Worksheet Claims That God Allows Sexual Abuse: Part IV

CC image courtesy of Flickr, andy li.

By Shade Ardent.

TW: Content discusses rape, and other forms of abuse.

Recently Homeschoolers Anonymous was given access to a worksheet from The Institute of Basic Life Principles‘ training center. It is titled ”Why Did God Let A Four Year Old Boy Be Molested By A Fifteen Year Old Neighbor?’. The Institute of Basic Life Principles is run by Bill Gothard, who is currently facing a lawsuit for molestation, rape, and sexual harassment. The Institute of Basic Life Principles has many training centers around the world.

This series will look at each reason and demonstrate how they are revictimizing.

If you are just starting this series, please read Part IPart II, and Part III first.

11. To see the need for a daily schedule for the best use of time.

‘Free time’ is a dangerous and unwise commodity. The phrase ‘Idle hands are the devils workshop.’ is true. The wise parent will schedule productive activities throughout the day so that a child does not have time to get into trouble.

Again, it is apparently the child’s fault and the parents’ fault for the abuse. Gothard contends that abuse would never have happened if the children had both been occupied appropriately. According to Gothard, the appropriate thing to have been doing was to be around adults and memorize lots of Bible verses.

Fundamentalism requires children to be little adults, never playing. In reality, play is important to children’s development, enabling them to come to a greater understanding of their environment.

It cannot be said enough – the choice to abuse was made by the abuser. There is no blame on the child for being abused. There is no blame on the parents for trusting someone around their child. Parents are only responsible for the abuse if they have either done it themselves, or have been aware of abuse going on (present or past) and still allowed their child to be around the person.

Free time is not to blame for abuse happening, the abuser and their choice to abuse is the reason.

12. To remind the father to pray a daily hedge of protection.

Each day it is important for the father to pray a hedge of protection around each member of the family and to ask God to rebuke the principality over the family in the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here, the responsibility is being placed on the father. The umbrella of authority places the father at the head of the household, in control of everything, and as a go-between between God and the family. It is his job to be perfect, so as to protect his family from sin. When anything bad happens to someone in the family, the first question is ‘were you under the umbrella of authority?’ with the implication being that if you had obeyed (don’t be alone with children, don’t have free time, don’t sin, etc.) then nothing bad would have happened. The next question asked is of the father, which is generally some form of ‘are you right with God?’, because a father who has done everything perfectly will have a perfect family, untouched by sin (unless they leave his umbrella).

Closing Thoughts

Childhood sexual abuse is no small thing. It has far reaching consequences for both the abused and the abuser. There will be further negative consequences if its not reported and even more still if the child is blamed.

The first step that should be taken when a child discloses that someone abused them is to call the police and report it. Always report. Reporting abuse means that someone will investigate, and hopefully prosecute the abuser. It means that the abuser will, hopefully, not have the chance to abuse more children.

The church frequently investigates itself, and takes the words of an abuser over those of the abused. They side with the abuser when they allow them to repent and then continue being a part of the congregation, as though nothing had ever happened.

Statistics show that by the time an abuser is caught, they have had between 20 and 150 other victims. It is important now, more than ever, to report abuse and prevent it from being repeated within the church.

Gothard’s methods of blaming and shaming the victim and their family is a means of silencing. Fundamentalism cultivates very carefully a culture of silence and fear of outside authority. They capitalize on this with these kinds of teachings.

Who will report abuse to the police when God himself blames you for your abuse? Who will report abuse against their child when the church has said you are to blame for your child’s hurts?

To keep their power intact, fundamentalists rely on us believing the words that have been written down about the bible, or the words that have been spoken about the bible. It uses a top-heavy system of authority in order to squash any doubts, questions held by those who are supposed to be following God and authority.

Gothard employs some very specific cultic and fundamentalist strategies to blame, shame, and silence. The main method being used here to silence doubters is to completely fill their sermons, speeches, literature with so many Bible quotes that it is almost impossible to look up all of them. Even though we were required to memorize large portions of the Bible, we were also taught to accept their statements without questioning.

It was a double-bind: memorize, but never doubt.

Listen and believe, those were our mandates. And we did. We listened, we believed, and so we were victimized over and over again. When it comes to reporting abuse, we are simultaneously disbelieved and blamed for the abuse having happened.

People love to say to us, “But I would never be taken in by such things,” or “I would have looked up all the verses and discovered that they were lying,” but they don’t understand how it was. It is dismissive of our reality, and arrogant. It sets themselves up as better than we were, and blames us for believing. We were helpless, conditioned to obey.

When one combines this method with the blame and shame assigned through these teachings, it is no wonder we feel helpless against abuse, and against reporting abuse. Why report if it’s our fault?

And when it came to abuse, we knew it was our own fault.

Escaping their Bible, their beliefs, is a lifetime of work, and these publications don’t make it any easier.

End of series.

Worksheet Claims That God Allows Sexual Abuse: Part III

CC image courtesy of Flickr, andy li.

By Shade Ardent.

TW: Content discusses rape, and other forms of abuse.

Recently Homeschoolers Anonymous was given access to a worksheet from The Institute of Basic Life Principles‘ training center. It is titled ”Why Did God Let A Four Year Old Boy Be Molested By A Fifteen Year Old Neighbor?’. The Institute of Basic Life Principles is run by Bill Gothard, who is currently facing a lawsuit for molestation, rape, and sexual harassment. The Institute of Basic Life Principles has many training centers around the world.

This series will look at each reason and demonstrate how they are revictimizing.

If you’re just starting this series, please read Part I and Part II first.

8. To learn how to discern evil companions.

When a person is molested, he develops a new sensitivity to people with wrong motives. This awareness is for future protection and must be developed into the quality of discernment instead of fear. Your son should now have a natural resistance to any person who has impure motives.

