California office was so traumatized by all the events unfolding in the 1980s that she eventually left Christianity all together and remains so today. That is perhaps the greatest tragedy that has happened to some of those damaged by Bill and his organization and a tragedy that he and others with him will receive full "payment" for when he and they face God in judgment.

      Some readers may not know that four years prior, in 1976, Bill was confronted about Steve's immorality by the same staff members who confronted him in 1980. Bill's way of "dealing with" Steve at that time was to send him off to run their Northern Michigan location. Steve continued his immoral behavior there unabated. Bill regularly allowed and sent naive, unknowing, and unsuspecting young women to the Northern Michigan location knowing full well about Steve's aberrant behavior, proclivities, and immorality. In 1980 during the investigation, Steve admitted in an interview that he had this immoral behavior going back as early as about 12 years prior--which would put it around 1968, the beginnings of IBYC.

      Another area I'd like to offer my comments is in response to Julia's question on why over all these years with all the information out there things continue as usual with Bill and IBYC and nothing has changed. I would agree with Matthew S.' comments that the options for communication back in the 1970s and 1980s were not as prolific and extensive as they are now with the internet, facebook, twitter, blogs, instagrams, websites, etc. Back then, our committee used what means we had available to us--phone calls, conference calls, letters, interviews, FAXes, legal papers, and probably some internet as may have been available then. I kept all documentation, articles, legal documents, timelines, staff statements, news articles, reports, committee notes and correspondence, meeting notes, etc. that came out during the 1970s and 1980s regarding the IBYC scandal and the investigation. Larne, I have a copy of your and Ruth's statement to IBYC at that time. I was amazed to see that none of my documentation is available anywhere on the internet. If you google "Bill Gothard", "Bill Gothard scandal", "Steve Gothard", "IBYC", "IBLP", ATI, ALERT or any other permutation you can think of, very little information comes up. I only found out about Recovering Grace (RG) because the RG website was one of the paltry entries I found on the internet regarding anything related to IBYC, IBLP, ATI, ALERT, or any other acronym associated with the Bill Gohard empire. I had hoped that the behavior of Bill and IBYC would have changed since the 1970s and 1980s, and I was deeply saddened to learn from the RG website that absolutely nothing had changed from then to now.

      Such scarcity of information continues up to today. I have some thoughts as to why this is the case. By some of the victims own admissions on this website, they were devastated by the treatment they received from Bill, his family, IBYC, IBLP, ATI, Indianapolis training center, ALERT,and any other organization spawned by IBYC. After such extended time of abuse and misery, people just want it over and they want to get on with their life. They do not want to revisit such traumatic and horrific events. Other victims state the fear of retaliation by the IBYC machine. IBYC still has the money, power and influence to smack down naysayers....and they spare no expense in doing so and in seeking to destroy the reputation and lives of those who speak in opposition to the IBYC machine. Most people don't have the funds or influence to fight back. I think another reason for both the lack of information available (except on the RG website) and the continuation of such actions and behavior at IBYC speaks to the power of the IBYC machine. I would not put it past this organization to somehow have been able to both in the past and now keep such information "off the grid" and out of many people's knowledge.

      Huge kudos and thanks to the brave individuals on this website who share and shared their stories. They do so at great personal risk, yet they do so to get the truth out. I would encourage others to come forward. It is my hope and prayer that as others add their stories to those on this website and as more people read these stories, that someone or some people who read these stories may be in a position, by God's grace and empowerment, to take on the IBYC machine and expose their ungodly, aberrant, immoral, illegal behavior and actions and hold them accountable for such behavior and actions.

      Larne, I would love to reconnect with you. RG has my permission to release my e-mail address if you would like to contact me.

      Meg, thank you for sharing your story. I, like David, don't fully understand the reason for the "romance-novel like" presentation style, but I respect your choice to present your story as you desire. If it is possible to put some timelines or approximate dates of the events you describe, it would be helpful (for your past segments as well). Maybe it's just me, but I get a little lost when you change topics as to how to connect them. I can decipher some by context that the change in topic happened later the same day or the next week but don't know what dates or year(s) you're talking about. Other passages are not so decipherable. One section may happen in the spring and the next topic happens during the winter. If it is possible to put approximate dates and year(s) in your story segments, it would be helpful to understand. Thanks again for sharing your story.

      • Lisa Joy January 28, 2014 Reply

        Another piece of the puzzle is that as staff, we were instructed not to "give a bad report of the ministry." I was never one of Mr. Gothard's favorites (a fact for which I thank God as these facts come out!) but I lived and worked at various Training Centers, and finally at Headquarters for two months. I definitely remember being told to keep phone calls and letters home positive, and not to tell negative things because they wouldn't understand. While that may be true to some extent, because teens can exaggerate when they're feeling upset and "venting" to their parents, it also set up a system whereby if you told the truth - even without exaggeration - you were causing "damage to the cause of Christ."

        When every victim for years has been trained (brainwashed?) to keep quiet, then each victim feels like she is the only one. How can one girl speaking out by herself ever hope to be heard? It would be easier to keep quiet. Only after the first girls were able to tell their stories did others gain the courage, and have the platform, to share theirs as well.

        Consider also the girls' parents. Chances are, they've raised this girl to be submissive and obedient, and to look up to Mr. Gothard as a Godly man. For their daughter to be chosen as his secretary, and/or traveling companion, and/or whatever other special favors or position he may invite her to, would be the highest honor they could imagine. If their daughter came home from Headquarters with stories like this, perhaps the parents wouldn't have believed her. Perhaps they'd invested so many years of their lives, and so much emotional energy, into the Institute that to admit that they were wrong about Mr. Gothard would force them to admit that they were wrong all those years. Again, the girl would find it easiest to just keep quiet and try to forget that it happened. The introduction to part 1 indicates that this is exactly what happened with "Meg."

        I applaud Meg & the other girls for finding their voices and speaking the truth. I also appreciate the other commenters, such as yourself, "LA Committee," and Larne, for speaking up and sharing the truth that you know.

        With great power comes great responsibility. Mr. Gothard must be held accountable for his failure to abide by his own teachings!

        • Anonymous January 28, 2014

          I remember that one of the very first things we were told at the training center was to not tell our parents anytime something went wrong. We were placed under their authority and our parents couldn't help us. I understand that when your parent's aren't around it is limited what they could do. It really did set me up to be firmly under their authority because I hardly told my parents anything. They had no idea what was truly happening in my life because I couldn't tell them what I was feeling or when things were hard. I remember always feeling like someone was listening to my conversations in the phone lobby. The authority teaching was definitely over-reaching and has affected me in ways and can't even describe.

      • Anonymous January 28, 2014 Reply

        LA Committee,

        Thank you so much for your comment. I am in tears as I read. The tears are as much healing tears as angry tears. It means so much to me to know a little of what was done to stop Bill Gothard. I am so grateful that you are speaking up again.

      • Susanna January 28, 2014 Reply

        LA Committee,

        Thank you, a million times over, for speaking up. Thank you for encouraging the work of Recovering Grace. Thank you for corroborating the stories. Thank you for caring about those who are still caught in BG's clutches. Praying that the nightmare of IBLP/ATI/BG will be brought SOON to an utter, complete end.

      • Vera January 28, 2014 Reply

        I had no idea that these things were happening in 1992.

        I further like the romantic style of the piece because we are seeing this through the eyes of a very vulnerable 20 year old and how she felt specially singled out by the great Bill Gothard. I am not in the least bit enticed by this story. It is important for everyone to see this story unfold as it unfolded for Meg at that time. One has to see that Bill was romancing Meg and not the other way around and that a romantic attachment was forming. He was doing this to her. I believe this will be important in the end. Awesome job, Meg!!

        • Heidi January 28, 2014

          Yes, Vera, me too. I like the style of the piece because it totally explains how these things happen, step by step. Very comprehensive.

          Meg, you are so brave. Thank you for doing this.

      • "Hannah" January 28, 2014 Reply

        Thank you, thank you. Your comment made me cry.

      • Author Meg January 28, 2014 Reply

        LA Committee, to answer your question about the timeline, I was at Headquarters for the period of one year. I arrived in the Winter and left in the Fall.

