Questions from the Mailbag

19 February 2014, 13:22



question.jpgRecovering Grace has been receiving many questions via email and through comments on our site. This is an understandable result of the current series of articles running on Recovering Grace. To more efficiently answers these questions, we have prepared the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Q. What is Recovering Grace doing to pursue legal action against Bill Gothard?
A. The Recovering Grace team is aware of the legal issues surrounding these stories. It has been and continues to be in contact with lawyers and other organizations experienced with these situations. However, participation in legal action requires legal standing, and that standing is held by the individuals who tell their stories through Recovering Grace, not by the Recovering Grace team.

Q. What is the role of Recovering Grace in the lives of the individuals whose stories are told in the blog?
A. When we launched our website in July 2011, we did so with the express mission of helping people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard through the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) seminars and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) homeschool program. This mission has been clear since day one, and these recently published stories of physical and emotional suffering at the hands of IBLP leadership have grown out of that overarching mission.

RG is, first and foremost, focused on healing and restoration for individuals who have been damaged by the spiritual abuse that is so prevalent in IBLP teachings and practice, and it is our desire that these individuals have the encouragement and counseling necessary for healing. We also hope to provide spiritual and emotional community support as they revisit difficult times in their lives and begin the journey to recovery in the love of Jesus, who gives grace to all men freely (Titus 2:11).

Q. Who is the person or people behind Recovering Grace?
The Recovering Grace Leadership team consists of nearly two dozen pastors, lawyers, teachers, professors, accountants, office managers, business leaders, and stay-at-home parents. Most share a common background of being raised as children in Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute. Likewise, most have attended Bill Gothard’s seminars and have served within the IBLP organization in some way. In addition to this leadership team, there are many others who volunteer in tasks such as writing and editing stories, answering emails, and providing advice, and counsel recommendations in support of the overall effort.

Q. Why is the leadership team anonymous? Why should I believe what they say if they won’t identify themselves publicly?
A. It’s important to note that not everyone associated with RG is anonymous. The ATI world is small, and although a person may be anonymous to someone outside of ATI/IBLP, they are not necessarily anonymous within it. For example, many of the girls who have shared their stories are not anonymous in the ATI world, and several have courageously posted their picture with their story.

While the RG Leadership Team understands that our anonymity may cause some to doubt the validity of our stories, we feel that this factor is outweighed by the distraction that would develop from our identities becoming the story. The story is about how errant theology led to sinful behavior, which led to systemic leadership failure at IBLP, leading to the disqualification of Bill Gothard as a minister of the gospel. We would like to leave it up to the reader to decide if we have made this case or not, based on the evidence and without the distraction of the personalities involved behind the scenes.

It has been well documented that Bill Gothard likes to shift blame for sin away from himself and onto his people. Gothard has intimidated and punished those who would hold him accountable while presenting a public image of humility and brokenness. It has become clear over the years that there is personal risk involved in holding Bill Gothard accountable for sinful behavior, and there are countless stories spanning decades of people who have been cruelly and harshly dealt with for even minor perceptions of “disloyalty” to him. One common tactic Gothard uses is to find some detail about a person and use that to silence and distract attention away from himself. Many examples of this have been observed firsthand by members of the RG leadership team, and, because of this, we have taken the approach we have.

Q. Why are you attacking a Man of God with slander and gossip?
A. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

The term “attacking” presupposes hurtful motives. The motives of RG have been consistent from the beginning: we seek Biblical accountability for behavior that has had negative impacts on individuals as well as the entire Body of Christ. Our goal is redemption, not retribution. We desire healing, not hurt.

The accounts we share are not intended as “slander,” or even as “evil reports.” These are “reports of evil” that have been covered up for far too long. While many of the serious accusations will have an element of “he-said/she-said,” we believe that the evidence and the testimony of “two or three witnesses” shows that, at a minimum, Bill Gothard is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” of behavior inappropriate for one who claims a “higher standard” as a minister of the gospel.

Please know that the Recovering Grace team anguishes over each of these articles and has fervent discussions on what to publish and what not to publish. We would ask that you pray for us to have wisdom concerning how to approach these very serious accusations.

