The GOTHARD Files: 1983 Transcript

26 February 2014, 06:00



Recovering Grace came across an 81-page transcript almost a year ago, in the Spring of 2013. This window to the past started us on a journey to gain permission for use. In the process, we put faces with names, built friendships, and saw how our own stories tied into those of the faithful men and women who went before us. Many people inside and outside the Institute had tried to gently help and then confront Bill Gothard, but he rejected them and treated them harshly. The words you are about to read give you a glimpse into their hearts, and these many months later we are amazed to publish this document with so few names redacted.

We believe that God confirmed to us, through this transcript, that the approach we were arriving at independently of this material was a correct one: Bill Gothard’s misconduct must be exposed in order for people to pay attention to his errant theology.

By the end of the transcript, the people involved seemed to formalize some revealing conclusions:

  • Bill Gothard has long abused his authority, his people, and Scripture itself.
  • His life is an expression of his beliefs and theology.
  • He is a deceiver when his own misconduct is involved, and he is disqualified as a minister.

The transcript also confirms that sometimes trying to exercise accountability in a private manner allows evil to hide and thrive—hence Recovering Grace’s firm stance on proclaiming truth.

What follows is a series of excerpts from that transcript of a 1983 conference call among individuals discussing how to hold Bill Gothard accountable for his actions leading up to and during the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC) scandal and cover-up. To put the timing of the call in context, it took place three years after the scandal of 1980, and only one year or less before the inaugural year of the Advanced Training Institute of America (ATIA).

Some names are omitted for protection and privacy, and sections of the transcript about logistics and methods of communication are omitted in order to improve readability. We have highlighted specific sections within the document to help the reader see that over thirty years ago Gothard had already chosen to lead a lifestyle contrary to his own teachings and in opposition to the Word he says he proclaims. Those attempting to address the situation faced greater challenges than Recovering Grace does today, but we have much in common.


The following conference telephone call took place between approximately 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. (Portland, Oregon, time) on Tuesday, November 1, 1983. Those involved in the discussion were: [former IBYC staffer “Rebecca”], Mr. Larne Gabriel, Mrs. Ruth Gabriel, Reverend Richard Hagenbaugh, Dr. Earl Radmacher, and Dr. Gary Smalley.

Dr. Earl Radmacher: …I am Earl Radmacher, and I’ve been at Western Seminary here for 22 years now. I serve as President and professor of systematic theology. And probably as much as 18 years ago, I began to raise questions about the teaching that was being given at that time—the same kinds of questions that Phil Hook raised at Wheaton College at the time that Bill [Gothard] started the ministry. He said at that time that the whole “chain of command” philosophy was unbiblical, and it ought not [to] be encouraged. However, they went ahead with it. Sam Schultz, who went on the Board then (the initial Board) said the same thing in 1980 after the explosion took place and in his report to the Board said it was an unbiblical approach to Scripture.

Well, my beliefmy strong beliefis that a person acts the way they act because they think the way they think deeply. One of the reasons that the things happened as they happened was because of the basic philosophy of the teaching that was ingrained into it from many years back. So I, after 1980, began to check out some things with Bill; and I tried to give it the best interpretation possible. [Two individuals] and Bill and I met together at Holiday Inn, and I raised a number of questions that I had. I seemed to be satisfied when I heard his explanations. I’ve since learned that his explanations always seem to answer the questions that you had. So I pretty much left it alone.

Then sometime later, one of our faculty members who was responsible for coordinating the Portland IBYC, namely [Portland volunteer] called me. He said, “I think you ought to listen to the other side.” And I said, “Well… I don’t quite understand that because I have been listening to the side that you were coming from in support of Bill and you were the one that previously was arguing against that and now you’re telling me I ought to listen to the other side.” I said, “Who do you want me to listen to?” He said, “Well, why don’t you listen to [a specific IBYC secretary]?” And I said, “I’d be delighted to.” [The secretary] came in here and we talked for—or rather, she talked for about two hours and I listened. And I felt that this just couldn’t be left alone—that somebody needed to look into it. She said, “Well, nobody bothers to ask the staff what happened and check it out. They all go to Bill and ask him what happened, and they’re then satisfied.”

So since that time, I then began to work with Gerald Wiebe and Tony… And then Gary [Smalley] is aware of some of those conversations. More recently, I’ve become intensively involved with checking out with various staff members. I called Chuck Lynch and John Goodell and Bill Wood and Sam Schultz and on down the line. The more I check into it, the more questions I have concerning three things that a group of pastors brought up in a resolution of nonsupport of Bill—namely, the abuse of the Scripture (the misinterpretation of the Scripture), abuse of spiritual authority, and moral impropriety. [Emphasis added] When we finally said those things in a pastors’ seminar here, they unanimously drew up a resolution including those things as their concerns. Bill very quickly responded to that statement and wanted to get together again and talk these things over. I said to Bill, “I really don’t want to talk to you anymore without somebody else listening in because I just cannot have confidence in the kind of things you say.” So from that time on, we have been seeking to put together our case; but we really need to have something more than rumors for what we do.

Most of the people I talk to on the staff would say: We appreciate the fact that some Christian leader in America is willing to not simply listen to Bill, but to listen to the other staff as well. And then they would also suggest to me that: Frankly, we think you ought to leave it alone because you’re going to get hurt in the process. Well, that latter doesn’t bother me that much. I think what is really important is truth. As I told Bill when he said, “How would you like me to tell 20,000 pastors that you’ve told me to close down IBYC,”—or the Advanced pastors’ Seminar, I believe it was, I said, “Well, I can’t tell you that, Bill. Only God can tell you that. But what I can tell you is that, in my estimation, you do not fill the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3. You’re not a blameless man, and you ought to step out of the ministry.” So that’s, you know, summarizing many hundreds of hours of conversations and research into it. I really personally have nothing to gain from it at all except a certain sense of moral responsibility to my brethren in Christ and accountability to God for that. So that’s kind of where I’m coming from…

Rev. Richard Hagenbaugh: My name is Rich Hagenbaugh, and I pastor a Conservative Baptist church here in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Radmacher and I have been friends for some time—probably 15 years. We did not realize at the time that our CB Pastors’ Fellowship drafted this resolution, but the two of us had been doing research separately in the Institute and some of the problems in the Institute. After those meetings, we began to compare notes and realized that we had already dug out some of the same information. Many of the contacts since that time—which was April of last year, April of  ’82—many of the contacts that we have made, we have made together; or we have made separately and always briefed one another… So since April of ’82, we have pooled our energies and have attempted to work on the thing together primarily because we concluded at a point in time that if we were going to accomplish anything with regard to the Institute, it was going to have to be accomplished from the grassroot, pastoral level. The big names in America weren’t going to be able to pull it off. If we had enough pastors who would say, “We don’t want to support the Institute any longer,” then we would have some pressure put upon Bill that could cause him to make some changes…

Dr. Radmacher: Maybe there are some questions, Ruth or [“Rebecca”], that you would like to ask of me or Rich.

Ruth Gabriel: My most basic question would be: What is your purpose and plan? I don’t know how to say that more clearly. Is your desire to correct the wrongs so the Institute can go on more successfully? Is it to set the Institute down permanently? Is it to force Bill into a temporary retirement? I’m not real clear on what your goal is.


Dr. Radmacher:I don’t think that any one individual could take upon himself the task of cleaning up the material. I remember speaking to—is it Melvin Upchurch in Chicago? …He really becomes so terribly depressed when he even tries to deal with the material now from this side, seeing how much of it really was apparently unfaithful to the Word of God, that he doesn’t even want to deal with it. So I don’t think that I my task or desire is to be the one that straightens out all of the material.

I think that what needs to happen, first of all, is to be faithful to 1 Timothy, chapter 3, which clearly gives the qualifications for a man who is going to lead in ministry. This is what I have told Bill—that you are not one who fills the qualifications of what the Bible lays down for a man of God in ministry. Now, where it goes from there, I cannot say. It may be that God will be pleased to bring Bill to repentance, if that is necessary, and hopefully to restoration and reconciliation. That would be delightful, if that is God’s will. But, frankly, we are still searching; and we cannot say what will happen until we know more about what the situation really is.

I don’t think anybody has a spirit of revenge or vindictiveness or that kind of thing. I think we all feel that if he could be—if the things that he has done that are wrong could be righted and he could make restitution wherein that is necessary, respond to discipline wherein that is necessary, then that would be a good track on which to run. I think that’s one thing that we simply have to know more about before anyone could say what could be done there.

Then, my greater concern is the hermeneutical problem with the Institute material, which I think is terribly unbiblical in its basic philosophy. Scripture does not teach anything like “chain of command.” Some of us tried to tell Bill that from the beginning; and now finally when he sees what has happened, he is now seeking to make presentations which (my latest information) is called now, “Exceptions to Chain of Command.” That says to me that he is realizing either strong pressure to make some changes or biblical conviction to make some changes, for what reason I’m not altogether sure because I cannot get a straight statement from him.

For example, Bill told me—or told [another individual], who told me—that Charles Ryrie had gone over all of his materials and that he approved them hermeneutically. I called Charles Ryrie; and he has seen hardly any of his materials. About all that he has seen is the divorce materials and the Romans materials. Then he was called by Bill and asked to go to the presentation in Dallas several weeks ago where he presented the talk on “Exceptions to Chain of Command.” That was an hour and a half long. Charles Ryrie told me he went to that; and, at that point, he had not even reported back to Bill what his responses were to it and yet Bill had said that he had approved everything he had said. Well, that’s a blatant lie. There have been too many of those lies that have been told so that I cannot really trust the man in what he says anymore. Somebody’s got to get to the bottom of this thing and, hopefully, bring sufficient pressure that discipline will be administered in a quiet way.

It doesn’t have to explode before the whole Christian community. Because if it does explode publicly, everybody that names the Name of Christ is going to be hurt by it.


“Rebecca”: Gary, the last time we talked, you were not sure whether or not you felt impressed of the Lord to be involved in this. Have you made a decision?


Gary Smalley: Well, it’s just that Earl and I talked last time. Then, of course, talking to Bill since I’ve talked to Earl —I’ve talked to Bill three or four times since then. It does get real “elusive” to know exactly what to do, although I kind of am at the place where—even though it’s not the application to that—but in Luke 18 when the little widow lady goes before the judge who doesn’t like God or man, she keeps getting in line because eventually she wears him out. I believe that eventually God could do something in Bill’s life. I don’t know that this is the right time. It looks good, but I don’t know. He does seem to be open to things, but things had bogged down to some degree in trying to figure out what to do. So this is new again—fresh again. I’m just sort of listening to see where we are in all this because it seems when Earl and I talked last time, it was sort of his desire that Bill was going to talk to each of the girls and I was going to be on the phone. But that didn’t work out.

Rev. Hagenbaugh:  Why didn’t it work out, Gary?


Gary Smalley: Well, it primarily didn’t work out because there was a hesitation on the part of the girls to talk to him.

Ruth Gabriel: Well, Gary, I did talk to him.

Gary Smalley: Right.

Ruth Gabriel:  And my question after talking to him would be—to you: Do you think that he can sincerely say he was in ignorance of all those things he said to me even though he admits to having said them?

Gary Smalley: No, if you’re asking me personally and I give my own personal opinion, I do not believe that he can forget those things because I do know his memory.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Is that what he’s saying now, Ruthie?

Ruth Gabriel: Oh, no, he didn’t say he forgets. In fact, he had an amazingly clear memory.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Oh, okay.

Ruth Gabriel: What I was concerned about was he puts a totally different interpretation on all of his actions for nine years than I do; and I was asking Gary if Gary believes that Bill could have done the things that he did and now claims that his motives were entirely innocent. Do you believe that, Gary? Because you said you feel he has at this point an openness, you said, to change. I am asking you based on what he said to me and what I’ve already shared with you, do you believe that he is reflecting a spirit of truthfulness?

Gary Smalley: I don’t know that I can say that he does so on everything. I can say that he knows if he was on the phone tonight, I would be challenging him… he said that he never had any immoral motives, that he had pure motives, and that his desire was to take care of Ruthie as her father away from home. Yet I have documents in my own material which I reminded him of, so I can say these things that he admitted to me that he had some very fond affection for Ruthie. He liked her. So I said to him that I didn’t like him telling me on the phone that his only action with her was because it was a fatherly kind of thing. I said, “Bill—” Well, of course, we talked about—I don’t know how much you’re going to say tonight or whatever about his involvement with you. I said I didn’t appreciate it because I said that it doesn’t add up to me. But then he can say, well, whether it adds up to me or not, this is what he says. To prove him wrong, as you know, would be really difficult.


Rev. Hagenbaugh:  Oh. Because, see, we have been accused of attempting to close down the seminar and that is not—that is certainly not Dr. Radmacher’s purpose and it’s not my purpose. We never intended that… My main concern was to bring Bill Gothard to some kind of accountability. The medical profession has a way to bring their people into accountability. The law profession has a way to bring attorneys into accountability. And what I saw was … problems going on in the Institute, and there was no accountability for Bill Gothard. Dr. Schultz made it very clear that he was not even accountable to his own Board of Trustees. We felt at a point in time that somebody had to stand up and speak and say, “Here’s a minister who needs to be held accountable, and he’s not accountable.”

That problem of accountability together with the hermeneutic—or lack of accountability together with the hermeneutic—leads into a multitude of other areas. I have people in my church who are willing to throw the church right out the window in order to follow the Guru, and the Guru doesn’t qualify because of his actions. We felt that somehow or another somebody had to attempt to bring some accountability to that. I think that that word, “accountability,” is a good word to identify what my purpose is in this whole business—that I’m not acting any differently at this point than I would if it was a fellow Conservative Baptist pastor down the street from me. I would attempt to bring him to the same kind of accountability.

Dr. Radmacher: Rich, let me add into that the basis upon which I came to the pastors’ seminar and brought these things to their attention. I had been reading Hebrews 13:17: “Obey those that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves. For they have the watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you.” I wanted to share with the pastors: Do you understand what it means that God has given you the responsibility for the watch of the souls of those people that are under your charge? Paul took that so seriously that when he spoke to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, he said that “for three years, night and day, I warned you about the wolves on the outside who would seek to devour the flock and those from the inside who would seek to draw away disciples after themselves.”

It’s a very scary thing to realize what a closed situation Bill has developed. It was—I think I would be within bounds in saying this concerning my conversation with [a different single staff woman]. After we had described what had happened and she had agreed with it, I said, “How could you at 34 years of age—a Christian since you were six, grown up in a Bible church—allow to happen to you what happened there?” She said, “Well, it isn’t until I’ve gotten out of the system and I look back into it again that I see the double standards, number one, that we lived under and, number two, the things that we were taught in the Institute that are really not true to the Word of God.” She said, “Now that I’m outside of it, I can see it more clearly. But being in there, I did not see it so clearly.”

That to me is the scary thing about the cultic mentality that exists within the Institute, and I think that one can understand that when you see the “chain of command” is something from the top down rather than the bottom up. I said that to Bill that “You didn’t get that out of the Bible. You might have gotten it out of the military. But you sure didn’t get it out of the Bible.” Because in the Bible, it’s just exactly the opposite. A husband doesn’t submit his wife. A wife voluntarily submits herself. And that’s a whole different mindset than what has developed in the Institute… We’re not talking about some innocent thing. We’re talking about a very, very serious misuse of the Word of God and misuse of people and abuse of spiritual authority. Somehow, that kind of thing has to be stopped.

Rev. Hagenbaugh:  And if you think that we’re wrong, that’s why we have you here. We need counsel at this point from you. If you can help us in our thinking—especially if we’ve got wrong impressions or we’ve got wrong information—then we need to know that. Now, it just so happens that I’ve been through the Basic Seminar five times. I’ve been through the Advanced Seminar three times, and I’ve been through numerous of the pastors’ seminars. So, so far as the doctrine is concerned, I can speak to that myself; but as far as the people are concerned, if you think we’re barking up the wrong tree, then we need to know that.

Larne Gabriel: …I think that from our impression of Bill, he still sees himself or is trying to present himself as the innocent person. He blamed what happened in the last three years on his Board, father—of course, the major events of prior to three years ago on [his brother] Steve. He blames a lot of what happened on Gary and Tony and the people that were trying to take his ministry away from him; but he still does not consider himself accountable for what went on. Then in the case of some of the things he did with Ruth, we became specific in some of his [word indistinguishable] against us. He would not acknowledge them or try to, as Ruth said earlier, come up with other excuses that Ruth misunderstood how he was treating her. He has no memory lapse. He brought up things that happened eight, nine, ten years ago. He said, “Well, I remember driving down this road and going by this house.”


Ruth Gabriel: Oh, by the way, let me introduce one point and that is—when Larne said that Bill blamed these different groups, he is very elusive. He doesn’t name names. I say that, Gary, so you know he doesn’t name you specifically. He just blames the people that were trying to bring him to accountability three years ago. He feels that they’re at fault. He says the Board forced him to send a letter to 20,000 pastors—not the Board, but the people were controlling him and were trying to take his ministry away from him. Bill says at this point that (without referring to you, Dr. Radmacher, by name) you are trying to exploit Larne and I. We told him that we haven’t been exploited since we left the Institute. He needn’t worry about us ever being exploited. We talk to who we talk to when we want to talk to them. But he still wants us to understand that he feels like we only have heard one side of the picture and that we don’t know all of your motives and things because you are trying to exploit us by talking to us. That he did say. “Exploit” was his word… Well, I haven’t had any problem there. I haven’t had any problem with what Bill has said to me. I put no weight in that at all—any more than I put weight in the fact that what happened at the Institute wasn’t his fault. I can see far more clearly than he gives me credit for perhaps. But … we don’t clearly see what can be done to stop Bill. We are asking, “Do you have an effective strategy to solve this problem or are we all just groping in the dark together?”


Dr. Radmacher: One thing we know for sure. Have you seen the 16 changes that have taken place?

Ruth Gabriel: I just got them in the mail—Larne and I did last week.


Dr. Radmacher: Okay. Those would never have taken place had not the pressure been put on Bill.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: And Bill would have never called you, Ruthie.

Ruth Gabriel: Never.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: —had this pressure not been put on.

Ruth Gabriel: He told me he didn’t want—He said, “I’m sure you don’t want to talk to me, and I didn’t want to talk to you.”


Ruth Gabriel:  But I have a question. What type of a statement are you looking for from us? [“Rebecca”]? This is something that [“Rebecca”] and I talked about a great deal and that is–we wonder if what you need is statements from the girls. You got statements– well, you probably could get statements from Gary, statements from Bill Wood, statements from the various spiritual leaders that worked with him. We were just secretaries.


“Rebecca”: Do you know why people—the motive behind that? The people being afraid to use their names? Do you understand the thinking behind that?

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Yes… I understand what you’re saying; and I understand, to some extent, where you’ve been and what you’ve been through. I guess what I’ve been trying to do in the last year is attempt to communicate to the people involved that Dr. Radmacher and I are a little bit different. I don’t know whether I’ve succeeded in that. But I do understand some of the reasoning as to why you don’t want your name used.

Dr. Radmacher: You see, here, let me throw another thing in here. I have every reason to have nothing to do with this. It’s probably taking about 25 percent of my time right now, and for the last—since April—I’ve been under doctor’s care and if you can hear my voice right now, you’ll be able to discern that I’ve got nodules on my vocal cords that are giving me trouble. So I really have no personal interest at all in it. But it just seems to me that from the time that [Portland volunteer] called me and said, “Why doesn’t somebody listen to the other side?”… from that time, I went contrary to what I would like to feel and that is, my feeling would be: Hey, leave it alone! But it seems to me that we’ve got too many people in the world today and in America today who are leaving alone things that are wrong.

It’s time that somebody rises up and does that which is right if we expect God to bring any blessing on this land and on our Church. I think we’re facing some really desperate situations. And I think the situation that Bill has developed whereby, if anybody says anything against him, then he whips out a favorite verse like, “Don’t listen to a talebearer”; so he has developed a closed system where nobody can ever get to him through the system that he has developed.

Gary Smalley: For fear of lawsuits.

Dr. Radmacher: For fear of lawsuits, yeah. That’s what Bill said to me. The first thing he said when he got the report, he said, “Well, (to my secretary he said) you know if IBYC gets hurt in this, Western Seminary is going to get hurt right along with it.”

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Well, and besides that, he has already activated his attorneys; and they have communicated on two occasions to Bill Wood’s attorney. I have that correspondence in my file. They have, between the lines, pure and simply, they have, between the lines, threatened Bill Wood and Dr. Radmacher and me concerning this “conspiracy” against the Institute in the Northwest. So that is a real possibility, and we realize that.

 Dr. Radmacher: And Ruthie, I’m not really concerned about what Bill’s interpretation is or anybody else’s interpretation.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Facts are facts.

Dr. Radmacher: Because that’s the same thing I hear when people read the Bible; and they say, “Well, that’s your interpretation.” The fact of the matter is: What are the facts?


“Rebecca”: In the last three years when people have wanted information, it’s become a battle of vocabulary. Everyone uses the same words, but they have different definitions. Let’s say someone did write a letter for them— someone that all the girls had confided in—and in the letter they said, “Bill was inappropriate with the girls, but not as inappropriate as Steve.” Well, and I used this illustration with Gary. If a letter like that is written, it says to the world, “Yes, there was a pigpen. Yes, Bill Gothard was in the pigpen; but he was wearing boots.”… The question: Why was Bill in the pigpen?… Okay. In the issue of Bill’s impropriety, it goes back to years of control and manipulation and brainwashing. It’s a distortion of Scripture. But if that information is given out that Bill did so and so with Girl 1, so and so with Girl 2, the impropriety isn’t the issue because it’s a small indiscretion; but it’s serious in what it represents in the way he thinks. I think that because we can see things blown out of proportion or out of focus that we’re real cautious when people want to talk to “THE GIRLS.” … Because there hasn’t been anyone who’s been able to convey to the world what really happened and why it happened.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: [“Rebecca”] You’re saying exactly what we have concluded. You’re articulating it a little bit differently; but, see, we have concluded on this end that the primary, the major, and the basic problem is a hermeneutic problem. Okay? But we have realized at the same time that we cannot get people’s attention with hermeneutics. People don’t care about hermeneutics, for the most part, even though in some way or another their theology comes out of their hermeneutic no matter how bad or good it may be.

Dr. Radmacher: And their life comes out of their theology.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Their life comes out of their theology. The only way we think we can get the attention—see, we went to a pastors’ conference. We talked about hermeneutics. No response. One small word of immorality, and the whole place came unglued. We can’t—we’re not going to be able to get their attention with hermeneutics or with philosophy or what went on over that long period of time that you’re talking about. Somewhere along the way, we’re going to have to say to them, “Look, there is a pigpen, and Gothard was in it.” And once we have communicated that, then they will say, “Well, what else is wrong?”

Gary Smalley: Or why did he get there?

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Or how did he get there? And then we can say, “Here’s how he got there.” And then we’ll be able to come down to the basic problem. We understand that all of the immoral issue involved is a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the hermeneutic. But we’re not going to be able to get people’s attention with hermeneutics. And so when you say that the product was the result of long years of brainwashing and manipulation and philosophy and all of that, we understand that; but most of the Christian community who is so committed to Bill Gothard is not going to look at that as being significant.

Dr. Radmacher: Well, that’s what [staff woman mentioned earlier] was trying to say to me as well, Rich, when she explained how she got where she got.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Yes, right.

Dr. Radmacher: But when you think of the perversity—

Rev. Hagenbaugh: She basically ended up (if I recall)—she basically ended up almost justifying what she did based on “chain of command.”

Dr. Radmacher: That’s right.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: And that became the theology. And as long as she assumed that she was being submitted to authority over her, she could justify doing anything she did. When she stepped back and took a look at the thing, she realized the fallacy of that.

Dr. Radmacher: We’ve got to get away from this terminology that is so vague—the one that Bill likes to use so much is “defrauded,” which nobody understands what it means.

Ruth Gabriel: Because it means so many different things.

Dr. Radmacher: Yeah. Or when we talk about “inappropriate behavior.” …However, when [former staff woman] says that Bill came in to her room at 11 o’clock at night, knocked on the door, was not invited in, did come in; and she was in her nightgown and he caressed her and fondled her, then those words begin to turn lights on to people.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: They take meaning on.

Dr. Radmacher: You know, he can say in the seminar out there that he’s never kissed a girl. But what [else] has he done…privately? Now. What I’m trying to be is very specific. You can—Bill is great at playing word games.

Ruth Gabriel: What I question—I can back up some of those things. I can say, “He came to my door and knocked on my door at 10, 10:30 at night.” I can prove it by witnesses. I can prove it by the girl who lived across the hall that would hear him knocking. I can prove it by the fact that I used to complain to her that I’d have to lock my door because I didn’t want him coming in my apartment at night when I was on my way to bed, but the question is … about [former staff woman] giving you a statement?


