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

24 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, and here for Part Two.]


Visiting Dallas, Texas, was satisfying. The city was everything she’d ever imagined it to be, and there was something very nice about having expectations met in full.

When she woke up on that first morning in her large and luxurious hotel room on the seventeenth floor, she got up and padded over to the wide window. Pushing back the heavy curtains, she looked out across the city to see more skyscrapers directly across from her. The dark was still upon them, fading fast as the day approached. As she lingered there on the window ledge seat, her knees tucked up to her chin under her nightgown, she watched the reflection of the rising sun in the glass building directly across from her. The sun glinted off the mirrored sides. It was gold and orange and on fire. It was so beautiful that she pinched herself. This was Texas. This was exactly as she imagined it to be, with city streets and buildings so close and tall that, when you walked between them, you forgot that you were outdoors.

The phone by her bed rang and she shook herself out of her reverie. It was Bill Gothard.

“Good morning!” He said he was free until that evening. “I thought you and I might have ourselves a little day off. What do you say?”

She said that would be amazing, that she’d love to.

He said to meet him down in the lobby at 10 o’clock.

She stood in the gold and marbled lobby and watched him step out of the elevator and smile at her as he walked over. He was in civvies, the first time she’d ever seen him not wear a full blue suit. It was still conservative, but at least he wasn’t so buttoned up as he usually was. They walked out the doors together into the bright Dallas morning.

He asked whether she had any shopping to do.

She laughed. Actually she did, she said, but she didn’t think that would be high on his priority of things to do.

“This is your day,” he said. “I want you to do and see exactly what you want.” He said there was a mall a few blocks down and suggested they go there first and get what she needed. He set off down the pavement and she hurried to keep up with him. This was a new boss, and he seemed to be enjoying himself. He was happy. Jaunty, even.

He stopped walking suddenly and looked over at her. He said that this was fun, that he liked being here with her, “just you and me.” It had been a long time since he had a day to just do nothing, he said, just to enjoy himself. “I’m glad we can do it together.”

She said she was glad, too, and thanked him for doing this for her. “It means a lot.”

He smiled at her again, a shy, content smile. She’d seen it often in the past weeks. It seemed to be a smile just for her. He reached out and took her hand into his, and hand in hand they walked down the busy streets of Dallas, oblivious to anyone else around them. He was anonymous for the day. They were in their own little happy bubble. This was their day.


As the week progressed he got more and more involved with his conference, with dinners, appointments, speaking, counseling, and lunch meetings in restaurants with important men. She didn’t go to any of them. She stayed in her hotel room and worked, read, or watched television. Sometimes she would go outside for a walk, to shop, or to visit the hotel facilities, but mostly she stayed in, waiting for him. Waiting for when he needed her.

His male assistants were with him during the day, taking notes and sending updated information, work, and correspondence. She was glad of all this. She didn’t like the big, impersonal conferences. She would rather be on her own, doing what she liked, than getting dressed up in business clothes and following him around all day, having to smile and shake hands and be polite and look interested. That could get exhausting. So her hotel room became her haven.

On their fourth night in Dallas, Bill had gone out to a meeting and she had returned to her room. She threw off her shoes, changed into her nightie, and lay on the bed dozing, reading, and snacking on things from the little bar refrigerator. Just as she was about to turn off the light and go to sleep, there was a knock on her door. She got up and opened it, and he was standing there. He looked a little sheepish.

“I thought you might like this,” he said, holding out his hand.

He held a plate full of food. He’d brought it up from his buffet dinner with the local seminar organizers. He said he was sorry that she hadn’t been able to come down to any of the banquets, and that he didn’t want her missing out on this good food. He said he hoped he’d filled it with what she liked. She looked down at the plate and peeled back the foil covering. There was chicken, beans, salad, and a bread roll.

“Thank you so much,” she said. “You’re so kind to think of that.” She said that she’d ordered her meal earlier in the evening but was still hungry, and that she really appreciated this, nodding towards the food in her hands. As she took the warm plate from him she turned to shut the door, and he turned to walk down the hallway towards the elevators. “Good night,” she called out.

“Good night,” he said.

Stay Like This Forever

On the last night in Dallas she was surprised when he phoned her late in the evening. She was just getting ready to go to sleep when he called.

“Can you come up here to my suite for a minute? We need to go over some things.” He said he wanted to see what she’d been working on that week. Everyone else had gone, but he said he still felt like working.

Sure, she said, she’d be there in a few minutes.

She put down the phone and pulled on a dress. Gathering up her notes, she headed out into the corridor. It was deserted at that time of night. She took the elevator up to his floor and knocked on his door. She hesitated a little before she knocked. She wasn’t sure that this was right. What about appearances? What if they were seen? Even if this was innocent, what would happen if someone knew she would be alone in his room with him at this hour of the night? But he seemed to think it was okay, and after all, it was his reputation.

He opened the door, and smiled widely when he saw it was her standing there. She walked into the little suite living room. He had a small lamp on next to the couch, and she could see a pile of papers on the coffee table. His bedroom was just beyond that, but the door was closed. She sat down on the couch and they went through some of the work she had brought up with her. It didn’t take long, and they were soon chatting about other things.

He got up and poured two beverages. She leaned back on the couch and closed her eyes. She was tired after a week of relative inactivity. Tomorrow they would fly back to Chicago and one of the other staff members would make the long drive back alone. Bill placed the two glasses down on the coffee table and sat next to her.

He remarked that she looked tired.

She replied that she was, and that she wasn’t sure why, as she hadn’t done much this week.

“It has meant so much to me to have you here, though,” he said. “In that way, you have done a lot.”

She smiled at him.

“You are the best secretary I have ever had,” he said quietly. “But you are more than that now. You are my friend. I enjoy working with you.”

“And I you,” she said. “You will always have my loyalty. You will always have my friendship. Nothing will change that.”

He patted her hand briefly, then slipped his arm around the back of her neck, pulling her closer to him. She leaned in and rested her head on his shoulder. They just sat there like that in the silence for a long while. The room was still; there wasn’t a sound other than their breathing. She could even hear the soft ticking of a tiny little clock across the room. The glow of the lamp beside them cast a warm light over the room. And they just sat there together, the two of them, content in the company, at ease with themselves and each other.

She said to him, “I don’t know why, but this doesn’t feel strange. It should feel strange.”

He patted her shoulder. Suddenly he stood up. He told her that she should go, that they had a long day tomorrow. She stood up, puzzled at his abruptness. Gathering her things, she headed for the door.

“Good night, sir,” she said.

He reached out for her and embraced her. She buried her head in his chest for a few seconds as his arms wrapped around her. Then he stepped back, releasing her, and she was alone, standing in the hallway.

“I Wish You Had Never Come Here”

“Do you want to marry my brother?”

One of Bill’s sisters was standing with her hands on her hips.

“I said, do you—”

“I heard you the first time, and I am not going to answer such an impertinent question,” she replied.

The sister said that if she wanted to marry Bill, she had better go about it the proper way. Did her father know about this, the sister pushed?

It was late on Sunday night. They had got back from Dallas only yesterday, and she was tired. The staff meeting had ended and she was waiting for her colleagues, who had just arrived back to drive over to the office in the car. People were still standing around talking in small groups. She could see her roommates looking over towards her, their faces full of questions and shock. She looked at the sister and felt the chill.

“You can go back home,” the sister said, “the sooner, the better. I wish you had never come here.”

She asked the sister how she could say such a thing and declared that she had no intention of marrying Bill, that he was old enough to be her father, that she didn’t know what put such an idea into the sister’s head.

“I just want you to know,” the sister continued, “that his family will not approve. You are just a… just a girl,” she snarled.

One of her friends came up and took her arm gently. “Come on,” the friend said, “we’ll just leave.” They pulled her away from the sister and out into the cool, clear night.

“I don’t understand,” she said, her voice shaky now that she was out of the building. Why would the sister say that to her? Why would she think he wanted to marry her? It seemed ludicrous.

“Come on,” the friend said. “Let’s get out of here.”

They traveled up the road to Bill’s office. They went inside and sat down on the couch, trying to make sense of it. A moment later she saw him come into the room and come straight over to her, sitting next to her on the couch.

He said he was so sorry that she had to deal with that, so sorry that it happened. Was she all right, he wanted to know?

As she looked up at him, the tears began to roll down her face. She just didn’t understand why the sister would be so harsh. Why would the sister accuse her of such things?

What did his sister say, he asked, taking a handkerchief from his pocket and handing it to her.

She didn’t even like to repeat it, she said, she was so embarrassed.

He looked helplessly at her friend, who in a few brief words explained what had been exchanged.

He got up and went to the phone in the other room. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he was gone a long time. She just sat there in stunned silence. Now that she was here in the office, away from the sister, she felt safe, as if she could let her guard down. The tears kept coming and she stopped brushing them away. He came back and, sitting down, took her hands in his.

He said that his sister was very apologetic, and had told him that she was sorry. Maybe, he said, she should have cried in front of his sister. Maybe, he said, that would have made his sister stop.

She looked up at him and frowned. “I was mad at her,” she said. “I can’t just turn on the tears at whim.” She wasn’t going to show the sister that she was upset. She threw back her head in defiance.

