Gothard’s ATI and the Duggar Family’s Secrets

Jim Bob Duggar and Bill Gothard at an ATI conference. Source:

By Wende Benner, HA Editorial Team

Content Warning: Spiritual Victim Blaming

The recent revelation that Josh Duggar admittedly molested five young girls as a teenager has taken over social media for the last two days. There has been a wide array of reactions and speculations. But, for many who were raised in the same quiverfull and patriarchal homeschool world, this has been a time of reliving their own traumas brought about by that dysfunctional culture. Those who lived it know all too well how the teachings and attitudes that are part of the Duggar family’s life affect families, victims, and even offenders.

The Duggar family’s involvement in Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI) homeschool program adds complexities to this story which are unknown to the average person. The underlying principles and beliefs the Duggars have built their lives around actually help groom and shame victims, help hide grievous abuse, and even keep offenders from receiving needed help.

The lessons learned from birth in homes like the Duggar’s strip children of their voice and agency. Starting with blanket training babies and toddlers understand quickly that disappointing a parent leads to swift and painful consequences. As they grow, it becomes clear that simply doing what is expected is not enough. It must be done instantly and cheerfully. Children are even forbidden to seek out the logic behind the request, as kids are prone to do, because that is seen a making excuses or delaying obedience. The consequences of failing to meet these expectations are severe. Gothard and the Duggars believe that spankings are necessary to save a child from their inborn nature to do evil, and these are not just any spankings. The Duggars endorse the child abuse methods taught by the Pearls. Growing up in an environment of fear, where questions are seen as rebellious, eventually makes children unable to speak up for themselves. They become unable to trust their own judgment of what is right and wrong. These children are the perfect targets for abuse; they do not know how to advocate for themselves.

Also, from a young age the children are instructed in God’s plan for their gender. Strict gender roles are the foundation of a patriarchal system. Girls learn their role is to be wives, mothers, and keepers at home. Most people know that for the Duggar family this includes the expectation of having as many children as possible.  Michelle Duggar is also outspoken about her beliefs on a wife’s subservient role and need to be sexually available to her husband. Children learn by watching their parents that men hold the power. This is detrimental for both boys and girls. Neither learns to have a healthy relationship without the power differential already in place.

All of this is accompanied by one of Bill Gothard’s 7 Basic Principles, Authority (these principles are the foundation to his Institute in Basic Life Principles seminar). This concept is taught with a diagram of umbrellas, which represent protection.

Umbrella of ProtectionNotice the man has authority over the entire household. The teaching claims that as long as the father has no holes in his umbrella-sin in his life, then nothing bad can happen to the rest of the family. However, any member of the family can step out from under the father’s protection if they sin. Then all manner of evil can happen to that person. Therefore, if something bad, like a sexual assault, happens to you and your father hasn’t done anything wrong, it must be your fault. Knowledge of this fact keeps many from even disclosing their abuse. They are aware that questions about sin in their life are likely to follow any revelation of their violation.

In Gothard’s world there are many other ways in which sexual abuse can be the victim’s fault. At the ATI student’s Counseling Seminar students are taught Gothard’s method of helping victims of sexual assault. The handout pictured here is part of the teaching material. Counseling SAStudents are taught to question the victim if they had any fault in the assault. The most obvious way they would be at fault is if they defrauded their attacker. Defraud is Gothard’s favorite word for any dress, actions, or manners that cause someone to lust. This teaching is further backed up by a handout on moral failure released in the 90s after an ATI boy was caught molesting his sisters.

ModestyWith this teaching a case can easily be made to blame the victim in some way. The feelings of arousal the offender felt must have been caused by some fault of the victim.

Defrauding is not the only way a victim can be at fault. Gothard also teaches that if a victim fails to “cry out” or be alert (one of the 49 required character traits everyone should have) enough to have anticipated the assault, then the victim bears responsibility. The story of Tamar, daughter of King David, is used to illustrate this point. It is easy to see how these teaching have set up a system where the victim bears the blame. Anyone raised with these beliefs is set up to struggle with a lifetime of shame and guilt while still bearing the scars of their abuse.