Dr. Radmacher: I think that [former staff woman] was a little fearful as to “What am I going to get into here?” Everybody is scared stiff.

Rev. Hagenbaugh:  … She may be willing to do more if some of the other people involved were involved—were willing to do more.

Ruth Gabriel: … We are exposing ourselves.

“Rebecca”: … I think that people tend to assume that Bill’s impropriety was limited to the girls that Steve was involved with, but it wasn’t.

Rev. Hagenbaugh:  Oh, I don’t assume that.


Ruth Gabriel: We have to include the men too —the men that were involved emotionally for approval and control.


Dr. Radmacher: Well, we can—we’ve got, I think, ample contacts from that. For example, Dr. Schultz (who was 15 years there from ’65 to ’80)—when I read his statement back to him again—I said, “Do you still stand by this?” He said, “I certainly do.” I said, “Do you think I’m on the right track in pursuing this?” He said, “I really do, and I’m grateful for it.” So he’s got his statement in ten pages there of what he sees as a Board Member of Bill.

Gary Smalley: Have you talked to Ed Brown, another ex-Board Member that was on the Board for—I don’t know.

Dr. Radmacher: Sam Schultz suggested—He’s the vice president of the University of Indiana, right?


Gary Smalley: I would highly suggest that. We spent a couple days with him last summer and many hours on the phone with him; and he was anxious at the time to pursue this matter other than by lawsuit. I think he’d be a real good contact, and I think you might be able to get something out of him as you say you can out of Sam Schultz.

Dr. Radmacher: Well, as I say, those are not hard to come by. Chuck Lynch will make a statement. Sam Schultz will make a statement. John Goodell will make a statement. Bill Wood will make a statement. We’ve got men that will make statements.


“Rebecca”: Like [yet another staff woman]—some of the girls that were flown up north, but didn’t stay up there but went back home. But I think that, in this, if you approach some of the people because they’ve left, but they’ve not dealt with what they believe, they don’t know that they’ve been deceived.

Gary Smalley: Can I interject a thing here? …Rich, when you said that one of your purposes was to increase the accountability and so on, I think just knowing him what years I knew him (and Larne and Ruth may be able to say this too) I believe he’s at the place now where he is feeling the pressure of accountability so that he does, in fact, I think, want to do whatever—see, the pressure is on him so he’s going to do some things that he doesn’t want to do… The things that are coming to my mind during this conversation is that I believe that we already have evidence—a significant amount of evidence—to show that he’s not qualified as a pastor, as a minister from I Timothy 3. I think that’s one thing right there, and the comments of [“Rebecca”] and Ruth and [former staff woman] and [another former staff woman] and so on would put specifics down there of what actually happened. Now, we wouldn’t use the word “inappropriate.” We’d say, “Here are the facts.” But knowing him—he will want to respond to each of the girls… He’ll want to say, “[Tell] me immediately what can I do to clear my conscience with [“Rebecca”], Ruth, and anybody.” He’ll want to do that.

That’s one issue; but then the other issue that still doesn’t seem to be how to solve that—I not sure how to deal with it —is whether or not he is qualified. And what he said to me—he said, like Scripture says, “If a man continues in these things, then he is to be rebuked in front of all. He’s not qualified.” He said, “I have [stopped] these things—I did three years ago,” he said (four, whatever it was now). And he said, “I think that I am not doing those things anymore. I am not controlling people.” (Which I don’t have any evidence he is.) And so, there is that issue of whether he continues in this kind of thing.

I do feel that this very conversation right here does give a lot of hope, having you and Earl involved in this —of course, it’s at a different level than we’ve ever had before. We have contacted—actually picked the phone up and called Ryrie and Schultz and so on (which we never really had before), so that there is pressure on him. He will want to respond to the girls, but the issue still in my mind is what to do about the qualification thing. So there’s where I think it comes to the girls—would they be willing to put some things in writing? I don’t think we’d have to have a lot [of] things; but of the things that I’ve already heard, they are enough to indict him. And I’ve told him that. I said, “Bill, these are serious things you’ve done here.” And he said, “Well, I don’t know what’s so serious about these things. I was dating her.”

Ruth Gabriel: He says he was dating me on the one hand. On the other hand, he said he was only treating me like a father.

Gary Smalley: No, he told me, Ruthie, that he was dating you.

Ruth Gabriel: Yes, but see, Gary, when it comes right down to it, that’s why I can’t trust his word.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: When it comes right down to it, he’s a liar.

Gary Smalley: Well, yeah.

Ruth Gabriel: On the phone he says that he was only treating me like a father and that I had asked for a fourth level friendship.

Gary Smalley: Boy, I know he said those things to me too. But he still admitted to me—and I have that in my mind vividly—

“Rebecca”: You know, there’s something in me, Ruth, that says—you know—if we each take our little hidden thing with Bill (what he would call “hidden sin”) and we each wrote a letter—well, one, even if we don’t write the letter, he has a memory too. He has to know what he did with each one.

Gary Smalley: Right.

“Rebecca”: So he doesn’t need a Gary Smalley to tell him so he’ll admit it.

Gary Smalley: But I asked him, [“Rebecca”], if he would admit to me what he did. He said, “I don’t have anything to admit.”

Dr. Radmacher: You see, Ruthie, even what you started to say before very specifically about Bill coming to your door at night and wanting to come in at night when you were on your way to bed, et cetera, et cetera, those kinds of things are very specific. And then, [“Rebecca”], what you began to say about his first secretary—I gathered from that that you were saying there were some real questions there too… So, we’ve got to get specifics because the man is doing what he’s doing because he’s thinking what he’s thinking.


Ruth Gabriel: “Rebecca” was saying she wondered if there wouldn’t be value in making a group statement—saying everybody put their statements together. Either saying this happened to me or I saw this happen, and then everybody signing their name at the end so specific incidents could not be tied to specific people. But the statement would be signed.

Gary Smalley: Right. See, that motivates him.

“Rebecca”: See, we cannot protect ourselves from Bill because, in that, he must remember what he did if he sat down and thought about it long enough. But in inviting curious outsiders to come and ask questions that are none of their business or expose ourselves to an area battle that really isn’t something for us to get into, in that area we need some protection.

Ruth Gabriel: And there are lots of people that could sign on that type of thing. For example, [yet again, another staff woman]. She could back me up, for example, on Bill knocking on my door at night. She can say, “I heard Bill out in the hall, knocking on one of the secretaries’ doors at night. I know this is something he did.” Another person could say, “I saw him holding his secretary’s hand.” And I know, for example, I went to [staff man] and I spent hours and hours and hours telling [staff man] of the struggle I was going through because Bill expected me to be a girlfriend. I felt like he monitored my activities. When I was interested in any other fellow—my almost exact words, … I said, “… I feel like I have to ask my boyfriend for permission to date.” I said, “This is ridiculous, and I’m just being torn apart by it…”

“Rebecca”: Part of that—it might show the consistency of Bill’s way of living the single life.… You know, like he said, “This is the way I’m single. I don’t date. I live at home. I make $400 a month…” The way he lived the single life, it made it sound like, “If you bite the bullet long enough, the desire and need goes away.” Because he bit the bullet, and it’s gone away. Well, that’s what he was saying. But in the meantime, he was knocking on someone’s bedroom door and having another secretary sit on his lap and having another one come in the office and [word undistinguishable] the way he wrote material. And so there are examples of that. But if you just use one girl and what happened there, that’s small. But if you put the years of the way he just lived out that—

Dr. Radmacher: This is a lifestyle.

“Rebecca”: That’s the word—the lifestyle. That’s what I was groping for. Then that shows the seriousness of the philosophy. But that he knocked at one girl’s door one night, well, that was a weak moment in fifty years of good life.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Uh huh.

Gary Smalley: That’s a good point, [“Rebecca”].

Ruth Gabriel: Gary, for example, do you think that Norma [Smalley, Gary’s wife] could verbalize—I remember some of the [word indistinguishable] that he had. For example, the fact that Bill disapproved of her wearing her hair short instead of long.


Ruth Gabriel:I talked to the girls weekly for a year nearly from the time I left until that Christmas when my card ran out; and it was tremendously healing. I know that one of the reasons I healed so quickly is because I could reach out — there were other people I could talk to, and there were people who understood…I confronted him [Bill Gothard] with the specifics—the very, very specifics, for many years the specifics—when he talked to me about marriage. And marriage was point-blank—we talked about marriage.

Gary Smalley: Right.

Ruth Gabriel: And he denies that he said what he said. He puts a different construction on it. He says, “I was talking hypothetically.” He teaches in the seminar that when you talk to a woman about marriage, you’ve got to be pretty serious.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Yeah.

Ruth Gabriel: Now he tells me that he didn’t mean it the way I took it. And he says, “Yes, I remember saying those things. I did say them; but I had no idea that you took them that way.” I was—he didn’t say “hypothetical,” but that was his intention. “I was hypothetical. I wasn’t meaning it specifically YOU.” And yet he was talking specifically. And so the thing is, if he wouldn’t even admit what I could tell him almost verbatim because those are living memories that will never probably go away—I will always remember—then, if he’ll deny that thing, what good do[es] it do for him to make the contact? These girls are not going to want to sit down and bare their souls to help Bill out.

Gary Smalley: Yeah.

Ruth Gabriel: He hasn’t—after talking to him, I have less reason to trust in him than before.

Gary Smalley:  Yeah. I know.

Ruth Gabriel: He would have been better off never to have said to me that he admitted saying all those things, but he didn’t mean them. He would have been better off never to have admitted saying them.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Uh huh.

Ruth Gabriel: Or, remembering, then to say, “Yes, I remember; but I didn’t mean it.” It makes him look like a—it made me furious. It made me mad days later when I realized he’d say, “Yes, I did those things; but I didn’t mean them.”


Dr. Radmacher: One thing that’s got to be really emphasized in that is clear statements and specificity… Specificity. It can’t be this thing like “defrauding” or “inappropriate.” I mean, it’s got to be like a court case—a factual thing. This is what happened and describe it.

Ruth Gabriel: No emotions. Just facts.

Dr. Radmacher: Yeah, just get right down to the facts. You know, “I sat on his lap in my room in my nightgown”—or whatever. And what he did or what he didn’t do. Those kind of things are not interpretive then.


Larne Gabriel:I think Bill realized he cannot sue his ex-staff as a whole. He just—the publicity just wouldn’t get him anywhere.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Well, if he sues any Christian, the publicity’s not going to get him anywhere.

Larne Gabriel: No, but if he sues—if you go after him, he has a reason. I mean it’s one Christian leader against another Christian leader. But if he goes after a bunch of nobodies—you know—people that worked for him and gave years of their lives to him, he’s got a problem.


Ruth Gabriel: And that if this is a group front—I mean, a group effort by former staff—I don’t feel like we can go wrong anyway because it’s going to do good for the former staff in some way … And I told Bill, I said, “Bill, I asked you these questions when we talked on the phone because God has called everyone of us to try the spirits and Scripture says that I have the right to judge you by the fruit of your life. ”

I don’t feel called of God to do anything to strengthen a ministry that I feel at this time is invalid. I do not feel called of God. So, if my whole purpose is to help Bill correct his ministry, I can’t say that I feel called of God to do that. I do not. I feel called of God to let the world know in a decisive way that they must start opening their eyes and looking at organizations. … We want this to be an opportunity to instruct the Christian world in how to detect cultish attitudes — how to protect themselves and their children from the insidious, but subtle things we did. How can they learn from this? We want it to be a learning experience for the world, not to strengthen the Institute. Not that we don’t want to see Bill repent and change, but just that we don’t want to see Bill just become more crafty by learning from this experience.

Dr. Radmacher: Ruthie, this takes us right back to the beginning where we started; and you have expressed beautifully the question you asked me to start with. As far as I can see, you have stated as clearly as one could state that which we have in mind in answer to the question you first asked: What do you want to do?

Rev. Hagenbaugh: We have even referred to the concept that in the line of the prophets or along with the motivation of the prophets, our concern has been to send out a cry to the world that they must investigate … they must look at what it is they listen to and what it is they involve themselves in.

Dr. Radmacher: Let me say a couple more words about some of the many calls and contacts I’ve had from pastors. A pastor just a couple days ago called from New Orleans and says, “You know, I’ve seen something wrong in this thing; and I can’t put my finger on it. But I know there’s something wrong about it, and I’ve been told that you would be able to help me out in this.” That same kind of a call comes from around the country…

Another guy who is a coordinator … [with ties to] LaGrange Bible Church when the Gothard family came in there. He’s known Bill all his life. And he said, “You know, I keep going through pastors’ seminar after pastors’ seminar; and I keep hearing things that I know are not true to the Word of God.” And he said, “Finally, with this resolution we’ve got the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” He wrote me again after that and wanted some more information. But frankly, I’ve got a stack of letters here that need to be answered; and I haven’t got the time to do it. But there are many people—this past couple of weeks ago, the pastor of the Highland Community Church in Renton, which has been a strong supporter (half the people in that church have gone to the Institute)—and two years ago, the whole staff had questions about the Institute and the things that were being taught and they raised questions about it. Then they asked me if I’d meet with the Board of Elders of the church here a couple of weeks ago—which I did. Now they have put out a letter to their church that they frankly can no longer recommend the Institute.

Now, there are pastors all over America that when I question them and say, “Well, didn’t you read the news release of 1980?” “Well, yes, I read that.” “Well, didn’t you take it seriously?” “Well, no, not really.” “Well, why didn’t you? You know, what are you doing as one who is supposed to be protecting the flock?”… And we’ve got pastors all over America that are derelict in their duty for protecting the people that God has given them the charge over.


“Rebecca”: …Larne’s idea of a letter is excellent because it says two things—you’re holding Bill accountable according to Scripture and the other is, people are asking you—pastors—and you, in turn, are turning around and giving documented information to them for them to make an intelligent decision. And I feel like—for the girls—that they need to know that there are people who are seriously asking —who actually have a following. And they are responsible for that flock, and they are making a decision one way or the other. And that, should we write such a letter (or document something), that we make a statement of why we’re doing it. That it is our testimony. It isn’t “let’s get out and crucify Bill.” But “this is what happened to us. This is why it happened. Why it happened. These are the facts. The hope in Christ after that.”

Dr. Radmacher: There’s one problem that comes to my mind in this latter suggestion, and that is—this group of pastors—95 pastors at Rippling River where I delivered my soul with regard to this—we hadn’t any more than gotten out of that meeting than Bill was on the phone.


Rev. Hagenbaugh: Yeah, my next question was: What do you all think is going to be the reaction of Bill when he learns of this procedure. And certainly, he will. When he finds out that the girls are beginning to [issue] statements … what do you think is going to be his reaction?

Ruth Gabriel: I think Gary can answer that best.

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Yeah.

Gary Smalley: I think he’ll be on the phone to everyone of them immediately.


Rev. Hagenbaugh: Yeah, I’m not interested in putting any more stress on anybody than needs to be. And the thing I’m asking myself is: Once this thing gets out, how much stress is that going to put on some of these girls or people who are involved?

Larne Gabriel: Well, Bill might get his checkbook out when he starts calling again.

Gary Smalley: Well, you know, there is another real practical thing. [“Rebecca”], are you still on the phone?

“Rebecca”:  Uh huh.

Gary Smalley: You know that I’m supposed to get back to him about you…in other words I really don’t want to talk to him right now—

Rev. Hagenbaugh: Yeah, he’ll nail you down on this.

Gary Smalley: Yeah, he’s good at—he’ll ask me a lot of things, and I don’t want to say them. And when I hesitate, that creates curiosity. And so—but he wanted me to call him back as soon as I could as to whether you would be willing to talk with him. But at this point, it’s not really—


Ruth Gabriel: Before I forget, [Gary], You’re going to be the weak link only because you have to talk to Bill. We don’t.

Gary Smalley: Yeah, and I’m not real excited about talking to him right now… But you know what’s going to happen? He’s going to pick that up in my voice.


Larne Gabriel: Well, Gary, you need to be strong with Bill.

Gary Smalley: Well, yeah, I know. But, you know what he’s like. In other words, here’s what happens. I can say things straight out to him, but he reads stuff in and what he does—he gets his own offensive—it’s offensive, too—but offensive work going and he’ll start calling people. Like he wasn’t supposed to call you.

Ruth Gabriel: Oh, I know. He did anyway.

Gary Smalley: The two of us agreed he would not call you, but he called you.


“Rebecca”: Gary, Just so that you feel some real healthy pressure, I am serious about you not interpreting anything I’ve said to Bill.

Gary Smalley: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

“Rebecca”: It’s very important to me that one day I get my hearing face to face with him.

Gary Smalley: He would have called you today; but I said, “No, I don’t want you to.”

“Rebecca”: Gary, if he’d wanted to call me, he would have called…

Gary Smalley: Yeah. I mean, he was willing that dayHe said, “Let’s pick up the phone and let’s do it right now.”

“Rebecca”: No. He’s wasn’t willing, or he would have hung up and called like he called Ruth. He lied to you, Gary.

Ruth Gabriel: Gary, I think he does. Gary, he leads you around because he’s not sincere withhe doesn’t come across a bit sincere to me. And I don’t know where you pick up the sincerity.

Gary Smalley: I don’t pick up necessarily true sincerity. I’m just telling you that he ishe’ll get going on his own if he picks up any wind of anything.

Ruth Gabriel: Okay. Well, every girl I talk to or write toI will swear them to secrecy. And you can be sure that it won’t go any further, and they’ll understand when I write them why we don’t want it discussed at this point until we have a very decisive plan of action.

***  [Conclusion of Tape #5. Farewells.]

Editor’s note: Even in the face of intense and protracted struggle, we still have a responsibility to communicate truth and grace. Recovering Grace is proud to pick up the torch first carried by our sisters and brothers in Christ. 


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. Brieta Allison February 26, 2014 Reply

    Humble men of God who were much more qualified than Mr. Gothard or any of us, tried to step in and prevent what is happening now...untold lives damaged and the name of Christ tarnished.

  2. John February 26, 2014 Reply

    Rev. Hagenbaugh: Or how did he get there? And then we can say, “Here’s how he got there.” And then we’ll be able to come down to the basic problem. We understand that all of the immoral issue involved is a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the hermeneutic. But we’re not going to be able to get people’s attention with hermeneutics. And so when you say that the product was the result of long years of brainwashing and manipulation and philosophy and all of that, we understand that; but most of the Christian community who is so committed to Bill Gothard is not going to look at that as being significant.

    So sad and so true :(

    • MatthewS February 26, 2014 Reply

      Yes, that one really jumped out at me, too. I think the hermeneutical and theological information is critical and that it needs to be available, but sadly few people pay attention to it until you first point out the glaring sexual problems. Then people see the problems, then start asking "how did this happen?" and "Where do we go from here?" And that's where the hermeneutics and theology can help answer those questions.

      • Ilsa Pucchi February 26, 2014 Reply

        A thought provoking thought that I don't have an answer's like the chicken and the egg - which came first? And which came first here? The theological problem that dictated the morality, or the morality that dictated the theology?

    • L. Shackelford February 26, 2014 Reply

      Yes, this section jumped out at me too, but for a different reason. When you are a theologian, every problem looks 'hermeneutical.' I would say that the problem is the sinful human heart. Sin blinds us. Sin blinds us to our own blindness. A man who is lead away by a heart that wants (pick any): to please his father more than God; make a name for himself; wants to touch young women and have them adore him; have absolute loyalty; look successful, etc. will interpret Scripture to suit those desires, and will have a hard time seeing anything different.
      We all have this problem, but we have the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the body of Christ to speak truth to us, and we have God's gracious ways of getting our attention and changing our focus. But. It we harden our hearts, as I believe BG has done, we cease to hear truth. "A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool." Proverbs 17.10 Explaining to BG that he is looking wrongly at Scripture is a waste of time. It was then, and it is now, and I don't think the men in this conversation felt they could change his views either.
      In Bill's parlance, what Bill needs is a great big hammer. The only thing he really cares about, and will fight for to the death, is public opinion. That is why what RG is doing is so important. Maybe, by God's grace, when Bill loses that precious public opinion, he will see himself for the great sinner he is, and cry out to God for mercy.

  3. David February 26, 2014 Reply

    (1) Even back in 1983 it was a major point that everyone, including pastors, became outraged at the slightest hint of immoral behavior, but almost no one cared about the authority system and other doctrines that made that behavior possible. This continues today. The fact is, Bill Gothard's heretical authority system is the glue that holds his kingdom together. It is, yes, grave doctrinal heresy, but it is a spiritual problem. People have been brainwashed and bewitched with a false picture of God Himself. Once that happens, it opens the door to all else. His authority system is essentially the same authority system that holds together most cult groups. Christianity is Christ in you. The very core of Christianity is therefore the believers individual and personal access to God through ONE Mediator Jesus Christ. This authority system destroys this -- it destroys the very foundation of the believers personal relationship with God, and imposes a man, group, and system between the believer and God -- now your relationship with God is filtered through your supposed authority. Gothardites are so deceived and programmed by this spirit that they have little frame of reference for anything else. Hopefully, this Truth of Christ in us will expose that the entire system of Gothardism is, "another gospel," at the core, and many will be set free to know Jesus Christ.

    (2) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Jesus said, "I am the Truth." John writes, "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all." We are all very imperfect on these matters to be sure, but does it sound like TRUTH is the goal of Bill Gothard? Does it sound like his life and relationships with others is characterized by the Truth? To me, he sounds like a man who has preached and lived ERROR, has been continually confronted with it for decades, but has responded with the damage control of lies and manipulation. Only when it has helped him to keep his power has he made any concessions. There is a principle in this -- if you are preaching error and lies, you will live error and lies, and to defend your lies you will have to.....lie. None of what we are reading would be happening if the Truth was being preached. Criticism and persecution would certainly be there, but the answer would be to simply tell the Truth. The Truth does not need to be protected with lies.

    (3) Bill Gothard knows the objections that people have to his teachings. He has been confronted repeatedly. The fact that he will not see the Truth is therefore not a matter of ignorance. It is hardness. God is faithful. He does not leave it up to us to sort things out. Again, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit has been trying to convict him -- this is the promise of God.

    (4) Having been in a cult when I was much younger, I am sure that most of Bill's supporters believe they have been blessed by Bill's ministry, and can point to many examples of this -- and this is their, "proof," that his ministry is of God. I would point out that you could find Mormon and JWs that will say the same thing about their experiences. You can find that in most any cult. But blessing and fruits can be quite subjective. My point is this -- if you think legalism is Christianity, then you will think you are blessed if you are under the law. This is how deception works. Jesus said, "If the light in you is really darkness, then how great is that darkness." Gothardites cannot imagine that they have been deceived. But since when does a deceived person KNOW they are deceived?

    (5) What has gone on in this cult is the same thing that goes on in every cult. The leader -- God's authority -- has people convinced that he speaks for God and that they must submit. Most who do never even question the system itself -- they are under a spirit of deception. When that leader is questioned or confronted, the person doing it is labelled as bitter, rebellious, or at least a fool. They are usually disposed of. The rest of the crowd closes ranks and classifies those trying to show the truth as agents of Satan. And the cycle continues.

    (6) People have great difficulty admitting that their faith has NOT been in Christ, but in a body of teaching. When that body of teaching is shattered, they don't know where to turn because their facade of faith has been toppled. Well, they need to turn to Christ. At that point, people can start looking at things from the outside, rather from the inside. My prayer is that many will be set free from these heretical teachings and begin realizing Christ as their life.

    • Beverly February 26, 2014 Reply

      "My point is this — if you think legalism is Christianity, then you will think you are blessed if you are under the law. This is how deception works. Jesus said, “If the light in you is really darkness, then how great is that darkness.” Gothardites cannot imagine that they have been deceived. But since when does a deceived person KNOW they are deceived?"

      This was my experience exactly, David. I had no idea that what I was living was not the truth of Christianity until one day the blindfold suddenly fell off of me and I could finally see the beauty and truth of the gospel of Grace. I NEVER thought I was one who was deceived in my walk with Christ, but when that moment happened, I realized everything I had lived and believed about legalism was a lie and that God intended a life so much richer and more beautiful---a life lived in dependence on His Spirit. When you live according to the law and making yourself right with God by your actions (even after salvation), you cannot be living in reliance upon the Holy Spirit. The two are polar opposite ways of walking through this life and, as Paul says in Galatians 5:18, those two ways of living are mutually exclusive. It can never be following the law plus Jesus. It's Jesus plus NOTHING.

      • Brumby February 27, 2014 Reply

        Hey, Beverly: How do you get a picture to go with your comments on RG??? I am trying to figure it out and I can't figure it out! How do you do it?