He didn’t want her to think about it anymore, he said. He had told his sister off, and he said she was supposedly very sorry. “Let’s just forget about it, can we?” he pleaded.

She nodded, but her lips were pursed.


She stood at the door of his office. It was already so late in the evening, and there had been a line of people waiting to talk to him after the meeting. She was tired, and she knew he was, too. She looked over at him, sprawled back in his desk chair, trying hard to focus on the young man speaking earnestly to him. She could see Bill’s eyes drooping, slowly, slowly, down, then … snap! open again, wrestling with the urge to sleep.

The young man had been the last in the line, and she was relieved. Every night she tried to get Bill to leave earlier than his average 10:30 p.m. He wasn’t a young man anymore, and sometimes these late nights took such a toll on him. But he kept going, kept wanting to be there to help his staff, to talk them through any little or big problems. Every night he just kept going until it stopped. Soon they could each go home.

She too was feeling tired. Starting early mornings before the sun was up and working all day until nearly midnight was beginning to take its toll on her. She yawned suddenly and realized how weary her body was feeling, despite the stamina of youth. All she wanted was turn out the lights and head home.

Then she saw a woman coming up the stairs, and her stomach knotted. Not another one. Not now. Not when he is so tired, she thought, and your problem is so small.

“I want to talk to him,” the woman said.

He’s so tired, she replied, was it really urgent? Could someone else help?

No, the woman said, it wasn’t urgent, but it was something she wanted to talk only to him about.

“Can you come back in the morning,” she asked.

The woman looked at her. She appeared a little annoyed, but gave her a smile and said, “Sure, let him get home.”

She thanked the woman, then looked back at him. He was shaking the young man’s hand. He caught her eye, and she smiled and nodded. It was a triumphant smile. The woman had obeyed her. She had protected him. She had won.

Absolute Loyalty

When she arrived at her desk the next morning, she threw her purse on the floor, pulled back her chair, and was about to search for something in the drawer when she heard a strange sound from her boss’s office. She looked up and walked over to the door. Bill was there, sitting in his chair as usual, but this was not the kind, fatherly, benevolent boss she was used to. He was sitting upright, arms folded, and he was letting rip into someone. He was visibly angry. She gingerly pulled the door back a little to see who it was, and that was when she heard the sobbing.

A woman and her husband were sitting opposite him. The wife was crying and the husband had buried his head in his hands. Two children sat rigidly on the chintz couch, fear showing on their faces as they watched their parents. She recognized them all immediately. They were a long-standing staff family.

“But we haven’t done anything wrong,” protested the wife, sobs shaking her body.

“You spoke against me,” Bill countered. “How can you say that is not wrong? I can’t afford to have staff who go behind my back and try to drive wedges in. I need absolute loyalty. I need to know that I can trust you.”

But it was so minor, the couple replied, so little; they had only said that they didn’t think that all rock music was wrong.

“You knew what was required of you, and you failed. You know the standard we are trying to raise.” He continued that he had young people there whom he was responsible for, so how could he allow the couple to undermine his authority in this way? That was why, he said, he was terminating their involvement in the ministry at Headquarters. He said he wanted them out of there before the end of the week.

She was a little frightened as she listened in on all this. This new side to her boss seemed so ruthless. She knew these people. They were good, kind people. They seemed as much a part of the fabric of this organization as Bill was. He had known them personally, closely. How could he treat them this way? She tiptoed back to her desk and sat there, momentarily unable to do anything or carry on with her work.

She felt scared.

What if she, too, did something to displease him? Would he treat her in the same way?

She looked up and saw that he had left his desk and was showing the family out. She could hear the wife pleading with him, crying. But it was no use. After a few minutes he came into her office. She stood up.

“Are you okay, sir?” she asked quietly.

He slumped his chin down on chest. “That was hard,” he said, “but necessary.” He looked at her, and must have seen or read the questions in her face. “Are you okay?” he asked. “Don’t think that it will ever happen to you like that. It won’t. I know you.” He said she was the most loyal person he’d ever met, that she was okay, that she was safe.

He would always look after her.


[Click here to read Part One, here to read Part Two; here to read Part Four, 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. […] [Click here to read Part Two; Click here to read Part Three] […]

  2. Flynn January 24, 2014 Reply

    Even knowing all that I do about Bill Gothard, this leaves me a little stunned. Walking down the street holding hands, snuggling on the couch, leaning in for a deep full contact hug...all these are things I do exclusively with a person I'm romantically involved with (ie, my husband). That is 100% not okay behavior for a person in authority to be so familiar with someone they employ.

    The part about Bill's odd. It is perfectly obvious that 'Meg' no thoughts or intent to marry Bill, and the idea must have started somewhere, by someone. Might that person been Bill himself? To me, this says that if he didn't say it in words, his actions did say it. The fact that he "told his sister off" is heartless; what happened to love and forgiveness? What happened to the two offended parties meeting, talking, and forgiving each other?

    'Meg', thank you again for sharing your story.

  3. Nonny January 24, 2014 Reply

    Wait a minute. She watched TV in her hotel room, and ate snacks from the mini-bar? That... does NOT sound anything like ATI behavior, especially not STAFF behavior. Seriously. We were *specifically* taught to "turn the tv to the wall" whenever staying in hotels, and buying overpriced stuff from the mini-bar would have been horrible "stewardship". Maybe these are small details, but they sound really "off" to me.

    • BeverlyB January 24, 2014 Reply

      Bill liked his luxuries. He had a couple private planes back in the 70's and 80's, and he was always well-taken care of and given the best of the best at the TCs when he visited. I know from personal experience that he liked to be pampered. The fact that she ate food out of the fridge after being stuck in her room all day and turned on the TV (after being bored out of her mind) is a really weird inconsistency to point out. I'd start listing inconsistencies with Bill inviting her to his room late at night in a luxury suite in downtown Dallas and the fact that he implied serious romantic intentions. But that might just be me.

      • Jeri January 26, 2014 Reply

        I found that interesting, as well. When I stayed at a hotel with the ATI staff in 1991, we were instructed to turn the television to the wall. Of course, the maids always turned it back around. What stories they must have told for years afterward. :)

        Anyway, maybe making us feel guilty about the TV was a ruse. My mom used to make us unplug the televisions at hotels after we joined ATI.

    • 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

      It may very well be that she was not held to the same standard as everyone else. It also could be that she'd never heard that teaching, especially if she'd never gone traveling with him before. She doesn't specify what she watched, it could have been preaching for all we know. She may now be aware of what the stigma was regarding tv watching, and if so, having included it in her story anyway only furthers the honesty of this story to me. She is not trying to paint herself as perfect, she is telling her story exactly how it happened.

    • Patrick Jayne January 24, 2014 Reply

      This fits the narrative that has become clear over the years. There were tremendous inconsistencies in the way rules were applied, there were one set of rules for Bill and "Favored ones" and another for "everyone else". This is exacerbated by the way Bill's entire "philosophy" was built on maintaining "Higher standards", yet turns out he was running his empire just like any other run of the mill secular or even "christian" organization. In fact, this entire website is a direct result of Bill's refusal to "eat his own cooking" on his teachings on following Matt 18.

      The chickens have come home to roost.

    • MatthewS January 24, 2014 Reply

      I remember young men on staff publicly apologizing because they had failed to turn the TV around or to cover it up and had instead watched it some. That's the kind of thing that could end a "career" at HQ for someone.

      But for those who are the in the innermost circle, the rules change. The rules are for others, not the guy at the top. And the closer to the top you are, the more plastic the rules. Normal staff members would usually not have gotten away with snacks or TV. But she was not in a normal position. She also seems to have been brought in from the outside more than rising through the ranks, so I wonder if she even realized all the rules that the others were living by?

      • Nonny January 24, 2014 Reply

        Okay, that makes more sense. I never had any real status and wasn't on staff anywhere, so my only experience was with how we teenage underlings were taught to behave while staying at hotels for CI's and such. I can definitely see how the favored "inner circle" could get away with more, especially if they hadn't even grown up under the regime and didn't realize the restrictions (though, I was never in much doubt about TC rules and such-- there was usually a whole BOOKLET given to me when I arrived, heh).

  4. Katherine Smith January 24, 2014 Reply

    My final reponse from Part 2.

    I started to try to re-address, reclarify, but it is pointless. I have been accused of lack of empathy, condemnation, etc. to dare to address spiritual pride of onlookers, NOT VICTIMS, is to invite accusations. Ask yourself these questions:

    Would you have been more respectful if my moniker was "Pastor Mike?"
    What if I am a victim perhaps in disguise?
    In reality I am but it is of the brokenness that this self-righteous attitude exhibited here causes. Truly I am weeping now at the hypocrisy I see of those so eager to accuse, and exhibit same knee-jerk judgment, legalistic behavior seen in BG you say you object to. You have no place to speak of my lack of empathy or call me condemning. (aren't you ondemning?) . I write as a I will not say I am a victim. Surely you professional critics are not so illogical as to think because I am looking at a different facet of this problem, I do not care about the victims. But why the eagerness to label me? You prove my point. And it says far more about you.

