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Bill Gothard Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation

(UPDATED) Family-focused speaker whose Wheaton course became a seminar phenomenon faces allegations from more than 30 women.
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Update (Mar. 10): The full text of the ministry email revealing Gothard's resignation can be read here, courtesy of Homeschoolers Anonymous, which broke the news.

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Update (Mar. 6): Bill Gothard has resigned from the Institute in Basic ...

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Displaying 1–39 of 39 comments

Jeff Gill

March 13, 2014  7:07am

Unless and until further information emerges, please don't think that the review being conducted by IBLP is anything but an attempted whitewash. They have asked David Gibbs to conduct the review. He is a long time associate of Gothard. He is speaking at their family conferences this year. And he has been associated with the wrong team in previous church sexual misconduct cases. So far IBLP have shown no visible interest in finding out the truth.

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Jim Rolf

March 10, 2014  4:36pm

Lee Hall, "Thirty women? Come on! That alone sounds bogus to me." Actually, to me it is compelling. If you want more details, see extensive history from many of these 30 women here: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/ jim

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Lee Hall

March 09, 2014  11:17am

Dear Wendy, you might want to know a little more about the man and what he teaches personally before you criticize him so broadly in a public forum. It appears you only know a little bit from second-hand experience in your home. To speak of "Gothardism" is surprising. Gothard is a fundamentalist and it is only your own world-view that gives that word a positive or negative twist. Fundamentalists are a large part of the Christian church and should be treated respectfully. Whistle-blowers abound and anyone who serves in a public manner is subject to them. I, too, would like more information on the actual allegations and will be surprised if they are ever released to the public because they are likely to be insubstantial. Thirty women? Come on! That alone sounds bogus to me.

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James Cowles

March 09, 2014  10:46am

I wonder if focusing on Matthew 5:23-24 is the Gothard equivalent of "spending more time with my family".

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James Cowles

March 09, 2014  10:41am

@ Rick Dalbey ... "But most of us survived. Except my buddy James C. What I learned is once born again, we are responsible to our conscience. No man can over-ride your personal God-given convictions. The Holy Spirit is more powerful than we give Him credit for." The Gothard cult was one of the factors in my de-conversion to atheism -- ONLY one factor, but still ONE. So I mustn't be TOO vehement in my execration of Billy G. & Christo-fascism. Daily I thank the FSM -- that moves in mysterious ways, Its wonders to perform -- for using Gothard & Co. for that.

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William Cook

March 09, 2014  12:25am

What is this?! "Religion News Service (RNS), which broke the news tonight" ... "RNS, which offers more details" ... "Religion News Service reports more details..." Why is RNS so eager to establish journalistic bragging rights on a tragic story like this? To what advantage? Who cares if RNS "broke the story?" What about the tragedy of "how the mighty have fallen?" King Saul fell out of favor with God, and died in battle because of it. When a young runner bragged to David that he had finished Saul off in fulfillment of the wounded king's request that he not be allowed to die at the hands of the Philistines, David didn't exult in the news or pat him on the back. He had him run through for daring to slay "the Lord's anointed." It has been our immature adulation and donations that have elevated mere mortals to celebrity status. Their fall is an indictment of the spiritual condition of the American Church. Pride goes before a fall. "Be not highminded but fear!"

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Dana Roberts

March 08, 2014  3:37pm

Pure theatre! The Christianity is the only religion that dares call some within the household as actors (hypocrites). It seems in our media driven world drama kings and queens draw in the numbers. But the problem is also with our culture. It is Vanity Fair. It's Shanghai before the fall (1949). Having grown in faith reading books by Watchman Nee, it came as a surprise that he also lead a double life. His words, mere oration. Pretending to be spiritual his private life was far from it.  Some church goers still alive in Shanghai and Dr. Lily Hsu's “My Unforgettable Memories: Watchman Nee & The Shanghai Local Church” record Nee as more a citizen of Shanghai than the Kingdom. The true saints, like Wu Hong-Yu (1834-1919), sought more to serve than to be listed on the public marque. Then again, actors can still inspire good behavior.

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John Keirsey

March 08, 2014  3:24pm

We're all only one second from being out of the Spirit. And we're all only a prayer away from forgiveness, and life back in the Spirit. Saved from legalism, saved from the power of sin - we always have battle to do. "If we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us." "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." " No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him." (from 1 John 1 & 3). If anyone reads this article about Bill Gotthard and has a growing hatred of him, or a growing lack of love toward him, is not keeping Jesus' teachings. We're talking sin here. If anyone is judging him and forgetting their owns sins, is committing hypocrisy. This is sin. I didn't always think like this. But then God showed me that these things are in my life, and they are sin. So, I'm a much bigger sinner than I thought. Hoping to be helpful.