        • Nick March 3, 2014

          You need to get an account at Gravatar with your email address of your choice, and then use that email address to post here on Recovering Grace.

    • Beth February 26, 2014 Reply

      Very well said, David. You are so right about the his heretical teaching on authority being the lynch pin of his whole system---and it's the core of every cult, too. When someone stands between any person and God, they are proclaiming themselves to be a kind of god, and the door for all kinds of abuse is wide open. The priesthood of every individual believer is a doctrine that set Europe free in the Reformation, and it's a doctrine that needs a strong defense today, too. Thank you for your clear, bold words! Keep saying it!

      For those who have been infected with Gothard's teaching, it's the key to setting free young people who think only their parents can know God's will for their careers, mates, etc. No, dear brother or sister, while parents can advise, they may or may not know God's mind for your life. Only you can know that through reading God's Word and prayer. Yes, it's a little scary at first because it makes each individual responsible for their own actions. But it's also blessed freedom to follow the Good Shepherd Himself and to trust in His promise to lead us in the paths of righteousness for His own name's sake.

    • greg r February 26, 2014 Reply

      Just a thought: I think you are spot on as to Bill's biggest mistake , in usurping the position of Christ as mediator; I'd suggest big mistake #2 as taking the role of the Holy Spirity in his eagerness to manage EVERYTHING in a believer's life .."biblically" of course.. he gladly steps in where scripture is purposely silent, or ambibuous, and takes up the role of the Comforter, WHO leads us unto all truth. Both mistakes have 'control' written large all over them.

  4. brandon February 26, 2014 Reply

    Wow. I cant believe I was ever duped by this fraudster...

  5. linda February 26, 2014 Reply

    So sad that many families are continuing to prepare to go to the Big Sandy Conference, and all of the upcoming conferences. Could many of them not be aware? When will a statement be coming from Headquarters? I thought that last week it was said, "in a day or two"...

    • greg r February 26, 2014 Reply

      I'm not saying this is the "right" idea, but their best strategy, IMO, is to wait is out, say as little as possible, and try and let it die down. Any kind of open confrontation, legal or not, will invite more publicity...not what they want, I'm sure. Bill will defend himself to his own "camp" and minimize the losses, but their will be losses.
      So don't expect much in the public statement department, and don't expect it any time soon.

    • Mike February 26, 2014 Reply

      I know I sound cynical, but how often has BG been trustworthy according to these reports? I think he'll have a response eventually, but until there's one I don't think there's a reason to expect one. He's had 35 years to say something about this but hasn't come forward unless there's been a clear scape-goat. The 1980 news reports make a good case study in how he handled it then, as it took until 2014 for the story to be fully told! I do hope there is one soon though.

    • esbee February 26, 2014 Reply

      "•Please bring your smiles. Our photographers will be taking pictures of bright, smiling faces, which might appear in future IBLP promotional materials, products or slideshows."

      I went to the website about Big Sandy conference and this is what jumped out at me! It's ALL about the appearance and promotion of that appearance! The outside, not the eternal!

    • Jonathan February 26, 2014 Reply

      Based on past experience I think the Regional Conferences will be (possibly) the most telling thing to come from Bill on all of this. He can ignore RG for the most part. Unless the media at large picks this up, he can ignore the publicity too. What he can't ignore is his following. It's all he has left. He has to say something to them and past experience would imply that's where it will be.

      Obviously, it'll be well spun and controlled, but I believe it's the only place where he will be forced to say something and it will also be the safest "home crowd" for him to address the matter to. It may be worth watching for videos/transcripts/notes from the regional conferences this year.

    • Lizzie February 26, 2014 Reply

      Email the speakers. Call the speakers. Explain to them that their continued public support of this man is the same as publicly supporting his sin. Insist that they educate themselves on what us going on. Let them know the church is watching how they deal with the proof of Bill Gothard's lack of Biblical qualification.

    • BP February 26, 2014 Reply

      Part of me wants to see the RG readership mobilized & doing things like picketing headquarters & the Big Sandy conference (& contacting news media beforehand), initiating an electronic petition as a means of creating awareness and gathering signatures of those calling on BG to resign... registering for various regional seminars in order to distribute info via conversations, printed literature, or heckling...

      • Sarah February 26, 2014 Reply

        I know at least one person who did this (handed out RG info cards at an event in Sacramento (not sure which one)). Some of the watchdogs caught wind of it, and after not being able to stop him, brought it to the attention of BG. It resulted in a conversation with him where he of course tried to manipulate, intimidate and hold a past gift of money over his head like he owed him something as a result.

        I personally think that it would at least be worth the effort to have a grassroots, on the street, awareness campaign for those local to IBLP events.

        I just remember being at the Regional ATI conference in California and thinking about the close proximity to normal people as they walked down the street, and how wildly judgmental everyone seemed to be of simple passerbys. If those passerbys turned out to be ex-IBLP? I guess I feel that a bunch of people wearing "ex-iblp" and "ex-ati" or "hurt by these teachings" shirts could at least shake things up.

        I hope for much bigger things to come out of this--hopefully the dissolution of the cult, and legal repercussions for BG's sexual harassment of minors and young adults, but for those fully intrenched, personal testimony might be the most effective.

      • RB February 26, 2014 Reply

        Picketing, signature gathering, distributing literature, etc., will give BG a way to distract people from the foundational issues. It will create a common enemy for him to focus everyone's attention on.

        I'd like to see the current bylaws and see what recourse board members and others may have there. I am sure that has been looked into already, though.

        Of course, if he is removed from the organization, enough people will remain loyal to him that he will be able to start up again under another name.

      • Wendy M. February 26, 2014 Reply

        It doesn't seem to me it would be a good idea to go to the seminars in order to distribute info. I have been talking to a dear friend whose daughter & her husband have been in ATIA for at least the past 13-14 years & I have been trying to get her to go on RG & encourage her son-in-law to. He has a very negative impression of RG because he was approached by a man at the ATIA conference in Sacramento last summer who asked him questions & gave him a RG card. He also said RG is frequently in the parking lot at ALERT & asked to leave by security. His impression is of an underhanded group trying to undermine a "wonderful ministry." I know none of this is true & I appreciate what you are doing online with all of my heart, but I think showing up at these conferences does not help but actually hinders what RG hopes to accomplish.
        We were In ATIA in the 90's, we attended our first IBYC in 1974, as new parents & thought it was wonderful. I am ashamed to say we did not discern the error. We went again when our daughters were in their teens & also attended the Advanced. Our younger daughter taught at the Children's Seminars in Pasadena. I am so thankful we never sent her away to any of the programs. We were so shocked in February 2014, when we learned of RG through Facebook & began reading the postings. It was very hard to process at first, but I am so thankful for what you are doing. We know several wonderful families who are very involved in ATIA. They are all praying & waiting for the Board to act, but won't look at RG which makes me so sad. They need to know the truth to protect their children. I can understand how hard it must be to even consider that something you have invested most of all of your married life in is false. Let's continue to pray for all the families still committed to ATIA & thus to Bill Gothard.
        Perhaps contacting the speakers as individuals & even a petition might be good ideas.

        • Sara February 27, 2014

          One person, or even a few, might be easy to dismiss, write off, and demonize, but in advocacy, numbers matter. I think if there were tens or hundreds of people picketing or distributing RG fliers, it would make it at least hard to ignore. Numbers speak volumes. Model it after Civil Rights sit-ins or pacifist protests.

    • Brenda February 26, 2014 Reply

      Linda, where did you hear "in a day or two"? Was it from Bill Gothard or RG site? Just curious as we are out of ATI and are concerned that they are clueless as I was.

      • Ryan Sapp February 26, 2014 Reply

        A woman who had talked to George Maddix (staff member) said He personally had seen the confession written by Bill and that it would be released in a day or two (that was last week), We all know a release from this man will not contain anything of substance. Maybe he is changing it everyday as we (the public) learn more about who he is. In this one instance I would not hold it against Bill if he said out loud, "oh s..."

        Alfred, I know you think you know him but the people in the transcript new him infinitely better. I am sad for you. I realized long ago there is a wonderful life out there outside IBLP, many on this site have realized it, as will you.

        Bill, might as well include a resignation in your statement. If your work is of God it will go on with out you. I guess that's where the rubber meets the road.

        As far as Bill ignoring this, they can't. The internet takes "shouting it from the roof tops" to a whole new level.

        And for RG. When you have a case this tight and with this amount of empirical evidence I guess you can lay it on the table and let the masses decide as you have done. You have a Royal Flush and come to find out Bill was bluffing this whole time.


        • Shane February 26, 2014

          You have a Royal Flush and come to find out Bill was bluffing this whole time.

    • Shannon Wehr February 27, 2014 Reply

      Yes, a statement from Bill was to come out in a day or two from what George Mattix to told me on February 21 on the phone from IBLP headquarters. Apparently, all those lawyers Mattix talked about and Bill had to have more conferences and add more innuendos to protect them from accountability.

  6. Jonathan Owens February 26, 2014 Reply

    After reading this, it seems to me that the RG leadership team is somewhat following the approach discussed on the phone in this transcript.

    • Beverly February 26, 2014 Reply

      Which part? The publishing of the girls' stories? I do think that widespread publication is the ONLY way left in order to get Bill's immoral behavior to stop. I can't believe these conversations were happening 30 years ago, and he's STILL in office and STILL (as recently as a friend's report from this last year) hitting on underaged girls. That communicates to me that this is an addiction he has never dealt with. He needs to step down and enter an addiction recovery program for his own good. And if any girls have the ability to prosecute, he needs to answer to the law, too. Seriously...if he doesn't answer for his sexual issues, he should answer for making underaged staff work 40-60 hours a week and telling them not to put the overtime on their time card but to donate it to the ministry. Someone could literally pick one of a hundred different aspects of how he's broken the law and take it to court. Matthew 18 only works in non-criminal matters. Once you cross the line into breaking the law--not once but repeatedly--it's time to make him accountable to the law of the land. Just my own two cents.

      • Jonathan Owens February 26, 2014 Reply

        Yes, the girls stories then dealing with the flawed character in BG, then focusing on his theology. This transcript clearly says the girls stories must be addressed before theology because the general American Church does not care as deeply about theology as character.

      • Donna February 26, 2014 Reply

        Beverly, while my family has never been affiliated with IBLP/ATI, we have many friends who have been extensively involved. If there is evidence of continued and recent sexual harassment or assault, it would seem that it is possible that legal action could be taken. I hope that those who know girls and/or women who might have been recent targets will speak out on behalf of these victims. Bill Gothard might not fare well in a court of law.

        • Jonathan Owens February 26, 2014

          It is time for Bill Gothard to step down

      • Brenda February 26, 2014 Reply

        Beverly, If those girls could have support to speak up that could really help to prove its not an old problem.

  7. Sara Sackville February 26, 2014 Reply

    I understand the thinking about the connection between his belief system and his behavior, but as a licensed therapist who is trained in trauma treatment, I have a different view. He sounds like a sexual predator who developed ideas to justify his behavior. Outside of the Christian community, no one would say that his behavior "flowed from" his hermeneutics. They would go with the simplest explanation possible: he was a sex offender who was aware of his proclivities, sought to tame them by religion, and yet when he couldn't, he utilized his distorted faith system to control and manipulate victims. The argument about which came first - his faith system or his behavior - is only valid to me in that it shows the destructive nature of his belief system. But let's not miss the forest for the trees.

    And for the record, my Christian family suffered significant damage due to the idea of "chain of command" that was misapplied in very hurtful ways.

    • Sophia February 26, 2014 Reply

      I agree. I believe he built a system to support and enable his own perversion. Abusers are attracted to ways of thinking that justify their own actions. Maybe at some level he was aware of his own hypocrisy, but that would only create a cycle of guilt and rationalization that would make problems worse.

      • Don Owens February 26, 2014 Reply

        Sara and Sophia: Thank you for your perspective. I tend to agree with you on this. Throughout these revelations, I have been very uncomfortable with the dogmatic assertions that it is the hermeneutic / theology which produced the aberrant behavior. It is very possible, and to me very likely that it was the other way around.

    • David February 26, 2014 Reply

      I think most Christians would agree, and I know that the Bible teaches, that theology does NOT create behavior -- but a person's heart towards God is ultimately the source of both theology and behavior. Rather than use the word behavior, I prefer to get back to the HEART towards God. You are certainly correct -- Bill teaches what he does, and behaves as he does -- because of an wrong heart towards God. He is a sexual predator and a power monger who teaches and practices a theology that justifies himself.

    • Shane February 26, 2014 Reply

      I am not a counselor, but as a pastor I have worked closely with them in some of the most twisted kinds of relational dynamics and mental illnesses. I was very struck by the exchange at the end between Gary and Rebecca. All I'll say is it's apparent (obviously, duh!) that Bill knows who and how to twist people up to gain control. I felt Gary's anxiety at how Bill was going to operate, and I love Rebecca's clarity and fortitude at seeing through his B.S.

    • SteveMcK February 26, 2014 Reply

      I've felt like this ever since I first found RG and the stories in here. I haven't yet heard any testimony regarding outright sexual molestation, but all these stories about fondling etc, seem to be feeling out (no pun intended) victims.

      This is a process every predator partakes in, and it heavily implies to me that he is a predator, and there are victims. But he chooses his victims so carefully, finding one who will expose him in public is a heavy challenge that hasn't been successful yet.

      • Beverly February 26, 2014 Reply

        Well there's always Charlotte's story. I'm amazed by her bravery to speak out publicly, especially after Bill threatened her to keep her silent. Makes me wonder how many more girls are out there that he did this to.

        • SteveMcK February 26, 2014

          Thanks for that, I hadn't seen that story. Even spending time alone without a chaperone is clearcut hypocrisy which he has never been repentant of.

          But I hadn't heard this, which goes beyond hypocrisy into a clear cut felony that means you have to register as a sexual offender for the rest of your life.

          I doubt there is a stature of limitations on sexual abuse of a minor, are we sure? Did someone speak to an Attorney?

        • Beverly February 26, 2014

          This article says that the RG team has been in touch with lawyers about this stuff: (Question #1 addresses it). The individual girls need to step forward and pursue prosecution, but I imagine how difficult a choice that would be. It's not as easy as it sounds to put yourself out there like that and enter a legal battle. An organization like RG couldn't do it for the girls, because they weren't directly harmed---it has to be the girls who take action on their own. I'll be the first person to cheer them on, if they ever were able to take legal action. Something HAS to be done!

        • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014

          In the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses let every matter be established. There are a number of reasons why I doubt the veracity of Charlotte's account. And as she does stand so strikingly alone in testifying to actual sexual contact, that matter needs to be corroborated before it is believed. Testimony is provided to her being there at that time, but no one that she even make such allegations to, at that time or since. There was no known sexual contact to come out of 1980 . . . nor since then, with this one striking exception. May the Lord make it plain, for His Name's sake.

          It is interesting . . . Dr. Rademacher's primary concern was . . . doctrine, hermeneutics. (I lived my childhood in Portland, his name was well known). Dr. Schulz also cited his lack of confidence in what Bill taught as a driving force for his resignation. If you really believed that what Bill taught came from God, would you approach the matters at hand any differently?

        • Dixie Bown Rose February 27, 2014

          Alfred, It is your right to choose whether you believe Charlotte's story or not. However, I would like to ask you a question regarding your statement about her being the only one with "sexual contact". Would you play footsie with your daughter's friend? To me, footsie is a very intimate act and can be a part of foreplay in a sexual relationship. I personally would not be comfortable with any man trying to play footsie with me other than my husband.

        • P.L. February 27, 2014

          @Alfred "If you really believed that what Bill taught came from God, would you approach the matters at hand any differently?"


          Bill is disqualified based on his behavior alone. He could be the greatest expositor of scripture ever, and he would still be disqualified. Deeds trump words.

        • eva February 27, 2014

          Alfred, how many times do you suppose a sexual predator puts his hand under a girl's skirt (to touch her privates) in front of 2 or 3 witnesses? And just how do you think that could be corroborated? She isn't alone in testifying to body contact from this man. You are asking for us to believe a liar over the testimony of several women? There are more than 2 or 3 who testify to his being a liar. I have to come to feeling sorry for you. It only gets harder to admit that you were wrong in supporting this man. I was in that place once myself (but not in ATI) but no more. I can see his false teachings if nothing else and when these other testimonies are added to that --- no way will I defend such activiities and beliefs. Praying that you will see what is right before your eyes.

        • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014

          So, Eva, you allow that any woman desiring to punish a man can simply invent a story of things done in secret . . . And we are honor bound to believe her? What if I am the one being so accused . . . . Would you believe her . . . Because you dislike me and want my life to be miserable? My finger is starting to waggle . . .

        • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014

          Dixie: a dear family friend - like an aunt - occasionally played "footsie" with us (brother) as a lark. Along with ordering too much dessert and blowing straw covers at each other. There was not a perverted bone in her body - at he'd her life until her death. It ain't what you say to everyone.

        • Dixie Bown Rose February 27, 2014

          Alfred, Thank you for your perspective. However, Mr. Gothard was NOT a dear family friend to any of these young ladies. He was their boss. If a secular employer played "footsie" with his secretary, he would be guilty of sexual harrassment. Why should Mr. Gothard be held to a different standard?

        • eva February 27, 2014

          Sorry, Alfred, you are putting words in my mouth that I never said. Just like Bill Gothard. I guess you've learned your lessons well from him. Why does it take witnesses to Charlotte's story for you to believe but you seem willing to believe the others because there seems to be no "sexual" contact? I never said she wanted to punish him. That is what you are saying. And I have not heard you speak to thousands in a seminar so I only know what I see and read on here about you. I don't think saying that I dislike you is even an honest thing to say. You don't know me and I never said that I want your life to be miserable. Instead I pray that you will see the truth and be free. Earlier I did say that I waggled my finger at you but I also said that I am not doing that any more (on another post somewhere) because now I feel sorry that ou have believed all those lies.

          I would also like to point out another thing about Dr. Radmacher--he was not a 15 year old unsaved person when he went to the Portland seminar. I know you say you were saved there but there was a world of difference in the knowledge and wisdom that Dr. Radmacher had as opposed to a new Christian who was 15 years old. I can understand your adulation of Bill Gothard. We fell for it for a time and I saw many others doing the same thing. We had questions about a lot of things BG said but somehow we turned a deaf ear or a blind eye to it. Fortunately, for us it never did really take except for a few things for awhile. Thankfully, I saw that despicable doctrine about the woman's menstrual flow and the blood of Christ. You can belittle my concern about it if you want but it doesn't speak to me about the Precious Blood of Christ shed for my sins.

        • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014

          Dixie: ["Mr. Gothard was NOT a dear family friend to any of these young ladies. He was their boss"]. That tells me you do not know this ministry. Anyone there will tell you that Bill Gotherd does not view anyone as an employee . . . But as a disciple. The relationship IS much more family than anything like employment.

        • Allen February 28, 2014

          Alfred said, "A dear family friend - like an aunt - occasionally played "footsie" with us (brother) as a lark." Quite a reach Alfred. Actually, one of the most lame and pathetic excuses for Bill's conduct you have presented. And your comment that Bill's ministry is more like a family -- the same kind of excuse -- is likewise pathetic. You are actually rationalizing Bill's physical contact with young girls on the basis of these arguments? I feel sorry for you. But then again, that is the kind of thing deceived people do.

        • "Hannah" March 1, 2014

          Lol. Dixie knows the ministry. I can assure you.

      • Mark February 26, 2014 Reply

        Steve, "But he chooses his victims so carefully, finding one who will expose him in public is a heavy challenge that hasn't been successful yet."

        I can't stress this enough, Steve, you are exactly right. Bill is an experienced predator and he has years of experience in finding the right girls that he can manipulate and control. I'm sure they are going to be manipulated with guilt over causing Bill to stumble and think that people are going to blame them.

        Another thing that was clear from the transcript was that Ruth and Rebecca were stuck in the IBLP mindset until they were awakened to its cultishness and abuse. So, the girls who are currently being abused are stuck in this cultish mindset, thinking either that they are to blame for what happens to them, or that Bill's chain of command means that they must obey him no matter how immoral his behavior seems.

        It seems the only hope at this point is for some current ATI parents to see this site and recognize the symptomatic behavior in their own children. Based on the book "Boundaries" - recommended RG reading - I will theorize that the girls that fall into the trap are girls who have weak boundaries, and the girls who have weak boundaries are generally the ones who were brought up without good boundaries by their parents. The whole thing just seems so hopeless, which is, I think, why whatever is happening has happened for 30+ years.

        • Suzi February 27, 2014

          Sadly, even knowing ATI parents are little help. I shared this site with a parent with a daughter at headquarters last year who was working closely with Bill. She was under 18 at the time, and it was obvious that something was wrong from all the tales coming home...none of sexual involvement, but extreme emotional attachment as well as inappropriate personal attention both at HQ and at home - daily contact from BG via phone in her absence from HQ. Herein lies the problem...her parents were so "honored" that she was chosen that they shared all these things as great indications of her favor, and thus her "spirituality" at being chosen. If you are deeply entrenched in the deceit, you don't recognize any danger. Response to my exhortation to read the site..." Yes, we are acquainted with that site..thank you."

        • horse February 27, 2014

          Suzi, this is very concerning and upsetting!

          *but extreme emotional attachment as well as inappropriate personal attention both at HQ and at home - daily contact from BG via phone in her absence from HQ.*

          Suzi February 27, 2014
          Sadly, even knowing ATI parents are little help. I shared this site with a parent with a daughter at headquarters last year who was working closely with Bill. She was under 18 at the time, and it was obvious that something was wrong from all the tales coming home...none of sexual involvement, *but extreme emotional attachment as well as inappropriate personal attention both at HQ and at home - daily contact from BG via phone in her absence from HQ.* Herein lies the problem...her parents were so "honored" that she was chosen that they shared all these things as great indications of her favor, and thus her "spirituality" at being chosen. If you are deeply entrenched in the deceit, you don't recognize any danger. Response to my exhortation to read the site..." Yes, we are acquainted with that site..thank you."

      • Sad February 27, 2014 Reply

        For Alfred in this particular discussion- please STOP trying to defend the "footsie". The testimony of multiple girls here has indicated it creeped them out and was offensive behavior. BG is in a position of authority over them as their boss and it is grossly inappropriate to behave this way to your employees. I would be FIRED had I tried to do such behavior to someone under my supervision. (for the record, I am a front line supervisor where I work)

        Secondly, may I direct you to the Basic Seminar book. Page 181: "...most people, intimacy is associated only with the physical..". BG wrote that he understood what physical contact could be perceived as. And yet, time and again, seemed unable to follow his own writings on this and invaded the personal space of dozens of girls. With 34 having contacted RG, I am sure that there are even more out there who have never heard of RG, or are too ashamed to come forward with their stories. His behavior is that of a predator, even if he has kept himself limited in his exploits. Please wake up.

        • Shane February 27, 2014

          I will say that it's the continued dismissal of these actions (footsie) that steel my resolve to not let this thing go away; what little my part is. I've got to believe that if Alfred had a situation where another pastor was doing this with someone he cared about he'd be hopping mad. He wouldn't be making excuses. At least that's the benefit of the doubt I give you, Alfred. I've found myself wondering at times, since I don't know Alfred, if he is a planted foil to keep the discussion focused. I know that's not the case, but I can't begin to understand the defenses he offers. I'm reminded of the defense of Michael Jackson; "he's just so innocent. The rest of the world just can't understand him."

          No workplace would allow this! No ministry should.

    • Brenda February 26, 2014 Reply


      I totally agree with the explanation. Your comment made me wonder what his life was like BEFORE IBLP etc. The thought that if his beliefs come from his behavior. Very well put.

      I am sorry for your suffering. Our family suffered too.

      • Sara February 27, 2014 Reply

        Thanks for your affirmation, Brenda

  8. Mark R February 26, 2014 Reply

    I noticed that (among the highlighted comments) that Ruth did not feel called of God to "reform" IBLP, as she considered it to be invalid.

    This is what I have said in other posts and continue to say here: although it would be good to see Gothard come to repentance, IBLP as a whole is rotten to the core, and no matter how it happens (people seeing him as a false teacher, a hypocrite, and/or a sexual predator) the only permanent solution is for IBLP and its affiliates to be permanently shut down once and for all.

    • greg r February 26, 2014 Reply

      Yes, in this case there IS no "baby with the bathwater...unless you count Chuckie-doll as a 'baby'...."

