The GOTHARD Files: The Scandal, 1980

20 February 2014, 06:00



This is part two of a three-part series on the history of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, formerly known as the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC). Please click here to read the Introduction and here to read Part One.

Bill Gothard at a Washington, D.C., Basic Seminar, 1980

Bill Gothard at a Washington, D.C., Basic Seminar, 1980

Previously we explored events leading up to the IBYC scandal that broke in 1980. This article encompasses the very busy six to eight months of discovery and exposure that followed. For the staff of IBYC, the first months of 1980 were filled with enough drama to last a lifetime: intrigue, betrayal, confusion, distress, and, for some, despair. The telling of this part of the narrative necessarily becomes less of a story and more of a detail-strewn pathway through a very tangled web.

Many of us raise the same question upon learning of the deep and ongoing depravity that ran unchecked during the publicly successful 1970s heyday of the Institute: What was being done about it? After the scandal culminated in 1980, and following the discovery process that this article recounts, a group of “concerned Christians and concerned seminar alumni” collaborated to record a rough chronology of what had just happened, in order to facilitate ongoing examination of the facts. These people will be our guides. They wrote down what was done about it. For this article, we have pulled from several similar timelines and many documents from this era, but we were especially struck by the earnest desire that these particular dedicated people demonstrated to honor the Lord even during this difficult and shocking discovery period. The group stated:

These notes are solely for the purposes of (1) naming sin for what it really is to motivate proper mourning (1 Cor. 5:1–8), (2) to call for an honest and proper evaluation of a spiritual problem and need in the life of a church elder (1 Tim. 5:19–21), [and] (3) to clarify the need for a full repentance and an opening up to a thorough examination of any continuing problems or disobedience (2 Cor. 7:10–11) … This chronology is to delineate in a rough format how Rev. Bill Gothard, Mr. William Gothard, Sr., and the Board of Basic Youth Conflicts has handled some of the sinful situations that have existed in the Institute ministry since its very beginning and which have consummated in 1980 as persistent inquiries have revealed 15 key staff involved in immorality and some practicing perversion. It is very important for you to realize that these notes are a partial aspect of this group of concerned Christians taking the third step of Matthew 18:15–21, having unsuccessfully taken the first and second steps over the last one year period of time in scores of meetings with the above mentioned persons.

We have been given four different timelines that were compiled thirty years ago. These timelines reference a mixture of personal experience, documentation, and multiple confirmed reports from the time of the scandal. Shared timelines became a useful method for everyone involved to keep the facts straight. A striking theme that clarifies itself when the timelines are reviewed alongside each other is the disillusionment and fear overshadowing the shocking admissions of immorality within Institute ranks. The staff and volunteer seminar supporters dove into the process of recognizing and dealing with the devastating events, sincerely believing that Bill would follow the processes of repentance and accountability that he outlined so clearly in his seminars. When it became clear that Bill was willing to use deception and blame-shifting in order to save his own reputation and that of his ministry, the staff was distinctly unsettled and eventually feared for their own livelihoods and physical safety. Whether or not their fears for their safety seem warranted now is immaterial; their fear was real and, in those days of uncertainty, was based on what they were seeing. When Bill threw out the rules for himself, nobody was quite sure what he or his family would do.

Prodigal Son

By late 1979, the Gothard family was making efforts to privately resolve the situation with their prodigal son, Steve. The family of one of the staff members Steve had been sexually involved with was brought in to meet the Gothards and asked to release their daughter to marry Steve. The woman’s family did not give this release. According to statements from multiple former staff members, “Bill learned for sure the extent of the fornication in September [1979], [although] he did nothing officially about it.” Bill had been made aware of Steve’s ongoing promiscuity by 1976 at the latest and, according to contemporary accounts, knew much of the scope of Steve’s serial sexual involvement with Institute subordinates long before 1979, but Bill was trying to handle the situation away from the public eye.

Around this same time, in the latter months of 1979, two IBYC staff members stepped forward and began to ask questions about Steve’s ongoing behavior and Bill’s reluctance to address it. Several staff members had been waiting since 1976 for Bill to report back on his progress with rehabilitating Steve, and Bill kept asking for more time. Reports had begun to trickle through the staff, and their concern was growing.

The staff’s dedication to Bill and the Institute is worth reiterating here. The growing concerns were coming from individuals who saw themselves as extensions of Bill’s own family, not as mere employees. Bill made it a point to bring people into the ministry who were willing to fully commit to its success. In the process of inviting them to come work for his ministry, Bill was known to require prospective staffers to sell their homes, and even their insurance policies, before moving to his Oak Brook, Illinois, headquarters. He exhorted them to place their trust in God and in the ministry to provide. Bill made a point of saying that he paid his staff according to need rather than on a set scale, although it is unclear whether there were written criteria that Bill followed in determining staff salaries. In 1980 most staff members were paid around $14,000 a year (approximately $44,000 in 2012 dollars), with married staff paid more, on average, than single staff. In comparison, Bill’s brother and father were both being paid around $30,000 annually (approximately $88,000 in 2012 dollars).

Bill Gothard and staffers at Northwoods Conference Center

Bill Gothard and staffers
at Northwoods Conference Center

Looking back, it appears that Bill handled the welfare of his staff rather carelessly in his quest for absolute commitment and loyalty. Wives who complained about their husbands’ long hours of unpaid overtime and months spent away from their families were accused by Bill of “murmuring” or of being out from under authority. Pressure was placed upon all staff and families to maintain a positive front and to be willing to adjust at a moment’s notice to the needs of the ministry. Bill promised that, for their sacrifice, IBYC would be their financial security. At one point it was even discussed that ownership of portions of the Northwoods property might eventually be parceled out to staff members. The staff as a whole dedicated themselves to what they believed to be the eternal value of Bill’s ministry, and they accepted his promises. Among those on staff who thought themselves in the know, most had also taken Bill’s word that the problems with Steve revealed in 1976 had been sufficiently handled. Nonetheless, by the end of 1979 it was becoming clear even to these optimists that the problems had not only not been addressed, but had worsened.


Air strip and main lodge at Northwoods Conference Center

Air strip and main lodge
at Northwoods Conference Center

One man who found himself in the thick of this was the younger of two artists employed by IBYC. He had been working with Steve at the Northwoods property in Watersmeet, Michigan, for three years. During his time with the ministry the artist had developed a strong distaste for the excess spending and sexual prowling he had observed there. In his view, aside from the content of the projects they were developing for publication, there was zero evidence that they were even working for a faith-based ministry. The artist later told a Chicago Sun-Times reporter that the way he saw it, “Steve [had] an obsession for things. Bill [had] an obsession for power.” [Sunday Sun-Times, September 28, 1980] The artist was also becoming disgusted with what he observed as “Steve’s sexual ‘domination’ over the secretaries and Bill’s avoidance of the problem.” [Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1980]

Both of Bill’s corporate pilots were also concerned about ongoing problems. Copious amounts of money were being spent on the Northwoods retreat center. In one year alone, a reported $4.5 million was spent upgrading the Watersmeet property, and according to reports the work still wasn’t finished. The airstrip at the Northwoods was large enough to land most corporate jets. It was rumored that Bill verbally fantasized about being visited by the President arriving on Air Force One, although the airstrip was too small for a wide-body airplane. In 1978, Bill considered putting in an airstrip at the Oak Brook, Illinois, headquarters.

Pilot’s log of misuse of IBYC planes 1979/80

Pilot’s log of non-ministry use of
IBYC planes 1979/80
click to view

The Gothard family was treating IBYC’s assets as their own, and Steve was the greatest offender. Bill Gothard later admitted to the Board that his family was “unable” to separate personal and ministry funds. This was evident in their flagrant use of the ministry’s airplanes for personal travel. Later, the pilot was able to show logs recording no fewer than fifteen flights made by members of the Gothard family over a fifteen-month period (from 1979 to 1980) that had nothing to do with the ministry. The trips included vacations, family holiday flights to the Northwoods retreat center, and several flights taking Steve around the country for personal visits and his private business ventures. One record shows Steve treating some of his staff to lunch in Niagara Falls—a day trip. Another recorded flight took them to dinner in Bayfield, Michigan, a two-hour drive by car. There appeared to be little to no accountability regarding these expenses.

By the time the scandal broke, Bill had brought his old seminar coordinator back into the fold, a man whom he and Steve had driven out following Steve’s 1976 confession. Although we find it is difficult to comprehend how anyone would have been willing to work again for Bill after such a painful experience, this man wanted to believe that things had changed and was willing to give the ministry another chance. The coordinator was well aware of Bill and Steve’s history, however, and continued to observe a marked familiarity between Bill and his secretaries when traveling. Bill had not yet acknowledged or apologized for his behavior toward the coordinator years before (though he would later do so when his back was against a wall). As a result, the coordinator’s loyalty to Bill was often strained in the days leading up to the scandal break. We believe, based on recent conversations and from past accounts, that the coordinator sincerely believed Bill would ultimately handle all of his personal and family issues honestly and properly, if scripturally confronted. The now-former coordinator is not the only dedicated Institute staff member who has found himself repeatedly fooled by Bill’s duplicities. (The coordinator found himself on both sides of the scandal throughout 1980 and for years to follow. He was an invaluable asset to the discovery process, as he had personally observed much that he was willing to share for the sake of resolution and repentance. He continues to offer this open and honest approach to this day, and for this we are grateful to him.)

Other IBYC associates became major players in the attempted resolution of the scandal. Bill enjoyed a close relationship with his Los Angeles seminar committee, which was staffed by loyal alumni. This area of California boasted the largest seminar attendance, and the L.A. Committee became close friends with Bill and many of his traveling staff. Two brothers—twins—were among the L.A. Committee volunteers, and one of them had reportedly walked in on one of Steve’s sexual encounters on IBYC property back in 1976. The twins were keeping a close eye on how Bill was handling Steve’s accountability. One noted in frustration in a 1977 diary entry that “one year after revelation of Steve’s sexual immorality nothing is being done.” Of primary concern to them was care for the secretaries involved, which appeared to be nonexistent.


One of the strongest voices involved in seeking resolution for the staff’s concerns in 1979 was a young aide who had become integral to IBYC. He had attended his first seminar in 1968, and proved so dedicated to the ministry that, at the age of 23, he was entrusted by Bill with assisting the area committee in the launch of a new seminar office in Denver, then later with coordinating the first-ever videotaped Basic Seminar. Despite fears that attendance would suffer due to the absence of a live speaker, he was able to pull in a crowd of over 10,000. Following this success, he spent some years assisting Bill’s national office director in managing several area offices. He eventually began traveling as Bill’s stand-in emcee for the video seminars, writing notes on the overhead projector as Bill spoke onscreen. During the years leading up to the scandal he attended over 40 Basic seminars on Bill’s behalf. New seminar video was recorded every year, and the aide was part of this revision process, utilizing the verbal feedback he had received from seminar attendees around the country. His grasp of the seminar material made him useful in improving the Basic, but it also made him question some of Bill’s teachings. The aide later said that during this time he “began to quiz [Bill] in regards to his views on eating no pork, opposition to men wearing beards and mustaches, and the increasing practice of obvious misinterpretation of entire passages of Scripture, forcing personal views and opinions on Bible texts, raising his own human wisdom to an equal authority as God’s Word.”

Bill assigned this aide to work from the Oak Brook offices with Steve, who was supposed to be working on new IBYC publications in the Northwoods. Over the course of several months the aide attempted to stay in regular contact with Steve, who was preoccupied with other matters and usually ignored him completely. Still a young man in his twenties and eager to be put to work on the important aspects of the ministry, the aide lamented Steve’s careless treatment of him. He was assigned to work with Steve’s male assistant and threw himself into whatever projects he was given, both in Oak Brook and at the Northwoods. In his free time he continued to ask questions, and his relentless queries were making it difficult to continue to cover Steve’s lifestyle. It would later surface that Steve’s male assistant was actually part of the problem, as he was using Institute funds to procure X-rated films for Steve’s private viewing at the Northwoods Conference Center and in the basement of the Gothard family home in La Grange, Illinois. The aide’s relationship to Steve and his assistant, combined with his working both at Oak Brook and the Northwoods, helped the pieces come together in the ensuing months of discovery.

The IBYC staff enjoyed a close bond with one another, and the aide was no exception. In 1979, he became aware of specific concerns about ongoing sexual relationships among the staff. He spoke with some of the women staffers, who shared some details of what was going on with Steve. Knowing very well Bill’s teachings for how such reports should be dealt with, the aide approached Bill directly to see what might be done about the situation. He ran into a brick wall. Several appointments were made to discuss the allegations with Bill, but Bill kept canceling the meetings. Something was clearly wrong.

By January 1980, the younger staff artist in the Northwoods had seen more than enough and, in his disgust, started to talk to IBYC staff who were not involved in the scandal. Steve encouraged him to leave. In the week before he left, the artist met with the aide and filled him in on all that he knew, insisting that someone needed to stop the ongoing immorality. In the conspicuous absence of Bill’s leadership in addressing these concerns, the aide began to gather the facts of the situation on his own. His rapport with the rest of the staff made this discovery process relatively easy. Over the course of several months the aide interviewed each of the women involved with Steve, eventually interviewing fifteen staff members who were involved in one inter-staff sexual relationship or another, mostly with Steve. Once the women involved with Steve began talking, they expressed eagerness for help escaping what the aide later interpreted as “the slavery they were involved in.”

While the aide was busy gathering information, Bill was busy doing damage control. His most commonly given reason for why staffers like the artist had begun to disappear was that they had a problem with authority, or had been poisoned against him by other disgruntled staff. One of the L.A. Committee twins was alarmed by Bill’s false reports, and contacted the former coordinator to explain what was going on. Following that conversation, the aide also contacted the coordinator, and the two discussed what might be done going forward. It was agreed that they would sit down with Steve. Based on Bill’s recent behavior, the aide and the coordinator didn’t believe that Bill would approve the meeting, but they went ahead and made the arrangements with Steve, who agreed to meet with them. Bill found out about the meeting and tried to have it canceled. The aide and the coordinator spoke again with Steve, who agreed to meet with or without Bill. On April 14, 1980, the aide met with Steve and then had two additional men join them for a later meeting with Bill. The meetings lasted the entire day, as Steve offered a partial confession to ongoing sexual relationships with several staff women. Now that they had a confession from Steve, the men felt that resolution could begin.

Bill, however, instructed the aide to keep the gathered information to himself, and to not inform the IBYC board of directors. The men replied that they could not agree to this, and continued to meet to discuss what must be done. Bill’s duplicity became still clearer in subsequent meetings when he was asked about his part in the matter: Bill tried to insist that he had known nothing of these things until Steve confessed in April 1980. Unfortunately for Bill, several persons knew quite well that he had long been aware of what Steve was up to. Those to whom Steve and Bill had confessed in 1976 pressed for an honest handling of the situation.


By May 1980, it was evident that the story could not be contained. The IBYC staff was up in arms about the rumors they were hearing and were beginning to lose confidence in Bill. His half-truths and lies began coming back to haunt him. Staff members took to carrying notepads to jot down what Bill said to them so they could point his own words out to him later. Staff morale was fast reaching an all-time low.

Bill became resigned to the fact that the rest of the Gothard family needed to be informed of what was about to, despite his best efforts, become public. For some reason Bill suspected that the rest of the family wouldn’t meet with him at his own request, so he asked the aide to set up it for him. The aide arranged and facilitated the family meeting, and on Monday, May 12, 1980, Steve confessed to his siblings and parents his moral failings. One can only imagine the pain and heartbreak this meeting caused in the family, and Steve reportedly appeared to “genuinely break and desire help.”

Next, the IBYC board had to be told. On Tuesday, May 13, more than a month after he had confessed the majority of his conduct to Bill, Steve confessed to the IBYC board of directors. They were stunned. Once again, the aide was sharply commanded by Bill to not look into the matter further, and the board recommended that Steve be put on leave and sent to live with his brother Dave in California while the matter was resolved.

It was then time to inform the rest of the IBYC staff. Bill planned for the meeting to be a moment of confession and immediate reconciliation, followed by a special communion service, after which the IBYC staff would all move on from this. The staff was given some information about the scandal in a three-and-a-half-hour meeting on Wednesday, May 14, but after months of rumors and subsequent staff shakeups they were looking for more than vague and incomplete confessions. The meeting began to fall apart as Bill’s plan to control the information the staff was given was rejected and the staff began to push for the full truth of the matter. Bill’s planned communion service was canceled. After the meeting was adjourned, one staff member recalled that Steve expressed his “excitement about his three-month vacation to California granted by the board.” Things weren’t adding up, and the staff was becoming agitated and distressed.

The board stepped in that evening and recommended that all parties involved in the scandal be dismissed from the ministry. According to later accounts:

Bill Gothard resisted and suggested that Steve work with him around Oak Brook and help him write the Character books. The directors overruled in the discussion on the Biblical basis and practical arguments, and the Board finally voted to dismiss Steve and all the girls involved. Mr. Gothard’s [Sr.] solution at this time was to help Steve get married to one of the girls by June ’80, and then Steve would be “all right.”

It is stunning that the Gothards believed any of the girls’ grieving families would be willing to endorse their daughters going back to the man who had so callously used them, and that this might be accomplished in a mere six weeks or less!

The Unsigned Confession

The Unsigned Confession
click to view

The aide strongly recommended that Bill involve his pastor and home church in resolving the situation according to Matthew 18, but Bill refused. Bill did ask the aide to arrange and manage a staff meeting for that Saturday at noon. Bill said that he just didn’t have the heart to manage the meeting himself. Some of Bill’s trusted staff met with him over the days prior to the meeting in an attempt to produce a draft of a confession statement that Bill would be willing to sign and read to the staff. One staffer who was there recalls, “It was more dictated and then typed up. The next day BG refused to sign and there were some corrections….Again the next day BG refused to sign or admit to it all. It was a very interesting time as we met with him. During the mornings or afternoons when we met, he would be more open to talk about his sins, then he would go home and come back the next day a totally different person. He would be strong in the fact that he had done nothing wrong. It was totally weird.”

Up to this point the prescribed submission to authority that Bill taught in the seminars and applied to his staff according to his whims had not been followed by Bill himself. The women staffers involved with Steve were all young, single, and, according to Bill’s teachings, still under their fathers’ “umbrella of authority.” One girl’s mother had begged Bill not to send her daughter to work with Steve, but Bill had sent her to the Northwoods anyway. Bill was, in fact, responsible for sending each of the secretaries to Steve. Bill had met with a few of the parents of the women involved but had avoided calling others. Despite the fact that he had talked to only a few of the parents, Bill encouraged the women to all confess openly to the staff at the Saturday meeting. In making this request, Bill callously disregarded the psychological bullying, sexual mistreatment, spiritual manipulation, social blackmail, and abuse of authority they had experienced at the hands of Steve. Nevertheless, five of the women did agree to confess.

The meeting lasted for eight hours. The five women confessed; Steve confessed; Steve’s male assistant even confessed to buying pornography with Institute money. Bill confessed to some of his deceptions and to violating the staff’s trust in him. The staff was devastated. One former staff member says that he can today barely remember the details of the meeting—not because it was so long ago, but because he was so busy handing out tissues and offering support to staff who were too overwhelmed to stay in the meeting. It was becoming clear to the staff that there were several women who had been involved with Steve at the same time unbeknownst to one another, and there had to have been more sinister behavior on Steve’s part than was being said. This wasn’t being addressed at all. In fact, Steve’s part in the scandal appeared to be considered at the same level as that of the girls, based on the confession process. Following the staff meeting, the Gothard family and some others attended a smaller private meeting. One of Bill’s sisters verbally attacked one of the girls who had confessed, and she ran from the meeting in tears and collapsed. Her father picked her up and comforted her, and the girls were subsequently escorted to the Northwoods to pack their belongings. None of them was ever offered professional counseling by IBYC for the trauma they had suffered.

Damage Control

Bill Gothard and a female staffer in an IBYC Learjet

Bill Gothard and a female staffer in an IBYC Learjet

In the midst of the flurry of confessions and subsequent board meetings, Bill was still working hard to cover his own actions relating to the scandal and his own inappropriate interactions with the women on his staff. After all, his own staff member had personally observed Bill with a secretary on his lap late at night (Bill insisted to the staffer that he was dating the woman at the time, although he later told her father that their relationship was nothing of the sort, and that he had never made any promises of marriage). Bill was overly physically familiar with the female staff, although he was not accused of engaging in intercourse with any of them. Some of the girls reported that they had felt the need to lock their doors at night to avoid unannounced late-night visits from Bill when he was at the Northwoods. Bill had asked the women to phone him any time they felt “tempted morally.” One staff member remembered seeing Bill wipe spilled soda off the front of one of his secretaries during an Institute jet flight. These and other stories added up to a disregard for the strict anti-dating behavior Bill taught in his seminars and expected from his staff, and a disturbing attitude of possessiveness and control over female staffers’ minds and bodies. Although Bill did confess to “defrauding” some women, the staff began to realize uncomfortably that what he would say to them in one meeting he would later deny in another. Bill would confess minor sins that, in retrospect, were offered as distractions from the real issues. He also began to exhibit hostility toward the aide and toward others who had helped bring Steve’s and others’ behavior to light. The aide recounted one such instance:

In one meeting [Bill] was having with Department Directors in May 1980, as they were learning what widespread immorality was going on among their friends and staff, [a meeting] which I was sitting in, they had just heard [Bill] acknowledge to them his 13–14 year history of “‘sexual addiction to masturbation.” Now that was shocking to them, though they immediately realized the connection between that struggle and his inability to deal with the immorality of those around him. In their pressing him about his new revelation to them of his own struggles, he began to resist revealing any more detail.

To change the subject [Bill] then quickly started accusing me of traveling for months all over the country to interview [Steve], each of the women, meeting with parents, all on Institute credit cards and the United speed tickets we had in those days (make your own reservation, write your own ticket and walk on to the plane). He was angry, desperate, and the charge was personal and direct. All of the Department Directors turned to me to watch me deal with my confession of that theft of ministry funds. I replied, “Bill, I realized that someday you just might ask me that question and charge me as you have just now.” Pulling out my large and fat envelope of receipts, I said, “Bill, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I have spent only my own personal money on all flights, hotels, meals and rental cars. And here are all of my receipts to prove that statement.” [Bill] asked no more questions of me that day.

Bill’s hypocrisy in accusing his staff member of misappropriating Institute funds is almost mind-blowing in light of his own admission that his family did not separate personal and ministry funds. Bill’s behavior toward his aide was reminiscent of Saul in the Bible, who at one moment was soothed by David’s harp, and in the next moment attempted to impale him with his spear (1 Samuel 19:10). The story of Saul and David might be considered an appropriate parallel for other reasons, as Bill often spoke about not stretching out one’s hand against the Lord’s anointed, a designation that Bill applied to himself (1 Samuel 24:6). For many years before the events of 1980, many on his staff had accepted Bill’s application of this teaching to himself.


Letter mailed to alumni pastors

Letter mailed to alumni pastors
click to view

At the end of May 1980, discussions were still ongoing as the directors and staff attempted to approve a draft for a letter explaining the situation to the seminar alumni pastors. Bill was strongly against sending out this letter, but IBYC staff and leadership had almost completely lost confidence in his judgment by this time. Bill had lost control over his staff, and he knew it. They refused to remain under Bill’s asserted authority and were insisting upon straightforward and public transparency about the scandal. Bill pulled in two men from Bob Jones University—the administrative vice president and a BJU board member, Rev. Van Geldren, to help confront the staff. The BJU delegation rebuked the staff, stating that “a letter to pastors should not be sent out, and that it was wrong to inform the pastors and supporters of the Institute what was happening.” They explained that “this kind of thing had happened also at the [Bob Jones] University and this is how they have always handled it there.” In the end, though, Bill did send out a letter. The public and the media had picked up on the story, and he decided that he needed to make a statement.

