The Bill Gothard Scandal

Bill Gothard

Numerous people have contacted me about the Bill Gothard sex scandal.  They want to know, have I heard? I have. Am I going to write about it? Not at this time.

There is so much of this stuff coming out now that if I am not careful I will get emotionally and mentally swamped by it all. While I am glad the light of day is shining on the evil works done in secret, when it comes to Bill Gothard, I will leave it to others to detail his “sins.”

As a pastor, I was not a Bill Gothard fan. My grandparents, see the post Dear Ann, were Gothardites. They tried repeatedly to get me to attend one of Gothard’s seminars. After bugging me for about ten years, they quit asking me.

Out of all the families I pastored over the years, only one family was a devoted follower of  Gothard. They used Gothard’s home schooling material and several of their children attended a Gothardite advanced training program in Michigan. Their first question when I candidated at the church was, what do you think of Bill Gothard? Quite honestly, I knew very little about him and I don’t know much more now.

Here are several posts that might interest you:

Is David Gibbs Jr. investigating Bill Gothard?  This site has several posts on the Gothard scandal

The Recovering Grace site has a lot of information on Bill Gothard

If you would like to investigate Bill Gothard’s teachings:

Advanced Training Institute

Institute in Basic Life Principles

Embassy Institute

Embassy University

Verity Institute

Bill Gothard Wikipedia page

News story on Christianity Today website:

Bill Gothard has resigned from the Institute in Basic Life Principles, according to an affiliated ministry email obtained by Religion News Service (RNS), which broke the news tonight.

The popular seminar speaker and his ministry had weathered moral and financial controversies, as well as scrutiny over his teachings, in the past. But recently a whistle-blowing website gathered accusations of sexual harassment from more than 30 women.

RNS, which offers more details, reports that Gothard’s resignation cited his desire to focus on fulfilling Matthew 5:23-24, which reads:
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (NIV)
Alissa Wilkinson, CT’s movie critic, recently posted a personal reflection on her experience with Gothard’s ministry….

…Bill Gothard, Basic Seminar speaker and home-schooling advocate, has been placed on administrative leave as president and board member of the Institute in Basic Life Principles following multiple allegations of sexual harassment….

…Gothard, 79, has never been married. His ministry has weathered moral and financial controversies, as well as scrutiny over his teachings, in the past.

His seminars, which explain “how Biblical principles of life will result in harmonious relationships in all areas of life,” have been popular among many conservative Christian families. More than 2.5 million people have gone through one of Gothard’s Basic Seminars, which began as a course at Wheaton College—his alma mater—shortly after he graduated in 1961..


Comments (15)

  1. Byroniac

    Aha! People looking for hypocrisy in Bruce Gerencser, now you have found it! He said, “Numerous people have contacted me about the Bill Gothard sex scandal. They want to know, have I heard? I have. Am I going to write about it? Not at this time.” LOL! Just kidding, Bruce. Thanks for sharing that, because I would find your opinions on the man interesting (I do not know him other than the name, really, myself).

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Very funny, my friend. :) It would literally be a 60 hour a week job to write on all the scandals going on in the American Christian church. I try to focus on the ones I am most familiar with. Former Gothardites are doing a good job at outing the Gothard and exposing his hypocrisy.

      1. Byroniac

        Thank you, Bruce. I am glad I never got that emotionally invested in Gothard. I’m sure some people think he hung the moon. Some people will follow and defend their cult leaders no matter what—scary stuff.

  2. Ahab

    I learned about Gothard’s resignation this morning, and it’s bound to be explosive. I’m eager to hear what former ATI and IBLP participants, as well as figures from the Religious Right, have to say about his resignation.

  3. William

    My parents went to a “Basic Youth Conflicts” seminar around ’76 when I was a young teen. Made our lives pretty tough after that – and it was already a pretty strict household. Bad enough; but now I’m infuriated to read this in the above: “…Gothard, 79, has never been married.” Effin seriously?! Our parents had blindly glommed onto family life teachings by a man who never had kids?!

  4. Sandy

    Well, Bruce, what else do you expect from a man with the last name “Got hard” ?

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      such risque humor :)

    2. Byroniac

      Ha! I should have seen that joke coming before it hit me. LOL.

  5. Steve

    What a surprise. We find that another minister likes pussy. I’m SHOCKED!!

    1. Byroniac

      Good thing he’s not a Catholic priest, or I might be tempted to ask, “What? You don’t LIKE little boys? What’s wrong with you?” (Sad, that I can actually make this off-color joke and have a fitting context for it).

  6. Mark.

    The Roman Catholic Church has one pope, Baptists have many.
    When I first moved to Maryland in the 1970s and my parents made the mistake of choosing an IFB church (we were Christian Reformed in New Jersey). This is where I first encountered people quoting “Doctor Bob” more often than they quoted Jesus. Our church was aligned with Baptist Bible College in Clark Summit, PA. But that did not stop the Jonesians from trying to take over the church. Some would use their own money to place “Doctor” Bob’s books in the church library. We had a few Hyles people do the same. Over time the pastor let it be known, that our church did not view either Jones or Hyles as the supreme leaders of all Baptists, and most of them left. It was at my last IFB I first heard of Bill Gothard. A few people had attended a Gothard seminar and soon they were acting like pod people. Again using their own money to buy Gothard‘s books and video for the church library. I know a few Gothardites and they dress and act like tv’s Duggers. It will be interesting how this all plays out.
    The IFB, one cult created by many. Folie à deux

  7. Heather

    He sounds like a sociopath to me.

  8. Michelle

    Well i know nothing about this man but the problem i see is people begin to worship the creation more than the creator, however, you people are no better than that man in that we all have sin in our lives and his sin is no greater than our own. Jesus did not give us the authority to judge others …. thats his job. The bible say “judge not lest you be judged, in the same measure” Your speech and off jokes tells me the state of your hearts and it seems to me people just cant wait until others fall into sin … They gloat and feel better than others as if their fall from grace make them feel better. As far as the Duggars…dont know them and neither do you… No matter whats on tv. The life they choose is their own as is yours. If your human your fallible …. Give it a break!

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      And so you are judging us, yes? Thou doth protest too much.

      BTW, read Matthew 7 in context. It is not about not judging but judging rightly. We all judge, just like you do in this comment. As I read your self righteous comment, I made a judgment about you. Tis the nature of being human.

      It seems that Gothard ran into sin rather than fell into it. I find it interesting that you are more concerned with our comments than you are his predatory behavior.

    2. sgl

      re: “…we all have sin in our lives and his sin is no greater than our own”
      re: “The life they choose is their own as is yours.”

      so, i take it from your above comments that you are in favor of allowing gays to marry? after all, their sins are no greater than your own. and the life they choose is their own.


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