This item also places blame and responsibility on the victim. Along the lines of ‘all things work together for good’, it is saying that since the child was abused, they should now be able to protect themselves from further abuse. So if more abuse happens, it’s the child’s fault for not learning their lesson.

It is also taking a very natural response – fear – and turning it into a bad response. It is teaching a child to deny their feelings, to see their feelings as wrong. It is teaching the child that they are responsible to learn from their mistake of choosing to be with an abuser, and learn how to prevent it in the future.

It is never the job of the child to protect themselves. That is the job of adults.

9. To work out justice and mercy.

It is important that justice be carried out in this situation. This means proper punishment should be administered to the offending neighbor. As a preparation for this, it is vital to make diligent inquiry with each boy to find out all the facts. Any hidden aspects of this molestation will give the enemy authority and will be used by him in the further defeat of both boys. Once the full facts are known and repented of, mercy may be extended.

Nowhere in this statement (which is number 9 of a list of 12 items) does he say “This person should be reported to the authorities.” They call abuse a sin. By calling it a sin instead of a crime, they can keep the accountability within the church and not involve the police. But “in-house” investigations are ineffective. No one can investigate themselves accurately, this is why we have the police.

Sexual abuse is a crime, and the proper authorities need to be notified of what happened. This is true justice.

Within fundamentalism, a reliance on the authority within the church is paramount. ‘Proper punishment’ in this case generally has to do with church discipline. They do not report to outside authorities. By saying it’s important to inquire to both parties, the child is highly likely to be revictimized. The methods used to ‘find out’ what happened are often intense sessions where a victim is cornered into saying things and admitting things they otherwise wouldn’t.

Because a child who has been abused is often confused about what happened, how it happened, and when it happened, someone inexperienced in questioning a child will often come to the conclusion that the child is lying. They will (and do in this environment) blame the child for going along with things, for being there, for not telling soon enough. The responsibility solely lies with the abuser, but within fundamentalism the attitude is frequently that it takes 2 to sin.

When an abuser is caught within the church environment, it is quite common for them to ‘repent’ in order to escape punishment. Gothard’s theology requires the victim to forgive their abuser, and to search for ways they invited the abuse.

Gothard leaves no room for anger, for distance from the abuser.

10. To help the parents understand the basis of ‘genius’.

In a study by the Smithsonian Institute, 40 men considered geniuses were studied in order to find common denominators. The three common denominators were 1. Parents protected them from contact with other children. 2. They were continually around caring adults who taught them what they knew. 3. The were taught how to creatively solve problems. Based on this, your son should not have been with the other boy but rather with the adults so that he could learn from them.

The study referenced, The Childhood Pattern of Genius, was done by Harold G. McCurdy in 1957. Not only is it outdated, but it justifies childhood isolation. Children who are not allowed to be around other children suffer physically, socially, and emotionally. However, within fundamentalism isolation is a key component for children and how they are raised. We were to be homeschooled (or schooled at church), away from our peers. We were to be kept at home, seeing others only at church.

They shrunk our worlds, controlled our access to everything.

But assuming for a moment that a child isn’t already being isolated, imagine depriving an abused child of their friends after they reveal the abuse. The child is very likely to feel like they are being punished for being abused. After all, they lost their friends after being abused. They may even feel that it’s their fault they lost their friends.

If blaming the child for their abuse isn’t enough, parents are also blamed for the abuse because they weren’t supposed to have their child around other children. Gothard is saying that abuse would not have happened if the parents had obeyed ‘God’ (really Gothard and his methods, though no one draws a distinction between God and Gothard in that world).

This also ignores sibling abuse, like what happened in the Duggar family. They were following the mandates, and keeping their children isolated (as isolated as one can be while on television). Josh Duggar still abused his sisters.

To be continued.

Worksheet Claims That God Allows Sexual Abuse: Part II

CC image courtesy of Flickr, andy li.

By Shade Ardent.

TW: Content discusses rape, and other forms of abuse.

Recently Homeschoolers Anonymous was given access to a worksheet from The Institute of Basic Life Principles‘ training center. It is titled ”Why Did God Let A Four Year Old Boy Be Molested By A Fifteen Year Old Neighbor?’. The Institute of Basic Life Principles is run by Bill Gothard, who is currently facing a lawsuit for molestation, rape, and sexual harassment. The Institute of Basic Life Principles has many training centers around the world.

This series will look at each reason and demonstrate how they are revictimizing.

If you’re just starting this series, please read Part I.

4. To transform aroused desires to Spiritual power.

When molestation takes place, sexual desires are often awakened. Sexual energy however can be transformed into spiritual power as we yield up the members of our body to the Lord on a daily basis and hide God’s Word in our heart. Scripture refers to sexual drives as coming from our innermost being and the apostle John states ‘Out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water’.

Editorial Note: TW, links will contain graphic images of assault and physical reactions.

This is an especially shaming item in the list. Essentially, Gothard is claiming that any sexual arousal experience during abuse is dangerous. This kind of message is harmful to a child because they might have experienced emotional closeness, or sexual pleasure from the abuse. The child is likely already experiencing confusion if they experienced pleasure but know that what happened is wrong. Adding the idea of sexual arousal being dangerous further burdens the child.

This can lead them to keep quiet about the abuse, because they feel guilty about the good feelings.

The fact that one’s body may respond favorably to rape is one reason survivors keep quiet. Victims may feel their body has betrayed them, because it confuses assault with pleasurable feelings. Gothard takes these normal body responses and makes them evil, reinforcing the victim’s feeling that they have been betrayed by their own body.

It is worth noting that the verse mentioned here has nothing to do with sex. John 7:38 says ‘Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’. So either believing in God brings about sexual desire, or, as we’ve seen in other cases, Gothard is just using verses out of context to prove whatever he wants.

