Bill Gothard Explains Road Safety (aka How Not to Get Raped)

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Mik Scheper.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on August 17, 2015

Do you remember when that Saudi historian said that western women drive because they don’t mind getting raped? He used the danger that occurs when a woman’s car breaks down, leaving her open to sexual assault by any passerby, as a rationale for maintaining the Saudi ban on women driving. Well. Watch as this road safety module produced by Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (a program for fundamentalist homeschoolers) takes a weird turn.

(I was sent this module via Wende Benner of Homeschoolers Anonymous. You can read her story here. She filled out this module herself while attending Gothard’s EXCEL training program for girls.)

ATI Road Safety 01

The module is titled “Road Safety: Survival Road Skills And Wise Responses to Danger.” Since the responses to danger bit falls under the road safety heading, we can assume it’s about things like changing a tire safely, or knowing how to drive around a car that isn’t signaling or staying in its lane, yes?

ATI Road Safety 02

I actually would have found this page very helpful when I was a teen. If I’d read the bit about warning lights and overheating, I might not have totaled my mom’s car as a teen by melting her engine. (Seriously, this is one memory I’d really like to forget!) On the other hand, filling out a sheet like this does exactly squat to tell you where to put the brake fluid, or where the best jack points are, etc. So there’s that.

ATI Road Safety 03

Hang on, are these meant to be the warning lights? Because if so, my experience suggests that different cars have different warning lights. In fact, we recently got a new (to us) car, and I’ve found that the manual is my friend because when the warning lights come on I have absolutely no idea what they mean, because they look totally different from my other car.

ATI Road Safety 04

That last chart bit would be more helpful on a small notepad in the glove compartment, because I’m pretty sure most people aren’t going to be stuffing this entire module in there. But maybe it’s just meant to give the student experience with how these numbers should be written down?

ATI Road Safety 05

This is actually fairly comprehensive. Most people probably don’t pray before a trip, but mine always did, so it doesn’t seem weird to me. And the list of things to bring (and do before leaving) is quite thorough.

ATI Road Safety 06

While not getting to close to the car in front of you is important, one car length per 10 miles per hour isn’t going to serve you well when driving in congested cities. People will keep pulling into your lane in front of you, and then you’ll have to slow down to increase the distance. Also, the “what to do if there’s an accident” section says not to leave until an officer dismisses you, but it doesn’t say to call the police in the first place, which makes it feel slightly disjointed.

Of course, I’m just nit-picking here. We’re six pages into the module, and it’s mostly pretty standard stuff. Remember that these modules are designed for homeschooled students, many of whom (myself included) will never take driver’s ed, so it’s good that they’ll get any information at all, although obviously this module would be best accompanied with some hands-on training.

But let’s look at what comes next.

ATI Road Safety 07

Yes, we’re still in the same “Road Safety” module! All we did was turn a page, and hey, would you look at that? Suddenly it’s all about responding to attackers . . . because it’s totes common for women to be assaulted while driving.

What “provokes” an attack, according to Gothard? How you dress and the sort of friends you chose. Lovely. Just lovely. Hello, slut shaming and victim blaming! And what should you do if you are attacked? Well, resist, of course, but also present the gospel and pray for your attacker. Because converting a man who is trying to rape you while fending him off to protect your virginity is pretty much the epitome of godliness.

This goes on for six full pages. Yes, you read that right—a full half of Gothard’s “Road Safety” module deals with what to do if you are attacked or assaulted while driving somewhere, because if you are a woman, leaving your father’s house is dangerous dangerous dangerous!

ATI Road Safety 08

Yes, you read those first sentences correctly: “God has established some very strict guidelines of responsibility for a woman who is attacked. She is to cry out for help. The victim who fails to do this is equally guilty with the attacker.” Yes, really. A victim of sexual assault who does not cry out—who remains silent for whatever reason—is equally guilty with her attacker.

Think for a moment about the Duggar girls. They did not cry out for help when they were sexually assaulted by their older brother. How might studying from a module like this (and remember that the family centered their curriculum and Bible study on Gothard materials) affect one of them, or anyone else who has ever been sexually assaulted but kept silent? Remember that it is very common for a victim of child sexual abuse not to cry out, because they are first groomed to ensure that they won’t.
ATI Road Safety 09

Okay, first of all, let’s be clear that “morally attack” means sexual assault. And second, let’s be clear that in the story presented on this page, the “I hope I got here in time” and “Sir, you did, you just barely did” exchange means the girl’s virginity was still intact, which is of course what really matters to Gothard. But the thing is, she was still sexually assaulted. She is still going to have to work through the trauma of that. And I actually get the feeling that Gothard isn’t aware of that. It’s like the fact that her hymen is still intact means no harm was done. Except that that’s not how it works.

But you know what I really want to know? How the blazes Gothard thinks this one example is evidence that it’s always safer for a woman to cry out when being assaulted than it is for her to remain silent. Look, this is going to vary! In some situations, screaming may alert someone that you need help or scare away the attacker. In other cases, screaming may just make the attacker become more violent. In some situations, a woman may be so shocked by what is happening (especially when the perpetrator is a friend or significant other) that she is stunned into silence. There is no one correct way to respond to being sexually assaulted, and saying there is will only lead victims to blame themselves more than they already do.

Of course, what really matters to Gothard is that if a victim of sexual assault does not scream for help, she violates scripture. It’s not really about what’s most affective, it’s about what the Bible says. But of course, now that he has said the Bible mandates it, he is going to explain that it is in fact effective by offering five more anecdotes (none of which involve rape or sexual assault, I might add).

ATI Road Safety 10

Here are two anecdotes in which crying out to Jesus caused attackers to reconsider! Clearly this means it always works! If you try it and it doesn’t work, you must not have enough faith! /sarcasm

Actually, wait a minute. That second example might not even have been an attack. Perhaps the “strange man” who approached the woman was just going to ask for directions, and when she began shouting to God to save her from him, he backed up with raised eyebrows like anyone else would do in that situation.

