Micah J. Murray
Bill Gothard

On Growing Up in Bill Gothard’s Homeschool Cult

February 28, 2014 182 Comments

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” they say.

I hear it over and over again.

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There was some good and some bad. Just take what good you can and leave the rest.”

I don’t know how.

This is what happens when your definitions of “good” and “bad” are based on lies.

This is what happens when you’re taught to believe that you have “a new approach to life.”

This is what happens when you’re raised in a cult.


You know it somewhere in your mind before your mouth will admit it.

We talked about how it was a cult, joking at first. Outsiders could point and accuse and question, but we knew that it wasn’t what it looked like.

Yes, we were often mistaken for Mormon missionaries. Yes, the red neckscarves were reminiscent of Nazi youth. Yes, we knew that sometimes we were simply trotted out as props for political stunts. We knew, and we joked about it. Don’t worry, it’s not what it looks like.

That's me in navy and white. (IBLP Headquarters. 2004. Photo: Jeanette Sung)

That’s me in the navy and white. IBLP Headquarters. 2004. Photo: Jeanette Sung

I remember saying, more seriously than joking, “If this is brainwashing, it feels good to be brain clean.”

But as I spiraled closer and closer to to the center, the realization began to sink in. The jokes became real.

“Cult-like”, sure. I’d call it that. Authoritarian, legalistic, overbearing. But not a real cult.

The worst thing about brainwashing is that you can’t see it for what it is. You never think you’re in a cult when you’re in a cult.

Until the day you can’t deny the reality of what you’ve seen, what you lived. Until the day you speak out loud what your mind has known for a while,

“I grew up in a cult.”

And now, perhaps, “I grew up in a cult run by a sexual predator.”


My brother and me teaching at an IBLP Children’s Institute. 2002.

There’s barely a memory from the first twenty years of my life that isn’t run through by the thread of the Cult.

We joined the Advanced Training Institute when I was in first grade. Bill Gothard’s materials were the foundation of my homeschooling curriculum for the next twelve years. The Institute’s books began to fill our shelves; their routine became part of our daily life.

As a child and then a teen, ATI/IBLP formed most of my peer group. In the summer we went to the camps and the conferences. I attended the seminars as a child, then as a teacher. After I graduated from high school, I spent the next two years living and volunteering at the one of the Training Centers.

In the years since then, I’ve found myself in the long, slow process of rooting out the remaining traces of the cult from my heart, reconstructing a faith brick by brick.

When I tell my story, people say “You should hate God by now. It’s a miracle you’re a Christian at all.

They’re right. It’s a miracle.

Me and Bill Gothard having a chat. 2004. Image: Jeanette Sung.

Me and Bill Gothard having a chat. 2004. Image: Jeanette Sung.


Today the cult leader’s face is showing up in the news: “Bill Gothard Placed On Administrative Leave Following Abuse Allegations”

Students who grew up in the navy-and-white prisons have spoken up with their stories; more than two dozen women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment or abuse.

People ask me what I think about it. What can you say? I grew up in a cult led by an alleged sexual predator.

Do I believe the allegations? Absolutely.

During my two years working at the Cult center after highschool, I saw a system of absolute authoritarianism – designed to protect “leaders” and silence “rebellion”. I saw an organization built on the “special insights” and the idiosyncratic whims of an old man with way too much money and power.

They say that he groomed young women, selected the vulnerable and the hurting, told them it was God’s will for them to come work for him. They say that he made them feel special. That say he took advantage of their naivety – naivety instilled through the teachings and culture he created.

I believe these stories, because I saw the edges.

When we were at the Training Center, we joked about Gothard’s “harem”. We all knew there was a certain physical “type” of woman that he liked to be close to him, working for him.

I saw him pick out young women who were obviously vulnerable and hurting – but also very attractive. I heard him promise them they’d be right at the center of the next big thing he was planning. Those plans never came to pass, but I saw the girls come and go.

I saw the double standards. We weren’t allowed to go out with other staff in mixed-company groups. We weren’t allowed to have a conversation in the lobby with female staff members. And yet he – a single old man – had long “counseling sessions” with the same young women we were forbidden from meeting. At the time, we shrugged it off. He was the leader, he was allowed to make the rules.

I saw the materials he published too, about “counseling sexual abuse”. Blaming victims, downplaying the damage of sexual abuse. The very sort of thing you’d expect, in retrospect, from an alleged sexual predator.

I don’t know what’s more horrifying: that this is the sort of “training” we received in “counseling seminars”, or that we were so brainwashed we saw nothing wrong with it at the time.

It’s also horrifying to realize that the scenic retreat center where we enjoyed father/son camps and staff retreats was the site of a massive sex scandal that was covered up for decades by the Gothard family.


Spiritual refreshment. Family fun. Sexual perversion.


What happened? How did Bill Gothard fool an entire generation of homeschooling parents, of earnest young people?

I don’t know.

For a long time, I’ve heard it downplayed, excused:

“His teachings weren’t that bad, it was just that some people took them to an unhealthy extreme.” 

“The problem wasn’t with the man, but with the fact that people insisted on putting him on a pedestal.”

“He started out with good intentions, but got prideful and out-of-touch because of his success.”

But when there is documentation stretching all the way back to the 1970’s of sexual misconduct, questionable finances, and strategic cover-ups, I can’t believe that narrative anymore.

How did we wind up here, the tens of thousands who were fooled, deceived, led astray? The thousands that still are? 

I can tell you how I did: I was raised in it. It was the only world I ever knew. It was my normal.

And it was a “normal” that was protected with principles that taught us not to question authority. They taught us that being different from everybody else meant we were morally superior, that we were “special”. They taught us that if the system didn’t work for us, it was because we weren’t trying hard enough.

10,000 identically-dressed homsechoolers. That's normal. (I'm the one in the navy and white). 2002. Image: IBLP.org

Normal. 2002. Image: IBLP.org

What about the parents, the leaders?

I don’t blame them. I think they were as much a victim of Bill Gothard’s deceptions as anyone. He was a master manipulator.

The alleged predatory harassment of young women was part of an entire system built on insulating, elevating, and protecting himself. He preyed on fear and insecurity. He preyed on the desire to please God. He preyed on naivety. He preyed on hope.

This is what brainwashing looks like. Indianapolis Training Center. 2005.

This is what brainwashing looks like. Indianapolis Training Center. 2006.