5. To motivate him to write God’s word on his heart.

In order to transform this event into spiritual power, your son must begin to memorize large portions of Scripture and meditate on them day and night. As he keeps the Law of God before his spiritual eyes, he will fulfill the requirement of John 14:21. ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them [before his eyes] he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father and I will love him and manifest myself unto him’. See also James 1: 21

Here we have Gothard’s typical answer to everything: memorize large portions of the Bible. His belief is that if we do this, God will somehow bless us, protect us, guide us. It’s a setup. Never mind that we have a very young child who, developmentally, should be doing things like learning his ABCs and how to count.  He should be playing, not sitting and memorizing the Bible at all.

The verse referenced here places conditions on the love that God will show a person–that God loves those who love Him. Gothard further interprets “hath his commandments” to mean Bible memorization. Imagine if a young child were asked to memorize this verse after his abuse–he may come to believe he has to earn God’s love through Bible memorization. Pair this with the horrific abuse the child has survived, where it is natural to doubt love, to self-hate, to fear, to be angry, and you end up with a toxic mess for the child emotionally. What the child needs at this time is reassurance of love, therapy, and lots of freedom to express their emotions and needs.

6. To concentrate on God’s hatred of sodomy.

Since this offense would be in the area of sodomy, it would be very important for your son to memorize the law and testimonies which speak of this abomination. He should study the account in Genesis about Sodom and Gomorrah and he should memorize Romans 1 and all the other passages that directly refer to the sin of sodomy.

Let’s set aside the homophobia of this statement for a moment. This requirement is already problematic, but it is especially so when paired with the one above (memorize a great number of verses in order to earn God’s love). Surviving sexual abuse leaves one with so many difficult feelings, among them fear, confusion, depression, isolation, guilt, and shame.

Memorizing verses that all discuss God’s hatred of sodomy, which might have been what happened to the child, is damaging. Combine all of this with the blaming theology that is being created here, and a child is left feeling as though God hates them. When a child is taught that they first need to repent for not telling soon enough, then that they have not memorized enough verses, and further that they need to memorize verses about how sodomy is an abomination, they get the message that this is their fault, and that God hates them. Who can blame them for coming to that conclusion?

7. To confirm the importance of avoiding evil companions.

The book of Proverbs is filled with warnings to avoid evil companions, ‘Be not deceived, evil companions corrupt good manners’. ‘He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed’. God wants us to have contempt for the wicked as explained in such passages as Psalm 15, ‘In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but he honoreth them that fear the Lord’.

This, too, is victim blaming. Going through this list, we have a repeating theme of blaming and shaming. Telling a child that they need to avoid evil companions places responsibility for the abuse back on the child. By teaching this, parents and authority are ignoring the fact that the abuser chose to abuse the child, and are focusing instead on the fact that the child was in the presence of the abuser in the first place.

No one is talking about how the neighbor in this example chose to abuse. This is yet another way Gothard deflects responsibility. It is never a child’s job to keep themselves safe, it is the job of the adults around them to create and maintain safe spaces.

The child may not have had any choice in this situation. But even if the child had been friends with their abuser, this still does not mean that they are responsible for the abuse. Children, people, have the reasonable expectation that their friends or acquaintances are not abusers. This is normal.

Teaching a child this verse will victimize them again because of its message that someone will be destroyed if they walk with ‘fools’. An abuser is no fool, they are usually quite savvy about their choices of whom to abuse. They are also quite savvy about how to appear like a good person. But a child does not know this, and thus is likely to blame themselves. They need to be told that they bear no blame, not told to avoid evil companions.

To be continued.

Gothard Explains Why God Allows Child Molestation: Part One

CC image courtesy of Flickr, andy li.

By Shade Ardent.

TW: Content discusses rape, and other forms of abuse.

Continued in Part II and Part III, and Part IV.

Recently, Homeschoolers Anonymous was given access to a worksheet from The Institute of Basic Life Principles‘ training center. It is titled ”Why Did God Let A Four Year Old Boy Be Molested By A Fifteen Year Old Neighbor?’. The Institute of Basic Life Principles is run by Bill Gothard, who is currently facing a lawsuit for molestation, rape, and sexual harassment. The Institute of Basic Life Principles has many training centers around the world.

Most of these training centers were used for all ATI students, offering “apprenticeship opportunities” and training. However, this piece of literature (dated around 1994-1995) came from the Indianapolis Training Center, which was special. This training center was used for for troubled teens and juvenile delinquents. This literature, while old, reflects the current beliefs of the Institute of Biblical Life Principles.

Each handout of this type contains a lengthy list of victim blaming statements, complete with verses. They detail the reasons God not only did not prevent the abuse, but allowed it for His purposes. Victim blaming is very common in fundamentalism, with leadership doing everything they can to assign responsibility to the victim instead of the abuser. The stated goal of such literature is supposed to prevent bitterness and force repentance upon abuse victims. In reality, it revictimizes victims, causing them more pain.

According to them, we are to recognize our own culpability and then confess our sins.

Fundamentalism, by its very nature, requires victims to submit their pain and their autonomy to the leadership. The leadership is always presented as a spokesman for their God and demands complete abject obedience.

This series will look at each reason and demonstrate how they are revictimizing.

1. To Teach him his responsibility to cry out to God.

In our fallen world with all its evil men and women, there will be attacks by a stronger upon a weaker. When this happens, the law of God is very clear that the weaker must cry out for help or he will be equally guilty. This principle is found in Deuteronomy 21:23, 24. When a ‘victim’ does not cry out or immediately tell his authority he will carry around a sense of guilt which Satan will then use for condemnation and further defeat. It would therefore be important for your son to confess his failure to do this and ask God to forgive him.

To back up this principle the verses Deut. 21:23-24 are cited. However, there is no verse 24, and verse 23 has nothing to do with this concept. Verse 23 discusses someone who has been put to death, and what the responsibility is towards their body. Nowhere does it discuss what someone should do when they have been abused.