Before the victim has a chance to make sense of what has happened to them or deal with the chaos of emotions, they will also be reminded of another one of Gothard’s 7 Basic Principles-Suffering. This principle emphasizes the necessity of forgiveness and has dire warnings about the consequences of unforgiveness. If a victim fails to forgive, bitterness will take root in their heart, and bitterness causes pieces of your soul to be given to Satan. Satan will then build strongholds on this piece of your soul.

BitternessThis teaching is also echoed in the handout from the Counseling Seminar. Victims are to be reminded that their soul has more value than their bodies, so forgiving the offender must be the priority. Any suffering caused by the assault is then brushed aside.

The Duggars assured the public Josh’s victims have received counseling. Yet, the type of counseling taught in their world does not promote healing. It teaches shame. How can these young people be expected to heal from such a violation with these principles guiding the process?

The Duggars also claim that Josh received counseling. It is reported this counseling was done over three months at an old VA hospital in Little Rock, AK. While there he did construction work. The old hospital was donated to Bill Gothard for use as a training center. The Integrity Construction Institute was at that time a part of this facility. Evidence that manual labor is an effective treatment for sex offenders is hard to come by. Construction work alone would be a disservice to someone seeking help.

It is important to note that any counseling received from someone associated with ATI would be driven by the belief that mental disorders do not exist. This approach to counseling would be ineffective to address the very nature and needs of a serial molester.

Any counsel Josh did receive would probably be similar to the counsel noted earlier, in the handout on moral failure from the 90s.

Moral FailureWith close examination it becomes clear that the boy referenced learned a lesson on shifting blame. The victims were blamed for their lack of modesty. The parents were blamed for their lack of teaching. The offender learned to see how others have failed and have caused his problems. This approach would not bring any lasting change in someone needing serious help.

Josh Duggar’s situation as a teen was critical. Studies show that young offenders who are able to get the right kind of help reduce their probability of reoffending by more than 50%. Yet, as far as we can tell, that kind of help was not available to him. The ATI system of counseling not only fails the victims but the offenders as well.

This toxic system of beliefs originated with Bill Gothard, a man who had to resign from his own ministry last year when faced with dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. Even though Michelle and Jim Bob were aware of this, they still continued to use these teaching in their home and promote them using their fame. They also continued to speak and teach at the annual ATI family conferences. They have failed to see how their own system of belief has contributed to the devastation in their own family and in the ministry they promote.

The secrets the Duggar family hid all these years have tragic and devastating effects. The lives of five victims will be permanently altered. ATI only helped cover their abuse. ATI also was unable to provide the necessary counseling that Josh Duggar desperately needed at that time. The consequences of that failure could have changed to course of his life.

Bill Gothard’s cult creates a world in which abuse thrives in secret, and those that need help the most are silenced and shamed.

71 thoughts on “Gothard’s ATI and the Duggar Family’s Secrets

  1. Darcy May 23, 2015 / 5:52 pm

    The crazy goes so deep. People who have never heard this stuff or were raised under it’s oppression, have no idea. You have done such a great job at taking a thorough look at the many complex issues surrounding the event and the reactions of ex-ATI folks and religious homeschoolers. Thank you. ((hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

    • C-dale May 24, 2015 / 8:46 pm

      I would agree that the dysfunction goes very deep, but I would also ask you to consider the short-sighted generalizing of your comment, which makes an unfair (if not intolerant) judgement against all religious homeschoolers. I am a “religious” homeschooler (meaning I am a Christian). I move in a personal circle of nearly 200 families (in our homeschool group), and another 15 families in an additional homeschool co-op. NONE of us would ever condone what happened in the Duggar family, nor ascribe to ATI’s bill of goods. PLEASE, do not lump all Christian homeschoolers into a preconceived mold. We have every right to direct the education of our children as we see fit (as do others), and the vast majority of “religious” homeschoolers would never consider the Duggar/ATI version. I enrolled my 9th grader in traditional school this year, after 9 years of homeschooling her. She made the switch seamlessly, handling both the social arena AND her academics without any problem (3.9 GPA). Being “religiously” homeschooled has established a foundation of faith and strength for her. We’re good peeps. 😉


      • chaya1957 May 24, 2015 / 11:20 pm

        All the more reason to speak out against Gothard and patriarchy, as it reflects badly on a wide variety of people. The problem is, those who defend them and have no idea what goes on.