ATI Road Safety 11

Here are two more examples of cases where witnessing to an attacker caused the attacker to repent and apologize. Ignore the fact that neither of these cases involved sexual assault, because that totally doesn’t matter. If you have enough faith, witnessing to your rapist while he’s raping you will totally make him stop. /sarcasm

That bit about having enough faith that I keep repeating? That’s not in the text, but it’s sure as hell implied. If you’re “godly” enough, God will save you from being raped . . . and thus it follows that if you’re not saved from being raped you must not be godly enough. This is not a good message to be giving teenage girls, especially homeschooled teenage girls who almost certainly will not receive more accurate information elsewhere!

ATI Road Safety 12

And then we’ll add one more anecdote for good measure. In case you haven’t noticed, Gothard is really big on anecdotes. His textbooks are absolutely chock full of them, from cover to cover.

I do want to note that none of these last five examples actually deals with rape. Only the first example—the girl in the alleyway—had to do with sexual assault. Granted, getting robbed or mugged or held at gunpoint is pretty bad, but encouraging teenage girls (the main target of this workbook) who are sexually assaulted to witness to their attacker somehow seems worse than encouraging them to witness to an attacker who is asking them to hand over whatever cash they have on them.

So, let’s see. Out of twelve pages of Gothard’s “Road Safety” module, six are about car maintenance and contingencies and six are about what to do if you’re sexually assaulted while out driving.

You can probably see, now, why I drew a connection between this and the Saudi historian’s opposition to women driving, because their car might break down and they might be raped at the side of the road. Gothard is positioning driving as something that is fundamentally dangerous for a woman. While it is true that women face a greater risk of sexual assault than men, women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone they know than by a stranger at the side of the road. Portraying driving as fundamentally dangerous for a woman may discourage girls who take this module from achieving the independence that comes with the mobility driving offers.

Blanket Training is About Adults, Not Children

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Blanket training is a child training method advocated by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo and popularized by the Duggar family through their TLC show. It has its own Wikipedia page and has its own featured page on the Duggar Family Blog. Parents have adopted this child training method specifically because of the Duggars.

In its simplest form, blanket training consists of 3 actions: (1) place a young child (usually an infant or toddler) on a small blanket, (2) tell that child not to move off the blanket, and (3) strike that child if they move off the blanket. Rinse, repeat.

The training can be more elaborate than this. Some advocates may describe it more gently, poetically, or less fearsome-sounding. Others prefer corporal punishment to be a last resort if a child moves off the blanket. But despite linguistic dress-up, at its core it remains the same: you punish a young, still-developing child for wanting to indulge its natural curiosity and crawl off a blanket.

Blanket training is essentially a specific manifestation of “first-time obedience” training, also popularized by the Ezzos as well as Michael and Debi Pearl. The Pearls use this same technique but instead of a blanket they use an object the infant or toddler will find attractive:

Place an appealing object where they can reach it …. when they spy it and make a dive for it, in a calm voice say, ‘No, don’t touch that.’ Since they are already familiar with the word ‘No,’ they will likely pause, look at you in wonder, and then turn around grab it. Switch their hand once and simultaneously say, No.

While the forms differ, the technique and message is the same: Set up boundaries for the child that impinge of the child’s natural curiosity and development and then punish them for acting on that nature. Ultimately, this technique (and its message) rest upon an idea that children’s nature is hell-bent rather than innocently curious. Voddie Baucham would express this idea by saying children are “vipers in diapers” and thus require significant restraint.

Families that grew up in Bill Gothard’s IBLP or ATI programs are likely familiar with blanket training. Gothard and his cohorts advocated it. A former IBLP attendee remembers Lori Voeller, wife of former ATI President Jim Voeller, teaching blanket training in the following way:

I remember Lori Voeller in her message on blanket training telling us that her child was so “trained” to stay on a blanket that she had been calling the child and she would not dare get off the blanket. The child knew this was a baiting technique. Lori thought this was admirable. I was horrified. I was thinking, “Yeah Lori, what if the house is burning down and your child can’t think for him or herself about getting off of a stupid blanket because they are so fearful of doing the wrong thing.”

Here is another example of what blanket training consists of, from Sarah Rose at Make Something Beautiful, a self-proclaimed advocate of the training:

The first thing you need to do is put the blanket on the floor. You can use a heavier “fleecy” blanket or fold a big blanket to a reasonable size. Both of our girls have been trained to sit on a 2’x3′ blanket. You just want to make sure that the blanket doesn’t move around too much because trust me, your child is going to test the limits anyway and you don’t need the added frustration a thin blanket will cause. Place your child on the blanket with their toy and book, and tell them to stay there. Set your timer (I suggest starting very small…five minutes is a long time, especially for younger babies) and get busy with your busy work. 

But watch that baby with at least one eye, because I guarantee that baby is going to find out if you mean what you say. When your baby ventures off the blanket (be it a finger or their entire body), gently remind them that Mommy said to stay on the blanket. Follow up with your preferred method of discipline…I think you know what I mean here…let’s just say that “time out” won’t work in this situation. Your baby will probably cry, and you might want to as well. Just stay the course. Repeat this process until time is up.

Note what Sarah Rose says about the “fruits” of this method:

The boundaries of the blanket have brought us tremendous freedom. We can take her to meetings and expect her to sit quietly.

Rose minces no words here. The best part of this training method is not what it teaches the child but rather that “we can take her to meetings and expect her to sit quietly.” In other words, it trains children to be seen not heard, that old adage which expresses nothing but contempt for children and the beautiful chaos they bring into our lives.

Reb Bradley, another popular child training “expert” in Christian homeschooling circles, advocates a similar method (and with a similar goal, that of children’s silent stillness) in his 1996 book Child Training Tips:

Rather than waiting until Sunday morning and using a church worship service to teach a child to sit still, it is helpful to have them practice at home…Pull up a chair, and have them sit quietly for increasing increments of time. Try 5 minutes the first day, 10 the second, 15 the third, and so on. Chastise them each time they get down without permission. Start when they are toddlers and you will be amazed at what they are capable. This is a very simple means of teaching them first-time obedience (p. 141-2, emphasis added).