Q. What are you “bitter” and “angry” about?
A. “Bitterness” and “anger” are common terms used in the ATI and IBLP worlds to dismiss those who would bring any concern forward. Ephesians 4:6 teaches us to “be angry yet without sin.” Any anger we communicate is anger at the sin and how it has damaged individuals, families, and churches the world over. The RG team consistently and carefully examines our motives to ensure that they are are pure in bringing these stories to the church for accountability. You will have to decide for yourself if we have met this standard.

Q. Why are you trying to destroy Bill Gothard?
A. We are not trying to destroy Bill Gothard. We have studiously avoided publishing anything we feel would be overly-sensational, as well as anything in which there is even a small doubt as to the credibility. For every story we publish, there are hours of prayerful discussion, in some cases spanning several months. It is our hope and prayer that Bill Gothard would repent, and that God could do a great work through Mr. Gothard in his remaining days. Both the world and the church could see a great testimony of repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation. However, it is up to Bill Gothard to decide if he is ready to begin that process.

Q. Why don’t you forgive Bill Gothard? Aren’t his sins  “covered by the blood?”
A. It is indeed true that the Grace of God is freely given, that we should forgive Bill Gothard for his sins (Matthew 6:12), and that “love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).” However, Scripture also commands us to “expose sin (Ephesians 5:11).”

The Bible is full of commandments to publicly rebuke sin:

  • If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
  • “Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” 1 Timothy 5:20
  • “…correct, rebuke and encourage…” 2 Timothy 4:2

Bill Gothard has exhibited a 40-year pattern of refusing accountability for his sinful behavior, and, as we have previously stated, public accountability is the final step in the Matthew 18 process.

Q. Why don’t you handle this privately? You are bringing shame on the name of Christ by airing these disputes in public.
A. As we have documented on our site, there have been many attempts to do just this in the past. Bill Gothard has not only resisted these attempts, but, like the Old Testament kings, has “stoned and run off the prophets God has sent him.” In light of the increased public stories of moral failures among contemporary church leaders, we believe that greater damage is done to the Kingdom of God as the church fails to hold its members accountable, and we pray that our site will be a testimony to the world that Christians will not continue to turn a blind eye to sin in its ranks.

Q. Is Recovering Grace opposed to home-schooling, or affiliated with other organizations that advocate against home education?
A. The mission of Recovering Grace does not include advocacy for or against any schooling decision made by parents. We believe that education is a personal choice between God and the parents of the children involved.

Q. Why are secular organizations or those who stand against biblical theology supporting your site? Doesn’t that damage your credibility?
A. The Recovering Grace team does not necessarily endorse or approve any of the organizations that have written about or involved themselves in these recent allegations. It is understandable that people with opposing viewpoints and goals look on many of the behaviors described here with equal disdain.

Q. What can I do to help?
A. At this time, the best thing you can do is pray for healing for the individuals involved, as well as for Bill Gothard and the IBLP Board of Directors to have the wisdom to handle this in a godly manner while making the hard choices that God may be leading them to make. If you would like to donate to offset the operating costs of our website, send an inquiry to [email protected].

Q. Why are you publishing a standard “Q&A” instead of responding to my email?
A. We thank you for the continued prayers and emails of support. While we do attempt to promptly answer every email that comes in, the RG team consists of volunteers with families and day jobs, and they must focus their efforts where they can have the most impact. The volume of email and questions has increased greatly in recent weeks, and we determined that this format might be the best way to broadly answer some of the common questions voiced by the many concerned people in our readership.

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. Brandon February 19, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for all you do!

  2. Julia Fetters February 19, 2014 Reply

    Thank you RG. Thank you and thank you. God bless your days.

  3. Edie McGee February 19, 2014 Reply

    A big thank you for all you do and the responsible manner in which you all are handling this matter. It's so hard for people to get their minds wrapped around this issue.

  4. Ann February 19, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, RG. I have now removed myself from Wisdom Searchers and the IBLP email distribution. We will not be attending the conferences or renewing our membership to ATI.

    • Brenda February 20, 2014 Reply


      May God lead your family in the coming days. I know it must be a tough place to be right now.