      • Tammy January 29, 2014 Reply

        Thank you LA Committee for your informative and enlightening post. I'd like to comment on:

        "The IBYC secretary for the California office was so traumatized by all the events unfolding in the 1980s that she eventually left Christianity all together and remains so today."

        Sadly, there have been several who have completely left their faith and even some who have even taken their own lives.

        • 'Megan' January 29, 2014

          I nearly took mine, and I can directly trace it from the teachings of ATI and IBLP.

      • David February 1, 2014 Reply

        What you are describing is a cult. Not only does Bill teach a false Christianity, but the spirit in it, because it is the antithesis of freedom, must be control. In a cult, people who disagree are destroyed. Those who leave are, "bitter," and have, "settled for less." People in cults are programmed to dismiss what they see and what they hear -- because they are not, "spiritual enough," to rightly interpret it. And if they know of wrong doing by the leadership, well, leadership is just human. And perhaps worst of all, there are always a large core of people in cults who are very happy in it -- they claim they have found the truth, and that God has changed their lives, and that except for people like Bill, they would be lost. That is true deception. They will defend the cult and people like Bill right to the end -- they are the one who give to Bill his power, and keep him there.

      • Angela February 15, 2014 Reply

        I'm actually an outsider - I found this website when a Facebook acquaintance posted a link, and since I've homeschooled my kids for the last ten years and know people who live by some of these ideas, I started reading.

        Anyway, the thing I wanted to say is that I can understand why Meg might have written this in the third person. I have suffered a great deal of abuse in childhood and early adulthood, and for me, that are some things that I simply haven't been able to talk about or process without creating some distance emotionally. Speaking in the third person is a very helpful way of doing that. For me, it sometimes has helped me describe things that felt overpoweringly shameful. Whether they really were or not isn't even the issue, it's how I felt about myself.

        I don't know if that's been part of Meg's thinking or not, but I wanted to share that since I've read this concern in several comments across the installments of her story.

        Also, I am so grateful that you all have escaped and are I the path to healing. As far as I know, I don't know any active Gotherd homeschoolers, but as I mentioned I do know people who seem to follow some of these very rigid patterns. It's made me thing more about wondering how to know when it might be appropriate to try to racppeach out to any of them. Not sure.

  2. Dixie Rose January 27, 2014 Reply

    What stands out to me is the pathological progression. It moves a single step at a time so that she is totally "committed" to her position of simply being a friend before he tries the more disgusting stuff. She was totally led down a path to the point it was impossible to turn back. By that point, there is no one she can turn to for help, because he has helped her put all her eggs in one basket.

    Another aspect is how the system was set up to keep parents in the dark. One, our parents thought of him as a godly man giving them avenues for their children to grow outside of their sheltered home towns. Second, for me personally, I always took the stand that if something bothered me, it was me that was at fault and I needed to adjust my thinking because I wasn't as mature spiritually.

    • Cindy January 27, 2014 Reply

      I couldn't agree more. So frustrating.

  3. Vera January 27, 2014 Reply

    //Another aspect is how the system was set up to keep parents in the dark. //

    Yes, I for one would have appreciated knowing this.

  4. Tammy January 27, 2014 Reply

    This story just gets sicker and sicker. Thank you Megan for sharing your heart wrenching story. I am praying for you. I know this cannot be easy, but hopefully, by doing so you will find more healing.
    I'm a Mom who brought up her kids in ATI but wish she hadn't. We left the program about ten years ago. I used to think Bill Gothard was such a "godly" man. I think I will go now and puke!

    • Cynthia January 27, 2014 Reply


    • Martha January 28, 2014 Reply

      If anyone does't puke after reading these, something is seriously wrong! This story is appalling!!

  5. Cynthia January 27, 2014 Reply

    This is all just so disgusting! We have been out of ATI for at least 12 years and I am still busy this morning homeschooling our two youngest boys. I just feel so angry inside at all of this as I have been immersing myself in Recovering Grace for the last two weeks. My boys were arguing a bit ago and I hear conflict resolutions running through my head that I learned in the seminar and that just made me more frustrated. I am just so angry with myself that I allowed one set of teachings to permeate my life. It is discouraging to think how I am ever going to rebuild my thinking, even in regards to parenting my boys differently. It is so ingrained in me that I am just mad at myself. All I have wanted to be a is a godly wife and mother and so much of how I have done that is based on lies from a psycho man. How could I let this happen? And how will I ever be peaceful implementing the things that have been truth, that I have learned from such a place?

    • Matthew January 27, 2014 Reply

      Cynthia - don't let yourself get mad. Act on what you have been taught, even if it means doing the complete opposite. Peace comes when we let it. I realize that sounds corny but it is truth. Be well! Celebrate the day somehow - you have a freedom that came with a price, but you are free.

      • Lynn January 27, 2014 Reply

        Believers are free, and that is cause for great celebration. However, it's nigh next to impossible to not get angry, or to not let yourself get angry after being harmed for so long with false teaching. Anger's part of the grieving process, in addition to all the sorting fact from falsehood a person needs to go through. I will pray for the feeling and sense of peace to come quickly for Cynthia, but it may take some time.

        • Vera January 28, 2014

          Anger is a great thing when used properly. Jesus got angry all the time.

      • "Hannah" January 27, 2014 Reply

        "Don't let yourself get mad." Who ARE you? I don't know of another more appropriate emotion for revelations like this.

        • Editormum January 27, 2014

          I think what Matthew means is "don't be mad at yourself." Rather, turn your anger to what it ought to be directed at: the false teacher who has misled so many, and the culture that did not hold him to his own rules. Use that anger to fuel positive action, whether it's by using the situation as a template for what not to do, or to push through the grieving process and create a better life for yourself.

          And if I'm mis-representing you, Matthew, I apologize.

        • "Hannah" January 27, 2014

          I am sorry if I misunderstand you, Matthew. Is that what you are saying, or... ?

      • "Hannah" January 27, 2014 Reply

        What were we taught, that Cynthia should now act upon? Gothard's teachings were rotten to the core! I can only guess you are referencing the teachings to fight our natural instincts... Which is, at best, psychologically unhealthy, and at worst, unbiblical. Had my parents spent a little more time listening to their parental instincts and less time fighting it, I might not even be here, on this website. I feel like your comment is designed to shut people down, emotionally or otherwise.

    • Nancy January 27, 2014 Reply

      Cynthia, when I am angry I read Isa 59 and praise God. I confess that I am the worse of what I read, yet long to be the person my Lord and Savior desires me to be. I am the struggling person in Romans 7. Then I quietly focus on this

      Isa 59

      13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
      14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
      15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
      16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
      17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

      And then peace comes to me because all the pain I see and live was seen by our Savior first and that pain displeased Him enough that He authored salvation and justice. He went to the Cross not only for salvation, but also to give justice to those who have been preyed upon. He as our intercessor will teach us through the power of the Holy Spirit how to cope with the anger we feel as we identify with His gift on the Cross.

      So what do you teach your boys. You teach them about love that transcends boundaries and establishes justice. You teach them the difference between feeling zealous over a righteous cause and being mad. Lift them up to His authority as opposed to establishing your own. Continue to give them Christ Jesus our Lord.

      • Zoey January 29, 2014 Reply


        The practice of reading a Scripture and using guilt over Jesus's suffering to cure myself of anger feels extraordinarily familiar, as I was raised in ATI for all of my schooling years. I have found it much healthier to recognize why I am angry, see the past wrongdoings of others honestly, and move on from there. Dealing with the past sometimes involves far more anger than any one of us would like. And reading verses to cure it? I hope no one wronged by the religious ever takes that advice.

        • Nancy January 29, 2014

          Zoey, Forgive me, as I stated later down the page I had no idea the extent to which BG had twisted Scripture. I am not from an ATI family. Those Scriptures for me have not as much to do with guilt as they do with justice and grace. Many here have been abused, I thought verses about how abuse will not stand forever in light of the Lord's desire to establish justice would help. Many here have been put on a path of works to gain God's best. I thought recognition of our Savior's choice of establishing salvation (justification and sanctification) through grace vs the law would bring comfort from the burden of not knowing they have God's best already.