Stillness. Silence. Control. Broken will. These are the fruits of such “discipline.” Yet Theologian Janet Pais provides an excellent reminder concerning these fruits in her 1991 book Suffer the Children: A Theology of Liberation by a Victim of Child Abuse:

Adults, often unconsciously, act toward children out of an attitude that the child is a possession properly subject to their control. Because adults have power over children, too often they use it, not for the true good of the child, but just to ‘show who is the boss.’… ‘Christian discipline,’ calmly and calculatedly administered, may abuse the child both physically, in the use of the rod (or ‘spanking’), and emotionally, in humiliating the child, in breaking the child’s will, in forcing submission to the adult’s greater power, and in refusing to accept the child’s natural reactive feelings (rage, anger), while requiring the expression of other supposedly repentant feelings. Such ‘discipline’ manifests adult contempt for the child and resulting overt forms of abuse. A slave too will be submissive after physical and emotional abuse and humiliation… 

God creates the child who brings chaos into our lives and into our worship. And Jesus says if we receive the child in his name, we receive him, we receive God the Child incarnate. In fact, doesn’t Jesus himself, God the Child, bring chaos into our lives? We would like for conversion to be nice and neat and under control—our control, that is. But often conversion, faith in Christ, turns our lives upside down… Receiving children in Christ’s name, accepting the chaos, even embracing it, can be a sort of spiritual discipline. It means yielding one’s life to greater necessities than keeping things tidy and rational. It means letting life itself, new life in the child, come first. It means having faith in the child, and in God, the child’s Creator. The child truly does bring God’s truth to us. (p. 10, 43, 146-7)

Welcoming children into our midst should bring the opposite of blanket training’s fruits. Welcoming children means embracing the loud, wild, reveling child. It means understanding, as Joyce Mercer says in her 2005 book Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood, that, “The very idea of associating Christ with the silencing of children appears preposterous to anyone even vaguely familiar with New Testament stories about Jesus’ interactions with children” (p. 2). And we do indeed see, in Matthew 21:14-16, Jesus embracing the reveling children:

The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”

At its core, blanket training is not for children. It is for parents who desire their children’s spirits broken and their voices silenced. It is for parents who have contempt for the essence of what childhood is: noisy, raucous, and a handful. It is for parents who want to quiet the children crying out in the temple.

4 Reasons Conservatives Should Join Liberals in Opposing the Duggars

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Michelle Duggar is the matriarch of the popular conservative Christian homeschooling family featured on The Learning Channel’s 19 Kids and Counting. Several months ago, she made a robocall to citizens of Fayetteville, Arkansas urging them to vote against a bill that would grant transgender women access to public accommodations for cisgender women (such as restrooms and changing areas). Duggar insinuated that “men,” particularly “males with past child predator convictions,” would use this bill’s passage to perpetuate child sexual abuse.

In August, HARO board member Shaney Lee pointed out the hypocrisy in Michelle Duggar’s supposed concern for child abuse victims:

“To put it bluntly, Michelle Duggar is a hypocrite. She supposedly cares about keeping women and children safe from sexual predators, yet her family continues to be associated with a known sexual predator: Bill Gothard. The Duggars have long been huge supporters of Bill Gothard and his ministry, Institute of Basic Life Principles… Bill Gothard resigned from IBLP and all its affiliates back in March of this year when over 30 women accused him of sexual harassment….In the face of overwhelming evidence showing Gothard to be a sexual predator, the Duggars have said nothing. In fact, they continue to profit from promoting ATI and IBLP…In addition to showing a lack of personal integrity, Michelle’s call reinforces that common misconception that sexual predators are strangers. This is simply not the case–particularly when it comes to children…[This misconception] allows people like Bill Gothard to get away with their abuse. Michelle Duggar is more than willing to throw trans* people, who are no more likely to be sexual predators than anyone else, under the bus, while refusing to do the uncomfortable work of publicly denouncing a known predator whom she has supported and promoted for years.”

In light of Michelle Duggar’s robocoll, a petition was started back in August calling on The Learning Channel to end the Duggars’ show 19 Kids and Counting. As of November 19, the petition only had 9,000 signatures. But overnight, due to media coverage likely caused by the Duggars’ Facebook “kissing challenge” and its resulting controversy (they allegedly deleted pictures of same-sex couples participating in the challenge), the petition today has over 100,000 signatures.

Suddenly everyone took note. Conservative and Christian websites have fired back with their own coverage and petitions. The Daily Signal declared that, “Some People Want the Duggars’ Show Cancelled Because They Oppose Men Using Women’s Bathrooms.” “Defend the Duggars as they come under attack!”, beseeched Life Site News (LSN). LSN created a counter-petition which — as of 3:15 West Coast time on Thursday — has almost 20,000 signatures. Here is part of LSN’s petition text:

“In the past few days, liberal extremists have launched a full-scale attack on the Duggars, demanding that The Learning Channel cancel the Duggars’ popular reality TV show… We need to launch a counter-attack, letting TLC know that the American people stand by the Duggars and their defense of traditional family values. Rather than being extreme, the Duggars represent the majority of people in state after state who have stood up for the traditional family.”

Actually, Life Site News: no, the Duggars do not defend family values nor do they represent the majority of people. The Duggars are in fact extremists and have explicitly defended extremists who tarnish the name of both conservatism and Christianity.

Conservatives should be just as vocal in opposing the Duggars as liberals. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. The Duggars promote immodesty.

This might seem an odd claim, considering that the Duggars are long-time advocates of wearing “modest” clothing. However, the Christian concept of modesty comes from the Greek word κόσμιος, which refers not to what a person wears but rather an inward state: a state that eschews materialism in favor of making the world a more just, compassionate place. This is why the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 does not suggest replacing “elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes” with “denim jumpers” but rather “with good deeds.” Yet the Duggars have transformed their family into nothing less than the Truman Show. Jim Bob and Michelle have robbed their children of their childhoods, thrust them into the spotlight, and made their own parental narcissism into a brand name. As Christ and Pop Culture observed in their incisive comparison between Lena Dunham and Jill Duggar, “While we watch from our respective corners, cheering or jeering as the case may be, each woman sacrifices her sense of self and the freedom to grow up in private on the altars of ideology and politics and commerce.”

This is not conservative. This is not Christian. These are not family values. The Duggars’ show promotes immodesty in its truest, darkest form.