He painted a world that was out to destroy families, and then humbly volunteered to show us the way to safety.

I wish I could say that he’s the only religious leader who did that, but he’s not. It’s an epidemic. It’s in our pulpits today, and wildly popular. Preachers teaching that they’re leading a special chosen group. Preachers insulating themselves from criticism by claiming that they have a special vision from God. Preachers using fear to control their people – fear of hell, fear of the liberals, fear of the world. When you see that, run far away.

Your heart will know that you’re in a cult, long before your lips are brave enough to speak the words.


Pray for us. 

Pray for the women who trusted when they were most vulnerable, only to be betrayed.

Pray for the ones who are still trapped. Brainwashing is a real thing. Brainwashing is what makes you say “I’m free” when you know somewhere in your heart that you’re not. Brainwashing is what makes you silence that voice gasping for air, and listen instead to the ones that say “Do more, be more, try harder.”

Pray for those who gave their whole lives to a ministry built on sand. You can’t walk away from that unharmed.

Pray for the ones who have decades of truth and lies mixed together to sort through. There’s no easy way to do that. Even the Bible doesn’t help when you’ve been conditioned to read the Bible twisted, when you know all the right answers and they’re all wrong.

Pray, if you can, for Bill Gothard. He’s carved out a heavy millstone for his own neck. He needs the sort of grace and redemption that could never be found in all his books and conferences and seminars.


“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”, they say. 

I’m not sure anymore if there ever was a “baby” or “bathwater”. Just a sea of lies, luring vulnerable children into its depths and slowly drowning them.

Here’s to the ones finally finding solid ground.

  • Thank you for writing this, Micah. I know it must be hard to talk about the painful past. But I want to thank you for speaking out, as you’ve always done so eloquently, on this blog.

  • jj1954

    My heart breaks for you, your wife, your brother and all the other children who were taken advantage of or abused by this evil man. I’m so happy you were able to escape all this, but can only imagine the scars you live with even now. I was also abused as a child, not by a cult, but by family and it has taken me over 40 years to finally give up the shame and guilt and give them over to God. Thanks for your courage in speaking out about your experience; hopefully it will inspire others in the same situation to break free and seek help. Once again, you’ve written eloquently on a painful subject. You obviously have found the Grace of God. God bless you and yours.

  • Jessica

    That was a powerful, haunting look into the cult life. The counselling on sexual abuse page was really, very, lopsided. Wow. :(

  • Mich, this must have been a hard piece to write! Thank you for being so brave! I only knew one family who were “Gothard fans” growing up. I always thought they were as crazy about Gothard as someone could get; it seemed like it was all they read when it came to parenting or Christianity. I had no idea that there was a full-fledged cult that when along with Gothard — complete with uniforms and harems. That’s so, so disturbing! And so, so sad for all of the many people who have been hurt.

    Have you written anywhere on your blog about what it was like for you and your wife to get out of the cult together? It seems like coming out of something like that could possibly put a strain on a marriage because you wouldn’t always be moving out of it at the same pace.

  • ATI exer

    Beautiful! I love the “pray for us” section. AMEN to each one of those prayers. The one about the Bible not being helpful in many ways is so true. It is hard to come out of this cult and find truth and freedom.

  • ajh

    Thank you for writing this…..it’s exactly what so many of us went through. I haven’t been able to write anything or confront my parents or friends who are still in yet, but I’m finding healing through reading every one else’s stories.

  • Rebecca Erwin

    Thank you for this. I did not grow up in a cult, but my Parentals took normal things and morphed them into spiritual abuse I’m still trying to make sense of. Praying healing and comfort for all.

  • Thank you for writing this. Very good. I grew up in ATIA, too; I ALWAYS hated the uniform. My dad used to joke years ago that Gothard had a girl “type” he picked, and we weren’t it. I had a teenage friend who Gothard picked out- and she was stunning.

  • I found this very moving, and I think I stopped breathing at this point:

    “Pray, if you can, for Bill Gothard. He’s carved out a heavy millstone for his own neck. He needs the sort of grace and redemption that could never be found in all his books and conferences and seminars.”

    Much respect to you.

    • Leeann Andrade Kelley

      As I mentioned in my post, he taught that when a person is in sin they are open to deception……and pride and all its expressions are the greatest of sin. Deliverance would be an appropriate prayer. Hate to judge, and make such blanket statements. But it is hard to see people, especially young people injured, and possibly turned from the Lord because of such things.

  • Timothy Swanson

    I’ve been reading your blog off and on for a few months, but it never occurred to me that we shared a history in ATI and the subsequent deprogramming.

    ‘When I tell my story, people say “You should hate God by now. It’s a miracle you’re a Christian at all. They’re right. It’s a miracle.’

    That is very much the case for me, and also for my wife (who grew up in the even more oppressive Jonathan Lindvall cult.) It is only by the grace of God, and the memory of a Christianity before the cult that we held onto our faith after we escaped.

  • So, so much of this resonates. Thank you. I’m glad you got out when you did.

  • amy

    I too came from this cult. My mother worshipped at this man’s feet with her whole being and she drug the rest of my family right along with her. As an adult, I have long since left this lifestyle behind. However, it is strange to try to tell others what it was like to grow up under this cloud unless they have experienced it for themselves!

    • 1956cyndi

      I am sorry that many followed it cult like- but that does not make it a cult. Sometimes denying that is not denial, but facts.

      • Nighthawk43

        I;m sorry Cyndi, but ATI and IBLP are definitely “cultic.”

        According to Merriam Webster, a cult is a “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.” Whereas IBLP and ATI were made up of Christians from various denominations, the organization was never embraced by the larger evangelical denominations of Christendom and most definitely ascribed to beliefs that are extreme, dangerous, and abnormal.

        Gothard’s definition of grace is one of the most dangerous things about his cult. Instead of being “unmerited favor,” grace (as described by Mr. Gothard) is “internal power” gained by righteous action. By defining grace in such a way, Gothard makes grace contingent upon human activity and in so doing darkens the glory in God’s merciful nature. This definition also warps the Christian motive for obedience turning it from an act of worship and gratitude into an act of indebted repayment. This view does not grant the Christian freedom in Christ, but further enslaves them to the constraints of their own sinful nature.