In a sharp turn of events, two days after confronting the staff, Rev. Van Geldren had already apologized to the chief pilot (who was involved in uncovering the scandal) for his blind support of Bill, and apparently informed him that he had come to the conclusion that Bill could not be trusted. Rev. Van Geldren then did what we pray many parents are doing right now as they read these reports thirty years later—he withdrew his daughter from working at the Institute.

In the process of all these confessions and revelations, it was becoming very clear to the staff and area seminar committees that in addition to the sexual conduct in question, the Gothard family’s use of IBYC funds for private expenses was a serious issue that needed to be addressed properly. Bill agreed to allow a staff committee to do an immediate internal audit to answer all financial and legal questions. The committee consisted of four trusted staff members. Two days later, Bill changed his mind. That evening, “Bill Gothard told [the internal audit committee] that the staff committee audit [was] canceled and that no records would be open to the directors’ inquiry. This was after Bill had checked with his dad about the procedure [that the aide] and the committee had set up to do the audit.” The committee did not let the matter go completely. The clamor for financial transparency was growing.

The aide knew too much for Bill’s liking and had kept copious notes. Bill found himself leaning on his aide to help answer the many internal and external requests for information, but when the opportunity presented itself to distance himself, Bill took it. The day after Bill canceled the internal audit, the aide was scheduled to leave for vacation. Bill had influenced the board to give the aide a one-month paid vacation, with the stipulation that he stay away from the Institute and avoid speaking to anyone about IBYC’s problems. It was during the aide’s absence that the Gothard family actively began to go through the finances themselves. One family member later admitted to knowing that a secretary had been asked to shred some of Steve’s records in the Northwoods. The IBYC board had been settled down somewhat, and had agreed to meet again in a month. Bill’s efforts at damage control appeared to be gaining traction.

Bill and his father still seemed to think that this could all go away if only they could get one of the girls involved in the scandal to marry Steve. Once again, there appears to have been an appalling lack of concern over the women’s reportedly fragile states following the intense recent events. By the end of June, Bill had met with several of the women’s parents in an attempt to have one of the women agree to marry Steve. Steve himself called three of the former IBYC secretaries in one day in order to propose marriage to them. He called one knowing she would refuse him, just to ask for a list of which girls she thought might accept his proposal. She insisted that she was sure none of them would have him. Bill’s parents became involved and invited one family to dinner for the same purpose. None of the women agreed to these proposals.

Board of Directors

Staff confidence in Bill continued to plummet. The staff was becoming aware of some startling details of Steve’s sexual perversion that disturbed and disgusted them greatly. The directors were concerned about the Gothard family’s gross misuse of funds, and demanded a meeting with Bill to get his answers to a list of thirty-one financial questions. Once the meeting was in session, the discussion turned again to what Bill had actually known about the scandal and when. There were too many staff members who knew the truth by now. Bill admitted that the girls involved with Steve had confessed to him, but still he insisted that, “I have never allowed a girl to confess the details of immorality to me.” Bill’s secretaries later recounted interviews they had with Bill in past years wherein he did, in fact, ask detailed questions about their sexual experiences.

After an intense couple of months, the scandal had reached internal critical mass. The aide scheduled a meeting with the IBYC board in early July to go over all the information he had compiled regarding Bill’s and Steve’s respective sexual improprieties, as well as the Gothard family’s misappropriation of Institute funds. Bill did not initiate or approve this meeting, but he was invited to attend the meeting and participate in the process. The Gothard family was understandably feeling under fire. At one point an Institute secretary was typing up notes in preparation for the board meeting, and two of Bill’s nephews showed up and yanked the notes out of her typewriter (Bill’s brother-in-law returned the notes later). The staff, already on high alert, became fearful of the family’s motives.

The aide’s meeting with the IBYC board went on for twelve hours, lasting into the early hours of the next morning. Bill admitted to several inconsistencies between his teachings and his personal behavior, and there was a rather convoluted issue with the property at Northwoods Conference Center that had been owned by Steve before his 1976 confession. (Steve had at that time agreed to gift his portion of the property to IBYC. There was some assertion that a clause existed that effectively returned the property to Steve if the Institute’s goals were ever altered. This clause had disappeared from the files sometime in the recent months of discovery, and there was distrust as to the true ownership of the deed.) Bill admitted to prior and ongoing knowledge of Steve’s immoral behavior, clarifying his direct responsibility for sending new young women employees to the Northwoods, where he knew they would likely be sexually targeted. He confessed that he had overlooked moral failures within his leadership in order to keep the ministry running smoothly. Bill admitted to physically and emotionally “defrauding” several women, as well as being aware of the severe strain the secretaries had been under as a result of his refusal to address the issues sooner. Bill admitted that both he and his father had actively withheld the truth for the sake of the ministry. At the end of the meeting, the board of directors requested that Bill resign his positions as president of the corporation and a member of the board, and that he temporarily step down from any role in the ministry. Bill agreed.

"Eternity" magazine--July/ Aug 1980

"Eternity" magazine--July/ August 1980
click to view

The media frenzy was being held at bay with partial truths about mishandling of Institute properties. Some prominent members of the IBYC staff and of the evangelical community began to step forward to help handle things. John McLario, an attorney and executive council for Bob Jones University, was asked on July 8, 1980, to take over as IBYC president and chairman of the board. William Gothard, Sr., submitted his resignation to the IBYC board on this same day. McLario took a heavy-handed approach to what he believed to be a rebellious staff. According to one timeline, “McLario meets with the entire staff and, without anybody saying who he was, he commenced to inform the entire staff that they have one hour to decide to resign immediately from the ministry or continue to work without any more resistance or questions. This action of McLario was fully supported by the Board and Bill Gothard.” At least one of the girls who had been involved with Steve received a phone call from McLario pressing her to remain compliant and silent about all that had happened (we are told this inspired exactly the opposite reaction from her). Within days, approximately one-half of the IBYC staff had resigned or been fired.

Six IBYC Area Committee Coordinators (ACCs) arrived in Chicago to meet with Bill and get to the heart of the matter. Bill was working closely with McLario from behind the scenes to actively discredit the aide who had so methodically assisted in exposing the events that were the subject of the scandal. The ACCs confronted Bill on his deceptions and insisted that he continue to work with the aide. It was later stated that “Bill was confronted on a series of direct lies he told about [the aide] when they had first arrived in town. Bill initially attempted to deny what he had said, but one ACC had written each lie/item in his notes.” Bill sent the ACC team away with promises to work on resolving the issues. One prominent IBYC staffer, who worked with twelve to sixteen area committees, had previously stated that he and the committees would mutually “support a temporary termination of the public ministry of the Institute,” an action that was being strongly considered by the ACCs.

As is often the case in fact versus fiction, what happened next was both anti-climactic and profoundly remarkable. John McLario abruptly resigned only seventeen days after assuming Institute leadership, reportedly to avoid dealing publicly with his own alleged sexual immorality. Bill Gothard was immediately reinstated to his previous position on the board, although, in acknowledgement of the many still-unresolved issues, he agreed to a temporary leave of absence wherein he would waive his right to a board vote. It was later revealed that at all times during his official resignation and his later reinstatement, Bill never left the function of IBYC president, and remained firmly at the helm of his ministry. Nothing had changed.

According to July 5, 1980, board notes that were later deemed “informational only,” at the time of his dismissal Bill was awarded $25,000 and his car for his contributions to IBYC. We don’t know whether he paid any of that $25,000 back to IBYC upon his reinstatement seventeen days later. The board notes from the day McLario resigned from IBYC were worded to suggest that Bill had merely been on a leave of absence that whole time. William Gothard, Sr., was granted salary for six months following his resignation from the Institute board, at which time he was hired by IBYC as a financial consultant at the same salary. Father and son received a $1,700 and $3,500 bonus respectively at the end of 1980.

[Click here to read the next part in the series: “Failure to Reconcile, 1981–ATI part I”]

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. TiaraLi February 20, 2014 Reply

    I find it tragic that the victims of sexual abuse/harassment here were portrayed as perpetrators. I find it horrible that instead of acknowledging that Steve had a serious issue they acted as though simply getting him married would fix things. And I find it bizarre that BJU was so heavily involved, especially since they are right now in the middle of their own scandal due to their refusal to deal appropriately with the issue of sexual abuse.

    • TiaraLi February 20, 2014 Reply

      Ok, wow, I just read the letter that Gothard sent out. At no point did he admit to having deliberately sending women to a place where he knew they would be sexually abused. It seems his biggest apology is in his encouraging Steve to postpone marriage, and thus not acknowledging his needs.

      The problem was NOT Steve's single state. He was a predator. If he'd been married he would have still carried on like he did. The only difference is, that then they could have blamed his wife for not adequately fulfilling his needs. Ugh.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy February 20, 2014 Reply

        This assumes being a predator is not only normal, but by Divine Right.

        Plus "Salvation by Marriage Alone" AKA "getting hitched makes it ALL legal."

    • jim February 20, 2014 Reply

      The sin of Eli in failing to correct his sons comes to mind.

  2. eva February 20, 2014 Reply

    I'm finally seeing that there was really no ministry at all in this organization. It was all about money and enjoying the perks that came with having a Learjet and all available funds for whatever the family wanted---including young, attractive girls for the men, or at least some of them. We spent money we couldn't really afford to spend in going to these so called seminars (that included paying for baby sitters). I know now where Bill Gothard got all his "insights"---and it wasn't the from the Holy Spirit. Satan always twists the Scripture and we should have recognized that. Forgive us Lord for being so taken in by this man.

    • Benjamin Chung February 20, 2014 Reply

      in my very humble opinion, it is not just about the failure of Billy here. Billy and Stevie were here to carry out their own personal fulfillment, if that is what sexual and monetary impropriety, so be it. It has nothing to do with God. God has nothing to do with this. It is all about money, power and women. Maybe this is their God. It is time to stop praying to a Gothardite God, and ask for help. God is dead. But you can do something about it. Remove and expel this evil from among you. Christians do not have the moral high ground, if any, their should be humble enough to admit that their moral failure is just as much as their peers. And their faith in God is powerless to help them.

      • Jeremy Richardson February 20, 2014 Reply

        Well said, Benjamin.

        "The assumption must be, given the weight of the evidence: if you are an evangelical Christian leader, you are among the most immoral people in the country. These guys claim they are the most moral. They're not. They're the least moral people in America. They're not moral at all. They're the exact opposite. These are the sickest people in the country. That's how they should be presented." [Cenk Uygar]

      • Johnny Simpson February 22, 2014 Reply

        I think that is one of the most stupid remarks I have ever heard from anyone in my 68 years of living.

  3. David February 20, 2014 Reply

    The authority teaching made all of this possible. It gave Bill power that God never gave anyone, and it caused those under him to submit to that power. We are talking here, not merely about doctrine, but a spirit of Satanic control. The terrible fruits of this teaching are not because a right teaching was practiced wrong. Those fruits were not because good teaching was applied or understood in an imbalanced way. Bill's authority teaching -- the umbrella of protection -- is about destructive heresy. The Bible states that there is ONE Mediator between God and man -- Jesus Christ. Your relationship with God does not depend on whether you are UNDER someone else -- another mediator. The Bible also states that Jesus Christ is in YOU, personally and individually. Any ministry that is of God will never put the ministry or a person between God and another Christian. Rather, true ministry teaches people how to walk with Christ as their life. My biggest concern about all of these horrible, but necessary, stories is that the focus would shift to them, rather than to the power and heresy that caused them. BIll's authority teaching completely destroys the personal relationship with God through Christ. It does that whether practiced in his organization, or practiced anywhere else. I have witnessed first hand the destructive influence that Bill Gothard and especially his authority teaching has on home groups and churches. That authority teaching is, in fact, in one form or another, the power source of every cult on the planet.

    • eva February 20, 2014 Reply

      Those are very good comments David. Thanks for explaining it so succinctly. Even though we attended many seminars, thankfully we never fell for the whole thing. But sometimes little things still creep in and I have to remind myself that it came from IBYC/IBLP and Gothard.

    • Marianna February 20, 2014 Reply

      Yes, so true.

    • Samuel Lundmark February 20, 2014 Reply

      Obviously, the man's morality dictated his philosophy, theology, and teachings.

      I find nothing to commend Bill or his teachings to the church from a biblical perspective.

    • Julia Fetters February 20, 2014 Reply

      This is so true, David. There are two plots here - the AWFUL use and abuse of authority and the victims of sexual misdeeds related to and because of that abuse of authority. This reads exactly like other cults I have studied through the years (LDS branches, Scientology, some current day mainline denomination churches) and I know with certainty that if My husband and I would have had this back story we never would have become affiliated. I am looking forward to the end of IBLP/ATI altogether. The very core is rotten and it needs to be closed. Thank you to all who have provided this info. to RG.

    • MomAnon February 20, 2014 Reply

      Yes, thank you so much, David. Two families I know personally, some of their members very dear friends of my family, have suffered spiritually, emotionally and relationally as a result of the influence of these destructive teachings from Bill Gothard. So much heartache and loss. Thank you for pointing out the source and the answer - a personal relationship with Christ. Taking on the authority paradigm perverts our understanding of what it truly means to know Christ as our Savior, our Friend, and our God. It also forces people into fake "roles" in their family relationships, creating barriers that make it difficult or impossible for people to truly know each other and have real closeness, and for those who are believers to enjoy the unity of the Spirit which the Lord has given us.

  4. Tiffany February 20, 2014 Reply

    I know it was a different era back then, but I find it telling that the women in this story were consistently referred to as "girls."

    • Kate February 20, 2014 Reply

      Well...most of them were teenagers. I think it's only beneficial when you realize these were pretty much kids that were taken advantage of. Minors. Not legal adults.

      • Mike February 20, 2014 Reply

        At this point they would've been somewhere between 18 years old to 25, if I remember correctly what RG has reported. Only around the late 80's were teenagers who were minors allowed to work at HQ, according to the chronology post.

      • Veronica February 20, 2014 Reply

        Mike is correct. These were woken in their early adulthood. 18-20s, but not minors.

    • Jess February 20, 2014 Reply

      Not to quibble, but the author uses the term 'women/woman' 22 times, the term 'girls' 13 times and the term 'female(s)' 3 times. It is possible that the term 'ladies' could have been used in place of the term 'girls.' I don't think the use of the term 'girls' was meant to be derogatory or lead the reader to an unfounded conclusion of their juvenile state, any more than say, the term "girls night out."

      • Larne Gabriel February 20, 2014 Reply

        Jess is correct, at least some of the women of the scandal at times referred to themselves "the girls". Part of it was the era and part of it differentiated the distinction between the other staff women and the abused women. It was not ever meant to give the impression they were minors.

        Larne Gabriel
        late wife was one of the abused women of 1980

        • Brenda February 21, 2014


          Sorry to read about your wife. May the full truth come out and this mess come to an end for all young ladies desiring to serve the Lord by serving in IBLP/ATIA.

          Bless you for sharing.

      • 'Megan' February 20, 2014 Reply

        Or, from a writer's perspective, it's rather galling to use the same adjective repeatedly, when perfectly acceptable synonyms are available. It prevents the writing from looking redundant and boring.

        • Mark May 28, 2017

          Thank you Megan! When reading, a writer's use, or lack, of synonyms, really stands out, letting the piece shine, or not. I often, whether in speaking or writing, use the word 'girl' as a term of honor, as in: not a stuffy old bat. :) Feminist 'theorists' don't see it this way; but they were born to be offended, so are a lost cause, anyway. :p

          Concerning the content of this revelational series, and the intent of this website, as an ex-believer, finding all this out only now (May of 2017) I don't gloat over another high profile Christian being called out in disgrace. I want just one like person to actually do what they say. (I think Billy Graham is the only clean one; and if that bill didn't fit him, I honestly don't want to know.) What appalls me is that there is no consensus among Christians that leading a large organization can naturally go to one's head, is impractical, doesn't work; and without an outlet -- referring to Paul's comment to marry rather than have the unresolved hots, in perpetuity -- there is going to be fallout, because hanky panky is going to ensue, except for folks who have irregularly strong dating editor features in their makeup. I remember Bill's voice, and the very way he pronounced "purity", over and over again, as if a mantra. It's interesting that he harped on that so much.

  5. Lisa Joy February 20, 2014 Reply

    I'm sure that similar meetings are taking place right now. Or maybe not, since I don't know that there is anyone around IBLP who has the backbone to stand up to Mr. Gothard like the aide, the LA Committee, the 1980 board, etc., did.

  6. […] Recovering Grace: The GOTHARD Files: The Scandal, 1980 […]

  7. Anonymous February 20, 2014 Reply

    Sigh...Can we please just boot Bill out of the country and free all of those people that are entrapped in this religious? Why aren't the authorities doing anything to arrest Bill for his wrongdoing?

    • Mary Stephens February 22, 2014 Reply

      Sadly, it isn't just that easy. If he were run out of the country he'd go somewhere else and do the same evil again. And the followers who weren't forced to deal with his sin would still follow him from afar. Men like this need to be marked and avoided as per New Testament teaching. Romans 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
      They need to have their teaching dissected and exposed for what it is - error.

      Doug Philips is a case in hand. After his resignation from Vision Forum for admitted adultery (not his words), there were people who "encouraged" him to stay in the "ministry" and some who have even justified his "Biblical right" to "love more than one woman"! How much more with a man like Gothard who has even more years of spinning his web of deceit?

      2 Peter 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

      The deceived need to have this stronghold torn down, not just run off or arrested. If they don't see the error they will never leave the false teachings and move on to freedom only Jesus Christ can give.
      2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

      John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

      • kevin February 23, 2014 Reply

        "Doug Philips is a case in hand. After his resignation from Vision Forum for admitted adultery (not his words), there were people who "encouraged" him to stay in the "ministry" and some who have even justified his "Biblical right" to "love more than one woman"! How much more with a man like Gothard who has even more years of spinning his web of deceit?"

        Fortunately, there were men in Doug's inner circle who had spine and confronted him and would not back down. He was forced to resign and Vision Forum was dissolved.
        From all accounts, Bill Gothard has made sure that there are no longer strong men like Ken Nair, Tony and Larne Gabriel to hold him to account in the leadership and board of IBLP. Look at what they have allowed to continue and for how long they have allowed it. Where are they now? Where are the men of God, like Tony, who hold their ground and won't accept anything less than full accountability for the sins committed.

        Gen 18:32
        Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

        He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

        Alas, but is there even one to be found among those men?

        • Lori February 23, 2014

          Sadly, it appears not.

  8. Mike February 20, 2014 Reply

    I find interesting that previous generations of Christians put "ministry" above family. Severe burn-out often followed or destroyed families and marriages, while on the face of the ministry all was well and God was blessing the work.

    Also, I've seemed to notice that the more conservative and rigid the teachings are on sexuality, the more scandal seems to follow that group. A glorifying of ministry/work plus the repression of sexuality led to some terrible, terrible results.

    This report is frankly sickening, horrifying and disturbing. God have mercy.

    • Lisa February 20, 2014 Reply

      I have noticed the same thing regarding rigid teachings and legalism. I don't fully understand it but it seems the more a person focuses on performing works and striving for perfection, the more Satan can attack and manipulate. But when I focus on God's grace and the precious, powerful, redeeming blood of Jesus that has completely paid my sin debt, sin loses it power over me. It also brings peace and REST to my soul:)

      I, thankfully, never got involved with the Gothard's teachings but several years ago our family attended a "house" church and the teachings were very similar. I won't elaborate on what that led to but the word "nightmare" comes to mind.

      I'm thankful for this website and especially the testimonies of the women that have shared how God has worked in their lives to bring healing and truth to them.

  9. Myron Horst February 20, 2014 Reply

    What is as serious as the sexual abuse/harassment is the lying that Bill Gothard did. This is what The Judge says about lying and the sentence He will give to ALL liars:

    "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 21:8

    "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." John 8:44

    • Shelley Randolph Romey February 20, 2014 Reply

      Amen! In my opinion lying is about the worst thing one can do. It shows the state of the heart. Scripture (as you've pointed out) deals quite harshly with liars.

  10. Ryan Sapp February 20, 2014 Reply

    No need to make a statement Bill. You are completely irrelevant and those who have been hurt by you have healed are on their own road to healing. You and Alfred can ride off into the sunset together.

  11. Beverly February 20, 2014 Reply

    So let me get this straight: Bill and his father were awarded BONUSES following their resignation during the scandal, while they never truly had to give up power. Meanwhile the abused girls were forced to confess their sins publicly and be sent home in shame?!!

    Clearly there is grace for the abusers, but not for the abused. It just goes to show that not much has changed in IBLP history.

  12. Cassidy February 20, 2014 Reply

    Every day is a new kick in the stomach. If I could do anything to fold up the sham of a ministry, I would.

    Also, I can't help but think of what a sad and messed up dysfunctional family the Gothards were/are! Sounding more Chicago mafia, less Christian ministry every second. It seems they were all under the thumb of Sr. and ... I mean, nephews storming in and tearing paper out of a typewriter?! No wonder the staff were afraid. Bill's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde responses are crazy. Demonic? Or possibly simply under the hammer of his own "Don Corleone?"

    • Beth February 20, 2014 Reply

      Didn't Bill live with his parents though? So in the evenings was his Dad telling him to stay strong and not confess? Just an assumption, but from the way it seems the family worked, I wouldn't be surprised.

      • Cassidy February 20, 2014 Reply

        That's exactly what I mean.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy February 20, 2014 Reply

      No wonder the staff were afraid. Bill's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde responses are crazy. Demonic? Or possibly simply under the hammer of his own "Don Corleone?"

      I would be hesitant to use the word "Demonic" or "Satanic" here. There's already enough precedent in human evil -- narcissism and egotism and megalomania -- to explain this. As actor Joaquin Phoenix described his performance as Caesar Commodus in "Gladiator", "He's a rock star, a Celebrity who has never heard the word 'No' in his life."

      Too many Christians jump to a supernatural explanation before exhausting natural explanations, resulting in a "Woo Woo" effect, allowing in superstition, and empowering the Geraldine Defense: "The Debbil Made Me Do It!"

      • Renee February 23, 2014 Reply

        Exactly..... let's not give any excuses for their horrid behavior. Satan didn't make them lead this lifestyle...... they made choices everyday to do evil acts and claim it in the name of God.

    • phyllis February 20, 2014 Reply

      Amen! What Cassidy said

  13. Becky February 20, 2014 Reply

    This same man talked to the headquarters staff about how if we even took a pencil home accidentally from our work desk that was stealing and God would punish us. Meanwhile we worked overtime for free because packing CDs of harp music into boxes late at night was doing God's work, so we should donate our time and also have a great attitude about it. If you packed CDs into boxes while feeling sorry for yourself because you were a teenager and required a solid 8 hrs of sleep to feel rested, you might as well ask God to strike you dead, that's how sinful you were.

    • Lori February 20, 2014 Reply

      Hmm, sleep deprivation. Another implement out of the power-and-control toolbox.

  14. ElisaM February 20, 2014 Reply

    Oh my gosh. Bill Gothard confesses to sexual harassment and to covering up his brother's hugely inappropriate behavior, and in return, he gets a car and in return he gets a 17-day leave of absence, $25,000 (nearly $76,000 now) and a car???? And then he started a homeschool organization? That's the true scandal. I'm sorry I ever supported IBLP in any way.