    But you have no idea what a slippery slope some of you are on to carnally enjoy orbiting wrong ministries all in the name of helping the victim. I do sympathize with the victims. i have seen whole families destroyed, futures lost by this ministry. But I have personallymexperienced the loss and brokenness of those who appoint themselves judge and jury of every wrong ministry and enjoy it so much that they choose to live there. Their witness has been horrible and they have caused me and my family far more harm than BG. It must be as addictive as cocaine. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I implore you to consider if you are really here to help the victim or do you get a carnal satisfaction from your lofty attitude? You may do as much damage as BG. I have lived it. It's personal.

    • 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

      Katherine, I hear you, but I also do not enjoy being falsely accused. I take no pleasure of any kind in realizing what was really going on deep in the ministry, either sacred, carnal, or any other kind of pleasure.

      Please, please, please don't be angry at me asking this, but after reading your last comment, something sounds off about it. You say you are using a pseudonym, how do we know you aren't just a plant from IBLP, using any possible method to distract and shut us up? Because, that has kinda happened before.

      • Sara January 24, 2014 Reply

        Funny the comments are "moderated" to only put on here what you agree with or comments of those that agree with you.

        • MatthewS January 24, 2014

          That is thoroughly untrue, friend.

        • BeverlyB January 24, 2014

          Oh no--you're thinking of the wrong page. That's what IBLP does with their page. ;-) RG lets through pretty much anything except bad language, personal inappropriate attacks on authors and the occasional Internet troll who gets lost in the forest and can't find his way out.

        • 'Megan' January 24, 2014

          Actually, the person I was referencing had to be banned after several months of antagonistic, exceptionally rude attacks that only stirred up trouble. Read some other articles and watch people's conversation with certain individuals who were always disagreeing and questioning things, they've never banned those individuals, because said individuals are polite about it. Also, Katherine Smith's comments were allowed, so I don't really know what you are referring to here.

        • "Hannah" January 24, 2014

          I see several comments from people who disagree with RG's stance, including yours. Are you not seeing these, Sara?

    • MatthewS January 24, 2014 Reply

      I get the impression you are feeling a significant amount of pain. There is emotional heat to your words. You speak of damage that you have experienced. My heart goes out to you for the hurt hiding behind that.

      On the flip side, when I read your words, I find myself as a reader feeling fairly strongly attacked. I can't help but wonder if you have experienced this cycle before, where you might stir up others to respond to you in such a way that you feel attacked and when you go to defend yourself it stirs it all up even more... None of my business, really, just wondering out loud.

      If this emotional heat is coming from a hurt and defensive place for you, I hope that you have those in your life to share all that with and who can help you walk through it in a healing way.

    • RyanR January 24, 2014 Reply


      It cuts both ways. In judging posters here as self-righteous, and having a "lofty attitude" I hope you see that you too come across as self-righteous.

      If you really feel as strongly as you do that we posters are all in error, then, please pray for us and ask God to illuminate that for us and to change our hearts (and from experience, you might want to pray the same thing for yourself to make sure YOU are not the one in error).

      I know a lot of the posters on these articles personally. And I believe most really do want to honor God. I do not know you and I disagree with your interpretation of motives. But, God knows the hearts of each, so the suggestion that you pray is not borne of sarcasm. It's sincere.

      But to answer your question, no. If you were Pastor anything it wouldn't change the way I perceive your posts. I've met too many evil pastors in ATI (even Bill is ordained) that no one gets a free pass in my book simply for being a pastor. I'd like to trust people simply because they are pastors, but that just isn't very wise, IMO.

      Have a blessed day. I sincerely mean that and I sincerely hope you will pray for all of us.

  5. 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

    I remember hearing a young man once tell me how humble Bill is, detailing how Bill only makes $18,000 a year, and has never taken a raise. I wish I'd known at the time, I could have let this star struck individual know a few things.

    One, $18,000 a year for a bachelor, while not being wealth, is comfortable at least. However in Bill's case, it seems that all of his bills were paid for by the Institute. Even back then, he could not have paid for this lavish hotel for him and his escort.. I mean friend, on such a meager amount. He MIGHT have paid for her clothes and shopping expenses out of pocket, I do not know, but this rings odd to me. Is that really humility? I've heard from Gary Smalley that Bill never paid for his own meals when he went out to eat, I mean, what did he pay for, aside from lavishing special attentions on whoever was his hot young thing at the moment? Cause Meg isn't the only one he did this to, I mean for.

    While it may sound nitpicky, it's actually kind of important, if Bill established his reputation as oh so humble, when people never knew how much money he really spent on himself.

    Secondly, this is what makes me angry. Many families, if not most, were not well off. How many of them scraped pennies to go to the seminars, buy his books and products etc.. and lived so meagerly trying to provide for their dozen children on one income, cause that's what unmarried, childless Bill said was the only way to be godly. If they'd known he was living like a king, would they have suddenly been so willing to give? Especially after hearing other stories of the forced fasting on Sundays, and staff not being allowed to eat until after an event was over, and there was little to no food left. etc..

    • "Hannah" January 24, 2014 Reply

      Yeah, the more I hear about it, the more I think Bill's "meager" salary was basically just cash to blow. I mean, he lived with his parents, drove an old beat-up car, ate his meals in the staff dining room. IBLP would have paid his travel expenses. How much "living expenses" did he really have? Polyester suits??

      • Patrick Jayne January 24, 2014 Reply

        Hannah, You'll never hear about the thousands of $'s the Institute paid to keep that old car running. It was all about the image. A sham, just like most of this "ministry".

        "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the Heart". i Sam 16:7

        • "Hannah" January 24, 2014

          Not surprising ;)

  6. 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

    The other thought I have is this: Given the way he treated his faithful staff members for daring to even slightly disagree with him on anything, people still want to ask, 'why not go to him personally?' Well we all see here just how approachable he is. People have still tried in their various ways to approach him personally, and were not very well received, and that has been documented here.

  7. Susanna January 24, 2014 Reply

    Sick. And this is just *one* story, just the very tip of the iceberg, and it's not even over yet. Oh, HOW could we all have been SO blind?!!!

    • Tammy January 24, 2014 Reply

      Yep! I drank the koolaid too. :( Ugh!! Sicko!

  8. Sara January 24, 2014 Reply

    I have read all three parts so far and have yet to find where she is a victim. I am not involved in this "ministry" in any way nor do I know BG in any way (I don't even know what the man looks like), I just came to this through a page someone shared of this story. You all are acting like a this was a "child" that was victimized. This was a twenty year old WOMAN who should know for herself what she will or will not accept from a relationship/whether romantic or platonic. Her account has seemed like she enjoyed being around him and liked the attention she received from leading him on. Was BG married? If not, it seems that she gave him many reasons to think she might be interested. If she was single and he was single, then I can see where he could've thought she was interested as well. Age is not that big of a difference when you're an adult. Why is it wrong for a pastor to date someone younger but not for the late Paul Walker to date a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD when he was 33. I think you are all trying to ruin a well respected man's reputation through a jaded "girl" who led a man on to get ahead. The man's not perfect, whether he's a pastor or not.

    • Tammy January 24, 2014 Reply

      Because you were not a part of this ministry you cannot possibly understand the control and unquestioned authority that Bill Gothard demands. I suggest you read the hundreds of other stories. As for the young lady, you have to realize that she was brought up not to question those in authority.
      As for me, I am a Mom who is very sorry for ever raising her kids in this program. I saw enough to finally get my eyes open.

    • Joy January 24, 2014 Reply

      Young women raised in the Bill Gothard culture were not allowed to grow up. They stay children until their parents allow them to marry. At twenty years of age, Meg was still a guileless, naive, gullible child. You may find that hard to believe in this day and age, but guess what--so was I. We ATI girls were never allowed to have any kind of romantic relationship, so we were blind to the concept of someone romancing us. We were also taught to submit unquestioningly to authority, which is exactly what "Meg" in this account did. It's why she got up out of bed at midnight when he called. It's why she stayed in her hotel room all day long for a week, just being available for him to call up. It was a relationship between unequals, in every possible way.

    • Karah January 24, 2014 Reply

      Sara, please read up on FLDS groups. Like the accounts of the girls and women that escaped from Warren Jeffs. While ATI was not on the same level as many FDLS groups, there are many basic similarities. A big one being that the leader is always right and wouldn't do anything wrong in the sight of God. Another is that a young adult is still a child until married and must follow the wishes of an authority. While these teachings are blatently nonsense to a person looking in from the outside, they seem normal when one is raised in the program from an impressionable age . And questioning an authority figure is considered sin and rebellion. So a young adult in the program had no sense of normallity or knew what appropriate boundaries were or that it was even okay to insist on having boundaries.

    • 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

      Sara, I think it's also noteworthy to mention that had any young man done even a fraction of these things to a young woman at the ministry, they'd all but have kicked him out on his backside for 'defrauding' the young lady (and depending on the circumstances, the lady might have been kicked out too..) There are stories where two people did absolutely nothing more than have a short, friendly conversation on a stairwell as they passed each other, and both of them were made out to be scandalously sinful, and were sent home. This man is the author of all that kind of thing, yet here he is, doing what only a lover or spouse ought to do with their significant other. The hypocrisy is maddening, especially for those who lost their reputation over a nothing. There is even record of Bill lying about someone to get them kicked out.

