By R.L Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Earlier today, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) released a statement by their board concerning the resignation of Bill Gothard and the many allegations against him concerning sexual misconduct and abuse. You can view the statement in entirety on IBLP’s website here. We have also archived a PDF of the statement on HA here.
The statement begins, unsurprisingly, with praise for IBLP itself. The board speaks glowingly of their own ministry, saying “each of us has been positively impacted by the relationships, teachings, and opportunities available through the Institute in Basic Life Principles.” That this is how the board chose to begin a statement on such a serious matter is rather telling.
The board then discusses the results of their “investigation” into Bill Gothard’s actions. They say the following:
In response to allegations against Bill Gothard, the Board sought the facts through a confidential and thorough review process conducted by outside legal counsel. Many people were interviewed, including former Board members, current and past staff members, current and past administrators, parents, and family members. At this point, based upon those willing to be interviewed, no criminal activity has been discovered. If it had been, it would have been reported to the proper authorities immediately, as it will be in the future if any such activity is revealed.
The fact is, the “thorough review process” was not conducted by “outside legal counsel.” It was, rather, conducted by David Gibbs, Jr. — a longtime associate of Gothard’s ministry. As Jeri Lofland at Heresy in the Heartland has pointed out,
Gibbs, whose Christian Law Association has been described as “the Fixers for fundamentalism”, gave three sermons at last year’s ATI training conference in Nashville and is slated to address this year’s conferences, too.
Considering not only Gibbs’s relationship with Gothard and his own history of defending child abusers, as Jeri also detailed, I have little faith in the legitimacy of the “review process.” It is entirely unsurprising that “no criminal activity has been discovered,” and I have no reason to believe that, was it discovered, that the IBLP would actually report it. The board has been aware of sexual abuse by both Bill Gothard and his brother for decades, and their track record on reporting it has been dismal. Earlier this year, Recovering Grace told Charlotte’s story, which included disturbing details about Gothard’s “long hugs” and sexually charged questioning of a young woman. And as Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism pointed out,
The IBLP Board knew that Bill was acting in appropriately toward her when she was a 16-year-old secretary at headquarters in 1992, and yet they simply sent her home and kept things quiet.
In 1992. And nothing was done. Nor was anything done as early as 1980:
Even before this, people knew and chose to cover for Gothard. There was a sex scandal in 1980 that involved Gothard’s indiscretions (it seems he made a habit of visiting the female staff in their beds at night), and yet people were willing to ignore, overlook, cover for, and outright lie about what happened.
Now, in today’s statement, the IBLP board has sadly chosen to continue their history of whitewashing and denialism. It may be a new board, but the actions remain the same.
The most tragic part of this, to me, is that while IBLP is willing to admit wrongdoing on the part of Gothard —
The review showed that Mr. Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner, and the Board realizes the seriousness of his lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ’s example of being blameless and above reproach.
— there is not a single moment where the IBLP board takes the time to say what should be most obvious:
If he acted in such an inappropriate manner that “the Board unanimously agrees that Mr. Gothard is not permitted to serve” in any IBLP role, could you maybe, you know, apologize?
Nope. Not once.
Not once does IBLP take a long, serious look at the devastation their ministry’s leader — and his twisted false gospel — have had on thousands of young people and families. Not once do they say, “We’re sorry about that.” Not once do they take seriously their role as stewards of a ministry that allowed a man in power to take advantage of young women under his authority — be it criminal or simply “in an inappropriate manner,” as they spin it. Not once do they say, “We’re sorry,” to those young women and their siblings and families for the broken hearts and hurting souls.
I mean, seriously, IBLP? Was it that difficult for you? Did you not know how to say a simple, “I’m sorry”? Here, let me Google that for you.
The board needs to take full responsibility for their leader’s actions and sincerely apology for those actions, whether criminal or simply “inappropriate.” They need to make amends to every individual grieving and suffering. They need to reassess their own organizational structure and teachings and consider how to ensure that such actions never happen again, nor get swept under the rug for decades. As it stands, IBLP’s latest statement is a disgrace to the name of the God they claim to serve.