2. The Duggars promote a dangerous relationship model.

Much has been made of the Duggars’ “courtship rules”. These rules include never being alone with your potential marriage partner prior to marriage. They also include the promise from Michelle Duggar that, “There is no failed courtship.” Oh, if only that were so. As someone who grew up in the conservative Christian homeschool world, I have seen so many courtships fall apart. They have hidden sexual assault. They have promoted shame, caused pride, and created skewed views of relationships which lead to dysfunction. They have created broken, bitter families. In fact, courtship can lead to more heartache than dating. Since courtship is basically two families dating each other (instead of two individuals), break-ups mean not only two individuals get hurt, but entire families get hurt. It can be devastating. I know — I’ve seen it first-hand.

And most disconcertingly, the relationship ideas of the Duggars directly groom women for sexual abuse. As homeschool alum Lana Hope has pointed out,

“The news media has finally connected Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, who sexually assaulted a young woman for a period of a few years, to the Duggar family. It’s not that the Duggars have sexually assaulted anyone.

But.

But they are following the very teaching of courtship and stay at home daughters that allows women to be vulnerable to an abuser. The control they put their daughters under is quite frankly terrifying.”

Conservatives and Christians should be joining with liberals in speaking out against any relationship model that promotes shame, pride, and dysfunctional relationships. In fact, as the self-proclaimed standard-bearers of family values, conservatives and Christians should be speaking out louder than any other groups on this matter.

3. The Duggars have promoted, and continue to promote, spiritually and sexually abusive teachers.

As mentioned before, the Duggars are long-time advocates of Bill Gothard and IBLP, his cult-like ministry that has left immense damage in its wake.

Members of the Duggar family with Bill Gothard at one of Gothard’s IBLP programs, “Journey to the Heart,” where children are taught to “identify blind spots or secret sins that are keeping them from completely surrendering to God.”
Members of the Duggar family with Bill Gothard at one of Gothard’s IBLP programs, “Journey to the Heart,” where children are taught to “identify blind spots or secret sins that are keeping them from completely surrendering to God.”

Let’s review the facts: Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles have been (1) covering up sexual abuse since the 1980′s, (2) accused by over 30 women in the last few years (since 2012) of continuing to cover-up sexual harassment and abuse, and (3) promoting horribly abusive teachings regarding counseling survivors of abuse, Despite this, the Duggars continue to promote IBLP. Not once have they denounced Gothard’s actions or teachings. In fact, just earlier this year, Jim Bob and Michelle continued to be IBLP conference speakers.

And Gothard is just the beginning. The Duggars have also directly promoted Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, a racism-tinged ministry that engaged in the theft of another Christian’s private property. Earlier this year, as documented by a very-not-liberal news site, WorldNewsDaily, Phillips was accused of using his nanny as a “sex object.” Phillips and his teachings have ruined the lives of numerous conservative Christian families. Furthermore, his advocacy of an extreme form of patriarchy directly sets up young women for abuse, especially sexual abuse. In The Cry of Tamar: Violence Against Women and the Church’s ResponsePamela Cooper-White explains that, “Patriarchy sets the stage in general for more abuse of girls and women of every kind at the hands of men, and conditions men to view women as objects for their gratification rather than fellow human beings worthy of empathy and care.”

This is seen clearly in conservative Christian subcultures. Homeschooling mom Julie Anne Smith has observed how patriarchy is “setting up…young ladies for abuse”. And homeschool alum Sarah Jones concurs, explaining that, “The Christian patriarchy movement grooms young women for abuse, consciously or not, by brainwashing them into compliance and encouraging them to forgo developing skills necessary for independent lives.”

Like with Gothard, the Duggars have made no efforts to denounce Phillips.

4. The Duggars threaten homeschool freedoms.

If not for simple morality alone, conservatives and Christians have every incentive to call out the Duggars’ promotion of people like Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips. The fact is, the actions and teachings of Gothard and Phillips directly threaten homeschool freedoms. HSLDA’s Michael Farris himself declared this earlier this year when he called out — by name — the Duggars’ idols, Gothard and Phillips. Farris stated that “families, children, women, and even fathers…have been harmed” by the legalism and patriarchy of these individuals and their ministries. If conservatives and Christians did not start speaking out against this, Farris had a dire warning:

“Their teachings continue to threaten the freedom and integrity of the homeschooling movement…If public policy makers believe that the homeschooling movement promotes teachers and teaching that have a strong likelihood of damaging people—particularly children and women—then our freedom will suffer. Treating children well and treating women well is intrinsically the right thing to do. But it is also the necessary thing to do if we wish to preserve our liberty.”

In short, if Life Site News and the Daily Signal truly want to defend conservative, Christian family values, the very last people they should be defending are the Duggars. They should be joining with these “liberal extremists” and asking The Learning Channel to cancel 19 Kids and Counting — albeit perhaps for different reasons. If there is anything conservatives, liberals, Christians, and non-Christians should be able to unite around, it is fighting child abuse and promoting healthy families.

Defending the Duggars, unfortunately, does the opposite. 

What is Quiverfull?

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on February 18, 2012. It has been slightly modified for HA.

Quiverfull: The Basics

The Quiverfull movement takes its name from this verse:

Psalm 127:3-5 – Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

First is the idea that children are a blessing and always something to be welcomed. The more children a man has, the more blessed he is. Children should never been seen as a burden, but always welcomed with open arms.

Second is the whole arrow part. What do you do with arrows? You shoot them at your prey. The Quiverfull movement holds that these arrows, or children, are to be shot out into the world to win converts and make the world more Christian.

So, have many children because they are a blessing, and because you can shoot them out into the world to influence it for Christ. 

The Military Rhetoric

Now there’s quite a bit of military rhetoric involved here. Don’t let you throw that off. The whole “army for Christ” thing isn’t literal. The Quiverfull movement isn’t arming its children or sending them to jihad camps. It’s called a metaphor.

As an example, Prominent Christian homeschool leader and Quiverfull advocate Michael Farris likes to tell homeschool parents that they are the “Moses generation,” taking their children out of “Egypt” and training them up in “the wilderness,” and that their children will be the “Joshua generation,” who will go out and conquer the land of Canaan. (Or as he also phrases it, “retake America for Christ.”)

Now Farris doesn’t mean these children will retake America for Christ with guns and tanks. What he means is that they will retake it for Christ by winning converts and influencing the politics, law, education, and culture of our nation. And yes, there is dominionist influence at work here.