      • Ann February 20, 2014 Reply

        Thank you, Brenda! Thankfully our children aren't old enough to work at any training centers. We enjoyed the Wisdom Booklets and an occasional conference. There were definitely teachings we didn't buy into. The catch was all the wonderful, like-minded families we met. The conferences had wonderful speakers. I am ready to start a bonfire with all the IBLP materials. Guess my husband should have thrown those in the fire along with his rock music collection he burned many years ago. ; )

        • Ann February 20, 2014

          Okay, so my husband wants me to cool my jets. No throwing the baby out with the bath water kinda thing. Hmm. I keep hearing people say that. Sounds like it is time to get in the Word and seek The Lord about it.

        • RR February 22, 2014

          Ann, I suggest that your initial desire to burn the books was accurate.
          The legalism and mindset propogated in ATI/IBLP is all based on formulas and supposed "good results". None of which have ever been proven.
          The Holy Spirit likely spoke to your spirit to say "burn the books".
          I say this because I watched family after family attempt to live by the "truths" in Gothard's teachings only to find bondage, and anytime a teaching brings bondage and removes Christians from real world contact with both believers and unbelievers it is a bondage to something foreign to Jesus Christ.
          Jesus did not come to put us into boxes, or formulas or even a "program" of training.
          He came to educate us against sin, but not make us robots, clones, fearbearers.
          All of Gothard's teachings, lead people into fear.
          Speaking for myself, I never "feared" an unbeliever...ever...until I encountered Gothard's teachings.
          His teachings make people think God is less powerful than satan..and at the core..that is SOOO not true!
          I suggest, burn the books, and then start over if you have to, and your children will thank you for it someday.
          The children I hear and read and see stories about on RG but also in real life..they are so confused right now...and many instead of seeking God's word are again seeking "friendship" with another human to affirm their thoughts.
          God's word teaches us to seek Him first, and to listen to the Holy Spirit - not as a "programmed" answer from the Holy Spirit, but as a conscience.
          The 34 girls...and more and men also, knew in their spirit something was deeply wrong.
          I didn't...until as an adult, I re-encountered the BG thinking and spirit saw and felt HUGE bondage, and that is what made me go back and re-evaluate my own experience and my eyes were opened.
          I HUGELY regret ever listening to one thing I learned at the conferences. I have not seen on positive fruit from any of the teachings.
          Because the "spirit" behind Gothard's teachings is...control. Which is NOT of Christ.
          So, I can with good conscience say...burn those books.
          This is not about "bath and baby water", but about your children, and they need to hear about the Love of Christ and how He loves them, and wants them to enjoy truth and love, without legalism binding them to a life of doubleminded thinking.
          I have yet to meet one "conservative" or one "legalist" who can think straight on how to "be" with non-Christians. I don't say this to shoot all who claim those labels...I say I am a conservative, but it's because I believe in the morality God esteems, not because I follow the "rules". But I also know that good people get labeled legalist, but are merely obeying God's word.
          The "quotes" around those words are because..there are two definitions of "conservative".
          1. Those who believe and follow God's word...only.
          2. Those who make up rules to claim righteousness in God's eyes, denying the truths of salvation coming through Christ who died for our sins, but instead they claim we make ourselves righteous - thus a works based salvation.

          Gothard claimed...#2.
          His whole premise is...earning God's approval(can't be done) and earning Man's approval(or Gothards per se.)
          I have yet to find the book in my belongings, I had packed it away a few years ago, when I moved, but when I's getting burned.

