Patriarchal Minister Faces 34 Sexual Harassment Allegations

Bill Gothard, head of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, on administrative leave under allegations of sexual harassment. Another "Christian" pervert. Bill Gothard, so-called 'Christian,' accused of sexual misconduct.

Bill Gothard, head of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, on administrative leave under allegations of sexual harassment. Another “Christian” pervert. Photo of Bill Gothard from Wikipedia.

Gothard is head of a “Christian” cult.

Bill Gothard may not be a familiar name to most of us. He is the head of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a homeschooling and “traditional values” cult that even other Christians find abhorrent. Gothard is also a proponent of the Quiverfull philosophy, which is virulently anti-contraception. As of Friday, Gothard is on administrative leave from the IBLP, under the cloud of allegations of sexual harassment. Thirty-four different women say that Gothard harassed them.

Bill Gothard is just the latest Quiverfull proponent to be involved in sexual misconduct. Last year, Doug Phillips, of Vision Forum Ministries, resigned over an extra-marital affair. Maybe the Quiverfull movement is crippled by its severely patriarchal dictates which could encourage male followers to consider themselves above the laws of man and god. Just a thought.

Website dedicated to Gothard’s misdeeds forces investigation.

The website, Recovering Grace, was founded by a team of “nearly two dozen pastors, lawyers, teachers, professors, accountants, office managers, business leaders, and stay-at-home parents” who all have a history with Bill Gothard. Some were raised in homes that followed the questionable tenets of the IBLP. Some attended seminars he’s given. Some have served in the IBLP in some capacity. All of the anonymous leadership feel that Gothard’s “errant theology” has led to a failure in him and those who follow him. In Gothard’s case, they say that this has led to sinful behavior.

The stories on Recovering Grace reveal a man who doesn’t live up to the “higher standard” of ministers and who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. It outlines a 40-year pattern of “moral failure” and the stories are shocking. One woman writes about her experiences with Gothard at a training weekend:

Gothard and the center director showed me to my room that first night, and after some small talk the center director waited awkwardly for Gothard to leave the room with him. Instead of departing, Gothard walked me to the far side of the bedroom… The center director eventually departed, visibly uncomfortable with the situation, and left me alone with Gothard. I tried to simply smile and nod as Gothard took my hand in front of the window and talked about the wonderful opportunities ahead for me. I was alarmed, but had no idea how to object without causing a scene. He pressured me for a firm verbal commitment to come to Headquarters… After several minutes he gave my hand a final squeeze and departed with a grin and a wink. I was 17 years old.

The woman goes on to describe games of footsie, improper touching and other forms of sexual harassment. And hers is just one of many similar stories. Explore this site and you will come away wanting a shower and Bill Gothard’s nuts on a nail. The Board of IBLP had been told several times about Gothard’s behavior (including advances towards girls as young as fifteen) and they apparently asked him to knock it off. Gothard, obviously, did not. It may run in the family — Gothard’s brother was fired from the IBLP for having sex with students. My, my.

IBLP Board finally takes action.

It took thirty-four claims of sexual harassment before the IBLP Board decided to do something. After an investigation, chairman Billy Boring (no really, that’s his actual name) released a statement:

“After completion of the review the board will respond at an appropriate time, and in a biblical manner.” Until then, the statement said, Gothard “will not be involved in the operations of the ministry. The board of directors will be prayerfully appointing interim leadership.”

Gothard hasn’t been expelled from the group, just placed on “administrative leave.” But perhaps the IBLP Board needs to review, not just the allegations of sexual harassment, but the financial woes as well. The group’s revenues have been falling since 2011. The IBLP has lost $11 million since 2010. Maybe Gothard is spending too much on his trips with young girls.

Right-wingers love Gothard.

As you might expect, the religious right loves them some Bill Gothard. Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee count themselves as supporters and advocates of Gothard’s cult. Palin attended one of the IBLP conferences and dubbed Wasila, AK as a “Character City” as part of the Institute’s Character Cities program. Huckabee endorses the IBLP on the group’s  website: “As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people.” This is apparently some strange new meaning of “character” of which we had been previously unaware. Deep-pocketed GOP donor Jim Leninger used to be a member of the IBLP board. Gothard also has close ties to Florida GOP Congressman Daniel Webster, which caused Webster some trouble in the 2010 election. This prompted a scathing expose’ by Sarah Posner, which is a fascinating — if nauseating — read.

TV’s Duggar bunch are also followers of the IBLP’s cultish teachings and are a Quiverfull family. This means that they subscribe to Gothard’s teachings on both homeschooling and male superiority. The idea that the man is the undisputed head of the family is the basis of all IBLP doctrine. Critics of Gothard’s preaching say that it creates a “culture of fear” through ideas such as:

“… the chain of command in the family with the husband as the hammer, the wife as the chisel and the children as the gems in the rough… The ghastly picture is that he beats on her and she chips on them.” One woman who belonged to the movement said that Gothard taught that women “don’t have any rights.”

Gothard’s stance on rock music, homosexuality, debt and healing are also popular among the religious right. He teaches that homosexuality will bring on the End Times… wait, I thought they wanted that? Maybe not, since Gothard says that “… when a society reaches the point of condoning perversion, God will destroy that society” Yep, that fits right into the book of the Pseudo-Christian.

Actual Christians have spoken out against Gothard and the IBLP. The Baptist Ethics Daily has reported on the Institute’s abusive and “cult-like” practices as far back as 2007. And the people on Saving Grace are still Christian. They write about what the Bible actually says and how Bill Gothard has perverted and twisted it to serve his own agenda. He is not the first to do so and, god knows, he won’t be the last. Hopefully, though, he will spend the rest of his days repenting for the wrongs he has perpetrated on women, both by harassment and by teaching that we are inferior. But, hey, what can you expect from someone whose mind still lives in the Middle Ages?

I have always thought that the repression of natural sexual urges results in those urges coming out perverted: they can’t be eliminated, just twisted. This phenomenon is prevalent among fervently fundamentalist men, as we often see. Maybe someday they’ll learn. I won’t hold my breath.