        The rampant hypocrisy within ATI is also telling. I remember distinctively when Gothard penned a newsletter where he discouraged young men from seeking higher education at a college (even “bible colleges”) because seeking “worldly” knowledge was an ungodly pursuit. Of course, he recommended that young men pay to attend IBLP sponsored programs such as ALERT in order to find their “tent-making” callings. (Let’s also not forget that he had degrees from Wheaton and Louisianna Baptist University). Cults consistently discourage their members from seeking “knowledge” from outside sources. Is it any wonder then, that Gothard strongly encouraged home “church fellowships” and even wrote a book encouraging the practice (See The Sevenfold Power of First Century Churches and Homes).

        These are just a few of the problems and we haven’t even begun to address the warped views on dress, music, individual identity, and “umbrellas of protection.” (How’s did Gothard’s leaky “umbrella” protect those within his cash-for-solutions “ministry”?)

        Oh and does anyone remember the bread-making trend, the Y2K emergency preparedness kits, and the play music to your veggies fad?

        It was definitely a cult…

        • Lynne Everest

          ” Instead of being “unmerited favor,” grace (as described by Mr. Gothard) is “internal power” gained by righteous action”

          Frightening! You nailed it Nighthawk – thanks for that very apt description of a cult and how Gothard fits that format.

  • Ahab

    Micah, I’m so relieved that former Gothardites are speaking out, and I’m also relieved that you’re free from his ministry. I commend you for sharing your experiences.

    That abuse diagram made my blood boil, especially the section on “if abused was not at fault”. It implies that some abuse is the victim’s fault, which is dangerous and traumatizing. Given what’s coming out about Gothard now, I shouldn’t be surprised.

  • This post is excellent…and heartbreaking….and important, Micah. Thank you for being brave enough to share it.

    • Elizabeth Keith

      ahh rachel, another amazing lover and blogger reading here. thank you for being brave and sharing the depth that you do

  • Andrea_Videographer

    I cannot tell you enough about the deep terror I would feel every year that we went to Tennessee. The entire thing seemed like a contest for the family who had the most children, with the most matching outfits, who could smile the longest and have their hair stay just so, for the longest time. I never matched up, I hated the bows, the fake smiles. I wasn’t a soprano in the choir, I never was good enough on my violin to play with the orchestra. I was beaten and under constant scrutiny from my mother because she was surrounded and shamed by every family that seemed better and godlier than hers. Her narcissism was bruised and I had to pay. Every morning was torture as she tried to curl my hair into a gigantic, poofy mess. She picked out my shoes, my panty hose, and she was never satisfied because I couldn’t hide my terror or sadness well enough to pass as the perfect ATI girl. I do hold my parents responsible. They were in it to be/feel superior. The IBLP was a measuring stick that they could hold up and find everyone back home lacking. They eventually left out of peer pressure from another cult, but all of the teachings stayed with them. Some even have stuck with me and I try to purge as soon as I realize that there are still chains from that world inside my brain.

    I hope the place shuts down for good.

    • I’m really sorry, Andrea. What a sucky experience. I always loved the Knoxville trips. But then, I was one who thrived on performance and pleasing people. Plus, it was super fun to meet girls.

    • Saoirsewoman

      Andrea I want to acknowledge the very real terror you felt of a dynamic that was so toxic. I think maybe Micah has answered you flippantly because he’s seen so much of it that parts of him have shut down and he’s made light of it as a defence mechanism. Maybe. But I know what you’re saying and I’ve seen it too, I know how exhausting and oppression and capricious it is. All the keeping up appearances. I call it The Righteousness Wars and it is the ultimate in the legalistic Pharisee spirit. Who feels edified or affirmed with that kind of thing going on? Everyone is insecure, everyone is critical and comparing and judgemental, everyone feels like they don’t measure up, everyone is trampling on others to try to get a foothold. You can get PTSD from that kind of thing, I know it. So I hope you are OK now Andrea and I send you much love.

      • Hey Saorisewoman & Andrea – I totally didn’t mean my early comment to be flippant. I’m really sorry it came across that way. I am truly very sorry for the terrible experience you had at Knoxville. It’s horrifying how what can look so good be so damaging for many – yourself included. I’m not sure what words to put to that. It’s a terrible thing, and I’m really sorry you had to experience that. Much love to you.

        • Saoirsewoman

          Good on you Micah. I appreciate this. Thank you for sharing your story. It is important.

        • Andrea_Videographer

          Thanks Micah. I didn’t feel like you were minimizing my experience.

    • Leeann Andrade Kelley

      I am so sorry that this was done to you in the name of the Lord. I am so sorry that your family succumbed to that lie, that they were so broken that they did that to you to try to make themselves feel worth. I hope you have found that the deception was a load of crap, but the truth about Jesus’ redemption and grace gives freedom from it.

    • clarisseknew

      Andrea, I feel so sad for you and for other children whose childhood was marred by this experience. I too hope that everything false in the BG teachings is brought to light, and I also hope (not very expectantly) that the world will see that it is other believers who are incensed with not only BG’s behavior, but with the entire deception. And deception it is, as with any cult; your parents were deceived, probably more so than others, but nevertheless, they are/were victims, as are any cult followers. I hope you will come to see them with compassion, and can believe in their recovery. They will need your forgiveness.

    • disqus_0ePTgM4gZt

      Andrea… please keep sharing your story and help the world stay free of religious oppression. Jesus is not oppressive… he is peace and joy. I grew up around similar garbage and I enjoy keeping my kids free from this.

    • guest233

      wow..how horrible.I have to admit I can pick out a family among a crowd that belongs to Bill Gothard as they wear an arrogant and spiritual pride spirit as well
      as smugness. They can not see how very unlovely they are.

      • DB

        Oh don’t mind them, they’re just working on “alertness” by noticing how everyone around them has failed and is experiencing “deep inner pain”. They waive their proverbial beams around while inwardly critizing the specs they see in others.

    • preciouscargo

      This breaks my heart for ALL who were victims of BG’s indoctrination. I can definitely understand your feelings toward your parents. I sincerely hope you find the space, time, and counseling needed to heal. I hope you also experience love that is free from legalism and unrealistic expectation. I know you are not in a place to forgive your parents, but maybe allowing yourself to accept the reality that

    • DoopedandAngry

      Andrea, I am so sorry for your experience. I am writing with the hopes of being a help to your healing process. My family got caught up with a cult. I am a parent of three daughters. When I had them, I wanted to do my very best for them. I wanted to give them an understanding of a loving God. I tried to do my best to be an obedient child of God. Somehow slowly, very slowly, that got twisted into going to church every time the doors were open. Volunteering. Obeying authority. I was NEVER taught to question authority. Questioning authority meant questioning God. When things didn’t seem right, how many times did I hear the words, “God’s wisdom is not your wisdom.” I tried to be humble and “trust God”. Fortunately we got out before anything major happened. But I believe my daughter was beginning “to be groomed”. Now my daughters reject Christianity all together. I cannot blame them. I don’t know if I believe myself. However, I do believe God is pure love. And She knows their hearts. I am thankful that my girls do not blame me. But I do, though, blame myself. My intentions were good. But I failed utterly.