          From my background those verses state our condition as fallen people and God's answer of bringing mankind to Him. Jesus didn't go to the Cross as a victim of my sin. He went to the Cross by choice as a Conqueror over mankind's fall that started mankind's sinful nature. When I get confused over which way to turn I look at His nature of love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, humility, gentle, etc...and I love Him more. I feel no guilt over anger, frustrations, or doubt, as long as I do not sin while feeling these emotions. The Cross brings me to a place of joy knowing He saw our pain and struggles and understands our inability to work our way to Him. In my weakness stands His acceptance and patience.

          I was trying to share with Cynthia that it is really ok to feel whatever she is feeling. Confusion, anger, frustration, etc. The Lord in His love will help her through it. I thought our goal isn't the absence of negative feelings, but being able to conquer anything through Christ who strengthens us.

          I came here trying to figure out a family problem. Reading here helped me understand how differently my loved ones think after 10 years in ATI. We are not even close to being on the same page. We read the same verses and see two different messages. What I often see as an amazing act of grace and love, they see as a burden of guilt and shame as they try to perfect themselves. They only left ATI a short time ago.

          You are right about anyone taking my advice. If they are reading my statements in light of guilt and condemnation as opposed to my understanding then they should run from my advice.

          Thank you for shedding light on my lack of insight concerning how different our viewpoints are.

        • MatthewS January 29, 2014

          "Reading here helped me understand how differently my loved ones think after 10 years in ATI. We are not even close to being on the same page. We read the same verses and see two different messages. What I often see as an amazing act of grace and love, they see as a burden of guilt and shame as they try to perfect themselves. They only left ATI a short time ago."

          Wow, well said. That rings very true.

    • Danielle January 27, 2014 Reply


      I've been "out" of IBLP/ATI involvement for over 10 years. The only way I've gotten my authentic self back is by researching the how and why of the lies I believed from Gothard. Reading Steven Hassan's work was very helpful to helped me understand how a system of intense control affects people. It helped me to realize that no matter how intelligent a person is, we can still fall for certain tricks.

      I'm so glad you're not part of that system anymore...! Go educate yourself, read and research your way to freedom. :)

    • Tammy January 27, 2014 Reply

      De-programming will take time. You not only will get angry, but you will probably experience a host of emotions over time. Ask God to show you what is truth? Put all of Gothard's teaching behind you. Focus on the here and now and truly take it one day at a time. God is faithful and He will bring you through these tough times and bring healing to you. I am living proof. (Hugs)

      • Tammy January 27, 2014 Reply

        Sorry, I forgot to address that last comment for Cynthia.

    • Vera January 27, 2014 Reply

      If I may interject here, Cynthia, one thing that I did personally was to start testing all doctrines, not just Bill Gothard's, against Scripture. Read these letters in total instead of picking and choosing sentences that seem to support these deceptive trains of thought.

      i bring this out in my 20 page story that may or may not ever be published; but if you, for example, take Romans 7 and read it, you will see that that first half has nothing to do with divorce and remarriage but being dead to the law through the body of Christ to be married to another. Our understanding of what Paul was explaining there was so warped because of this deception.

      Even if you discern that some piece of entertainment or outfit is not what God wants you to do because He is leading you away, that conviction does not mean you are righteous nor does it make you righteous. Otherwise, we should all be Muslims. It is grace through faith that is bringing to you real love poured out into your heart. God took me, the worst of sinners, a whore, a fornicator of the grandest magnitude complete with a tattoo on my butt, addicted to cigarettes and with the foulest mouth and He transformed me by His power into a saint. That is grace through faith. I have not been the same since around 1980. The message was staring me in the face and I was totally not seeing it. I am not sorry for going through this because I see that this is one of the main reasons the church has failed. Now that I understand, I just wish I could share it. :-)

      • Nancy January 28, 2014 Reply

        I had no idea BG twisted the meaning of Romans 7. I can't believe BG taught it had to do with marriage and divorce

        It is such a beautiful chapter of God's grace to us through His Son. I love the way it moves directly into Romans 8. I have always seen it as picture of our broken nature and our relief and thanksgiving when we find the love of Jesus and His work of salvation is the answer to our wretched struggle.

        7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

        8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

        I just realized since I only went to one Basic Seminar I will never be able to understand all the twisting of Scripture that was done with my loved ones.

        I think I found the answer I was looking for as far as reconnecting with them. Pray without ceasing and being thankful to groups like this who have a deeper understanding of the full abuse they have experienced.

  6. Kevin January 27, 2014 Reply

    I want to thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. The way you are conveying it is so powerful. You are allowing the reader to experience the subtle and gradual manipulation through your eyes and in so doing, one can really understand the level of control this man wields over these innocent, young, sheltered girls. It is so very disturbing. To those who have suggested that Gothard is not really even aware of what he is doing to these girls, you are deceiving yourselves. As Mr. Gabriel's story can attest, the severe harm that he is doing to these girls has been brought to his attention for decades.
    I have been reading the articles on Recovering Grace for about two years and have been touched and affected by many, but yours has touched me the deepest. I hope that this is a turning point. I hope that this is the beginning of the end of this man defrauding young girls and spreading his false teachings. Your story is so compelling that I believe that if it is shared it can be the beginning of that turning point.
    Folks, do not discount how powerful it can be to share a link to this article and others with friends who are in the system. Also, share with your pastor. Anyone who councils victims or adoptive parents also needs to be aware of the depth of the spiritual damage that those exposed to this man may be suffering from. I've met with two pastors to educate them on Gothard and show them some of his eye opening material- for example on adoption. It took less than 10 minutes for the horrors taught in Basic Care Booklet 5, regarding adoption, to elicit a strong reaction from both of these men. I attended the powerful sermon of one of them, regarding Grace, that followed that meeting. Although he made no mention of Gothard, his message on legalistic systems was very clear. If you ever have someone promising that you can enter into the power of Christ in 7 steps, run don't walk. ( Rebuilder's Guide, page 22). His church has about 5,000 members, so just 10 or 20 minutes of time with key people can reach so many. Imagine the impact we could have if everyone here emailed this site to 3 friends and met with one pastor to show them what you know, to share what you have experienced?
    Although I was never in ATI, through close friendship with ATI families, ATI/IBLP material made its way into our home over the years. I never really knew much about the organization, but was given ATI/IBLP books to read and even asked to teach from one once. Honestly, they just seemed kind of weird to me and I never understood why they thought this material was so wonderful. Some of it seemed downright bizarre; Abigail was being punished by God for her actions- because she broke one of the principles? God allowed Satan to have his way with Job because his children were naughty? Special prayers that you can use, almost like magic spells, to obtain specific results?
    I never paid much attention, however, until some significant events made me realize the strong hold this man has over some of my friends. I felt the need to learn more about the man and that is when I found this site and began obtaining more of his material to understand the control that he has over his followers.
    I believe your story will help many, many people. In reading the comments, it is clear that it already has. Thank you for being brave and doing the right thing. God is using you in an amazing way.

    • grateful January 27, 2014 Reply

      does anyone have "Basic Care Booklet 5" referenced above digitally I can access? Would like to read through it. Thanks (sorry to be off-topic)

      • Kevin January 27, 2014 Reply

        I have the hard copy. Not in digital format.

        • Sad January 27, 2014

          Any chance you can scan the booklet and make it into a PDF file? Then submit it to Recovering Grace editors? Would be great to have these deceptive teachings as a reference point here on this site.

        • kevin January 27, 2014

          You can probably just request it from them, particularly if you are ATI or former ATI. It is something which they make available to those who are considering adoption or need "wise" counsel on dealing with adopted children.

        • kevin January 27, 2014

          By "them" I mean you can request it from ATI.

      • Kevin January 27, 2014 Reply

        Of all of his publications that I have come across, I find nothing more disturbing than this booklet. He discourages adoption, shares stories of families cursed when they adopt, using his false teaching on Exodus 20:5, claiming that adopted children bring with them unknown sins of their ancestors. Then blessings, including sudden financial gain and pregnancies when people "reverse" their adoption, by sending their adopted child away to an orphanage. It is being sickening. Absolutely sickening.