Ideological Uniformity

It should be obvious that implicit in all of this is the idea that Quiverfull children will share their parents’ beliefs, ideas, and values. After all, what good would it be to have arrows that go astray when you shoot them? Part of this metaphor is the idea that arrows are shaped carefully, whittled to the perfect size and balanced just so – and that parents are to do the same with children. If a child is raised properly, the Quiverfull movement holds, that child will become the ideological and lifestyle clone of his or her parents.

It should be obvious that this creates problems for children in Quiverfull families. It’s not just young people like me growing up in Quiverfull homes feeling stifled by the expectations of conformity who have noticed that there’s a problem. There are articles by Quiverfull leaders who talk about the problems of children “jumping ship” or children who “went wrong.” Of course, their solution is not to change their ideology, but to try different tactics to shape their children.

Birth Control

There’s one more thing to be mentioned, and that’s birth control. Hardcore Quiverfull families reject birth control entirely, believing that it subverts God’s plan for the family. They believe that if they follow God and go without birth control entirely, God will provide for them. God controls the womb, after all, and going without birth control allows God to choose a family’s size and timing.

But a family doesn’t have to go all the way and reject birth control to be influenced by Quiverfull ideas. There are lots of families who, influenced by these ideas, have much higher than average numbers of children and raise them to be “arrows shot out into the world” even as they use birth control to space the children out a little bit or to call it quits when they feel they can’t handle any more.

Conclusion

When I speak of the “Quiverfull movement” I really mean all of those who are influenced by Quiverfull ideas, not simply those who go all the way and reject birth control entirely. For me, the idea of raising children to be arrows shot into the world is a more important part of Quiverfull than is a complete rejection of birth control.

When people look at families like the Duggars, all they see is the “we don’t use birth control” and “we think every child is a blessing” part. Would that that were all. It’s the idea of raising up children to be a metaphorical army for Christ, miming their parents’ beliefs and lifestyle while winning converts and influencing America’s political and legal systems and its culture, that is more problematic.

Note: Remember that most Christians think this stuff is loony.

Not On Your Side, Debi: Jeri Lofland’s Thoughts

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Jeri Lofland blogs at Heresy in the Heartland. The following was originally published by Jeri on April 27, 214, and is reprinted with permission.

This week, embattled IBLP founder Bill Gothard received aid from an unexpected quarter–homeschool mom and popular author Debi Pearl.

In the past, self-confessed “old hillbilly” Michael Pearl has sometimes himself been critical of Bill Gothard for helping create the excesses of the homeschooling patriarchy movement–a highly ironic observation coming from the father of patriarchs! But this week, Debi came out swinging against IBLP victims who have gone public with their stories on “Recovering Grace” and other websites.

Beginning her post with the question, “Whose side are you on?” Debi attacks those who have dared to publish accounts of how Gothard lied to, molested, or otherwise mistreated them. According to Debi, these “critics” are “bitter” (that’s the ultimate pejorative in IBLP circles, remember?), they are “foolish”, and they have joined a “Satanic attack on God’s people”.

On the one hand, Debi describes Gothard as a “man who put his whole life into doing a work for God”. On the other, she denies having any connection to IBLP’s beleaguered “ministry” which, she claims, helped “set thousands of people free from bitterness”.

Gothard and the Pearls have, in fact, had a symbiotic relationship for years.

They attended a Basic Seminar in the late 1970’s. IBLP promoted and distributed the Pearls’ parenting book To Train Up a Child. The website for IBLP Australia still offers at least two of the Pearls’ numerous books. At least one of the Pearl girls worked at Gothard’s orphanage and training center (South Campus) in Indianapolis and the Pearls kept several Russian orphans at their home over the summer. Michael solicited donations for IBLP from his followers. Several of the Pearl children’s spouses were raised in Gothard’s ATI program. (I say “spouses”, but Michael Pearl made it clear years ago that his children do not need any such thing as marriage licenses. A ceremony and their parents’ blessing is apparently good enough.*)

Besides being given to racist and homophobic remarks, the Pearls are somewhat obsessed with sex. It gives Michael hope to envision homeschoolers “outbreeding” progressives. He counsels the wife of an angry man to “make love” to improve her husband’s mood. Debi often suggests that being sexually available is a wife’s primary responsibility. Michael even wrote a book on erotic pleasure for fundamentalist Christian couples.

And then there are the Pearls’ highly controversial child training methods, which have now been linked to three child deaths. There is currently a petition circulating to ask Amazon.com to remove To Train Up a Child from its website in the interest of protecting children from parental abuse. According to a BBC report last year, To Train Up a Child has sold over 800,000 copies and boxes of the Pearls’ books have been shipped for free to U.S. troops overseas. “No Greater Joy” pulls in over $1 million a year, with Debi functioning as “the financial brain of the company”, according to her son Gabriel.

Last year, Rachel Held Evans wrote a blunt piece about Michael and Debi Pearl and their abusive “ministry”. First, she quoted Pearl himself describing how to handle a rebellious child:

If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally.”  -Michael Pearl

And Evans added her own warning:

But it’s not just children who suffer from No Greater Joy‘s ministries.When I was conducting research for A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I read Debi Pearl’s popular book, Created to Be His Helpmeet…which I threw across the room a total of seven times.

The writing is awful, the biblical exegesis deplorable, but what troubles me the most is that the book reads like a manual for developing abused wife syndrome.

In their story “The Real Michael Pearl” a few years ago, Religious Child Maltreatment pointed out the peculiar rush Pearl appears to derive from seeing small children spanked into silence, and his sense that he has “come upon the holy grail of childrearing”.

To Pearl, and many parents who follow his teachings, the primary goal of parenting is not to support children by fulfilling their needs to feel safe and experience appropriate autonomy, but to control children.

In April 2011, Cindy Kunsman, a nurse explained the physical dangers of Pearl’s teachings in a post on the No Longer Quivering blog. Homeschoolers Anonymous reposted the piece in September of last year:

Due to the severity of the spankings with [Michael Pearl’s recommended] plumbing line, both Zariah and Lydia Schatz suffered renal failure because of rhabdomyolysis.

…[W]e may never learn the details about new cases of Pearl-related kidney disease unless it is reported by the families of the survivors.

Kunsman went into much more detail about rhabdomyolysis in another post at Under Much Grace. This article convinced me that the Pearls are not just cranks, they are dangerous.