  5. Anonymous February 19, 2014 Reply

    This is a very helpful post. Here is further support for one of the points above which relates to anonymity. I was in a leadership position at Institute for many years and had a very close working relationship with Bill Gothard. Over the past 15 years or so, I have often thought about talking directly to Bill regarding the reasons we parted ways which range from my changing views on theology to becoming increasingly alarmed at some of the cult-like characteristic ATIA was exhibiting. I have not done so. Having such a heart-to-heart with Bill would be a very tense conversations but that is not the reason. I have difficult and tense conversations with people all the time. One of the reasons that I have never done so is that I knew that our conversation would likely become an illustration shared with untold thousands of individuals and it would of course be used to illustrate how I had “lost the vision” or was in the wrong by leaving the Institute. And each time I thought about these things, I recalled one of the most disturbing incidents I ever observed in Oak Brook. In the early 90’s a very well-known pastor of a large Baptist Church was facing marriage difficulties. (His name is a household name in conservative Christian circles.) He came to Oak Brook for rest and counseling. One Sunday afternoon, he spent several hours with Bill talking about his marriage and receiving counsel. That evening, after the pastor had left for the airport, Bill walked downstairs and gave a training session to 120 or so ATIA students using this couple’s marriage as an example and sharing very intimate details of their relationship which he learned hours earlier. It was wildly inappropriate and a breach of that individual and his wife’s privacy. This was a man who was not criticizing or confronting Bill but just receiving marriage counseling. The point is that Bill has no concept of having a private conversation with someone and reserves the right to use that conversation as an illustration with any group of individuals at any time. So call me a coward if you will for using the name “Anonymous” on this site. Call the RG team cowards if you want. There are good reasons for anonymity.

    • Heather February 19, 2014 Reply

      I remember this incident clearly, and it saddened me, also. While I appreciated the "learning opportunity" at the time, I just couldn't help but feel uncomfortable knowing details that were none of my business.

  6. Andrew Harper February 19, 2014 Reply

    Stellar job, RG. Please keep up the good fight!

    As with any worthwhile project, there have been and will be a steady stream of johnny-come-lately's who wish to impart their wisdom about how all of this should best proceed or second-guessing the work already done. I'd like to just say that RG as a whole has been very patient as everyone comes up to speed - this has not gone unnoticed.

  7. Christine Faour February 19, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much RG team. I applaud and appreciate your work and your gracious way of dealing with all of us. I have learned more about ATI in the last month than in the 14 years my family was in it. I never had understood that my children and I were spiritually abused. I never realized the extent to which my thought patterns have been formed by BG's teachings. I have had a warped view of the world and have never had anyone to talk to about it. Until now. Thank you for exposing this injustice. Oh and thank you for your patient explanation of things.

    • GuyS February 19, 2014 Reply

      What Christine said. That is how I feel. Thank you Christine and RG. GO RG!!

    • former student February 20, 2014 Reply

      I hope more parents begin to see through all of BG's manipulative teachings.

      These past few weeks have been pretty rough for me, my husband, and many of our friends whom we'd met over our years of working w/IBLP. Even though we're adults, part of the compounded anguish over all this is feeling as though our parents don't grasp the full weight of those teachings upon us - they affected every aspect of our lives. It seems easier to minimize the negative and focus on (and be grateful! :/ ) for all the "positive experiences."

      Please share w/other parents as you can. And to the other former ATI parents out there, talk with your kids about all this. Listen - really listen - to their words, their thoughts and experiences. Please, take a walk in their shoes (their childhood/teenage shoes) - and then to grow up and find out all this about the teachings around which your childhood was formed.

      Thank you for sharing, Christine.

  8. mitchell chapman February 19, 2014 Reply

    we are praying for john Norvell and his dad. we have a big burden for them. Reality of the situation is hitting them both hard.

    • Andrew Harper February 19, 2014 Reply

      Does that mean Bob Norvell?

    • 'Megan' February 19, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for posting Mitchell.. I can only imagine how devastating it must be for folks in their position to be faced with such a crisis. Perhaps that is why so many in or affiliated with ATI are so stridently refusing to believe, or even really investigate any of the stories.

      I remember so clearly the first time I saw some random thing on the internet (8 or 9 years ago), claiming that Bill Gothard was a cult leader. That was all I saw, and I closed out the page in prompt anger. Years later, oh what a painful journey to see the light.

  9. findinghope February 19, 2014 Reply

    thank you, RG! you have had a huge part in my journey to grace.
    i so appreciate the gracious and loving spirit you bring to every article and every answer posted. you are all in my prayers!

  10. April February 19, 2014 Reply

    "In light of the increased public stories of moral failures among contemporary church leaders, we believe that greater damage is done to the Kingdom of God as the church fails to hold its members accountable, and we pray that our site will be a testimony to the world that Christians will not continue to turn a blind eye to sin in its ranks."