It takes an immense amount of courage for anyone to divulge their abuse to a trusted person, let alone an authority. In this case, the authority has set themselves up to be God’s spokesman, making it even more daunting to tell. Far too commonly in this culture we are not believed; rather, we are blamed for causing it, for not telling, for not telling the right way, and for not telling soon enough. No matter what a victim does, we are wrong for not handling this in some magically ‘biblical’ way that is being outlined here.

This literature begins by placing the word victim in quotes, to denote that it is not a real status (fundamentalism believes that all have sinned, there is no innocent party). Thus, there is no such thing as abuse in the first place. It also begins with accusing victims of not telling soon enough and letting us know that Satan will be using this against us forever. We are to confess and repent that we did not tell soon enough.

We are already carrying around the guilt, fear, and shame from being abused. In this literature, the first response a victim hears is disbelief and blame from authority.

2. To motivate him to dedicate his body to God.

Romans 12:2 explains the importance of every believer presenting his body as a living sacrifice to God. Once this is done, our body no longer belongs to us, it belongs to God. This concept is important in order to avoid bitterness. Your son is able to then say, ‘That neighbor did not molest my body, he molested God’s body and God’s judgement is upon him for doing that’.

Again, a verse is referenced as though it will clear up all the questions about the veracity of this requirement. Romans 12:2, which says “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” has nothing to do with dedicating one’s body to God, or even about one’s body in the first place.

Dedicating one’s body to God is another way for the victim to lose more agency over themselves. It’s not their body that was molested, it was God’s body that was molested. This means any anger they have is wrong; it’s God’s place to be angry or not at the abuse of His body, not the victim’s right to be angry at the violation. This removal of bodily autonomy further abuses the victim.

The abuse that happened has already shown them clearly that someone bigger and stronger than they are can use their strength to hurt another person. A victim clearly knows their body is not their own. And so, with a few words, the victim is again abused by the ones they should be able to trust.

In order for healing to occur, it is important to give a victim back their sense of self, to validate that their body was violated, to reiterate that they have every right to be angry, and that their body is theirs. We need to be able to find our sense of self, our sense of consent, and come to grips with the fact that abuse happened. Instead, we are reminded it’s not our body, we are reminded that it’s not our right to be angry.

It is God’s body.

3. To give him a ‘moral vaccination’ against future temptations.

God will severely judge the fifteen year old boy for the evil that he did. However, your son can turn what was meant for evil into good. The vaccinations we receive for various diseases contains a small amount of the actual disease. Our immune system builds up a reaction to it so that if our body is exposed to the disease, it is prepared to fight it off. A similar result can occur in the life of your son if this matter handled in a Scriptural way.

One thing fundamentalism likes to teach is that God allows bad things to happen to us in order to prepare us for the future. It is a twisted way of taking ‘all things work together for good’ and applying it to abuse and other very negative things. Gothard is making a very young child responsible to protect themselves from here on out.

It is their job to recognize and stay away from further abuse because it happened once. This is viewed as a good thing, a lesson to be learned. A frequent phrase might be ‘What can we learn from this?’, as though abuse is only a character lesson, instead of the horrifically wrong action that it is.

It is never the job of a child to protect themselves from abuse. This job belongs to the adults in their life. These adults are to be aware of risk factors, and not allow predators into the child’s life. This is not to say that parents are at fault when abuse happens (unless they are the abusers, or knew of abuse), it is to say that it’s the parents’ job especially to protect their children.

Within fundamentalism, authority is placed over children every step of the way. There is no scenario in which they have full choice, or even partial choice, to control what is happening to them. Placing the responsibility on them to avoid further abuse victimizes them even more.

It says to the child “If you are abused, it’s your fault. Why didn’t you learn what you needed to learn?”

To be continued.

The Bible Is Not Your Shield

CC image courtesy of Flickr, louisebatesuk.

By Shade, HA Editorial Team.

Recently, Bill Gothard was hosted by Total Outreach for Christ Ministries in Little Rock, AR for the 2016 Overcomer’s Conference. Based on the knowledge that he is an alleged sexual predator, someone contacted the church’s bishop, Bishop Robert E. Smith, with their concerns that they were having someone like Gothard speak at their church.

The response from the bishop was telling. Referencing 1 Timothy 5:19, which is a companion to Matthew 18:15-17‘s directives to always confront privately first, and then with witnesses. But the question remains ‘Should we be confronting those who have committed crimes as though they are just sins and offenses?’.

The text reads:

Brother Brandon, I am at somewhat of a disadvantage, not knowing you personally, nor being privy to your first-hand knowledge of an Elder’s (Bill Gothard’s) sin(s). I am instructed, ‘Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses’ (1 Timothy 5:19). If you are a witness against this elder, please gather one or two others who are first hand witnesses and schedule an appointment to sit down with me, and do according to God’s word. Until such time, where I am concerned, you stand in violation both of scripture, where Brother Gothard is concerned, and having not pointed out any discrepancies in my teachings, etc. your judgement of my character, discernment, and ministry is faulty at best. I await your biblical response; no other type of correspondences are necessary. 

In Christ Jesus,  

Bishop Robert E. Smith, Sr.

The patriarchal nature of the Bill Gothard/ATI/IBLP cult is such that leaders are unassailable in their directives, their actions, their lives. There is a tendency to dismiss accusations such as these as merely ‘offenses’. This allows the leader who is being confronted to make it appear as though the accuser is mentally unstable, unable to parse the differences between good and evil. It paints the accuser as petty, overly emotional, unbelievable.

It leaves us with no recourse.