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E. Dean Cozzens

March 08, 2014  2:59pm

Part of this too is that we live in a very permissive culture, with rebellious attitudes rampant. Bill Gothard was one voice challenging all of that narcissism.

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E. Dean Cozzens

March 08, 2014  2:51pm

I have enjoyed and learned a lot from Bill's teachings over the years. I was mature enough to take the good and avoid the bad. I like what Emerson wrote, "Every person I meet is my superior in some way(s), in that I will learn from them." Frankly I don't like the attitude that far too many perfectionistic Christians seem to have on here (and other places), whereby we look for flaws in people then throw the whole person away as worthless. That's what I think the true definition of "judging" is. I see far too much of that in here now. Mr. Gothard had many wonderful teachings. I learn from those, then apply wiser balances to teachings I don't think are right. Lastly, the report doesn't say exactly what the sexual harassment offenses were. That definition can be very broad. Maybe it was "you need to wear a higher cut top and a lower skirt." Some people might take that as sexual harassment, which I would not. I'd like to know exactly what the infractions were.

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Raymond Folsom

March 08, 2014  5:27am

I attended his Basic Youth Conflicts Seminars in the 80s. I enjoyed them and they gave me a desire to be active in my relationship with the Lord. It did me well; being in the ministry, as a military chaplain, for over 30 years the letters are revealing the same tactics of a sexual predator. Real or not, sexual predators are an epidemic is our society. The spirit of lust within our culture is destroying our country from the inside out. Every man, to include myself must be on guard at all times. The Army has removed Soldiers who have spent 8 hours a day, on the work computers viewing pornography. The worst part of this story, is the depth of evil that can fill the heart of a person who spends hours studying and teaching what is "religious" "godly" advise and feed on innocence is absolute scary. It takes one time, it takes just one cracked door...life will not be the same....God have mercy.

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Wendy Willmore

March 07, 2014  11:13pm

Thank God we were never involved in ATI, as my father was always highly skeptical of the man and his doctrines. My mother, however, is still a strong devotee as far as I know, so I know a fair bit about these "principles", which have raised little but havoc in our family. I have to say, that Gothardism looks a lot more to me like Islam than it does like Christianity, with it emphasis on works, submission, outward appearance, and issues regarding young girls. I think Bill and his friends would have been far more comfortable there. Like Islam, Gothardism has ensnared many people who long for God, and just want someone to give them a list of rules to follow so that they can find Him. Those people need to read the gospels again.

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scott roney

March 07, 2014  9:54pm

"RNS, which offers more details, reports that Gothard's resignation cited his desire to focus on fulfilling Matthew 5:23-24" No editing necessary. Just speak word for word to the audience of "Late Night" for belly-laughs. Unfortunately at least 30 women, everyone who knows and cares about those women, and everyone reading about this sordid story will have one more reason not to take the Gospel seriously. Great job at evangelizing.

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Dessie T

March 07, 2014  8:44pm

JC, my mother's therapist said the exact same thing! After a conference, the phones would start ringing off the hook. When I was younger, my mother went to a conference as many of her friends were going at the time. I don't remember because I was too young, but my brother said that when she came home, she looked different. There was a look of fear in her eyes. Personally, it took my mother YEARS of Christian therapy, godly teaching and complete devotion to God that finally set her free. So yes, It actually does matter how many people he's hurt over the years due to his erroneous doctrine, and he will be held accountable one day (James 3:1). Regarding the sexual issues, the truth will come out.

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Ken johnson

March 07, 2014  8:01pm

Bill Gothard was my church's youth director for a time during my teens. He was also the Hi-C sponser in my high school. I have no negative memories of him from that time, with one exception. He did seem a little authoritarian. At any rate, a lot of the comments seem to be overlooking the seriousness of these charges, concerned only about the survival or downfall of Gothard. It doesn't matter how much good or how much bad he's done over the years, religiously speaking. This has nothing to do with a tally sheet. These accusations need to be vigorously investigated. Harassment is harassment and abuse is abuse, regardless of the source or any supposed justification. Agreeing with someone's theology has no bearing on his innocence or guilt, any more than disagreeing with it does. My point is that this is not just a religious matter. It could very well be a civil and criminal one.