    My favorite part of this article was this sentence: "Rev. Van Geldren then did what we pray many parents are doing right now as they read these reports thirty years later—he withdrew his daughter from working at the Institute."

    • Headless Unicorn Guy February 20, 2014 Reply

      Rank Hath Its Privileges. And its monetary rewards.

      • John February 20, 2014 Reply

        Headless Unicorn Guy said "Rank Hath Its Privileges. And its monetary rewards."

        I like to think a line from one Dirty Harry Movie is appropriate. but I will put it into my own words "In a sewer trap the crap always floats to the top!

  15. mitchell chapman February 20, 2014 Reply

    There are grief recovery groups around the country for ATI children and
    parents to plug into. you can google for locations on their websites.
    Lots of hurting ATI people as they face reality.

  16. Cathy February 20, 2014 Reply

    Bob Wood tells rape survivors the least important part of them has been "offended"--the throw away part!

    John McLario was on the BJU Board of Trustees -- including the Executive Committee -- from 1967-2013. This happened while he was on the BJU Board!

    His son-in-law and law partner, Joe Helm, is now on the BJU Board of Trustees' Executive Committee and is [with the rest of the Exec Committee] overseeing BJU's firing of GRACE.

    • Beth February 21, 2014 Reply

      Bill Gothard teaches that as well. I wonder if he got it from Bill Wood, or the other way around.

  17. David Pigg February 20, 2014 Reply

    I trusted Christian leaders who trusted this man ,Gothard;But for the grace of God,anyone following Gothard was siderailed out of God's will and on to Gothard's.You trusted through a mishap,a tear in your authority's "umbrella of protection".Everything was going to be o.k..Please forgive me Jesus.Now having left years ago,I still sin,but have a different Shepherd.You were only of value in Gothardism insofar as you were conformed into the image created by his heresies.Gothard's own image to be reflected by me.Attitudes about women,can't even imagine.Few people realized how extensive this ministry was back in the 70's and 80's.Article in Time magazine back in the early 70's.Big name personalities.If you could not "dance the dance of life" Gothard would show you how.The light belongs to Jesus.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy February 20, 2014 Reply

      I trusted Christian leaders who trusted this man ,Gothard...

      But they trusted the wrong man, who betrayed their trust and yours. A man not worthy of trust, who USED them and you.

    • Lori February 20, 2014 Reply

      Time Magazine, May 20, 1974,9171,944839,00.html

    • John February 20, 2014 Reply

      When people put others on a pedestal and buy into blind trust and worship it can lead to all kinds of excesses and abuse.

      Bill may have led many pastors and leaders astray but then they had a responsibility to check Bill's teaching out against the word of God and critically assess them. They didn't, I know this sounds harsh but re my comment

      When people put others on a pedestal and buy into blind trust and worship it can lead to all kinds of excesses and abuse.

  18. Anonymous February 20, 2014 Reply

    This is so sickening. I thought after reading the other reports these last few weeks would have prepared me for anything I might read this morning. I was wrong. I had to stop reading a few times and just breathe deeply. I am unbelievably sad and disheartened. To think that I gave this man my youth and was raised to idolize him and to revere him as a man of God.... I knew there were many problems in the ministry, many I saw fist hand, but I never imagined the scope of something this horrific. I feel like I've been kicked in the gut. This really shook me to my core. So many emotions are running through me right now....anger, guilt, hurt, frustration, embarrassment, just to name a few.

    • Rachel February 20, 2014 Reply

      I agree. I felt almost exactly the same way as I read this morning's article.

    • Brenda February 21, 2014 Reply


      Would you desire to share what you saw as problems? I feel what I read helps me to unravel the lies we were taught. :(

      After you are done being sick I mean.

  19. PYL February 20, 2014 Reply

    Wow! So this is the scandal! I remember at Northwoods, there were rumors circulating amongst the Journey to the Heart girls not to go to or around a certain cabin. Supposedly, there had been sexual immoralities occurring there and now a "spirit" or "demon" was in that place.

    I remember thinking how strange it was for our leaders to gossip about this and how superstitious this kind of talk seemed.

    It's an incredibly beautiful campus and us girls had a wonderful time there. Despite all the strange teachings we received, I made some lovely friends there and enjoyed being there during the changing of the seasons, which we don't really have in California.

  20. David February 20, 2014 Reply

    I personally know of a home fellowship group of about 50, whose leaders took the entire group to Gothard's seminars in Long Beach, Ca. from about 1976-1987. They used all of Gothard's materials, but the authority teaching was the whole point -- they didn't have to demand submission to their authority, they just let Bill demand it for them by proxy. The couple that ran this group destroyed the spiritual lives of most of those in the group -- people's personal lives and decisions were dictated by that couple, and most in that group never even realized that they were missing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In 1987 two people in the group broke rank and, "rebelled." They were, of course, labelled agents of Satan. But because they did this, the entire group collapsed and scattered. I wish I could say there was totally happy ending. A few people were set free. But 25+ years later some of those in that group continue to follow Gothard, have their kids involved in ATI, and in some cases, have never grown at all in Christ. They are still UNDER LAW. I mention this story because for all the abuse of power and horrible stories that took place at Bill's HQ, there are many churches and groups no one will ever hear about where the spiritual lives of people have been terribly damaged, and in some cases, shipwrecked for decades. The teachings of Bill Gothard are heresy. He leads a cult. His authority teaching is the glue that holds it all together. This ought to be so clear and evident -- but people are so blinded. Perhaps the most deceived people of all are those who remain under his teaching, but continue to think that they are blessed, happy, and walking in the freedom of the Truth. I know some of them. It is heartbreaking.

    • Mary February 21, 2014 Reply

      We have a small church, about 100 attendees on a good Sunday. Back when my three children were in the youth group, approximately in the mid-90's, there were several VERY STRONG ATI families attending our church who also had children who were old enough to be in the youth group, However, their parents would NOT allow them to participate, ESPECIALLY if there was ANY Bible study or Bible teaching done of any kind. Apparently Gothard had been strongly teaching the parents in the ATI program that youth groups were evil and that nothing good could possibly come out of them. So those parents refused to allow their children to participate in the youth group or attend Sunday School. Apparently Sunday School was evil too! Bill was teaching the parents that only the fathers should teach scripture to their children. These parents became so strict with their children that out of all the young people in our church, their children were the ONLY ones who were rebelling! Those family's nearly "lost" all of their children. It was so bad that, finally, in desperation the ATI parents began to seek counciling for their wayward kids, albeit through the ATI counciling centers. I don't know what they were told, but the parents began to loosen up a bit with their kids, and that was their only saving grace. In the meantime, those same parents had been so strongly vocal against the youth group and Sunday School that they nearly destroyed our church altogether with their unloving and divisive approaches. I had heard of other churches experiencing the same thing. From that time on, I lost all respect for Bill Gothard and his teachings altogether. And now all of this scandal----I am not at all surprised, but I am utterly disgusted!! He may have "pulled the wool" over a lot of eyes, but when he stands before God, he WILL NOT "pull the wool" over God's eyes, and he WILL NOT squirm his way out of God's judgment!

      • kevin February 22, 2014 Reply

        What you experienced happened all over the country. Gothard followers would go to their conferences and seminars and come back to their churches, telling all the others how they were using satanic music to worship, and judging others for letting their kids attend youth group, Sunday school, and how they dressed. People felt judged and were hurt. Churches were torn apart. I watched it happen to our church, and it was the motivating factor for the elder of the Texas church who composed "A Call for Discernment". Judgement of others, division within the body, breaking up of churches, yet another one of the "fruits" that Bill Gothard has given to us all.

        • Sarah Joan February 22, 2014

          Kevin and Mary, that is almost exactly what happened with my family. We were only in ATI for 4 years, thank God, but during that time my parents and their best friends, who had also enrolled their family in ATI, put an awful lot of strain on their relationships with our pastor and other wonderful Christian people in the church we'd been a part of almost my entire life. My parents wouldn't let us join the youth group, and my dad and his best friend, who were both elders, both took their opinions about the "evil rock music" (read: stock 1990s contemporary Christian worship music) our church played during its worship services. One Sunday they even dragged us all out at the beginning of a service because the music was "so bad." We even attended other churches sporadically because they had "less offensive" music. All the kids involved handled it as best we could, but our parents' actions caused disruption our relationships back at our home church, and they definitely caused disruption in my mind as I tried to figure out if we would in fact leave the church we'd been attending since I could remember.

          Fortunately, my parents and their friends didn't take us out of the church - probably one of the best decisions they've ever made, since in the 12+ years since I left home I have yet to find its (or its pastor's) equal for teaching solid, grace-filled Biblical truth. They did allow us to attend Sunday School, and later on around the time we left ATI they let me join the youth group, where I made some great friends who despite their "worldly" (read: normal Christian) backgrounds turned out to be the really great, non-legalistic people I needed in my life (although I still wonder how much I missed out on those relationships and how different they would have been had I joined the group earlier, and not just in the last two years in high school). And once we did leave ATI, my parents' and their friends' relationships back at the home church were renewed. They found our pastor and their other friends very forgiving of what they'd done. To this day I consider my parents' actions while in ATI highly out of character, and I wonder how two such highly-educated, brilliant people with critical, questioning minds ever ended up involved in such a destructive cult, but in the end it was those qualities - and the grace of God - that made them realize how wrong ATI was. I'm very grateful for the fact that we were only ever on the fringes, and my heart breaks for the people here who had to figure their own way out of this cult because their parents were simply too entrenched.

      • Renee February 23, 2014 Reply

        Honestly, you just described my family. Every church we attended my parents shook up. When we did leave and all the crap going on my parents would shake their heads and say.... see if you were true followers of Christ like we are then your church would be fine. THEY were the problem. Not the church.
        My family is completely shattered. I no longer speak with any sibling or either parent. My family has recently reached in and tried to destroy my small family out of spite since my husband and I have cut them off.
        It's a shame to have so many believers destroyed by one man's teachings.

        • David February 23, 2014

          I cannot say that about my immediate family, but I can say it about my church family. Friends and supposed brethren that will not speak to each other. Why? In my case, because I would not submit to their demands for my life. I would not marry, live, and act, in accordance with their wishes, "as my authority." This is what a cult does, and it is what law does. This is not a misunderstanding or a misapplication of what are otherwise godly principles. It is the result of ANOTHER GOSPEL and a spirit of destruction.

        • Lyndsey March 26, 2014

          My husband's parents STILL do this. They last about two years at any given church, then literally stand up during a service and declare them unfit. It's disturbing. We are middle aged and still see the affects my husband's family has inflicted on those around them. This is my first time at this site and SO much makes sense now.

          I'm so glad I was adamant that our children have NOTHING to do with this group's teachings. I am so glad I ignored my in-law's insistence that our children be involved with IBLP and the materials they would always offer us.

          Due to many many years of their misbehavior, judgment and manipulation I have no contact with them at all. My children have been put off by their hypocrisy and I believe it is because they have steeped themselves in this ridiculous legalism.

          As an aside, I was treated so poorly by them I questioned my own worth for many years. I was not good enough. I was not godly enough. I tempted their son, etc, etc. My husband and I have been married 25 years and at times I still see how damaging what they said and did has been to him. We are free of them, but still dealing with the fallout.

          My prayer is, for anyone here, that you know how much you are loved by the God of the Universe, right now, right as you are. Jesus came here for you. He died and rose for you. ALL you have to do is believe. No hoops to jump through, no works to perform--just believe. I pray you are free of this twisted, stunted teaching. I pray our families find truth, healing and joy in Him. May all of you feel God's blessings on your lives.

  21. Suzi February 20, 2014 Reply

    How thankful we should all be that this truth is being spoken and shared with people who have been hurt in the past and are currently involved in this "ministry". Anyone who said they were getting words from God and hiding stuff like this is deplorable. It is my prayer that the truth will continue to spread...I am committed to share it with everyone I know who is or has been involved in this ministry. I deeply mourn the past years I spent listening to and sometimes following such teaching, and it has been a LONG time - I am currently 68 years old and attended my first seminar at age 23. You wonder in retrospect how you could have been so blind. I DO understand why so many people waited so long to speak up - there is no way you could know unless you were indoctrinated within the ministries how unthinkable speaking out would have been - he made it almost impossible! Looking from the outside of the inner workings of Mr. G and the seminar, you could never understand how impossible it would have seemed to question anything, or, horror of horrors, give a "bad report". May God forgive each of us who subjected our children to leadership that was in open sin, and pretending to be in close communion with God. And may healing be found in the needed lives. I thank God for the grace that has been bestowed on us in spite of our unwise decisions. I asked God, so what did I get out of all those wasted years? And I believe it is a "new approach to life" alright - never again will I believe anything I hear from a man without having my Bible beside me, sifting whatever they say through the Word of God. Thank you for being truth sharers, RG, and all who have risked much to step forward and speak, that others might escape deception and lies and cover-ups. No one should be criticizing you - they should be thanking you.

    • GuyS February 20, 2014 Reply

      Hi Suzi, I love your perspective. I will be 62 next month and feel so much the same. Bless you.

    • phyllis February 20, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for sharing Suzi. I was ten when my parents attended a IBYC seminar in 1974. We attended other seminars in later years, and one of my brothers and his wife were hard core Gothardites. The hypocrisy I witnessed in that couple was so astounding, that I wholesale rejected the whole IBLP teachings and every thing associated with it. Thank God and I feel sad for the many who were fooled. I wrestled for years with the impossible contradictions in those authority teachings. And of course I was labelled a rebel. Praise God for His liberating love and forgiveness. My hope is that many will be freed from their shackles as this story unfolds. Gothard reminds me of another version of Hugh Hefner and all his playboy mansion BS. May God bring justice to all who suffered in this sick, scandalous institute.

  22. Jeana February 20, 2014 Reply

    I can't believe it. I mean I can but jeez. My parents told me that Steve had affair out of marriage. I had no idea it was this dark or that Bill was so much involved. Thanks for telling the truth.

  23. D..... February 20, 2014 Reply

    I can report that in the first decade of the 2000's Bill's way of dealing with issues did not change... Lies, threats, shameing staff, and firing staff, continued. Our family was in the middle of HQ life for 8.5 years. The closer you got to Bill, the more inappropriate behavior you saw. I am unaware of any older man who was able to work next to Bill's office for any length of time... The route was....the family man would start his assignment in the office next to Bill's....after some months, the man moves to the Production Center, some months later he leaves HQ. This was because Bill was not willing to accept different opinions, saw alternate thinking as rebellion, and saw other men as threats to his authority. I caught Bill in several lies directly, he would just smile, shake his head and change the subject. Almost as big a problem as Bill is, is the complete lack of christian leadership the IBLP Board has shown. I am appalled by their 35 years of spineless oversight(yes the composition has changed many times....). They really are as guilty as Bill is. And I will go further.....there are about 5 men at HQ that I would deem as Senior Staff(close to 20 years of working there or more), at the time I was friends with some of them, I believed. These men in unison(one accord..??) could have forced Bill to step down along the way. They have not. This is not christian leadership. They have neglected their duty, allowing many to suffer.
    There are MANY amazing christian people that have worked at HQ/IBLP over the years....and that is the ONLY reason that God chose to bless this corrupt ministry. Most of my HQ workers I count as dear friends today. They knew little or nothing of all this deceit and abuse.
    My prayer is that finally, the Senior Staff and the IBLP Board will show some Christian backbone and throw the man out(this wolf in sheep clothing). Bill's 40 year history of concealed abuse casts a stain on all of us who innocently gave years of our life and energy to the "ministry". There is much more detail I could add.....but let's see if the Board will follow Scripture and cut off the offender.... in order that his soul might be saved...

    • Anonymous February 20, 2014 Reply

      I agree!

    • Naomi February 21, 2014 Reply

      "Bill's 40 year history of concealed abuse casts a stain on all of us who innocently gave years of our life and energy to the "ministry."

      This is exactly my feeling on the matter. I'm struggling to focus on any positives that came out of our time there. So many gave, including our family, so willingly--believing we were advancing the Kingdom of God. What an incredible sham this has been for so many years. My involvement there has, in many ways, made me who I am today, totally apart from BG and the underpinning of IBLP. Yet it is still so difficult to reconcile that time and effort given to a place where such evil existed unchecked for so many years.

      "D", I'm "lucky" to have been there with us as a family. You protected all of us from becoming more involved and potentially hurt then we could have been. I know many who worked under you are thankful as well for your relentless pursuit of truth and justice, that pursuit that eventually forced us to move on.

  24. ATI Observer February 20, 2014 Reply

    This statement in the article has been overlooked, but I think it quite important:

    they had just heard [Bill] acknowledge to them his 13–14 year history of “‘sexual addiction to masturbation'"

    If this is true, this is a very important fact. Many Christian men and women will have problems with masturbation, but this goes beyond that. If Bill was continually masturbating while teaching what he taught and having the types of relationship with young women that he was having, then something quite sinister is going on.

    That is the kind of behavior that in most cases does not stop. So, does Bill now have a 45 year history of sexual addiction to masturbation? Is it possible that ATI exists to feed severe masturbation addiction? This would explain many of the "why" questions as to certain behavior.

    I would consider it more likely than not that something more sinister is going on, something along the lines of hidden cameras in the showers, or secret peepholes to changing areas. Has there ever been reports of that? I don't think you can separate the continual desire to be surrounded by beautiful young women from severe masturbation addiction.

    Just something to consider.

    • 'Megan' February 20, 2014 Reply

      Oh ick!!!!! But that's a very interesting point. Would be advisable to search HQ for those very things. Obviously hidden cameras (that could be easily concealed) wouldn't have existed until the past decade or so, although it begs the question as to who would have installed it and hooked it up to a computer? I do not think Bill could have managed such a thing on his own. However the peep-holes is ancient as sin itself, I imagine. Just to be fair, I would not believe that this DID happen, unless there were some proof, although I certainly believe it's a possibility. Mirrors on the shoes? etc..

    • JennV February 20, 2014 Reply

      I thought of this too. This addiction explains so much. All the young girls were feeding his fantasy life. And excellent point about the cameras! I hope someone looks into that pronto!

    • Bethany February 20, 2014 Reply

      That comment jumped out at me too. I don't know about peepholes, but the puzzle pieces are coming together.

    • greg February 20, 2014 Reply

      You know, all along in the last few days as more and more of this sordid tale was being exposed and all of the reports of bill's fondling and "mental fondling" of these very young girls is being reported and proven, I have been starting to have some feelings that maybe bill has/had some sort of sexual problem like masturbation...would not surprise me one bit. I have read a number of counselers that have dealt w/ aggressive and/or anger situations, and most all the time, we tend to come down forcefully and lord it over people or situations that we have the same struggles with in our own lives, or that we have very little or no control this situation of billy's masturbation problem comes as no surprise.

    • Samuel Lundmark February 20, 2014 Reply

      Bill was telling the girls to leave on a 60W light in their rooms at the ITC, if I remember correctly. Anybody remember that? I always had a suspicion about why he would do that, but it sure does make me wonder now!

      • WendyA February 20, 2014 Reply

        Samuel, that light was supposed to help ease the discomfort of the menstrual cycle. He read about some obscure study somewhere that touted this as a solution to cramps and irritability. Personally, the lack of sleep caused by trying to sleep in a brightly lit room would have just made the irritability worse. And NSAIDs are fine for the other pains.

        What I don't understand is why so many of us young women listened to, and BELIEVED, an unmarried man when he told us how to handle such an intimately female issue as menstrual dysfunction.

        • FloraPoste February 20, 2014

          Light exposure at night is a risk factor in breast cancer:

          Not that real MD's knew this in '80's, of course, let alone Bill Gothard, amateur gynecologist.

        • "Hannah" February 20, 2014

          The story was that a farmer had done this with his chickens. For what purpose, I now forget. But somehow BG thought it would help with menstrual irregularities [insert extracted and unrelated Scripture verse, here]

        • kevin February 20, 2014

          Light at night to help with the menstrual cycle? What? Whether it is scriptural discernment or medical information, it is as though Gothard just made stuff up on the fly, without a shred of wisdom or knowledge behind his conclusions. In looking at some of the conclusions he arrived at, it appears he had some real intelligence blind spots. In fact, he seems very dim in some areas.

        • Brumby February 21, 2014

          Yes, I was so uncomfortable at age 13 attending the Advanced Seminar and listening to him talk about Menstruation and Abstinence and other similar topics. I was mortified that I was in mixed company, and felt weird listening to Gothard on the big screen talking about such private things... it felt intrusive and embarrassing! Not to mention, it sounded trite and difficult to keep track of and follow.

          Until the age of 17, I believed that ATI was probably indeed "the truth," but that I would never be able to follow it, consequently damning myself to hell without a chance. By the age of 13, I had just accepted that I didn't have what it took to live according to this true high standard, and it would be easier if I could just accept that I'd be in hell for eternity upon my death. That's a dark place in which to live as a teenage girl. :( I've never once wished to be a child again or go back in time - I always wanted to make it to adulthood and "get out," and I'm so grateful I did.

        • eva February 21, 2014

          He seemed obsessed with the menstual cycle - tried to compare it to the blood of Christ. At least he said that a woman's menstrual cycle should remind her husband of the shed blood of Christ on the cross No, His blood was precious!! I can't believe that I actually wrote that statement in the Advanced notebook. It didn't hit me until much later when I read that someone said that it was on such and such a page. I even checked because I didn't believe i but there it was written in my own handwriting.

        • Becky February 22, 2014

          His thoughts on health were extremely strange. He thought that women shouldn't run or their reproductive organs would be harmed. This is a very outdated idea based on the fact that women with low BMI (such as some very thin athletes) can have suppressed hormone levels. The issue is eating enough, not the exercise. Exercise improves blood flow to organs and strengthens core muscles needed for labor and delivery.

        • Kevin February 22, 2014

          The man knows nothing of scriptural hermeneutics, yet convinces his followers he is the authority on scriptural interpretation. He knows nothing of marriage, yet he is propped up as the wisest marriage advisor on the planet. He knows nothing of raising children, yet he is trusted to tell people how to handle every child rearing issue imaginable. He is no dietician, yet he dispenses dietary advice as a top authority.. He is no doctor, and has shown zero aptitude for critical thinking when evaluating the weighted significance of medical studies, and yet he plays the part of medical advisor. The man is a charlatan and a fool. A charming fool, but a fool.

        • greg r February 22, 2014

          @Kevin: not trying to start my Sat. off cranky , but it's a little worse than what you typed "he (BG) knows nothing about hermeneutics..." Actually, judging by his website he does.
          He starts off an article on interpretation and mentions some of the commonly understood rules for hermeneutics. It's not bad...but, by the end of the article, he's replaced the commonly understood rules for another list of a much more subjective bent. You know the type: Spirit led, not the wisdom of man, etc. So he has been exposed to some good scholarship on the topic, it's just not for him. The Lord Himself show us truth, today, blessings.

        • Samuel Lundmark February 22, 2014

          Wendy, right.

          I continue to wonder if there wasn't a more sinister reason for the light at night in girls' rooms, but that IS only speculation. I would not send my daughter anywhere near an IBLP or ATI function or TC because of too many cautions in my spirit such as these.

          Ileata also pointed the to same reason you mentioned after I posted, so I guess I can accept that, but it's hard to believe that we all listened so much to this dude.

          I agree with you about wondering why we listened to him and also wonder shy Bill (a man) would even have an opinion about such subjects him not being a MD, OBGYN, or some other rank of medical authority on the topics of womens' health issues. It's odd that mothers didn't stop him over this type of absurd behavior when their daughters were in the centers.