      • lmanningok

        If your daughters do decide Christianity isn’t what they can believe in, I hope you will encourage their search for another belief and accept them even if it isn’t yours.

        After decades of searching for a religion that was acceptable to my intelligence as well as my emotions, I realized it wasn’t a faith I was looking for…it was understanding; and I can’t get understanding from faith.

        May I suggest my own, nonreligious philosophy: Secular humanism, a gentle, guilt-free philosophy from the Enlightenment that explores how to live ethically without god. “Free Inquiry,” a magazine of Freethinkers published by the Center for Inquiry, is a good introduction.

        • GregBrady

          Well stated Imanningok…I too used to be in a Christian religious cult-like church in FL that forced us to work long hours for little pay (I was a school teacher at its Christian school) and pressured us to give up all our outside contacts and give our money to the church. It was during the so-called ‘shepherding movement’ in the mid-late 1980s and the constant scrutiny and brainwashing was intense. After leaving this church for a new job in Dallas I again was taken advantage of by Christian employers. The extent of the control exerted by most if not all of these churches and religious groups was insane and abusive. I finally stopped going to church for good and began to question and study science and other things besides the Bible, which led to skepticism because of the lack of virtually any hard evidence of the claims of the Bible coupled with the anecdotal experience that I never received answer to prayer that was clear…none of it played out in my own life. 15 years ago or more, I de-converted from all Christianity and spiritual beliefs and my life has never been better. Using my mind and reason is empowering and being free from the threat of ‘eternal life’ with or without God has brought me the peace I always thought I could find through the Bible and faith. It is not necessary for morality and the world is a better place when individuals are taught to think and analyze rather than simply ‘believe’ because a book and authoritative humans tell them to. I sure hope Micah that you will eventually arrive at the same freedom. Thanks for sharing your story…

    • texassa

      When I read these same accounts over and over, it is just so sad. What part of boastful, prideful, competitive, pageantry has anything to do with Christianity? It’s amazing to me that all these people are so blind.

  • Abby Norman

    You and especially your lovely wife are often in my prayers. The genteleness in this has the Spirit’s finger prints all over it. You are brave, and you are kind, and you are gracious. Bless you friend.

  • Raz

    Thank you so much for this well-written piece which so many of us can relate to. I too am making the slow journey of edging away from a group I spent 50 years of my childhood and adult life in … edging through the “they are cult-like” admission into the “they are a cult” realization. It is a very uncomfortable journey … and many people I love are still in the “it’s not what it looks like” position.

  • pastordt

    Oh, Micah. I did not know this story, and I am so very sorry for it. I was a young mom when this craziness started and was repelled by it, fiercely. Some of my extended family got swept into it during the early years, but they moved away from it after a while. I actually thought he’d left the ministry behind him until all this abuse stuff surfaced. It is scary on so many levels, I can’t even begin to name them – and I makes me both furious and incredibly sad. Thank you for sharing what you have in this piece and elsewhere. Thank you for telling the truth, calling out the evil, for making the move. i can’t even imagine how much this has cost you. Love and prayers.

  • Julie Anne

    Your personal experience is so important to share, Micah. There are some who went through ATI without difficulties, but that does not at all minimize your experience. In cases like this, I’m always concerned about the many voices that remain silent because they do not have enough strength to fight yet another battle – because their battle remains with them on a daily basis in their thoughts, in their spirit, in the depths of their soul. You did it for them. Thank you!

  • Audrey Smith Ateca

    I am so sorry you had to go through this. I am thankful that while we are a homeschooling family, I was never quite comfortable with his materials and even lost friends because we didn’t use them. I will add your prayer requests to my prayers. Thank you for writing this. I hope people read it and pay attention.

  • Kelley Roberts Perry

    My heart gives you quite the standing ovation! Your words are precise and gentle. Your spirit is beautiful and desires truth. i can’t wait to go and spend time on our blog.

  • Melissa Burke

    Well said. The pulpit abuse resonated with me as well. Very insightful!

  • Charissa

    Micah, thank you for writing this. You have captured the thoughts, truths, and emotions that have often filled my heart and mind as we have all been processing our past with IBLP and ATI. Your experience is so very similar to mine, and reading this was very helpful to me!

  • Nate

    Thanks for speaking out, Micah. I went through the exact same thing… Was in ATI for about 10 years, went to countless seminars, and even worked at Headquarters for a while. And while all this coming out now saddens me, it doesn’t surprise me in the least. These things happen when an environment of rules and standards is set up rather than living in grace. Thank God for His grace!

  • Elizabeth Campbell

    Excellent, insightful post with a wonderful call to prayer at the end. As someone who was in ATI from 1995-2004, I appreciate the honesty and the civility of your statements. God bless you, and I am praying for all of us today.

  • This is powerful. Just last week a story from my cult-like childhood environment was shared on Libby Anne’s LoveJoyFeminism blog, and it was so interesting to read over 100 comments discussing an event that happened to a dear personal friend–an event that affects her life and all of our lives to this very day. I attempted to give an explanation to one commenter who raised a specific and reasonable question about the event. My explanation went something like, “Well, it made sense at the time, because blah, blah, blah.”

    And his response was that it was the most “fucked up” story he’d ever read in his life.

    And at first I felt defensive. Except that he was right.

    You can’t make this stuff up. And when you’re in inside such a closed system it’s so hard to see it. You have a sense that all is not what it should be, but really can’t put your finger on it completely until hindsight and distance finally gives you 20/20 vision.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Micah. It rings true for so many of us raised in environments where pedophiles had spiritual authority, even if we weren’t all raised under Bill Gothard.