      • Darcy May 25, 2015 / 12:44 pm

        I do not see where I generalized anything nor said anything negative about religious homeschoolers. I was commending Wende for documenting the very complex issues surrounding this and the reactions of many of us.


  2. Kate May 23, 2015 / 7:52 pm

    This is exactly what I was telling a friend the yesterday. I grew up in ATI and it’s hard for people that do not understand the teachings to understand what all this means. It breaks my heart for the girls and I hope that this all brings more to light how destructive ATI and Bill Gothard are!


    • Sarah Hobbs May 24, 2015 / 9:41 am

      Kate, I am with you on this one. Trying to explain this to someone who did not grow up in this environment is hard.


  3. Sydney L. May 23, 2015 / 8:51 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to analyze this thoroughly…you put it best of all the articles I’ve been reading on this issue, and you summed up what I’ve wanted to say, but wasn’t sure how.


  4. Gramma S. (@grammie80) May 23, 2015 / 10:19 pm

    excellent read, I am one who had no clue as to the magnitude of twistedness, I am left feeling ill. Sadly, I see little hope for the Duggar victims bc the family has tight reign, and this kool aid is all they know. I don’t see how they would ever willingly escape or be open to see the wrongs in this ideology. imo, they’ll carry it on to the next generation, as Jessa appears almost robotic in her biblical responses. thank you for sharing. the more I read, the more I detest , and question the agenda of the political candidates that support this crap

    Liked by 1 person

    • chaya1957 May 24, 2015 / 6:59 am

      This probably explains why the children didn’t have any of their own friends, or take part in normal community activities, so that they couldn’t share the abuse, or receive different feedback than Gothard’s teaching.


  5. sheila0405 May 24, 2015 / 6:04 am

    Ok, so now you are very close to what I was taught when I was raised in fundamentalism. My church didn’t go so far as to advocate hitting babies, or on not using birth control, but all of the principles, in general, are what I was taught. I still have the “Character Sketches” book my dad used at the dinner table each evening, to fulfill his duty to raise his children by Biblical standards. Of course, looking at these handouts, one can see how isolated snippets of the Bible are pulled from context and misapplied. Thank goodness that over the years, my parents mellowed. There was a time when they insisted that daughters could not move out of the house unless it was to get married. Common sense prevailed as my four sisters and I grew to adulthood. Sadly, many are still trapped in this legalistic nightmare of a life. People are controlled through fear. This insight might explain the behavior of some of the more conservative, evangelical members of the GOP. Listen for the fear. You’ll see it.


  6. Gordon calhoun (@2ndfstestderby) May 24, 2015 / 6:52 am

    As a Christian, I shake my head at the “wife must submit” like some type of slave because thats not what the Bible says. Paul makes it very clear: “husbands surrender to your wives.” But this, due to where the line falls in Paul’s letter gets ignored. Paul outlines, given cultural norms for the day, a very liberating notion that husband and wife are equal partners in a marriage. Yet, I keep seeing MAN MUST RULE WIFE in Christian teachings and families.


    • Katie May 24, 2015 / 8:02 pm

      I’m sorry, but I am not seeing how you can say this is slavery? Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-29‬ NIV) The Lord also speaks of this is in Genesis 3:16, that our desire will be for our husbands but he will rule over us. Our desire is to control our husbands and this will cause martial strife. When my husband needs to make a decision we discuss it and he asks to know what I think, but ultimately the decision is his to make (even if I disagree with it). He is called to love me like his own body, so who would make a hurtful or dangerous decision if their own body was put in danger? Every choice my husband makes is for the best interest of me and our children, even putting his wants and needs behind our own. That is true love and a view of submission and it is in no way shape or form abuse or slavery.