    • Harold January 24, 2014 Reply

      Deny it all you want, but you are defending Gothard, and therefore, you must have a reason for doing so. At the very least, you are completely clueless as the the spiritual control cults have over people, and the damage that is done to people through ministries such as these. You say you disdain those who come against even false teachers. It is true that this can be done in a wrong way. But the solution is not to defend them either. People have been hurt and they need to talk it out, just as you say you have been hurt. Again -- you have not taken a neutral position. You are defending the man you say you don't know anything about. Maybe you ought to educate yourself before doing so. Most of the people here have BEEN THERE. You have not.

    • Patrick Jayne January 24, 2014 Reply

      Keep reading. More to be published Monday.

    • John February 10, 2014 Reply

      Sara, you're missing the point! Don't get offended but by you saying "I am not involved in this "ministry" in any way nor do I know BG in any way" - just shows your ignorance. A lot of people when they are called ignorant take it the wrong way - they don't look at it as constructive criticism. The point is that if you knew Bill Gothard and his ministry you would see how manipulative he is. In his ministry he talks about a spirit of discernment. It appears he uses his spirit of discernment to take advantage of girls - He has taught that if a person does not believe in heaven or hell then he can show how that person is immoral. Bill knows about touching a woman or young girls, whether they are believers or not, how it a way to weaken them. Sara, you hit the nail on the head when you say "the man's not perfect" but your fallacy is when you say Megan is trying to ruin a well respected man's reputation. The point you're not seeing is that he preaches that he is perfect ---- and unless you grasp his teachings you'll never understand why he is being exposed. It's not to ruin a well respected man - it's to weed out a cancer. It's not ok for him to gratify himself in such a way. It's not only the girls' lives that he ruined. As a "man of God" he's also giving several generations an excuse to sin ---- I'm not saying people should live contradictory to the Bible because Bill does - just saying that people who looked up to him, they can relate to him sinning willfully. Now that they know this about Bill - those people will be more accepting and less forgiving of their sinful lusts.

  9. "Hannah" January 24, 2014 Reply

    Wow... My now-husband and I did not snuggle like that, until we had pretty much openly declared our interest in each other 0_0 Not to mention that we were the same age (!)

    I am sorry Meg. You were used by a man who took advantage of his position of power over you. That's definitely sexual harrassment and intimidation in the workplace, if not worse. I'm surprised hq doesn't have rules about bosses dating their underlings, as most corporations have.

    No wait... They have extremely strict rules regarding dating, no dating allowed! Doesn't work when Gothard is above the rules...

    What a confusing mess. The rules that were supposed to be protective, instead let abusers off the hook.

  10. Joy January 24, 2014 Reply

    I am blown away with how he romanced her. He brought along his hot young thing to his conference, put her up in a lavish hotel room, took her on a shopping date, held her hand (!!!!!!) in public, touched her romantically, had her come to his suite late at night. Seriously, he preached against all those things! We were shamed for doing those things! Our parents were told that we had moral failings if we even smiled at the opposite sex, and yet he has this special smile for Meg.

    On another note, now we know why he's never married--he goes for girls way too young for him, and/or his sister scares them off!

  11. Daniel January 24, 2014 Reply

    Meg, are you able to share the dates and timeline of this?
    There were definite "ages" in the Institute's cultural evolution.

  12. JPU January 24, 2014 Reply

    I believe in Part 1 it was said that Meg was then 20 and BG was then 59. That would put this story at 20 years ago, as BG just turned 79 in November. The 90s. Keep the stories coming......

    • 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

      I had to think about that for a second.. I keep thinking of the 90's as ten years ago, haha

  13. David January 24, 2014 Reply

    Of course there is great value is sharing these stories -- it is possible that some will be snatched out of the fire. But for those who are true Gothardites, these accounts will simply be dismissed as fabricated, or as insignificant. Having said that, I do want to state the obvious: If every one of these accounts were false, and Bill Gothard was totally innocent of improper behavior, his teaching would be just as much a false gospel as if he is guilty. He teaches many wrong things about Christianity, but worse -- he teaches a false Christianity; another gospel. Read Galatians. I'm sure many of those people would not even walk and chew gum at the same time -- but Paul said to them, "Christ is of no effect to you." I believe these accounts share the Truth -- Gothard is nothing but a cult leader. Everything about him and his organization smells of it. But in the end, he is a product of his own teaching. It is heresy.

  14. Daniel January 24, 2014 Reply

    So, maybe 1993 and 1994. IBLP culture was VERY strong at that point.
    For example, dating got less and less acceptable as the ministry went from the 70's to the 80's to the 90's.

  15. Nope January 24, 2014 Reply

    Ok, so I'm reading this. Randomly stumbled upon it, never been on here much. Not impressed, I think a lot of exaggeration. But this story I stumbled upon has a sword in the middle of my heart as I try to grasp this. I keep justifying him. I'd love to talk to you, meg. I worked in Bills office in the late 2000s. So if you do the math you will see fairly recently. I and was one of his "favorites" but as he said while holding my hand one day "his favorite of all." I personally have heard every line he said to her have said to me at some point: my loyalty he saw in me meant a lot because he was lonely at the top, we are one spirit, this is our ministry, he even told me how beautiful I was inside and out very often. He asked personal questions about my life and tried to guide me, a lot of times away from my dad. I always just brought him back to scripture and his own priciples when he over stepped the bounds, it worked. I wasn't raised in AtI all my life, and his physical advances troubled me beyond belief to the point I give him a look and back away, esp if he hugged me, held my hand for a long period of time, once when crying he sat beside me on the couch and put his arm around me and try to get me to lay his head on my shoulder, he played footsie with me but I showed a look of horror and he backed off. I didn't like those things. During my time there my friend appealed to him about these things and he stopped hugging girls because he made a vow. Sometimes you need to go directly to the person and let him know how has offended you. But seriously, I do agree he has flaws and this has been difficult for me to work through. As I believed he genuinely had a heart for God and did these things to show Christ love to others. Just not sure how to think through it. Like I saw him hold a girls hand for three hours on a bus ride back from Indy. He began playing footsie with my friend, his favorite group at the time mostly didn't like these things, we would put our shoes on or sit on our legs and say they were cold to prevent it. I know in my time the board had my strict guidelines for him and he would have never gone one on one with a girl so that shocks me about this story. I watched him stroke girls hair. I just thought he was trying to show Christ love. Hmm, now I'm questioning that. When I left after serving there several years. He was asking me to give him my heart because my Dad wasn't capable of disciplining me the way Bill thought he should. He said he wanted to protect it for me. I told him, NO and gave him scripture aas to why it's wrong for him to say that. He then proceeded to tell me he could see my female figure with the lose fitting shirt I was wearing because he thought it was too tight. I ducked down as to cover myself so mortified. He told me he wanted me to wear a suit jacket so he couldn't see my figure. I changed the subject. But seriously how do you work through these things and view it correctly because I always bought he was just showing Christ love but after reading this I feel my world is crashing in on me,

    • "Hannah" January 24, 2014 Reply

      Nope, I am very sorry for what you have experienced. It wasn't right, and if you've attended any training on sexual harrassment in the workplace, you begin to see how this fits, as having been exactly that. Interestingly enough, Gothard never provided a basic course on recognizing sexual harrassment, as most employers do, today.

      The best comfort I can offer at this point, is the assurance that you were not alone. Feel free to join one of RG's Recovery Groups, if you wish, to discuss it further with others who may have had similar experiences (tab located at the top of the page).

    • Vera January 25, 2014 Reply

      Hi, Nope. I am actually very impressed with your responses to those advances. Good job!! I know that doesn't really help because it happened but I like it that you stood up to the situation and basically said in your own way, "Your actions are inappropriate."

      This is not how Jesus loved people. This is the American version of how Jesus loved but if you compare that definition to the stories, it just frankly doesn't fit. That is a big reason many people have so much trouble sorting out this stuff.

      I want to say one thing on the subject of modest dress. That admonition in Scripture had nothing to do with tight skirts, big collars, wrong color, wrong style to keep men from lusting; because if it did, we need to all chuck Christianity, move to the Middle East and be Muslims. If righteous dress is covering up, they take the prize. In Christ, men have self control. My husband street preaches at some of the vilest events in America and he has the grace (power) not to lust to lead those people to salvation. The admonition Paul was making concerned extravagant type of dressing not bikinis because there were no bikinis in Biblical times. This is something so foreign to Americans because we exalt those with money and look down on those who are poor and needy. One of the main messages of the NT church was to see the poor as those who had faith. So they didn't want the girls coming in with a lot of expensive clothing to make the poorer girls feel like they couldn't keep up or that they lived in the shadow of these wealthy women. Plus that kind of extravagant wealth was the distraction, not sexual lust. If a woman walked into one of Paul's churches in something really immodest (and I'm not talking about a tight skirt) they would have been told to go home and put some clothes on. They would not get a sweet little admonition. This is a huge problem with legalism because when people start judging the clothing of the girls over lust, it is obvious that the problem is the guy lusting. We cannot make these men stop sinning in lust by covering every inch of our body. At some point, it is up to the men to look to the grace of God to be free. That's how Jesus could be around those people who were gross sinners to lead them to repentance without capitulating. Nakedness though and casual dressing are not the same thing. We completely missed the mark on that and people were judged harshly over yet another Bill Gothard commandment, which had its own personal Talmud of "eye traps" which were used as a means of judging and then shunning anyone that fell out of line with these rules. Golly, take a cold shower or something.