  • SJ

    Thank you for writing this. You described well how it almost makes sense, then you read that sexual assault counseling paper and all you can think is “Dear God!” Its common enough to hear about cults and think, people who worship the moon with magic crystals. But it’s not that kind of cult that is preying on the average person trying to improve their spirituality, its so-called churches. And that’s really what they think they are. It so hard to draw the line too, like there are “close” and a “bad kind of close” communities, everyone seems to know the difference, except when they just don’t. Thanks for writing this. Keep writing!

  • This is all far too familiar.

    Thankfully in the small church/cult I grew up in in Australia, the influence of the pastor didn’t extend much beyond the small congregation of 50 or so (at the most). However, I still feel like I was reading my family’s story – the manipulation, emotional abuse, narcissism, and predatory behaviour. Unfortunately for us it was my mother who was the main object of this man’s sexual abuse, for the 15 years we were there (I wouldn’t be surprised if there were others).

    It ripped our family apart (duh). By grace, all four of us kids are still actively wrestling with our faith, nearly 15 years on.

    I really do relate to this, you mentioned: “the ones who have decades of lies and truth mixed together” – it is such a slow process, year after year of questioning, re-reading, meditating – clutching at those threads of beauty that had been woven through the bullshit.

    Thank you for sharing so bravely.

    • Elizabeth Keith

      amen. well said. i still find myself ahving to stop and weigh. “eat the meat and spit out the bone” doesn’t work so well when the whole meal was carrion. to quote some of my amazing prophetic circle

    • x5cat

      Bree. so sorry to hear that is your mother in your family. It was also MY mother in my family who sexually abused us. She took scriptures and twisted them to mean something that it didn’t mean. We were brought up in a Fundamental Pentecostal Church where everything but breathing was a sin! lol Unfortunately they would have figure out to make that a sin if they could have! lol

      I survived but only because I literally had to move out of the house with no traces of where I went. I jsut wanted you to know you are NOT alone!

  • Saoirsewoman

    “I wish I could say that he’s the only religious leader who did that, but he’s not. It’s an epidemic. It’s in our pulpits today, and wildly popular. Preachers teaching that they’re leading a special chosen group. Preachers insulating themselves from criticism by claiming that they have a special vision from God. Preachers using fear to control their people – fear of hell, fear of the liberals, fear of the world. When you see that, run far away.” – yes indeed. Christian legalism/fundamentalism is a thing, and none of us immune.

    • mrz80

      Jesus warned that there’d be false prophets and false Christs cropping up all over the place. Paul cautioned that even in the church people would delight in heaping up phonies who would tickle their itching ears, and evangelicals and charismatics of all flavors nowadays go haring after the crassest and must unscriptural of charlatans. I went to one Gothard IBLP seminar, but never worked up the enthusiasm for the whole thing that a lot of my fellow travelers did; I never thought formulas and rigidity could bear fruit of faith and righteousness; never seemed to help the Pharisees that much, anyhow. :)

    • PNWShan

      Reading your description of these preachers reminds me of a whole lot of politicians today too. The more power a person has, the more likely they will become corrupted by it and corrupt others.

      • All Things New

        Power does not necessarily corrupt, it’s just that corrupt people tend to seek power.

  • Sol

    I don’t know you, but I wish you peace and healing. I navigated that same lonely road – sexually abused by a family member- I only wish all of you that have suffered continued healing and love, There is a light at the end of the tunnel

  • meek lio

    beautiful post.there is such courage in you whenever you write new posts.there’s a church next to my house that preaches that you have no salvation if you ever sin(and call yourself a christian). when you wrote this post i’ve just felt an urge to ask you for your insight on this because many are being brain washed. i don’t even know the truth anymore because they back up these allegations with bible verses. please whoever who can help write your views.thnx

    • Della

      Meek Lio, the Bible was not given to us so we can “back up” our own views with verses. This is a common practice in legalistic churches – where preachers pull verses out of the context in which they were written and use them to make their own points. Look at the overarching story of the whole Bible. God is not the mean dictator just waiting for us to fail so he can throw us away (this image is the result of the brainwashing Micah talks about). Throughout the Bible, God is calling people to “come back” – the way a loving parent would want their children to stay close by – where it is safe. Good grief, if we could lose our salvation by sinning, I guess I’d have to ask God to save me all over again about once an hour. Trust yourself to study the Bible and discover truth. It is all about context … literary context, historical context, cultural context … one verse should not be used in isolation to form a principle. You read that verse within the chapter around it, then the book around that, and finally within the whole Bible. Here’s one example: Prosperity preachers love to quote a few verses that they claim teach that if you are living right and obeying God, you will be “blessed” (prosperous, wealthy, etc.), so they are taking certain verses “out of context” and ignoring all the teachings about loving the poor, refraining from greed, not showing favoritism to wealthy over poor, etc. If you’d like a resource, Howard Hendricks wrote a very easy to read book on studying the Bible called Living by the Book. It contains some fun observation activities, but it also teaches the importance of interpreting scripture according to context. Get away from those Bible thumpers who want to beat you up or control you with their favorite verses.

      • Elizabeth Keith

        ooh i disagreed sort of with you later on in the comment secion, but i like this. good post.

      • meek lio

        thanks really helpful

  • Dave McCarthy

    Thanks for sharing. There are too many dark hearts out there.

    The elitism and hierarchy of social status… encourages narcissism.
    The harsh parenting, the inflexible rules, and silencing victims… lacks a conscience. It separates a kid from their loving parent. This is akin to promoting sociopathy.
    Unchecked power, obedience, and authority… is the breeding grounds of a true machivellian. Only a leader can be a individual.

    Psychology calls it the dark triad.

    These things sound like… Woe to the pharisees who like being called rabbi in the town square and love the seats of honor. Who tie millstones around people’s necks and won’t lift a finger to help. Who travel across sea and land to make a single follower while being a blind guide.

    We find out that the follower becomes twice a child of hell by following them. So many hurting people in it at times hurting others.