      • Warbler May 25, 2015 / 12:03 pm

        Its okay, honey. You can lay off the caffeine now.


      • 100pinkapples May 26, 2015 / 1:16 pm

        YES! It is abuse and SLAVERY! It is beyond very hurtful, demeaning, and sexually sadistic. I was born and raised in this, I felt like god was my pimp, my scum bag father makes me sick.

        My mother is not a canine and neither am I.

        The people who get a thrill out of wives or daughters being submissive to any man like a dog or sex slave in bondage are selfish, misogynistic, heartless, and sexually sadistic. I was sexually abused the first ten years of my life by a southern Baptist Christian men who got a thrill out of the female submission to men bible verses. This Ariel Castro teaching hurt me as a sexually abused little girl very much.


      • Alan Canon May 26, 2015 / 1:54 pm

        St Paul to the Ephesians. Very good Christian, St Paul. WHO APPROVED OF SLAVERY, saying in the very next chapter to the one you quoted: ‘Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ’.

        I’m not saying you approve of slavery, but if you don’t then there’s at least one Christian teaching which you cheerfully ignore.


      • Alisha November 18, 2015 / 4:45 pm

        That is not true love. That is control. I was married for 58 years to the most incredible man ever and I was not expected to be submissive. We were equals. We made desissions together for the betterment of our family. You, lady are a slave to your husband. Jesus would not like that. God gave us a brain and free will. Use your brain.


  7. chaya1957 May 24, 2015 / 7:03 am

    Reblogged this on Low-Hanging Fruit and commented:
    This is a very good explanation of the environment that encouraged the Duggar child abuse, and likely has an untold number of victims. “Bill Gothard’s cult creates a world in which abuse thrives in secret, and those that need help the most are silenced and shamed.”


  8. joy sigler May 24, 2015 / 9:57 am

    In my teens I attended the Basic Youth Conflicts. To this day I am grateful for the influence of a High school counselor who was a sensible feminist . This was in the 70’s and Bill Gothard had not begun his home-school only methodology, otherwise I would have been a victim. My parents continued with Bill Gothard teaching for many years after I left home.. To maintain even limited communication we did not discuss the ATI program..I distinctly recall looking at all the examples of sin and the pencil sketches of women in the BYC syllabus. 99% of the time women were characterized as wanton harlots looking for every opportunity to snare a god -fearing man.I knew immediately that Bill Gothard had a serious issue with women in general. I was only 16 or 17.
    The suppression of woman to express themselves or to seek higher education is common in the ATI society.

    The most revealing dysfunction occurred at my fathers funeral held at an ATI “cell”. I had arranged for a friend with a lovely voice to sing at the service. The church pianist refused to play the accompaniment and the wife of the pastor would not let my friend practice the hymn in a separate building before the service.

    My friend was wearing a pantsuit.

    She did eventually sing and it was a lovely tribute to my father. My sisters and I will NEVER forget the way we were treated at our own fathers memorial service.
    It is very difficult for educated or sensible people to understand the methods of indoctrination. ATI must keep children out of any environment that could present a different perspective so as to guarantee conformity. .
    Overall people drawn into ATI are good and decent individuals just trying to live safe lives. Sadly they have been deceived and slowly lose their ability to think objectively, creatively or even compassionately as they turn more of their decision making over to “elders” in the ladder of authority.
    There are more observations I could record but I am grateful to find a forum to disclose a sadness that has haunted me since my fathers death. The cruelty of an individual to use a funeral to impose upon others their own ridiculous standards is really sick.