We are not believed, because we either have no witnesses, or all the witnesses in question are ‘offended’. Being offended brings into question the Umbrella of Authority, in which men are the ultimate leaders and voices for God. According to this umbrella idea, there are 3 levels of ‘protection’. The first is God’s role in our lives. He is the ultimate controlling power.

The second is the man’s role, as father/husband to the family. His authority comes directly from God. The third is that of the wife/mother’s umbrella. It is nestled completely underneath the man’s umbrella. She is to be subordinate, submissive completely to the husband. He is God’s voice to her at all times.

Underneath these umbrellas are the children. They are completely covered by both the mother’s and father’s umbrellas, and then by God. The authority of the mother is over them, but her authority is always trumped by the father’s authority. To question the father is to question God. God’s umbrella and the father’s umbrella are often seen as the same thing.

This same umbrella is applied to authority structures within the church.

Everything is a cascading layer of how God talks to one man, and that is to trickle down into complete abject obedience by those underneath. There is no freedom, no sense of self.

It is within this structure that Matthew 18:15-17, and I Timothy 5:19 come into play. With the focus being on ‘sin’ and ‘offense’, the diminishing language leaves those of us who have accusations with little ground to stand upon. Boz Tchividjian has quite a lot to say about this in his article “If your brother sins against you”….and he’s a sex offender.

In it, he delineates the difference between a sin and a crime, and says,

Such offenses are rightly under the jurisdiction of the governing authorities.  In the New Testament book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that Christ followers are to be subject to the civil authorities.  He writes, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  He even mentions that the role of government is to punish evildoers.  Child sexual abuse is an evil that has been rightly deemed to be criminal by the civil authorities.  Therefore, those who profess to follow Jesus have the responsibility to make sure that a person accused of committing such a crime is subjected to those governing authorities – which includes making a police report and cooperating throughout the criminal justice process.

Based on this, one would assume that the first step would be calling the authorities with information about a crime committed, but I think this first goes back to language.

First, they need to admit that this is a crime, not an offense, not a sin. With this revelation, more responsibility is laid upon the authority in question to listen to those accusing another member of a crime. It brings into play the mandatory reporting laws. It requires them to ‘render unto Caesar’ their trust and confidences in bringing the person accused to justice.

The verses that were used here to hide behind are not being used in their entirety. I Timothy 5:19 has companion verses that make this a complete thought. I Timothy 5: 20-21 says:

But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

The first verse (20) referenced from I Timothy 5 clearly instructs believers to make public the accusations that are being brought against an elder, so that all will know. In the case of abuse, the only way to make sure the abuse is stopped is to make it public. The more people that know, the less likely it is that it could continue. Knowledge is power. In order to burn down the systems that perpetuate abuse, it needs to be made public.

The second verse (21) makes it clear that no favoritism should be employed when dealing with an elder, or authority figure, that has abused. By invoking the Umbrella of Authority, favoritism is being used. Because to question or accuse a male authority figure is to question God Himself. This is expressly forbidden within this patriarchal structure.

Matthew 18 also contains this passage in verses 6-9:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Surely it cannot be anymore plain, that committing abuse of any kind against a child is an offense that angers the God of the Bible. Not only does it say that it is better if these people would die, it goes further to state that removal of the offending part of the body is necessary to protect the rest of the soul.

Based on these two passages, it is plain to see that there is far more responsibility on the listener to hear and believe the accused. In attempting to hide behind the Bible’s directives about confrontation, they expose their own biases.

They are not reading, nor following, their own Bible’s commands.

Their own Bible commands that no favoring of elders is to be shown, especially when being confronted with ‘sin’. And by ‘sin’ in this case, we mean crime. Abuse is a crime committed against those who are vulnerable. They are made even more so by the very authority structures put into place by things like the Umbrella of Authority.

This umbrella means it is nearly impossible for us to confront our abusers.

They enjoy impunity, complete power over our lives. In order to confront, we would need to have unquestionable sources, and the only ones who are not questionable are the ones who are in authority in the first place. And within that system, the ones who have power are greatly unwilling to be either questioned, or to have their authority in any way diminished.

They stick together, they believe each other over victims. Even though their own Bible commands that they listen to victims, that committing abuse against children especially is abhorrent. Fundamentalism such as this is unkind to victims, flaying them with the very verses that should support, protect, defend them. Fundamentalism such as this supports the authority in power, upholding, favoring, preserving it.

But in the end, their own Bible damns them.

Lead Attorney for Plaintiffs Disqualified from Bill Gothard Sex Abuse Case

CC image courtesy of Flickr, slgckgc.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

On May 20, the judge in the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles disqualified David C. Gibbs III from representing his clients.

Attorneys for Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP) filed motions in February with the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. These motions were to disqualify Gibbs III from the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles, in which eighteen former employees and students are suing Gothard and IBLP over sexual abuse.

The motions featured two exhibits: sworn affidavits and documents that Gothard and IBLP believe show that Gibbs personally violated the Illinois Rules for Professional Conduct in his interactions with Gothard. Gibbs issued a statement in response to these motions on February 20. Gibbs alleged that, “Gothard was fully aware that I was the attorney for Lourdes Torres against Gothard’s protégé, Douglas Phillips, and Gothard was mentioned by name in that Texas lawsuit in April 2014.” While Gibbs admitted he is “guilty of aggressively representing my clients,” he denounced the motions as “a desperate attempt to attack the law firm that is publicly and legally holding [Gothard] accountable for years of child abuse.”

On Tuesday, May 3, Judge Kenneth L. Popejoy held a hearing on the motion to disqualify. During the hearing, IBLP’s attorneys condemned Gibbs for allegedly mishandling the case. Gibbs, in turn, argued that his involvement with Gothard was strictly on behalf of his plaintiffs. While Gibbs admitted that his goal was to get Gothard reinstated on the IBLP board, he claimed this was in order to better aid his clients.

HA obtained the official court transcripts of the hearing. You can view the transcripts here.