  11. B Allison February 19, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, thank you! So much more I wish I could say or add...and one day I will tell my story. But for now, thank you all so very much! I have been following you since 2011 and you are helping so many of us! I am a happy, grateful mother of two babies and slowly healing from being in and serving ATI for years. As soon as I was married, I left ATI and have been out of all of it for almost eight years. But the decades of my life I will never have back...God will heal and restore but RG is here to help with that process. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  12. Rachel February 19, 2014 Reply

    I too thank you, RG, for all you have done and are doing to help in the healing and restoration process. It's a long road, as the twisted theology and legalism was so ingrained. However, as the song says, "Glory, glory, Hallelujah, He threw my shackles in the sea. Glory, glory, Halleljah, Jesus is my liberty! I'm goin' free!" (I'm Goin' Free [Jailbreak], by Vertical Church Band) "All I want and all I need is found in You...Jesus!" (Found in You, by Vertical Church Band)
    Thank you as well for your courage in bringing to light the dark and hidden things so that, Lord willing, others may be freed as well.

  13. Lauren February 19, 2014 Reply

    You all have not been called to an easy task, but it is the right thing to do. May the Lord continue to bless each of you: your families, your work, and your relationships with Him. Thank you for standing in the gap for all those who have been hurt and, until now, did not have a voice.

  14. Anonymous February 19, 2014 Reply

    Even though I have long been "out" of the cult (when I was 17 I found myself completely broken free of the grip of the many arbitrary teachings of ATI and IBLP, though I had been in for about 12 years before that--i.e. my whole life), RG has helped me immensely in the process of coming to terms with the way I was raised, and helped me to understand it more thoroughly. This has actually helped me be MORE charitable to BG, ATI and IBLP, because I can now see them and myself in clearer light. When the facade drops, it is easier to say, "ok, so this is why...". I applaud the work you all at RG are doing, and feel that the way you are doing it is beautiful (anonymity and all).

  15. Betty February 19, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, RG. We are learning and grieving as we read. I really like your focus on " justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord..." May He do this work in all of us, and may there be beauty for ashes. --Parents of ATI grown children

  16. Brenda February 20, 2014 Reply

    RG your heart and humility comes through your writings. Thank you for the mission and for sticking to it. The one thing I will say having been in ATI for 9 years is that I see Jesus in a whole new light. It is as though I am meeting Him for the first time, again! How free. I can say I was bound and set free, bound myself (to religion) and am set free again. To love Him for who he is without the STUFF that became the way instead of to the way.

    Bless you all.

  17. Amy Kaeding February 20, 2014 Reply

    I have often said the program was aptly named. He taught people how to have basic conflict with any youth. My family lived through the "Gothard Years" but we did not fare well. I would never have wished this but it does not surprise me in the least. He damaged our family.

  18. Tracia February 20, 2014 Reply

    Thanks so much for your work. Recently I spoke to my Dad about the info coming out on RG. Her in tears said our IBLP years were one of his biggest regrets. He and my brother have been estranged for years and party of it had to do with what my brother feels was my parents controlling and hypocritical actions- encouraged by ATI...

    Thank you! thank you! thank you!

  19. Virginia Knowles February 20, 2014 Reply

    Though we were never members of ATI or close followers of Bill Gothard, we did go to at least one of the conferences about 30 years ago and were in Gothard-inflenced churches at various times We had 10 children and home schooled for over 20 years. RG has been a Godsend in walking away from the control paradigm. I have a blog called Watch the Shepherd where I talk about abuse of authority and learning to walk in grace. I linked to RG at the bottom of this post:

    Many thanks to all of you.
    Virginia Knowles

  20. Denise Hetzel February 20, 2014 Reply

    You are a God-sent and truly thank you for your drive in dealing with this whole issue which is terribly long over due!!!

  21. Kendra McDonald February 20, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for all you do, RG! This is an excellent post for me to share with my friends who are still inside the IBLP culture. I'm excited to see the work God is doing, and hopeful for the many lives that will be protected as a result of your work.

  22. Headless Unicorn Guy February 20, 2014 Reply

    Why is the leadership team anonymous?