    • Christiane January 10, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      I remember realizing something was very wrong with Michelle Duggar . . . I saw a photograph of the whole family out walking and all the little girls had on longish full skirted red dresses with big white collars . . . and there was Michelle, a grown woman, wearing the very same dress as the youngest daughters . . . puffed sleeves, big white collar, long flared skirt . . . with her hair in a mullet with the back hair hanging down past her shoulders . . .

      and later, I saw worse evidence of something ‘not quite right’, when Michelle was on the phone to 911 after Jessa’s baby had been home-delivered and Jessa had heavy bleeding (she later needed transfusions at hospital) . . . Michelle’s voice was soft and child-like and not at all stressed as she reported her daughter’s bleeding . . . she did not sound at all like a normal mom who was seeking emergency help for her child . . . gosh . . . I wonder if she has had some sort of breakdown herself and the childlike dresses and soft little-girl voice is some sort of coping mechanism for her . . . if this is what becomes of the ultimate patriarchal wife, I should think there are enough red lights going off so that people know it is a far from wholesome way of life.


      • Aston16 January 24, 2016 / 8:48 am

        I completely agree with you. Michelle Duggar has been emotionally abused all her life. She grew up in the same type of household, with the he same beliefs that men are superior and women are submissive, that she is married into and raising her children. She is 100% submissive to her husband and even to her sons. It’s painful to watch because it is so bad. Makes me hate Jim Bob so much every time he speaks. She has been conditioned to not have an opinion, not be unique, not have thoughts or be creative and to be silent. What her family teaches their children is repulsive. The poor girls in that family are just going to end up being like her, submissive to their husbands, emotionally controlled and the cycle will continue with their own kids, just like Jill and Jessa are now with their families. Also their boys are being taught to not respect woman, to subject women to their commands and their will and to belittle them if they get out of line. Josh did this to hisnwife, Anna. She is so submissive and timid and can barley speak when he isn’t with her, coaching her. And look what he’s done. Molested his sisters and got away with it. Cheated on his wife. And probably some other horrible things and yet according to ATI it’s not his fault because he’s a man.


      • Mike January 24, 2016 / 12:48 pm

        Y’all should start your own TV show on TLC called “Duggar Haters”. You could just sit and sneer and convulse as you watch the Dugger show and make wild, hate filled, over-the-top conjecture on everything they do. “Look! Michelle is smiling! Obviously something is terribly wrong with her! If she was normal, she would spit and sneer and hate like the rest of us!”


  9. Kathleen Sullivan May 24, 2015 / 10:21 am

    Thank you so much for this information. In the early 80s I was pretty badly brainwashed by a very controlling husband and church elders who insisted that we families must follow Gothard’s horribly mysoginistic teachings. I didn’t know that Gothard was eventually investigated for multiple sexual crimes, but that news doesnt surprise me.

    Bottom line: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. :/


    • chaya1957 May 25, 2015 / 1:02 pm

      Gothard probably doesn’t like this bible verse: Be sure your sin will find you out.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy May 26, 2015 / 9:37 am

      I prefer the Frank Herbert corollary:
      “Power attracts the already Corrupt and the easily Corrupted.”


  10. Mike May 24, 2015 / 5:40 pm

    You say that Josh did not receive “the right kind” of counseling. How can you say that? As far as we know, there were never any re-occurrences of his wrong behavior since then and the girls appear to be happy and well adjusted, so it looks like it was very successful.


    • Warbler May 25, 2015 / 12:06 pm

      Yeah, no other girls spoke up after the first time he got off scot-free!!! Therefore he must have stopped. Because no consequences totally deters bad behavior and encourages victims without power to re-complain.
      We just need to get our heads right. Any counselling given, even if it was from another ATI camp, is totally legitimate.
      And Stockholm Syndrome? No way, those girls are TRULY HAPPY.


      • chaya1957 May 25, 2015 / 12:33 pm

        I didn’t grow up in any fundamental religious community, but I have known people who have grown up in these environments, and it doesn’t matter what brand. It appears incest and abuse is common. I would assume it has to do with maintaining an outward appearance of godliness/righteousness, and repressive policies, as well as isolation. If a person’s sense of identity and security is based upon a set of beliefs which involve trust in leadership and the behavior of their group, to be faced with unpleasant truths that threaten to send the whole shebang crashing to the ground is intolerable, and depending upon the mental health of the devotee, can be devastating.