        • kevin February 22, 2014

          You are correct. I have read his teaching on hermeneutics and yes, he has had scholarship in this area (of maybe he just knows how to click and paste)
          The reasons for his bizarre conclusions are far more sinister, than to explain it away as the workings of a fool. That was my knee jerk reaction to the idiotic medical advice he gives.
          The fool is just naive, and draws conclusions of the things around him because he knows no better. Gothard's conclusions, while foolish at face value, have the sinister intent to try to control and manipulate.
          They are all about his and his obsessions with control and, I am also now seeing, his obsession with elements of human sexuality.
          Isn't it interesting, how many of his Old Testament laws that he teaches have to do with sex and/or genitalia?
          Trying to get his control into the bedroom of married couples, teaching on when they can and can't have sex. His teachings on circumcision- trying to control what happens to the penis of other people. And even his teachings relating to menstruation, all point to an unhealthy desire to control these areas.
          His silly teaching against women running- it would not surprise me if there was something personal behind even this. We know he was interested in girl's feet and running makes the feet callused, so perhaps that was his motivation. Hard to say, but one thing for certain, it has nothing to do with medicine or science.

    • Shannon Wehr February 20, 2014 Reply

      If all the intimate contact with young women didn't culminate in more than 'groping over the clothing,' the actions have to reach final stage somewhere else. Completing the fantasy can be better done in private and may add to a spiritual deception of, "Well, I didn't actually do it." Can a guy remain single, have that much control over and physical contact with women, surround himself with young beauties catered to his personal taste and not act out on it? In all these stories/revelations, I've been looking for this element. It had to be there to make sense. I'm just surprised that Bill allegedly admitted it.

    • Amanda February 20, 2014 Reply

      That certainly casts "Meg"'s account of heavy breathing on the phone (Part 5) in a terrifying light.

      • Shannon Wehr February 20, 2014 Reply

        Except that Meg said it was a young man's voice. When she called Gothard right after, he sounded surprised and she did not associate the voice with that of the first caller. Of course, he could try to fake it...

        • Amanda February 20, 2014

          You're right, I didn't catch that. If it wasn't him, it's just sad that given his problems and predilections, he was the only person that she could go to.

      • 'Megan' February 20, 2014 Reply

        That's what I had thought. Who would have had the number to that house/location?

        • WendyA February 21, 2014

          I lived in one of the other Institute houses, and we got prank calls all the time. This was in the days before CallerID (or at least before it was widespread --- we got it in Memphis in 1988, but I don't think it was more widely available until the early ’90s), so our house leader told us to just hang up whenever it happened.

          Interestingly, I don't recall receiving any such calls after I moved to Heritage Manor (a small apartment building owned by the Institute) and had a phone in my own name.

    • just another ati girl February 21, 2014 Reply

      I actually think that the fact that him masturbating being made an "issue" is incredibly short-sighted and idealistic. For all Gothard's faults (and there are MANY, I am in no way a sympathizer), I think it's unfair (of him and everyone else) to expect a single man to *not* masturbate. I never could understand the christian world's aversion to something that involves no one, hurts no one (unless you fantasize about an acquaintance and then treat that person differently), and is in many ways a healthy, harmless expression of normal human sexual desires. Now I do realize the beef with Gothard is that he was so incredibly outspoken about squelching all desires for the opposite sex, all the way from mere friendly conversation to sexual fantasies, yet apparently indulged in everything he taught against. I abhor him for that, and the copious guilt he was happy to heap on everyone else for made-up sins. But I do not fault him for this one tiny aspect- being a normal human and dealing with his sexual urges on his own. Everything else? YES. But not that.

      • Heidi February 21, 2014 Reply

        Me too, (just another ati girl) I think the teachings against that were over the top and harmful.

        When you suppress sexuality as much as the Gothard family did, it will take form in perversion.

        • Becky February 22, 2014

          I don't believe masturbation is a sin. How can it be if it is something that can happen in your sleep and at times without really trying? I think this is a false teaching. Vague scriptures and Old Testament stories are taken to mean far more than they do.
          I believe it is possible to do it in a wrong way, with evil thoughts, or in wrong places. That applies to men, women, married or single.
          However, I think it is a sin that Gothard told others that it was wrong to masturbate, using it as a way to control others, and then apparently did it himself. Also if he used young girls as victims to feed into his fantasies.

    • Brenda February 21, 2014 Reply

      Good point. I have had that nagging in the back of my mind too.

      Why was it appropriate for him to have ANY female secretaries???? We would not want our husbands to do that!
      This whole thing opens up the door to his own fantasy island, kneeling to pray in his office, holding a girls hand while she pours her heart out to her Lord, having her share intimate things in her life like he was her father. This defies any healthy boundaries, period. I had no idea this was happening.

      Turns out there is no christian utopia. Following the Lord humbly seeking His guidance is best. Leave the Bills of the world out of the picture.

      God restore our families.

      • Joy May 28, 2014 Reply

        In Genesis when God created Eve He said "it is not good for man to be alone" Powerful bonding hormones are released during sex. I believe sex is very sacred-meant to be reserved for the love and lifetime time commitment of a true marriage-after all , physiologically this union between man and woman can result in the birth of a whole new being that needs to be nurtured and cared for. the problem is selfishness. Masturbation is a totally selfish act-it releases sexual energy meant to bond 2 people together and demeans sex.It is a momentary thrill totally divorced from the amazing experience of a true union-heart to heart, mind to mind and body between two people committed to going through life together. Sin separates.It is all in the mind. Instead of focusing on loving God -and in His love , loving others -the mind is fantasizing on self.I don't believe in judging or condemning anyone who has fallen into this trap(masturbation)-the truth sets us free. We need to come up higher-God has a much higher joy for us.Christ showed what love is-it is about giving.He wants to give us more than we could even ask or think. the world is motivated by power,money,sex.. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" We must use the mind God gave us to study His word for ourselves. Gothard was given a form of worship and it went to his head.Masturbation( and pornography) take away your life and hurts Christ by dishonoring and demeaning your own body and/or the bodies of others.Even animals don't do this.

    • David February 22, 2014 Reply

      Seriously, is THIS the core issue here? Bill Gothard is a false teacher who has destroyed the lives of thousands with his heretical doctrine. That, along with these other stories of sexual misconduct, are enough show that he should have never been in ministry, and needs to repent of his sins. The rest of this accomplishes nothing expect to make this site look tabloid.

    • DeeDee April 2, 2014 Reply

      "Hidden cameras or peep-holes"... That just hit me! My father worked there in the 1970's and we lived in a "ministry owned" house that we were required to live in. We all had to have the same pea-green carpet in our homes along with no tvs and not allowed to own a pair of jeans (slacks were ok), as well as other strict rules.
      So my question is, why were we required to live in "ministry owned homes"? Did they tap phones or have secret video recording devices?? Don't know. Just a sick feeling. Quite possible in the ladies dorm building (where I spent a lot of time with the single gals). Ughhh, don't even want to think of that possibility but it wouldn't be out of character for the type of sexual perversion that was going on.

  25. Michael February 20, 2014 Reply

    Unreal. That's the only thing that comes to my mind after reading this article. The rampant immorality and BG's lack of accountability is sickening. What makes me really angry is the fact that all this happened BEFORE ATIA was ever conceived. HOW did people (like my parents) not understand the severity of all this and realize that BG could not be trusted? I succinctly remember being in Knoxville and witnessing BG "worship" going on. I can recall sitting in Thompson-Boling Arena and overhearing grown men literally fawn over BG and how "incredible" he was. The whole ATIA program is completely cultic. I think families were literally competing for the affection and admiration of BG and the ATIA staff by having tons of children, memorizing vast amounts of scripture and also learning to play a multitude of musical instruments (except for drums or anything else capable of making a beat because music with a beat is straight from satan and can't be trusted). I look back on my pre-teen and early teenage years and it's clear to me that BG had a firm hand in ruining what could have been some amazing experiences. I am BEYOND thankful that all of this is coming out and BG is literally being exposed for what he truly is: a cult leader with a strong perversion problem.

    • 'Megan' February 20, 2014 Reply

      I know that my parents had no idea about all of this, else I'm CERTAIN they would have run screaming. That might be your answer to that question. Many, many people did not know. And any rumors that did circle down got the, 'that's gossip/evil report/slander' or, 'why would people make up stories/lie/discredit such a man of God', etc.. And that has NOT changed one iota. Damage control at it's finest and most effective.

    • Shannon Wehr February 20, 2014 Reply

      My parents knew of only the problems with Steve (not even the extent of it) and also know he had been dismissed. They figured someone cannot be held accountable for what another did if everything was handled correctly. And since all they knew was Steve had been dismissed, they felt things had been handled as best as could have been under the circumstances. Now that they are aware of many of those circumstances, they are shocked and disgusted with everything and especially the conduct of Bill Gothard himself. Bill's teachings had been a great help to my parents, as far as they understood, since they had been raised under shallow mediocre church preaching. Finally someone was explaining what it meant to be a Christian and how to live out the life God calls us to. Over the years, with maturity, time and better Biblical understanding, they see much of it for what it was, a bunch of formulas relating to just about everything, a formula for success and blessing never sanctioned in the Bible.

    • Nate February 21, 2014 Reply

      Do you remember the standing ovations he always got the first time he walked out on stage? So weird ...

      • Brumby February 21, 2014 Reply

        My hands and wrists still hurt when I think about it... heaven forbid I cease clapping and take a seat before everyone else was done. That was exhausting! I remember an ovation in Knoxville lasting over 5 minutes one year - I timed it! In the words of Charlie Brown, good grief!!!

        • Shannon Wehr February 22, 2014

          I always loved the fact that when David Barton walked on the stage, everyone went wild, too. He just ignored it all and started talking. If applause started during his speaking, he simply kept right on going. When he was finished, he didn't hang around and glory in the applause, he just walked off the stage and was gone.

  26. Andrew Harper February 20, 2014 Reply

    Aside from the very real, very human emotions this article raised in me, I'd like to share two thoughts with those who would still say, "But good came from IBLP!"

    First, let the implications of what RG has shared really sink in and then re-examine the good you think you received from BG. Really reconsider it, in light of all of Scripture and the tried and true doctrines of Christ's Church.

    Second, if you still believe that God used IBLP in your life for good, realize that this says an immeasurable amount not about Bill Gothard, but about the sovereignty of God. This God Who orchestrates all things for the good of those who love Him, deserves all the loyalty and devotion we have. All. Even the part we may have previously given to a mere man.

    • 'Megan' February 20, 2014 Reply

      Amen and amen. People forget the Scripture that God uses even the wicked for His purpose.

  27. Christy February 20, 2014 Reply

    When I walked away, I just went and I didn't look back. Now, ten plus years later I'm feeling guilt, and sorrow, and regret. Because, I walked away and I made it. I survived and succeeded. But, there are a lot of people who didn't, and I just left you behind. I'm sorry!

    Christian summer camp is what saved me, what God used to save me. I arrived there in my ankle length skirts, with my waist length hair, so incredibly naive and sheltered, thinking I was somehow superior to the rest of these "normal" people with my list of rules and standards. Instead I found real people who really loved a Real Jesus and had freely followed Him in ways I never knew were possible. These wonderful people were patient with me, loved me, laughed with me, taught me, and God used them to change me. I left that summer with a suntan, a couple pairs of pants, and a cartilage piercing to remind me that I was different and that I was free.

    I got a lot of flak from some of the people in my old life. I was told I was a rebel, that I was wrong, that my earring was sin. But, I was changing, Jesus was opening my eyes to truth and freedom and I knew that they were wrong. I went to college that fall, and back to camp that next summer, and I kept changing. I got tired of to trying to explain who I was and why I was different to people who used to know me but didn't any more. So, I stopped. And, I walked away into my new life, my new identity, new friends who didn't know me "when", and a new relationship with Jesus Christ. But I left you behind.

    I married a great Christian man who doesn't understand a thing about ATI or IBLP or legalism. So I just didn't really talk about it. I haven't talked about it for ten years or more. Then I found Recovering Grace, and memories started flooding back in. I read articles and cried. I used to think that I'd moved past the issues, but the people writing on Recovering Grace helped me to see more areas where I was still believing lies.

    Then all this Mr. Gothard scandal stuff started coming out. And I started realizing just what I'd been saved from...and I started hearing about people I used to know...and I realized that I was one of the lucky ones...and I feel guilty and sad. More than anything I want to help. Like people helped me, I'd like to help you find the Real Jesus. Because, I think that the god we were taught about in ATI was not the real God of the Bible. He was tweaked and changed and twisted so that he sounded the same, but he's not. I think that's why so many people raised in ATI run away from Christianity and God, because they think they know him and they don't want anything to do with him. I don't blame them! I don't want anything to do with that god either! But, that's not the amazing, wonderful, huge, powerful, loving Savior that I know, the One who changed my life.

    More than anything, I pray that God uses these eye opening articles from Recovering Grace to bring truth to the light, to reveal horrible lies, and to point people to the real Jesus.

    • MatthewS February 20, 2014 Reply

      This. Is a beautiful comment.

      • Jonathan Owens February 20, 2014 Reply

        ^^ What MatthewS said!!!

    • Nancy2 February 20, 2014 Reply

      This more than anything is what needs addressed. There is a Real Jesus that loves us and He desires mankind to know Him and walk with Him.

      The real sin committed is exactly as you stated Christy, "Because, I think that the god we were taught about in ATI was not the real God of the Bible. He was tweaked and changed and twisted so that he sounded the same, but he's not."

    • Beverly February 20, 2014 Reply

      "Because, I think that the god we were taught about in ATI was not the real God of the Bible. He was tweaked and changed and twisted so that he sounded the same, but he’s not."

      Amen and Amen! The god I knew back in ATI days was not the amazing and beautiful Jesus I have since grown to know and love. Grace makes all the difference in taking our relationship with God from that of a trembling slave to a beloved daughter who can run into His arms and find refuge in any moment.

  28. Kelsey Blikstad February 20, 2014 Reply

    RG, thank you for your diligent work in exposing the truth. This article was truly shocking - and yet, I'm not shocked. God bless you! I pray that you help many current ATI families "get out" in the process.

  29. Alfred Corduan February 20, 2014 Reply

    But . . . where is Jesus in all of this? Does He even care? Does He matter? When the outside looks in, they see unmitigated tragedy . . . and Jesus was powerless to stop it. Right? That is the picture presented here, to the world.

    Seriously . . . where is the Lord?! Does He have an opinion? Is He so weak that it takes all of this collective effort, money after 40 years to finally get His will done?

    I heard Him in the Seminars. He was there. He has never left me. So . . . that makes me wonder . . . if maybe it wasn't all evil after all. Maybe He really likes some of the things Bill has done, or tried to do. We act as though He doesn't really exist . . . or doesn't care . . . or will not call our every thought, word, action into accountability. As in . . . the buck stops right there.

    What a story can be told of David, his immorality, murder. Jesus took him back, to continue to be His servant . . . as king. Yes, it required an intervention . . . brutal . . . in love, but brutal. But I see none of the disdain written in Scripture that I find here at times. Strange . . . sometimes the Lord does not judge with the judgement we judge. Sometimes He gets really offended because we know so much better than He does.

    I have a much better understanding of what happened in 1980 . . . and for that I am grateful. And there is a cause . . . there are aspects that to this day have not been made right . . . although not all of them. However imperfectly, Bill has attempted to fix things, from time to time. Perhaps he has the extra motivation now to get it completely taken care of.

    Anyone praying for Bill, as I am? I bet there are those fervently doing so . . . there the ultimate conclusion, straightening out of all of this will occur.

    • Brandon February 20, 2014 Reply

      I am praying for Bill. But only when I am done praying for his victims.

    • RevKev February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, I am praying for Bill, and will continue to do so.

      • Alfred Corduan February 20, 2014 Reply

        It is not mine to respond . . . but . . . I personally really appreciate that, Kevin.

        • 'Megan' February 20, 2014

          If it's any comfort, I believe many, like myself, pray for Bill daily, or almost daily. And not a, 'Lord, please let him trip in the shower and bust his head open' type of prayer either.. (Going for a bit of levity).

          But in all seriousness, we do pray for him. And I think I can speak for most of us at least, that we have pure hearts in the matter, and do not wish his destruction. And, I think quite a few of us pray for you as well. I see your hurt over all these matters in your posts. You are not alone in this, no matter how much we all may disagree with you.

      • Jonathan Owens February 20, 2014 Reply

        More people are praying for Bill right now than we will ever realize. Although there may be some gloating comments on here, those of us who have experienced true grace, unmerited favor and love from God with no help from our frail human actions. We are praying the most.

        There is something amazingly beautiful to see someone realize for the first time that there is nothing we can do to make God love or accept us more than the way we are right now. He loves us, even our dirt.

        • JessicaB February 20, 2014

          So very, very true Jonathan.

          And when we truly realize that Jesus loves us in our bankrupt state, we can appreciate the truth of, "It is the mercy of the Lord, that leads us to repentance."

          Repentance seems scary and shameful until it's the Holy Spirit at work in your life, and not the manipulation of others. Mercy indeed!

        • Alfred Corduan February 20, 2014

          Amen, brother. Words like that are balm to my soul right now.

    • Linn February 20, 2014 Reply


      We do need to pray for Bill. However, when sin comes to light, especially sin with multiple victims, the perpetrator often gets more "press" than the victims. Bill has predatory sexual sin going back at least 34 years, possibly more (I often wonder what he was doing prior to the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts). The victims of his sin need to be heard and helped toward healing.

      The sexual sin also doesn't even include other problems in Bill's ministry, recorded both here and in other sources (I am thinking, for example, of the abusive situations in camps and training center, some investigated by the secular press).

      I am a mandated abuse reporter at both the school where I teach and the church where I am involved in children's ministry. Most of what I have read in Recovering Grace would have been reportable as physical, emotional or sexual abuse for minors, and as unethical, at the least (possibly much more) on the counseling level. I believe that the focus needs to come off of Bill as a great teacher and spiritual leader. He is a charlatan who has used his ministerial role to prey on his followers. I know that God works in spite of His weak ministers, but I also believe that continuing to find the "good" in Bill's "ministry" is almost dismissing the awful truth that he is manipulative, unrepentant, cyclical (remorseful when caught, never responsible, and back at it as soon as he believes it is "safe" to go back to his previous behavior) and, psychologically, very ill.

    • Ileata Lundmark February 20, 2014 Reply

      I would think that Jesus is offering Bill forgiveness if he'll just confess and forsake his sin. And He's offering healing to his victims. And grace to those of us who realized we had believed a LOT of lies.

    • Samuel Lundmark February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, Jesus is where He always is....leading us, caring for us. His sheep know His voice--it's really that simple.

      What we have done for God does not commend us to God--knowing Jesus commends us to God. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice, and they follow me."

      I hope that Bill CAN hear Jesus' voice and follow Him.

    • Andrew Harper February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, that God spoke to you during a seminar is not a mark of approval on Bill, the seminar, or IBLP. It is a mark of a sovereign God who took the time to speak to you. When Jesus was led before the Sanhedrin, the High Priest prophesied by declaring that it was better that one should die for the nation. He spoke the truth, didn't mean that God approved of his actions. I use toilet paper, doesn't mean I think it is best thing since sliced bread. You are exactly right, we should definitely be praying for Bill. However there is a lot of room for error when we believe that God's use or blessing of a thing denotes His approval. The blessings of God are meant to lead us to repentance.

    • "Shane" February 20, 2014 Reply


      I have been reading your comments here for a few days and have never actually commented myself on this site. You've said enough so that I can see where you are coming from. I admire the fact that you seem to be taking everything that is being said seriously and have been working through it logically in your own mind. I have been doing the same thing for about my whole life.

      There are many I know whose parents came to Jesus through a Basic Seminar. It was a way of delivering the gospel that hit home with that generation.

      Personally I found much spiritual refreshment in the times I spent at various events and through various programs. I was hungry for God and there were some great preachers involved with the ministry.

      However, there was a different side to it all that I have struggled with for years. My childhood and teen years were very depressing. My family cut themselves off from everything that wasn't in line with the high moral standings of the ministry. This, on top of my shy nature meant that I was alone all the time. As the youngest of our family and as a result everyone left home and I literally sat at home for years with pretty much no friends except for a few casual friendships at church. On top of this I was constantly embarrassed at the way my mom had no trust in me whatsoever when it came to women. Even at 18 my mom wouldn't let me go to youth events at church where she couldn't be there watching my interactions even though the church was primarily made up of ATI members. I'll add to this that I had no track record of inappropriate behavior with women.

      In my loneliness I sought comfort in God as I had been taught, and I found Him there. I developed a personal relationship with a loving God which was different than what I had before. However, the deep depression continued until I was able to leave home (on good terms).

      Could you say I'm bitter? I do try to not let my emotions be the first judge in this situation. Thinking back realize that it has helped many people, my parents included. The 60's and 70's were a crazy time and them getting serious with God and getting into a church was a direct result of this ministry. You cannot deny that God has carried out his plan of redemption through this ministry. However, understanding the truths stated above helps me come to terms with this in a different light. Bill has serious issues. I don't think that he is a minister of Satan and I do understand that if I was placed in the same situation as him, having the same background, personality, ETC. I have the same capacity to fall in the same way. If I built up something as big I would probably be tempted to cover it up as well. Whenever any human gets on a pedestal too tall it becomes extremely difficult to not want to protect that position to a degree. As for the women, I'd have to say that he built himself the perfect trap for sexual sins. We all have a perverted side.

      I think that it is important in light of this all to not ever let any man be placed on a high pedestal. You cannot deny that Gothard is raised up as an above average Christian, I've heard him being referred to as the "apple of God's eye". You cannot deny that while the material appears to ponit only to Christ, there is a filter there which they intend you to channel all of your devotion to. Its all set up in such a way that exalts the ministry in the context of a Christians patterns of thought.

      For the sake of Jesus, I hope this ministry ceases to exist, and I hope that never again will there be an organization of its kind. I think big Christian organizations itemize Christianity too much. Yes there will be atheists rejoicing if IBLP falls, but if we never had IBLP in the first place they wouldn't have had the opportunity to point their fingers at such a large group of Christians.

      Despite anything that happens, I know that the Lord will always continue to build his church and the gates of Hell will not prevail.

      • Alfred Corduan February 21, 2014 Reply

        Thank you for sharing your experience. You and I would be similar in many regards. My only comment, and this gets back to my "Where is Jesus" cry . . . the middle part of the race is not what is interesting. It is the finish. Neither of us has finished. If we run a hard stage in the middle while others have it easy, and yet finish well, it will be "worth it all". The fruit, the fruit . . . what would it have been without the influences you and I had, what will it be with. THAT is all that matters, regardless of the pain in the middle.

        • greg r February 21, 2014

          Alfred: which is more important, what your kids do, or knowing that you love them, and they love you. Sorry for the silly rhetorical question , but it's (in my mind, at least) important. You need to free yourself from the never ending self examination that Bill's theology sets a person on. Yes, our fruit is important, but leaning into JESUS , and resting in HIM .... more important. Thanks for reading this.

        • horse February 21, 2014

          ". . . the middle part of the race is not what is interesting. It is the finish."

          You can't ignore the middle part because it isn't interesting or because the finish matters more.

          In the rest of your comment it sounds like you're saying the pain of other people doesn't matter as long as it all turns out OK in the end.

          Is that what you meant?

        • Renee February 23, 2014

          Forgetting the middle of my journey is like telling a cancer patient to forget they ever had cancer and just be happy they are in remission. Yes the end result is important but we can't mind dump our past.