If the children are aggressively spanked on a chronic basis, …it is possible that chronic damage could occur in children that is not bad enough to cause kidney failure but bad enough to cause damage.Unless a child undergoes blood tests at some point, “renal insufficiency” (inefficient kidney function that is lower than a normal, healthy level) could be present and no one would be the wiser. It is conceivable that at least some children have experienced some damage, but not enough to produce symptoms of kidney failure.

In October 2011 Rachel Stone wrote about Pearl in for Christianity Today. Her article included sadistic passages from To Train Up a Child and described the Pearls’ methods as “a program of calculated cruelty”:

One child suffering under this training is too many; it’s my hope that the Pearls will be widely discredited, and soon.

In a November 2011 post, a Chicago blogger pointed out that the popular Duggar family, who are still members of Gothard’s homeschooling cult, not only endorse but actively promote the Pearls’ materials on their own website:

www.NoGreaterJoy.org  Features some of the finest in family-friendly, value-based books, audios, videos, and articles on parenting, husband and wife relationships, ministry and more! Materials include, To Train Up A Child, Jumping Ship, Created To Be His Help Meet, Preparing To Be A Help Meet, Only Men, the Good and Evil graphic novel in over 20 languages and a FREE bi-monthly magazine.

Samantha at Defeating the Dragons and Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism have both written boldly about the dangerous and abusive teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl. Author and mother of five Elizabeth Esther, whom Anderson Cooper interviewed alongside Michael Pearl late in 2011, has been both outspoken and tearful about the horrors perpetrated against children when parents follow Pearl’s advice. You can watch the interview for yourself here.

2011 New York Times article quotes Michael likening childrearing to training “stubborn mules” and explores links between child deaths and the teachings in Pearl’s book.

Dr. Frances Chalmers, a pediatrician who examined Hana’s death for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, said of the Pearl methods: “My fear is that this book, while perhaps well intended, could easily be misinterpreted and could lead to what I consider significant abuse.”

This video shows Michael and Debi Pearl in action at a child training seminar, apparently at the Cane Creek church that meets on Pearl’s property in a Tennessee hollow. Michael would much prefer to be known through his books than through these clips, but there he is on his own turf:

With his wife smiling and nodding beside him, Michael Pearl laughingly advocates cruelty against children. He encourages hitting children, even infants, with implements. He recommends luring young children with tempting objects and then swatting them to teach them obedience and self-denial. He teaches parents to instill fear in their children on purpose. Michael Pearl seems to get off on asserting his domination of a much younger, smaller human being:

” A proper spanking leaves children without breath to complain. If he should tell you that the spanking makes him madder, spank him again.”

The Pearls have long pointed to the supposed happiness of their own trained and obedient children as evidence of the efficacy of their methods. However, Michael and Debi have not taken well to being called out by adults whose parents followed this couple’s advice. Earlier this month, Michael became defensive against vocal homeschool graduates such as those of us who post at “Homeschoolers Anonymous” and posted his response at “No Greater Joy”. But even as he blasts those who speak the truth about their experiences, Michael must admit that homeschooling is no panacea:

“Not every homeschool experience will be a great success. Some will be total failures; others will be good but not altogether good. In some cases, out of six children a family may lose one or two to the world, but they will have two or three that are exceptional human beings.”

Alas for a child who turns out to be a less-than-exceptional human being! Pearl chalks such failures up to satan at work and recommends people buy more of his books, just to be safe.

I really should not be surprised to see Debi Pearl defending Bill Gothard and his ministry against what she considers defamation. But I look at her daughters, their body language, and I wonder what stories they could tell and what they would say about their famous parents if they felt completely safe.

It speaks volumes that the Pearls feel compelled to hitch their ministry to Gothard’s falling star.

*****

*Michael Pearl on marriage licenses:

“None of my daughters or their husbands asked the state of Tennessee for permission to marry. They did not yoke themselves to government. It was a personal, private covenant, binding them together forever—until death. So when the sodomites have come to share in the state marriage licenses, which will eventually be the law, James and Shoshanna will not be in league with those perverts. And, while I am on the subject, there will come a time when faithful Christians will either revoke their state marriage licenses and establish an exclusively one man-one woman covenant of marriage, or, they will forfeit the sanctity of their covenant by being unequally yoked together with perverts.”

 

I Remember ATIA: Lana Hope’s Thoughts, Part Two

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hope’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on January 25, 2013.

< Part One

I remember ATIA: Advance Training Institute of America  — now called ATI, or Advance Training Institute.

I remember our first taste of the legalism.

We went to a local IBLP (Institute of Basic Life Principles) conference that had a Children’s Institute program. I, age 6, and my younger sister, age 5, showed up in pants. That was the last night we showed up in pants.

Soon after we applied to join their homeschool program called ATI ran by Bill Gothard. We learned that we could not watch TV to be in the program. One of our friends was blunt that they did watch TV, and they were not accepted.

The next summer when I was 7, we went to our first ATI conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. This movement was not small. And it attempted to brainwash an entire generation. We sang songs such as The Umbrella Song that you can listen to on youtube. It’s a cute little song about staying underneath our umbrella of authority. The song seems harmless (after all, kids need to obey their parents, right?), but keep in mind, that was the watered down children’s version of authoritarian headship that was stressed over and over in the Christiany Patriarchy movement. See Gothard’s personal webpage on the umbrella.

At the ATI conference, we had to wear blue skirts and white shirts; my little sister was so skinny and so tiny at age 6, that the blue jean skirt would actually fall off at times. Also, in the summer heat, the churchy white shirts made for a lot of sweat.

We would line up in alphabetical order each morning, and then were taken off in school buses (of all irony) to our appropriate groups. Girls went to one building, and did girl crafts and had girl lessons. Boys went to a different building and did cool activities like rock climb.

My friend and I were both tomboys and wanted badly to rock climb. So my friend suggested that we all put a pair of pants into our bags (not tell our parents about it) and ask our leaders if we could join up with the boys. That backfired. Our cell group leader reported our request, and a man took us all outside on a bench and told us we were not boys, and we needed to be thankful that they were teaching us to sew. Then he said if we even mentioned what the boys were doing, or even looked at the boys, he would call our fathers.