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THOMAS F HARKINS JR

March 07, 2014  7:03pm

I always had concerns about Bill Gothard's teachings. Just one spiritual gift apiece--how scriptural is that? Paul, surely, had several. And no borrowing? Anyway, I think that a teacher's character should be a key to the strength of his influence in the Christian community; indeed, many outside the Church give it a short shrift based on the many moral failures of "leaders." I don't know if Bill is guilty or not, but 30 is a lot of witnesses!

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Rick Dalbey

March 07, 2014  3:34pm

In some respects growing up as a young Christian in the 70s and 80s was a little treacherous. You had to avoid the Basic Youth Conflicts promoters, the Shepherding movement (who is your covering?) and the multitude of quasi Christian Cults waiting in the wings to scoop you up. Kind of like baby sea turtles hatching and trying to make it from the beach to the ocean without being eaten. But most of us survived. Except my buddy James C. What I learned is once born again, we are responsible to our conscience. No man can over-ride your personal God-given convictions. The Holy Spirit is more powerful than we give Him credit for.

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James Cowles

March 07, 2014  3:06pm

@ Kathi Vande Guchte ... Agreed ... Bill Gothard can thank his Prussian General Staff God that he did not marry my wife, who is a sweet-tempered woman who allows no one to leave footprints up her back. Bill would have ended up the oldest soprano in the Vienna Boys Choir.

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Kathi Vande Guchte

March 07, 2014  2:39pm

Just the mention that Bill Gothard had a plan for the dating relationship of Christians concerns me. I may investigate this more, but just the little bit has me concerned. We are called to submit to each other in the Bible - I take that as males and females. In a dating relationship the man is not in the same position as a husband with his wife. Even in a marriage relationship a wife chooses to submit herself to her own husband. There is no place in the Bible where a husband is given the responsibility to discipline his wife or make her do something. There is also no place in the Bible that says women/wives are subservient to men/their husbands. I also find that leadership is very different than controlling. Leadership is a picture of people walking alongside and following. If someone is controlling then they are not leading, and they certainly are not loving. I also found it odd that this man had never married, yet he taught on how the marriage structure should look.

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James Cowles

March 07, 2014  9:17am

Back in the 70s & early 80s a close friend, who was also a psychiatrist of many years, often told me that he and his professional colleagues could ALWAYS tell when a Bill Gothard seminar was in town (Wichita, KS, at the time), even if they didn't hear about it through the media. (The Gothard seminars were called the "Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts" 'way back then.) George said he & his colleagues always noticed a very sharp up-tick in (1) the NUMBER of times people scheduled visits for psychiatric consultation and (2) the SUBJECTS DISCUSSED in those counseling sessions, which always revolved around issues of sexuality & marital relationships (which almost always concerned the alleged "disobedience" of wives). Then the Gothard carnival would move on & in a week or so, the more conventional psychopathologies would resurface & business would return to normal.

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James Cowles

March 07, 2014  9:05am

@ Rick Dalbey ... "I thought he was a controlling nut in the 70s and 80s. His advice has always been toxic and controlling." Gosh, Rick ... That's *** TWO *** things we agree on, the other being the importance of the State of Israel to both Arab & Jewish Israelis ... we're on a roll, man! ... 8-) ...

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Pamela Stiles

March 06, 2014  4:49pm

I attended one of Bill Gothard's seminars back in the early 80's when many were attending and I disagreed wholeheartedly with many of his scriptural interpretations, especially about a woman being placed subserviently under the man she is married and only playing a specific role in Christian society. The seminar is very demeaning to women and unfortunately there has been too much abused in Christian families and teachings from those like Bill Gothard's are used as text for the male to be dominant. I am glad I went because I heard it first hand. Also, I questioned a man who has never been married how in the world he could give good marriage advice. It doesn't surprise me about these accusations, because of his view of women. I am glad at least the organization saw fit to have him step down for now, but I hope if he is found guilty that they keep it that way!!

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Gladys Brierley

March 06, 2014  1:00pm

I attended three Bill Gothard Seminars. For me they were refreshing, informative, encouraging and gave me some guidelines for my life. His character qualities book and other published works have also been very precious to me. I know from my own life that being a true Christian is a journey of ups and downs, successes and failures. Many Bible characters who did great things in God had serious flaws and major sins, Abraham, David to name a couple. I do not know Bill Gothard personally. This situation makes me sad that a brother in Christ is under this scrutiny and I do not know the whole story. The Bible says "any story sounds true until the other side is told and sets the record straight." I am praying for Bill, the ministry and for all of us to stand up for integrity and truth and to love and not judge. Who of us is without sin let him cast the first stone.