        This is what happens when you build your house upon sand. It is fine and looks nice until the rain and winds come along. Whether you believe it or not at this time, you will survive without your sand house. Maybe you will find a sturdier one, maybe not, but you can emerge wiser and stronger for the experience.


    • chaya1957 May 25, 2015 / 1:24 pm

      Well, you have an environment where reporting of abuse results in blaming and shaming. You must be aware that in sexual abuse situations, victims may not come forward for 10, 20 years, or longer, or never. Certainly the overwhelming majority of offenders, such as Josh Duggar, get off due to statute of limitations. Offenders tend to reoffend, but we can’t be sure one way or another. I am concerned as a person is more likely to reoffend under stress, and now JD is unemployable, which is certainly a blow to his self-esteem and illusion. As far as the girls appearing happy, that is required by Gothardism. I suspect at least one will leave and spill the beans, which have already been spilled by numerous other, “apostates.” You might find this interesting:


    • Kat May 25, 2015 / 2:23 pm

      I’m appalled that anyone thinks they can know the psychological effects of incest and sexual abuse on Josh Duggar’s victims by watching a tv show that is heavily edited to portray the happy and obedient family legalistic fundamentalism demands. It can also take years or even decades for incest and sexual abuse survivors to feel all of the effects, which can include PTSD, depression, anxiety, an inability to trust others, sexual dysfunction, etc. In some cases the effects don’t even show up until a triggering event in the survivor’s life occurs such as having a child of their own.


    • 100pinkapples May 26, 2015 / 1:26 pm

      I was living in sexual abuse as a little girl, I looked and acted happy because I had no other choice. We were to smile and kiss male bottom at all cost.


    • missmoose June 9, 2015 / 1:12 pm

      you are wrong. there were multiple recurrences of his sick behavior. parents told him to knock it off, but he went on to “re-offend” 3 more times. this necessitated josh being removed from the home, and before that, the girls had to be locked up in their own room at night, for their own protection. this kid had and probably still has something very wrong with him. this whole idea that males are sometimes raised with, that you can do whatever you want with a girl or woman because they exist to please men, is warped and obviously false. until all males respect women’s boundaries, we’ll keep hearing about nauseating stuff like this. and keep in mind, we’re getting the whitewashed version of what happened. the duggars are not going to come right out and say he was raping the girls….. they’re naturally going to minimize and deny all the way. so just because Jim bob says it was minor and not a big deal, you can’t know that that’s true, and it probably is NOT true. i’ve always found the father to be subtly sleazy with his off color remarks and in the way he comments on his daughter’s attractiveness with a little too much interest. the kid had to get it from somewhere since children have to learn this behavior. the father and or both parents have more to do with this than we know. disgusting.


      • chaya1957 June 9, 2015 / 4:42 pm

        Yes, I didn’t watch the Fox special since I knew the questions and focus was preplanned in order to attempt to make the Duggars look good, but I still think, fat chance of them keeping their show minus Josh. But I read that Jessa and Jill claimed that it was no big deal, Josh was a boy at puberty and a little too curious about girls, yet they claimed the release of the police report to In Touch was deeply upsetting to them.

        These cults make the father the family idol, worshipped by all. We all know how a little girl just adores her father, and they want this to continue into adulthood, as he is their source of emotional gratification. I wouldn’t be surprised that emotional incest turns physical. The girls wear their hair to please their dad, which is also Gothard’s preferred hairstyle. You know one day someone is going to talk. I wonder if it was Jana who wrote the letter and purposefully placed it in a book to lend to the church?


    • Mary August 23, 2015 / 12:03 pm

      Hey, Mike, care to revisit your comment in light of recent revelations about Josh Duggar’s porn addiction and adultery?


  11. emjayay May 24, 2015 / 8:31 pm

    Got linked to this from a comment at gay news site TowleRoad.

    I understand something of conservative authoritarian family structure, and a bit about fundamentalist Christians etc. I saw Jesus Camp. But I had no idea that there was such a systematic and codified and far reaching version with home school curriculum to match. The whole thing is totally appalling.