Three days ago on May 20, Judge Popejoy ruled in favor of the motion to disqualify. In the ruling, the judge stated that,

Attorney Gibbs had intimate, professional and personal interactions with all of the parties to this case at various times within the calendar year of 2015! He discussed issues of dispute between defendants IBLP and Gothard and prepared bullet points on behalf of one of the trustees for IBLP as it pertained to Gothard. He met with Gothard and had various communications with Gothard in May 2015 and thereafter. In November 2015, he prepared an affidavit for Gothard to sign and clearly obtained information from that affidavit directly from Gothard. He also clearly knew that Mr. Gothard’s interest were in conflict with those of his individual clients as is referenced by the allegations against Gothard, although not a party in the original complaint filed in October 2015. Then, after preparing and forwarding that affidavit to Gothard, attorney Gibbs obviously knew that Gothard was going to be an additional defendant in an amended complaint filed in January 2016. Whether the actions of attorney Gibbs are “strict” ethical violations of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility or not, there is clearly a clouded, convoluted and inappropriate set of interactions that attorney Gibbs had among the entire set of circumstances and parties pertaining to the litigation now pending before this Court. Therefore, it is completely and utterly inappropriate for attorney Gibbs to continue as legal counsel for the plaintiffs.

You can read Judge Popejoy’s full decision here.

Leave: Shade’s story

Editorial note: Shade Ardent blogs at The Unspared Rod. This story is reprinted with permission.

my car isn’t even full, it didn’t take that much time to pack my clothes. river stares from the window upstairs. she didn’t want to say goodbye. everyone else is busy with their lives.

no one looks up as i walk by.

‘Hurry up, Shade’.

i turn to go.

she is mouth thinned, eyes scraped against the sun. no more air escapes her, my chance to leave is now or never. her hands are tapping against car’s door.

it’s time.

road unfolds in front of me, she is letting me drive.

‘You want to go to college so badly, then you can drive there yourself.’

i’m not sure why she came.

10-20-30-40-50-65.

i find the speed limit, and hold its edge in my mind. i want nothing to stop me from leaving.

‘I can’t believe you are really leaving us. How could you do this to us?’

out of the corner of my eye, she is grim. hands move while she thinks of more words to say.

i keep watch on her ring, it glints in the light. i know its curve, its sharp edge. i hope that driving means she won’t do anything.

road keeps curling away.

sun splits away trees’ branches, stained glass splintered hopes, my dreams grow.

‘thank you for visiting [state]. please come again.’

each mile feels like points, adding up the amount of leaving i am doing. i count and count, they sift their tens and hundreds into skin’s knowing.

am i leaving-leaving-leaving?

‘You’re so selfish, Shade, to be leaving. Think of all the work I will have to do now that you’re not there to help me. Who will help me?’

words are stuck behind my tongue. its grasping for shape, for sound, but words never come.

i am selfish, i want to leave.

‘You’ve always been a difficult person, Shade. You will have no one to blame but yourself, when you have no friends.’

sun has splayed colors across horizon’s edge. we are westing into the coming night.

‘No one will ever love you like we love you, Shade. How can you leave us?’

sky is tattooed with stars.

i know it’s late, but i don’t want to stop. if we stop, she might find a way to take me back.

so i keep driving, leaving-leaving-leaving.

headlights slice up night’s darkness.

city from city, we flow on by. highway carries us past their normal lives. maybe i can have normal too. maybe college is where normal starts, and the great yawning darkness is forever killed.

i stop for gas, i stop for food, but not for sleep. the miles keep counting up and up.

she sleeps next to me, so i keep driving.

‘welcome to [state]’

she stirs.

‘You know he won’t arrange a courtship for you now. You’ve removed yourself from his umbrella of authority. You have only yourself to blame when you get hurt.’

i have sinned, i have disobeyed.

i don’t care, i am leaving-leaving-leaving.

words still pile up behind my teeth. they scatter into the growing light. sun’s promises echo from behind, east is gone, west is new.

dawn’s moon laces up between the branches, sky’s replete with hope.

‘You’re so proud, if you think you’re smart enough to go to college. Don’t come crying to us when you fail.’

we are side by side, still. little car, bigger mountains. it climbs and climbs. each mile, each peak, each pass, her anger grows.

air is stifled between us, she seems to have run out of words. they still hover in my mouth, bitter, broken shards of dreams.

will she be happy for me now? will she give me advice?

all the books i’ve read say that moms do this, they fuss and then they love. was she going to love me now, pat my hand and give me silly advice?

but she is silent.

we are here.

 

Bill Gothard’s Abuse is Not a Surprise

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Rachael Moore.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hope’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on February 19, 2016.

If you follow developments in homeschool leadership, you likely know that prominent homeschool leader Bill Gothard is alleged to have sexually groomed and molested dozens of young women during his leadership career in homeschool and other fundamentalist Christian circles, beginning in the 1970s and continuing until he stepped down from leadership a couple years ago. You likely also know that a handful of graduates from his leadership programme, IBLB, are suing Gothard, and subsequently the entire IBLP leadership board for turning a blind-eye to Gothard’s crimes.

In the lawsuit documents, the woman describe strikingly similar Gothard experiences: Gothard noticed beautiful girls or woman at his conferences, asked the girls or women to come work for him, and once the girls or women arrived, he made them his secretary, although they were, in many cases, too young (a minor; only 18, etc) or unskilled for the task. He initially would invite the young girls into his office to “counsel” them, and from this relationship, he groomed and then molested or harassed the young women. He called the young women his “energy giver,” and the lawsuit documents state that it was well-known that Gothard had “pets” and a certain “types” of women.