A piece of me died that day.

And the now famous Duggar family was at that conference. I remember meeting them.

One night at a local Children’s Institute we studied attentiveness, learned the attentive song, listened attentive stories, and then at the end had to promise that we would always be attentive. There were 100 kids or more there, and we were supposed to put our right hand in the air and promise. I knew I was dingy, I knew I would fail.

My elementary education was not normal to say the least. We went through what we called wisdom booklets, an all encompassing one-age fits all homeschool curriculum. I studied the Bible, memorized character traits and Matthew 5-7, studied Greek and law, and read missionary stories.

Weird, I know.

When my family left ATI when I was in 10th grade, I had lost a whole year of high school credits because I had never studied select courses other than math and grammar. (I don’t think this was a huge problem because my family was naturally curious and read a lot, but it would have been a problem if we had not.)

At home, Bill Gothard gave us rules to set ourselves apart though not all families listened. No TV. No pork. No rock or even contemporary Christian music. (We were told a beat would bring in demonic influence.) No pants for girls.No going to the movie theater (might ruin our witness, all about the outside).

I remember when my friend threw away Rebecca Saint James CD she received for her birthday because any drum beat is evil.

Adults had rules too. My mother was forbidden to work outside the home, and if she had a home business, she had to submit her schedule to ATI (my mom runs a business today). Sexual intercourse on the Sabbath, during a woman’s cycle, and 40 days after giving birth was strictly warned against.

Bill Gothard told parents that Cabbage Patch dolls could bring demons into the house, and trolls were evil. For my 7th birthday, I had a troll party. I loved them that much, and my sister’s doll was her life. But our dolls and trolls went in the garbage, a regret my father will probably take to his death bed.

We had local ATI get togethers, which were mostly Quiverfull families. We wore weird swimsuits (see mine below), played games, mostly fun times.

And then there was the teen programs at different places, called EXCEL for girls. We went to a mini EXCEL camp, were told to put our heads down when the boys went by, etc. The girls didn’t listen, but smiled and pretended like they did when the adults were around. I hated the hypocrisy. My mother mentioned to our group leader that her daughters had come home upset. Then the leader met with us (when she was in our area) and quizzed us about what happened. My gut literally hurt over the whole thing, and I still don’t know why she cared a hoot.

ATI is a legalistic program that encourages people to fake it on the outside.

Thankfully my family got out. And I did get a college education that Gothard warned against.

So that, my friends, is my memory of the homeschool world of ATI. Fun?

The Political Reach of Bill Gothard: Jeri Lofland’s Thoughts

Bill Gothard, Mike Huckabee, and the Leiningers at a 2007 Huckabee for President fundraiser.
Bill Gothard, Mike Huckabee, and the Leiningers at a 2007 Huckabee for President fundraiser.

Jeri’s post was originally published on her blog Heresy in the Heartland  on September 5, 2013. It is reprinted with her permission. Also by Jeri on HA: “Generational Observations”, “Of Isolation and Community”, “His Quiver Full of Them”, and “David Noebel, Summit Ministries, and the Evil of Rock”.

With Bill Gothard’s ceaseless emphasis on authority, obedience, and chain-of-command, it should be no surprise that he is compulsively attracted to men (and more rarely, women) whom he perceives to be in a position of power. He believes without question that his organization has answers that can solve the problems faced by any public official, if they can only work together to promote Gothard’s vision.

This characteristic has resulted in an extensive mycelial network whereby Gothard silently influences public policy across the country.

Its reach is difficult to measure, however. While Gothard loves to privately advertise his latest affiliations, he always exaggerates their scope or significance. And he frequently drops an old project when something shinier comes along.

Below I list some of Gothard’s better-known political alliances*. Since I left the organization in 1999, there are undoubtedly more fibers of connection now than I am able to trace here. As time passes, however, we can also see more clearly whether his “new approach” has yielded “lasting solutions” for those who have advocated them.

*There is no doubt that Gothard favors conservative political causes. I once heard him describe Rush Limbaugh as “our man on the radio”.

INDIANA

During his two terms as mayor of Indianapolis, Stephen Goldsmith partnered with Gothard to create the Indianapolis Training Center, selling a city-owned building to IBLP for a token $1 around 1993. During Goldsmith’s unsuccessful bid for Governor, ITC staff (many of them minors, most from other states, some salaried by the non-profit IBLP and others paying for the educational opportunity of working there) assisted the mayor’s campaign, running a mailing center from the top floor of the hotel and handing out campaign literature at polling places on Election Day. Some even registered to vote in Marion County to support him.

George W. Bush later made Goldsmith his chief domestic policy adviser. 

Goldsmith “helped formulate the president’s ‘faith-based initiatives’, which give tax dollars to churches.” In 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose Goldsmith to be his deputy mayor of operations, a position which included oversight of law enforcement agencies.

Goldsmith’s domestic policy came into question when he was arrested for assaulting his wife, Margaret in their home. Though Margaret later recanted her story, Goldsmith was pressured to resign. According to Mr. Bloomberg, “I think that domestic violence is a phenomenally serious scourge on our society. We work very hard to attack the problem of domestic violence and the implication — the accusation — unfortunately made it untenable for him to continue to work for the city.” Stephen Goldsmith filed for divorce earlier this year.

Back in Indianapolis, Margaret Goldsmith had worked for juvenile court judge James Payne, who used his court to send delinquent Marion County youth to the Indianapolis Training Center as an alternative juvenile detention facility. Despite investigations into allegations of child abuse at the ITC, Judge Payne was made Director of Indiana Department of Child Services, a post from which he resigned last year after charges of interference with a DCS neglect case involving his grandchildren.

FLORIDA

With support from followers Rep. Steven Wise (R-Jacksonville) and now-Congressman Dan Webster (R-Orlando), Gothard considered opening a similar youth training center in Jacksonville, Florida in 1997. Though that never materialized, Jacksonville children were sent by the court system to the correctional residential program at ITC.

Delinquent youths were designated “Leaders-In-Training” and spent their days studying the Bible, watching Bill Gothard lecture videos, doing the chores necessary to run a hotel, filling in homeschooling workbooks from Accelerated Christian Education, memorizing character qualities, and dressing up for dinner. Denim, television, and rock music were strictly forbidden. Discipline reportedly included solitary confinement in “prayer rooms” and spanking without parental notification.