    • Arch Radish February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, I would counter that when the "outside" looks "in", they may see some people who are willing to admit that they were wrong, they followed a false teacher, they distanced themselves from that false teacher, and they warned others against him so they would not be hurt. You certainly don't expect them to read the letters of Paul warning against the same heresies and extravagances of the false teachers of his day and say "Wow, Jesus was powerless to stop that, huh?" No. You see people doing exactly what Jesus Himself and the apostles said to do all along. Throw over some tables, bring out the millstones, and warn people away from the distraction that misuses a righteous God to advance the power of a few. If there is no room for the truth to speak out against perversions of it, then it is no truth at all.

      As for Gothard's personal forgiveness issues, that's between him, God, and those he wronged. But as a teacher, he must be held accountable for the ones he led astray and all of his teachings must be viewed in light of his deception. The Bible takes false teaching seriously, especially in cases where people are led away from the truth. If you are expecting Bill to apologize at this late stage for all the hurt he's caused and somehow vindicate all of his false teachings and be remembered as a great Christian leader, that time is long past. It is time to accept that he will never be the world-changer he promised to be. He hurt people, Alfred. He hurt me, he hurt those who trusted him, and he hurt himself. If the name of Christ can be hurt at all, he did it. I say that as someone who had the same warm feelings in Knoxville, and every time our church showed his face on a videocassette.

      I don't care how it felt then, and I don't care how it feels now. The fact is that the man lied, hurt others, and did it all in the name of Christ. I have no trouble forgiving him for what he did to me and my family, but I can never have him in my life as a teacher, leader, or mentor again. That's reality, and I accept that. Now, as someone who lived it, I don't mind warning others away from the same hurt. Particularly when Bill cannot be bothered to do it himself.

      • Eileen Scipione February 24, 2014 Reply

        Powerful, balanced and realistic response!
        I am a teacher and a biblical counselor and have seen the effects of misused authority.
        Those who teach are all the more accountable.
        Jesus claims total authority. Some day every knee shall bow.
        But those who are in positions of authority MUST be under God's authority,
        by inviting our listeners to be like the Bereans and to study for themselves to see of these things be true.

    • J.B. February 20, 2014 Reply


      As far as I can tell, there's no one here who truly believes that every single word out of Bill Gothard's mouth was entirely false or evil. That's because lies are based, at least in part, on a kernel of truth. If all truth is from God, and I believe we can agree on at least that, then He can work even within the lies we create or hear. He is bigger than them, after all. And I'm glad He found you in Gothard's seminar. But that still doesn't excuse the lies. And unlike David in Psalm 51, Bill Gothard still has yet to demonstrate that he is truly remorseful about his actions. Every avenue has been exhausted. For decades. And because Bill's attempts to "fix things" have been nothing more than silencing and manipulation, what's happening here is truly a last resort.

      But more than that, I'd like to question this notion that interfering with the work of IBLP is equivalent to interfering with what God is doing. You asked where Christ is in this process, as if He's not at work here. Have you ever considered the possibility that "interfering with IBLP" is exactly what Christ is doing to bring Gothard to repentance and his followers to true spiritual freedom? Let me ask you something, Alfred: you've seen the heartbreaking stories. You've read the accounts of abuse. You've seen just how much of a stumbling block IBLP has been to those seeking Christ. You know Him and I'd hope that you understand, somewhere deep down inside, that He has built His church around the world for centuries, even before IBLP and Gothard, and that He is bigger than those institutions. So once again, I must ask you - why are you so adamant about defending the abuser and marginalizing those who have suffered in the process instead of reaching out to those who are starving for love in the wake of their traumatic experiences with your "father"? Are you really so narcissistic that you're willing to put your experience above everyone else's?

      Jesus is at work here, Alfred. I see it every day in the comments shared by people who have found true freedom in Christ and encouragement outside the suffocating, legalistic, abuse-laden confines of IBLP. He's working to restore the broken and the battered, right here. The question is - are you willing to see past yourself and the idol you've erected for yourself to look at what He's doing?

      • Alfred Corduan February 20, 2014 Reply

        ["Let me ask you something, Alfred: you've seen the heartbreaking stories. You've read the accounts of abuse. You've seen just how much of a stumbling block IBLP has been to those seeking Christ.']

        WHY am I not allowed to think of the many that have been blessed? Lives changed, permanently? You see, they don't come on this website . . . except me, because maybe I am an idiot. It is just not the world of Bill Gothard I live in.

        Things that are broke, need to be fixed. Fix them, Mr. Gothard.

        • Karah February 20, 2014

          Bill Gothard cannot fix this. He can confess, repent and change his ways. But he cannot offer a solution. Only Christ can.

        • J.B. February 20, 2014

          Who was really responsible for changing those lives, Alfred? Bill Gothard, or the sovereign, all-powerful God who worked in a mighty way despite Gothard's scandalous, unbiblical behavior and doctrine? And just how many more lives have been damaged? And how many more lives are you going to continue to enable Gothard to damage before the very man you idolize is held accountable for his evil deeds? How much will be enough?

          Things are most certainly broken, Alfred. And they're being fixed right now, but the abuser you've placed on a pedestal is certainly not going to be the one responsible for that.

        • Jeremy Richardson February 20, 2014

          If you build a thousand bridges, and abuse ONE child, no one calls you a bridge builder, but a child abuser.

        • John February 20, 2014

          Alfred you are asking the wrong person to fix this. Only Christ can fix it.. Bill might help by making a full and frank confession and then resigning. That is the only option he has. If all that is written here is true Bill has done nothing that would lead most rational people to think he has changed or has any intentions of changing

        • greg r February 20, 2014

          Praying for all of us, and you esp. Alfred, during this difficult time. try to forgive those in this site and others who are dealing with intense anger and emotion. Many have suffered great loss of time that they will never get back. Jesus is still LORD. You will be restored.

        • David February 20, 2014

          When I was young, I was in a legalistic cult. It was certainly in every respect like Gothardism. But God showed me the Truth. In retrospect, I know that God used that cult to expose in me my self-righteousness and faith in men. He used my errors and belief in lies to show me what the Truth was NOT, as a preparation for seeing the Truth of His grace. This is not about finding the right organization or the right man or the right religious system. It is about seeing Jesus Christ. Being blessed can be quite subjective. I know Mormons who consider themselves blessed of God and can point to miracles in their lives. No. You cannot park on experiences. You have to go on to find the Person.

        • Austin Gunderson February 21, 2014

          I applaud you, Alfred, for calling upon Bill Gothard to fix his problems. This is good; this is a start. It means you recognize that something's seriously wrong.

          But do you recognize what that something is? As others here have pointed out, what's wrong here is Bill Gothard's heart: it's cold, hardened, calcified with pride. He was and is so desperate to protect his own "good name" and that of his ministry that he's knowingly endangered others, falsely projected his own sins upon them, deliberately squirmed out from under any attempt to introduce accountability into his life, and ultimately obliterated his own integrity, all for the sake of maintaining his illusion of spiritual invincibility. He lied and lied and lied again, and has been lying to this day. Bill Gothard is a liar. It's what he does; it's who he is.

          Now tell me: how's he supposed to "fix" that?

          I'll tell you how: Gothard needs to give up. He needs to give up his delusions of invincibility, give up his desire for acclaim, give up his fear of exposure, give up his reliance on self. In short, he needs to repent. Truly repent.

          True repentance doesn't make excuses. True repentance doesn't hide from the truth. True repentance doesn't attempt to skirt consequences through some appeal to "the greater good," because true repentance has rejected the notion that the ends justify the means. True repentance throws itself upon the mercy of Almighty God, trusting Him alone with the outcome, both internally (only God can reshape the human heart) and externally (if IBLP is doing God's will, then shouldn't it rejoice rather than mourn if its leader relinquishes the pride that's stifled its transparency and accountability for over forty years?).

          This is why RG's dredging up all this dank, petrifying sin to set it steaming in the light of day: not only to warn the Church, but to give Bill Gothard, that vociferous proponent of a "clean conscience," the greatest opportunity in his life -- the opportunity to transfer his trust from his own conniving wiles to the grace of God. He doesn't deserve mercy. He doesn't deserve grace. He deserves to die a thousand deaths for his sick rebellion against Holy God.

          As do I. As do you.

          But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved! (Eph. 2:4-5) This is Bill Gothard's only hope, for the sake of which he must be willing to give up ALL the temporal trappings of earthly empire he uses to mask the stench of his rotting heart. He will resist to the last -- there's simply too much prestige at stake. He won't look to heaven until his back is against the wall. And, as pertains to Bill Gothard, that's exactly what RG is doing: putting his back up against the wall.

          In that sense, what RG is doing to Bill Gothard is one of the most loving things to ever happen to him. They're giving him a chance to see himself for who he truly is and to recognize his own desperate, unqualified need for the love of the Living God.

          Alfred, let's you and I both add our voices to the chorus. Bill Gothard, you are disqualified for Christian ministry, but supremely eligible for God's grace. Come clean, step down, and throw yourself upon Jesus!

        • Patrick Jayne February 21, 2014

          Thank you Alfred for your openness. I feel for you. However I feel like I need to point out something.

          "Fix them, Mr. Gothard."

          To me, in one sentence, you have illustrated the underlying error contained in all of Bill Gothards teachings. This is the over emphasis on "human effort" in spiritual living. Bill focuses on human effort with all his "12 step" programs.

          The current "mess" is beyond the ability of Bill Gothard, David Gibbs and the entire IBLP Board of Directors to "fix". Only God can heal the many who have suffered. Only God can heal Bill Gothard. Only God, through his Holy Spirit, can "Fix" the broken.

          But Gothard cannot continue to resist the promptings of the Holy Spirit to take whatever action God is calling him to take in this situation, and expect to "fix" the problem.

          I hope and pray that he is sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and despite what advice may come from his Board, he responds to whatever prompting is coming from the Holy Spirit in his own soul.

        • dreamer February 21, 2014

          >>To me, in one sentence, you have illustrated the underlying error contained in all of Bill Gothards teachings. This is the over emphasis on "human effort" in spiritual living. >>>

          Yes. This. Exactly.

          Gothard cannot "fix this." But maybe now, by being brought to this low point, he will truly realize his need for a savior, and the true meaning of grace.

        • Jonathan February 22, 2014

          Alfred, you said "WHY am I not allowed to think of the many that have been blessed? Lives changed, permanently?"

          As a child, my parents consistently taught me that we can never measure up to God's standard. Our good deeds never outweigh our bad deeds. This is echoed even by Ray Comfort, who I'm sure you know of well. In his witnessing encounters, Comfort often hears people claim "Well, I think God will overlook the wrong I've done in my life, and he'll let me into heaven." Ray's response was often something along the lines of "If a murderer stands up in court and says 'Judge, I did wrong in this, but I've done an awful lot of good in my life,' will the judge overlook his crime?" No, he will not, if he is just.

          To do justly in this matter, Alfred, requires that in spite of those who may have been helped, Bill's sin must be acknowledged, not made light of, or urged to be overlooked because "he did so many good things." Those who may have been helped is not the pertinent issue; the pertinent issue is that Bill did wrong, and that should be the focus.

        • Renee February 23, 2014

          Where are the families that have been blessed by one man's crooked interpretation of God's Holy Bible? How can a person be truly blessed if all they have believed in comes from a man and not from God's word?

          I don't believe that God's will has been done in that organization. Thankfully I serve a forgiving and long-suffering God who accepted my brokenness after leaving ATIA. I pray that one day my family will come away from that mindset and allow God to heal our shattered family. I don't believe it's God's will for believers to be enemies with one another and that is what this long standing organization has created amongst believers. I believe the AtiA/IBLP organization pains our Savior.

          As for my prayers for Bill...... can't say that I have. I guess losing my family takes up most of my prayers. The pain at times is almost unbearable.

        • Anna March 4, 2014

          You ask "where is God?" And you say "Fix it, Mr. Gothard." No. These are not the questions. The questions are "Where is Alfred?" When God is trying to speak to you through so many of these people, can you hear? What have you done with the reason and logic God has given you, and the enormous amount of Truth made available to you in truly Bible teaching churches? The definition of evil is good that is twisted. Think of it. Evil does not even exist except as a twisting of something good. "The middle part" as you put it, is what makes this so despicable! It is because one person teaching erroneous doctrine ruined "the middle part" of people's lives. These are people's lives being ruined! Not just yours! What of the thousands of women who are suffering severe depression and psychological problems due to births so close together their hormones do not have time to stabilize, and then trying to function under a completely undoable workload of homeschooling (which, by the way, is not "Biblically based")on top if it, and the children will suffer emotionally perhaps for a lifetime. All to feed someone's addiction. Have their lives not been tragically ruined? Have the lives of the children not been ruined? The question is not to Bill Gothard (those are one's for which he will give account). No. The question is for you. "Will Alfred repent for following this teaching for whatever it gave him and for the harm it has caused for those near him?" and "Will he seek to find the true God, and then warn others?" God is a redeemer, but He is calling you to repentance. I truly am not trying to be harsh. But God cares about Alfred. He cares about what has happened to the "middle part" of your life. When you stand before Him you will not give account for Bill Gothard, nor even for your wife or children. No. You will give account for the soul of Alfred, because that is the soul with which you have been entrusted. You will give account for what you have done with that soul, and your own actions, not other's. This is sobering and freeing all at the same time. Please read the definition of a sexual predator from an academic source. Bill Gothard is a textbook example not only of a sexual predator, but a cult leader. For you, Alfred (and every other man here so consumed with Bill), take your family and run! Run AWAY from this evil, and IN THE RUNNING FROM EVIL you will find a good God who cares immensely for the "middle part" of your life that has been ruined. May God give you the faith and strength to run!

      • Jeremy Richardson February 20, 2014 Reply

        I truly believes that every single word out of Bill Gothard's mouth was entirely false AND evil.

    • there but for the grace of God go I February 20, 2014 Reply

      You ask where is Jesus? I know you know this, but He is holding each and every person involved...each person whose heart has been broken and each person whose heart is breaking, including you and including Bill Gothard. I have seen you write about how this matter is not yet done and you are right. God's perfect will will be done and none of us should forget how the expanse of years and decades are no barrier for God to accomplish His plans. Think of all the people in the Bible who waited and waited for a promise to be fulfilled...

      Alfred, if these accusations are true, think for a moment what it means for Bill. Are his friends doing right by him by wanting to give him a pass? By making excuses? By dismissing the victims? I imagine that he is being torn apart by guilt, a guilt that has dogged him for decades.That is no way to live... He is, I imagine, a prisoner of his own making. Fortunately, there is a way out, a way to peace and joy and reconciliation, if only he will take it. I for one, pray that he does.I believe that most people here are praying for him as well.

      I do not know you - I wasn't raised in ATI and had never even heard of Gothard until a friend shared RG on FB. I homeschool my kids and now wonder if any of my homeschooling friends are being touched by this. I definitely feel that 'there but for the grace of God go I' and my heart weeps for the broken hearts in this situation.

      Basically, I care because this is about the Church. There are wounded souls as a result of what has gone on and we should all care about the people involved. So, yes, I am praying for the victims, for those whose lives have been so profoundly impacted, for those who are in chains to be freed, for the people who are finding the ground giving way under their feet as the accusations come out. I am praying for Bill Gothard, that he find peace along with his victims.

      And, Alfred, I am praying for you...I can only imagine how hard this must be, but I pray that you can seek the truth and are given strength to deal with it. God has this all under control and He will be with everyone involved every step of the way. He is there in the storms and brings beauty from ashes every time. Unfortunately, the ashes come BEFORE the beauty in that scenario...

      God bless you all,

      A friend

    • Shelley Randolph Romey February 20, 2014 Reply

      There can be no comparison between BG and David. David was anointed by God to be a king, a ruler over God's chosen people. BG made himself an absolute authority over other human beings who then put him on a pedestal. He had enough of an ego to declare his authority in a way that was never intended. BG is not the same as David.

      David repented. That has not happened in this situation. There was a chance 3 decades ago to make this right. Because there was not repentance, and some chose to look the other way, many young women and girls have been victims of a predator. They deserve justice, they need a chance to begin to heal. BG has not repented. David did. BG is not the same as David.

      The argument that because God still moved in people's lives there must be some good to this man has no merit either. God moves in those hearts who are open to Him. He moved in people's hearts when they needed it most. He did this despite BG, not because of him. If someone is truly seeking God they will find him regardless of external circumstances. If even one girl was abused by this man, if even one of these stories on RG is true, nothing BG did as "good" even matters.

      I agree that BG has attempted to "fix" things. He has covered up as much as he could to keep himself in power. However, from what I can see he has never tried to correct anything. He hasn't tried to make anything right for the people who have suffered. He has never fully repented or asked forgiveness. He has never taken responsibility for any of these actions. He needs prayer but those prayers should be for him to come to repentance.

      • John February 20, 2014 Reply

        I agree 100% David repented Bill hasn't

      • Shane February 20, 2014 Reply

        I'd like to add that a whole lot of consequences came David's way as a result of his sin; the death of his son, Absalom's coup, etc. God can walk and chew gum at the same time. Joseph's brothers did evil. And it was evil. And it would be evil to call it good. Or to call it not that bad. Through their evil God did good. It would be wrong to deny either. It would be wrong to read Gen 50.20 and then deny that the brothers were guilty of evil. Jesus was crucified by the definite plan of God. It was a good thing. Those who crucified Jesus did so on trumped up charges. It was Evil (read Acts 2). They were guilty of murder. God was not.

        There are similarities between this situation and David. God's grace is still free and unchanging. It is forgiveness when none is deserved. It is forgiveness when hell is deserved. It is forgiveness when the law says death (There was no sacrifice for David's highhanded offense). It is, after all, unmerited favor. It is a love so rich and free that it actually frees us to call evil evil; especially in our own lives and in the church.

        There is a similarity in that getting caught was God's mercy to David. It was not to destroy but to actually magnify the beauty of grace. When a doctor tells a patient they have cancer. It is not to do harm but in the hopes of healing. The mercy in getting caught will come if the God is seen as the gracious physician and Gothard will go under the caring knife of God's grace.

        Another similarity is that God cares about vindicating Bathsheba. It's interesting that in the text she loses her name after David takes her. She becomes "the wife of Uriah". It is a picture of the shame of David's sin. The violation of Uriah. The violation of Bathsheba as a person. Interestingly, she does not get her name back until the death of her "firstborn" son. Also interestingly she shows up in Jesus' genealogy with her name of shame: "wife of Uriah". Jesus' coming is the true redeemer of her shame and the violation of David. Grace.

        So, when we diminish the force of sin we diminish the glory of the forgiveness David received. This is the problem with legalism. Legalism does not have too high a view of the law and it's requirements but too small. It attempts to make the law keepable. In consequence it makes grace an addendum at best and unnecessary at worst. (See Mathew 5-8, Jesus and the religious of his day, the whole NT, the whole Bible) There has been grace along the way, there is grace now, and there will be grace tomorrow.

        There are some extremely important points to flesh out. One, when we refuse to name the evil of abuse we rob the power of the redeeming beauty of grace to the shamed. We actually keep the abused from being able to truly forgive. The cross demonstrates this. We see the full cost of forgiveness at the cross. We see the full weight of what is born by the forgiver. Two, the pathway to loving much is to see the depth to which God reached to love us; to have that "Oh Sh*t!" moment where we come full face with our sin, it's consequence, and the consequences we've been spared. There is grace for all here. David's evil is recounted for all to see as the lineage of Jesus. That's crazy! That's beautiful! That's the hope of Bill Gothard! That's my only hope!

        • Nancy2 February 20, 2014

          And that is my prayer.

        • Eileen Scipione February 24, 2014

          Shane, Thank you for this profound explanation of the law and grace as Jesus taught it.

    • Jeremy Richardson February 20, 2014 Reply


      As Benjamin commented above "It has nothing to do with God. God has nothing to do with this. It is all about money, power and women. "

      There's really no polite way to tell someone they have wasted their life on a lie. You have wasted your life on a lie.

      I want to reiterate something I previously mentioned: "The assumption must be, given the weight of the evidence: if you are an evangelical Christian leader, you are among the most immoral people in the country. These guys claim they are the most moral. They're not. They're the least moral people in America. They're not moral at all. They're the exact opposite. These are the sickest people in the country. That's how they should be presented."

      • Jonathan Owens February 20, 2014 Reply

        Jeremy Richardson,

        I'm sorry to step in here. But to tell someone they have wasted their life is wrong. Some may have done wrong, believed wrong and acted wrong but to say their life is a waste is crossing the line with me.

        Your comment would have been fine without telling someone that their life has been wasted.

        • MatthewS February 20, 2014

          I agree with Jonathan that it's too harsh to judge someone's life a waste. On an anything-goes blog, sure, but where there's a community like this trying to keep things as constructive as possible, that's too much.

        • Jeremy Richardson February 20, 2014


          I lost my entire childhood to Bill Gothard's ATIA. I respect your right to have your opinion, but I do not respect your opinion. I respect Alfred's right to freedom of speech, but I do not respect what he says.

          He continues to defend Gothard and refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of these allegations, and attempts to excuse the inexcusable.

          Up until quite recently, no one believed me when I talked about what I experienced in ATIA. I was told I was "bitter".

          To be honest, I am a little bitter, but that is only because Alfred and people like him have been spewing me with bile since I was 8 years old.


        • GuyS February 20, 2014

          Thank you Jonathan for stepping in. Thank you Matt for your concern for "a community like this."
          I am so happy I found this community. I have learned so much from watching the love and kindness you all have shown to Alfred. It blows my mind!

        • 'Megan' February 20, 2014

          If I may make a side point, I believe Jeremy Richardson's perspective on a wasted life is a lead in to something I've thought for years. Many lifers in ATI would feel precisely that, that they'd 'wasted their life', and perhaps THAT is why they cling to the program and the man for so long, in great and terrible fear of acknowledging these things as true.

          I believe that nothing is wasted, in that God works all things for His good, for them that believe and are called according to his purpose. But from a practical standpoint, and perhaps especially for a parent, I could see that being a bitter, bitter pill to swallow. The mere thought, however incorrect it might be, that I have led my family, and 'wasted' my life in a program that may have actually caused some damage, yes I could see that fear. Given my beliefs, I would disagree with Jeremy's assessment of the situation, although I do see his point as it surely must play out in the subconscious fears of those who are 'on the fence', even without his suggesting it.

          Hope that made sense.

        • LynnCD February 21, 2014

          Jonathan Owens, and MatthewS,

          The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, numerous online articles and discussions on this topic speak to the concept of "the wasted years." The Christian professionals inform us that mourning whatever time you spent under spiritual bondage is a significant component of the grieving process. It appears to me Jeremy is trying to get Alfred to see that. While in God's economy, nothing is wasted, and all is for His glory, I would like to affirm Jeremy's viewpoint as a valid one. You can't get your childhood back.

          I do agree that this concept is a personal one, though, that comes when truth is realized for what it is and lies and falsehoods are recognized for what they are. Perhaps telling someone he is wasting his time defending a lie would have been a better choice of words. Anyway, just wanted to say there are many, many people who have been abused by wolves in sheep's clothing who mourn the wasted years, and it is a very real thing to a large number of people in the grieving process.

        • MatthewS February 21, 2014

          Lynn, I agree with you. But do you see a difference between "I am grieving wasted years" and "There's really no polite way to tell someone they have wasted their life on a lie. You have wasted your life on a lie"?

        • MatthewS February 21, 2014

          I don't want to fail to say that I hear the pain and anger in Jeremy's words about his own experience. Not only was he robbed in the name of God, but in the name of God he was told to smile and say thank you, so to speak. I am angry with him and for him. (For those who wish to seize in every opportunity to use the "bitterness" word, I assure you it is entirely righteous indignation!) Every story is different but I feel like my story and his might have numerous points of contact.