    Simple. REPRISALS.

    Remember Scientology's Fair Game Law?

    Same danger here. When you prick the ego of an egomaniac, he will fixate on Revenge. And come after you. Destroy one and you silence a hundred others. There is lots of precedent and examples throughout history.

  23. Headless Unicorn Guy February 20, 2014 Reply

    What are you “bitter” and “angry” about?

    See Wartburg Watch. They have to deal with similar accusations all the time.

    It's a lashback reaction by an abuser: "What's Your Problem, Man?"

    Or as the South Park Movie put it:

  24. Rachel February 20, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, RG. Praying for your team. Thank you for being a light in the darkness and a voice for those who had none.

  25. Rachel R. February 20, 2014 Reply

    It boggles my mind that there are Christians who feel it would be better to keep your mouth shut about wrongdoing you know about, and let innocent people be harmed, than to lovingly expose the sin in attempt to both protect God's lambs and hopefully bring about repentance.

    The Bible clearly says that we are to "have nothing to do with the unfruitful deeds of darkness but, rather, expose them."

    We were never part of ATI (I believe my parents tried to sign us up, actually, but ATI frowned on the fact that we had adopted siblings), but I have been familiar with it through close friends and church leaders. There *is* some good there - very *practical* good - so it's unfortunate that it has not been put out in a climate of accountability that would help protect against error. :(

  26. Steve240 February 21, 2014 Reply

    First of all, thanks for all your work here. It is a shame that a man who made all these rules didn't follow at least some of them himself.

    With regard to this passage:

    “Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” 1 Timothy 5:20

    IMO, the context of this passage is when talking about leaders such as elders and IMO doesn't apply to all people. With that said I would agree that it applies to Bill Gothard since he is a leader.

  27. esbee February 21, 2014 Reply

    not sure where this comment should be but the short time we were involved with BG teachings sure did leave a deep mark in my memory and spiritual growth. How people follow his every word brings to mind the movie "Monty Python's Life of Brian" and how it used humor to point out the things they saw wrong with "religion" They had a way of getting to the truth.

    In that movie which is about the hapless guy whose life paralleled that of Jesus and who was often mistaken for Him got tired of people following him and asking for a sign from God. The people were convinced Brian was the messiah. In one scene they were chasing him and he lost a shoe. They stopped and picked it up and said it was a sign and they excitedly discussed the meaning of it and how they could interpret the meaning. It is extremely funny but sadly true to life.

    In a real life situation our church had split under the weight of 3 pastors. We were deeply entrenched in Gothard’s legalist teachings, especially the teaching of authority. We had been so indoctrinated that one of the pastors was who we all brought our problems and confessions to and he would then encourage and lift us up. (He was also homeschooling his brood on Gothard materials and on their way to their 12th child). One Sunday he just broke down and cried that he could not take it anymore with us all using him as a sounding board. All our burdens were weighing him down, mentally, physically and spiritually. I finally did some research in the Bible ON MY OWN and found the scripture that basically says "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." (1 Samuel 30:6)
    Well, if David is daring to go directly to the Lord and not through a human mediator, then it was high time I got back to going one on one with the Lord.

    • Patrick Jayne February 21, 2014 Reply

      I've long said that in many ways, Gothardism was "Catholic lite". This is especially true in the way Gothard would force confessions out of people, and encourage the situation you describe.

      When the veil was rent, you no longer need a human intercessor. Jesus is our intercessor.

      • Catherine June 30, 2014 Reply

        Dear Patrick I am a Catholic reading this site out of interest after watching some of The Duggars on You Tube. I would just like to say that what you all describe regarding these organisations that caused so much pain is absolutely nothing like Catholicism. Calling it "Catholic lite" is deeply uncharitable, offensive and uninformed. There is nothing in Catholicism that "forces confessions out of people".
        Please leave your prejudices at the door when you come to this comment box. In Christ. Glory be to the Father,to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen

        • Patrick Jayne July 1, 2014

          Perhaps I was inartful in my comment. I meant no disrespect to Catholics as a group. I was speaking more in an ecclesiastical sense than anything else. Bill Gothard for decades was considered to be part of the Protestant evangelical community, however much of the theology, when you dig deep, appears to be more Catholic than Evangelical protestant. For example, Protestants believe that you do not need a human intercessor between you and God. Thus, you confess your sins directly to God, without going through the Priest/Bishop/Cardinal/Pope. Bill Gothard would publicly teach the evangelical protestant doctrine, but privately, in his HQ and Training Centers would force people to confess sins directly to him, and in many cases would force a public confession to a large group of people, even when the "sin" at question was a private sin, and had no bearing on the group.
          This is analogous to the Catholic doctrine on confession of sin. One key difference with Catholics is that Bill didn't have a place for "forgiveness and restoration". After he forced your confession, you then were summarily "thrown into the desert", there was no appeal, and in almost all cases you were never "forgiven". (And now with apparently no trace of irony, Bill is asking us for forgiveness and restoration. May he receive the grace and mercy he denied so many over the decades. Perhaps he will finally learn the nature of God)

          Examples of this are well documented on this site.

          In alignment with the Catholic doctrine of Priests and Nuns being "married" to the church, and thus must remain celibate, Bill also preached a "lite" version of this, which is out of line with normal Protestant teaching. He did it mostly out of sight of the evangelical leaders he courted as "one of them" over the years. He did this by placing a high value on "singleness" in ministry, going so far as at different points to require his staff to "commit to singleness". There are many many instances over the decades where people on his staff marry, and he summarily dismisses them. Yes he had married people on staff, so like a lot of things he wasn't consistent on this either. I just felt over the years he wasn't honest with the Evangelical community about being "one of them". That's all. No offense intended!

  28. Mary Ruth Kent February 22, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for all y'all do. Keep pressing on!

  29. Mary February 22, 2014 Reply

    Your work on RG is appreciated by so many. Thank you so much.

  30. Beth February 23, 2014 Reply

    I find this FAQ very helpful. Perhaps defining what a cult is would also be helpful. I wonder if the label is too readily used.
    A verse that I appreciate is Jer. 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
    What I read here is very troubling. Last Oct., 2013 Vision Forum Ministry ceased. There are other "biblically correct" ministries with very troubling reports. I think of this verse which reminds me of God's character.

  31. ontiptoe February 25, 2014 Reply

    Lord bless and protect RG and all who seek Your freedom. I grew up in a church that demanded silent submission to controlling leaders. Error flourished in the darkness, and so did abuse of all sorts. Pride blinded people, and fear imprisoned them. I sought the Light and followed it to priceless freedom, but costly. Fear of man is a snare. When we were introduced to Gothard principles, we immediately smelled the trap. I pray for everyone suffering from this bondage. Seek freedom! Godly authority frees you to become all that God created you to be. Shine for His glory!

  32. Esther Petersen February 26, 2014 Reply

    Why didn't the parents for the girls that were sexual harassed stay silent about it?

    • Patrick Jayne March 5, 2014 Reply

      See "Giving a Bad Report". You weren't allowed to tell your parents.

  33. Karen Hall March 5, 2014 Reply

    As a parent who was involved in ATIA/ATI, I say thank you so much for everything you are doing to bring truth to the forefront of this awful mess. Our hearts were only for doing what we thought was best in bringing up our children in the admonition of the Lord. After being in the program for about 5 years, I finally set my foot down and appealed to my wonderful husband, enough was enough. I returned from the Knoxville conferences year after year discouraged, feeling condemned that I could never measure up to the standards that they paraded across the stage each year....I know my heavenly Father never saw me in that light....but ATI did....Now my husband is so grateful that I listened to the Holy Spirit and we came to the same conclusion...Get OUT. The event that settled it for us came when a group of us ATI families (who got together each month for fellowship and encouragement...we were so alone) were told by the headquarters that we could not meet like that any more!!! Crazy, I controlling. My children are now mostly in their 20's serving God all around the world with jeans on, listening to awesome praise and worship with a beat and connecting with the world in such a way that their lights are so shining for the love of Jesus. God have mercy on the heart breaks as I read each of your stories...I have prayed for all of you...I know that God will heal and restore, He is faithful!!! I encourage you all to continue to pour out your hearts on sites like is healing for you....Thank you RG for being an instrument of God's wonderful grace and mercy...I pray for you as well.