    • BeverlyB January 25, 2014 Reply

      "Nope," I read your comments last night and woke up this morning thinking and praying for you. I know how hard it is to rethink everything you've known and believed to be true about Gothard. My family was in ATI for many years (up until a couple years ago). My sister worked at HQ for 4 years in the 90's, and me at a couple TCs. We both knew Mr. Gothard personally. My sister and I both saw the favoritism (and what we both now recognize as grooming, though we didn't even know that term at the time), though we were not the direct objects of his attention. Even we understood at the time that we were not his "type." The very fact that we KNEW what his type was, should have been a warning sign. But that information seemed as normal to us as knowing the sky was blue and the grass was green and the sun would rise the next morning. In other words, we accepted as fact many things that should serve as warning signs---they were built into the very culture and fabric of the Institute. Don't feel badly for not recognizing it---sometimes it takes time and distance away, and maybe a few Internet searches on grooming behavior to see it for what it is.

      Another important note: When you mentioned that he wanted you to cover your figure, he was objectifying your body. When he wanted girls who were pretty to travel with him, instead of those with depth and substance to their testimonies, he was objectifying the other girls. When he looked at your tummy and exhibited disgust and you felt shame, you felt that shame because he was objectifying you. He saw only your body and not your soul---the real you, the true you. When a man looks only at a woman's body and refuses to see her soul, he is objectifying. While it might feel the opposite of objectification that happens through porn, it is actually the exact same thing---only the flip side of that coin. He was treating the girls he traveled with as he would treat a magazine---only good for the eyes, and not their true soul.

      I know that sounds harsh, but if you think about it, you'll realize the truth behind that statement. He was just using the girls for his own means, regardless of what that was (to put a pretty face on the Institute's traveling teams, etc).

      Please know that you're not the only one who has experienced this. I have many other friends who have been through exactly what you've been through with Gothard. You are most definitely not alone, and not the only one to have experienced it. I'll be praying for you as you process everything. Hugs, dear girl!

      • MatthewS January 25, 2014 Reply

        Beverly is 100% correct. Any pastor, teacher, doctor, nurse, counselor, or other helper who is "above reproach" and who is a person of integrity will confirm that as well.

      • grateful January 25, 2014 Reply

        Bev,after reading your posts the past 18 mos or so(particularly one like the above spot-on analysis), in a way I wish I would have never found this website ... but at the same time a lot of the RG stories have confirmed repressed suspicions on my part.

        Nope, yep, the truth shall make you free.

        • MatthewS January 25, 2014

          Well said, and I suspect a lot of people would agree with you, grateful.

          I was just reading an article that relates to this. It's by John Piper. I am not Piper's biggest fan but once in a while he really does nail it. And this is a good one about truth and love:

    • David January 28, 2014 Reply

      Isn't it amazing how, when people see Bill Gothard do these things with young girls, how they think it is just his way of expressing Christ's love, or they begin to question their own sanity? If most anyone else did these things he would be rightly labelled as a creepy old man. We are reading about people being upset over toothpaste, and people worried about Bill's relationships, and yet there it was, going on right under their noses. IMO, Bill has been continually approached on these matter -- but he is, "the authority." At the very least, you know he reads this blog. This is how it works in a CULT. People have been blinded to the Truth and they don't even believe what their eyes see. What I take from this account by Nope is that Bill went as far as every girl let him. Nope backed him off. But what about those who didn't have the strength to back him off?

  16. esbee January 24, 2014 Reply

    "On another note, now we know why he's never married--he goes for girls way too young for him, and/or his sister scares them off! "

    hmmm, I wonder if those sisters are the real leaders behind the man. He once said about wives, "who has more power, the leader or the one (second in command) who influences the leader?"
    I am guessing there is more going on behind the curtain and I bet it has to do with the distaff side of his family pulling the strings.

    I am also wondering if when he was much younger, there was that one girl next door with the long blond soft curls that his sisters/mother/aunt put the kabosh on and told him he was defrauding her and he had to let her go...and he has been looking to replace her ever since.

    Actually I am not against older men marrying younger woman. My dad was 12 years older than my mom. A friend is 14 years older than his wife. There are many cases of older men robbing the cradle and it is legitimate. Perhaps he did have the best of intentions towards those girls, as he got older, instead of looking for someone his age, he had that inner vision of the young girl and it got creepier.... and of course, if there is a busybody sister getting in the way................

    • Laura January 24, 2014 Reply

      12 or 14 years is very different from almost 40 years. He's old enough to be - not just her dad, but her GRANDPA. (See the first installment, where his age is given as 59, and hers as 20.)

      The boss/employee relationship is also extremely disturbing. Add to this the extreme naivete that is encouraged among ATI girls, and it's just creepy to the max.

    • "Hannah" January 24, 2014 Reply

      Esbee, please see my comment below, comparing this scenario to that of the Lewinsky scandal. No, the relationship may not have gone as far, physically, but it's the same concept that an employer cannot misuse their position of power over a subordinate for romantic or sexual pursuits.

  17. Nope January 24, 2014 Reply

    Oh, and I know he had a thing for pretty flawless looking girls. I gained weight at he because I was under fed but in better words seriously malnourished. I believed it was godly to be so. I exhaust myself and worked 60-90 hr work weeks for free. One time I gained weight in my idle, he noticed it and stared at my tummy and gave it a look of disgust. I felt the shame, I began only eating small amounts of calories a day trying to lose weight quickly and I did by stRving my self. He picked girls to work if they had pretty hair, I sat in his office as he basically told a girl he wanted her on staff because she had beautiful hair. He would tell girls to straighten and how to fix their hair, I wasn't allowed to cut mine, once I did and he pulled me in his office and asked every personal question under the sun and told me I was becoming independent because I cut my hair. I cutit to my shoulders, btw. I almost got sent home. He didn't let girls who weren't as pretty travel with him. You had to be gorgeous to travel with him. I did travel with him, I think mostly because I could spit out. Testimony on every principle he had. He told the staff it was because of testimonies they traveled when I knew those girls told him theirselves they didn't have a testimony and the girls who did have testimonies and weren't pretty he said no to them and only allowed the pretty ones to travel. I had to call and tell a girl she couldn't go on a international trip because she was overweight per request of mr. Gothard. I was told y upward leadership that the reason he was this way was because he knew pretty girls had greater potential because the leaders were so impressed. I watch him fire unattractive hard working girls and keep on lazy pretty girls who were totally incapable all because he said he was training them and they were open to him and moldab,
    Le. Oh and in my time he had a thing for girls with high energy. If you were pretty with high energy then you had the greatest of ll potential of all. But seriously, do y'all see this as wrong, how so?

    • 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

      'Nope', this is wrong, a thousand times over. Even businesses in the secular world do NOT do this, because of how wildly inappropriate it is, and if someone is caught with their hand in the cookie jar like that, they are fired, or at the least placed on temporary leave in order to investigate. Of course, you also have the fact that women who work in the secular world are prepared and know how to recognize sexual fetishes (everything you have described lines up with that, esp the footsie), and sexual advances, manipulations, etc. and would be able to report it.
      Most of the girls around him were probably raised in the program, and so sheltered they wouldn't know a sexual advance if it hit them in the face. Literally. Obviously they didn't. Especially since he was supposedly SUCH a Godly man, how could anyone think he was up to no good? When really he was taking emotional and physical advantage of the ladies. See, whatever else he may be, he is definitely very smart, and knows where to draw the line. He can do xyz, and get his 'pleasure' from these young ladies, right under people's noses, with no-one suspecting anything, and he could keep doing this for years and get away with it, because of the reputation he'd built for himself. So no need to go any further. In my opinion, this makes him so much more dangerous, because even with stories like these coming out, so many are choosing to look the other way, even parents of daughters, which astounds me to no end.

      I am so, so sorry that he took advantage of you like that, although it sounds as if you were able to stand up for yourself tolerably well, at least compared to some of the other young ladies. Perhaps you can find some healing here with us.

    • Lisa Joy January 24, 2014 Reply

      This selection based on physical appearance, some of which goes against his own principle of Design, is WRONG.

      While a girl has some control over the length and style of her hair, the basic hair type - straight, curly, or frizzy - isn't something she can change. Mr. Gothard's obvious preference for gently curled long hair caused some girls to spend HOURS trying to force their straight or frizzy hair to comply with his wishes.

      Girls have some control over their weight, but as you experienced, some of them must resort to eating disorders so they can maintain that "perfect" weight. Some girls have a larger bone structure so even if they're skin-and-bones, they'll look chubbier than someone like me with a small bone frame. (In spite of the fact that I weighed 100 pounds during my time at Headquarters, I was never one of Mr. Gothard's girls. I'm an introvert, so maybe my personality had something to do with it? Or the fact that I wore glasses? Or had mousy brown hair? At the time, I felt a bit envious of the girls in the inner circle, but now I'm very glad that I was never one of his chosen ones!)