        • BeverlyB January 27, 2014

          This is an old RG article on adoption that touched on that horrid Basic Care Bulletin:

        • Laurel February 11, 2014

          At least one good thing came for us from their teachings...we bacame legal guardians for a niece in 1994 and got removed from the program. So we have been ATI-free for about 20 years!

  7. "Hannah" January 27, 2014 Reply

    I would just like to know... How many other young ladies, did he "almost" kiss, like that? Did he stand in close proximity to any other girl, and repeat that he had "never kissed a girl"? Are there others, or is this an isolated story?

    And that's all I can say, right now. I'm still trying to calm my gag reflex.

    • Sad January 27, 2014 Reply

      "Hannah" - take the time to read the discussion comments all over this website. You really would not have to ask the question " this an isolated story?".

      It is NOT an isolated story, that is the point of the article. This is a pattern of behavior of a predatory male in a position of power.

      • "Hannah" January 27, 2014 Reply

        I'm asking specifically whether he "almost" kissed another girl, or whether he held them close while repeating that he had never kissed a girl. Yes, I am well aware of the sexual harrassment issues. That part is not news to me.

  8. missy January 27, 2014 Reply

    I just want to say you are a wonderful writer. I'm so sorry you went through this.

  9. Travis January 27, 2014 Reply

    Toothpaste = Intimacy... Wow... I can't get over that. I just look at this and there's two sides to Bill. A side that is uber legalism and religious bafflegab that he tries to measure up to (and NEVER will because we are completely incapable of perfection in this mortal bodies) and a side to him who is completely natural, normal, and longs for intimacy with SOMEONE.

    As I've often said; when you destroy what is good and natural, you make room for that which is perverse and evil.


    • esbee January 27, 2014 Reply

      Toothpaste being considered too personal for anyone to buy for another shows how legalism grows in the mind of those saturated with today, with the scripture saying not to work on Sunday, many Jews will not even turn on a light from the switch, since that is considered "labor".
      My brother told me of an event where a Jewish person asked him to turn on the light and explained why he could not. So my brother said, "so in order for you not to sin, you do not mind me committing the sin for your comfort?".

  10. Maria January 27, 2014 Reply

    One word - SICK

  11. D January 27, 2014 Reply

    That's a pretty creepy story. You know what's really creepy? I was recounting this story to my hot wife and she said the following to me. "Bill Gothard invited me to work at Headquarters." She said that Bill saw her in passing and said "You look like someone that would be great working at the Headquarters." I remember her saying that before, but thought little of it. Now I'm pretty ticked about it. Hitting a little close to home, Bill. I was sorry it happened to Meg, but when it's your own wife, it's a little different.

    Who knew that the whole bright countenance thing = fresh, young, attractive girl that isn't turned off by my creepy offer.

  12. 'Megan' January 27, 2014 Reply

    "Patting it, massaging it, rubbing her fingers with his thumb, running it slowly up and down between her fingers, over and over. He was breathing slowly, methodically. She looked up at him in the dark, and he looked down at her. He didn’t smile."

    Anyone who isn't a naive, sheltered virgin knows what would most likely happen next. He was aroused. And NOT fleeing from temptation, far from it. He didn't have to actually 'go all the way' with anyone to get pleasure, and I think that's something people miss. In fact, I think this sort of thing, in addition to the 'almost kiss', WAS his sexual pleasure. And it was a game to him. It had to have been. It fits with the controlling, narcissistic tendencies you see everywhere else. And he was smart enough to know that if he never went any further than that, he could keep this up for years and never get caught. Easy peasy. Make a girl all but fall in love with you, and she might not question you. (Specially since your teachings have instructed her never to question you to begin with.)


    • "Hannah" January 27, 2014 Reply

      Well, now... That's a mental picture I cannot get out of my mind, soon enough...

    • Heidi January 28, 2014 Reply

      Exactly Megan. Exactly.

      This story provides a great case study for grooming and sexual perpetrator behavior, even if it never went that far.

    • Sandra Mong January 28, 2014 Reply

      "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the "creature" more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.Amen" (Romans 1:25)

    • Maria January 28, 2014 Reply

      This part of the story makes me think (I hope I'm wrong) that Bill had/has a habit of mastrubation. That's what he probably did with another hand. What a sicko!

  13. Krista January 27, 2014 Reply

    I'm so deeply sorry this happened to you. So sorry no one was there to protect YOU, to care for YOUR well-being and safety and reputation. You are incredibly brave to share your story. I know some will try to attack you or make you feel guilty for sharing it. Please be brave and keep sharing what you feel safe sharing. Your words are healing to those of us who have experienced these things. The truth really does set free, even hard truth. XO

  14. Greg January 27, 2014 Reply

    I'm just a little curious,,, why have we not heard from Alfred in any of this? Not trying to be unkind or pick a fight, but he was usually here to back up bill...

  15. Vera January 28, 2014 Reply

    So many issues here are difficult for me personally because I did try very hard to connect with Bill and IL to see if this ministry was genuine. I wanted to know that from the very beginning. I was always met with distance and rejection. As a woman, I was given no access to other women per ATI law. Because I didn't realize that all these allegations were being brought forth, I had no idea the extent of the hypocrisy. I wish everyone here realized that these teachings live on in many unsuspecting people who think that standards make them righteous.

    The Gothard Discussion could have been so effective in sharing this information but they were making fun of people who had nothing to do with the message being preached. That is what turned me away from them because it didn't seem like they were coming against the message or making any points in that regard but simply making fun of people. Instead of patiently teaching, anyone who tried to defend ATI (such as myself, I admit) was implied to be stupid and each post was accompanied by lots of demeaning mocking. I was further bombarded at times with upwards of 400 posts in a day that were impossible to read or respond to. I know now from more Internet experience that this is a tactic. Plus, they were taking more of a stand as though everyone sins and that sin is irrelevant; but that is the attitude I find in many x-ATIers who assume that listening to rock music (as understood by this ministry) is a hell-bound offense that **causes** fornication and all sin is legalism. Give me a break! One would get a greater knee-jerk reaction from Bill over rock music than actual sex outside of marriage. Gothard Discussion's biggest kingpin argument was the dress code at hq and I thought that was a ridiculous point because most companies have a dress code. The one story about the fat girl told not to be seen by the Chinese delegation was disturbing but the rationale seemed plausible even if I as an American disagree. It is true that Asians think we are fat.

    Doug and I were not in an ATI church and so we had very little connection with people in ATI except online. The legalism nearly destroyed out family. Regrettably, this story would have most definitely gotten my attention. I walked away from listening to them because of that mocking.


  16. Dan January 28, 2014 Reply

    One victom we're all overlooking is gothard himself he fell into a trap of legalism as a young man trying to obtain holiness through the flesh. he has missed out on the joys of marriage and a family. he hasavoided the growth and balance that come with both. he has shown he is very hard hearted manipulative deceptive creepy and a hypocrite but i pity the life he threw away

    • David January 28, 2014 Reply

      Ummmm....Bill is not a victim. Even even if he fell into legalism through ignorance when young, for the last 30-40 years he been shown the error of his ways. Multiple ministries have appealed to him. Plus, once he took the position of a teacher over others, he had no business being wrong about such things and destroying the lives of others. He is responsible to God for correcting course -- and are we to say that God never once has convicted him? I don't believe that because Jesus promised that His Spirit would convict, and that He would seek to guide us into all Truth. Well, when a teacher continues teaching error, what does that say about their real relationship with God. Many of us have been deceived when we were young. You could make a case that we didn't know enough to be fully to blame for that -- but the question is what we did once we saw the Truth. Most who come to this blog have seen the Truth and LEFT Gothardism. Is God a respecter of persons? Bill doesn't see the Truth because he doesn't want to see it -- the cost would be too high and he has too many people around him patting him on the back, being a partaker of his sins. A sad story but a common one.