  34. Anonymous March 7, 2014 Reply

    We homeschooled our girls for 18 years desiring to honor The Lord in our lives. We even joined a Bob Jones church and used their curriculum. As a leader in a large home-school group, we brought to our southern state a representative of Gothard and the Basic Institutes training. That's when our happy home began to fall apart. Our two astute older girls came to us after attending a weekend seminar and pointed our that Gothard's teaching was unscriptural.

    At first I was upset. My pride was injured. A lot was at stake. Further, because of the hateful legalism of the Bob Jones leadership in our church, our youngest daughter announced she hated God. The pastor, who has since been fired and the church building sold, would tell private counseling sessions information from the pulpit! sound familiar? Our girls were in tears at the hatefulness. So, one day we left it all. But, much damage was done. However, we are so proud of our girls for being discerning enough to know the twisting of God's grace when they see it. So, I take that as a victory; however, we sure did waste those precious years.

    We pray daily for God to uproot every false belief that has taken hold of our minds and replace them with pure Biblical beliefs. Hebrews 13:9, "it is good that our hearts be established by grace." Thank you most sincerely to every person in RG for doing this this most difficult task. We are praying fir you.

  35. Jesse March 7, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for this website. I left extreme/conservative/fundamentalist Christianity (ATI and worse) years ago and have struggled to find meaning in faith ever since. I left because I couldn't stand the pressure anymore, but for years I blamed myself; I just wasn't good enough. It wasn't until coming across your site that I began to realize that there were others like me who were profoundly hurt by ATI, and that the teachings and culture themselves were wrong and hurtful. I am just starting to repair the damage done to my life, career, relationships, and faith.

  36. Cole March 7, 2014 Reply

    As a youth pastor in the 70's 80's and 90's and I once served with a Pastor who "drank the koolaid" of Bill Gothard. My wife and I had to attend the Basic and Advanced training conferences if i wanted to stay on staff. As a Bible college and seminary graduate it did not take me long to see the misuse of scripture and theology. We returned from the conferences with a zeal to make sure the students in our ministry were not damaged by the teaching of Bill Gothard. The greatest conflicts I faced in disciplining students and reaching lost students for Christ came from those who followed Bill Gothard.

    Please keep up the good work. There are thousands of students still being influenced by the teaching of Bill Gothard, especially those who are being home schooled.

  37. Janel March 12, 2014 Reply

    Y'all continue to impress me by your wise words and actions! Thank you for this incredible labor of love, friends!

  38. Lee March 21, 2014 Reply

    I am familiar with Gothards teaching, although I never attended a seminar. i have though, seen abuse of power by pastors and leaders, and I hate it. My husband is a pastor, and very conservative at that. However, we believe in the priesthood of the believer. So many pastors take on authority that does not belong to them. I even had an aquaintance tell me that she gave her pastor veto power in her life. Yikes! Pastors and leaders need to teach people to be resposible for themselves before God, and not agree to let another human dictate God's will. My husband teaches and counsels, but tells them that ultimately, they must make their own choices, and if necessary, make their own mistakes.

    Thank you for exposing what needs to be exposed, and I appreciate your spirit.

  39. D March 22, 2014 Reply

    I would like to know IBLP's church affiliation. If none, then this may explain at least some of their ministry scandals and complaints.

    Recently, I read that the large Duggar family, who works closely with IBLP, conduct their own "home-church". This practice would seem to violate the ministry's teaching on biblical authority.

    Please let me know if anyone can confirm IBLP staff's accountability to an ordained pastor and regular church attendance, while serving on the IBLP campus.

    Thanks for your comments.

  40. Staci June 3, 2023 Reply

    Is there anyway someone looks into other cults going on besides Bill? We have tried everything in my county and the church has paid off our Sheriffs Department and own many local businesses.. we’ve tried everything we know to do.

    • Jeanne June 4, 2023 Reply

      Hi Staci, try Midwest Christian Outreach. They have many articles on their website about cults. They also expose false teachings within the church. Hope that helps.

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