      I'm so sorry for your experiences at Headquarters, "none." I hope you're able to process through them and come to a place of healing. ((hugs)) I know that there are many of us who would be glad to talk with you more if you're willing to contact Recovering Grace.

    • MatthewS January 25, 2014 Reply

      The love of Christ gives of itself for the sake of the other. It leaves the recipient better off and more empowered, more alive. It is not exploitative, leaving the other feeling used and confused.

    • MatthewS January 25, 2014 Reply

      "he noticed it and stared at my tummy and gave it a look of disgust. I felt the shame"

      Disgust and shame. Those are the words of use and abuse, not of love.

      I am disgusted. I am disgusted that this cold-hearted, narcissistic man continues to make money in the name of God while using trusting, pretty girls young enough to be his granddaughters. He will answer to God for this.

      • DAVID PIGG January 27, 2014 Reply

        Matt S.,Thank you for sharing this.I greatly respect your communiocation skills and your insights,and your heart.What in this article makes me want to comment was the way he treated the former staff family.Give me a break!In a spirit of forgiveness he could have for just a moment had the two children put in another room,and in respect for them gone over his disagreements with their view that not all "rock" music was "evil".The children were afraid.The adults dehumanized.Now thank God Megan has given a "bad report".She "took up an offense".They were fired thrown out on the street,a good family instantly shattered.This 20 years ago.My ministry,another's ministry will always take a subliminal dimension of the underlying element of who we are.Really are.This man's humanity has turned to a hollow shell.The deception of putting a false veneer of religion over the hollow shell seemedto have worked for years.My prayers are going out for the victims.

        • esbee January 27, 2014

          At least this incident was not in the days of Medieval Times------it would have been so easy to call for their heads.

          But I have found this spirit of the power of ultimate judgement of legalism over an individual's life is alive and working its evil in many churches. Case in point, 1976--- My husband was called before the pastor (he was minister of music/youth/education) to explain the wayward actions of his rebellious wife. I had ridden my horse to church. My husband was brave enough to say no when the pastor insisted I apologize to the pastor for having committed such a heinous sin and to never do it again. My husband was also amazed by the difference in the churches he served in-California was so non-judgemental (I rode my horse often to church and we even had black members- a MAJOR NO-NO in churches in the south) The churches were attended in Ark/Texas had many problems with being judgmental over little stuff, like pets, dress, housekeeping, etc. Now I laugh because of the rise of so many cowboy churches all over this area.

    • Austin Gunderson January 26, 2014 Reply

      It seems obvious to me that Gothard had a guilty mind when treating women this way, if only because he presided over an authority structure which routinely disciplined and/or dismissed others for vastly milder behavior. Can you imagine what would've happened to a young IBLP man caught holding a young woman's hand in her hotel room late at night? Or offering her intimate flatteries? Or sitting close to her? Or being alone with her, period?

      I think I finally understand why IBLP was and is so unbelievably anal about such things: Bill Gothard projects his own motives upon others.

      • MatthewS January 26, 2014 Reply

        "Bill Gothard projects his own motives upon others." I have come to believe that, too. I suspect that much of what he wrote and taught was born of his own unsuccessful battles with himself.

  18. Travis January 24, 2014 Reply

    I feel like the part where Bill is obviously falling for her and his nosey sister got involved only shows how trapped he is in this life. He not only has to deal with the pressure of everyone in his cult, but also his family expectations to live up to as well.

    Frankly, I know people who have married men twice their age. If you're comfortable with it, there's absolutely nothing wrong about it. It's just a shame that he's trapped in this religious culture. If he would step down, or live a normal life (year I know, that'd be about as huge as the rich man giving up all his wealth to follow Jesus)...

    The more I read this, the more I pity him. The life he lives is SO empty and devoid of any real meaning. In no way am I minimizing the hurts of others, Bill is as much a victim as everyone else to this evil doctrine.


    • 'Megan' January 24, 2014 Reply

      That's an interesting point, and considering what I personally suspect about his childhood, I do have a great pity for him as well. Doesn't make what he did right, or any less dangerous, and you do have to consider, he created his own teachings. My pity can only go so far though. There have been too many lives all but destroyed because of him. Too many wonderful people deceived, families shattered. But yes, I do pity him.

    • "Hannah" January 24, 2014 Reply

      It's not the age difference that troubles me, so much as the imbalance of power between the two of them. Remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal? It was scandalous, not for the differences in their ages, but for Clinton abusing the imbalance of power. He was the POTUS, she was a White House intern. This is similar. Most reputable corporations have rules against the boss dating his employees. If a boss and his subordinate become interested in each other, one or the other of them must quit or be moved to a different position, before the two of them can date.

      It would have certainly made this situation more appropriate, if Gothard had a) stated his intentions toward her, clearly, b) given Meg the opportunity to tell him whether she felt the same way (and abided by her wishes in the matter), and c) purposed not to show any special attention to her, until her tenure at hq was completed.

      But it seems to me that this was never about Meg and her wishes, nor about them ever having a relationship as equals. This was about Gothard finding someone who fed his ego, and about him flirting and entertaining himself, while on the job. This is simply inappropriate in the workplace.

      • "Hannah" January 24, 2014 Reply

        I'm not sure that's where I mean to post that.

      • Travis January 24, 2014 Reply

        I completely agree with both Hannah and Megan. Although I will go so far as to say that he did not create his false doctrine in a vacuum. Considering the far reaching damage that his teaching has done to people, in all manner of ways; I believe that much of it is demonic.

        How ironic, for a man who levels his sights on anything and everything to call it "demonic" and demand it's destruction. And yet his teachings have harmed far more than any cabbage patch doll, or rock music ever has.


    • Julia Fetters January 24, 2014 Reply

      I pity him as well, Travis. And I agree with another comment made here that it is so too bad he never married! Marriage and children tend to bring us down to where the rubber meets the road - and that is where we need to be to walk honestly with God.

      • Cynthia January 26, 2014 Reply

        Is there a link somewhere about marriages affected by all of these teachings, because it is true that is where the rubber meets the road and it caused enormous struggles in our marriage.

    • Shelly January 25, 2014 Reply

      Hmmm, this is interesting…

      "Hitler, Stalin, Mao and other dictators were exposed to severe physical mistreatment in childhood and refused to face up to the fact later. Instead of seeing and feeling what had happened to them, they avenged themselves vicariously by killing millions of people. And millions of others helped them to do so." - Alice Miller

      While I pity these men, I do not for one minute excuse their evil behavior. They are responsible before God for their actions.

  19. Author Meg January 24, 2014 Reply

    'nope' I would love to talk with you. I understand what you are feeling right now. Just email [email protected] and the administrator will put you in contact with me.

  20. Vera January 24, 2014 Reply

    The real problem with this ministry was the self proclaimed godship of Bill. He had given his sovereign Ten Commandments that were "sin" in the sight of his holiness and extracted consequences for offenders. As with any god who makes the laws and rules, he was above them and anyone he included in that. And this is again that Calvinistic idea of God's sovereignity making Him a heartless tyrant where the rules on character and love don't apply, i know this seems completely unrelated but it isn't. Ideologies build on themselves.

    Those of us who had any kind of discernment were never allowed ten feet close to Bill and if we did, we were treated as priviledged to be in the presence of this demi-god. I have never had a down to earth conversation with the man. He took the glory for all that was happening.

    Anyway, rock music isn't sin. All those who came out of this, know this; rock music isn't sin. Scripture is very clear on what sin is and defines it as the "works of the flesh." These were mostly sexually related.

    i know you guys are going to hate me for saying this, but i wish so much that one of these relationships would have taken off. I believe that it would have caused Bill not to be able to live as god any longer. If he would have survived the way marriage brings out the best/worst in all of us, he might have let go of the legalism.

    We create these monsters and we are stlll at it. We don't question people like Joel O, John Mac, John P., Billy Graham, and so forth. If we question the actual things they are saying, we are accused of "rebellion." We give megatons of money to these ministries. When was the last time someone rich actually gave to someone poor and needy and not one of these fat cat preachers for the tax break?

    If you look at several strories in Scripture, you will note that nobody thought that way. I walked away from Part 3 here feeling so sorry for that family that, no doubt, sold their home for the privelege of being with Bill. i can so relate to that mom's pain and rejection and the way Bill did not walk this character stuff that he preached because he wasn't getting it by grace through faith. If he were led of the Spirit, he would not only see that he was no better than anyone else but he would never be so heartless and cruel. It isn't just that. It is those children sitting there seeing their mother's pain. How do you think that effected them? That is the kind of stuff that nearly destroyed my family.

    • Julia Fetters January 24, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for sharing Vera. You said many things well. A man led of God's Spirit would not have lambasted a person for questioning one thing. They were not talking bad of BG but disagreeing with a teaching. HIS teaching - but he sees his teachings as if they were God's teachings... hence, the problem.
      We know of a leadership family at ALERT that was given a day or 2 to get out. The gentleman had caught Bill in deception and that was it - they had to go.
      In James we are told that the wisdom from above is first peaceable and easily entreated. Jesus is easily entreated. I notice that when people cannot be crossed at all, they are the ones who are unsure of themselves. Afraid of losing control of people or situations. Jesus is easily entreated because He is not afraid He will lose control He is so easy to love.