    • (attendee and former parent) February 27, 2014 Reply

      "It may be that God will see fit to bring Bill to repentance." 1983! 31 - THIRTY ONE - years later we 'hope' for the same thing? I know God is faithful, but in Scripture action was swift. Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) Pain was eliminated - the waiting, the wondering, the non-commitment, the toying with us - over and done with. Could it be that if action - and I don't know what or who - was swiftly taken now, the very public action might be used of God to bring Bill to repentance? How Satan must laugh at our seeming indecisiveness and inaction while, God forbid, others are being brain washed and lives continue to be devastated? It would certainly bring resolution and some closure to those of us who have spent years (in my case this man influenced my life since I was 22 years old - followed by 15, 16 years in ATI and the 12 difficult years following our departure with more and more understanding of what hideous lies we accepted as TRUTH). May God be pleased to direct those who have influence and authority whom He can use to bring this to an end.

  9. Mark R February 26, 2014 Reply

    On a somewhat related note: I wonder how Ruth's ordeal being in IBLP caused her health to be weakened, so as to die way too young.

    I have some personal experience on this. My family and I all found Christ in a particular church. However, we were run off by a corrupt pastor because we didn't meekly go along with him. Within a year, Mom was dead.

    • Brumby February 26, 2014 Reply

      The health and diet teachings that BG proclaimed were of detriment to many families. I personally watched family members as well as other ATI families suffer physical ailments which I think are a result of nutritional deficiencies. BG was no expert, and that lack of expertise was compounded by lack of nutritional knowledge that parents/families had in combination with his ideas. The 80/20 was universal, "one size fits all" (and if it doesn't, then you must be sinning in some other area...!). I never found anyone outside of ATI that had heard of the "80/20" diet! And at this time, I would like to proclaim to anyone reading that I am proud, and ENJOY, the cup of ACID (coffee) that I now drink EVERY MORNING!!!! :)

      • esbee February 26, 2014 Reply

        what is the 80/20 diet? Never heard of it.

        Even though eating right is a good thing did you notice that when the world trade centers came down (or tornado or flood or any catastrophic event) it did not matter if they were vegans, fat, ran marathons, or ate junk food daily. They were all victims regardless of what they ate.

        • Brumby February 26, 2014

          @ Esbee: We had a placemat/poster of the 80/20 diet on our refrigerator that my parents had obtained at an ATI conference. I personally recall Bill presenting the 80/20 ideas in sessions in the late 90's. The idea was to consume 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods.

          @ Mark R: I didn't mean my comment to detract from the more serious issues of sexual abuse and stress placed on students.

      • Mark R February 26, 2014 Reply

        I was thinking more in terms of the stress placed on Ruth by Gothard's sexual behavior towards her, her witnessing that the "principles" taught were not used in practice, things like that, leaving a group that had been a large part of her life under less than ideal circumstances.

        Not that his Medical Training Institute teachings were little more than the snake oil salesmen broadcast on the old "border blaster" radio stations.

        (BTW, is IBLP still offering MTIA stuff, or did Gothard have to shut it down due to medical board complaints? I don't see anything on the website about MTIA, nor in their online store (except for one item talking about the health hazards of anger), but their listing is very confusing and not in any sort of order, so I could have missed it.)

  10. MatthewS February 26, 2014 Reply

    This one resonates with me, big time:

    "Rev. Hagenbaugh: Or how did he get there? And then we can say, “Here’s how he got there.” And then we’ll be able to come down to the basic problem. We understand that all of the immoral issue involved is a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the hermeneutic. But we’re not going to be able to get people’s attention with hermeneutics. And so when you say that the product was the result of long years of brainwashing and manipulation and philosophy and all of that, we understand that; but most of the Christian community who is so committed to Bill Gothard is not going to look at that as being significant."

    • RevKev February 26, 2014 Reply

      'We're not going to get people's attention with hermeneutics.' That's true, and probably more so today, sadly. I think in an increasingly relativistic culture, beliefs/theology are seen as arenas where it's not our place to disagree. Who are we to say that this doctrine is right and that doctrine is wrong? But these stories of harassment or molestation or abuse are stories our culture listens to. That's very telling, by the way, because it shows that our culture still has at least one absolute; they believe unwanted physical contact by a man upon a minor is absolutely wrong.

      I submitted a couple articles to RG regarding Gothard's theology a couple years ago. At the time, that seemed like the major issue to me. But in the end, it looks like it's Bill's behavior that will be his undoing. Thanks to RG for shifting focus from beliefs to how they influence behavior; I do hope, like the people in this transcript, that once those issues are addressed, we can look back again at the belief-system that drove them.

      • Shane February 26, 2014 Reply

        The problem is that our culture (especially in the church) does NOT listen to them. That's Ruth's and Rebecca's hesitation. I'll bet 999/1000 instances where a woman comes forward and talks about abuse in the church; if he didn't hit her, slam her against a wall, etc. the person she's talking to is essentially dismissive. We think physical abuse is more harmful than spiritual abuse (if we believe spiritual abuse even exists). This is a result of many things, but legalism is a culprit. We don't understand the corrupt forces of manipulation because they're harder than "did he hit you?" or in this case "ever touch you X?" as if that's the only way to abuse someone. Please just know this is going on in your churches right now; men who are abusing their wives and/or children without ever laying a finger on them. Please let's learn from this to be vigilant for others as well as seeking justice for Ruth, Rebecca, and everyone harmed by this man and his ministry.

        • MatthewS February 26, 2014

          Many pastors really do need to be better informed about how abuse actually happens in real life. I've heard it too many times where a pastor (or other leader) will gloss over the story that someone is trying to tell them, and will start saying with a smile, "well, in our home whenever we have an issue like this..." I really hate to hear that, because this isn't about "your" home, buddy! This is about the home of the person trying to talk to you. And in THAT home, there may very well be a completely different dynamic than what you grew up in or how you live now. I'm not knocking pastors - they have a harder job than most people realize. It's a call to be better informed and to learn how to point people towards better help.

  11. Mark R February 26, 2014 Reply

    One final comment.

    I remember in the comments on the last post, that it was mentioned how IBLP/Gothard were seemingly willing to sue other Christians while telling adherents that it was wrong to do so.

    Today, in the transcript, the very issue of potential lawsuits was raised, with one comment made that Gothard did start suing other Christians, the publicity would not be to his benefit.

  12. P.L. February 26, 2014 Reply

    I'd like to know from those involved what they see as the reasons that these early efforts ultimately didn't work to reign in Bill. Are there learnings that might help others who are trying to hold abusive leaders accountable? Things they might have done differently in hindsight? Perhaps pre-internet it just wasn't possible to communicate the problems to enough people? I'm in no way faulting these efforts, just trying to learn from them.

    • greg r February 26, 2014 Reply

      @P.L.: I'll give you my 'quick three'

      1)use the words "false teacher" and "heresy" as sparingly as possible; in Bill's case , they are more than warranted, they are not over reactions

      2)clearly define why a false teacher's doctrine is false, and make that knowledge widespread, so as to warn others

      3)advise other beleivers to FLEE the teacher and his/her teaching; the teacher and their 'machine' will likely chug along: don't be part of it, leave it and warn others

      As far as I understand it, that's the best practice, most often; as mentioned, this should only be used when teaching has gone off the rails in as serious a way as Bill and his collecition of vain imaginings.

    • Dave February 26, 2014 Reply

      Here's my take, as someone who became connected to BG/IBLP/ATI in the early 80's.

      First, the focus of the ministry began to move away from the seminars and the churches to home-schooling families. Those families, particularly those parents, were people who were already alienated from the majority of the Christian community because of their conservatism and their fear of the world's influence. One or two ATI families could be found in a church in the early days. The people already on the edge.

      Second, the home-schooling community offered BG a way to show success to his critics and find favor with community leaders. In a culture afraid of the future, BG marketed purity and happiness and a 1950's style of right living.

      Third, BG took advantage of the people's natural dissatisfaction with church and community hierarchy. They were subtly instructed to ignore the objections of church leaders and even family members. They were already doing this by home-schooling and found this easy.

      So, basically, BG did what so many revolutionaries have done: he stepped around those who could hold him accountable and who disagreed and took his message to the people he knew would respond. I don't think Radmacher and the gang had a chance. Anything they brought up was lumped into the objections of the establishment.

    • Larne Gabriel February 26, 2014 Reply


      Good question, it was a different world in 1983, there were no cell phones with cameras, text messaging and internet. Long distance phone calls were expensive and affording an answering machine was out of the question. Personal computers were expensive hard to use (DOS and floppy drives)and there was no internet or email as we know it today. A ten percent mortgage was a good rate, we just had the second oil embargo and gas price went 30% up to probably $1.40/gal (don't laugh). To copy something you had to go to a store, and then to send it via snail mail. If it was the wrong document you had to do it all over again. To take a picture you have to take the "film" to be developed normally a week, there was no one hour processing at Costco.

      Everything took time and money. Then there were the "small" issues of having babies and raising small children, working and starting careers, family and friend relationship. In other words life just got in the way. Gothard had the money and the staff to counter anything you did. Dr. Radmacher discussed in the phone call that Gothard was taking 25% of his time. Today we truly live in the information age, instant everything and RG, social media, internet, easy to use home computers printers and scanners have made this process much easier. My files are on in the "cloud" so they are everywhere I go. It's still taking way too much time but its much easier to do now. The other issue is the masses that attended the seminars just couldn't believe that Rev. Bill Gothard--that meek, humble, nerdy looking guy with his Brylcreem and black hair dye--could ever do anything wrong. We fought an uphill battle until RG came along. God's timing is everything!

      Larne Gabriel

      • Shelley Randolph Romey February 26, 2014 Reply

        It was definitely a different world. My family never heard anything of these problems at the time. My parents would have run the other way as fast as possible. Information was just not easy to spread then. It sickens me a bit to look at these dates knowing it was about the time we got involved. Years after the fact we heard rumors that Steve had an affair and was fired. It actually sounded positive that something was handled this way. Thankfully, my parents had the wisdom to search the scriptures for themselves and raise us to revere the Word of God over man. We could have easily been in the same position of many of the families who were so devastated by this organization.

        I'm so thankful that you, and other involved, kept such good records "for such a time as this." It may have taken years for there to be a chance to be heard but thank God you are being heard now even though I suspect this is incredibly difficult for you. Thank you Larne for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and opening your wounds for us. I pray these revelations will reach people who are in danger now and they will be emboldened to get away.

      • P.L. February 26, 2014 Reply

        Thanks greg r and dave and Larne for the replies! I'm going to keep thinking about this issue of how best to address leaders like these. What if those seeking to reign in an abusive leader had some resources with very practical advice, maybe even case studies, to consult? These recent posts show clearly the value of keeping detailed records, for example, but often church people don't because they are hoping for the best. Your advice and experience is invaluable.

        • greg r February 26, 2014

          Using a business model as an example, if you don't have "HR" thinking the way you do, good luck with this.... meaning it would take a unified group , and perhaps a majority of congregants (depending on your brand of church government)
          Reform and restore if possible, but get the heck out of dodge if it isn't. Whatever you do, do not be bullied.

      • KH February 26, 2014 Reply

        One reason why Mr. Gothard was so adamantly against families having the internet! But, at the same time, he understood that technology was moving at an incredibly rapid pace. Therefore, he had to control it by developing Character Link and insisting that ATI families purchase it if they were going to have internet in their home. You could never search a website that wasn't approved by him. It's all about that continued control and being the authority.

        • esbee February 26, 2014

          actually, for Christian families I tend to agree with something like this...even the public school, where I taught art, tried to have a tight filter on their internet to keep filth out.

          Before the internet if someone wanted to find porn they physically had to go to a place that sold porn, pay the money and physically by themselves open the book and turn the pages---nowadays via internet, some nameless demon-filled person sends the "book" pages wide open right into your private home.

          I have gotten emails with xxxxxx-rated stuff on them before our email company started filtering out that stuff. Even looking up something harmless can bring junk to your eyes. I typed in "harness horses" one day and you will not believe what came was not the horses wearing the harness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • KH February 26, 2014

          Those that monitored what was being requested were able to keep any and all negative information concerning ATI/IBLP, Gothard, etc. from being allowed to be accessed. Again it is all about control, control, control! I agree concerning the obvious reasons of blocking certain sites, but I guarantee you if Character Link was still operating today, you would NOT be allowed access to RG!

      • Brenda February 26, 2014 Reply


        Thank you. I know it must have been very painful to endure what you and Ruth did. My hope and prayer is that God can use it to expose this wrong doing. I have daughters and it grieves me deeply to think what Ruth as a young woman had to endure.

    • nmgirl February 26, 2014 Reply

      Not involved with any of this now or then, but I think a big problem was not calling a spade a spade. It wasn't 'defrauding' these women, it was sexual assault and harassment. A lot of people would have moved on if they had know that BG was sexually assaulting the women 'under is authority'.

      • Mark February 26, 2014 Reply

        nmgirl, I think we all agree. It's sexual assault and harassment. But, know that in conservative circles, there is a lot of trust in church authority and lack of trust in the secular authorities. I'm now in a situation where I have lack of trust in BOTH church and secular authority, but not all are like that.

        I'll recommend another of RG's book list. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. The book talks about how spiritual abuse perpetuates and exacerbates itself, to the point where girls who were sexually abused by pastors have to leave the church because they are blamed for being the people who tarnished the pastors' reputations.

        I know, at a very, very insignificant level what it was to be on the receiving end. I knew most concerns I brought up in church would be brushed aside, or worse yet, blamed on me. I was asked to serve with the deacon board, but nearly every idea I came up with was ignored, until one of the "insiders" had the idea and then it was the best idea ever. I got called a hypocrite to my face for writing a letter to the church leadership about something that concerned me.

        When I finally realized what was going on and why it was happening, I also realized that either no one would believe me, or that people would believe me, but be afraid to back me up for fear that the abuse would be directed towards them.

        This isn't the first abusive system and it won't be the last. We need to, as godly parents, build proper defense mechanisms into our kids, like the ability to say NO and the expectation that NO means NO! We need to stand up for the truth in our churches, even if it means getting labeled. (I'm failing this right now)

  13. Myron Horst February 26, 2014 Reply

    It is time to share the information about Bill Gothard's hypocrisy, fraud, and sexual abuse with as many people and news agencies as possible. 30+ years of silence has been too long. Too many people and families have been harmed in many ways by this man and his machine because this information was kept from the masses in 1980. Gothard's problem was not a private problem that only affected the staff at IBLP. They did not see the tens of thousands of people and homeschool families that would be harmed in the last 30+ years because Gothard was not exposed. Sexual abuse and the teaching of false doctrines by professing Christians is happening "everywhere" and is a monster that must be stopped!

    Diane Langberg, PhD., in her report titled “Sexual Abuse in Christian Organizations” explains how that when church leaders cover up sexual abuse, it is part of a series of deceptions that allows sexual abuse to continue to be carried out in the church community. Cover up of sexual abuse is the hiding of truths that are painful to the church leadership.

    “Sexual abuse requires both deception and coercion or an abuse of power. The deception must first be of the self and then of the victim and the community. If it is to be covered up then that deception and coercion must also be carried out by the system – which then is in fact mimicking the perpetrator…

    “The church leadership was mimicking the perpetrators in their choice of deception and coercion of the victims. Sexual abuse cannot exist without these components. Deception is clearly involved in the perpetrator’s relationship with the victim but first and foremost, the perpetrator is self-deceived. Deception of others is inevitably preceded by deception of the self. We as human beings have a seemingly unlimited capacity to hide truths that are painful to us. We have an uncanny ability to suppress knowing what we know.” page 10.

    Jesus warned us to not believe every preacher but to evaluate them by their fruit, not just what they say. He told us that there will be preachers who are phony Christians who make themselves look very good on the outside, but they are not true believers. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:15-21)

    “By their fruits you will know them.” All church leaders know that passage. There is a strong temptation to hide vile sins, such as sexual abuse, because it shows what their fruit really is. It is easy for religious leaders to make things look good on the outside by wearing sheep’s clothing, and talking a good talk, but we are not to look at their outward appearance but at their fruit. The covering up of sexual abuse is also part of their fruit. It shows what their true fruit is because true spiritual light exposes sin for all to see. Those who are false prophets hide sins, such as sexual abuse, and do not expose them with light. God specifically commands that sexual abuse must be rebuked and exposed for all to see. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:11-13)

    It is important that pastors publicly speak out against the sin of sexual abuse in their sermons. Carolyn Holderread Heggen, in her book Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches, p.179, says this:

    “Courageous pastors among us who have dared name abuse from the pulpit have been shocked by the result. Most tell of many victims coming to them afterward to share stories of personal violation. Many carried their abuse as a secret wound in their heart for decades. Once the sin was publicly named, victims felt permission had been granted to share their story with someone in the church. Unnamed, abuse cannot be healed or stopped. Adequately named, we can begin to exert dominion over this evil.”

    • L. Shackelford February 26, 2014 Reply

      Amen! I think you are also saying that an organization like this, which is lead by a sexual abuser who is a master of deceit and cover-up, will draw like-minded people into his organization. These will make use of the culture of IBYC to cloak and pursue their own abuses, sanctioning it all through the 'Principles.' Of course this is not true of all who are drawn to this organization, probably only a small percentage, I would hope! But like attracts like. This 'umbrella of protection' must be destroyed.

  14. Jim February 26, 2014 Reply

    While it is with great interest that this sensationalistic/cloak & dagger information is being presented, two simple facts remains.

    In John 10, we are told that "My sheep hear my voice, and do not follow the voice of a stranger..." along with, "MY sheep were given to my from my Father, and I know my sheep, and I keep everyone of them...".

    It is incumbent upon us all who were deceived by Bill to recognize several things:
    1. He is the "voice of the stranger who climbed over the wall."
    2. Our desperately wicked heart WANTS to follow the voice of the stranger that promises us an easy path to God.
    3. We know, intrinsicly, that we are at are most fullfilled when reconciled to our Creator, yet we WANT to make our work the basis of that restored relationship.
    4. When presented with ANY means of apparently restoring that relationship that does not require us to humbly acknowledge our sin to God and God alone, we WILL choose it.
    5. Lastly: It is Christ's task to keep his sheep. Not Bill Gothard, not our parents, not our own. He uses the Church. Plain and simple. He uses both pastors and lay people, deacons and children.

    To blame Bill's sin of "climbing over the wall" for the sin we committed in CHOOSING his voice over the still small Voice of our Savior, is to remain in bondage to ANY voice that offers redemption apart from the Blood of Christ.

    • Beverly February 26, 2014 Reply

      Jim, while I don't argue with your point in general, I will point out that MANY of the former students on this site were given no choice in listening to this false shepherd's voice. When you're raised in a cult, there IS very little choice. We were given what is known in psychology circles as "bounded choices"---to choose to reject Gothard's voice was to leave God's best path, and go against family's wishes (which would be to leave the umbrella of authority teaching and open yourself up to Satan). So the bounded choice for those who grew up in this program from infancy was to 1) listen to the false shepherd's voice, or 2) follow the voice of Satan. So tell me---which one would you choose?!

      • Brumby February 26, 2014 Reply

        I am incredibly thankful that I was not raised in ATI since birth. Thankfully, I was 10 when we joined, so I had been exposed to real life prior to joining. Had I been born into ATI... I cannot imagine to mess and heartbreak that I would still be in. I imagine I would still be in ATI, in mental and emotional and physical shambles. I feel so sorry for the children that are born into ATI and it is all they've ever known.

        • Shelley Randolph Romey February 26, 2014

          Ditto! We were all teenagers and had been raised in a home that loved the Word of God. We were taught to study it. We had also been homeschooling before we joined ATIA and knew no one else who did. It was a relief to find out we were not alone. Maybe these are the reasons ATIA did not take over our family as it did for some. We continued living the same way we had. We were still affected by many of the teachings but nothing to the extent of what I have seen others do. I thank God for that.

          It breaks my heart to see how many people only knew BG's gospel and not the Gospel of the Bible. This is incredibly difficult for name to handle, I can't even begin to imagine how it is for those families who were damaged so severely.

      • Jim February 26, 2014 Reply

        There CAN be a tremendous fallacy in applying concepts understood in a scientific context (which our bounded by the "elementary principles of this world") to the truth of scripture.

        Your list of bounded choices is incomplete, and as such, a false distiction. I would recommend you think about this NOT in terms of the choices provided by environmental presentation, but the choice we are told in scripture we must all make under our individual responsiblity before God.

        I would draw your attention to the many passages of scripture which tell us that we have a binary decision point: Accept Christ's love as sufficient payment of our sin debt, or Reject it.

        We are further told that we have desperately wicked hearts, depraved even beyond our ability to recognize or manage. Therefore, the choice to reject Christ is our DEFAULT setting. It can be an outright rejection of Christ, or ALSO found in a choice to find a path to God apart from Christ. Both are equal rejection of Christ.

        This is the KEY point. We will, regardless of our environment, naturally gravitate towards ANY option that appears to provide a path to redemption apart from Christ. Bill Gothard, misguided parents, or any other influence can only serve as enabler for what OUR OWN hearts naturally want.

        The responsiblity of this decision is born individually, so therefore, while some (Bill Gothard chief amoung them) also will bear the responsiblity for their influence, we bear before God, the responsiblity of our choice.

        Yes, I agree 100% that the culture of ATI/IBLP provides a convenient distraction from this decision. However, we stand before God on our own, and claiming the defense of "Bill Gothard made me eat the apple" will be found insufficient.

        • WendyA February 26, 2014

          I think Bev kind of made it clear that when God revealed himself to her, that's when she realized that everything she had believed about Him up to that point had all been a lie. She won't be standing before God saying "The Gothard made me do it."

          For a lot of ATI people, especially those raised in this system, the choice to follow God's leading can be made more difficult by the choice they have to make. It's not just "leave sin behind and follow God." It's "leave sin and my family and my friends and everything I've ever known behind to follow a God who is radically different from the God I have always been told about. And hope to heaven that I am right."

        • 'Megan' February 26, 2014

          What Wendy said. Therefore I do blame Bill for teaching a false Gospel. It was all I'd ever known, it took me years to fully step away from it. It was terrifying. Now I speak out to warn others.

        • Catherine February 26, 2014

          Food for thought. I am concerned with error under other guises that is currently leavening the church. I believe the time is shortly coming when only His sheep will stand and many will fall for a lie.

        • (attendee and former parent) February 27, 2014

          Jim, I believe we agree that we blindly followed a false teacher. We have repented and have moved on in our lives. This is now not about us, it is about the false teacher. We now must do all in our power to make sure that he is not permitted to hurt other young,tender sheep. As Beverly pointed out, many that Bill has wounded are young, impressionable people who are there at their parent's request, not their own choice (supposedly under their umbrella of authority which the parents, in good faith transferred to Bill and he abused that sacred responsibility). His false teaching on the 'umbrella of authority' actually landed these in this mess initially. Yes, the conversation is about him. We were led astray. Backward vision or hindsight is 20/20. I now can clearly see why I was so easily led astray. I have repented. But this, I reiterate is not about us as the primary subject. It is about the false teacher, the abuser, Bill Gothard! He, at long last, must be stopped!
          I am so curious as to why you would take this discussion to this level. In my view, the majority contributing to this discussion have seen the error of their ways in the past, repented, and recognize that having taken care of their sin of looking to man rather than to God, now recognize that we must take care of the root problem: the man who has been left to plunder and steal our young girls innocence and the faulty theology which he propagates to permit him to continue on this road.
          No one is claiming Bill Gothard made me eat the apple! Rather, what I have said and I have read time and again is: How could I have been so blind!???

        • Shane February 27, 2014

          @attendee said: "No one is claiming Bill Gothard made me eat the apple! Rather, what I have said and I have read time and again is: How could I have been so blind!???"
          And we're saying Bill is a snake

      • davidauge February 26, 2014 Reply

        That's about what I was going to say...well put!

      • Jim February 26, 2014 Reply

        This relationship between the responsibilities of the deceiver and that of the deceived is a lot more complex and nuanced then perhaps I understood and therefore expressed. For that, I was incorrect in posting without digging into it to make sure I was expressing accurate thoughts.

        A couple thoughts in no particular order:
        - When one accepts that the source of ANY deceit comes from the Great Deceiver, then a Believer has at least three responsibilities:
        1. Ensure what they say (and write) is as free from error as they can make it. The "First do no harm" principle.
        2. Related to this, is to be willing to accept when other believers point out error, perceived or otherwise (and correct it.)
        3. Recognize that the deceiver will work to deceive them, and rely on God's wisdom and grace to keep from being deceived.

        - I think that a picture of the relationship between the Deceiver and mankind in general goes something like this: The Deceiver deceived free will into sin, and continues to seek to:
        A. Prevent people from coming to saving knowledge of Christ.
        B. Failing this, the Deceiver seeks to deny the power of Christ in that Christian's walk, either by keeping them in bondage to the law, or distracting them from the power of Christ in repentance.

        NOTE: The serpent was judged for its deceit, but so were Adam and Eve for their acting on it.

        - And before you tar and feather me for being insensitive, please read on.

        So, to be consistent with these thoughts...

