Since 2011, the people behind the website Recovering Grace have been “ helping people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI). ”
Recently Recovering Grace has been publishing stories of young women who worked directly for Gothard; giving them room to detail the sexual harassment, and the emotional spiritual manipulation they experienced. As well the inability of people to expose and stop him in the past has been made public by the website team. Recovering Grace initially looked at the harm created by Gothards theology:
When we launched our website in July of 2011, we did so with the express mission of helping people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard through the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) seminars and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) homeschool program. We have attempted to fulfill that mission through regularly posted articles primarily written by former students of ATI—articles that have covered a wide variety of issues such as theological discussions of IBLP teachings, personal stories of discovering grace, and bringing to light some of the darker aspects of working at an IBLP Training Center. What we truthfully did not realize at the time of our launch was the strong undercurrent of depravity displayed for decades at the highest levels of IBLP leadership. Our thought at the time was that the most viscerally damaging effects of Gothardism were spiritual,and that Bill Gothard’s worst flaws were theological and hermeneutical. As such, most of our attention for the first year of our website was focused on these areas.
In early 2012, this all changed for us when a young lady shared with us her experiences working for Bill Gothard at Headquarters.
Recovering Grace recently published documentation of attempts in the 1980′s to hold Gothard to account (unsuccessfully) and of the dismissal of his brother for sexual misconduct with several female staff.
News outlets have been picking up on what Recovering Grace has been posting and getting the attention of Institute in Basic Life Principals senior leadership.
George Mattix, executive international director at IBLP, told The Christian Post Thursday that the board was aware of the accusations made against Gothard and would prayerfully consider what course of action members would take before releasing any public statements. Mattix had initially passed CP’s request for comment on the allegations to the nonprofit’s attorney, whom he said subsequently turned the matter over to outside counsel.
That was February 14th. Yesterday, the current board of directors has placed Bill Gothard on administrative leave.
“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’s Institute in Basic Life Principals was once a popular gathering spot for thousands of Christian families, including the Duggar family from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” Gothard”s Advanced Training Institute conferences were also popular among devotees of the Quiverfull movement, who promote large families and eschew birth control.
He’s also rubbed shoulders with Republican luminaries. He and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee were photographed at a campaign lunch together; former Georgia Gov. Sunny Perdue spoke at one of Gothard’s conferences; and Sarah Palin, when she was a small town mayor in Alaska, attended his International Association of Character Cities conferences anddeclared Wasilla among Gothard’s “Cities of Character.”
Gothard is 79 and unmarried.
Gothard had been dismissed in the past from his organization (his dismissal lasted 17 days) and he came back even stronger. It is believed his seminars have been attended by 2.5 million Americans. According to former workers his predatory behavior continued after his short lived dismissal in the 1980s.
The allegations against Gothard dovetail financial woes. In recent years IBLP’s net revenue has dropped significantly, and the ministry is losing money each year. In 2009, they reported a net income loss of $1 million, a loss of $4.1 million in 2011, and a loss of $3.5 million in 2012, according to their most recently available tax forms. Its net assets dropped from $92 million in 2010 to $81 million in 2012.
The Institute in Basic Life Principles, based in Chicago, is registered as a Canadian charity, called Basic Life Principals International. IBLP has offices in several other countries. The Canadian branch appears to be in financial decline. There is also Chinese language Canadian website for IBLP.
The story of Bill Gothard, IBLP, ATI, his other groups and his associations with powerful people is, frankly; scary and sobering. As you read Recovering Grace, you’ll begin to understand how he gained so much influence and control and how he has remained unaccountable for so long. The courage of those who have stepped forward to tell their stories cannot be underestimated.
Update: Bill Gothard has resigned as President of IBLP and affiliated entities according to the Administrative Director of the Advanced Training Institute. Religion News Service:
“Most recently, Mr. Gothard communicated to the Board of Directors his desire to follow Matthew 5:23-24 and listen to those who have ‘ought against him,’” Waller’s email said. “To give his full attention to this objective, Mr. Gothard has resigned as president of the Institutes in Basic Life Principles, its Board of Directors, and its affiliated entities.”