    Thank you for this website and this information. This is a great service in terms of learning for people like me, and obviously for victims you are helping. And thanks to commenters also.


  12. Rod cozine May 25, 2015 / 8:33 am

    Lot of people on hear are just spreading hate…jumping on bandwasgon.


    • chaya1957 May 25, 2015 / 11:47 am

      If you view facts and people’s personal stories as hate, you have a lot of libraries to burn down.


      • Headless Unicorn Guy May 26, 2015 / 9:35 am

        Remember what ISIS did to the libraries in Mosul & Palmyra.
        (i.e. Everything Except the Koran)


    • 100pinkapples May 26, 2015 / 1:30 pm

      Because sexually abusing (FIVE) little girls is no big woo.

      I was sexually abused as a child, and yes, I hate RAPE.


  13. chaya1957 May 25, 2015 / 11:33 pm

    If you examine the Gothard material and information from cult survivors, they explain how expression of negative emotions is repressed, with special emphasis upon women. Isn’t it jumping to conclusions that people act based upon hate? I am very happy this came out, not out of hate, but because it may warn people who are considering these sorts of cults, validate the victims and encourage them to speak up and seek real help, and perhaps put perps behind bars before they can do more damage.

    I recall that when Michelle had her late miscarriage, the family, including the young children, appeared to be grieving deeply. Now, perhaps this is part of that culture, but it seems a bit unusual for this to occur with children, who don’t really understand death, especially of an unborn child. I suspect this might have something to do with the idea that this situation was one of the few outlets the children had to cry, express sorrow and be openly sad. Perhaps they were grieving for far more? What do you guys think? I already know what Mike thinks. I would just request that you speak with one survivor of this cult and get his/her story. For the record, I have spoken with several over the years, and seen all sorts of negative fallout.

    Gothard didn’t even start his own string of churches; he invaded other churches with his, “training,” under the guise of trust, just like an affinity scheme.


  14. chaya1957 May 25, 2015 / 11:47 pm

    I would add that I do hate what they stand for, not what they claim to stand for. They do not stand for God, righteous living or godly behavior, the moral high ground, but hypocrisy, fraud, abuse and misogyny.

    I think Mike just removed his comment because he didn’t have an answer, and perhaps it would be too humiliating for a female to prove him wrong. This isn’t your church where all you get are amens. But here is his comment for your enjoyment:

    “Isn’t it equally appalling that you think every portrayal of them as happy is phony? How can you possibly know that? Face it, you hate them, you hate what they stand for. Your hatred clouds your judgment. It was probably a great joy for you to read of their current troubles….probably made your day!”


    • angelita July 9, 2015 / 8:58 pm

      I agree with you one hundred percent. There are many families out there who believe in fundamentalist Christianity and practice what they preach (in what is their perspective) a Godly way. Although I don’t believe in their viewpoint, I respect their right to follow it. People like the Duggars who are high-profile fundamentalist Christians, who pose as such, yet are following such nonsense as Bill Gothard preaches, should absolutely be held responsible for their actions. By that, I mean that they should be prosecuted not only for teaching their children this ridiculous “victims are at fault” propaganda, but also for covering up their son’s actions. It is true, they do appear happy and well-adjusted. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. That is not the point. The point is that their son molested their daughters and another young woman. Proper legal action was not taken. Although they apparently did turn Josh in to authorities, that authority figure happened to be a sexual predator as well. Fault can be found with both the parents and the police that were involved. Josh is responsible for his own actions, it is true, but a lot of the blame should be firmly placed on his parents and Bill Gothard for teaching him (however inadvertently) that by “defrauding” him, it is a woman’s fault for causing him to have sexual thoughts towards her.


  15. Headless Unicorn Guy May 26, 2015 / 9:34 am

    This concept is taught with a diagram of umbrellas, which represent protection.

    “Take your workbooks and turn with me
    To the chapter on Authority
    Do you top the chain of command
    Rule your family with an iron hand?