        • LynnCD February 21, 2014

          MatthewS, I do see the difference, and suggested what I thought was better wording. I also have a disagreement with Jeremy's broad brush accusation, repeated a couple times: "The assumption must be, given the weight of the evidence: if you are an evangelical Christian leader, you are among the most immoral people in the country."

          These types of accusations do not apply to Billy Graham, or to James Dobson, or to Rick Warren, or to John Piper, or to many other evangelical leaders. But I heard the pain in Jeremy's comment, and wanted to remark on that topic (wasted life). I know when Alfred remarks there is also a tendency to pile on him, but such is the case when one presents an opposing view to the majority on a board who have a different view. I am praying for Alfred, for Jeremy and others, and for Bill Gothard. May the Lord bring repentance and revival! We all have things we need to repent of.

        • MatthewS February 21, 2014

          Nice! Thanks for that, LynnCD. And I could not agree more with the need for the majority here to be respectful of dissenting voices. It's easier for almost everyone to agree to the golden rule in theory than in practice!

        • dreamer February 21, 2014

          I disagree that his comment would have been fine except for that. He has made a blanket indictment of every evangelical leader in existence today. That is not OK, any more than it is OK to say that all Muslims are terrorists or all atheists are anarchists who don't care about right and wrong.

    • David February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred -- Jesus Christ promised that the Spirit of God would guide us into all Truth, and that we would know the Truth, and it would set us free. When our world is turned upside down and we begin to realize that we have believed lies, it is not a signal to despair or to think that God has let us down. Rather, it is time to rejoice because God has been faithful -- He is keeping His promise to guide us into all Truth. He MUST expose errors and our faith in them in order to keep His promise to guide us into the Truth. Every one of us have believed lies. If not doctrinal lies, then lies that have blinded us to Jesus Christ--lies like our own righteousness. But no one who has been deceived needs to despair once they have seen the Truth. God is faithful. Jesus is the Truth.

    • William Harper February 20, 2014 Reply


      I've read many of your comments and I'm shocked at the line of questioning you take. If this was any other person and the victims were one of your daughters how would you respond? Are you as concerned about the Ted Bundy's of the world as you are about this charlatan that had so many good people fooled? If you would step outside of your own biases and look at this from the outside I'm sure that your perspective would be different.
      Here is my problem with approaching BG as someone who needs protection. David Grossman divides people into three groups Sheep, Wolves, and Sheep Dogs.
      BG has demonstrated behavior that illustrates that he is a wolf. I know from personal experience that he is not impressed with Sheep dogs. When I left working at HQ to join the military BG told me directly to my face that he had always thought of military service as something for other people to do people that couldn't do anything else. This was May or June of 2003 the invasion had just happened in March. To me this communicates that the man has no respect for people that are willing to lay down their lives for anything other than his organization. This is a wolf. Wolves don't need protecting Sheep do.

    • Beth February 20, 2014 Reply

      Many people are praying for Bill, Alfred. You ask where is Jesus in this? He is here.... He is unchanged. He can use anything... Even a man with unconfessed sin. So has Bill done nothing for God? I would not say that. You are right that many have been saved through his work, but that does not take away the responsibility for his sin. You mentioned King David's sin. Alfred, the harshness was there. Nathan spoke very harshly to David and God took David's son. The gentleness came after true repentance. That is the desire of so many here!!! Can you imagine if Bill truly repents and humbles himself publicly how much GOOD could come from that? To see GRACE truly in action? Will there be consequences? Of course. But that doesn't mean there will be no love or brotherly concern.

      Praying for you too Alfred, and your family and the many other families who hurt because of the revelations. Keep looking to Jesus. He the only one who won't disappoint us.

    • LynnCD February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, I am praying for Bill. And there are things he has taught that I have found to be true and beneficial in my life. However, given that Bill has admitted to improper behavior during the 1980 scandal, that people I know by name have said years ago it was a known fact that he liked to "hang out" with the girls, and other reports, I believe the testimonies that have been shared here. And I am praying for a proper response to the allegations shared, from Bill and the IBLP board, concerning his behavior - I am praying for them to give the response the Lord would have them give. The emotional damage has been severe, and when it interferes with a person's relationship with God - that is spiritual abuse, and it must be dealt with. Bill has set himself as a teacher of the things of God, and his behavior has not been above reproach, and neither have many of his teachings.

    • phyllis February 20, 2014 Reply

      Yep Alfred, praying that this charlatan who masquerades as a shepherd will be brought to justice by the Good Shepherd.

      2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words Yet you say, "How have we wearied Him?" In that you say, " Everyone who does evil does good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them," or, " Where can we find the God of justice?

    • April February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred...I just wanted to add that I, too, am praying for Bill Gothard. I hope so fervently that the result of all of this will be his full redemption, freedom, and true flourishing. A deep, deep-rooted knowledge that God loves him unconditionally. But those things can only come with repentance, facing the truth instead of hiding it. I can't help but be saddened as I think of the trap he's placed himself in..he believes he must earn God's favor by living up to the standards he preaches, yet in those lonely moments of honesty with himself, it must be tortuous knowing how far short he has fallen.

      I am also praying for the healing and protection of his victims. And for those in spiritual bondage to find freedom. And for the families torn apart by these teachings to be reconciled. (I know some of them.)

      We serve such a wonderful, gracious God. He can do all of these things. And I believe we are seeing Him beginning to work. At least, we have seen victims find the courage and a voice that comes through healing. The unmistakableness of God's hand here is moving me to worship even in my sadness over what we have been reading.

    • William February 20, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, I appreciate your comments. However the difference between David and Bill is that when David was confronted he grieved at what he done and accepted the consequences. Bill has never done either. I have been praying for him for 33 years and will continue to.

      I think that you will find when reading all these stories you will find a very troubled man that wants nor accepts any responsibility for his actions. He surrounds him self with with people that will not hold him accountable.

      This ministry needs to be closed down!

    • WendyA February 21, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, you ask, "Where is Jesus in all of this?" I will tell you.

      He is exactly where he was when he tore through the Temple courtyard, upending tables and thrashing the moneychangers with a whip while demanding that the nest of thieves be expelled so that his Father's house could be turned back into a house of prayer.

      He is exactly where he was when he told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they were whitewashed tombs and broods of vipers and that all their righteousness was empty because they piled all kinds of intricate rules and regulations on the backs of the simple people and had no love or compassion or even common decency toward the less fortunate, and yet thought that they were God's favourites because of their high standards.

      He is also exactly where he was when he lifted a terrified woman to her feet and told her that her sins were forgiven. When he addressed a Samaritan woman and told her that, even if her morals were a little loose, she was at least honest about it. When he lifted a little girl off her deathbed and told her to wake up. When he stood outside a man's tomb with his weeping sisters and said, "Come out of there!" When he took a bunch of little children into his arms and said "Don't forbid them to come to me." When he stood before a doubting, disillusioned follower and said, "It's really me. See, here are the wounds."

      He is comforting the weary and brokenhearted, and he is confronting those who have done harm.

      Alfred, I understand your pain, confusion, fear, and concern in all of this. I would simply say to you that Bill may have had the gospel once. He may have been truly on fire for the Lord's kingdom. But he lost that somewhere along the way and turned to power and pretense. God will only stand by for so long while people pervert his truth and present a false image of him to the world. God will only tolerate the mistreatment of his people for so long. And then he acts.

      And when he steps in to restore integrity and truth, it's painful. It's frightening. It's sad. Like you and many others, I am praying for Bill Gothard. For his board. For his employees, past and present. But above all, that truth will be revealed, that justice will be served, and that, ultimately, grace becomes real to all of us.

      • GuyS February 22, 2014 Reply

        WendyA When I get rich, I want to hire you to write for me!!

      • Tangent February 22, 2014 Reply

        What a wonderful savior! Excellent post, Wendy.

      • kevin February 22, 2014 Reply

        You have a way with words my dear. Powerfully said!

    • Dave February 21, 2014 Reply


      I understand your questions in this comment to be honest and from your heart. What you ask is powerful.

      It is truly sobering to realize that God does not use the wonderful to do His work. He uses regular people with failings and sins. The race is truly not to the swiftest, nor the battle to the strongest—nor is success the result of goodness. Success is from the hand of the Lord and He uses whoever He will along the way.

      I do not doubt that you met Jesus at the seminars and that He spoke to you there. He met Paul along the road to Damascus, but that didn’t make the road holy. He met Lot in Sodom, but that didn’t make Sodom holy. In fact, it is often the case that the Lord inserts Himself into the profane to speak to those He loves.

      The fact that the Holy Spirit used Gothard’s teaching to touch lives says little about Gothard’s heart or the compromises of his life. You might as well ask where the Lord was in Moses’ anger, Samson’s excesses, Hezekiah’s compromises, Elijah’s fear, Peter’s confusion, or John the Baptist’s doubts? The Lord used and lifted up regular people to accomplish great things, but it was His power and goodness all along . . . not theirs.

      When our heroes fall, it hurts. Perhaps they should never have been our heroes. There is only one real Hero. Of course you will appreciate Gothard’s ministry. There are many good memories and feelings associated with it for you. But now the ugly underside is being revealed. It was there all the time. It is always there. Praise the Lord for His willingness to use compromised and broken people! We have no need to defend them from the truth about themselves. Let’s just put our focus on Jesus.

      I grieve with you for the downfall of Gothard’s ministry. Other ministries have ended this way and it is always very sad and disturbing. I grieve for Bill and his family these days and I do pray for them. But I am not surprised.

    • dreamer February 21, 2014 Reply

      >When the outside looks in, they see unmitigated tragedy . . . and Jesus was powerless to stop it. Right? That is the picture presented here, to the world.>

      God see tragedy too, Alfred. Not because a group spoke up to bring abuse to light and try to stop it, but because abuse happened in the first place. If you want to blame someone for making God look bad, point your finger at Gothard, not those trying to bring his false doctrines and evil deeds to light.

      God gives us all free will to choose good or choose evil. Bad things don't happen because God is powerless. Rather, in His great love, He gives us that choice. And some people make the wrong choice, and they and others suffer for it.

    • Sad February 21, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, since you mentioned the story of David allow me an observation about it - David's story is in the Bible, complete, as far as we know. His sins and all, to included adultery and murder. Were they covered up from us? No, not at all. We do not have to seek some alternative period document to find out the true and complete story of his life. They are part of the story and testimony of his life, to be read by millions over the centuries. I think I can assure you, there was probably disdainful chatter about what David had done at the time when the truth became known, but such accounts are not in the Bible. Thankfully, David took his chastisement to heart, repented, and returned to being a man after God's own heart.

      My sincerest hope is that Gothard takes chastisement to heart this time and truly repents. No more obfuscation, finger pointing, and covering up, but rather a frank and open confession of all he has done before and after the 1980 scandals.

      I know you keep saying "but good thing X,Y, or Z came from this ministry!". I think that the Lord has used IBLP/ATI in spite of BG, not because of him.

      I am certain these days are hard on you. I know they would be hard on me if I were still living within the belief system that I picked up from the Seminars. God will meet you. Not any man.

    • Heidi February 21, 2014 Reply

      I'm praying for the many victims, including you Alfred.

  30. greg February 20, 2014 Reply

    Thank the Lord this sin is starting to come to light

  31. David Pigg February 20, 2014 Reply

    On another level,for all these years since the start of the scandal,there has been spiritual warfare between light and darkness,good and evil,spiritual life and spiritual death.Its my opinion that Ruth Gabriel will receive a crown upon her head.Well done thou good and faithful servant.

  32. Joanna February 20, 2014 Reply

    Alfred, you said

    "I heard Him in the Seminars. He was there. He has never left me. So . . . that makes me wonder . . . if maybe it wasn't all evil after all. Maybe He really likes some of the things Bill has done, or tried to do. We act as though He doesn't really exist . . . or doesn't care . . . or will not call our every thought, word, action into accountability. As in . . . the buck stops right there"

    Are you seriously saying here that the abuses that happened 'weren't all evil after all'? That Jesus, who said 'if any man causes one of these my little ones to sin, better it were for him that a millstone were placed around his neck and he were cast into the depths of the sea' would ALLOW these children to be abused, to be the masturbation fantasy of a sick man, so that Bill Gothard could win souls to God? That he 'likes some of the things Bill tried to do'?

    Jesus gives us free will, Alfred. Bill chose to do these things WITH FREE WILL. He committed the Catholic definition of a mortal sin, a sin for which he condemned others. 'Grave matter, full knowledge, full consent' He was a grown man who abused his power to sexually abuse young girls.

    And you still defend him? How can you call yourself a Christian? How can you sit there and even attempt to claim that this 'wasn't all evil'?

    Listen to yoursef, Alfred. Christians and non Christians everywhere are watching you NOT condemn Bill Gothard, watching you condone, excuse, beg for pity and avoid the issue of Bill's sin. I have watched this blog and read your comments for many days now and not ONCE have you expressed any empathy with the women whom your master betrayed. Not once have you condemned his actions.

    It is your Christianity, not just Bill's that disgusts and repels.

  33. Jonathan Owens February 20, 2014 Reply

    I would like to ask kindly to leave Alfred alone and pray for him as he struggles thru all of this mess. Pray for him instead.

    • "Shane" February 20, 2014 Reply

      But Dude man, we all love Alred!

    • Jonathan Owens February 20, 2014 Reply

      I was heartbroken and in tears for many long days when I realized God's grace had nothing to do with my actions. It was overwhelming to the point of me being unable to function. God loves unconditionally, end of story.

      • Joy May 28, 2014 Reply

        and hopefully that realization of His grace will lead to a full surrender to the One Who loves us with such an incomprehensible love-so that He can take away our sin and enable us as we stay close to Him to walk in His righteousness. He saves us from our sins-He doesn't save us in our sin. It's a matter of our own choice -who we obey shows who we love

    • John February 20, 2014 Reply

      Jonathon, Alfred might be struggling with this but He has the worst case of denial I have ever seen. sorry man have to say no. I love Alfred but letting him be wont help him. So long as he contributes I will respond. I sat watching this site pretty much from the beginning and stayed dead silent up until recently.

      Good one RG keep going

      • Joanna February 21, 2014 Reply

        I agree, John. I have said nothing either, until now, and other than replying to you now, I hope not to say anything again. But I could not let this blatant denial continue without making a small protest on behalf of the deceived and betrayed.

        However, Alfred too was deceived and betrayed, and one must, and does have compassion for that. But for all of us there comes a time in life when we sit, look at ourselves and say, 'Until now I never knew myself - never knew my blindness'. That hurts. Ignoring the hurt and pretending that there is an excuse, a reason, an explanation for the behaviour that has wounded us, the abuse that has tormented us, doesn't mend the hurt. It continues to enable the abuser, by colluding in the ongoing abuse, not turning boldly and saying 'until this day, not only did I never know myself, I never knew you. You, my deceiver, can deceive me no longer, because I know the truth, and the truth sets me free.'

        In the same way that these children were victims of Bill, Alfred has been a victim of Bill. He has been manipulated and manoeuvred, flummeried and finessed into a situation where his own self worth appears to be predicated on Bill's continuing god-like status. To admit that Bill was wrong would clearly be to tear at the foundations of Alfred's selfhood. It is a terrible indictment of Bill Gothard that he has done this to so many, to the hindrance and peril of their relationship with the only mediator needed, Jesus.

        To call it as one sees it is not to refuse prayer, Jonathan. Speech is free here.

        Thank you, RG, for allowing me to comment. I commend your thoroughness and grace. I will continue to follow this story with interest and sadness, and hope not to speak again.

        • GuyS February 22, 2014

          Joanna, as far as I am concerned, you can speak anytime. I hope you do.

          You said, "He has been manipulated and manoeuvred, flummeried and finessed into a situation where his own self worth appears to be predicated on Bill's continuing god-like status. To admit that Bill was wrong would clearly be to tear at the foundations of Alfred's selfhood."

          About 20 years ago, I could put my own name instead of Alfred's (in above paragraph) and it would have described my condition exactly.

          It is so cool to be on this site, in the middle of all this mess, and see stuff written out for the first time. Stuff that is in your heart and in your painful experience, but your own words fail.

          Bless you for speaking up and saying stuff some of us cannot articulate.

  34. Samuel Lundmark February 20, 2014 Reply

    The words of Jesus to the credentialed in casting out demons, doing miracles and wonderous works in Jesus' name yet who failed to know Jesus Christ Himself personally are the saddest words in the entire Bible, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." All the good stuff yet all for nothing because the relationship itself went missing.

    The saddest thing isn't if we reject someone who does good works. The saddest thing is if the one doing good works does not know the grace and love of Jesus Christ deeply so that it changes them and they know His voice and follow Him.

  35. Dave Shank February 20, 2014 Reply

    Someone needs to call the HBO investigators and get this word out there. How sickening. What a sham to the name of Christianity. I thought I knew a LOT about BG, but this article was ALL new information.

    • Eileen Scipione February 24, 2014 Reply

      HBO will not do a balanced job telling this story. Ask World Magazine to do it.

  36. Pam February 20, 2014 Reply

    My heart aches for all the people affected. I called Headquarters today to see when they would issue a statement. They said that something was composed yesterday. When I asked how people would be notified he didn't know. They are hurting there.
    Our family was deeply hurt through the ATI ministry back in the 90's. Yet my hearts breaks for all the people still there. "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and he saves those crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18. I have been so blessed by most of the posts, The students of Ati exhibit such grace. I think we parents can learn from you.
    God is there and he does care. It is not too late for Mr. Gothard to repent. It is not the will of the Father that any should perish but to come to repentance.
    Thank you RG, God has used you to open conversations with our family about the legalism and cult like atmosphere we raised our children with. We are grateful to God that they are all Christians but a few have said that their childhood was depressing with all the rules. When we were in the process of leaving ATI I had a nervous breakdown because I felt like a failure as a mother because I lived in fear of being humiliated in Knoxville for some failure in our family. I was terrified that our son would get kicked out of headquarters because our Pastor's daughter wrote to our son at headquarters. What a hold satan had on me with fear.
    These families that are still involved with the ministry need our prayers as much as the victims do. They are watching their dreams
    fade and they will have a time of questioning their faith.
    Praying with you all

    • D..... February 20, 2014 Reply many parents were like you. Glad your kids are well. And you are right...the measured, intelligent, godly responses of so many former ATI students on this site is an indication of how they were raised. Many parents were loving, supportive and committed to Christ....this shows through with the kids. Some parents were extreme, and yet somehow God was faithful. And you are right....the current staff families need our prayers. Blessings.

  37. Heidi February 20, 2014 Reply

    I stopped reading after that paragraph where Steve goes wild trying to get any one of his former victims to marry him, even asking a girl which ones would be most likely, and proposing to Three, over the phone!?!, in the same day.

    I would be laughing only it's not funny.

    • Brumby February 20, 2014 Reply

      [insert a lengthy Snoopy-like giggle here!]

      (Ed. Note: Don't forget, Snoopy prefers also to point while laughing wildly at his muse.)

      I can appreciate the humor in all the ridiculousness. I enjoy a good laugh at what used to bring me sorrow and darkness. If there is one thing I can take away from ATI, it's that laughter truly is like a medicine! Fo' sho!

  38. jar February 20, 2014 Reply

    Regarding: "Another recorded flight took them to dinner in Bayfield, Michigan, a two-hour drive by car."

    I appreciate all of the work that went into this article, and so I'd like to point out a minor discrepancy in the pilot's log and this article. Ashland and Bayfield are towns in northern Wisconsin, not Michigan (and yes, a 2 hour drive). There is no Bayfield, Michigan; and although an Ashland township does exist, it is 8 hours away from the Northwoods.

    • GuyS February 20, 2014 Reply

      Thank you Jar. I like this well thought out (diverse division of labor?) comment. I wouldn't have caught this. For me, this does not distract.It inspires confidence that there is a host of people carefully watching.

    • Moderator February 20, 2014 Reply

      Props to an eagle-eyed fact-checker! Indeed, Bayfield is in WI, not MI.

      The two trips, then, are a round-trip to Ashland, MI (8 hour drive followed by dinner in Bayfield, WI (2 hour drive )

    • Larne Gabriel February 21, 2014 Reply

      My mistake in misidentifying where the western upper peninsula of Michigan state line ended and Wisconsin’s began when I transfer the data from my log book to this old document 33 years ago. We landed at the Ashland, WI airport and drove to Bayfield, WI and ate at the Old Rittenhouse Inn. I remember it being a fabulous meal. The restaurant was in an old house and the proprietors were a couple from the city that had given up their professions to run the inn and restaurant. If I recall since there were no rental cars available, one of the staff men drove a van 80+ miles from the Northwood to the Ashland Airport and took us to Bayfield another 20 miles. It seemed like a lot of extra logistical effort for Steve to impress the Northwoods staff women. Thanks for the correction.

      Larne Gabriel

  39. Joel Horst February 20, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, Recovering Grace, for your hard work in bringing all this to light. This is absolutely sickening and repulsive. I want to share a passage from 1 John that I think is critical that we all remember:

    1 John 3:1-10
    1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
    2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
    3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
    4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law [literally, "commits iniquity"]: for sin is the transgression of the law.
    5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
    6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
    7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he [Jesus] is righteous.
    8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
    9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
    10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

    (Note: Bill's teaching is NOT the reason I use the KJV!)

    I think that passage nails Bill pretty squarely. If Bill actually knew Jesus and was a real, true follower of Jesus, he would never act the way he does. He would be honest, pure, moral and above reproach.

    I used to think that Bill was honest, pure, moral and above reproach. No more.

  40. "Hannah" February 20, 2014 Reply

    Anyone else feel like the "unsigned confession" was just so much "blah, blah, blah" bs? I was quite annoyed at his explanations of "why" this happened; his "insights" into the situation. Man up!!

  41. ChrisM February 20, 2014 Reply

    The final paragraph of this article is perhaps the saddest, when all that had been done to expose, reveal and remove a horribly wrong situation and dismiss the perpetrators was washed away in 17 days. The only thing I can figure out is that all the people who knew better didn't report what they knew when BG's new home school curriculum came out because they still believed his teaching, still thought it was biblical, still believed it was wrong to give "an evil report" even though they had witnessed all the sexual immorality, all the cover-up, stone-wall techniques and uncaring attitudes of the Gothard family, as well as the gross money misuse. I guess they felt that what BG was DOING, his "proven ministry of helping others live good lives through his teaching" was more important than his own perverse character That doesn't make much sense but why else would those who knew the truth have stayed silent so this is still going on 34 years later?
    Since it doesn't appear likely that BG will ever step down, perhaps the only way to free the Christian culture in our nation from his influence is to continue sharing and spreading the truth herein until all have heard and no one supports him in any way any longer. Hopefully other influential leaders in the home school ranks will step up to the plate to get the truth out.

  42. John February 20, 2014 Reply

    seems the word is getting out here's an interesting post

    • Sad February 21, 2014 Reply

      I also found this blog entry by a Baptist preacher of note. I appreciate his passion about the victims.

      He is very passionate about what BG has done to the girls who worked for him.

  43. JPU February 20, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for sharing the link, John. Glad the word is getting out.
    Yes, pray for Alfred and his family. We do realize, right, that should IBLP/ATI close down, his son will be unemployed. Many others will be unemployed. And if there are still those who work lots of overtime, when are they gonna have a chance to look for another job? So yeah, pray for Bill. Pray for Alfred. Pray for those on the board and their families. Pray for the Duggars. You get the idea. Thanks for all your hard work, RG. I continue to pray for you as well.