  • Della

    I admire your courage in writing this piece, Micah, but more than that, I am moved by your humility. It appears (from this and other writings) your tender heart is bent toward mercy. Growing up in a fundamental Baptist church, I was no stranger to legalism and the cultic teachings of Bill Gothard and his contemporaries (Jack Hyles, Peter Ruckman, et al.). You say people wonder that you don’t “hate God by now.” These abusive churches and teachings were never about God. Or truth. These men are the Pharisees Jesus rebuked – the “I thank you that I am not like them” kind of men who distort the scriptures and pride themselves on their ability to “see,” but remain blind to God’s great mercy. Faithful God, our loving covenant keeper, reaches down when we are at our lowest and picks us up once again. Mercy prevails over judgment once again. Like you, I remember how these men have hurt so many people and destroyed lives, and like you, I pray, “God have mercy on them, sinners – just like me.” Thank you for reminding me …

    • Elizabeth Keith

      not sinners any more della,. unless Christ’s work on the cross is incomplete? if you are saved, your DNA is Jesus all the way. saint, daughter, lover, warrior, deborah, grace filled, light giver. Christ the hope of glory IN YOU!
      and i have had a HARD time with mercy triumphs over judgement. it is true and it helped me to see that thes A**HOLES are also sons and saints. but sinners? no, not even them. what a mind bender.

  • Nathan Straub

    Wow. Jeanette Sung was in my TESOL class at the Flint RCI in 2004. Brings back some memories, both good and bad.

  • Cindy mullett

    May God have mercy on any of us who allow a root of bitterness to ensnare us! Satan is viciously attacking God’s work because he knows he is running out of time. We know that IBLP is not a cult but a very effective tool that God has used to shape many godly families for multiple generations. Why wouldn’t satan be attacking it? He is also a pro at using Christians, thus creating strongholds in their lives as well. May God have mercy!

    • By their fruit you’ll know them, Cindy. Look around. It’s rotten.

      • Julie Minnick

        I always said, you will know them by their fruits, look around, Gothard’s programs have left generation after generation of emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually damaged people who are having to strip down their faith and rebuild in a healthy way.

    • Ellamae

      I wasn’t planning to write anything here but I wanted to reply to you Cindy.
      I grew up for the most part in ATI I didn’t have anywhere near the experience of many out there or those of friends of mine. So, not everyone’s experience has distinct clear moments of “wow that was bad”. But the teachings were harmful even though I didn’t see it when I was up close. Sometimes you have to take a step back.

      Yes, I agree. Bitterness does bring one down but telling your story, expressing feelings of hurt and anger doesn’t equal bitterness. I’ve too often heard “don’t be bitter” used to shush people who where hurt and angry and speaking about it. You have to be able to get things out and work through them, if you hold it inside that’s when I had bitterness take root and it eat me up. I had to accept the hurt and pain, feel it and then working through it, Not letting myself feel, be able to admit to myself and others what happened in my life or having people not believe or take me seriously was harmful. It takes time to heal, that’s how God designed us.

      My point is I’ve seen bitter people and I don’t see Micah’s heart as he expressed it to us here to be bitter.

      Also, I can’t think of one family I know where IBLP actually helped them as you say. It showed them how to look good on the outside like my family. Which caused hurt and made it all the worse because the inside was broken and rotting to use Micah’s metaphor.

      • 1956cyndi

        After over 25 years in the program, I know of MANY who have been helped by both IBLP and ATI. I am truly sorry for those hurt, and have talked to many (as the leadership admonished ALL to do when we met ‘Gothardites’) to point to Christ, and not the materials, when saw they WERE acting cult like. Agree, I did not see this coming, and had had my kids in many of the programs. I pray he handles things rightly, which may mean jail time and civil lawsuits galore, before he has to handle his actions before a Living Saviour.

    • Marie

      Yeah, kind of like that annoying time Jesus got angry and overturned tables. So bitter!

    • Elizabeth Keith

      Angels, identification of target complete. i request a fire mission to restore Cindy Mullett to the heart of light. shalom and truth that comes in words not uttered byt men. it’s a journey girl. i would love to one day call you sister.

  • From across the pond

    “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater” in this context reminds me a bit of all those sayings by folks from my grandparents’ generation about living in the Nazi era. “But he did build all our autobahns”; “we owe the Beetle to him”, and “those were the days when a woman could safely walk on the streets at night” – never mind that all criminals got great jobs in that system, if they could but raise their right arm; never mind about that little genocide on; and wasnt there a thing about a world war as well? But *no*, it wasn’t ALL bad…

  • Kristofer David Gray

    Bravo! What you said about this phenomenon being prevalent in our pulpits is so true! Fear is their weapon against us. When are we going to listen to Jesus’ warnings?! He warned us against the Pharisees and their kind. Why do we not listen?

    Run from anyone who claims to understand the Scripture more than you. It is for freedom that Christ set us free. It is obvious to anyone who reads the New Testament for themselves it is about less, not more.

  • Aron Hele Forhuden

    Wow, this is a really moving story. I keep being told that I’m in a cult, but I do not agree at all. I’ve never seen any such thing as all this horror in my religion. I’m LDS, BTW. If anyone wants to bash on my religion now, I guess I can’t prevent it.

  • Mel

    Wow, Micah. This is amazing. I grew up in a different cult that masquerades as a church (the mormon church) and I can’t tell you how chilling it is to read stories like yours and realize that its not just one group – its SO many of them!

    I applaud you for getting out and raising your family in a better way – and for speaking out against it — a hard thing to do when its all you know.

  • Thank you for writing. I’m sorry you had to experience this. Praying for the delivery of all those who have been blinded by this horrible thinking.

  • R.E.

    I am truly sorry for the ones who have gone through so much hurt, fear, frustration because of ATI. I can understand the stress and feelings of not being good enough that some have gone through. And though I didn’t recognize the sexual harassment/abuse at the time I believe it now looking back at incidents that didn’t quite add up. What has been happening is wrong, and I wish it had been brought to light sooner.

    At the same time, and though I don’t agree with everything ATI teaches, I can’t say that there is nothing good from ATI. Yes it’s leader has been sinning and covering it up which has caused a lot of damage and hurt to people, yes the standards are excessively strict. From ATI, however, I have learned among other things: the importance of memorizing/meditating on scripture, many helpful things about spiritual warfare, the importance of being in the Bible and studying it for yourself/searching out what you hear people teaching to make sure it is really the truth. Yes, I’m sure I could have learned those things else where, but I learned them through ATI. The hurts and fears can also happen else where. Growing up I learned not to talk about everything I felt and thought, not to be detailed in describing my actions. This was not because of ATI but because of my Dad who had always been a controlling man(and let me say joining was not his idea, he was talked into it by my brother and Mom). Over the years, however, he has slowly been getting better about not controlling everyone-and this while being in ATI, though I wouldn’t say it is because of them.
    I also am not sure I agree that it is a cult. The excessive standards are very much recommended but they are not forced(except while a person is at a training center). At home families can and often do have their own standards that don’t match up to ATI’s.
    It makes me think of Paul’s warning not to follow Paul or Apollos but to be a follower of God. Even in Bible times these problems existed…

    I understand that the hurts of the girls who have been sexually harassed and of the people who felt they couldn’t measure up are very real. This needs to be dealt with and talked about. I also think there are some good things that have come from ATI. The good and bad are not comparable by any means, but both need be thought about and processed through.

