Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Bill Gothard

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]lizzypaul)

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles. While he’s not as popular as he was during the 70’s and 80’s, he’s still a very big deal in some Christian circles. The church I grew up in was dominated by Gothard’s followers, which eventually lead to a church split.

Personally, I have an intense fear and loathing of the whole organization. A good friend of mine attempted suicide at 13 because of Gothard. One of his main teachings is that any feelings for a member of the opposite sex (who hasn't been approved by your parents as a someone you can marry), beyond “benevolent Christian brotherhood/sisterhood” is sinful. As my friend was a normal, healthy teen girl, she couldn’t get over her attraction to one of the boys in our church. She had already been cut off from any support (her parents felt that her friends were too “worldly”, and she was home-schooled). So, already vulnerable and feeling dirty and incurably sinful, she tried to kill herself.

Some interesting links:

Institue in Basic Life Principles: This is the website for Gothard’s organization.


Midwest Christian Outreach. Articles and criticism of the Gothard movement. While I don’t agree with many of the views put forth by the organization, I thought they did a good job of presenting the problems with the Gothard movement.


Bill Gothard’s Mystical Approach To Medical Issues. Another article from Midwest Christian Outreach, specifically addressing Gothard’s approach to modern medicine. A long quote:

A practical illustration of the potential danger of Bill Gothard’s approach can be drawn from his materials discussing an apparently difficult medical choice: “What should a woman do if her doctor tells her that another pregnancy will create serious or even life-threatening complications? What should a man do if he is warned, ‘If you get your wife pregnant, you will be responsible for her death!’?”2

Certainly that is a dangerous scenario presented by Mr. Gothard. In answer to the questions he raises, Gothard lays down six factors which he believes must be carefully evaluated in approaching such a serious issue.

First, he states, “If God wants to give a child to a couple, He is also able [to] give the level of health in the mother and the child that will bring the greatest glory to Him.”3 Second, he says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear. Therefore, fear is from Satan and not from God. . . . If we make medical decisions based on the fear of what a doctor has predicted, we are in danger of overlooking the clear counsel of God and allowing the deceiver to gain a dangerous foothold.”4 Third, Mr. Gothard states that all births inevitably require various expressions of sacrificial love on the part of the parents. Sometimes this might require even the unexpected and ultimate sacrifice of one’s life, as with Rachel in the Old Testament. However, Gothard states that no one should make rash and “unwise” decisions which “unnecessarily endanger the life of the mother,” and that the “health care of the wife and mother must become the number one priority of the husband and the family.”5 Fourth, he quotes the Scripture which proclaims “in a multitude of counselors there is safety.”6 Fifth, Gothard states that “God has made special provision for the wife,” according to the teaching of both the Old and New Testaments. According to Bill Gothard, such provision guides couples with regard to the “timing and spacing of their children,” and also allows for couples to discern God’s will in these matters through prayer and fasting.7 Sixth, he states that “many [doctor’s] predictions do not come true” regarding “serious complications” and mental or physical deformities. He also declares that, “Wise parents will not look at these circumstances from their point of view, but from God’s bigger picture. If it is God’s will for the couple to have a child, He will give grace to them for any unusual circumstances. He can also bring about supernatural healing or the understanding of medical causes and treatments that will alleviate or even prevent the feared condition.”8

Finally, after listing the factors which he teaches are worthy of consideration, Mr. Gothard provides a personal testimony from a woman, which is just one of a “multitude of testimonies [which] confirm the inaccuracy of doctor’s predictions.”9 Both the introduction to her testimony and the woman’s testimony itself characterize the doctor, rather than the woman with diabetes, as “High-risk.” She reports how she delivered a healthy child, even though she was warned about the chances of having an unhealthy or stillborn child.


A STUDY IN EVOLVING FADISM: The Dangerous Leanings of Bill Gothard’s Teachings. Another interesting evaluation. Again, I don’t agree with everything this organization believes, or even all the statements in the article, I do believe it’s an interesting, critical look.


An Eyewitness News Investigation NOTE: Very disturbing and potentially triggering accounts of abuse. Quote:

The Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Chicago-based organization, has operated the Indianapolis Training Center on the city’s Northside for a decade. Its Bible-based learning program has been praised as an example of how state and church can work together to help troubled youth.

But the Eyewitness News Investigators found shocking allegations of child abuse at the center. After we began looking into the allegations, the state Child Protective Services agency opened an investigation into the claims of abuse and confinement of children in a so-called prayer room.

This hidden-camera investigation was reported by Rich Reeve, photographed and edited by Bill Ditton, and produced by Kathleen Johnston and Gerry Lanosga.

This is my attempt to pull this post on topic. I think most of us can agree that Gothard is pretty creepy, but what is the connection between Gothard and Dominionsm?

--Gothard is trying to weaken the separation between church and state by replacing secular programs with Christian ministries (here, and see above).

--Gothard runs a paramilitary organization for young men (here).

--Gothard advocates the complete dominion of a wife by her husband, and children by their parents (especially the father). A child brought up in Gothard home is never allowed independence--he or she is home schooled, sheltered from all secular influences, indoctrinated at the various seminars, sent to a Gothard post-secondary school, etc. Gothard children are not allowed to date, and are not allowed to “court” anyone not approved by their father. (Most of the links above detail this to some extent.)

--Gothard has a deep distrust of modern medicine and believes that all medical and dietary decisions should be biblically based. He runs a "medical school" (though I use that term very loosely) here. Some of his teachings are potentially disastrous.

--A woman, of course, has no control over herself. He details down to the day that you're allowed to have sex. Reproduction is likewise controlled. A woman is taught to get pregnant even if her life is in danger, never have an abortion, and even how to give birth--no pain medicine, with a midwife at home, and vaginally. A woman is not to work outside the home (though, for some reason, home-based buisnesses are okay). Everything from shades of makeup to clothing styles are detailed and dictated.

Edit: Tried to clarify second paragraph, see comments for details.

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