    • Karah January 28, 2014 Reply

      While whatever happened to BG in the past may explain some of this behavior, it in no way excuses it. He is not the victim in any way shape or form in this story. He was a powerful adult who manipulated, used and abused the girls he surrounded himself with. Furthermore, many, many of his victims and the victims of his supressive, legalistic teachings (including many who were abused in their homes because of BGs teachings) did not go on to continue the cycle of abuse. They fought their way out of it and are repulsed by the idea of causing harm to another due to the circumstances they grew up in.

    • Andrew Harper January 29, 2014 Reply

      I don't know that I would ascribe victim status to Bill Gothard either. My current working theory is that the man was immensely unpopular as a kid and in high school/college and retreated into a standard of "righteousness" to cope with the fact that things were beyond his control and he was not very popular. He strikes me as a classic OCD case who turned to religion to cope with the world. "Victim" isn't the term that comes to mind. Sinner fits, in that the basic human condition stems from a failure to acknowledge God as sovereign over all. In Bill's model he gets to be OCD with the backing of a god who thinks like Bill.

  17. MJ January 28, 2014 Reply

    You almost feel sorry for the guy...until you realize what a perv he is/was.

  18. Videogirl January 28, 2014 Reply

    Its seems like for those who did not know Mr.G personally Megs story is a shock but I think for those woking at Hq its not a real surprise. We all knew he liked to have beautiful girls around, that he had favorites.. Many girls as Meg said wanted to be on her place. Cause Gothars girls got more freedoms in the way they dressed, they could go out more and so on.. and just the feeling of being special)
    For me I remeber I was happy that Mr.G knows my name, he remembers me, he invited to travel in his van, played footsie of course, in Indy he called us few girls to his office ( we thoguth oh, no he probably is going to ask bible verses or so) but no he asked his helper to go to the kitchen get us girls ice-cream, m&m and we just sat there..thinking that it is really cool that others are sleeping by now, and here we are eating ice cream and he was doing his paper work and falling asleep)
    He did enjoy girls company. Once I walked at HQ and heard car signaling behind me, cause I come from a big city I was always taught it was bad manners to turn around when car passing is signaling at you, usually guys do that for fun or when they want special attention from a girl, so I did not turn and did not look)

    To my surprise the car came closer and it was Mr.G on his old blue car, wanting to give me a ride, he was surprised that I paid no attention to his signals and I thought it was kind of rude to signal me...)Oh, no thanks, I would rather walk, I said:)

    I am sure there are so many stories like Megs, I feel sorry that she was so emotionaly attached to this man,that she opened her heart to him and I could probably guess at the end of the story she would be sent home for some strange reason or false accusation...

    I know most of his secretaries personally, the were very devoted, they really did not have a personal life, constanly tired, early mornings, late nights and of course a great wish to be appriciated and loved. I think every girl secretary or just favorites of Mr.G experienced same things as Meg.
    One thing that keeps me wondering, she wrote a note to him that she loves being his gem... Makes me think she was not only emotionaly attached but she secretly loved him and adored him, she was so isolated.

  19. David January 28, 2014 Reply

    I knew Bill Gothard was a false teacher long before I heard about any of these things -- but of course, when a person is a false teacher, they are not right with God, and so it is going to manifest in their relationships. Bill was about 59 and the girl 20 when these things happened, and while some might say she was adult, this was a cult and Bill was a cult leader. The control such people exercise over others in that kind of environment cannot be understood unless you have been directly exposed -- it truly is a SPIRIT. There are no circumstances under which Bill should have been doing these things -- just get married to someone your age and be done with it! Having said that, I think that the facts conveyed in this story, while of great value, are written almost in a romantic novel form -- and this was both unnecessary and detracts a bit from the vital issues. I don't mean to be a critic, but if you want this to help Gothard fans open their eyes, I think that hurts the cause -- it gives them something to use against the facts. Either way, thanks for sharing.

    • Vera January 28, 2014 Reply

      David, I could really be wrong here, but I think it was written romantically because it WAS romantic for Meg. We are seeing this through Meg's eyes. I mean this one lady warns her that the relationship is getting a little too friendly. She goes through this whole thing of rationalizing their relationship. The one person tells her that getting toothpaste is a little too personal and she is thinking in her mind, "If they only knew." So she was not stupid or ignorant of the fact that this relationship had gone up a level and I think she liked him. She was not grossed out. She states that she felt very comfortable with the attention. She doesn't sound unhappy that he almost kissed her. At least, I am not seeing that yet. And I have a feeling that this is going to end very ugly. We are seeing how she was led along to believe that he cared for her in a very deep way. Like I said, I could be wrong but my husband pointed out this morning that for whatever reason, Jim Voeller had no problem spending time alone with a beautiful young woman in his office. Why? Was this commonplace?

      • Daniel January 28, 2014 Reply

        Vera, I was thinking the exact same thing about Jim Voeller. Bill sets the example of having bombshell babes hanging out at all hours. If it's okay for Bill, it's okay for Jim. Of course it's not all Bill's fault, but he created the culture.

        One wonders if marriage was as attractive to Bill as hanging out with teenagers. I mean, it would be a lot harder to flirt on a consistent basis if you were home for dinner every night and doing wisdom searches with the kids in the morning.

        • kevin January 28, 2014

          "One wonders if marriage was as attractive to Bill as hanging out with teenagers"
          I think it is possible that this was his thing. Getting some sort of thrill out of falling in love with young girls and having them fall in love with him. They were sheltered from the world in their upbringing and he made sure he isolated them further during their service to him. It is human to want affection- to want a loving relationship. Add to that, that the person whom you are serving is looked up to as a God- a rock star of sorts in the Gothard universe.
          He had to know at some level that he could never take the next step, or the empire would fall apart. Marrying a woman young enough to be his granddaughter? That would wake up even the most mesmerized followers of him- at least it would wake up most of them. So, he takes it to that edge and dances around, never quite crossing it. Then moves on to the next victim.
          I think that very well may have been what floated his boat.

      • Editormum January 28, 2014 Reply

        C'mon people. You are a naive, sheltered, impressionable young girl whose life purpose, according to all you've been taught, is to become a wife and mother and support the work of a man who is devoted to the Lord. If the man you marry is a pastor, gospel teacher, or other full-time ministry person, you're extra-blessed.

        And you're brought up in a group that idolizes this guy as a wonderful saint of God. Everyone knows his parents still want him to get married, and he says in his seminars that he still hopes and is just waiting on God to bring the right woman along.

        He starts showing you special attention. What young, inexperienced girl WOUDLN'T start getting starry-eyed visions of life as the wife of the great leader, standing quietly behind him to provide a haven of peace in the tumult of public life?

        It's a seductive dream, and one that many ATI girls had at one point or another.

        • MatthewS January 28, 2014

          Your comment reminds me of codes of ethics for professionals. There is an inherent power imbalance in a helping relationship. Any helper who is above reproach will understand that and act with integrity regarding it.

          For example, from the code of ethics for Christian Counselors, they must proactively avoid every manner of harm, exploitation, and unjust discrimination in all client-congregant relations, and help ensure the overall safety and well-being of clients. Christian counselors are also aware of their psychosocial and spiritual influence and the inherent power imbalance of helping relationships—power dynamics that can harm others, even without harmful intent.

          Also from that code:

          1-130: Sexual Misconduct Forbidden
          Christian counselors refrain from all forms of sexual misconduct with clients in professional, pastoral or lay relationships, and view such behavior as unethical and forbidden. This includes any kind of sexual exploitation, abuse, deception, manipulation, harassment, relationships where the sexual involvement is invited, and relationships where informed consent presumably exists. Due to the inherent power imbalance of helping relationships, as well as biblical principles related to sexual behavior outside of marriage, such apparent consent is considered illusory and illegitimate. Forbidden sexual activities and deceptions include, but are not limited to: (1) direct sexual touch or contact; (2) seductive sexual speech or non-verbal behavior; (3) solicitation of sexual or romantic relations; (4) erotic contact or behavior as a response to the sexual invitation or seductive behavior of clients; (5) unnecessary questioning and/or excessive probing into the client's sexual history and practices; (6) inappropriate counselor disclosures of client attractiveness, sexual opinions, or sexual humor; (7) advocacy of the healing value of counselor-client sexual relations; (8) secretive sexual communications and anonymous virtual interaction via the Internet, sexting or other electronic and informational means; (9) sexual harassment by comments, touch, or promises/threats of special action; and (10) sexual misconduct as defined by all applicable laws, ethics, and church, organizational, or practice policies.