  44. Sheila Warner February 20, 2014 Reply

    My church leaders came under the thrall of IBYC in the 70s. The church sponsored trips to his seminars, and my father purchased "Character Sketches" as a devotional which he read to us every night after dinner. The pastor preached Scripture a la Gothard interpretation style, & Gothard's principles wreaked havoc within our family. I am 58, and the harm done by this teaching still reverberates throughout my family to this day.

    Also, only one person on here called out by name what really happened to the women at Northwoods--rape. Force does not have to be physical. The mental brainwashing and manipulation removed any consent out of the picture. And, rapists belong in jail.

    I am so sickened by all of this. I want to share it with my parents but I just know it would do no good. They cling to their theology fiercely. They are wonderful people and I love them dearly, but they have been deceived by false teaching.

    I have that "Character Sketches" on my book shelf here at my house, the original one my dad used. I always loved the art. I didn't know Steve had a thing to do with it. That book is headed to the trash heap.

    • horse February 21, 2014 Reply

      "Also, only one person on here called out by name what really happened to the women at Northwoods--rape. Force does not have to be physical. The mental brainwashing and manipulation removed any consent out of the picture. And, rapists belong in jail."

      Yes, and the fact that Bill sent women to the Northwoods where he had sent Steve is akin to trafficking these women.

    • Brumby February 21, 2014 Reply

      Trash! Heap! Trash! Heap! Trash! Heap!


      • Brumby February 21, 2014 Reply

        Oh - my "trash heap" cheer was in response to Sheila Warner. :)

  45. Sarah Vose February 21, 2014 Reply

    I understand why so many succumb to false teaching. What's harder for me than following a "how to raise Godly children" manual is to seek God daily (sometimes hourly and minute-by-minute)for wisdom in how to love my children as He loves (including setting boundaries as well as offering grace). This goes for loving my spouse and my neighbors, too! Your articles, RG, have been a good reminder to seek the Lord's wisdom, not man's, in my parenting and in every aspect of life. The betrayal that so many are experiencing and the effort and time it will take to heal make me angry and sad. Paul Miller says something like, "The spirit of the age is cynisim." Even as we struggle with these revelations of Gothard's sin, I pray we will not grow cynical, but instead be encouraged by what revelation of truth can do to free us from crippling bondage to the solutions of man. Thanks, RG, for what you do to that end! Might we seek God's revelation of our own sin, so that we might then be free to walk in His everlasting way (Psalm 139: 23-24).

  46. Nancy February 21, 2014 Reply

    Meanwhile, while people deal with their feelings about Bill Gothard, IBLP and ATI, there are teenage girls and young women at Headquarters still being subjected to unwanted sexual advances by a 79-year-old man. Pray that God will soon deliver them from this sinful situation.

  47. Jeremy Richardson February 21, 2014 Reply

    I was watching the news this morning, and they were talking about someone being "defrauded". What an evil genius Bill GOthard is! Orwellian.

    If when we say "Bill Gothard defrauded me" -- e.g. took our money, some families didn't EAT to pay his dues, my family didn't have vacations anymore post-Knoxville --- that means one thing to his followers and one thing to every other English speaking person on earth.

    Talking about sowing confusion!

    And while Bill Gothard was re-defining what the word "defraud" meant,
    he was doing both what the traditional definition suggests
    AND his modified definition!

    Doublethink is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.[1] Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Somewhat related but almost the opposite is cognitive dissonance, where contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one's mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance — thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.

    • MatthewS February 21, 2014 Reply

      I've been studying one of the booklets that was written by him (or someone for him, whichever) around some of these events. He can be very slick with words. He redefines a custom term for his own purposes, and then drops that term in places where it does not raise eyebrows because a casual reader would assume he means the normal definition. But then a quick switcheroo and he's got you verbally backed into a corner, and you aren't quite sure just how you got there.

      • Lori February 22, 2014 Reply

        Brilliant analysis, Matthew. I've seen it. It's diabolically clever.

      • GuyS February 22, 2014 Reply

        Brilliant analysis indeed!! This is very helpful. If you were "verbally backed into a corner, and you aren't quite sure just how you got there." then maybe I should not beat myself up for getting "sucked in.". I have spent lots of years trying to process this madness without RC. Sure enough, with RC it is easier!! Thanks for your part Matt.

        • GuyS February 22, 2014

          RC = RG

      • dreamer February 23, 2014 Reply

        Doug Phillips is fond of saying "he who defines the term, wins." Sounds like BG has changed some definitions and softened others in order to shield himself from criticism and to sow seeds of confusion in the body. If others can't say for sure what he did or did not do, then it becomes more difficult to catch him in a lie or in bad behavior.

  48. Lynn February 21, 2014 Reply

    ChrisM, you said "The only thing I can figure out is that all the people who knew better didn't report what they knew when BG's new home school curriculum came out because they still believed his teaching, still thought it was biblical, still believed it was wrong to give "an evil report" even though they had witnessed all the sexual immorality, all the cover-up, stone-wall techniques and uncaring attitudes of the Gothard family, as well as the gross money misuse. I guess they felt that what BG was DOING, his "proven ministry of helping others live good lives through his teaching" was more important than his own perverse character That doesn't make much sense but why else would those who knew the truth have stayed silent so this is still going on 34 years later?"
    They tried but Bill Gothard had all the power and money to cover it up. If we wanted to research IBLP or ATI in the 80's and 90's before we joined, our only resource would have been microfish at the library. Maybe there was an article on there. There was no Facebook, Google, or Yahoo. Most of the people didn't have a home computer.
    Let's be glad that we have a voice now.

    • ChrisM February 21, 2014 Reply

      Lynn, I think I understand now, after reading the chronology posted today. I realize that BG is not only all I have just learned in regards to toxic teaching, sexual abuse, money misuse, cover-up, etc. but he is also a type of thug who expertly intimidates others to stay in power. He continually employs manipulation, domination and intimidation to get and keep his way, with surpassing skill.

  49. […] Editor’s Note: Previously we explored events surrounding the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC) scandal that culminated in 1980 with Bill Gothard’s resignation and quick reinstatement as president of that organization, which would later be renamed the Institute In Basic Life Princples (IBLP). You can read the Introduction here, Part One here, and Part Two here. […]

  50. Samuel Lundmark February 21, 2014 Reply

    Now I know:

    1. The teachings of IBLP and ATI were morally bankrupt even before most of us got in.
    2. The teachings are indeed another gospel.
    3. The emporer was indeed wearing no clothes.
    4. The little guys shouting #3 all along were right.
    5. The Bible remains true in spite of Bill or IBLP.
    6. A personal walk with Jesus listening and obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit is the only way to live all of life.

    • Eileen Scipione February 24, 2014 Reply

      Please add the Word of God to your definition. BG was/is wrong to put so much emphasis on
      "Prompting". Studying the Scriptures humbly and in context is essential. Then praying for the wisdom and discernment promised in James 1:5 is vital for application. But BG's subjective following of a mysterious feeling is not helpful. Dr. Jay E. Adams had a conversation with BG decades ago trying to warn BG about this dangerous view of guidance. Obviously BG was not teachable or humble.

      • Samuel Lundmark February 24, 2014 Reply

        Absolutely, Eileen--100% agreed. I didn't clearly state that in my previous post, but I am glad to express it as clearly as I can here.

        I believe the authority of Scripture is that of the Holy Spirit and it is the text in its context.

        To violate either the text or context in loyalty to my own thoughts is to sin against the Holy Spirit Himself. That's dangerous, and not something to be passed off.

        To ignore the context of Scripture, or downplay it in any way in an attempt to make the text say something different is not simply my thoughts against another's. To pick my thoughts over the text in its context is to refuse to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. I believe this leads to more darkness as I begin to lose sight of the truth due to my rejection of some truth.

        Of course this gets in the way of some of my 'favorite messages' that I might like to lift from the text. That's just too bad for my thoughts and ideas, and I simply have to lay them down. I have come to learn that new ideas and concepts are rarely the friend of those who wish to be teachers or prophets who remain true to God. If I am studying the Word for my significance, well, I need to lay that down too.

        We don't set the rules about the message of Scripture--that is settled in Heaven. The Scripture is not about my ideas or how creative I can be in interpretation or application. It is about God's message. If I get that wrong, I've got it wrong.

  51. Deb February 21, 2014 Reply

    Luke 12:1-3 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

    For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.

    Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

    In all of Bill Gothards attempts to cover things up, he could not have anticipated at that time the day we live in now, and how the internet has - in a sense - made it possible for these dirty deeds to be shouted from the housetops.

    Recovering Grace is here " ... for such a time as this."

    I believe God is very much involved here, and as shown in these verses, He desires for things covered up to be brought to light. Bill Gothard is being given yet another opportunity to come clean - for real, for good. That is love. That is grace. It is not evil being done to him - it is grace.

  52. JC February 21, 2014 Reply

    May I offer a caution: some of you are posting some harsh judgements here. "He who is without sin among you cast the first stone." Please, I'm not advocating anything this ministry or Gothard has done. I'm just pointing out that the very people who are accusing Bill of harshly judging and demoting others are making it their mission to judge and demote him. Remember, Bill Gothard is ultimately accountable to God, just as we all are. I see so little love in these posts—I thought love what what defined Christians. I'm sure each of us has enough sins to fill a website, including each of the girls who were harassed. How would you respond if your every sin were posted in detail on a website for everyone to read and offer their distain? Would you humbly repent? If you do feel compelled to post on a website like this, "let your speech be always with grace" as befits redeemed children of God. Colossians 4:6

    "No man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that THE LORD is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified." 1 Thes. 4:6

    • Ryan Sapp February 21, 2014 Reply


      Bill has been telling us about our sins for a long long time. His is actually the one living out that verse now. We all have a pile of stones Bill hit us over the head with.

    • Dave February 21, 2014 Reply

      Love is being an advocate for the downtrodden and abused.

      Love is waiting months, even years, while carefully checking stories and facts.

      Love is hours and hours of interviews, seeking godly counsel, and praying.

      Love is presenting the truth without embellishment or anger.

      Love is letting people express their horror and anger and frustration without being moved to action by their emotions.

      Love is allowing the dissenting voice, even when it hurts those who have already been hurt.

      Love is patiently and methodically laying out the facts, with hearts open for correction.

      Love is what I have seen from the RG team over the past years, both toward Gothard and toward those he has hurt.

      In an open comment line, emotions will be expressed and statements will be made that are intense and even inappropriate. That’s to be expected. And, if it gets too bad, it may have to be controlled. But love allows anger and pain to be released so that healing can be found.

      I see lots of love here.

      • Shelley Randolph Romey February 21, 2014 Reply

        What Dave said!

    • Jonathan Owens February 21, 2014 Reply

      For those of us who have been in Bill's influence for the last 35 years, harsh judgements are in order.

      • David February 21, 2014 Reply

        Actually, God's first judgment upon those under error is to bring light. Embrace the Truth and forsake error and you will have not only been judged, but you will have agreed with God's judgment. You will be set free. Refuse the light God brings and the following judgment will be exactly what you have chosen: Greater darkness. God is redemptive. But we do have a choice.

      • JC February 21, 2014 Reply

        I've been under his influence too—I spent five years working for him and I understand the issues. But because I follow Christ, He has been the ultimate influence in my life so I can trust those years to Him and keep on being faithful myself. I'm not lifting Gothard up, I'm just encouraging caution in taking him down. Let's remember we all have sin natures and make sure our integrity and Christianity aren't being compromised while exposing the failures of another. "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

    • MatthewS February 21, 2014 Reply

      I appreciate this reminder, JC. I think the time has come to speak up, but may we remember to speak up with an eye to the long-term good, not just a short-term expose.

      • greg r February 22, 2014 Reply

        @MattewS: very well said, thank you.

    • TiaraLi February 21, 2014 Reply

      I feel frustrated when christians confuse the terms 'sin' and 'crime' in order to try and minimise the latter.

      All sin. We are not all guilty of sexual abuse, harassment, or trafficking. The bible makes it clear that we are not to use the bible to cover up crimes (Romans 13).

      What makes it worse is that Gothard claimed to be a teacher and represented God while committing these crimes. This must be dealt with, because God himself was slandered by Bill's actions.

      I also feel frustrated when I see people try and cover abuse by saying, "what do outsiders see when they hear us discuss such things?" Abuse will come to light. There is no way to keep it hidden forever. We have two choices, do we want to see that all christians stay silent and help abusers by covering up their crimes, and let them think that God is truly evil? Or do we let them see that while some evil men use religion to abuse others, most christians are good people who love the truth and will not cover up evil?

      • 'Megan' February 21, 2014 Reply

        God himself was slandered by Bill's actions..

        YES! And THAT is what shames the name of Christ, not the Christians who expose and will not tolerate such wrong handling of God's children!

    • Kevin February 21, 2014 Reply

      So, JC, what do you propose we should do? You are suggesting that people use caution, and criticize how it is being handled. but I don't see you suggesting what you would do differently. Should those of us who are now aware of what Bill Gothard has done remain silent? What about women and girls who are currently in danger from him. Do they have the right to know? What about current ATI families who have girls that are 15, 16. 17 years old, pretty girls who fit Gothard's type. They have the right to be cautioned before they head to the upcoming conference?

      • esbee February 22, 2014 Reply

        It is a difficult thing to decide how to go about warning others about what is happening in this situation. To attend a seminar and openly warn others would make the person look like a lunatic and have him/her removed from the premises by security. The attendees have already drunk the Kool-Aid so they would fall back on what they have learned and label the person who would warn them as bitter, heretical, sinful, etc etc and close their minds to listening to anything he/she had to say.

        I liked the idea of the billboard RG did at one of the towns where a BG seminar was held. It welcomed ATI families and invited them to visit the website. Also presenting the warnings in a fashion similar to the printed materials they already are used to is another good thing.

        I like the idea of using the internet to spread the word. Going straight to the head (BG) is a good idea, but going to those who are on the board is also a good idea. I think RG is wise not to rush headlong into anything without thinking and planning. And proceeding slowly and being open to change is also a good thing.

        I understand that young girls may be in harm's way, but a quick move without thinking will cause RG to look bad, It may cement the teaching that those who rebel against BG are bitter and going against God himself.

        Ask any of the ladies who have given testimony here on this site how they would have reacted if a stranger had come to them and warned them about BG.

        Trust must be earned and that takes time.

        • kevin February 22, 2014

          Good points Esbee.
          Yes, it is difficult to know the right way to spread the word. I agree with your comments and think the billboard was a great idea. Also, the internet has been a great tool to spread the word and I have used Facebook and email to reach many friends, directly influenced and indirectly influenced by ATI. Many read and many eyes have been opened.
          Pray for me tonight, as I am likely to see a few of them- pray that God will give me the words to use, if He wills for the topic of Bill Gothard to come up.

        • esbee February 22, 2014

          "Pray for me tonight, as I am likely to see a few of them- pray that God will give me the words to use, if He wills for the topic of Bill Gothard to come up."

          Wear a T- shirt, navy blue with white collar, that says...

          "Wanna know what's on my mind?"

        • kevin February 23, 2014

          Haha! Yes the t-shirt would have been a good conversation starter. Although I opted not to go that route, there were some good conversations.

      • JC February 22, 2014 Reply

        Of course those who are involved should be made aware of the situation. I informed those I know in the program of what's going on, but I was very careful about it. I want to be led by the Holy Spirit in how I address other people's sin. My caution remains: posting threats to Gothard or venting frustration on how appalling his crimes are on this website isn't stopping him or helping those who have been or could be hurt. If you really want to help, prayerfully get involved with real people, don't just post your judgements on this website. And that's all I have to say.

        • kevin February 22, 2014

          I understand and I would agree that getting involved with real people prayerfully is the best way to inform others. I've been doing that in my personal life, as I have many friends who are under Gothard's influence. I feel that God has given me the right words to use, when I needed them. Pray for me tonight, as I will be seeing a few and the topic may come up.

        • dreamer February 23, 2014

          I have yet to see any threats posted against Mr. Gothard, unless you mean the threat of legal action. Which, in my opinion, is justified in this situation.

          And why do you assume that those in charge of this website, or those leaving comments, are NOT being led by the Holy Spirit?

  53. Courtney Blackmann February 22, 2014 Reply

    There has been a lot of talk outside this website thatt RG specifically will not post comments that are not bashing IBLP. The the unwillingness of the website to post both sides of the argument is reducing its credibility in the public forum. Please allow both sides of the debate to post as this will stop rumors about RG trying to sensationalize facts.

    • Moderator February 22, 2014 Reply

      We assure you that this is not the case. Moderation is only used in cases of profanity, personal attacks on other commenters, and discussions that veer too far off topic. Our experience is that those who claim that we only allow one-sided commentary are ones who have been moderated for one of those reasons.

    • Sad February 22, 2014 Reply

      Courtney take a few hours and read the conversation threads at the end of the topics. There are people who attempt to defend BG/ATI/IBLP all over the place. Are they in the minority? Sure. But they ARE here. Your argument is invalid.

      • Courtney Blackmann February 22, 2014 Reply

        'Sad' you are correct the comments are a small minority. Many people feel one reason is because many of the responses that are neutral or not anti ATI have been censored. I understand from RG's explanation to me that they felt the comments were moderated because they had profanity, personal attacks, or too far off topic. I did not notice those characteristics in comments I know were censored but understand RG is the decision maker here and respect that they have a better perspective than I do to judge which comments would cause unnecessary contention on here. I only wanted to send them a note to encourage impartial moderation as it is causing rumors that are attack the credibility of the site. The crux of my 'argument' was to allow both sides to post without over censoring one side more than the other. I know both sides exist, but it seems that RG is censoring more on the pro IBLP side to prevent positive things from coming to light. I'd liek to point out I'm not trying to 'argue' here. Its a rather vitrolic characterization. I was only conveying a concern to RG. Also I didn't know how to email them privately so I sent this message and assumed it would be censored. The fact that it was not is one demonstration that RG has noted that concern and is acting impartially towards my comment. Thanks,

        • Shane February 22, 2014


          Hopefully you'll be able to at least partially correct that rumor.

        • Nancy2 February 22, 2014

          The email function is at the bottom of the page. I have used it when I had questions about different articles and didn't want to disrupt the flow of the comment section. I was amazed at how quickly they answered my questions. RC has been very forthcoming in their responses.

        • Courtney Blackmann February 22, 2014

          Thanks Nancy, I appreciate you pointing that out to me. I see it now!

        • MatthewS February 22, 2014

          Courtney, a gentle nudge: have you personally seen evidence of reasonable comments that this site refused to post? If not, then are you in danger of spreading a rumor that may not be true? Just for example... I notice your comment posted :-)

          On the flip side, as far as I know, IBLP / ATI will remove and block anyone who comments negatively on their fb page and they allow no negative comments on their site. But perhaps there is a pro-Gothard site that you can point out where dissent is allowed?

          Not trying to be rude, just interacting with the concern you stated.

        • Courtney Blackmann February 23, 2014

          Hey Matthew, Thanks for your feedback. Yes there was a comment I watched my friend post but it was rejected, in addition to hearing about others. I see now that RG has posted a comment on the thread my friend was trying to post on that no further comments are being accepted for that thread. So perhaps they hadn't posted that notice yet while she was trying to post. I appreciate your concern though.

        • Courtney Blackmann February 23, 2014

          Also, I noted in my message that contrary to what I thought would happen, RG did in fact post my message so I already agree with you on that point. Thanks,

        • Courtney Blackmann February 23, 2014

          With respect to the Mr Gothard supporter website, I think the one you may be referring to is the facebook group. I think there is a difference between a website that is trying to find the objective truth (RG) vs. a "Friends of Mr.Gothard" group that has explicitly stated it would only post pro Mr. Gothard messages to show support to a "friend". I'm not saying its right, I'm just saying I don't think its analogous. If there were to be an equivalent RG group for IBLP supporters I agree with you that it should not be censored.

        • MatthewS February 23, 2014

          Cool, thanks for the update, Courtney. Best wishes.

  54. Shawn February 22, 2014 Reply

    I think it's obvious that BG has major flaws in his theology and ministry methods... mafia style business that he labeled ministry. I know God will judge him for it... BUT, is anyone else bothered that BG literally pimped girls out to his perv brother, and all that anyone (once it was brought to light) asked him to do was APOLOGIZE (which he wouldn't even do)?? Last time I checked, pimping is illegal. Actually, I think pimping is the wrong word... the girls didn't get any monetary favors from what I read (unless you count the offer to marry into the Gothard Family - excuse me while I shudder). Sex trafficking would be a better term. I'm sorry, but there needs to be (should of been* - but the "board" failed to act on it) legal consequences for his abuse of power, not just a "confession" and revoking of his "minister" status. If the SOL stops legal action, then at least civilly hold him accountable for the slave labor tactics he used throughout his ministry career and halt the spread of this heretic. It's great that this stuff is being discussed and condemned as wrong, but I'd like to see someone step up and actually demand justice for the victims, not just express sympathy.

    • Sad February 22, 2014 Reply

      Actually, I think there are quite a few people here who demand justice for the victims. I surely do myself, but the victims would have to be the ones who make the efforts to make police reports and demand investigations in spite of the SoL having expired.

      I think both the FBI and IRS would have a potential case to investigate here based on interstate activities involving the "recruitment" of the girls who became the victims. and the obvious blurring of and misuse of Ministry funds and material.

      I can hope & pray for Justice, but as an outsider who only attended the Seminars (thankfully no more!) that is all I can do. We are seeing the results of decades worth of belief that "giving an evil report equals do NOT report evil & illegal activities" which is a mindset that is going to take years to overcome. I think the work here at RG is just beginning. It will take much effort and prayer to expose everything that has happened, and cleared up. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

  55. kevin February 22, 2014 Reply

    " If the SOL stops legal action, then at least civilly hold him accountable for the slave labor tactics he used throughout his ministry career and halt the spread of this heretic."

    If his employment tactics have continued to the present,there is the possibility of an enormous class action, to claim back pay for overtime that was never paid.

  56. Tangent February 22, 2014 Reply

    This is not a comment on the thread, but on the article.
    After thinking about all that has been revealed in these recent articles on RG, this morning in my quiet time alone, it all came to a head and I spent time weeping with grief. I feel so betrayed by those we trusted, and we didn't lose as much as many who were more deeply damaged by ATI/IBLP. Our son went out to headquarters to work at the printing press. He asked us if he could go when he saw the "opportunity" in the monthly ATI newsletter. It was supposed to be a two-year commitment, but after several months, he packed all his stuff into his little truck when he came home for Thanksgiving. We talked him into going back to at least finish one year. Now I wish we had listened more closely and asked him to clarify his feelings and reasons for wanting to come home.
    Would it be possible to file a class action suit against BG and IBLP/ATI?

    • David February 22, 2014 Reply

      Three times in my life I have witnessed the collapse of what seemed to be invulnerable kingdoms of Satan. Each time these happened without much forewarning. But they did not happen because of lawsuits, politics, or any of the efforts of man. They fell because of prayer, a desire for God's will and interests, and the commitment of people to ask God to do whatever it took to get His will. It is also vital to remember that we war NOT against MERELY flesh and blood. It is likewise important to remember that most Gothardites are DECEIVED. They cannot presently see the truth. But my prayer is nothing short of the complete exposure and collapse of the entire kingdom built around Bill Gothard. That won't guarantee that individuals will forsake his teachings, but it will open the prison doors. I believe that this is what God wants to do.

      • Samuel Lundmark February 22, 2014 Reply

        David, I am praying in agreement for the same thing. I am calling now for all of IBLP to fall--immediately and completely.

        Those who choose to remain in the error of their ways will do so because God grants them freewill to rebel against Him. He grants them time to repent in His mercy.