According to The Cult Education Institute, former Florida governor Jeb Bush “implemented Gothard’s controversial character education program, Character First!, at his charter school in Liberty City.

The governor also publicly encouraged the Palm Beach County School Board to approve Character First!, which is also listed as a model program in state law.”  (Watch for more on the Character Training Institute in a future post.)

ARKANSAS

Gothard touts former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee‘s name on materials promoting his “Character Cities” initiative. The two were photographed together at a private campaign luncheon in Houston in late 2007.

For years, Gothard cultivated close ties to Huckabee, an alumnus of Gothard’s “Basic Seminar”, and to Jim Dailey, mayor of Little Rock. With encouragement from Mayor Dailey, Gothard opened his Little Rock Training Center in an empty VA hospital purchased by Hobby Lobby and donated to Gothard’s Institute.

Despite Gothard’s grandiose vision, the enormous structure was in poor repair and was never utilized as fully as the Indianapolis facility. Still, it served as a base for the Institute’s prison ministry. Gothard quotes Governor Huckabee’s support for conducting his seminars for Arkansas inmates: “I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people.”

Having gotten his foot in the door in Arkansas, Gothard combined forces with CCA, the nation’s largest operator of privatized correctional institutions, to promote his intense lecture-based seminars inside more prisons.

Gothard was enthusiastic about character education being made mandatory in Arkansas schools and visualized schools restructured into age-integrated “learning teams” instead of age-segregated classrooms. The Institute also operated a secretive character-building Eagle Springs program for youth in rural Altheimer, Arkansas. (The Eagle Springs program was later moved to Skiatook, Oklahoma. Many allegations of corruption and abuse have been made by girls who participated in the program involuntarily.)

Another Gothard devotee is Jim Bob Duggar, a Springdale Republican who served two terms in the State House, now best known for the reality show “Nineteen Kids & Counting“. Not only are the Duggars enrolled in Gothard’s homeschooling program, the Advanced Training Institute, their family website links to at least twenty Institute programs and calls Gothard’s organization their “#1 Recommended Resource“. Jim Bob and wife Michelle are featured speakers at ATI national conferences.

Though Duggar lost his last two election bids, he hasn’t abandoned politics. During the 2012 presidential primary, Jim Bob and his well-known family campaigned for candidate Rick Santorum. Duggar’s oldest daughter has worked closely with the current IBLP indoctrination program for girls, while his oldest son now directs political lobbying for the conservative Family Research Council.

OKLAHOMA

The Family Research Council was founded by Jerry Regier* in 1983. He was succeeded as president by Gary Bauer and eventually became a versatile member of Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating’s administration. Regier was Keating’s Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services as well as Acting Director of the State Department of Health, tasked with reinventing “the scandal-ridden” agency. Like Mayor Goldsmith in Indianapolis, he is a proponent of partnerships between government departments and the faith community. Under his leadership, Oklahoma became inundated with materials from the Institute’s character training program, which was largely created at Gothard’s training center campus in the heart of Oklahoma City.

According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times, “Regier brought Character First! management training to the Department of Juvenile Justice [in Oklahoma]. In this program, employees are recognized on their anniversaries and birthdays for certain character traits they exhibit. He encouraged the use of several of Gothard’s programs with juvenile offenders before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in 1996, including a “log cabin ministry” that places juvenile offenders in cabins in the wilderness with peers who are trained by Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute.”

Like the Indianapolis Training Center, the Oklahoma building was formerly a hotel. It was purchased by Kimray, Inc. and leased to IBLP for $1 a year. Kimray is run by Tom Hill, who served on Gothard’s Board of Directors for over a decade and piloted the secular adaptation of Gothard’s “character qualities” in his company.

Gothard gathered support from numerous state and local officials prior to establishing operations in Oklahoma. A 1994 news article lists several:

Several local officials wrote letters to Mayor Ron Norick supporting Gothard’s program, including state Rep. Carolyn Coleman, R-Moore, and Sen.Howard Hendrick, R-Bethany. Both joined other local officials in a visit to Gothard’s juvenile education center in a renovated Indianapolis hotel last spring.

With them were Richard DeLaughter, assistant Oklahoma City police chief, and John Foley, director of Oklahoma County’s juvenile division.

DeLaughter said… the facility emphasizes the Bible “so it obviously is not for every kid and every family. ” “I don’t think anybody thought it was the end all and be all answer for every one of our juvenile problems,” he said. “As an option, it was pretty good. “

Rep. Joan Greenwood (R-Moore) was a homeschooling mom who used Gothard’s curriculum. Howard Hendrick later served as Director of Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services. At Hendrick’s retirement, he was replaced by former Oklahoma City prosecutor Wes Lane, who has been a speaker at Gothard’s “Character Cities” conferences. On the DHS Commission, Lane was responsible for investigations into cases of child abuse and neglect.

Congresswoman Mary Fallin (now Governor of Oklahoma) joined Tom Hill and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett in welcoming attendees at a Character First! conference. That 2009 conference was held at the refurbished hotel where I served as an ATI student volunteer in 1999. I remember the character posters on the walls in the lobby, and reciting Bible passages to one of the “adults” (I was in my twenties) before dinner–the only meal offered on Sundays–was served in the dining room.* (Governor Keating later recommended Jerry Regier for a post in Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s administration. When Bush made Regier his Secretary of Children and Families, Regier quickly implemented the CharacterFirst! program within the department. Regier now works in the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.)

GEORGIA

Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, has spoken at national IBLP conferences. The Insurance Commissioner for the State of Georgia, Ralph Hudgens, is not only an ATI homeschooling dad but also sits on the Institute’s mostly harmless Board of Directors.

TEXAS

Another “advisory board” member whose name no longer appears on the IBLP website is San Antonio billionaire Dr. James Leininger, a shrewd investor described as “one of the most powerful people in Texas politics”. Leininger and Rick Perry have had a rewarding symbiotic relationship for many years as Perry rose through Texas state politics. See a photo of Bill Gothard and Mike Huckabee with Dr. Leininger at his Houston home on Flickr.

Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) formerly chaired the IBLP board and has recognized Gothard’s Institute from the House floor.