          1-130-a: Sexual Relations with Former Clients Forbidden
          Christian counselors refrain from all sexual behaviors and/or relationships as defined in 1-130 above with regard to former clients, and view such behavior as unethical and forbidden. Furthermore, counselors do not purposely terminate and refer clients or parishioners, even at first contact, in order to pursue sexual or romantic relationships.


        • MatthewS January 28, 2014

          There is an inherent power imbalance in any helping relationship, but how much more when the figure in question is seen as a Moses figure, exceptionally close to God and one who speaks for God.

        • kevin January 28, 2014

          Mathew and Vera,
          The more one studies Gothard, the creepier it gets. Mathew, you said:
          "Christian counselors are also aware of their psychosocial and spiritual influence and the inherent power imbalance of helping relationships—power dynamics that can harm others, even without harmful intent."
          Gothard was fully aware of the occurrence of those being counselled falling in love with the counselor. From Rebuilder's Guide,page 220
          "Do you know how to respond to the dangers of giving counsel?"
          1. Interfering with the God-ordained authorities of the one you counsel.
          2. Having the one whom you counsel fall in love with you."
          He knew exactly what he was doing. These are his rules, his cautions. He knew this often happens. He understood how sheltered homeschooled girls were extra susceptible to this. It appears more and more clear that this is by his design. Isolating the girl from all meaningful contact with others. He has been doing this a lot of years. He knows the environment, the conditions, the conversations and actions that will lead to this result and he does it over and over and over.

    • kevin January 28, 2014 Reply

      I have to disagree with you on her style being unnecessary and hurting the cause. First, this is part of the healing process, and she should have our full support to share her story in whatever way works best for her. Second, I agree with others that find the style effective. In writing it this way, she lets the reader understand really how it was being experienced through her eyes. When a writer can do that, it is a powerful thing. She is an excellent writer and brings awareness to his creepy behavior in a unique way.

  20. David January 28, 2014 Reply

    Bill Gothard is a creepy old man. But aside from that, he is a heretic and false teacher, who has done terrible damage to tens of thousands of lives. THAT is the real issue here, but it sort all goes together, doesn't it?

  21. Flynn January 28, 2014 Reply

    I think that perhaps one of the most damning things BG has done about this expose is be silent. If he were innocent, he'd just come out and say so, right? He'd sue for slander. He'd respond to articles and write, record, or video tape a rebuttal...that is a fairly common for people to do when they are accused of something. We've heard that he has told his seminar attendees to avoid Recovering Grace, don't read this website, but that is not *exactly* a rebuttal.

    What can he say? "no, I didn't do anything of the kind"? He knows that too many people saw/know too much, he as too many victims, and if he came flat out lied about it, those people are more likely to step forward. By remaining silent, he is keeping them at least pacified and thinking "well, maybe his motives were Christ-like so it's all okay." If he admitted that, he'd lose his current followers who would realize that the principles don't keep you from sinning, and he'd lose status, attendance, money...basically everything. I see a man running scared.

    I might be wrong about all this, but its an interesting thought.

  22. Dan January 28, 2014 Reply

    Let me clarify. i believe gothard is a victom of his own sins and the lies he's chosen to believe! It does not by any means get him off the hook for destroying peoples lives. he has shown he is hard hearted by refusing correction throughout his life but for the ultimate healing to come he has to repent publicly apologize admit a lot of his teachings are false an step down from ministry. i would be the first to volunteer to rhit him over the head with a shovel and tell him how wrong he is however for the people still under him and all of us who have been hurt by him that wouldn't be as effective as him comming to repentance

  23. Melinda January 28, 2014 Reply

    This story is very interesting to me. I knew the man that Mr. Gothard was falling asleep while listening! haha! That is so funny! I have heard that story before. So many people have been hurt by this ministry... I hesitate to call it that, because it is really a cult! I am also very sad for the parents of these girls who have been violated, because they were probably so excited that their daughters had this wonderful opportunity! I just sit here with tears shaking my head, and pray that Mr. Gothard will be stopped.

  24. AnnH January 28, 2014 Reply

    I agree with what "EditorMum" said. Meg was doing as she was told. "Blind submission". Although her conscience may have been saying this is odd, or what is going on, he was her authority figure, her boss, how do you say no? She went after the toothpaste.

  25. ST. January 28, 2014 Reply

    My nonATI husband and myself want to know why many girls will not get together and give testimony against him in court? Please use your testimonies to preserve this from keeping on happening! He needs to stop! And he needs to stop Now.

    • WendyA January 28, 2014 Reply

      ST, I believe there may be several reasons.

      1) The trauma of reliving this kind of abuse is indescribable. If you have not lived it, you cannot know how painful, frightening, and humiliating it is to share these stories. The courage of these young ladies, and their willingness to face public scrutiny of these stories is very hard to communicate to those who have not walked in their shoes. Many of the girls who were victimized are simply not ready to go public.

      2) For many of the girls, these events were 10, 20, 30 years ago. Well past the statute of limitations in most states. I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect that their testimony would be inadmissible in a court of law.

      3) Most of the girls were so effectively isolated that they had no idea they were not alone. It is only as these stories begin to come out that these girls realize they are not the only one. For the most part, they don't know each other.

      4) Because of the nature of the religious teachings they were under, most of the girls are/were very naive and had no idea that what they were being subjected to was abnormal and indefensible. They certainly didn't think of it as "abuse."

      5) The teachings and the atmosphere at the training centers also set the girls up to believe that if there was a problem, it was their fault. As other commenters have noted, "He was a holy man serving God. How could I think such things?! If there was something wrong, it was because my mind was evil and polluted by sin. I needed to pray for God to cleanse my mind and remove the impure thoughts."

      I hope that helps you and your husband understand the incredible hurdles that the young women who have shared their stories on Recovering Grace have had to overcome. Their journey is nothing short of miraculous. Nothing short of courageous. Nothing short of grace.

      • esbee January 28, 2014 Reply

        "For many of the girls, these events were 10, 20, 30 years ago. Well past the statute of limitations in most states. I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect that their testimony would be inadmissible in a court of law."

        But what if all their stories were told together as one anthology, such as in a book to be published online or as a real book?

  26. Bill Casso January 28, 2014 Reply

    I had a girlfriend that insisted I go to the Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts given by someone I had never heard of. The guy was Bill Gothard. This was over 45 years ago. I paid something like 45 bucks and got a three ring notebook. It took me a few minutes to figure out this super spiritual mind game. I'm sorry it took you so long.

    The next a creep plays footsie with you in the van tell him to stop. He only has the power you give him. We are God' self employed sub contractors, no hierarchy needed.

  27. Confused January 28, 2014 Reply

    Forgive me if this sounds like a weird or dumb question, but what IS right or wrong when it comes to this?
    I got a little bit of special attention during my time at HQ. Not nearly as much as Meagan, but I saw the attention as normal. I mean, I just thought some people were like that.
    Now I somehow think that it might not have been right, but what IS right or wrong? I mean, what if a girl has never known a fathers love and someone shows up who [she thinks] shows it to her.
    It's just that I see dads giving their daughters hugs, hanging out with them, drying their tears, giving their hands a squeeze; I always wanted that. That's how I saw him. Was it wrong?
    I guess my real question is, how does a dad or father figure treat a girl. Is it different than this?

    • "Hannah" January 28, 2014 Reply

      Well... I don't think a father figure almost kisses you. Or sensually rubs your leg. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that would make me very concerned to see an actual father do that.

    • "Hannah" January 28, 2014 Reply

      Oh yeah, can you imagine a father insisting on being "one in spirit" with his daughter? Or forcing her to destroy all memory of a perfectly moral romantic relationship she'd had? Aack!!

      • Confused January 28, 2014 Reply

        ...some dads do...
        How DOES a normal dad treat his daughter?

        • MatthewS January 28, 2014

          Not sure if I understand your question, but I'd say a good dad treats his daughter in ways that cause her to feel loved and safe. The dad serves the daughter rather than using the her for his own needs.