    • Rachel Ferguson

      bravo! well said. Micah, your article is well written, but there are some things I disagree with. R.E., I believe you hit them on the head. It saddens me that now many people will have reason to discredit the importance of the Bible because Bill Gothard said….

    • Elizabeth Keith

      R.E. the application of principles that are based on a lie do not bear fruit in any way that resembles the life and light of Jesus and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. i challenge you to set aside your Bible for 6 months and ask Father God to make himself real to you. everything you think is truth is based on a lie. and i won’t quote scripture so don’t start.

      • Ashley

        Don’t discard the Bible! It is the only truth! I spent some time in a cult-like atmosphere (although different from BG) the only thing that kept me a Christian was the Bible. Don’t discard the Bible, discard all the pre-conceived notions that you bring to the Bible when you open it. Study it for what it really says, not what somebody once told you it says. It takes LOTS of time to separate the truth from the lies but the Holy Spirit is an excellent teacher.

        • Elizabeth Keith

          Ashley, I am speaking of filters no where did I say discard. I said set aside for a short. Of time to regroup re evaluate. That is not discard please stop with your knee jerk reactions

        • Nicholas

          The bible isn’t the truth, Jesus is. Jesus is the living Word, the Bible is a book that was inspired by God but still written by close to 40 authors and therefore not perfect. It is there as a guide but it is not to be absolute truth. The only absolute Truth is walking in love by being filled with the Christ spirit.

          • Lin

            Actually, Nicholas, the bible is absolute truth. Remember, the
            word of God says Jesus is the Word (read John chapter 1);
            you can’t separate the word of God from the true author.Though He used several men to write
            the words down, all of the
            words came from Him. Think about it..God’s plan for
            mans eternal salvation (the birth, death and resurrection
            of Jesus)
            comes from divine inspiration of God THROUGH,
            not BY, the writings of
            man, forming the bible, and giving insight to humankind of
            how to be saved and how to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
            Can you imagine God in His infinite wisdom, allowing man to
            “make mistakes” in writing down something so very important?
            People have their own opinions but how to be saved is
            God’s plan for mankind; there is ONE way to God and this is
            through his son, Jesus. No other book of any kind has stood the test of time like the bible has.
            Other books, even written by christians, have come
            and gone and may have been good useful tools in the
            christian faith. But no other book has stood through so much
            persecution and opposition for so long and still loved and adored by so many throughout the world. There is a
            reason for that. The word states in 1 Peter 1:25 that the
            word of the Lord lasts forever. What are we to do, pick and
            choose which scriptures we like and which don’t suit us
            and base our beliefs on those things? You may think one
            way and I may think another, yet which one of us is right?
            The plumbline is the word of God. He knows how to
            say what He means and mean what He says!!
            Men have twisted the word of God to suit themselves for
            centuries. The letter of the law kills but the spirit of the Word
            of God gives life. The closer we get to a true relationship
            with the Lord Jesus Christ, and know Him as He is, the
            greater level of freedom we will have. Only humans can
            mess up the message of grace intended in the word.
            God never meant for us to live in bondage of any kind.
            I too have endured legalistic teachings in the church. But
            that does not mean every church is like that. Until I find one
            that isn’t I will read the word of God and get to know
            Jesus as He truly is, even if I have to
            do it alone. No one, not even a church leader,
            should ever lead us further away from God. A true man
            or woman of God will draw us closer to God; it’s more
            important in these days to be loyal to God and not to a
            church, when that church is not being a true representative
            of Christ.

  • MsLorretty

    Oh man oh man. I’ve seen this Micah. In my church. Abused by a man who did just this very thing. Thank you brave Brother in Christ. Thank you for doing the hard work of sorting wheat from chaff.

  • healingwithhope

    I read this tonight…and several similar articles. And I wept. I spent nearly 6 formative years of my childhood in ATI, and even more so as they were the years directly following my parent’s divorce, and ATI had very special treatment for single mother families. From ATI it was a small step for my family into the conservative Mennonites, another stricter cult. A step made easier by “plain” people we met at Knoxville and other events. Another 5 years of my life were spent in the Mennonites when I finally struggled out in my search for truth. I was in my late teens and very innocent and vulnerable. Easy prey for the leader of a very small budding cult to swoop in and do to me exactly what Gothard did to these girls, but in a more intense way. That lasted for a year and a half till I finally got out. A dozen years…more than half my life spent in 3 different cults, but it all started here…with ATI. The first cult to insist on sexual purity, even saving the first kiss, is directly responsible for having it all stolen away from me later. Now I am finally finding myself and what Truth and Freedom really is….but for the most part there is only judgement from the ones who should care the most. Reading this brought pain to the surface, but also joy that I am finally out and on my way. There IS healing after!

    • healingwithhope

      So THANK YOU Micah for the courage to write this and be a voice for those who are afraid to speak for themselves!

    • Gert

      Hi Healing with Hope, I am so sorry for what happened to you. And I especially am sorry for what you suffered at the hands of conservative Mennonites. I am so appalled but I know this happens in every denomination. I myself am a Mennonite and what happened to you was wrong. It was sin and it is horrible. I hope the man who did this to you will be found and will be miserable until he admits his sin and confesses it to God and to you. Please don’t assume all Mennonite people are like that – for they aren’t. I am happy in my marriage and my church and I wish you would have had a good experience. I would like to give you a hug – and I want you to know that I am so sorry for your hurt, your pain, and the sin that was done to you. God help us all.

  • T2green

    I smelled his garbage in the early 80’s. The clues were a man teaching about marriage, family, and sex thou never “being married, sexually active, or having children”. Another dead giveaway was the same group of groupies were also following Jim and Tammy “PTL” there is a sucker born every minute.