      • Vera January 25, 2014 Reply

        I am convinced, Julie, that anyone can repent and believe. It impossible to produce children that do not sin and fall short of the glory of God. We can lead our children to repent, but ultimately, it is up to them to choose. Doug is at Gaspirillo (sp?) in Tampa this weekend preaching at one of these events where there are literally thousands upon thousands of church going "Christians" getting drunk, puking in the streets, supporting every kind of sexual sin including homosexuality, and sinning in real bonafide ways. He is there to lead them to repent and believe. Bill caused us to believe that we could keep our children from sin; but once they did make those choices, they were forever destroyed. This is not true. Paul was a diabolical little Hitler who got saved. Think about that for a minute. What a heartless man and yet, God saved him. Mary was a whore and God saved her and set her free. That's what Jesus came to do!! God is still in the redeeming business. There is still hope!!!

        • Tammy January 25, 2014

          And the truth is that no matter how much we tried to protect our children they were born with a sin nature that is from within. It is all about their heart. No amount of looking good on the outside will clean up a filthy heart. Only Jesus.

  21. Heather January 24, 2014 Reply

    Because of Bill Gothard's teaching on courtship and male/female relationships, my parents and my husband's parents put the 2 of us through hell. We went through a 6 week courtship after which we got engaged because we knew that if we ever wanted to get to know one another, we were going to have to be married. 4 months from when we started our relationship we were married - practically strangers. We never had a private face to face conversation until the evening before our wedding, when we practiced our kiss because we knew we would be too awkward to kiss the first time in front of everyone. (Didn't work - we were still awkward.) When we went to look at houses we had a car load of parents and siblings with us, when we went to look at rings my mom, sister and friend came with us. Reading that Bill held hands with this girl and spent time alone in his hotel room with her makes me absolutley furious! First of all because of the way he abused his employer relationship with her, but secondly, because it was his teaching that made my life hell! I believe he is an evil man.

    • grateful January 25, 2014 Reply

      I guess he forgot about the "defrauding" part ... I did the courtship thing too; very similar to what you described. It wasn't really all that bad for me and I grew a lot, but to read about him holding hands and manipulating young girls kinda makes me want to puke ...

  22. Julia Fetters January 24, 2014 Reply

    It is difficult enough to read these memoirs but then to have others question them!? We raised our family in ATI for 11 years and I cannot tell you the damage. We love Jesus with all our hearts and thanks be to God my husband and I are still very, very happily married but our 2 oldest children ... It has been so difficult and a cause of much humbling on our part to see the hurt we invited into our home when we took our eyes off Jesus and put them on ATI standards and teachings. Bill Gothard is a Class A hypocrite. This has been proven time and again in the stories recounted on RG and by so many who are open enough to talk about their dealings with ATI. WE have our own stories we could add. What else can you call someone who says one thing and does another? An actor, a hypocrite. Lack of integrity. He needs to apologize and "go and sin no more" just like anyone else caught in sin.
    It is interesting ... Our children saw through it and we kept saying "no". I am not bitter but oh so very , very regretful. Thank you Recovering Grace for your ministry. Thank you to this young woman who is helping set the record straight.

    • MJ Cargile January 25, 2014 Reply


      Words cannot express how my heart felt when I read your post. This is almost exactly our situation. Our two oldest children are still suffering from the effects of our years in ATI. My husband and I are only just now, within the last 2 years, figuring out what really happened and how it impacted our home. We continue to pray for and encourage our children and try to repair the damage of such legalistic and "joyless" times in our homelife. Thank the Lord, we were never in the "inner circle of ATI" and continued to have at least a somewhat balanced life in other areas of ministry and family life. I appreciate your posting this. It helps me to know we are not alone in this struggle.

    • Linn January 26, 2014 Reply

      After reading through these comments, I would say that BG is more than just a hypocrite--he sounds like a pedophile who never indulged all of his sick fantasies--aka a dirty old man.

  23. MatthewS January 25, 2014 Reply

    I thought of this article with regard to "Nope" and anyone else who might be feeling confusion about whether Bill's actions were showing the love of Jesus or not.

    "Jesus broke the “can’t-talk” rule. The religious leaders responded by executing him. Those who were blind and lame came to Jesus and he healed them (Matthew 21:14). The Pharisees were afraid of him; the wounded people knew he was safe and approachable."

    • S January 25, 2014 Reply

      I am embarrassed to ask this. I admit it comes from a place of genuine confusion from situations in my own life that this article brings up. I totally get why Meg reacted the way she did to Bill. I was raised under Bill Gothard's teachings and thought that if I were to feel uncomfortable, shamed, or used physically by someone in authority, then it was my problem. I shouldn't judge my authority's motives and I am in sin by even thinking badly of my authority. My authority is placed there by God and so if I am being asked to do something I am uncomfortable with (and not a clear sin), I should trust God and submit to it. If I am hurting, then it is because of sin in my own life that I need to confess, and God is using my authority to show me my sin...which usually ends up being that I am being selfish to want to protect myself...I should give up my rights, even to my own body etc. Something is not right in my thinking, but the embarrassing thing is that I don't know what it is. And I think I have let myself be used way too much.

      • 'Megan' January 25, 2014 Reply

        S, I'm very sorry to hear you've been through this, and been deceived, but I'm very happy to know that at least now you are aware something is wrong.

        Let me start with this thought: *You can't give up the rights that God gave you in the first place. The right for your body/mind/privacy/dignity to not be invaded by anyone with intent to harm, even if you couldn't see it that way at the time, cannot, should not be given up. This is not an exclusion of 'turning the other cheek', or 'taking it patiently', because that passage is not referring to any kind of authority, and is not necessarily describing a situation where it's ok for your Spiritual leader to harm you.

        Secondly, earthly authority is not the same as divine authority, and God is your ultimate authority.

        Parents, while having certainly a proper and right authority (at least for a time), are NOT divine beings, and should never be treated or viewed as your mediator between yourself and God.

        I believe if the authority teachings of Bill were indeed accurate, then none of us would have a conscience at all. Why would we even have need of one, if our authorities truly had so much Spiritual power over us? It's as if there should have been a teaching that your earthly authority could even stand before God on your behalf in the day of judgment, which is certainly not true.

        I hope these thoughts help, maybe to figure out where to start figuring it out.

        *I think there is exception for things like true persecution, or martyrdom, but in that case, you aren't giving up your right to life, health, safe treatment etc, to someone who wants to exploit you in the name of Christ, but in such a case, you are giving your life back to Christ, which is a VERY different thing.

  24. Karah January 25, 2014 Reply

    The more I read, the more it seems that Bill Gothard used ATI as his own personal dating service. He had pictures, names, addresses, phone numbers and family history on every girl in the program. Not to mention trust, power and pressure. And he USED them all at will. The only difference between this and a regular dating service? The girls and women didn't really have a choice in the matter.

    • Stéphanie January 25, 2014 Reply

      AND, they didn't know that's what they were signing up for, because he
      deliberately deceived them.

  25. Vera January 25, 2014 Reply

    Religion is big business. Remember that many millionaires were giving their yearly donation to IBLP/ATI. The Gothard family was, no doubt, getting a lot of their money from this. Several of Bill's family members work for IBLP/ATI. So much of the grooming stuff was probably to keep us the facade of this perfect ideal. What is unnerving is that he was always looking for the perfect family for this cause. It started with the McKims, then the Voellers and now the Duggars. I tried so hard to dismantle that thing, which is probably yet another reason that Bill didn't want me involved. You have to give it to him. He had an eye for what appeals to people outwardly - ie. navy blue suits, blonde hair, skinny versus fat, red carpeting, mahogany, eagles with their serious determination, potted trees on stage, and so much more. It is so hard to say what his motives were or if he was getting off sexually once people were away, which would be totally gross. To avoid fornication, take a wife. God created sex exactly as it is, not the devil.

    I also want to deflate the idea of "sin nature." This is another Calvinistic doctrine. Jesus was created like us. If so, he would have to have a "sin nature." Hebrews 2 tells us this. Jesus and us have a flesh that loves pleasure and hates suffering. The Holy Spirit can come into our lives and give us ability to be led of Him versus constantly motivated by the flesh. Jesus SUFFERED being tempted like us. This could not be if the doctrine of Jesus being different than we are were true. He would have to be like me to suffer like me. He really was victorious over sin as a human, which makes that victory of God being 100% man an awesome accomplishment. He now gives us His Spirit so that we can walk like He did - not with perfect curls or some outward sign but choosing to do His will WITHOUT standards or laws. He cleans up our motives. Money is a big issue for preachers who make it big. Once money comes in, perspective goes out the window. This ministry has so much money until it boggles the mind.

  26. Mindy January 25, 2014 Reply

    Thanks to Meg for sharing her story - I'm sure it wasn't easy to write. I had no idea that Bill Gothard had a reputation for this sort of thing and I am, quite frankly, horrified.

    My parents got involved with IBPL back in the 90s. I always felt that there was something not quite right about the teachings. The legalism was oppressive and I found it disturbing being told what I could or couldn't wear. The obsession with home schooling also concerned me - I was terrified that if I went down that route I would never have any qualifications and be "trapped".