        @Beverly, I was dismissive of your comment, without any background, which was wrong. Granted, psychology and psychiatry can be instructive. I have found in my own journey that while empirical research can be instructive in parsing out our scriptural imperatives, it is still limited to the human experience (either in its observations, or comments/conclusions on it). It can not comment on the relationship between the physical/chemical/neurological and the spiritual. I rely on very academic constructs in living out my faith, but I (TRY) to keep them under the word of scripture. This is a difficult balancing act I know all too painfully well. I am working through the book "Competent to Counsel" by Jay Adams as a counterpoint to my current psycho-social academic endeavors. I highly recommend it.

        @Toni - You are correct, I misquoted that scripture. It is definitely a warning of intent, not an observation on a past event. I relied on an impression of the verse vice an accurate reading of it.

        There are a number of scripture verses that are such observations and/or warnings, but whether or not those refer to, or directed at believers or non-believers, is probably dependent on the Greek which I have not have time to dissect yet. I wanted to get my adjustment out first thanks to Beverly's and Toni's iron sharpening iron. :)

        I was that young person who was led into ATI by those I trusted. I was personally, and deliberately harmed by Bill directly, in addition to the general harm of his false and superficial teachings. That harm has been felt in very real outcomes in my adult life 20 years later.

        In reading Romans, it doesn't say, only Bill Gothard has sinned. It says: All have sinned. That means ME!!!!!!!!!!! That is the gospel of grace: regardless of how evil or good your own actions are, no matter how others have treated you, good or bad, no matter anything: WHILE I WAS A REBEL against God, he sent Christ to die for me. Christ's death didn't occur to make me feel good about myself, it didn't occur so I might have success, it didn't occur so I could be happy.

        It occurred so I could be forgiven.

        In conclusion, where each one of us is at is up to each person's relationship to God, and I do not want to leave the impression that I am claiming to be able to make that distinction. I can only comment my own experience with any authority.

        I have found it very freeing to distinguish between Bill's deceit, and my scriptural imperative/ responsibility to not be deceived. In one sense, it doesn't matter that I was 12-17 yrs old and didn't know any better, or that Bill maliciously engaged in his propaganda. I used that fact for 20 years (and through some less than intellectually honest discussions) as a distraction from my underlying sin nature that WANTS to find a path to God apart from Christ, and who is eager to be deceived if it "tickled my ears." Even if it was my own thoughts. :)

        The pain, for me, came to mean that I knew this wasn't right. And as my own injuries begin to fade with God's touch, scars are appearing. Scars can be a reminder of the injury, or sign of the body's ability to heal. The fact that God can heal doesn't set aside the source of the injury, it just allows me to be at peace and trust in God's healing vice being angry at another's willingness to cause injury.

        This process is very complex and up to the Good Shepard and in His time for each of His sheep. RG's current sequence of articles was very instructive for me on a deep level. I had accepted God's grace for my sin, and was working through the baby steps of a new believer.

        It was when RG started publishing the facts of Bills history, that I was finally free of the veneration of Bill. I can't describe that moment in clinical terms, because they fail me. Even though I knew I was culpable as a sinner, and as a believer who failed to test Bill's teaching on my own, I wasn't free of his influence until I saw it for what it truly was, not as he had manipulated me to see it.

        It's not a formula (as my previous post may have implied) Bill's fault + My fault = deceived. It is much more deeper than that. Yes, Bill chose to deceive me. Yes, I chose to be deceived. But it is only through God's grace that I can be free of either my self-deceit, or anger at Bill's malicious deceit. RG has been instrumental in that, and for that I am grateful.

        • Karah February 26, 2014

          Since you used the shepherd analogy please remember Isaiah 40:11 "He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."

          I know I have sinned. In fact I was told that for as long as I can remember. I was never going to be good enough because I couldn't keep the rules perfectly. I'd got to the Basic Seminar and ATI conferences and that fact was driven home even more. That fact that I was a sinner in need of a God was the one true fact that I understood clearly. I was scared of every wrong thing I had done or might do in the future.

          What I didn't know and was never taught was the fact that my Shepherd had already taken care of that and was wanting to pick me up and cradle me despite everything I had done.

          I was a child. I was trapped. I sinned. I had no choice. I was burdened by that fact for 20 some years. God took care of that sin and I refuse to take the burden back on myself. "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

    • greg r February 26, 2014 Reply

      I'm pushing back on point #2: the Bill Gothard's of the world prey on people who do NOT want it easy, who know the path is hard, who are willing to sacrifice, and sacrifice some more; he uses and turns this earnest zeal into what some have called "wretched urgency", a compulsive attention to detail that ignores the "weightier matters of the law" (justice, mercy, compassion). It's not that we want the voice of a stranger, it's that we are unused to being guided by the Holy Spirit...back to Dave's posts about the individual believer's access to the voice and affection of GOD HIMSELF. this is revilutionary, and substitutes of a worldly kind (even within the church) can easily supplant this.

      • Jim February 26, 2014 Reply

        Greg - Your point is well taken.

        We are told in scripture that false teachers will enter the Church, deceiving the very elect.

        BUT, scripture also states that is our responsiblity to take teachings to God, in light of the scripture, and guided by the Holy Spirit through the fellowship of believers, and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

        I failed at this. My humility is not that I was decieved (though I am angry both for being deceived, AND at Bill for deceiving me). My humilty is in recognizing that I, as a sinner, WANT to be deceived. I WANT to find a path that allows me to feel reconciled to God apart from the path He has ordained.

        This is the "hard teaching" from scripture. I pray for myself, my family, those I know, AND those I don't know, who have been decieved by Gothard. I pray that they will find the "peace that passes understanding" in following truth, VICE being angry that untruth exists inthe world, and that we were taken in by it.

        • Toni February 26, 2014

          Actually, Jim, we are told in Scripture that "there shall arise false christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, IF IT WERE POSSIBLE, they shall deceive the very elect." (Mt 22:24, emphasis added)

          We are also told that God "will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." (Ez. 36:26)

          The heart of a believer is no longer deceitful, and is no longer tending toward being deceived. In fact, it's clear that it CANNOT be fully deceived, at least as far as false Messiahs are concerned.

          Let's be as careful in our own handling of Scripture as we wish Gothard had been in his, so many years ago.

      • 'Megan' February 26, 2014 Reply

        greg r, I would word it this way: Bill Gothard is a Joel Osteen of legalism. Bill's message tickles the ears of a very different crowd. This crowd wants law in order to feel righteous and accepted of God (because they don't know any better probably). This crowd wants rules for every second of life, and what they don't realize is that it turns into a self worship, and the 'boasting of works' that Scripture specifically states should not be.

        • greg r February 26, 2014

          I was never part of the home school crowd , but one set of folks that I'm very sure want their ears tickled are those in authority structures that are firm, strict, "top down". Gee, wonder why the IBLP thing was so popular in Russia ?? Wonder why the Russian gov't was falling over themselves to get more of that 'sound doctrine' (gag) into their borders. I'm putting this on Bill's head, of course, the rank and file BGers just thought the gospel was going forward, the cause of Christ advanced. And maybe some came to Christ IN SPITE of Bill and his teaching, that could happen, no doubt.
          In my case, it was the national leader of our denomination , himself a raging narcissist, who probably pushed for seminar attendance.

    • P.L. February 26, 2014 Reply

      @Jim, Some good points about our own need to hear the voice of the true shepherd but we must also agree with James 3:1, which states that teachers have the greater condemnation.

      • Jim February 26, 2014 Reply

        P.L. I couldn't agree more!

        While I would like to sit under a bush like Jonah waiting for destruction to come on Ninevah, I have done that for almost 20 years and found that the destruction of my own life has been more complete then that I wished on Ninevah (Bill) :) .

        I pray for Bill as I pray for all. That he/they would find the peace he/they has searched for. I know enough to know that the path to peace for him, as us all, will be difficult, as he specifically has so many hurts on his conscience, from his direct work and from the culture he created, and deliberately cultivated to build his own church apart from the "rock" that Christ established.

        It is painful to watch both saint and sinner suffer at Bill's hand, but the same redemption offered to them, is also offered to Bill.

        It is rather disengenious for me to claim forgiveness in Christ if I am not willing to allow that another also has that option if they repent. Therefore, my prayer for ALL affected, including Bill, is that they would accept God's grace to repent of whatever they used to distract themselves from their own sinful state before God, and know God's love through His forgiveness, and through His forgiveness alone.

    • Lisa Joy February 26, 2014 Reply

      I was 33 years old before I finally realized that Mr. Gothard was NOT God's voice.

      I got lectured by my mother. For hours. Guilt-tripped. Emotionally manipulated. Told that my rejecting Mr. Gothard meant I was rejecting my parents and I didn't love them. I was bitter. I was a rebel. I was going to ruin my children's lives. I needed to be under my parents' authority. I was 33.

      What choice did I have at 10, 15, even 20? Had I "rebelled" at those ages, I would have been punished in even worse ways. Chaperoned (yes, even at age 20) at all times. Forced to quit a job. (This actually happened to me at age 20, because I met a guy at work that I didn't want to "court," I wanted to date!) At age 33, I could (and did) walk away and at this time I do not speak to my parents and have not for over a year, because I refuse to let another adult emotionally abuse me in that manner. I didn't have that option at age 10, or 15, or even 20.

      So PLEASE do not blame the young people, the victims. It wasn't our choice!!!

      • Jim February 27, 2014 Reply

        Lisa - your's and my life our very similiar in their impact of Bill's ministry.

        I want to be clear: I am not blaming the victim. That is illogical at best, malicious at worst.

        I am stating my belief that the lasting and complete answer to the pain that Bill caused is to see it in a spiritual context. Yes, there is deliberate work that needs to be done to heal, but as a doctor can set a cast on a broken arm. That is all the doc can do. He/she can not heal the arm. Only the body can.

        In this case, I think scripture is clear: All have sinned. To focus on Bill's sin is to draw a false distinction and start a rabbit trail of trying to answer the question: "Which sin is worse?" In light of the scripture, that is an unanswerable question.

        Yes, my decision to make this distinction is not popular on RG. However, it is not my position. It is the gospel of grace. Even while I was a sinner, Christ died for me.

        There are very real consequences to specific sins, and RG is doing a superb job of answering Bill's particular brand of evil. But it is only one brand of evil. To narrowly focus ONLY on Bill's evil, is to miss the point that the Gospel is redemption for all, for all have sinned!

        • greg r February 27, 2014

          In this case, I think scripture is clear: All have sinned. To focus on Bill's sin is to draw a false distinction and start a rabbit trail of trying to answer the question: "Which sin is worse?" In light of the scripture, that is an unanswerable question.

          Jim: I don't want to wander by a pick up the dog by its ears, a la Lyndon Johnson, but I don't think you "get" the benefit part of focusing on BG's sin(s). It's not a case of whose sin is worse, or putting him into a 'worse sinner' category, but blogs like this one help the victims understand what happened to them, and HOW/WHY. Of course we all sin and are all sinners, but I think you are stuck on one particular channel of "this is how (all) people heal.." You might want to give that a rest.
          Granted, even a good thing can become petty and judgemental, but so far, this blog seems to be doing a good job of actually learning from the train wreck that is/was Bill Gothard's life and ministry.
          Hope this helps.

        • Samuel Lundmark February 28, 2014


          I think I see your point. I think it's also important to point out that as children, many of us were raised in this system of thought without a worldview which could give us perspective and reference points from which to argue against it for the most part. Even to begin to establish such was considered rebellion to our own parents' authority as Gothard expressed in his April 2013 newsletter as he erroneously described the "reasons" he concocted why we reject his teachings equating those with rejection of the standards our parents held as true. Bill tried to cast in a big net and instead caught himself in it. His statements were total fallacy to accuse an entire group of adults with doing things of which he has no factual evidence. I'm not sure which of Bill's classification of fools he might fall into, but the action was foolish in and of itself.

          We are, in fact, now continuing to bear our responsibility to stand up and reject the false system of IBLP along with Bill's voice and, hopefully, in its place, many of us will repent turning in the direction of the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

          All ATI students and even Bill himself can receive forgiveness and restoration in the body of Christ as we repent. I believe this is one of the major aims of RG. I believe that to fail to point out the wrong and failures in both ATI/IBLP as well as with Bill, we invite more confusion by continuing to attempt focus people on a fool's errand of desperately attempting to synchronize his voice with that of Jesus.

          We would never say, "Don't say the ship is burning--that's negative or a bad reflection on the engineer of this ship and not really a good reflection of your own personal faults." When the ship is going down it is quite simply the time to head for the lifeboats and to persuade others to do the same.

          We choose to point out that the ship is burning and sinking amidst the din, darkness, and mist of confusion as if shouting, "The ship is burning! The ship is burning! Head to the life boats of Jesus Christ!"

  15. esbee February 26, 2014 Reply

    "Most of the people I talk to on the staff would say: We appreciate the fact that some Christian leader in America is willing to not simply listen to Bill, but to listen to the other staff as well. And then they would also suggest to me that: Frankly, we think you ought to leave it alone because you’re going to get hurt in the process."

    I find it interesting that the staff made this comment, that as Christians, they knew they were working for a man, who in claiming Christ, would also be capable of hurting someone. I wish they would have elaborated, though. Hurt how? physical? reputation-wise? egg his house?

    and the staff, saying this, were not encouraged by themselves or others to band together and do something or just quit en masse (with news reporters their to record the whole event.)

    • Brenda February 26, 2014 Reply

      I thought of that too. Seriously that is scary.

  16. Dave February 26, 2014 Reply

    This transcript is amazing! This is the foundation of what we are reading here over the past few weeks. Yes, this conversation took place 30 years ago, but it is as fresh as if it were yesterday. And Rebecca’s comments are powerful.

    Note: Rebecca points out that the “indiscretions” will seem small when pointed out as “impropriety” but the information “represents the way he (BG) thinks.” We have seen exactly this charge against the stories of the women here. Rebecca is right on in reminding us that this is the “way he thinks.”

    Note: Why haven’t more come forward and why has it taken so long.? 30 years ago Rebecca pegged this one, too. Some were intimidated, the conversation suggests. Some were bought off, a statement suggests. But the main reason is that they are still deceived because “they’ve not dealt with what they believe.” As long as they still agree with BG’s thinking, they are not open to seeing even the things done to them, let alone the things done to others.

    Note: Rebecca also understood why many stories, over a period of years, would be the most powerful indictment against BG. She says, “But if you just use one girl and what happened there, that’s small. But if you put the years of the way he just lived out that—“. Dr Radmacher inserts: “This is a lifestyle.” She continues, “That’s the word—the lifestyle. That’s what I was groping for. Then that shows the seriousness of the philosophy. But that he knocked at one girl’s door one night, well, that was a weak moment in fifty years of good life.”

    What RG is doing is pointing out that this has been a philosophy, a lifestyle.

    Rebecca was a sharp lady!

  17. Arlene February 26, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, RG, for your firm but respectful tone in bringing these matters to light. I have not been directly impacted by IBLP, although I attended a seminar in 1983 to see what it was about, and since it was being held in my city. (My pastor at the time said he had misgivings about it.)

    Lately as I've also been reading about the Vision Forum situation, and that of abuse in Independent Fundamental Baptist circles (such as Jack Hyles in Indiana), several commonalities are evident. One is the authority structure, another is the sexual abuse, another is that "gossip" was frequently spoken against. How much of this was synergism and mutual influencing between the groups? How far have the teachings penetrated today's Christian and homeschooling world without people realizing the ultimate sources? (For example, someone I know posted the umbrella diagram on Facebook without any idea where it came from.) And the tricky part is that cultic beliefs often have a core of truth that has become distorted - you have to properly distinguish one from the other and see what the Scripture is actually saying.

    • Mark R February 26, 2014 Reply

      I'm not sure about mutual influencing, as IFB's generally have little interest in Gothard since he didn't attend an IFB church (though there would be some that are supportive). In his heyday he seemed to have the biggest support among Southern Baptist groups (it was in an SBC church where I first learned of Gothard).

      But there are similarities as (looking at it from the outside) the IFB's (like Gothard) also are very personality-driven. You have your Bob Jones followers, your Hyles followers, your Norris followers, your Ruckman followers, etc. And the groups are highly insular and consider any criticism to be "persecution", with the worst name-calling reserved for other Christian groups who dare point out theological or other error.

    • SarahS February 26, 2014 Reply

      Arlene there should be a flow chart of fundamentalism and it would be eyeopening I think. I do now that a Bob Jones graduate (Inge Cannon) helped develop the original Wisdom Booklets for ATI and later went on to work with Michael Farris of HSLDA and Patrick Henry College (who was discipled under Gothard ministry as a young man.) There's a lot of overlap.

      • Lori February 26, 2014 Reply

        I wouldn't want to do them the honor of calling them fundamentalists. They have hijacked a term that was once understood to mean someone who believes in the fundamentals of the faith, which would describe nearly everyone posting comments on RG - but not these people. They are legalists, which means they reject or pervert the gospel and there's NOTHING more fundamental to Christianity than the gospel. They don't deserve the label of fundamentalist, which they wear proudly - even though most believers outside of those groups now consider the word a pejorative. Can we call them legalists, or false fundamentalists, or ?? Again, I say we refuse to honor them with the term. Let's call them what they are.

        • Shelley Randolph Romey February 26, 2014

          I completely agree! There is nothing fundamental about twisting Scripture and using to further your own agenda!

        • Nancy2 February 26, 2014

          I have a copy of "The Fundamentals" written in 1910. Imagine my loved one's shock when they enrolled in BJU thinking their "fundamentals" were the same. Two years later they were at a school that shared common fundamental ground once again.

        • Shane February 26, 2014

          There's WAY too much to get into here, but one of the fatal flaws of the whole fundamentalist movement and by extension Gothardism is that fundamentalism is a thoroughly modern way of approaching the Bible. It is an expression of the philosophy of the day. Namely, that everything is understood through rationalism and the scientifically method. Truths are built on principles that govern all of life. I think this is why so many were duped by Gothard. He was to right guy to play upon the fundamentalist presuppositions that owned the evangelical world.

          So what the liberals did to the Bible by dissecting it seeking to undermine it fundamentalists using the same presuppositions and hermeneutics did to defend it. So if the liberal says that the earth can't X years old and look at the contradictions in Genesis. The fundamentalist says "no see here the Bible proves the earth is X years old". All the while arguing in a way that privileges Enlightenment ideas of truth, knowledge, etc. In other word the fundamentalist and the liberal we're playing on the same faulty field. This has created all kinds of problems; people's willingness to accept Gothard's "principles" is a prime example.

          The illustration I like to use is that modernism (enlightenment thinking) says that to understand a frog you dissect the frog. Never stopping to watch the frog hop. This is the hermeneutical problem with Gothard and it is fundamentalism (and liberalisms) fatal flaw. So back to the age of the earth: I'm not trying to start that argument here!! But what fundamentalism never dealt with well (out of dear of liberalisms encroachment) is whether the Bible is even trying to answer that question. To force the Bible to answer a question it has no interest in answering is an interpretive abuse of the text. To see the Bible as a field manual for life or a set of aphorisms for living well is an interpretive fallacy; one which Gothardism is rife with.

          The Bible surely has principles and aphorisms, but it is fundamentally a story of a gracious God who is on a mission to redeem sinful rebellious people and the cosmos! In other words to understand the Bible you must watch it hop. Watch the God who puts up with messy people, identifies with the , and sings for joy over them. A God who rescues. Loves. Dies. Fundamentalism as an approach to e Bible and life does way too much dissection of the beautiful story of God's redeeming love.

        • Shane February 26, 2014

          Sorry. I typed that on my iPad without my glasses. "dear" should be "fear" and add some punctuation!

  18. esbee February 26, 2014 Reply

    "But he still wants us to understand that he feels like we only have heard one side of the picture"

    I am an artist and I can truthfully state that the ONLY thing on the other side of my paintings is a blank side with nothing on it. In the case of stretched canvas with wood bars, there may be some dust and occasionally a little spider because it has lain in a corner for a while.

    • David February 26, 2014 Reply

      Yeah...of course, there are no, "sides." There is only the Truth.

  19. David February 26, 2014 Reply

    If Bill Gothard is so certain of his teachings, I wonder whether he would be willing to publicly debate someone who knows the Word of God? Right in front of everyone? With open Bibles? I mean, video taped and then posted on the internet? In fact, all the questions of immorality could even be put aside for such a discussion, and only his authority teaching could be the topic. This would make him publicly accountable for his teaching, and it would bring him out from behind the protection of his kingdom. And before anyone says that an 80 year old man would be at a disadvantage, my answer is that if he is teaching the Truth, then God would love to use such an occasion to evidence it, regardless of age.

    • Lori February 26, 2014 Reply

      GREAT idea, although I can't possibly imagine him consenting to do it. I think down deep the emperor knows he has no clothes.

  20. greg r February 26, 2014 Reply

    WELL....guess we won't be hearing alot about the "Gary Smalley defense" again, or will we, Mr.A ????

    • Lori February 26, 2014 Reply


  21. Paul Walker February 26, 2014 Reply

    Thank you RG for your work in exposing the false teaching.

    "I remember speaking to—is it Melvin Upchurch in Chicago? …He really becomes so terribly depressed when he even tries to deal with the material now from this side, seeing how much of it really was apparently unfaithful to the Word of God, that he doesn’t even want to deal with it."

    I can so relate to this. Before I knew there was RG, I started trying to sift through the box of material in my attic to weed out the error to better expose it to those who would ask. I could barely even read any of it without getting very, very depressed at both my accepting of it and my teaching some of it. Very thankful for RG to have come along to present the truth and expose the errors.

  22. David Pigg February 26, 2014 Reply

    The "least of "these,my little ones,has dignity inherent from his Creator.If those violated were less eloquent,less expressive of the tragedy of Gothardism,would the violation of their worth be less severe?Would not the God who created eloquence and expression of words be less heartbroken for the lambs meant to be nurtured instead of beaten?AS for heresy,one of Gothard's most blatant involved Christ at the age of twelve.He was in the temple with scribes and elders per Luke 2:42 to end of chapter.Gothard presents the rest of the teaching with an out of text question... Jesus was wondering "what should I do?" Go into "full time ministry",or be back with my parents at home? Gothard now smoothly interjects this biblical quote sleight of hand,"then He went down with them to Nazareth and was subject to them,and was blessed in body and soul."The implication is that Jesus was saved from prematurely going into the ministry by His parents.Mild blasphemy.A springboard to elevate falsely parents up to the level of God.Sometimes parents do have wisdom,but sometimes they can be contolling harsh,abusing,and cruel.All with a go ahead light from Gothard.I don't know if he still endorses this teaching,but I did see it in the 80's.When Christ was formed in the womb,he came to totally deliver total sin and subsequent darkness,depravity of the human race.He knew Who He was.And eternally is.His parents could not "help" Him.But because Gothard thought they could,parental abuse would never be questioned.Heresy?That cost Ruth Gabriel her life,undermined the lordship of the Holy Spirit,and wreaked havoc with a religious façade of attainment pride and self righteousness with a caste system not to be questioned.Exploiting,covering up,probing for weaknesses to continue the darkness.Come Lord Jesus,take Your people away from this man,and potentially evil parents.Only you deserve our hearts eloquence or no eloquence.Looks or no looks.

  23. Karen Peach February 26, 2014 Reply

    I am very saddened by these problems Bill Gothard had in moral impurity according to these testimonies. . .but some things I don't agree with you on.

    Here's an example: I attened seminars (for many years) and our family was enrolled in ATI. During that time Bill never taught that you were to obey your authority in EVERYTHING. . .but ONLY in the things you could obey without breaking GOD'S LAW/WORD. I would say sex outside marriage is breaking God's law...or even inappropriate touching.

    It seems to me those using that "chain of command" theory as the reason they fell into sin; or saying that BG taught that you had to obey those over you regardless of what they asked are NOT representing the truth of that principle. You are not stating the principle as it was presented at the seminars by BG and I started attending way back in the 70's.

    It is true we should obey those over us in authority in everything we can UNLESS it is a violation of God's Word. . .then we are right
    in making appeals and standing up for righteousness rather than bowing down to sin. . .even if it costs us our life.

    I am heart broken if BG did these wrong things, but the principle of chain of command isn't the problem. . . the lust of the eye/flesh is the problem. Just because a leader fails to live up to God's values doesn't make the WORD of GOD void.

    BG is not above God's Law and he will have to answer for his sins as we will answer for ours. . .but we can't throw away truth just because it was presented by someone who failed to live it.