        This is entirely a spiritual battle.

    • MatthewS February 22, 2014 Reply

      Your comment about it all hitting that tipping point where you weep about it: that happened for me the other day reading one of the articles. A friend shared a link to the song "healing rain." I sat there with my face in my hands sobbing my guts out for a few minutes as I listened, just feeling the pain of disappointment, betrayal, loss. All the potential, all the bright, trusting eyes, all the hopes and dreams. Of course there was a lot of good stuff - it's not all a loss by any stretch. But the pain and devastation is impossible to measure. From my gut sometimes I just groan and cry out to God, "how long, Lord, how long?" But all that said - thank God that he can bring healing rain.

    • GuyS February 22, 2014 Reply

      Tangent said "...I spent time weeping with grief. I feel so betrayed by those we trusted, and we didn't lose as much as many who were more deeply damaged by ATI/IBLP. "
      I was probably weeping with you. My work is slow these past 2 weeks. so I have spent way move time on this on RG than I normally do. I am trusting God will continue working in our lives, "He who began a good work..."

  57. CB February 23, 2014 Reply

    I find it appalling the ladies who were victimized by Steve and ultimately, Bill Gothard (by his knowingly sending them into the lion's den), were required to stand in front of the other staff members and "Confess" their involvement with Steve Gothard. They were already humiliated with the actions taken against them and then to be forced to take on the burden of assuming responsibility is like a rape victim being required to explain how she asked to be beaten and raped, how it was their fault. They were victimized! It is disgusting!

    The truth is, anyone who worked at "The Institute" was truly a slave of Gothard. My brother worked there for years. They were all brainwashed and had unrealistic expectations placed on them, or they were deemed disobedient to God and would be sent home in disgrace. He often worked 14-18 hours a day, being paid for only 8 (and by paid, it was maybe $4 an hour). He would get no breaks and even when he was not at work, he was always on call required to come when called, like a dog. Everyone was. No one was permitted to do otherwise.

    Even Satan knows the Word of the Lord, and uses it to serve his own purposes and that is obviously what Bill Gothard and his family did.

    Mark 9:42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."

    The Lord WILL hold Bill and his family accountable. Until then, pray fervently for those whose lives have been negatively impacted by him and his influences and that we will be all be mindful the ONLY TRUTH is in the Lord.

    • kevin February 23, 2014 Reply

      "He often worked 14-18 hours a day, being paid for only 8 (and by paid, it was maybe $4 an hour)."

      There really needs to be a class action suite, for all of the overtime back pay that is owed. By my calculations, if your hourly estimate is accurate, he is owned in the neighborhood of $ 12,000 per year for overtime. It is illegal to not pay people for overtime hours worked. This is a slam dunk case for anyone that wants to organize it. They all deserve compensation for those hours.

      • Sad February 23, 2014 Reply

        Agreed Kevin. Not to mention the taxes that would have generated as well.

        Alas, IBLP is above the law. They think their view of Scripture trumps whatever laws there may be in this land. As an outsider myself, I heartily encourage these previous employees (indentured servants is more like it) to seek recompense for the wages they have been defrauded of.

    • Guy Cooksey April 29, 2014 Reply

      CB, I just finished reading a biography about Frederick Douglas, a slave who escaped to freedom and became a hero to the anti-slavery cause (truly inspiring). While I finished the book, the BG ministry came to my mind. It is almost as if these employees of BG were slaves--emotionally. Lord help us to NEVER act this way toward anybody in our employ or responsibility. People are precious to God and they should be to us. They are not objects to help us with our ministry. THEY ARE OUR MINISTRY!

  58. David February 23, 2014 Reply

    This may sound extreme to some -- but I'm not so sure it is extreme. These seven girls did not have voluntary sex with Steve. They were coerced at best -- under severe psychological and religious pressure. Bill knew what was going on and sent girls to Steve. Then tried to cover it up. How is this any difference than trafficking? How is it any difference than rape? Legally, that might not stand in court. But ACTUALLY, isn't that what happened? In any other environment this would be exactly that. Put yourself in Bill Gothard's place. Your brother is guilty of these things with girls that you know personally. You know what is going on. And you do nothing. In fact, you are responsible for sending some of the girls up to where he is. Then, every night, you get down on your knees and pray to God and....nothing? Rather, you hold seminars with all of your teaching on moral purity and law. You continue to spew forth your pearls of wisdom and direct the lives of others. You claim to speak for God. And it is only when you can no longer hide this that you take action -- you apologize for any hurt you MAY have caused. And you never question your own leadership. In fact, you take action to make sure you can never be fired. It may be 33 years later, but because there was never any repentance, it may as well be 33 years ago. The heretical teachings that made all of this abuse possible continue today. They cover ups do as well. This is exactly what happens in a cult. It is not what happens when people are free in Christ, encouraged and taught to find Him in a personal relationship, and brought under the true gospel of grace. Bill Gothard teaches ANOTHER GOSPEL. And this would be true if there was never any immorality involved. The fact that immorality was involved is simply the outcome of religion that is fully according to the flesh and not the spirit of God.

  59. Leigh February 23, 2014 Reply

    As a parent who was enrolled in ATI for 21 years, I feel the need to say the following....

    First, we had heard of an "issue" with BG's brother, but all we were ever told was he had done something inappropriate with some female staff, and that BG was handling it, and Steve was no longer with the institute. I know some of those raised in ATI wonder why we would be part of a ministry with the immoral issues, but we didn't know all that had happened (remember, there was no internet!)
    Second, many of us were just looking for a way to disciple our children and win their hearts for the Lord. We wanted to use the Wisdom Books as a tool.
    Third, many of us were first generation Christians doing the best we knew.

    I just say this to ask you not to judge your parents too harshly - they truly wanted the best for you, and wanted you to know the God they loved. It grieves us all that has been revealed, and some of the false teaching we promoted. We thought we were doing what God wanted us to do.

    And, finally, I have to say there are some things I am thankful for...
    I'm thankful God can bring beauty from ashes.
    I'm thankful for my wonderful dgtr-in-law that my son met when at headquarters.
    I'm thankful God reminded me that it is not the outside of the cup that defiles (such as rock music), but the heart.
    I'm thankful to no longer be in the community of believers that is heavy on the rules, but instead am reveling with others in God's abundant grace.


    • MITCHELL GEORGE CHAPMAN February 23, 2014 Reply

      Not on the parents I agree but it is good to discuss the content of the program.

    • GuyS February 24, 2014 Reply

      Leigh, I was in ATE for only 5 years. Thank you for your thoughts. it has been so helpful for me to to get all this info on RG. Your part helps me process. I feel much the same as you.

  60. Courtney Blackmann February 23, 2014 Reply

    With respect to the Mr Gothard supporter website, I think the one you may be referring to is the facebook group. I think there is a difference between a website that is trying to find the objective truth (RG) vs. a "Friends of Mr.Gothard" group that has explicitly stated it would only post pro Mr. Gothard messages to show support to a "friend". I'm not saying its right, I'm just saying I don't think its analogous. If there were to be an equivalent RG group for IBLP supporters I agree with you that it should not be censored.

    • Courtney Blackmann February 23, 2014 Reply

      i'm sorry for the spam! i posted these in the wrong place- they were meant to be a reply to a separate message please ignore. thanks,

  61. […] Recovering Grace: The GOTHARD Files: The Scandal, 1980 […]

  62. […] (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 […]

  63. […] a July, 1980, meeting of the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC) board, it was confirmed that Bill Gothard […]

  64. Joe February 28, 2014 Reply

    RG wrote: "It is stunning that the Gothards believed any of the girls’ grieving families would be willing to endorse their daughters going back to the man who had so callously used them, and that this might be accomplished in a mere six weeks or less!"

    So they were trying to get one of the women's fathers to marry Steve so the problems would go away. The comment section here is full of lines like, "Like any father would agree to give his daughter away to a creep like that..." or "No father in his right mind would give his daughter to Steve..." Hahahaha holy crap, talk about missing the point! What about the WOMEN? Shouldn't THEY be making the decision? What a patriarchal load of crap to insinuate the women were their Father's to give in the first place. They hated steve for what he did. Why would THEY ever agree to it? Are we still really living in a world where father's own their daughters into adulthood? Not one person mentioned this. Not one person saw these comments as anything other than continuing in stupidity. And it worries me that this is the site of people who GOT AWAY from Gothardism... but apparently still believe strongly in bronze-age gender roles and patriarchy. Seems crazy to me, as a guy (and father of a girl), that not a single woman commenter mentioned the women's opinion on whether they would marry Steve. Bizarre!

    • Sad February 28, 2014 Reply

      Joe, I would take a guess at why that is - the girls involved in these situations were indeed STILL trapped in that patriarchal situation. At the time in question, they would not be allowed to have their opinion. I have first hand observation of this thought process in my own personal life, I regret to say.

      Keeping things in context with 1980 thinking will probably make more sense to you. Also, keep in mind, that there are doubtless many current adherents of IBLP/ ATI who are still stuck in this mindset too. Quite sad.

      Agreed though, the girls SHOULD have had a voice to begin with. How tragic they never did.

    • "Hannah" February 28, 2014 Reply

      You know not every commenter says everything they think?

      Shocking, I know...

  65. […] the scenic retreat center where we enjoyed father/son camps and staff retreats was the site of a massive sex scandal that was covered up for decades by the Gothard […]

  66. […] Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). You can read the Introduction here, Part One here, Part Two here, and a chronology of the scandal […]

  67. […] Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). You can read the Introduction here, Part One here, Part Two here, and a chronology of the scandal […]

  68. Davidr March 9, 2014 Reply

    I remember well going to one of the first big seminars around 1979 at Arie Crown theater in downtown Chicago. It was a huge crowd and a wonderful experience- I felt blessed and encouraged by the encounter- Bill was there for the whole thing and did his "chalk-talk" at the end. I went to the church pastored by Rev. VanGelderen mentioned in the article and remember the evening when the "Steve" scandal was announced. At that time we thought the issue was cleaned up and heard no more of it. I have several times in the past months seen Bill in his old "Classic" car come to church with his "bevey of beauties" accompanying him and have never before heard of any scandal concerning them. This story illustrates the constant dangers of too much fame and money and the ever-present temptations. Bill should have been married long ago. I will say, that absent from the sexual improprieties alleged here, this story would never have seen print... For the most part, the seminars had valid content, and were a blessing to Christian families everywhere. And the standards encouraged were good standards, as well as the warnings against rock music in the churches. A large segment of the body of Christ still agrees wholeheartedly with this. I wouldn't excuse any of the things alleged against BG in this discussion at all. It's just sad- and you'd better believe a lot of "good men" would fall under the temptation of being surrounded with a lot of beautiful young girls and plenty of power and money- it happens all the time- put no confidence in the flesh.. Watch and pray lest you too fall into the snare of the Devil!

    • Beverly March 9, 2014 Reply

      I understand where you're coming from in this comment. But I'd like to point out that the biggest difference between Bill and most other guys who are tempted by women, power, and money, is that most guys will go for women their age, not underaged teen girls. So in that sense, I wouldn't throw Bill in with the "normal" temptations of grown men. His alleged behavior is deviant beyond the normal range of sins in men his age. Men who are attracted to underaged girls have very serious issues and cannot usually stop that behavior apart from professional addictions counseling and intervention. I do hope Bill will consider seeking this help now that he has stepped down. He's not the first man to struggle with a sexual addiction, and if he's willing to admit he needs help, he could find a lot of compassion and help in a professional program. There are so many amazing programs out there. But admitting your need for help is the first hurdle to overcome, and admittedly, not an easy one. This is my prayer for Bill, that he would recognize just how needy he is and that he'd be willing to reach out for help---even if only privately---to a professional addictions counselor.

    • Guy Cooksey April 29, 2014 Reply

      David R: It is amazing that (apparently) he did not engage in sexual immorality with any of these beautiful girls. I would not have lasted a month with all the "beauties" he had around him. I KNOW, for I am weak in my flesh and I need the grace of God and real accountability to guide me, plus I have a super wife who loves me (and whom I deeply love--for over 28 years now). Apparently BG had the moral fortitude to NOT engage in fornication, but not the fortitude to not engage in real and disgusting sexual harassment. What he did to the women he constantly had around him was totally unacceptable and it should end his ministry for good.

  69. […] My husband got a glimpse of real problems that had surfaced with the scandal. While he was transporting Bill Gothard to the Long Beach Arena for the Los Angeles IBYC seminar, my husband was told that there might not be an evening seminar. Bill expressed concern over how difficult it would be, trying to dismiss 10,000 attendees from that venue. The seminar was able to continue uninterrupted that week, but the surfacing morality issues abruptly punctured the façade of this model ministry. […]

  70. Davidr March 14, 2014 Reply

    Beverly, I appreciate your comment. But I believe that most men, middle-aged, or older, would absolutely go after the younger girls/women (i.e., 17-20+ yrs) IF THEY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY! This is just fallen, sinful human nature and must always be guarded against. Ordinarily, a young lady is not attracted to such, and finds it mostly repulsive, even highly disgusting. Only in cultic situations or tyrannical surroundings can this be foisted on a young woman and tolerated. Apparently, Bill used his considerable control and "Godly" status to justify these things in the minds of these young victims and it was, if all true, reprehensible. This is such an old story.. It is repeated in the annels of the major cults and religions over and over throughout history.
    I believe Bill is entitled to answer these charges and hope that he will. No response will not bode well for the Institute.

  71. […] Following years of denial of knowledge of the issues and actions at stake in the 1980 scandal, and m…, Bill Gothard on July 5, 1980, was confronted before the IBYC board with such a critical mass of evidence that he was advised to resign.  On July 6, 1980, he submitted his resignation to the IBYC board, who accepted the resignation unanimously, and he announced his resignation to the onsite Oak Brook staff. On July 8, 1980, the resignation was announced and John McLario, an attorney and executive council for Bob Jones University, replaced Gothard as interim president of IBYC. After seventeen days of staff purges and meetings with outside concerned parties, McLario stepped down under pressured circumstances as president of IBYC, and Bill Gothard resumed control of the organization. […]

  72. Samuel B McCutchan April 3, 2014 Reply

    I have been to several seminars in the past and Biblical truths were presented at the seminars and were based upon Scripture. My family was involved with ATIA for a couple of years and I believe that our family was blessed when we studied God's word. One of the main things that I observed was the issue of PRIDE not only in ATIA but pride became an issue in the families involved in ATIA because there was an attitude that our kids would be perfect. I was caught up in this PRIDE for a short time because I did not want my kids to fail as I had failed in my growing years. I believe Bill at first got into the ministry at first with good intentions, but at some point Bill allowed PRIDE to consume him. I have heard Bill say, God resists the proud, but gives Grace to the humble. When Pride come into our lives, God's favor leaves us and we subject ourselves to other sins. I have learned over the years how important it is that we are real and admit when we are wrong. Often, because we can be caught up in Legalism and religion, we put on a face of how religious and good we are. The Bible says our righteousness is as filty rags, there is none righteous, no, not one, our tongues are an unruly evil, and our hearts are desperately wicked, and it does not say unless you are a Christian. Being a true Christian is not about us, but it is about who Jesus Christ is and about others. Another problem I saw in the ministry is that there were no teachings concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Jesus told his disciples that after he ascended back into Heaven, he would send a comforter(Baptism of the Holy Spirit) and that this Baptism would be a comforter and a help to them. Why would God give it to those in the book of Acts who Jesus said needed it and Why would he not give it to Christians in our day because we need it also. I think a lot of people reject the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues because of Pride. People think if we speak in other tongues, other people think we are crazy. Call me crazy, because I have experienced it and it is real today as it was in the book of Act. II Chronicles 7:14: says that if my people who are called by my name (meaning Christians), humble themselves (means being real and honest), seek God, turn from their wicked ways (meaning disobedient to God, allowing secret sins, unforgiveness, not paying our tithes, allowing IDOLS(anything more important than God), etc), and pray, God will heal our land. Christian churches and all who profess to be Christian is the reason why we are seeing God's judgement upon our land and I have to include myself because I also am a Christian. For those who do not believe that God has lifted his hand of protection from America, google (The Harbingers by Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cohn) and he compares ancient Israel with America. God always gave warnings to a nation before destruction came upon a nation. He saw 9 harbingers that were given to ancient Israel and they were identical to those given by God to America beginning on Sept. 11, 2001. God gave Rabbi Cohn a prophetic word. When spiritual leaders fall, God is still God and we are still responsible to follow God's ways. I pray that God will restore the Gothard family and all those who have been affected negatively by the ministry. We must all obey when God's spirit speaks to us and follow the ways of God with the help of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to be real and confess our sins that we may be healed, otherwise the World will see us as phonies and hypocrits. Praise the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Messiah is coming soon. Jesus told us when the end times are near we will see certain things happen. We are seeing those things happen in our day. It may be today or tomorrow because no man knows the day or the hour.

  73. […] a leave of absence from IBLP (then IBYC) to seek the Lord’s direction. As we have described in previous articles on Recovering Grace, this leave of absence lasted a mere seventeen […]

  74. Pablo and Juanita April 29, 2014 Reply

    My heart is literally sick after reading about this entire saga last night. As proponents of the IBYC/IBLP seminars both as a young couple and as parents of Jr Hs children, we trusted that our Lord had led us to these seminars for very specific reasons. I recall one of the first things Bill discussed was his "gift of celibacy" and that gave him even more credibility in our minds' eyes. He shared how like the Apostle Paul, not being married and not having the bulk of his time and energies consumed by familial matters, gave him greater insights into God's principles. We swallowed it all, hook, line and sinker! We bought his materials, we shared all that we had learned with our families, we went back and made restitution with those whom we had offended, we realized the "birth of a vision, death of a vision and re-birth of a vision" from his talks. Each seminar we attended, God spoke to our hearts and inspired us to keep on marching forward for the cause of Christ. I will also interject here that several years ago when the New Tribes Mission sex scandal was unleashed in Senegal and other countries, we were not only NOT SHOCKED--being former New Tribers ourselves--but were appalled that leadership turned a blind eye to those innocents whose lives were being destroyed on their watch. Talk about PTSD! I say that to say this; we can shoot the messenger, but NOT the message--for the most part. God used BG--whether his motives were impure, or ulterior to his original instruction to mold our lives and the lives of so many thousands from the 60's on. Shame on those who cling blindly to any other doctrine which is espoused by a so-called man of God without doing their own searching, studying, reading and discerning of what is purported to be "gospel. Bill's own admission of his sexual addiction--paved the way for the abuse of the women and their families. It sickens me to no end. I also say that to say this; I am not without sin. I am not without my own faults and daily need to come before the Cross for forgiveness. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone comes to mind; however, with the paper trail of evidence over the past decades, it would be hard for any judge to discount all the improprieties. How saddened our Lord must be over the misuse and misappropriation of funds/time/talents given in "good faith." I see no evidence of repentance or guilt. I see instead a pattern of deceit, cover-ups and fear of what the public will say. As a couple with 2 small children, we left New Tribes Mission for similar issues over 30 years ago, as we could no longer align ourselves with an organization which touted its goals to reach those indigenous for the Lord--but who at the same time tied our hands with what we were allowed to do and even moreso, what we were disallowed to do. We were very well supported, and leadership even admonished us that monies such as we were receiving were an indication that God was in the work. We disagreed because so many folks back in the states gave sacrificially to further the work of translation. Upon our return to the states we attended our first IBYC seminar in Milwaukee and have been proponents of this ministry; until last night. One of our favorite Bible teachers stressed, "God's work done in God's way will NEVER lack God's supply." Anyone who has been involved with IBLP ministry could write books about your experiences. As BG was a mentor to countless thousands, he will be judged by a greater standard I believe. We are responsible for walking in the light we have, and when the Lord gives us new light, then we must follow and keep on growing in our walk. I pray for those injured and for the hardened hearts to be softened with repentance so restitution can begin. I still am shocked.....but not shocked....."There but for the Grace of God, go I."

  75. […] built in 1973. The first (smaller) lodge was built in 1974, and the Big Lodge was built in 1976. As noted in other articles, the retreat featured an impressive runway for IBYC’s corporate planes. The property is maintained […]

  76. […] Pingback : The GOTHARD Files: The Scandal | Recovering Grace […]

  77. […] the scandal of 1980 broke, two board members finally woke up to their failure. One was a kindly minister. Another was […]

  78. […] the cover-up of the 1980 scandal is a gentleman by the name of Tony. You’ve read about him as “the aide” in other articles, and he has earned a great deal of admiration from our readers for his integrity and tireless […]

  79. […] to help him downplay a scandal that was about to overwhelm his multi-million dollar ministry. You can read more about that scandal on Recovering Grace, but suffice to say that the two BJU men were used by Gothard in his attempt to hush up accusations […]

  80. […] of news articles appeared in the media, both Christian and mainstream, regarding the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC, now IBLP) 1980 scandal and subsequent lawsuits. This list serves as a p… Several of our requests to republish are still outstanding. If readers have time or connections to […]

  81. […] Tony G provide him with evidence of Gothard’s personal knowledge of wrongdoing related to the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC, now IBLP) scandal of 1980. Tony responded with meticulous detail, mailing Gothard a collection of 50+ documents that totaled […]

  82. […] Tony G provide him with evidence of Gothard’s personal knowledge of wrongdoing related to the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC, now IBLP) scandal of 1980. Tony responded with meticulous detail, mailing Gothard a collection of 50+ documents that totaled […]

  83. […] Tony G provide him with evidence of Gothard’s personal knowledge of wrongdoing related to the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC, now IBLP) scandal of 1980. Tony responded with meticulous detail, mailing Gothard a collection of 50+ documents that totaled […]

  84. […] (IBYC, now IBLP, Institute in Basic Life Principles) during the period leading up to and through the Scandal of 1980, the minutes from Board of Directors meetings are attached.  Some names have been redacted, […]

  85. Karen March 26, 2017 Reply

    I went to a couple IBYC conferences when I was a teenager, along with some friends. Though I don't know of anyone that strictly followed Gothard's teaching as a lifestyle. I was impressed by some things, but as time went on I've viewed the teaching as very legalistic. It's been many years, and someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember sexual temperance was heavily emphasized. I remember him advising husbands and wives to only have sex to have babies, because lust just leads to more lust. And I recall him telling a story about going out on a date as a young man, but then deciding that sex was not for him. I also distinctly remember him telling a story about a young woman that he counseled who had been raped. She admitted to having sexual thoughts before being raped --but the trauma of the rape seemingly cured her of her sexual fantasies. I was a young kid at the time, and really had no concept of how violent and traumatic rape can be, so it didn't really register to me how odd it was that his point of the story seemed focused on how great it was that the young woman no longer had sexual fantasies. As I got older, I've thought Gothard's telling of that story was really very heartless. And I've wondered how much damage he to that young rape victim by serving as her counselor.

    I also recall him telling stories, and promising to reveal some information, but never getting around to it. For instance, there was some story along the lines of "I was a bad student. But then I became a straight A student. I'll tell you how I did that later." But he never revealed how he so rapidly improved his grades. Also, I recall some random stories he would throw in that suggested he had some spiritually intuitive powers. For instance, some man was having serious problems (I think mental, maybe depression), he intuitively suggested he get his teeth checked, and it turned out he an infected molar. When he had his molar fixed, his problem went away. By the way, I don't believe he ever personally attended any of these conferences. His teaching was filmed, and projected. So I assume other people heard the exact same stories word for word.

    I hadn't heard anything about Gothard for years, until I read a couple years ago that there was some connection between him and the Duggards. It's interesting to real about all the corruption going on in that organization all this time. This would make a fascinating subject for a book or movie.

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