Homeschool blogger Libby Anne recently describes this grooming in her description of the lawsuit:

10. It was common knowledge at IBLP that Gothard took teenage girls as “pets.” It was also common knowledge that Gothard’s behavior with regard to these girls was not appropriate. At one point in the early 1990s, after Gothard asked the IBLP Board of Directors for permission to marry Rachel Lees, the board barred Gothard from having female personal assistants. This ban was never enforced, and Gothard continued his pattern.

I’m sitting here trying to come up with some explanation for how this went on for as long as it did. People knew this was going on. The IBLP Board of Directors knew, the personal assistant who told Jane Doe III to buy shorter skirts knew, the employee who arranged the room assignment for Jamie Deering knew. People knew something was off. We’re talking about an organization that sent teenage boys home for merely talking to girls, while its leader held late night one-on-one “mentoring” sessions in his office with teenage girls.

Well sure, you say, it was a cult. That’s how cults work. But I want to stress just how widespread IBLP’s influence was within the Christian homeschooling world throughout my entire childhood and beyond. There were hundreds and thousands of families involved who had no idea that anything untoward was happening. This wasn’t so much an insular group like we’re used to thinking about, with its members cut off from contact with the outside. Rather, it was one that faced outward and led wide swaths people across the country to trust it its leadership and its “godly” mission and methods.

I highlighted a couple sentences from Libby Anne’s post that I want to address, namely to what degree did the thousands of homeschool families know about all this.

My family was one of those involved in ATI, the homeschool branch of IBLP, mostly from a distance. We were involved in ATI my entire homeschool career, from about 2nd grade until 10th grade, when we started slowly distancing ourselves from the programme more and more, although my family did not completely severe ties until I was in college. What ATI looked like for my family was yearly visits to the national homeschool convention in Knoxville, Tennessee; quarterly meetings with the homeschool families in our areas; and attendance to several conferences. I did attend one of their local homeschool camps, and we did visit the ALERT academy (a homeschool “army” training programme) occasionally, namely because we lived nearby their main headquarters.

My experiences in ATI were enough to remember some of the strict rules. For example, I had to walk with my head down when I passed ALERT guys, and I can remember the weird campus luncheons where guys pulled out the chairs for us young ladies, and then we sang a hymn and prayed, before eating together.

However, my experience in ATI was still small enough that I had a life outside ATI; my family never visited the Indiana campus, for example, and I never recall speaking to Gothard personally, although I am sure my parents did at some point.

From all appearances, my family was one of the thousand sea of faces that passed in and out of conferences or a campus every year, while remaining mostly a nobody family.

I bring this up because despite the fact that my family barely met Gothard, never worked on our local campus, other than a few volunteer days, and only occasionally visited the campus, my parents were well aware that Gothard had “pets” and “types.”

Here are a few family conversations I remember, which went something like this:

In elementary school:

Me: “Mom, dad, why do we have to wear  our hair down and wear white shirts and blue skirts to conferences. This is so dumb.”
Dad: “Because Mr. Gothard likes girls dressed that way, and he makes the rules.”

In middle school:

Me: “Why does this say we have to curl our hair?”
Dad (beginning to connect the dots): “Gothard is attracted to women with wavy, though not too curly, hair. *He* likes women that way. That’s why he says this.”

In high school:

Mom’s Friend: “We spoke with Mr. Gothard at family camp. You should have been there. Mr. Gothard asked my daughter Hope to come work for him at headquarters. He is so impressed with her and her character and wants her to be his assistant.”
Mom: “Your daughter is ONLY 15.  She needs to finish high school.”
Dad: “Yes, but she knows enough already, and she can catch up during the summer, he says.”
Mom: “He isn’t interested in your daughter because she’s godly. Your daughter is super attractive. He wants her because she is pretty, not because she’s godly.”

I can still remember the conversation my parents had about the daughter Hope at the dinner table that day. Hope was “his type.” Hope had “long, thick wavy hair and perfect complexion.” Hope had little education, and would wait on his every beck and call, because she wouldn’t know better. Dad just kept saying, “Gothard is creepy; I know he is. He spent his whole life [indirectly] telling us that our daughters with very straight hair had inferior hair because it isn’t wavy. Too bad the girls didn’t get my hair, haha.”

I want to be clear; this conversation occurred long before the testimonies of Gothard’s “type” surfaced the internet through the website Recovering Grace. In fact, my family did not have internet at this time that I remember, other than email via dial-up. My parents had this conversations without any personal verification; they obviously had heard gossip about his “pets” and “types,” but they never heard that he was actually touching young girls.

When these young women, who suffered abuse at Gothard’s hands, finally told their story, neither one of my parents expressed shock. They said, “of course, he is guilty.”

And my parents non-shock is not because my parents are cynical; on the contrary, they were extremely shocked when Doug Phillip, another homeschool leader, had to resign from his leadership position, because he assaulted a homeschool girl. My dad said, “nah” when I read him the news about Phillips, and my mom just kept repeating, “How could this be?”

But with Gothard? My parents just said, “of course, he’s guilty; he’s always had ‘types’ and ‘pets.”

When I read the lawsuit accounts, it was creepy to see how much Hope matched the description of the other girls. Like many of the young women, Hope also came from an unstable family. For example, one of Hope’s siblings had a child marriage; her brother married a 15 year girl (I don’t remember his age; perhaps 18? 19?), in a sort of arranged marriage. None of her siblings have a high school education, at least by government standards. Every sibling has married by age 19. Gothard likely knew at least part of this family’s history, because they attended family camp annually (the same family camp the Duggars from 19 Kids and Counting attend) and had the loud-kind of mouth that liked to brag about how they had married their children off. In addition, as I mentioned, Hope was gorgeous, and she spent 2 hours in front of the mirror each day working on her hair and face to make her look even more beautiful.

Thankfully, Hope did not go to the Indiana training centre. My parents had an influence on her family, and for that, I am thankful. Hope married a son of a prominent staff family who worked at the Indiana training centre. (They met at family camp.)