    • MatthewS February 26, 2014 Reply

      fwiw, My experience with the chain of comment / umbrella / hammer and chisel diagram is that I went to these books as a kid, searching for how to make things better. It was always condemning and hopeless, from my perspective. My dad explicitly claimed that since he was the hammer, and he was in God's hand, then whatever he did, even if wrong, was actually from God to me. I would say that is a very good set-up for abuse. There are probably people out there who would never read the diagram that way. But for those who do read it that way, my experience was that those teachings did not come with correctives or limits.

      As with all the teachings, I suspect that healthier a home was, the less it was affected.

    • Beth February 26, 2014 Reply

      "It is true we should obey those over us in authority in everything we can UNLESS it is a violation of God's Word. . ."

      I actually disagree with you on this. As a kid raised in ATI/IBLP we were taught exactly that but as I got older and started wanting to build my own spiritual foundation I would disagree with my parents (authority) on little things not clearly defined in scripture (dating/courtship, music, friends, theaters etc.), things that weren't a clear violation in scripture. I felt that, as an adult that was accountable to God for my actions, I should do some things differently than the rules my parents had set. You have a responsibility to follow your own convictions on things that are not clearly defined in scripture, things that only a relationship with God can tell you how to handle. Your "authority" might disagree with you and I think that this teaching has been many kids undoing. As an adult I consider God my first authority and my parents, preacher etc only something helpful that would be wise to give an ear to but not blindly follow if it fits a criteria. Honoring authority might be respectfully saying no and making your own decisions.

      • 'Megan' February 26, 2014 Reply

        I agree with Beth. While grown men and women who had already formed worldviews and perspectives would have noticed, 'unless it breaks God's law', that phrase was a throw away phrase in the world of a child growing up with ATI (and honestly, in the eyes of the parent too). Because, being the authority, whatever mom and dad (and by extension, Bill) said, WAS the law of God, and not to be questioned. Very confusing to grow up in.

        And he has known for years of the situations of parents abusing their authority and has NEVER said a word to clarify his position, tell parents to stop, or anything to help set the matter straight, so what are we to think then? If memory serves, there are accounts of young people who told Bill about horrific abuses of all kinds, and Bill not only did nothing to stop it, but told the young people in question, 'well you just need to obey your authorities.'

        • greg r February 26, 2014

          Megan, in a nutshell, your post, and thousands like it are the big picture, the forest: as bad as the sexual predation was/is, the number of families/churches/individuals that have to slog thru and find healing after being dunked , as if by baptism, into this toxic swamp of authority...that number is staggering. I think that's the worst of it, and would have happened even if Bill was as chaste as St.Francis or the flying nun.

    • WendyA February 26, 2014 Reply

      Instead of looking at how this authority teaching affected children still living at home, let me give you an example of how this teaching played out in a husband/wife situation for two people who grew up heavily influenced by the authority teaching. We were 28 and 29 when this situation arose. Both of us had been going to IBLP seminars since our early teens, and our parents had been going to seminars since we were pre-schoolers. His family joined ATI in the late ’80s; mine joined in the early ’90s.

      Early in my marriage, we had to find a place to live when our rental home was unexpectedly sold. My grandfather offered to loan us whatever amount we needed for a house, if we would pay the same interest rate that he was earning on the investments the money was in. (It was a good rate for that time.)

      My husband said no, we would not borrow, but would save up to pay cash for a house. He was making $10/hour at the time, and our firstborn was a month old. Three people living on $10/hour are going to save up to pay cash for a house.

      So I said, "Look, I'm not believing all the stuff we learned from Gothard anymore. Including that 'never borrow ever' stuff. All the responsible financial counselors say it's okay to borrow for a house because it's an appreciating asset. Let's do this. We will look up every single reference in the Bible to borrowing and lending, and if there is a clear indication that borrowing is a sin, okay. I'll accept that and we'll turn Grandpa down."

      So we hauled down Strong's and found them all. And we were still deadlocked.

      I said, "Look, the references end up about equal on both sides. God tells us to lend to people who ask. God makes provisions in the Law for how lending is to be done. God doesn't make provisions for sin. Not once does He says it's a sin to have to borrow. So let's take Grandpa up on his offer."

      The husband said, "No. It says that borrowing is a judgment from God. We are not going to borrow. I am the Authority over this house, and you need to accept that this is how it's going to be. We are not borrowing the money."

      My husband was not telling me to violate God's word. He was not asking me to sin. (well, in my eyes, he was asking me to be a very poor steward of what little financial resources we had, but he thought the same thing about me) But speaking against this decision of his was made ten times harder for me because I was made to feel that I was "rebelling" against his authority. Had we been taught to operate as equal adults in the relationship, had the authority principle not been brought so strongly into play, we might have had an easier time working through the situation.

      We had similar problems in dealing with other very important issues in our marriage, primarily because of the way that both his and my perceptions of husband/wife interactions had been twisted by the authority principle.

      I don't deny our personal responsibility to search out the truth. I do deny that the authority principle AS GOTHARD TEACHES IT is truth.

      • Shane February 26, 2014 Reply

        Thanks Wendy- you have pointed out a very important component of Paul's teaching in Eph. 1) "Husband's love your wives..." not run the show! The model of Christ loving the church is one of submitting himself to her need. 2) The teaching on marriage begins with "submitting to one another".

        Jesus forsook all his right for his bride!

        God help us to actually take the model seriously. The head is called to stoop the lowest to serve; his wife and children.

    • Nancy2 February 26, 2014 Reply

      Karen, at what point in life does one look up and see nothing but the Face of Jesus over their head instead of an umbrella?

      I ask this as one who never was raised with the umbrella of authority. I was my parent's adventurous child. Before I became a Christian my parents just made sure to guide my curiosity in a healthy direction. As a Christian I knew from watching my parents (who deeply love Jesus) that what I chose should be with an eye toward "How will this impact my relationship with Jesus?"

      I'm now 58 years old and have lived a full happy life. How do you believe a chain of command could have made my life better?

      MatthewS, my heart breaks when I hear of the harshness so many had to endure. Yet I praise God for the way He moved those of you forward to know Him as the gracious loving merciful Creator/Redeemer that He is. I am thankful that He is bigger than the fist wielding a hammer of authority.

      • Karen February 27, 2014 Reply

        You were under your parents umbrella of protection. You said your "parents made sure to guide my curiosity in a healthy direction."

        I guess the homes of those parents who were abusive must have had problems more than the
        ATI or IBLP. It sounds as if they failed to understand the message being presented. People also do that with the Bible. . .and many thus reject it's message also.

        I am thankful the ATI and IBLP were both helpful insights to my life and the lives of my
        children. I guess if you're looking for a reason to justify doing wrong you can always find it. . .but if you're looking for truth, then "2 + 2 = 4" no matter who delivers the message.

    • Shane February 26, 2014 Reply

      He did teach that wives should stay in abusive relationships.

      • Sara Sackville February 27, 2014 Reply


    • Matt February 26, 2014 Reply

      It doesn't really matter what was taught in the seminar if the reality of what BG practiced contradicts it. The 'unless it violates God's law' clause is a tricky one. Here's why:
      Under Gothardism, how does the law of God get interpreted? Interpretation comes down through the same pipeline that authority does. If your interpretation of scripture is in conflict with your authority's interpretation, your authority's version will trump yours every time. Even things that should seem obvious like sexual morality can become muddled quickly when a person that is supposed to have your best interests at heart has desires that get in the way. As long as your authority can find a verse to proof text what he wants you to do, you're bound by that law of authority to obey, and you don't really have a right to dispute their interpretation of scripture.

  24. Lorna Tucker February 26, 2014 Reply

    My husband pastored a church that had a number of BG's followers. My husband faithfully taught the Word - Seventy people were baptised and joined the church in eigthteen months. God was using His Word to feed hungry souls. What did these BG followers do? They refused to accept my husband's God given authority and attacked him on everything he did. At the end one brave deacon stood up to their leader (in the church) and explained that the teaching they were swallowing was false teaching and we know who writes that! God took very good care of us - the board forces a resignation and we minister elsewhere today. But we knew in 1999 that the church was very sick and that it needed to be purged of BG's thinking. I am so happy to see Recovering Grace and now this evidence that men of God were fighting to deal with this problem because it affects every church that is involved with BG material.

  25. "Hannah" February 26, 2014 Reply

    BG always said, "a man's morality dictates his theology". In retrospect, I don't really believe that. I suspect the psychology of it, is more that a man's behavior reveals what he truly believes... about God, about himself, about others, about life. I appreciate the hilighted point that wrong actions grew out of wrong hermeneutics, but honestly, I suspect it went deeper than that. I suspect the hermeneutics were just an attempt to control people, and I am beginning to doubt that Gothard ever had a personal relationship with God or the indwelling of the holy spirit. Rather, this "power" was something that constantly eluded him, and which he tried to counterfeit with various formulas and outward appearances.

    And obviously, if he's a sexual predator, as I believe he is, the psychology of it is much deeper than can be explored here, or of what can be explained away by a few bad hermeneutics. Certainly not a diagnosis I am qualified to make, by any means.


    • Dave February 26, 2014 Reply

      Hannah, I agree. Both behavior and doctrine come out of our thinking. We form both based on what we want and what will make us feel good about ourselves. We forget that doctrine is actually another form of behavior. It isn't what we teach or say we believe, it's what we think in our hearts that defines us. (Proverbs 23:7)

  26. "Hannah" February 26, 2014 Reply

    So... What was Ruth's response? Was such a signed statement ever created? Or is that to be published at a later date?

  27. Lynn February 26, 2014 Reply

    MatthewS, an ex-ATI mom's hug from me to you. I think what you had to say is worth a lot. No father should treat their son this way. I am glad you found God's love and grace in spite of this ill treatment. I am always encouraged at your comments.

    • David Pigg February 26, 2014 Reply

      How you had to endure what you endured is beyond me... I've frequently been bombarded with...If that's what God is all about,then I want nothing to do with Him.Then there are people gone from the Gothard camp but reflecting some Gothard style god; stern firm step out of line and he'll crack you one...the unmoved mover,stoic,detached,unemotional.I'm so glad for your comments and compassion.

    • MatthewS February 26, 2014 Reply

      wow, Lynn, Thank you!

  28. David February 26, 2014 Reply

    Let me offer this -- it is the better translation of Heb. 13:17 from the original Greek: "Allow yourself to be persuaded (of the Truth) by those who are your spiritual guides." And then of course, it goes on to tell you to look at their lives -- that part is usually left off. This translation is in keeping with the rest of the NT. Paul says to the Corinthians, "We do not have dominion over your faith." He said this even though he was an apostle and the Corinthians were off the track. The point is this: The only authority is TRUTH -- that Truth being in a Person, Jesus Christ. The notion that we are to obey anything or anyone whether it be the Truth or not -- just to keep an authority principle -- is both ridiculous and disastrous. The suggestion that it is God's will to obey spiritual authority that is not of HIS Spirit is absurd. (And the idea that there is no difference between governmental authority and church authority is likewise wrong.) Frankly, why would any true minister want us to obey him whether he was teaching the Truth or not? Paul said, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." The bottom line is that you cannot impose through law what must be the product of LIFE in Christ. If everyone practiced their direct personal access to God through the One Mediator, Jesus Christ -- i.e., our vertical relationship with God -- then all of our horizontal relationships would be in love and to common edification. But if you try to bring horizontal relationships under a law in order create order or submission, you cut everyone off from the True Vine and the One True Head. And worse, Paul said that they who are under the law are under a curse -- aren't all of these accounts proof of that? In reality, Jesus Christ dwells within EACH believer. THIS IS CHRISTIANITY. Thus, your personal access and relationship with Christ is primary -- and governs all else. I am not talking here about a minor point, or a petty point of theology. I am talking about the very nature of Christianity itself, and the meaning of the New Covenant. Gothard's authority teaching is a denial of that foundation -- it is JUST THAT BAD. We have direct access to God through Christ -- what could be more freeing?

  29. Don Owens February 26, 2014 Reply

    I want to underscore the comment made by Sara Sackville, above:


    Sara, Thank you for your clarity in this. I very much agree with your analysis. Throughout these revelations, I have been very uncomfortable with the dogmatic assertions that it is the hermeneutic / theology which produced the aberrant behavior. First of all, the flawed human creature is too complex to be interpreted so simplistically. Second, if it was the hermeneutic / theology which produced the behavior, and admittedly many people hold to the interpretation that BG promulgated, why hasn't behavior like BG's burst out all over the place? Third, I have known too many who have never crossed the line hermeI understand the thinking about the connection between his belief system and his behavior, but as a licensed therapist who is trained in trauma treatment, I have a different view. He sounds like a sexual predator who developed ideas to justify his behavior. Outside of the Christian community, no one would say that his behavior "flowed from" his hermeneutics. They would go with the simplest explanation possible: he was a sex offender who was aware of his proclivities, sought to tame them by religion, and yet when he couldn't, he utilized his distorted faith system to control and manipulate victims. The argument about which came first - his faith system or his behavior - is only valid to me in that it shows the destructive nature of his belief system. But let's not miss the forest for the trees. neutically to develop equally aberrant behavior patterns.
    It is just as likely, as suggested above, that a man with a flawed character, would twist and distort ideas into a pattern that would justify the way he chooses to live. And btw, this is very common in cult leaders (guru types) of all kinds, - secular as well as religious. In fact, it is also very common in government officials who are driven by a messiah complex. Ideas are used selectively to control other people, to give the guru opportunity to get his own way - whether in money matters or sexual matters or in other control matters (a president becoming a dictator, for instance).
    I believe, contrary to the major opinion expressed here, that this all began with a man who had a flawed character (a messiah complex, perhaps), which then resulted in his shaping altogether legitimate ideas, into a destructive form, which would give him cover for his evil proclivities. While it is true that "ideas have consequences", it is also true that evil men can twist the truth in such a way as to feather their own nest, and lay a trap for unsuspecting victims.
    Joseph Smith, Mohammed, Jim Jones, Bernie Madoff, David Terrell, Adolph Hitler, Herman Fountain, are just a very few who have followed this pathway. I'm just saying, if you could absolutely insure that BG's chain-of-command teaching would be obliterated forever, you would still have a continuous succession people doing what BG has and probably still is doing.
    If BG hadn't concocted his theory of c-o-c, I am very sure he would have concocted some equally perverse theory, to build his personality empire, and satisfy his messiah complex.
    While it is true that a flawed ideology often produces flawed behavior, it is also true, that a flawed man produces a flawed ideology. Which is the cause and which is the effect is terribly complicated and should not be thought to yield to simple answers. Only those who have known BG intimately from childhood can really know which. The rest of us can only guess. And my guess is that the second is the most likely. But only God knows for sure. Because at this point, I doubt that even BG knows.
    Two separate issues are involved here. It is necessary for the health of the church in the USA, for BG to be out of the ministry altogether. And it is necessary for the health of the church for individual pastors, teachers, writers, etc, to correct the wrong interpretations, and teach exactly what the Bible does teach about authority and the responsibility.
    I, along with all of you, wish the RG team success...and the sooner, the better.

    • SteveMcK February 26, 2014 Reply

      I just wanted to point out one error.

      "Second, if it was the hermeneutic / theology which produced the behavior, and admittedly many people hold to the interpretation that BG promulgated, why hasn't behavior like BG's burst out all over the place?"

      It has. I'm sorry you aren't familiar with this. I have a small circle of friends, but it is literally astonishing how many people I know personally have stories of abuse in their family or church. I would guarantee many people you know personally have been severely abused, whether physically, sexually, mentally, or spiritually.

      Now whether its a case of flawed theology creating these problems is still up for debate, I would still agree with you that it simply allows the poor behavior.

      Abusive people are attracted to systems that allow for abuse.

      I'm strong proponent of a Skeptics mindset now. There is NOTHING beneficial about blind faith... in anything.

      Faith needs to be validated, not blind. God says he IS Truth. Therefore he would be the first to encourage a search for truth, rather than tell us to adopt blind faith.

      Unfortunately blind faith is preached as an attribute, or even a sacrament from many pulpits.

      • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014 Reply

        Was going to make this same point. A person making such a statement - that the immorality of staff proves that the doctrine is false - must not be aware of any nonsense in any church or school he is associated with. Chances are quite good that this little problem is doctrine-agnostic. What a weird point to try to make.

        • eva February 27, 2014

          I'm not sure I follow here what you are saying. I guess I didn't get the same idea from this post about flawed theology. SteveMcK's point is that this theology HAS produced this kind of behavior in many organizations - after all we've had this "teaching" of Bill's for probably over 40 years. And it has affected many in the church. I'm surprised you posted this under his comment and said that you were going to make the same point. Are you starting to see what has been going on all these years? Or am I completely misunderstanding what you are saying?

    • 'Megan' February 26, 2014 Reply

      Agree with Steve. It is astonishing, the amount of every form of abuse in circles where people have theologies like ATI's Vision Forum's, and other fundie beliefs. It's a good place for abusive people to hide and look like devout, religious people, even in some cases, deceiving themselves.

  30. "Patricia" February 26, 2014 Reply

    I also thank Sara Sackville for her excellent analysis. This is pure speculation on my part and I completely understand if the moderators choose not to post this theory of mine, but I think it's significant that Bill was nineteen years old when the first issue of Playboy was published. It would be foolish to speculate, of course, about his early sources for images and knowledge as to how to "groom" an innocent young girl (with long hair worn with soft curls a la M. Monroe?). I was the victim of such grooming in the sixties by a man in Christian leadership who was "taught" by Heffner in his articles which specifically schooled young men with psychological components as well as physical. Of course, we will never know, but this was a strong trend at a crucial time in Bill's development.

    • Daniel February 26, 2014 Reply

      Really, we could speculate on all kinds of things. On another thread, people were talking about hidden cameras. Baseless speculation takes away credence from the factual material.

      • Nancy2 February 26, 2014 Reply

        You are exactly right. Thank you for your comment.

    • KevinW February 26, 2014 Reply

      Mr. Gothard claims on his web site to have made a vow at the time never to view pornographic magazines and to have kept it.

      Sadly, the RG web site has many personal testimonies of him objectifying women in other ways and his brother viewing pornography and worse. That does not mean this testimony is false but I can see why it would cause people to question it.

      I wonder how many people have found his teaching of vows and self-effort inadequate as they have tried to overcome the flesh?

      I also find it interesting that he was apparently imagining being interviewed on a national TV program while he was still a teenager.

      • David February 26, 2014 Reply

        He VOWED not to look at porn? Well, here it is -- a perfect example of his nonsense. Do we have to vow to not look at porn? I mean, if we don't vow that, are we then free to look at it? See what I'm getting at. This is exactly why the NT FORBIDS taking vows. Taking a vow cannot address what is in our heart or of the old nature. You have to be born from above to get started -- and then you must learn to live by faith. Frankly, anyone who thinks that taking a vow will help them live by faith is simply admitting that their faith is in their ability to keep their vow, rather than in Christ. But then again, everything Bill teaches comes back to this basic error -- it is about works and not Christ.

        • Nancy2 February 26, 2014

          David, I'll try to say what you are in the positive of the NT. We are commanded to love God and our neighbor. If we love as commanded porn has become dead to us. We no longer live in the flesh but desire others to know freedom from sin. When we embrace the commandment to love then the person without God living a porn-filled life isn't a temptation. We are not afraid of their sin tainting our heart. The old man is dead and we walk in the newness of life. Porn doesn't excite everyone. It makes some of us grieve, because of how deeply we love. Look at the different responses of Noah's sons. Two respectfully covered him out of love. They didn't find his state exciting or tempting.

          This is part of the problem with IBLP/ATI they try to make everyone guilty of every sin even after they have become new in Christ. I'm not saying Christians don't sin, I'm saying not all Christians are fearful of sin because they love and reverence God.

          Example: I was 2 when my father accepted Jesus as his Savior. When I was 16 a person my father worked with put a porn magazine on my father's lunchbox. When he saw it he casually threw it a waste bin and burned it. The man yelled at him saying he didn't have a right to ruin his magazine, and my father responded, "God has given me an amazing wife what use would I have with a paper woman? Keep your problem to yourself and off my lunchbox." My father walked with the Lord consistently. After 14 years of walking in the same direction it became as natural for him to reject the sin as it was for him to love.

      • TiaraLi February 26, 2014 Reply

        By vowing to not look at porn, he is leading people to believe he intends to be sexually pure, when in fact he is deviating in other ways, by sexually harassing the women around him. It is a deceitful tactic.

        • Nancy2 February 26, 2014

          If a person's 'yes' is YES and their 'no' is NO they are living with integrity and will have a character that doesn't need to take a vow. The vow can very easily become a way of manipulating the witnesses of the vow. It is only for their benefit.

          Take the wedding vows as an example. My husband vowed to God to love me. God already knows his heart as does he. The person he is giving this assurance to would be me and the others witnessing his vow.

      • Lisa Joy February 26, 2014 Reply

        He made a vow not to read THAT SPECIFIC MAGAZINE. According to his website, THAT was the vow. Not "porn." THAT MAGAZINE. (I suspect it was Playboy but of course his website doesn't say.)

        Key to successful vow-making: Be sure your vows are nice & specific so that it's easy to find loopholes.

        Also... how weird would it be for a national television reporter to ask if he's ever read THAT SPECIFIC MAGAZINE. That's just a weirdly specific question for a reporter - or anyone - to EVER ask! Not to mention it's weird for a person that age to fantasize about being interviewed on national television. Apparently his dreams of grandeur were already rattling around in his brain?

        Rabbit trail: *Has* Mr. Gothard ever been interviewed on national television? If so, I've never heard about it, but I suppose it's possible.

        • Lisa Joy February 26, 2014

          Just looked at the vows page again - - and I find it odd that Mr. Gothard vowed never turn on a television IN A HOTEL ROOM. The wording of the vow makes no reference to televisions in homes, offices, etc. Only hotel rooms. What about a *motel* room? Or an inn??

        • Shane February 26, 2014

          I'm thinking had he been you'd have heard of it

    • Sara Sackville February 27, 2014 Reply

      Patricia, I think that is fascinating! In the mental health world, there are times when a person's sexuality and development of thinking and behaviors around sex are analyzed. Sometimes these go into a "Psychosexual Life History" report. Bill Gothard's would be fascinating to read. I tend not to be a huge fan of Freud's theory that repressed sexuality causes problems, but Bill Gothard takes repression to such an extreme, he might just singlehandedly prove Freud right! The impulse to repress his own sexuality and that of females in general is conspicuous and fanatical. And look what it resulted in. It is extremely disturbing.

  31. Pam Nicolls February 26, 2014 Reply

    Why did Gary Smally speak at an ATI conference at Knoxvillle in in 2000 praising Bill Gothord and speaking about how the were in ministry together in the early years of Bill's ministry. He was giving credibility to Bill and his ministry.

    • WendyA February 26, 2014 Reply

      Pam, I can't speak for Gary Smalley, but having met him once, read most of his books, and heard many messages by him, I suspect that Gary is one of those nice people who doesn't like to believe ill of anyone, and who is always more than willing to give a person a second, third, or fourth chance. A natural peacemaker who wants to help everyone resolve their differences and live together in love and mutual respect. Relatively innocent themselves, such people have a hard time recognizing real evil when they meet it. But that's just a guess.

      • greg r February 26, 2014 Reply

        this was my impression from the phone transcript also; it would be interesting to ask Gary himself about this

        " always more than willing to give a person a second, third, or fourth chance. A natural peacemaker...."

    • Daniel February 26, 2014 Reply

      Yeah, that is intersting.
      That was a really strange Knoxville conference.
      I remember Gary Smalley saying "I look at Bill as my spiritual father."
      I remember that because Gary had snow white hair and Bill had raven black hair. I know Bill's hair is self dyed, but it just seemed strange.

      • Brumby February 26, 2014 Reply

        In a book that read regarding cult characteristics, it was notated that some cult leaders will take great care in their personal appearance to preserve their "look," their "brand," so to speak, and to keep the followers believing in their youthfulness and ability to continue leading the group. Gothard dies his hair... consistently, and the same color, for YEARS. Political leaders commonly do the same tactic: Putin utilizes botox and allows images portraying his "athleticism" to circulate.

        • Jonathan Owens February 26, 2014

          I personally heard and witnessed Bill Gothards personal hair dresser in 1987 telling him how to "keep" his hair the same color and style it has always been. Yes yes, this guy had several good suggestions for hair that was turning color. So much for the "10 Unchangeables"

        • Karah February 26, 2014

          Yet the Basic Seminar Textbook lists dyeing your hair as a sign that you haven't accepted one of God's unchangeables in your life. Go figure. Just another "do as I say, not as I do"

        • "Haley" February 27, 2014

          Interesting points about cult leaders. I remember another Knoxville conference (1996 or 1997, I think) when Bill predicted his death and what the surrounding circumstances would be. Does anyone else remember that? I remember being very creeped out by the fact that he did that . . . it seemed like a very foolish thing to share with thousands of people. It also seemed like something a cult leader would do . . . sharing "divine revelations" about his future with his followers. During that same conference, I remember the ALERT guys marching into the auditorium and swinging down from the rafters as they lowered the American and Canadian flags during the opening ceremony, and everyone in the audience was cheering madly as they marched out. It was like ATI was cheering for its army... I felt that I was witnessing a cult like ceremony (although I wouldn't have used that word at the time). I wanted to curl into my seat and hide... I couldn't partake in the cheering... I felt ashamed to be there because something just seemed off. Both of my parents also said the military march and death prediction were odd and a bit much, but for whatever reason they still stayed in ATI a while longer.