        • Nancy January 28, 2014

          I come from a family of all girls. My Dad was about as normal as it gets. He loved The Lord first and foremost and he loved my Mom next. Us girls would delight to see them laughing and talking. We loved the way he would flirt and tease her. We learned what it truly means to be loved by a man by watching him love her.

          The two of them would play with us at family picnics and outings. He might pick us up to help us climb a tree, or push us on a swing...but to hold and caress our hand was never done. We would play tag, but never footsie. We might get a pat on the back or head if we accomplished something new. He would always cheer us on to do our best.

          Our family dinners were full of interesting conversation that usually led us to an encyclopedia to stop a fuss. Each of us would have time to share and both Mom and Dad would give us their thoughts on our interests. He would never share personal intimate thoughts during those discussions. Those belonged to Mom alone.

          I would never consider confiding in one parent without the other present. They were always one. Together they made a wonderful home.

          For me it isn't how a father treats his daughter, but how a father loves and respects his wife that demonstrates his love for his children. His commitment to her gave me my confidence and security with which to thrive.

          Bill Gothard isn't married so to confide or develop emotional intimacy automatically places the girl in the position of a mate not a daughter.

        • Darcy January 29, 2014

          "Confused", a healthy dad treats his daughter with respect. As a little girl, he gives affection and love. As she grow older, he respects the lines she draws as she's figuring out who she is. I stopped being physically affectionate in a little-girlish way with my dad around age 11. He never said a word about it just respected my wishes. As a mom, I can see how bittersweet this could be....your daughter is growing up and you have to let her. Since then, I hug my dad, or he'll put his arm around me and give me a quick squeeze, but that's it. Emotionally, a healthy dad doesn't demand to hear about his daughter's love life. He doesn't demand she confide in him. He's there for her if she chooses but he never forces himself into her life and heart. Respect, both physical and emotional, is a key here. Not taking advantage of someone because of their youth, devotion, and ignorance.

          I think this question is a good one, especially in patriarchal circles where the lines between wife and daughter have been majorly blurred, to the point of calling daughter their dad's "helpmeet".

        • Confused January 29, 2014

          Thanks for your answers. That DOES help a little. It's just hard to understand a father/daughter relationship when all I've experienced are people who have been labeled, "creeps" or, "wrong", by others.
          I am an adult, but I want a father figure in my life. It's just confusing to know where the line is between "healthy", and "weird".

    • 'Megan' January 28, 2014 Reply

      Well, not one of my male relatives has ever done ANYTHING like any of these things to me. Well, there was one who sometimes attempted much milder things with me, was always kinda weird, but I always dismissed it as a personality thing.. I found out on the day he was buried, that he had molested several family members over the years.

      Sooooo.... When it comes to Bill's behavior, it creeps me out to no end, and his behavior was far more intrusive, personal, and seductive than my dead male relative.

      The girls that Bill preyed on, were most often the kind of girl you have described. Girls that didn't have good father figures. Because those are usually the easiest to take advantage of.

      Any dad who treats his daughter the way Bill is described in this and other articles,(specifically the insanely sexual physical parts) ought to be arrested and imprisoned for being a sicko.

  28. "Merry" January 29, 2014 Reply

    Vera and Daniel, to address a comment earlier; regarding Jim Voeller, one of the earlier parts of this story had comments on him. Basically Jim Voeller already had his own trail of women before his days at IBLP. If BG had done some simple internet digging he could have discovered a good bit before bringing him to HQ.

  29. Joe D January 29, 2014 Reply

    My family and I were a part of ATI (it's actually ATIA (America), but whatever) for over ten years as a kid and find this whole charade to be pretty ridiculous. I love my parents and I'm so thankful for my childhood, wouldn't change a thing. However, it surprises me that people can get wrapped up in a cult and not even know it, and the things this clown is teaching is borderline pathological. I realize that I may offend with what I'm about to say, but I only mean it as someone who has come through the system, knows every argument and reason behind what Bill/ATI was thinking, and I've dedicated my life to searching for truth (like many others here).

    I haven't read part 5, but it seems to me that so far, Bill hasn't done anything crazy. Don't get me wrong, I hate the man, because he personifies sin, and God hates sin. But not because he played footsy with some girl he was attracted to. He has ruined so many lives, and affected so many more (including my brother's), that he ought to be publicly shamed and removed from his position and quite possibly institutionalized. But honestly, he "embraced" a girl (or ten?) for too long, and played footsy. So far, not exactly damning evidence. I'm sure we'll get to it, and I hope we do for the sake of justice. But in an attempt to discontinue the ridiculous standards and stop the massively overweighted issue of sexual purity, footsy and frontal hugs hardly constitute capital punishment for this goofball. He deserves it for a log of reasons, but not necessarily this girl's story.
    Additionally, at 20/21 years old, the girl knew what was going on. She enjoyed it every bit as much as he did, and fell into the trap of admiring him and loving his affection (which so far has been relatively platonic, except for the hand on the thigh episode). I agree with the guy who said her writing style diminishes her objectivity and in turn from the effectiveness of her story (yes it's a free country, she's allowed to write however she wants...). But it does detract (for me) from the facts of the story.
    I'm anxious to see where it goes, and if there is anything else worthy of outrage. But even if not, the guy is circus clown that anyone not religiously inclined would identify as a self-deluded con artist. Christians, unfortunately, are predisposed to attach to the "highest standard possible," equating standards with Holiness, and by extension, Salvation.
    And to discredit myself further (because I know when I say this, 90% of you will lose all respect for my thoughts, attached as you may still be to your fundamentals), the Bible is not meant to be taken so literally, and is certainly not inspired the way modern christians have so voraciously believed. I won't convince you in a blog's comment section, so I won't try. But my point in bringing it up is to say that Bill isn't exactly that far removed from the biblical teachings, and it's easy to see where he gets his whacked out views. That should go without saying, otherwise we all wouldn't be on a website devoted to discrediting the man. Somewhere along the line, his views made sense to a lot of educated people, because they aren't that far from actual words written in the book.
    I'll get off my soapbox, but in short, this dude is just a con artist living the good life with hot girls all around, sent there by their eager-to-please-Bill father's and mother's, that have been duped by quasi-religious teachings that were easy to accept because they were already too far to the right to begin with. I hope this woman has indeed found peace away from the legalistic principles taught not just by Bill/ATIA, but by the majority of conservative evangelicals today.

    • MatthewS January 29, 2014 Reply

      Joe. A couple comments.

      1) "And to discredit myself further (because I know when I say this, 90% of you will lose all respect for my thoughts, attached as you may still be to your fundamentals)"

      It may not be your intent, but to me this reads as a passive-aggressive statement where you are poking at the commenters in general here with a stick while playing victim at the same time.

      2) The issue of consent. I'd encourage you to look up codes of ethics for professionals, whether medical providers, instructing supervisors, pastors, or counselors, and see if any of them allow for an even placement of blame along the line of "she wanted it." (my words to describe what you said).

      Notice for example the statement in the code of ethics for Christian Counselors in the AACC: "Due to the inherent power imbalance of helping relationships, as
      well as biblical principles related to sexual behavior outside of marriage, such apparent consent is considered illusory and illegitimate." (emphasis mine)

      In a helping relationship, the monkey is on the helper's back to keep it helpful not harmful. That's what they are being trusted to do. If they cannot fulfill this responsibility then they should not be trusted as a helper. I'm reminded even of the ancient oath, "first, do no harm."

      Thanks for dropping by. I think if you keep reading, you may discover more depth here than you first imagined.

      • MatthewS January 29, 2014 Reply

        Following on my own thought there - If Bill claims anything at all, he claims "higher standards." My question in these multiple situations with young ladies is "higher than what?" It sure looks to me like he's engaging in behavior that would get any licensed helping professional kicked out of their profession.

        Someone might say "well, he just used the Bible, not codes of ethics." So that would be: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people."

        It's a head-scratcher: higher than what?