    “Because a Good Wife learns to cower
    Underneath the Umbrella of Power;
    Under cover of Heaven’s Gate —
    — Steve Taylor, “I Manipulate”


  16. Brad Sundquist May 28, 2015 / 4:50 pm

    Myself and 2 other individuals tried to help a young woman ( 27-28 at the time ) a few years ago, as she was kicked out of her Gothardite home. We were VICIOUSLY slandered and accused by an older brother who remained in the home. He was himself stalking her at the place she had found to live, and was also stalking myself as well as peering into the windows of a neighbor of mine. On confronting his father – via phone – about his son’s behavior, there was a complete acceptance of the Father concerning his son’s false allegations. The son continued to openly accuse me in a public coffee shop – as he was leaving – and never admitted to anything. A circle-the-wagon mentality.
    Is this common amongst Gothardites?


    • Headless Unicorn Guy December 16, 2015 / 9:05 am

      It’s common amongst all followers of The One True Way, whatever that One True Way may be.

      For the Utter Righteousness of the One True Way justifies ANYTHING.


  17. Brad Sundquist May 29, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    One other question?
    Is it common for some of the boys/men in Gothardite families to become obsessive over their sisters, especially the ones they may have molested? When a woman leaves a Gothardite home without parental permission, does this cause aberrant behavior in the boys/men that remain behind?


  18. angelita July 9, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    I am very saddened by all of this. I can’t believe this sort of “blame the victim” propaganda is even legal in the United States. I am not part of any religious group, and I do believe people should be able to make their own choices when it comes to their spiritual beliefs, and should be free to follow what they believe. But what Gothard is teaching goes beyond what any reasonable, moral person of any religion should be able to stomach. It’s one thing to follow what one believes to be biblical (the father being the patriarch, purity before marriage, wifely submission, etc.). These are fundamental beliefs of many religions and societies, and our country is based on each citizens right to follow their personal religious beliefs. However, to teach that a victim of sexual assault is to blame for what happened to them, that they have to forgive their attacker lest their own soul be in peril, is contemptible. Especially when it is done in the name of religion. This is sickening, especially when the Duggars’ situation must be a common one amongst those who follow Gothard. This is just as morally heinous as sex trafficking in my viewpoint.


  19. Maggie August 20, 2015 / 8:41 pm

    Organized faith and religion is the key. Interpreters like Gothard are dangerous as they have their own agenda, basically self inflated visions. There are so many Christian branches of faith – loving, understanding and yes, still following the message of Jesus. You do have be reliable and take chances, but this is part of human nature – are you that afraid of your own self control? Christian branches of faith is one thing, but this applies to other faiths as extremist views are just as self destructive.


  20. Mike September 28, 2015 / 12:15 pm

    Hilarious! Sarah can post a sick, twisted post about little girls being temptresses, yet my post challenging the ridiculousness of that kind of over-the-top conjecture is deleted! You people are too much! … analogy was so right on, it’s easier to just delete it before too many people see it. Have fun in your twisted little straw-man world!


    • Darcy September 28, 2015 / 12:25 pm

      Mike, your comment was deleted for victim-blaming and using language that would be highly triggering to abuse survivors. Please see the comment policy for content that gets deleted on HA. Thanks!


    • Brian December 27, 2015 / 11:57 am

      Mike, you might have moved along because your comments are from several months ago but I wanted to point you to Doug Wilson’s sick little comment about a rape victim looking older than her age (13 years). This kind of comment is completely unbalanced and questions the insult and injury of rape by suggesting the perpetrator, the criminal who has a sick lack of boundaries, is not entirely responsible and that a 13 year old child must bear some personal responsibility. Are you aware of the Natalie Rose Greenfield case in Idaho?
      Also, with respect, I feel that your comment regarding Duggar straightening himself up is grossly misinformed and seems like something said without research being done. Do you believe that you are God’s choice as big boss of the family and that your wife is allowed to comment only? Some teachings that come out of Paul’s stuff seem either very very sick emotionally or too far in the past to understand at all. As for Duggar/Gothard teachings, bullies often smile widely as they abuse you.


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