    I'm afraid I walked away - not just from IBPL but from Christianity in general. This was very hard and obviously had a detrimental impact on my relationship with my parents. I have rarely set foot in a church since then.

    There is little comfort in being proved right after all this time but I'm pleased to have stumbled across this site.

  27. BeverlyB January 26, 2014 Reply

    It would appear that Bill clearly violates his own teachings:

    "Watch for Fleshly Provisions:
    God warns, “Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). We are to watch for the weaknesses in our lives that will render us susceptible to temptation and defeat. This could include sensual friends, unclean music, worldly activities, lust for riches or popularity, or any other provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof. If a person has a problem with pornography but keeps sensual magazines hidden away, he is only opening himself up for defeat. The same can be true for one who struggles with an alcohol addiction but keeps it on hand "for special occasions." It is on this point that standards which will avoid temptations and defeat must be established."

    "Watch for Compromising Situations:
    We must also be aware that there may be situations that will defeat us unless we make a predetermined decision, as Daniel did. He knew that as a captive in Babylon he would be expected to drink wine and eat unclean things. Therefore, he purposed in his heart beforehand that he would not defile himself with these things (Daniel 1:8). “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3)."

    --Direct quotes from:

  28. Jeri January 26, 2014 Reply

    And from the Advanced Seminar textbook (Copyright 1986):

    "Make sure that the secretary you hire is not likely to look to you to meet her emotional needs....A secretary's basic emotional needs must be met by her parents if she is single, by her husband if she is married, and by God if she is widowed."

    "Keep your relationship with your secretary on a business level at all times. Do not become involved in the personal life of your secretary. If she has serious problems, refer her to her husband, her parents, her minister, or other sources of help." (p. 219)

    • BeverlyB January 26, 2014 Reply

      Well it's good to know that Bill at least followed this teaching. Oh wait...

    • 'Megan' January 26, 2014 Reply


      (I strongly object to a secretary's emotional needs being met by her parents. She's a grown woman. God should be the one meeting her needs regardless of who she lives with, or what her marital status is. In keeping with the authority teachings, this rubs me wrong, although I imagine you wouldn't pick up on all that just from this sentence. It's more about knowing the background of the teaching.) Anyway, that aside, how did he write this in good conscience?

      I mean, it's solid, good advice for an employer to not be the one a secretary goes to for meeting emotional needs, particularly the marital type of emotional needs, I absolutely agree with that.. Good grief!

      • 'Megan' January 26, 2014 Reply

        Side note, were all his secretaries legal adults? Anyone know?

        • esbee January 26, 2014

          more like were any of his secretaries legal secretaries?

        • Lauren January 27, 2014

          Megan, He absolutely had secretaries that were not legal adults. I worked a brief stint in his office shortly after Meg left. I was in my early 20s and the other female was 15. Fortunately I didn't experience this kind of treatment personally and had no idea the extent to which he took this wretched behavior until "Lizzie" shared her story on Recovering Grace. Then I learned that a number of friends had experienced the kinds of attentions Meg is describing. It's terribly disturbing to realize all this was going on behind closed doors. But, sadly, it's also not all that surprising given all the hypocrisy I observed on Bill's part during the years I worked for IBLP.

  29. Greg January 26, 2014 Reply

    bill is just something else. As a father and g'father I have such a mix of emotions as I read this from sorrow for her to frustration to absolute anger for the way she was treated and emotionally defrauded.I would be beyond anger if some old codger was caught trying to groom one of my daughters or g'daughters like this. This puny excuse for a man should really be hauled before the authorities. Sorry about my attitude,,, just find it so two-faced and ungodly for him to preach at everybody and yet never once be open to any scriptural feedback......Hey bill,, 1 John 1:8 says that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us....yep..that includes you.:

    • Sad January 27, 2014 Reply

      Greg, you have nothing to apologize for. If BG has indeed broken the law as described and alluded to, he should be charged criminally. Alas, ATI teaches in their own materials that criminal charges should not be pursued, and that victims are responsible for the crimes done against them.
      (if you have not read it, please see this article on what I just mentioned: )

      I had first-hand experience with this mindset when I discovered an ATI student was worthy of criminal charges against him for the most heinous abuse I can imagine happening inside a family, yet I was completely stonewalled when attempting to have Justice brought to the victim. I have considered sharing that story here, and reading stories like the one "Meg" has told really helps me to understand the institutional mindset I was up against.

      My sincerest hope and prayer is that more people will come forward with stuff like this, and BG gets investigated by whatever Law Enforcement agency he is subject to jurisdiction. I would like to see a little bit of Romans 13 happen, as it seems LONG overdue. "But if you do wrong, be afraid..." At the very least I would like to see ATI be forced to implement some Sexual Harassment in the Workplace training. Starting at the TOP.

      • Greg January 27, 2014 Reply

        Sad,,, I have read that article, and more like it. And if you feel like you need/want to share your story, please get a hold of the admins of this site and visit w/ them about presenting your may very well help someone.

  30. […] [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.] […]

  31. Editormum January 27, 2014 Reply

    My parents always said that the sin you notice most in others is the one you struggle with most yourself.

    And here is Mr. G., proving their point very nicely. I often said, even during my days at the Headquarters, that it would be a lot easier to serve as a single person in the ministry, keeping my focus on serving the Lord and not worrying about finding a marriage partner, if the leadership were not always harping on about courtship commitment and such. I made the commitment, now shut up about it instead of constantly bringing thoughts of marriage, family, dating, and so on.

    If I had a nickel for every time I heard Mr. G. or another leader quote the verse in Job about "making a covenant with the eyes" (oh wait, that's just the eyes ... not the feet) and the verse from St. Paul about it not being good for a man to touch a woman, I'd be a millionaire.

    How nice to see that Mr. G. was following his own strict rules about making, and keeping, a commitment to courtship and purity.

    • gina January 27, 2014 Reply

      "My parents always said that the sin you notice most in others is the one you struggle with most yourself."

      I was thinking about this very thought today, but I couldn't remember whether it came to me through IBLP or otherwise.

      • Editormum January 28, 2014 Reply

        Well, here's the thing. Mr. G. borrowed a LOT from other sources. So not EVERYTHING that I learned in IBLP is, necessarily, wrong or bad.

        One of my dearest mentors used to say that what was good in Gothard's teaching was not original, and what was original in his teaching was not good. He helped teach me how to evaluate teachings for myself, and how to keep the baby when I tossed out the bathwater. He told me that it was an understandable temptation to just chuck everything I'd learned or heard in IBLP, but that I should fight that temptation and, instead, force myself to study and evaluate each teaching on its own merits as it lined up with the Bible.

        • grateful January 28, 2014

          no doubt God used The Basic in a powerful way in my life at a critical time in my walk, BUT, PRAISE GOD, that was it - I went to an advanced a time or two, but never got too entrenched (and got an awesome wife out of the deal). in fact this website has allowed me to come to terms with a lot of the "wackiness" that I felt about the ministry

  32. April January 27, 2014 Reply

    Meg, thank you for your courage in sharing this story. I think God is going to use that courage to bring healing and truth to many people.

    It struck me from the episode with the "sister" how entrenched 'blaming the victim' was in that culture. Noticing an inappropriate relationship, her reaction was to hurl accusations at the 20 year old girl instead of confronting the powerful 50 year old man & trying to protect the girl. Just hearing her words to Meg, you would think that Bill were the naive one or powerless to resist the 'advances' of an attractive young woman.

  33. David January 28, 2014 Reply

    The power of a cult leader is received from those under him -- who, because they think they must to be right with God, have handed themselves over to him. Bill Gothard continues to do what he does because his board is allowing him to do it. At the very least, not a one of them has the discernment, let alone the backbone, to put an end to what they must surely realize is going on. If they don't know about it, why did that board member approach this girl with her concerns? And that was 20 years ago.

  34. David January 28, 2014 Reply

    As a basis for comparison, for 30 years, Garner Ted Armstrong, a married man, and leader in the Worldwide Church of God, had one affair after another. His father, Herbert Armstrong, covered it up. The men around him covered it up. Only after those men were fired did they tell the story -- where were they while it was going on? Collecting a pay check. All through those years, the membership of that church had no idea. They thought Garner Ted was called of God and doing God's work. This situation with Gothard has different details, but the spirit of a cult is at work here. That was the reason for the horrible scandal in the 80's and it is the reason for all of this control over people lives.

  35. Eliza January 29, 2014 Reply

    David, what has not been well known until now is that the board cannot fire him. When the 80s scandal happened and BG was removed briefly, once back in power he had the bylaws amended to state that the president of IBLP can never be fired. Multiple board members over the years have tried to confront BG about various things. Those board members were most often dismissed at the end of their one year terms. More than once, BG has basically fired almost an entire board at once and replaced everyone.

    • David January 29, 2014 Reply

      Well then, there it is. He has no accountability and he knows it, in fact, he made sure it would be that way. But what else can be expected of a cult?

  36. […] 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 […]

  37. JessicaB January 29, 2014 Reply

    The board has seen almost 100% turnover since the beginning of Recovering Grace 2 years ago.

  38. […] post. The following 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 […]

  39. […] [Click here to read Part Three] […]

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