I echo what Libby Anne said; it’s weird that no one stepped in and did anything permanent about the abuse. But I do suggest one additional thing: these allegations are not really a shock, not even to most ordinary homeschool families.

As my parents said, he has always had pets and types; we all knew this.

“Desperate Attempt”: David C. Gibbs III Fires Back Against Bill Gothard, IBLP

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Earlier today HA reported that Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP) filed motions with the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. Those motions aim to disqualify David C. Gibbs III and the Gibbs Law Firm from representing the eighteen plaintiffs in Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles, the court case in which eighteen former employees and students are suing Gothard and IBLP for sexual harassment and assault and mishandling those crimes.

Gibbs issued a statement today to HA in response to these motions. Concerning Gothard’s allegations that Gibbs misled him regarding his role in the lawsuit, Gibbs claims that, “Gothard was fully aware that I was the attorney for Lourdes Torres against Gothard’s protégé, Douglas Phillips, and Gothard was mentioned by name in that Texas lawsuit in April 2014.” Gibbs cites directly from the Torres v. Phillips lawsuit, in which he wrote, “Others who espoused this teaching [patriarchy], such as Bill Gothard or Jack Schaap, have stepped down or are incarcerated for crimes against children.”

Gibbs states that that Gothard and IBLP’s motions “will be fully opposed in court and are full of misstatements and lies.” While Gibbs says he is “guilty of aggressively representing my clients,” he denounces these latest actions as “a desperate attempt to attack the law firm that is publicly and legally holding [Gothard] accountable for years of child abuse.”

Relevant materials can be viewed below:

Full text of David C. Gibbs III’s statement against the motions

• Bill Gothard’s Motion to Disqualify and Sanction

• IBLP’s Motion to Disqualify and Sanction

• Exhibit A: Bill Gothard’s Affidavit

• Exhibit B: Roger Blair’s Affidavit

• IBLP’s press release on February 18, 2016: “Motion to Disqualify Attorney David Gibbs III”

• Second Amended Complaint in Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles

Bill Gothard and IBLP File Motions to Disqualify David C. Gibbs III

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

On February 5, 2016, Bill Gothard’s attorney Glenn Gaffney and the Institute for Basic Life Principles’ (IBLP) attorneys at the Collins Law Firm filed similar motions with the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. These actions relate to the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles, in which eighteen former employees and students are suing Gothard and IBLP for sexual harassment and assault and mishandling those crimes.

HA obtained copies of the motions and related exhibits. Both Gothard and IBLP’s motions aim to disqualify David C. Gibbs III and the Gibbs Law Firm from representing the eighteen plaintiffs. They include two exhibits: sworn affidavits (testimonies under oath) and documents that Gothard and IBLP believe prove that Gibbs violated the Illinois Rules for Professional Conduct (IRPC) in his interactions with them.

The sworn affidavits come from both Gothard as well as Roger Blair, who was present when Gibbs first approached Gothard to talk about the abuse allegations. Gothard’s affidavit includes a number of personal emails between him and Gibbs that Gothard believes amount to legal advice and/or representation. In Blair’s affidavit, he claims that he witnessed Gibbs communicate to Gothard that he would help reinstate him on the IBLP Board. Blair additionally alleges that Gibbs offered to help Gothard derail the allegations against him. Blair testifies,

Mr. Gibbs spoke as if he were connected to the individuals behind Recovering Grace and had inside knowledge that would be valuable to Bill. I recall Mr. Gibbs saying, “I know how to handle it.” He stated that Bill “was wronged” and that it was unfair that “people are trying to destroy your ministry as well as other ministries.” Mr. Gibbs stated that he read allegations on the Recovering Grace website and he knew that they were false. He said that he knew how to adequately respond to “get rid of it.”

Gothard and IBLP’s motions differ in a few regards. Gothard’s motion seeks to bar the eighteen plaintiffs from using any information (including “any statements, correspondence, emails, communications, records, reports, or other documents”) collected from Gothard by Gibbs in alleged violation of the IRPC. Gothard bases this request on the legal precedent that evidence improperly obtained can be deemed inadmissible in court.

IBLP’s motion does not seek to bar the plaintiffs from using such information. However, it does contain an additional insinuation: that Gibbs did not include Gothard as a defendant in the original lawsuit in order to obtain evidence from him through deceptive means. IBLP points to an email Gothard sent Gibbs on May 30, 2015 in which Gothard wrote, “God will honor you for your generous spirit.” IBLP believes this indicates Gibbs was providing him with “support and counsel” in order to get information from him. As Gibbs is not generally licensed to practice law in Illinois, but rather is working pro hac vice, IBLP is moving to terminate his temporary license to practice law in the state due to this alleged misconduct. IBLP’s motion also specifically requests that the eighteen plaintiffs be given “an appropriate period of time to secure new representation.”

The motions, exhibits, and other relevant documents can be viewed below:

Bill Gothard’s Motion to Disqualify and Sanction

IBLP’s Motion to Disqualify and Sanction

Exhibit A: Bill Gothard’s Affidavit

Exhibit B: Roger Blair’s Affidavit

IBLP’s press release on February 18, 2016: “Motion to Disqualify Attorney David Gibbs III”

• Second Amended Complaint in Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles

Updates:

It should be emphasized that these motions have neither been granted or denied by a judge or court at this time. Colorado CLE Legal Connection notes that, “Motions to disqualify are far from rare occurrences” and sometimes “are nothing more than a litigation tactic, forcing attorneys to scramble to protect valued client relationships.”

HA reached out to David C. Gibbs III this morning for comment. This afternoon he issued a full statement to us denouncing the latest motions as “a desperate attempt to attack the law firm that is publicly and legally holding [Gothard] accountable for years of child abuse.” You can read a summary of Gibbs’ statement and its full text here.