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charles ostlie

March 05, 2014  11:46am

Bill Gothard followed biblical principles that are completely lost now days. Instead of "destroying" lots of people, how many lives and marriages have been helped, saved? I don't know if the allegations are true (many now days think up stories because they don't like someone) but I do know that he has helped perhaps millions; my wife and I learned key principles for our dating relationship before marrying that have been lost in our society.

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Edward Murray

March 05, 2014  11:07am

This certainly wouldn't surprise me with his attitudes and teaching about hierarchy in the family and in marriage. Ultimately anything that puts someone in a position of authority just because of gender will lead to an improper attitude about the sexes which will sooner or later be exposed for what it is--harassment in the form of improper jesting, or positioning, or even to the point of emotional and spiritual abuse. I'm sorry it can go on so long before it is seen for what it is. EGM

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Rick Dalbey

March 04, 2014  3:01pm

I thought he was a controlling nut in the 70s and 80s. His advice has always been toxic and controlling.

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CHRISTY HEMPHILL

March 03, 2014  7:02pm

@John "What exactly is meant by this by the "victims"?" First, it is incredibly insensitive to put victims in quotes like that, when you are obviously completely uninformed. You seem to be making a pretty damning accusation yourself about their credibility and motives. Second, there are more details than you could possibly want over at the Recovering Grace website linked in the article, no need to speculate about anything.

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Dr Leslie Robert Keylock

March 03, 2014  2:28pm

I was at Wheaton from 1959 to 1961 and Gothard wasn't there then. So Hal Sanders is right. Somebody needs to investigate when Gothard graduated from Wheaton.

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James Cowles

March 03, 2014  1:14pm

@ FORE ... All of which is just a defense of double standards. Speaking of poor form ... !

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Charles Cosimano

March 03, 2014  12:22pm

About time they caught up with a man whose teaching destroyed many lives and ripped families apart.

FORE FCB1899JEEP

March 02, 2014  4:41pm

@Cowles: Engaging in politics to shame Mark Adams! Poor form. The matter of sexual allegations need to be investigated before conclusions are drawn. Where the party is found guilty of charges, he or she must be indicted, and then the party has to deal with the consequence of his or her fleshly actions in both an ecclesiastical court and a court of law. Many unfound sexual allegations are a veritable death sentence and it is incumbent upon the Christian community to investigate properly. However, in the Christian community, bastions of power are not demolished even if undue harm has been done inside the four walls. Too often, Christian institutions insulate themselves, their reputation, leaders with IVY League degrees, their good looking leaders, and their 501.3.c status by disparaging victims of sexual abuse-such leaders protect everything but God's honor.

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J G

March 01, 2014  11:57am

Well said, James Cowles.

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James Cowles

March 01, 2014  10:02am

@ Mark Adams ... "Accusations do not necessarily equal fact. Before making a judgment let wait and see what the investigation reveals." Too bad more conservatives did not adopt this attitude of born-again forebearance about, e.g., Benghazi. But perhaps the principle of presumptive innocence applies only to evangelicals.

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James Cowles

March 01, 2014  9:10am

OK ... I can roll over & go back to sleep now. The other shoe just dropped.

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Mark Adams

March 01, 2014  8:54am

Accusations do not necessarily equal fact. Before making a judgment let wait and see what the investigation reveals.

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David Lloyd-Jones

March 01, 2014  4:35am

79? What a show-off! -dlj.

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John Keirsey

February 28, 2014  8:08pm

"Sexual Harassment" is a very damning accusation. What exactly is meant by this by the "victims?" Speculation about can't be helpful.

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Hal Sanders

February 28, 2014  5:10pm

I believe Gothard was graduated from Wheaton before 1961. I knew him when he was directing Chicago-area Hi-C Clubs in '58-'60 and he had already graduated. At least that's what I and others believed. Seeing the direction he was taking, i severed connections with Hi-C when I graduated from high school.

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K. Smith

February 28, 2014  5:01pm

Shoot, these allegations have been going on for years. I'm glad someone has finally acted. With this and Doug Phillip's scandal, maybe the Patriarchy movement will crumble. Any movement that is so fixated on controlling women (and it's pseudo-incestuous stay-at-home-daughter movement) always has an element of abuse of women in it. Now, maybe Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will open their eyes and see what kind of movement they're involved in.

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