        • eva February 27, 2014

          Haley, that is a weird scenario. Surely someone else remembers it. Why would anyone continue in ATI after seeing that? Guess it just shows the cult-like aspects of the whole organization.

        • Brumby February 27, 2014

          @Haley (below): Yes! I was there. I remember. I have goosebumps right now! Lol. Yes, yes... I remember it so clearly in some ways, and a blur in others. I had just turned 10. It was our first year. I had been pulled out of school 8 days early to attend the Knoxville conference with my family. After being in ATI for 2 or 3 years, I began to fear that Bill was going to take over the world. I can still hear his voice ringing out in that arena, after announcing some new international endeavors, and he said something and then, "...all, around, THE WORLD!!!" At such a young age, I feared that by the time I reached adulthood, the world would be taken over by him, and I would never have a chance to get out. :( People don't realize how kids think! It was scary.

        • Brumby February 27, 2014

          @Haley again: I got distracted by multiple memories coming back to me and forgot to validate what you said about Bill predicting his death and such. I do recall that, and I probably would not have put it in longterm memory, except that my father really was intrigued by it, and kept talking about it after the conference. He went so far as to express that he wished to die while preaching at a pulpit someday, but then changed his mind after watching Mickey Bonner die on stage, ironically, at a consecutive ATI Knoxville conference a couple years later (I can't remember which year... like I said, some things are a blur and my timeline is warped... which is a common effect of people who have been in a cult). Does anyone remember the Mickey Bonner incident, by chance??? That was his name, wasn't it? Back to Bill predicting his death, it seems that I remember him saying that he thought he would be murdered/assassinated, correct? I've hoped all these years that he wouldn't, since I feel that would give him satisfaction, in some twisted way. His prediction seemed to bring out endearment and compassion, from what I saw in my own family. Except me. I was just a terrified 10 year old who when in Rome, did as the Romans did. Seeing ALERT come down from the rafters was a powerful statement, and being our first year in ATI, made a big impact on my folks. My dad said that he didn't care what this program was, as long as it guaranteed that his kids would act like "those kids." ("those kids" being picture perfect ATI students with "radiant" faces and smiles in long skirts eager to swish toilets, not date, and say, "Yes, sir!"). Boy, did I disappoint him!!! :)

        • Shane February 27, 2014

          Ok kids now were going to learn a new phrase and a corresponding word. Repeat after me: "delusions of grandeur". You got that? Great! Now say "narcissism". Good!

          @ Brumby said: " it seems that I remember him saying that he thought he would be murdered/assassinated" Wow!

        • "Haley" February 28, 2014

          Thanks for your reply, Brumby. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who remembers those things. I was in my early teens at that conference. I'm a bit hesitant to repeat Gothard's detailed death prediction on the internet, as I wouldn't want to contribute to putting ideas "out there" on the internet for crazy people to follow through on. But, yes, you've got the gist of it. And predicting his own death really seemed like an unwise thing to do, especially because God tells us to test the spirits and not every vision or premonition is automatically going to be from God.

          Other cult-like things that stood out to me were when the Character Institute children would come onto the stage at the end of the conference, and the children's leaders would lead them in a song, and then they would shout "Mr. Gothard, Mr. Gothard, Mr. Gothard!!!!" while clapping... until Mr. Gothard came out on the stage to greet everyone. This celebration of Mr. G would go on for quite some time -- it wasn't just a brief greeting. I think if I'm not mistaken, the entire auditorium (including adults) were also invited to chime in. While it some ways it might seem that they were trying to be cute, having that level of a celebration over a Christian leader didn't seem appropriate. I was in my early teens at that time and had been exposed to enough mature, God-fearing leaders who were humble to draw a comparison. If I thought of, for example, my pastor (even an ATI pastor), I couldn't imagine him accepting that level of praise from so many people.

          When you think about it... the young ladies were encouraged (by Mr. G) to sing to him, the children were shouting his name, the ALERT guys were treating him like their military leader... I would be hard pressed to say it's not a cult.

        • "Haley" March 3, 2014

          @Brumby -- Just wanted to follow up and say yes, I remember the Mickey Bonner death incident. I was not at Knoxville that year, but I had friends who were and they were very impacted by it. I believe that conference took place the year right after Bill predicted his death.

    • (attendee and former parent) February 27, 2014 Reply

      If Gary, the author of so many books and thus a 'voice' in Christian circles HAD spoken out or even WOULD now speak out it would have made such a difference in my life and if he would do so now, it would make such a difference in the lives of many. I think we often lack holy boldness and call it by another name. I try to visualize the early church leaders keeping silent - and I can't. I am fairly certain he would have found a voice in Focus on the Family or Christianity Today. Can't beat a first hand witness. And how he can now make any appearance or even speak charitably about Bill in any way shape or form... well, in my thinking it is the new 'Christian' political correctness. Sorry, but that is how I see it. Harsh I know.

      • eva February 27, 2014 Reply

        Just for the record--many of these popular "authors" have ghost writers. I've known at least one that wrote for Gary Smalley. I don't know just how it works but at least that's what the ghost writer's mother in law told me.

  32. Pam Nicolls February 26, 2014 Reply

    In 2012 at a Whatever It take Conference for singles BG showed up unexpected and got up in front of us all and said that if anyone gets involved in pornography they can never be free from it. Those of us who were table leaders and who knew by our own experience and God's word which says that sin has no more domain over us in Christ that what GB said was wrong. He was undermining the very conference that was helping people live in freedom. We were livid. But no one said anything to him and he went on his merry way unchallenged.

    • Beverly February 26, 2014 Reply

      Oh that's horrible, Pam! "Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world." I think Bill just liked to scare people into making vows and relying on HIM to set them free through his "deeper truths," rather than the Person of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.

    • Leslie February 26, 2014 Reply

      That is what my daughter believes. She told me that if one of her sons even accidently saw some porn on the computer for even a second it would harm him forever and he would never be free of it.

      • Ryan Sapp February 26, 2014 Reply

        I can't remember what I ate yesterday let alone what I saw six months ago. Scare tactics. His teachings are actual the agents of bondage, not an image.

    • 'Megan' February 26, 2014 Reply

      wonder if he was speaking from his own struggles?

  33. Pam Nicolls February 26, 2014 Reply

    A few years ago at Big Sandy regional conference I ask BG about this book that came out about him that was discrediting him. I told him our children are being effected by it. His answer was that they were lies and that there was going to be people coming forward saying that they lied.

    • horse February 26, 2014 Reply

      Is this the book?

      A Matter of Basic Principles

    • Chris February 27, 2014 Reply

      This book was printed in 2002. Has anyone come forward and said they lied about the contents of this book like Mr. Gothard told you they would?

      If anything, it appears the testimonies on this web site validate the information in that book about the scandal in the 70s and early 80s. And worse, show that sexual harrassment/assault from Mr. Gothard continued for decades following the scandal.

  34. Marie February 26, 2014 Reply

    I find each additional piece of evidence from the 80s to be mind-blowing and enlightening. The biggest concern for me today is that the eyes of the current IBLP/ATI groupies will be opened. It is easier for those of us now on the outside to see it for what it is.

    The false teaching of the authority principle had huge repercussions in our family and I would venture to say there are thousands more out there like us as evidenced by the comments on these posts.

    All the more reason to anchor our lives in God's Word every day and search the Scriptures.

  35. Pam Nicolls February 26, 2014 Reply

    When one of my daughters was 17 we went to Big Sandy Regional conference and my husband and I were talking to BG about something and then introduced our daughter to him. He started telling her how beautiful she was and that she could be a leader among girls because of her beauty. He was falling all over himself over her beauty. I was saying to my self " red flag" Praise character not beauty. He suggested she come and work at headquarters in the law department. I told my husband there was no way I would let my daughter work for him after that display of his. Does he think I am stupid. Later when she went to Journey of the Heart he renewed his offer to her. But he never called us. She went to Taiwan with her brother instead which was a good experience for her in which she developed a deeper walk with God by having to rely Him instead of Mom and Dad.

    • Brumby February 26, 2014 Reply

      Wise mama!!! Don't ever doubt your gut feeling!

    • Daniel February 26, 2014 Reply!/basiclifeprinciples/photos/a.214048078760707.1073741837.147218335443682/214049202093928/?type=1&theater

      From this HQ retreat photo, I count 18ish "fellas" that don't look attached. 30ish "young ladies" that don't look attached. It always seemed like there were more girls than guys at these events. I always assumed that guys were less interested in the ministry or were out pursuing gainful employment, etc. Maybe less guys got invited?

      • Nancy2 February 26, 2014 Reply

        Maybe they have already been sent home for defrauding.

      • Daniel February 26, 2014 Reply

        18 single guys 32 single girls = 36% single guys 64% single girls.
        Interestingly, most of these girls are fulfilling jobs that would not be approved if they were moms. IOW, why do we train girls to work in the "legal" department, when that is disallowed to them as married women? Shouldn't we just allow them to work in the drapery/houskeeping/laundry departments or kitchen? (I'm being facetious). Shouldn't we staff the print shop/ video department/ office jobs with guys?

        I'm sure that several of those guys are doing grounds crew/ warehouse/ truck driving jobs, so the offices must be fairly heavily "manned" by girls. :-)

        • Nancy2 February 26, 2014

          I'm a volunteer carpenter. Glad you were being facetious.

        • Daniel February 27, 2014

          I'm sort of joking, but not really.

          It is a FACT that there are a lot more girls than guys at HQ and elsewhere.

          I mentioned in a different thread that my wife was invited to work at HQ by BG after being with her for just a few moments. (She didn't go).
          Tons of stories of girls being invited to HQ.
          How many girls are invited vs. guys? Story after story of pretty young girls being invited to HQ with only an old man's once over. Did the same thing happen to guys? Or was it, "We would love to have you work in our log cabin program?"

          This is a serious question. How did recruitment for HQ work?

        • Nancy2 February 27, 2014

          Daniel, I did take your original comment seriously. I was serious about how many might have been sent home for a small reason to not be competition for Mr. Gothard's needed attention as reported by Marcus.

          I did think you were joking about a woman's place with the laundry, etc.

          You ask a good question. How many have heard of Mr. Gothard encouraging young men to work at HQ? As an older woman I do what I can to encourage young women. It would seem a man would have the desire to encourage young men.

        • Sara Sackville February 27, 2014

          I have to admit that two days prior to discovering Recovering Grace's website, I was perusing Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue, which features a scathing Scientology expose. Did you know that L. Ron Hubbard was famous for retreating from the world and living on a boat on which he surrounded himself with "comely young teenagers" called "Messengers" who waited on him, absorbed his teachings, and did his bidding?!!! Reading the interns' stories on RG's website two days later, I found myself thinking that the similarities were positively eerie! The common denominator appears to be the control and manipulation of emotionally vulnerable young females by an idealized leader. The theology is secondary.

  36. Heidi February 26, 2014 Reply

    "there hasn’t been anyone who’s been able to convey to the world what really happened and why it happened." (Ruth)

    Thank you RG for shining a light in the darkness.

    • Samuel Lundmark February 28, 2014 Reply

      I found this quote from Ruth to ring SO TRUE in my own account in IBLP/ATI. Some situations are so difficult to convey when layer after layer of the system is stacked against you.

      When checkmate is called on the oppressed, is exactly the point our God promises to take up the cause. The battle becomes active in the spiritual plane. Nothing is too difficult for God. God takes up the cause of the oppressed and those who cannot argue their own cause.

  37. Loves the Truth February 26, 2014 Reply

    Reading this transcript is sobering….depressing….that people tried so long ago to do something about this. Yet Bill Gothard is still doing the same thing. He is a wolf in sheeps clothing that continues to prey on innocent victims. Same for Doug Phillips….the list goes on. I am aware of quite a few men in my community that in the name of Christ practice debauchery. It is disgusting. Why is it that he and others…are not stopped? Thank you RG for continuing on. Please do NOT stop!!!!

  38. Sarah February 26, 2014 Reply

    So worth repeating, "We understand that all of the immoral issue involved is a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the hermeneutic. But we’re not going to be able to get people’s attention with hermeneutics. And so when you say that the product was the result of long years of brainwashing and manipulation and philosophy and all of that, we understand that; but most of the Christian community who is so committed to Bill Gothard is not going to look at that as being significant."

  39. mitchell chapman February 26, 2014 Reply

    IF there is abuse at oak brook and the children are under 18 years of age you need to call children services and notify them of the abuse. not sure what county oakbrook is in but you can look up on net.

  40. Joel Horst February 26, 2014 Reply

    It is time to stop playing softball with Bill Gothard. The problem with the discussion in this transcript is that it assumes that Bill is a Christian. HE IS NOT!

    That is a harsh statement borne out by the Word of God. God speaks very strongly about lying. He says:

    Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it [the New Jerusalem] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

    Revelation 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

    Romans 1:28-32 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

    Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

    1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

    Jesus clearly tells us where lying comes from:

    John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

    Therefore, when we see someone who habitually lies and deceives, we know that they are of the Devil and not of God. Jesus said, "I am the... Truth..." (John 14:6)

    It is time to stop thinking of Bill as a brother in Christ. He is not. Whether you choose to believe that he never became a Christian, or that he at one point was a Christian and has backslidden, the bottom line is the same. He is one of Satan's ministers, disguised as a minister of righteousness. Therefore, nitpicking over hermeneutics, and whether you can prove he is disqualified by 1 Timothy 3 (after all, he is neither a bishop nor a deacon), are pointless. A deceiver is not a Christian. PERIOD.

    • Leslie February 26, 2014 Reply

      Wow. That is harsh. But I have to agree

    • Nancy2 February 26, 2014 Reply

      Dearest Joel,

      I know how deeply it hurts to see so many misguided into Gothardism. The part of my family that listens to every word Mr. Gothard says have made horrible decisions based on his teachings. The hurt created by these teachings have lead to years of heartbreak and broken relationships.

      I don't know Mr. Gothard's heart. But I do know one thing if he isn't my brother, then he is my mission field, and I am to love both. I can stand firm against his teachings and his abuse, while praying that he yields his heart to God's Grace, not his interpretation of grace, but God's clear definition of Grace made manifest in His Son.

    • L. Shackelford February 27, 2014 Reply

      While it is true that we do not know his heart, and only God can really judge who is a true believer, Joel brings up a good point. How can a man who is so clearly a wolf in sheep's clothing, a narcissistic predator and a proven truth twister be a child of God? This just seems so WRONG! And Jesus agrees.

      "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits… Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" Matt. 7:15-23

      Please note that great things were done in God's name in the verse above, but these were not considered to be good fruit. It is all about doing the will of the Father. BG is a worker of lawlessness. He lays down the Law, and then proceeds to live apart from the law; God's law, his law, the Bible's law and any other law he can manage.

      It is very hard for me to pray for a man like this who is supposedly a 'brother in Christ,' when he has done so much evil, as a bother, but I can pray for him as a nonbeliever, that he will come to Christ, repent and find mercy at the cross. Lord have mercy.

  41. Shane February 26, 2014 Reply

    Joel, I think you've overstated here. You nor anyone here can make such definitive assertions about Bill Gothard's soul. I think you've misused the law here in your evaluation and I think you should be careful.

  42. Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014 Reply

    At the risk of ridicule, which I shall surely endure . . . I keep wanting to ask: What exactly IS this evil Chain of Command doctrine that so offended Dr. Rademacher? And Dr. Schulz? [BTW, since I attended Portland, Oregon seminars at the same time as Dr. Rademacher, we may have experienced it together, I as a 15 year old] Is it the notion that one human should obey another human, God expecting, directing this? Because . . . apparently Paul and company didn't "get the memo" either. Is it that God's authority flows down through people . . . from Him directly? I am just mystified - no, as lifelong supporter of Bill and one who believes he is right doctrinally that I am - I really am not playing dumb. What is the excess?

    If it is as evil as described, its salient points can be made in a sentence or two.

    This is "Chain of Command", as I understand it:

    "1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For qthere is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." (Romans 13:1-2) Same section later describes such even unsaved authorities as "Ministers of God". Bill teaches a very high view of authority . . . Some will abuse authority, with or without the Bible or Bill Gothard. This and several other key points remain the biggest reason I support Bill Gothard, even as a flawed, at times compromised sinful human being.

    And, no, I really do not want him stepping down, abandoning those of us who have appreciated him so much. I want him to fix things in brokenness and genuine humility as best as he is able. And his ability to do so has barely been tapped. He can do this. A broken and a contrite heart neither God nor man will despise.

    • TiaraLi February 27, 2014 Reply

      Strangely enough, the authorities mentioned in that passage that were quoted were government authorities. We are to obey the law. Gothard himself has refused to do that.

      We are to obey those authorities that God has put over us, true. The chain of command that Gothard taught is a fiction written by Gothard.

      "At the risk of ridicule, which I shall surely endure" Clearly you are making yourself out to be a martyr. People will ridicule you for openly protecting and supporting a sex offender and a false teacher, and this somehow shows how you are serving the Lord. Well, yes, if your lord is Gothard. Not so much if your Lord is the God of the bible.

    • greg r February 27, 2014 Reply

      good morning Alfred, glad to hear from you again; this is just a quick note as my coffee brews before work, but let me encourage you to look at the entire breadth and height of the bible, especially the life of Jesus, and the life of the early church, before you make your mind up about chain of command.
      the best way to understand what Rom.13 really means is to understand the rest of the NT as well. Please do NOT settle for a "sentence or two " argument, this would be both lazy and dangerous. The LORD give us both ears to hear what HE has for us today.

      Blessings (contractor says I'm not supposed to talk to you, but I can't/won't resist....)

    • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014 Reply

      I can give you the bottom line problem with any number of heresies and cults in 1-2 sentences . . . if I can't, maybe it isn't as cut and dried as suggested.

      As far as "sex offender", may you never, Tiara, have to endure the slander of slurs. I and the rest of the world know what a "sex offender" is . . . they have sex. If Bill Gothard has never "had sex" or "kissed a girl" or "touched the private parts of a woman", as he told me twice, recently, then it is disingenuous, indeed a "smear", to use that phrase. That is typical of the tactics the world uses - it has no place in the church of Jesus Christ. No . . . we get very precise and objective, even with people we don't like.

      • Arch Radish February 27, 2014 Reply

        I find it hilarious that you only want definitions in your increasingly laughable terms, Alfred. You want one or two sentences? Okay: "Bill Gothard is a hypocrite, a liar, and a charlatan. His rules are not Biblical and only there for his benefit." There's two sentences. Where's my cookie?

        As someone who knows TiaraLi very well, she indeed knows about slurs. And sex offenders. And despite your increasing stretching of reality to fit your idolatry of Bill Gothard, she recognizes him for what he is. Bill has very clearly sexually harassed his staff, of that there is no doubt. His continued credibility problems in his mishandling of scripture, funds, and the truth in general put his personal word to you faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar below the credibility of the people he took advantage of. Gothard. Is. A. Liar. That's not a slur, that is an established fact. And if you're going to take the word of a liar over the word of the people he harassed and touched inappropriately (which is more than enough to make him a sex offender), you're blind.

        Take that as ridicule and persecution if you wish and fuel your martyr complex, but everyone else sees it for what it is. The truth. And you're alone here.

      • TiaraLi February 27, 2014 Reply

        While Gothard has not been convicted yet, there is clear evidence that we have read (and you say you believe) that he has, in fact, committed sexual harassment. The legal definition of a sex offender is a person who has been convicted of a sexual crime 'including rape, molestation, sexual harassment and pornography production or distribution.'

        Yes, there is no conviction yet. Yes, if he went to court charged with sexual harassment where the statute of limitations had not yet expired, then it seems extremely likely that he would be found guilty. So maybe I should have referred to him as a hopefully future sex offender (hopeful meaning I hope for a conviction, not more offenses).

        And honestly, mate, if you think that sexual activity only includes either kissing or penetration, then I feel really, really sorry for your wife. She must be so frustrated. At least you must allow your children a great deal more freedom than other ATI young adults were allowed, right? Cause if it's not penetrative sex it's not wrong, right?

        • TiaraLi February 27, 2014

          And just because I know how much you delight in your willful ignorance, Alfred, I posted the link to the legal definition of sexual harassment.

          "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment."

          The stories we have read so far - even disregarding Charlotte's, which I believe - are clear descriptions of sexual harassment. Therefore, if Gothard were to be convicted of what he has actually done, he would indeed be a sex offender.

      • Sad February 27, 2014 Reply

        Actually Alfred in many states a Sex Offender does NOT have to have sex with their victim to be guilty of a sex offense. There are usually varying degrees of sex offense, ranging from misdemeanor to felony. The behavior Charlotte described would likely be a misdemeanor 3rd or 4th Degree Sex Offense in my state since she was of the "age of consent" even if she was a minor.

        So, bottom line, no your understanding of the legal world is not correct.

      • Lori February 28, 2014 Reply

        "sex offender n. generic term for all persons convicted of crimes involving sex, including rape, molestation, sexual harassment and pornography production or distribution."

        Source: Free Online Dictionary

      • Samuel Lundmark February 28, 2014 Reply

        Ok, Alfred, I tire of your terms games and victim-blames. Let me ask you a question I presented the IBLP board without receiving answer from them.

        "Why did Bill have his suite built in the girls' wing of the MTC and not somewhere on the guys' wing?" As reference, the guys' wing was where the offices were and had what I would consider more accountability. The older Russian and ATI girls would pass his suite on the way to and from their rooms from the main areas of the TC. To be clear, his suite was between their rooms and the other TC wings and where they would pass multiple times per day. There was also no staff family near his suite for the accountability that would provide if my memory serves me right.

        I knew enough about IBLP/ATI at this point to know that nothing of this level of significance in IBLP/ATI is done without Bill's direct permission and design and most things he finds to be unsatisfactory at all are redone at his word--even if people are hurt in the process. This context in and of itself raised serious questions. I expressed those as clearly as I could to the IBLP board.

        I was told recently by others who were at the MTC at the time Bill made this decision that every staff family begged Bill to NOT place his suite where he choose to put it--over similar concerns I cited to the IBLP board.

        I will also explain that I was ASKED to provide my observations while at the MTC by an IBLP upper-leadership person you and everyone else reading this from ATI/IBLP would know by name. (I had been in Russia 10 years prior to this time.)

        If I cannot avoid speaking, I have always taken care to shoot straight even if it might draw me into trouble. In this case, I was left to only guess that they considered my questions too probing to answer.

        • another MTCer March 1, 2014

          Was the location of his suite changed at some point????? When I was there, it was at the far end of the 2nd floor of A building, somewhat out of the way of major foot traffic. Girls lived on the floors above, but the floor his suite was on was used either for offices or orphan families. There was always at least one family living there. The girls typically didn't walk down that hall to access their rooms. If he put his suite there to gain access to the girls, I don't think it worked.

        • Samuel Lundmark March 1, 2014

          I just checked with someone who was there end of 1995 who confirmed that the girls used to reside on bldg. B with the offices were on the first floor. After completion of bldg. A, the girls were moved to bldg. A along with Gothard's suite as it was in 2004 when I was there.

          It might be that the use of the other rooms on that floor might have changed. When I was there, those rooms were guest rooms according to the signs on the doors. There were no orphan families on that floor when I was there. Offices were all in bldg B.

          The buildings have stairwells at the corners of the buildings and at the ends, but I remember the end stairwell of bldg. A as unused blocking the route through the first floor and requiring the girls to go up one or more levels to get to their rooms. If I remember correctly, I think that was due to storage blocking access to those stairs leaving fewer access routes. I would think that floors 3 and 4 might have been open for the main stairwell, but I don't know for sure.

          I took a close look at the whole situation in 2004, and I wrote it up as I observed it then.

          From memory, in 2004, bldg. A was 1st floor meeting/event room(s). 2nd floor the Gothard suite near mid-floor and guest rooms toward the dining room bldg. I remember turning to the right from the center entrance in bldg. A to get access to them. 3rd floor and maybe the 4th were housing for the girls, I believe, but I did not go up there for obvious reasons.