    • Jaysharpino February 2, 2014 Reply

      "And to discredit myself further (because I know when I say this, 90% of you will lose all respect for my thoughts, attached as you may still be to your fundamentals), the Bible is not meant to be taken so literally, and is certainly not inspired the way modern christians have so voraciously believed. I won't convince you in a blog's comment section, so I won't try."

      I wouldn't worry too much about discrediting yourself by talking down the Bible. In another post someone vilified creationism, which is one of the tenets of fundamentalism and has nothing to do with Gothardism. I think this group is pretty much open to anything.

  30. Joe D January 29, 2014 Reply

    I didn't mean for it to come across as passive aggressive, it was meant more observational. It seems to me that many of the comments revolve around how Bill misinterprets or misuses the bible, and I believe would agree with those comments 100%. It's just that I would take it a step further and say that for many it's difficult enough getting out of ATI/Gothard's grip, and to go any further in repealing the layers of brainwash is simply too much. It reminds me of my dad's dilemma, who said that he jumped out of one rigid set of rules (in Catholicism), thought he found freedom but instead landed in another (ATI). Instead of looking at the causes of these abuses and saying the cause is the problem, we want to say the cause is ok it's just the application of it. The bible, in my opinion, is a real problem if read as stringently as most people have been told to read it. There are real problems with it. It DOES say for women to be submissive, and that does have real consequences, such as this young lady thinking she can somehow please a being that is so powerful he created the world in 7 literal days by pleasing a man. Insanity. But the problem is in the bible, not just our interpretation of it. To be clear, of course we can choose ignore the difficult parts of the bible, the way many muslims choose to ignore difficult parts of the Koran to claim they're a peaceful religion. The problem is, there are incompatible references throughout the bible that render it unworthy of it's lofty seating at this point. And those incompatibilities lead to serious injustices like the one Meg has faced, and unfortunately, thousands of others who follow equally weird cult/figure heads teachings.

    My hope is that the readers find true peace in really peeling back the layers of research in how the bible constructed, written and ultimately put together. Of course, you can start with the Josh Mcdowell's the regurgitate the same stuff we've all been told about how reliably the bible was copied, but no serious biblical scholars (the ones that devote their lives to research on the subject, like Bart Ehrman) would consider Mcdowell seriously. It's important because i think it puts the bible in its proper place, as the closest writings we have to the time of Christ, but not to be relied upon as accurate or authoritative. And when we replace what I would call the idolatry of the bible (meaning, I believe we worship the bible every bit as much as we worship God, and that is a terrible mistake), life becomes much more peaceful. You can answer more difficult questions and not be responsible for the sins of the scriptures. The bottom line is, this will continue to happen not simply because people misinterpret it, but because we've given it an elevated status that when people do misinterpret it, the fallout is catastrophic.
    I seriously didn't intend to sound passive aggressive. I meant to be direct and implore everyone here to look farther than just getting beyond this psycho for healing. Getting beyond Bill is incredibly important, but also just one step in the journey we all face for eternity.

    • MatthewS January 29, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for explaining that. I think I see what you're getting at.

      Regarding the Bible, it would be a rabbit trail away from this particular post to engage too deeply on the issue of the Bible. I respectfully disagree with your position. I do agree that the Bible has been used to harm, and that there are other helpful resources besides the Bible, but I am a "person of the book" so to speak and I see a lot of help in it for those who are vulnerable.

      Fwiw, I don't see McDowell as the counterpoint to Ehrman. I would point rather to scholars like Vanhoozer, Moises Silva, Brent Sandy, John Walton, Scot McKnight, NT Wright among many others as examples of careful, nuanced scholars that would not accept the deconstruction of the Bible as you've proposed here. I'm not saying that in an attempt to "set you straight" or to control what you think, just offering more options than Ehrman vs. McDowell.

      • Samuel Lundmark February 1, 2014 Reply

        I see one of the central issues in respect to Bill Gothard is this:

        He refuses to hear the Holy Spirit's voice of the Scriptures in their PROVIDED CONTEXT giving himself very free license to cast verses and portions of them into a context of his own making. This general problem is MUCH wider than Bill Gothard, but Bill has been challanged on it and resisted those attempts many times.

        Bill knows that he takes verses and snippets of them out of context to prove his points. He attempts to excuse himself by vainly pointing to Paul's supposed 'using of verses out of context' where he quotes the verse about the ox treading out the corn and applies it to those who minister being worthy to receive payment for their labors for Christ. The problem here is that the apostle Paul, writing under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, reveals original meaning unlike Bill Gothard who casts verses into whatever context fits his current emphasis. If you doubt this risk, ask those on his writing and publishing staff who have had to filter through all of his various ideas and concepts after his "fasting times." They struggle with this problem every year. I am NOT saying that BG never had any good concepts. I am only calling for them to be subject to the context of the Scripture itself. This is the problem.

        It is not given to man to declare new perspective and new context for portions of the Scriptural text. If you go there, you will find that you eventually lose trust in the authority of the Scriptures themselves.

        Again, the context of Scripture is part of the message of the Holy Spirit, and it is resisting that very voice to take liberties not explicitly given by lifting them out of their context and casting them into different lights. Many false teachers and cults use AND MISUSE snippets of the Bible. The problem isn't the Bible, in my opinion, it is the illicit use of it.

        I have struggled much with BG's little quote, 'one interpretation, many applications' and have come to realize that this is yet another vain attempt to take license to decouple snippets of Scripture from their context where it is not legitimate.

        The outcome of all of this is that an appearrance of Scriptural authority is asserted in support of anything and everything from circumcision to restrictions on milk/meat all of these being invalid in spiritual effect to those who are in Christ.

        As people realize that the teachings of Bill Gothard are not equivalent to Scripture and this appearrance of "Scriptural authority" is shattered, many struggle with the question of whether the Scripture itself has any validity to it at all. A spiritual battlefield has been opened that cannot be simply put away without fighting through it. Bill was warned about these things for years and resisted the warnings.

        This is yet another new battlefield of our day, and I believe that it comes about through the elevating the character quality of persuasiveness above the respect for the authoritative voice of the Holy Spirit in the context of the Scriptures themselves.

  31. Joe D January 29, 2014 Reply

    Also, I totally agree with you regarding his conduct in a professional setting. You seem very knowledgeable about Code of Ethics related issues. And again, he certainly would've been reprimanded if not fired on the spot for this behavior. However, outside the realm of a legal courtroom, the woman at 20 or 21 years old claims to have been shocked that others would come to the conclusion that they could eventually want to be married, all the while holding the dudes hand. That is an inconsistency that, again, outside of legal/technical ramifications of getting fired, don't seem all that insane. Inappropriate? Absolutely.

  32. […] [Editor’s Note: The young woman referred to only as “she” and “her” in the following account is the author herself, "Meg," but she has written it in the third person. The author was twenty-one years old during the events in this post. The following is a true story. Click here for Part One of Meg's story, here for Part Two, here for Part Three, and here for Part Four.] […]

  33. Kim S January 29, 2014 Reply

    Maybe any woman not raised in this cult. It's a whole different ball of wax. It makes me question whether or not you were even in ATI.

  34. Jen January 30, 2014 Reply

    Some of this sounds so unbelievable and yet I was there in the 90's and he took me aside, alone in his office, and pointed out a mole on my neck. "I have a doctor who could remove that for you. You have such a beautiful smile, nothing should distract from it." And like a young dumb idiot, I had it removed and sent him the bill. What in the world?!

  35. […] is a true story. Click here for Part One of Meg's story, here for Part Two, here for Part Three,  here for Part Four, and here for part Five. Today's post is the sixth and final post in this series. On Monday, we […]

  36. Jean February 6, 2014 Reply

    Is there some reason why this story was written to sound like a romance novel?

    • Moderator February 6, 2014 Reply

      Jean, the author addresses this in part six.

  37. […] Pingback : Sacred Grooming, Part Four: A Secretary’s Account of Life With Bill Gothard | Recovering Grace […]

  38. […] in Meg's dental work at HQ.] Bill asked, “Have you ever considered having your teeth whitened?” He pointed out that I should consider having the tiny mole on my face removed. He noted a very dim birthmark on the side of my face that nobody ever notices. My already shaky […]

  39. […] […]

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