        • another MTCer March 1, 2014

          There were orphans living on the 2nd floor in 2004, you just may not have seen them due to vacations or school hours. And neither stairwell was ever blocked. I think the outside doors were locked sometimes, though. Getting up to the girls' floors was easy at either end of the building, and cutting through the 2nd floor just wasn't normal. I don't want to sound contradictory, but I know that building from top to bottom. :)

      • "Hannah" March 1, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, it's been nicely documented here that Bill is a liar, or rather he stretches or adjusts the truth for his own purposes. One example of this is his statement back in the 70's or 80's, that he'd made a vow not to watch tv or movies. When probed about this, he admitted that vow only applied when he was on the road, not when he was at home. Honestly, I don't care what he says to you, because he's a liar. Stop covering for him; it makes people wonder what you, yourself, are hiding. Have the sense to jump off of this sinking ship before you go down with it.

    • grateful February 27, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, really at this point, in my opinion, whatever truth can be derived from BG's authority teaching is negated by the avalanche of other, more serious issues. I think the point here is that the teaching was manipulated such that it was put forth to protect and isolate the one in charge (BG) Do parents and other authorities shape and mold you (and sometimes break you when necessary)? yes, obviously they do. however, that truth is taken and taught to the utmost extreme and hence is perfect for abusers to take full advantage and secure themselves as God's voice. A recipe for bad things. So, the teaching is not really the debate any longer, I think we are seeing the proof. The reality now is how to process all of this information. Wow, I am glad I only got about knee deep into this stuff ...

      and, btw gothardism DOES NOT equal fundamentalism or conservatism

      • Shelley Randolph Romey February 28, 2014 Reply

        "and, btw gothardism DOES NOT equal fundamentalism or conservatism"

        Thank you! Gothardism is a method of twisting Scripture and manipulating people.

    • eva February 27, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, now I'm feeling sorry for your wife and children who are under the Chain of Command as you "see it". What if you are wrong? What if they rebel against your wrong directions under the Chain of Command? Where is this mentioned in Scripture? We have elders in the church, we have governmental authorities, we have admonitions about wives AND husbands being submissive to each other and to the Lord Jesus Christ and loving each other but where does it say that if my child were to go to HQ and work that my authority is transferred over to Bill Gothard? My husband loves me and respects my opinion about many things. He involved me in business decisions when he owned a business, he kept me involved in all our family financial decisions so that if The Lord called him home then I would be able to manage and know how to do things on my own. If he had just delivered an ultimatum to me on all this I would not be prepared for that. We gave our children the opportunity to make their own choices about education and life partners. No courtship in this family! I even advised my youngest son to not wait till the wedding to kiss his fiancee. Recently he told me "thank you" for telling him that. Her parents were Gothard followers and I suppose this came from them. His wife even said that her father told her that she was spending too much time with him AFTER they were engaged to be married. She told him, "Dad we are engaged to be MARRIED". They had already made the decision to wait till marriage for sexual relations so forbidding it was beside the point. I have diverged from your comment about the chain of command. Just another false teaching from Gothard.

    • David February 27, 2014 Reply

      I am thoroughly convinced that when a person cannot discern false teaching or see the evil in it, that it is because they are blind to the Truth. Whether your blindness is the result of ignorance, or the result of hardness of heart, is up to God to judge.

    • Karah February 27, 2014 Reply

      Bill teaches a very high view of authority alright. A view that places himself in a very high place of spiritual authority right next to God. He himself does not submit to the authority of a church and has skirted rules from the government when he is able to.

    • Barnabas February 27, 2014 Reply

      Alfred - you asked for a short summation - IBLP teaches (correctly) that authority comes from God. IBLP goes beyond that to teach: (1) authority must always be obeyed,* (2) Every authority figure has broad jurisdiction over your entire life,** and (3) blessing will come to you as you obey earthly authorities***

      *unless contrary to scripture, they hasten to add. But this exception is meaningless when scripture is being interpreted by the very authorities you are working with.
      ** your parents, pastor, husband, etc. could tell you how to dress, what job to take, who to date etc. and you would be bound by that, and many have. And being bound by that is a heavy burden to bear, as many of these testimonies (both the specific allegations against Mr. Gothard AND the many testimonies of students less directly affected) on RG tell.
      *** this is a warmed over prosperity gospel. We obey because God tells us, not because we expect reward.

      Now, the slightly longer version, is my view:

      Of course, authority is a thing in the world. And in it's proper place, should be respected appropriately. But that is only partially taught by IBLP - and definitely not practiced. Authority as properly understood is (1) bounded by a jurisdiction, (2) accountable to its own authorities, and(3) able to be effectively appealed against in case of abuse.

      If we teach that, because authority ultimately comes from God, we will always benefit from obeying everyone in authority over us, then we open a huge window for abuse to come in.

      As for (1), IBLP tends to completely disregard jurisdictional boundaries. When do parents' authorities over their children's lives end? When do ministry leaders' authority over their congregation end? Are children allowed to have the integrity of their own thoughts? Many ATI kids I know will say their biggest difficulty is feeling a slavish obligation to obey rather than a freedom to make their own decisions. I can give you many examples of children in their teens, 20s, or even 30s that cannot make their own decisions (job, housing, mate) without explicit permission of their parents. It is well known that IBLP established many rules for its employees that were not part of the employer-employee relationship, but in fact reflected an inappropriate jurisdiction of IBLP leadership over the personal decisions and details of that employee's life. It has been very,very difficult for me to have a relationship with my parents because I feel my boundaries are violated many times when we are together, despite the fact that they are loving, godly, and sincerely want their best for me. One ATI girl I know was contemplating the mission field in central Asia, not out of passion for foreign missions, but out of a belief that that was the only way her parents would allow her to leave home (in her late 20s!) Another was cut off by her parents for not following their instructions in dating. Cut off! An adult (late 20s) child who was making the decision to date a good Christian man, and was in all ways above reproach!

      (2) This is one IBLP gets right in theory (I think), but clearly doesn't practice. To whom is Mr. Gothard accountable? And why have they not dealt with the issues raised by RG in the 1970s in such a way that it wasn't repeated in the 1980s... and 1990s?

      (3) Again, the theory is OK, the practice is off. One way to view this website is as the mouthpiece that finally allowed these stories to be told, and provides accountability and reproof that is sorely lacking in those who should have provided it.

      I too share your hope that the Institute survive, albeit with substantial doctrinal and behavioral reform and repentance.

      • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014 Reply

        I see this as the bottom line: "the theory is OK, the practice is off." I have no problem with that. That is NOT the damning heresy that Rademacher and Schulz refer to. Leaving me right back where I was.

        • greg r February 27, 2014

          @Alfred: not giving up on my question,Alfred. In all your interactions online Orr in person, have you seen for yourself any part of bill's teaching on authority that is NOT ok ?? If so, please describe these briefly. Thanks.

        • Nancy2 February 27, 2014

          I will try to make this very simple. Chain of Command is about distance. How many links are between where you stand and God? I was in the other thread and you didn't know the definition of 'defrauding'. It is a simple word search through Vines and Strongs. You thought it was only intended in sexual situations, yet there were many Scriptural references that indicated you were wrong. You got your definition from Mr. Gothard's teachings. You placed his link in the chain before your responsibility to know what you were saying was correct. You let go of your responsibility to know the truth.

          The is only One Mediator between God and mankind. Jesus. He is the Truth. No one should be responsible for us seeking the Truth. The Holy Spirit is Who convicts our hearts of Truth.

          John 16:8 "When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world, and show where right and wrong and judgment lie.

          Bill Gothard is wrong to try and stand between believers and the Holy Spirit.

          Man is wrong to run to another man instead of prayerfully listening to the Holy Spirit and studying Scripture to find where right and wrong judgement lie. Bill Gothard cannot convict hearts, and to try and usurp the Holy Spirit is heresy.

        • Nancy2 February 27, 2014

          An example of Bill Gothard playing Holy Spirit: when he sets up rules to hold young people in prayer rooms and force fasting for several days it is the same as saying the Holy Spirit is not convicting that person's heart fast enough for Bill. He has to take steps to push the conclusion he wants.

          I believe the Holy Spirit has the power to press hearts perfectly without this kind of abuse.

        • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014

          Greg R: I see nothing wrong with his teaching on authority. My problem comes with application. And balance. If you emphasize one thing to the exclusion of everything else, you have a balance problem. The problem is, of course, that the teaching that God actually holds us accountable for how we respond to people He places over us, and works through authority as opposed to exclusively talking directly to us has been all but forgotten . . . and an overbalance may be warranted in the short term.

          Nancy: I took my definition of "defrauding" right out of Scripture, and completely in context! And, yes, that IS the context that concerns us at the moment, i.e. "sex" and marriage.

        • eva February 27, 2014

          Alfred, Bill Gothard is 79 years old. In view of the statistics he is likely to die before you do. So then what are you going to do and will you still feel abandoned? I have read somewhere that Bill does not want the organization to continue after his death. I don't remember where I read that so I don't know if it's true or not but if true then all those who have put their trust in IBLP and its subsidiaries will be abandoned.

        • Nancy2 February 27, 2014

          Now Alfred I feel really bad for you seeing you didn't go back to the original Greek to find the real meaning of the word. With Mr. Gothard's definition of defrauding you assumed it only has to do with sexual impurity and miss interpreted Scripture.

          The Greek word is πλεονεκτέω
          (Strong's #4122 — Verb — pleonekteo — pleh-on-ek-teh'-o )
          lit., "to seek to get more" (pleon, "more," echo, "to have"); hence, "to get an advantage of, to take advantage of." In 2 Corinthians 7:2 the AV has "defrauded," the RV, "took advantage of;" in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 , AV, "defraud," RV, "wrong." In the other three places the RV consistently translates it by the verb "to take advantage of," 2 Corinthians 2:11 , of Satan's effort to gain an "advantage" over the church, through their neglect to restore the backslider; in 2 Corinthians 12:17,18 , AV, "make a gain of." See DEFRAUD , GAIN , WRONG.

        • greg r February 28, 2014

          @Alfred: you wrote

          The problem is, of course, that the teaching that God actually holds us accountable for how we respond to people He places over us, and works through authority as opposed to exclusively talking directly to us has been all but forgotten . . . and an overbalance may be warranted in the short term.

          First of all, kudos for the "imbalance may be warranted " line.. nice, very slick move.. bad teaching to counteract bad it.

          But most of all, what about accountability to GOD Himself, when earthly authority gets shakey ?? You know, like Peter in the book of Paul who was beaten by his Jewish authorities "times without number", like John Bunyan who would not stop preaching the gospel in England and would not accept release from prison if he would stop: are you seeing a trend here, Alfred ??

      • David February 27, 2014 Reply

        "The theory is OK, the practice is off." The most lame excuse in the world. Actually, the authority doctrine IS damnable heresy. Practice has nothing to do with it. Truth is Truth, and error is error, regardless of practice. This is so clearly error and obvious that a babe in Christ ought to discern it.

        • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014

          OK, bro . . . gauntlet is down. Detail the "damnable heresy" part.

        • Nancy2 February 27, 2014

          Alfred please check this link.

          I'll be praying for you and your family.

        • greg r February 28, 2014

          @Alfred; reg. the "gauntlet is down"
          first of all, I commend your transparency here, but not your persistence: let me explain that. this is my point ,Alfred: the damnable heresy HAS been explained in so many places, by so many (yet not enough, IMO) and yet it has ZERO effect on you. that's why my specific question about ANY PART of bill's teaching....the fact is, Alfrred, you haven't given yourself the freedom to even get started to think for yourself, to explore truth.
          I don't want to type that four different ways , or repeat it ten times , because then it seems I'm just calling you names, and I assure you before GOD my judge, I'm not.
          I'll give you just one specific thing to think about, but if this hasn't ALREADY impacted you, I doubt my saying it will mean much: the "setting of jurisdictions" is to be done by the HOLY SPIRIT, and the jurisdiction is none other than the Kingdom of GOD HIMSELF. Bill , by being consistently and perniciously specific , where scripture is NOT, takes the place of both the King, over whose Kingdom the Holy Spirit directs. I am NOT saying the leaders/authorities don't play a ROLE in that, but it is a very limited role, with definite boundaries. To flaunt those boundaries is to wander into heresy.

          Jesus does not suffer substitute Kings lightly, this trampling on HIS right to rule the WAY HE sees fit is no small thing. I'm guessing, of course, that you see this matter very differently. If any part of what I've typed here makes any sense, please say so. Praying for you, me, RG, the church at large...if one member suffers, we ALL suffer...I believe that.

    • greg r February 27, 2014 Reply

      @Alfred: I'm going to 'answer' a question with a question. Alfred, you have, by now, had hundreds, if not thousands of exchanges with those who have given you a different picture of authority than BG. You've been given scriptures, reasons, testimonies, and argument. Out of everything that you've heard, read, and seen, has ANYTHING EVER given you a clearer, more 'Jesus-like' picture of authority than what you were taught by Bill ?? Has this ever happened, even once ??

      • greg r February 27, 2014 Reply

        One more question for you , Alfred: Barnabas wrote above

        IBLP tends to completely disregard jurisdictional boundaries....

        How would any christian know when and how to set these boundaries ???

      • Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014 Reply

        And back to "practice, not theory is out of whack". I see nothing wrong with what Bill Gothard teaches about authority, just the excesses, imbalance which we have all observed.

        People worry about my poor wife. There is cause given whom she is married to . . . but . . . I assure you that she has a mind and speaks it and we figure out what we need to do between us. And God never commanded a husband to make his wife submit. And, yes, there is a mutual submission, which is easy to see if he is "chief servant" in the house.

        In recent years Bill has gotten to say the following more and more often: "You can disobey and be respected, you can obey and be despised". He sees a problem too.

        Michael Pearl has specifically dealt with this and the "ATI crowd", whose ear he has. He details, for example, how his father commanded him to attend a seminary associated with their church - example right out of the Basic Seminar almost - but he felt unable to do so because of their stances, "liberal leanings". He left home rather than comply. His father later commended him for his action. He also makes the statement that if parents of REALLY adult children can't seem to find a way to give their blessing for marriage, they just need to get married.

        • TiaraLi February 27, 2014

          Michael Pearl, whose book has been linked to the unlawful deaths of three different children?

        • Matthew Watkins February 28, 2014

          And there it is. Invoking Michael Pearl as an example to justify the teachings of Bill Gothard. Using one crazy to prop up another? I would say that in these circles you might actually find that Michael Pearl is considered a more unreliable teacher/leader/whatever than Bill Gothard, as hard as that is to imagine...

          (the ellipsis are just for you Alfred since you like them so much)

    • KH February 27, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, I served for 5 years in the US Army and every company, battalion and brigade I belonged to had a wall of pictures that showed who my Chain of Command was, from the president down to the companies Master Sargent! For the love of Pete, please tell me who was Bill's authority? According to these board members, etc. they sure didn't seem to feel he was under anyone's authority! He answered to no one but himself!

      You have said that you can believe all the young ladies except Charlotte. Would you invite a man who played footsies with women over 40 years their senior, stroked their hair, covered up their arms while under a blanket, requested they alter the way God had created them, to preach from the pulpit of your church. If you say yes, please tell me what church you would allow this to happen in so I can stay far, far away!

      • Larne Gabriel February 27, 2014 Reply


        From one Army vet to another thanks for your service, yours and the men and women who have gone before you has given us the freedom to have this discussion without government reprisals. Gothard was under the authority of no one! Not even God.

        Larne Gabriel

        • KH February 27, 2014

          Larne, thank you as well for serving our great country. I firmly believe as you, Gothard had no authority other than himself! I am so glad to be out from under such a dishonest, vile and deceptive man.

    • David February 27, 2014 Reply

      Alfred wrote,"And, no, I really do not want him stepping down, abandoning those of us who have appreciated him so much."

      Do you hear yourself? Abandon you to WHAT? Abandon you in what sense? If Gothard weren't there, you would feel abandoned? Could you go on with Jesus Christ without Bill?

    • Ileata Lundmark March 1, 2014 Reply

      You will have a hard time find a man who is seriously repentant over things like sexual sin and abuse who will not *insist* on stepping down. It would be wrong for those of you who follow Gothard to encourage him to not step down and show the genuine repentance he has supposedly taught for 40 years.

  43. Lynn February 27, 2014 Reply

    You are welcome, MatthewS.

  44. Laurie LaRowe February 27, 2014 Reply

    Regarding the question of more of "the girls" coming forward with their stories, and their fears of retaliation, and the suggestion of them getting lawyers, could it be that there isn't the money for each "girl" to fight the legal battles? Would it be possible to form some sort of "class action lawsuit" of the girls together, and also is there a way to donate to their lawyer funding? Or one account that the rest of us recovering in His Grace can support their truth to be revealed and stop BG's continuing abuse?

  45. Nancy February 27, 2014 Reply

    If I knew that the money was going directly to the legal defense of the teen girls and young women abused by Bill Gothard, I would gladly give a donation. The abuse needs to end.

  46. […] they experienced. As well the inability of people to expose and stop him in the past has been made public by the website team. Recovering Grace initially looked at the harm created by Gothards […]

  47. Mike March 7, 2014 Reply

    wow it is 12:30 at night and I am still here.

    My only real question is why on earth does all this information take 30 years to surface.


  48. […] Perhaps the biggest question is, how will Chris Hogan (the current leader while IBLP searches for a new president) and the IBLP board react? The problems begin with a false teaching on a so called “Chain of authority” or “Umbrella of Protection.” As Dr. Earl Radmacher said in his 1983 letter ( The letter is posted in its entirety after the transcript): […]

  49. Mamaraye March 14, 2014 Reply

    As an intro, I must tell you that never in my life of following blogs or reading websites, have I spent any appreciable time reading the "comments" sections. And the times I have commented myself could be counted on two, possibly three, fingers. And there is a reason for that. Most comment sections are not renowned for their kindness or thoughtful replies, or their general grasp of the English language, for that matter.

    That said, I am more than impressed by the high caliber, thoughtful, kind, well-written and gracious articles and comments on this site. It has been mesmerizing, oh so enlightening, heart wrenching, and convicting. Thank you for such a grace-filled, well-thought out website. More than anything, I want this comment, and my story, to be an encouragement to you, that people DO hear and DO listen and many, many people stand with you.

    The story of my just-the-tip-of-my-big-toe involvement with IBYC...

    When a friend told me on Monday of this week that Gothard had stepped down as head of what our family knows as IBYC, my first reaction was "he's still around?!" It has been literally decades since I have had even a thought about him, his seminars, or his teachings. And, spoiler alert...since we burned or recycled the last of his publications we had purchased.

    The transcripts in this article shed light on something my husband and I wondered about many, many years ago...namely, why did our pro-Gothard pastor suddenly stop supporting the area seminars and suddenly stop taking busloads of us down to the conferences in Seattle? Why did he stop inserting strange guidelines for when married couples could have sex and stop saying that being single is probably a more blessed state than being married? That pastor, who passed away several years ago, went from being a joyful, funny man to a man more than mildly obsessed with certain laws and rules...within about a two-year period.

    Both my husband and I had attended an IBYC conference in our teens, in the 70's, he in Eugene, OR, and I in Chicago. Both of us reacted about the same way: "Hmmm, that is an interesting way of putting things." Neither of us did what we should have done, which was check against Scripture whether those teachings were true or false, or in my case, talk it over more deeply with my own pastor dad. But neither of us accepted the Red Binder hook, line and sinker, either.

    Later, we moved far away from our respective parents, to the Puget Sound area, where there seemed to be an amazing fan base for, of all people, Bill Gothard! I remember being slightly dumbstruck by that...I knew he was big in Illinois, where I had just recently lived, but Washington State? Why? What was the deal, the draw?

    We began attending the church pastored by the above mentioned pastor, an old family friend of my husband's parents. Our church was a what you would call a normal, non-denominational, Bible believing and teaching church, actually quite a rarity in the state of WA at the time.

    It was 1979 to 1982. No internet, no cell phones, no home computers (unless you had wads of cash), old fashioned tv, old fashioned mail. Word of mouth and mailings were how seminars and conferences were publicized. Scandals and failures in ministries took a lot longer to come out and to become common knowledge. But we did began to hear about a Seminar coming to Seattle. Our pastor began to promote it at church. We decided to attend. It wasn't cheap, it would use up every evening of that week, it was a long round trip back home each night, but we wanted to grow, to learn, to make a difference, to BE different. So we went.

    While most of what we heard has thankfully faded away, we do remember two things very vividly...first, we heard Gothard's teachings/warnings/principles on adoption. I have an imprinted memory of looking over at my husband at the same time he looked at me, up there in our seats in the nose-bleed section of the venue, and us both mouthing some version of "What the...?" We had just in the previous months been seriously considering adopting one or two children. What was this BG was telling us?

    Second, we purchased a very expensive, very heavy copy of Character Sketches.

    One thing they don't tell you about getting ready to attend one of the BG seminars is to hire your own personal sherpa to carry all the books, binders, and papers you will decide you need to come home with. We came home with a small Everest of material. We were tired and and more than a bit confused, overstuffed with information and needed a break. We put the materials aside for awhile and got on with life.

    A few weeks later, my parents decided to come for a visit. Since he was/is a pastor, missionary, and Bible college professor, and also had attended the '73 conference (but none after that) we decided to take a closer look at some of the newer material and ask him what he thought about it. It was not difficult to find examples of teachings that seemed cock-eyed. We marked a few in the binders, and in Character Sketches. Then we had Dad look at them.

    My dad and Dr. Radmacher went to school together and knew each other well professionally. Also, my husband and I had met Dr. Radmacher ourselves at a church missions conference. We liked him and his straight-forward view of life.

    What we did not know was that at the exact time period we were meeting him, that my dad was reviewing the Gothard material, that we were attending a Seminar, Dr. Radmacher was working on and dealing with the things he talks about in this transcript. In fact, based on the dates on the originals, this all happened in the same time frame. What we did know is that both my dad and later Dr. Radmacher warned us about Gothard and his teachings. Dad's review of the materials was short and to the point: "The Bible does not teach what Gothard is trying to twist out of these passages. He is inserting material of his own that is just not there in the original Scriptures." (This was his statement after reviewing some of the Character Sketch stories.) Dad and Dr. Radmacher both warned us to be careful, that this teaching was in error in too many areas. Thankfully, we heard, looked at God's Word for ourselves, discussed matters with godly people, and eventually burned or threw away the whole expensive pile.

    Which brings me full circle in my was not until late last night, reading through this transcript copy, and Dr. Radmacher's letter, and double checking some dates in my memory, that the penny dropped. I even woke my poor husband up to share the "aha" moment. Our pastor was one who actually listened to the warnings Dr. Radmacher and those first faithful shepherds put out regarding the entire Gothard organization, prior to these 1983 meetings and phone calls. After a brief, humble apology for teaching the Principles as if they were Scripture, our pastor said our church would no longer be supporting the Gothard conferences, and if anyone had any questions, to see him about it. Since we were happy to hear this, and since we had already decided that we were done with IBLP, et al, we never talked with him about it. It just didn't seem an important thing to follow up on at the time.

    And you know what? That pastor eventually became the funny, genuine man he had been, only even more humble. And when his first wife died of cancer, you know what else? He didn't remain single, as he had taught during those two years that one should do if widowed. He eventually got remarried and had a long and fruitful ministry to younger pastors.

    Thank God for people like Recovering Grace, Dr. Radmacher, the ones on this site brave enough to tell their story, my own father, who were and are willing to take the hits and stand up for the all-sufficient, all-encompassing grace and completeness of our Lord Jesus Christ and our salvation in Him, and who stand against those who twist His grace into works and slavery.

    Since I found this site, I have been praying daily for those whose stories are told here, for healing and strength, compassion and grace. I had no idea this joy-killing, life-sucking cult was still operating so strongly. I had no idea of the strength and and sickness and viciousness of it. I am so sorry, to the point of tears, that so many have been so hurt for so long. Our family has very recent, first hand knowledge of the incredible heartbreaking, family and psyche destroying damage belonging to a cult, any cult, can have. The damage is real, the consequences are long, and hurt is unbelievable, and the healing can take a lifetime. But the power of Christ and the love and grace He pours out on us is beyond amazing. Amazing, amazing grace!

    God bless each and every one of you brave, brave, lovely people!

    • horse March 14, 2014 Reply

      Well told and very helpful to help round out the whole picture.

  50. Shane March 14, 2014 Reply

    Mamraye- as a mostly outsider I appreciate you words, and I imagine others more deeply wounded will as well. My situation is the reverse. My parents encouraged our church to participate but our pastor wanted nothing to do with it. I wish I'd been maître enough to ask why!

  51. […] attentions. Internal documents revealed the inner workings of Gothard’s ministry, including an 81-page transcript of a 1983 conference call in which people discussed how to address Gothard’s misbehavior, a […]

  52. […] Seminary where he was President and professor of systematic theology, in a discussion board, spoke about how Gothard hides the sexual molestation committed by him on young girls, with words like […]

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