    • mrz80

      2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

  • Kate

    This was my life. This was my prison. My father, and Mr. Gothard were “God” or the personification of him in my life. There are 11 of us. Lost children. Born not because we were wanted or loved. We were their “arrows” their “tools’ and sometimes my father said their punishment for past rebellion. We were abused, molested and taught to hate ourselves, but you are right if this is all you’ve ever known it is your “normal” in our minds life was good, we were the blessed ones and the depression, the anger, the feeling of being utterly lost and orphaned…that was just us, that was more proof they were right that we were deeply bad.
    That hand out on sexual abuse counseling is not merely words on a page for me. My father took almost the exact words from that page to blame me when I was raped and later to place responsibility on me for my husband’s brutal sexual and physical abuse. Fathers and husbands are placed by God in our lives to refine us, to build our character he said.
    It is quite possible I would have believed him, for all I’d ever know about myself that I was worthless and unwanted, if it hadn’t been for my daughters…I knew they were wanted, they had value, if not to god or these men they did to me. My husband abused and molested them much as I now realize my father did to me. Leaving meant I lost everything. My security, my family, my god…but I was free, delivered.
    If it had not been for Jesus and the beautiful, magical way He shows Himself to us especially as children I would have never gone back. The bible and god had been twisted and used to rape me, how could I find comfort in it again?
    It is a slow process but I’m learning to trust; myself, my new husband, and God…not the harsh predator god of my childhood, but the God who delights in justice and delivering the orphan.

    The pain and anguish that Mr. Gothard has wrought directly and indirectly is incalculable. His teachings alone have devastated the lives of myself and my siblings some of whom still . I don’t have your compassionate desire to pray for him, if I could hate him I would, but like my father I feel nothing towards him, merely numb.

    Thank you for your post.

    • Abby Norman

      Oh Kate, thank you for your honesty. Peace be with you. You are loved.

    • Elizabeth Keith

      thank you for that kate. healing rooms helped me to open to HOly Spirit and those gifts. the inner healing and desire to love and be loved is a real journey you are on. the sense of justice you were gifted with will begin to operate again. your compassion will live. the scars remain. the scenes in your mind’s eye. the harm to your children. what ever drags your emotions there in order to shred you is up to you in rebuke that spirit. devil yanked my chain on that one for a long time along similar lines. Bless you, bless your creative self, bless your woman inside. love you sister in Christ, lizzy

    • Elsa

      You are sooo strong, Kate!

    • DB

      Well that was brutally difficult to share. (And read.) You used the phrase “not the harsh predator god of my childhood”

      I remember after sitting on my couch for three days without eating or drinking and my wife begged me to go to counseling. I wanted to die. I had tried so hard and everything had crumbled. I told her I would go one time, and if he told me “how” to fix my life and give me a list of rules to success, I was going to verbally shred him and then get up and walk out. He started by asking me to tell him my story… About 35 min later he looked up and said, “I’m so so sorry.” I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I laughed. “Sure”, I said. “Thanks.”

      The next 18 months was the beginning of my unbinding. I literally went to the core of my being and ripped it all out. I had to re-learn how to think. How to believe. I’m still learning how to trust. (My wife of 12 years still says I have a hard time “letting her in”.) I realized I had to be introduced to God, grace, love… Still working on that last one.

      I could go on for hours I guess. I really wanted to say that I was struck by our mutual understanding that the god we grew up with, was NOTHING like the true God of redemption, grace, and acceptance. Not even close.

      Thanks for sharing. I hope and pray that you continue to find healing and wholeness.

  • Anne Winz

    There are not enough words. My heart breaks for each of you. Somehow, may you find healing and restoration and redemption. May God comfort ou with his peace and his presence. May you find the power to forgive because you have been forgiven and grow past this mess. I am proof positive that God still redeems our stories.

  • Leeann Andrade Kelley

    When my kids each turned 13, I took them to the seminar held in Seattle. It was something we all did, a group would go from my church, which was not legalistic, or prideful in righteousness. I don’t know when I realized that something was wrong. I do remember hearing BG say things about reading the Word, and expounding on what clearly sounded like truth, but a some point for all of us in our family, common sense took over. After awhile our memories of the seminar started to fade, a few truths I have observed to be possibly consistent, like the relationship between sin (perhaps hidden sin) and leading to rebellion and deception (an interesting point).

    I think we had written BG off by maybe ’91. When we attended our last seminar (we didn’t attend every year, and weren’t real followers) he made some really dogmatic, uneducated and from my understanding of God’s creativity and heart, really stupid, remarks about music. I also saw that he really didn’t respect the authority of the parent if the parent didn’t think that longer hair on a young man was a bad thing. He had all the makings of a clut leader. He eventually became a joke in our family, but not funny one. To hear that he might be a predator doesn’t not surprise me one bit.

    May I add, as a parent, I really desired above all things to see my children walk in genuine faith. We felt that it was God who should be their Lord. When He met them individually and they chose Him, not because they were part of our family, but because He was their personal God and savior, He gave them the Holy Spirit. We felt convinced that they were then our brothers and sister in Christ, and we did not believe that we had the last word on what God was calling them to do. We trusted the Holy Spirit to guide them. For us that has worked out well.

    Indeed, I did push them to participate in YWAM ministries, and they seemed willing when they went to their DTS’s. But though we do not have YWAM on a pedestal anymore, I am grateful for the good and the bad they got in those experiences. There came a time as parents when we had to let go. I think that we let go a lot earlier than many people I know, but our kids were submitting themselves to God.

    I think that it is the control exercised by the parents, and the cult, that most offends me about these sad stories, putting faith in a man rather than the Holy Spirit. I almost went that way with YWAM, and am so glad that my kids were smarter than that, as was my husband.

  • WilliamLongfellow

    Stories like yours mean a great deal even to those of us who lived different struggles. My abuse was familial, non-sexual, and irreligious, so I can’t claim to know or feel just what these women had to go through. But to know that other people underwent the isolation and the manipulation and the betrayal…. I don’t know, it just lets my heart pour out. It’s good to know that we can help each other recover. Praying ain’t my thing, but I offer you my compassion and my passion.

    • Elizabeth Keith

      betrayal of trust and believing lies in order to receive love is a human theme. the feelings are real, the wounds are real and they differ only in degree depending on the person’s uniqueness in temperament, personality, etc.

  • Jessica

    wow… just wow… those are the exact words I have said to my husband…. I HAD to throw out the baby too, b/c I could no longer sort out the truth from the lies… I am now putting truth back in one.tiny.piece.at.a.time, starting with, ‘ in the beginning…..” Thank you so much for your words, I haven’t been a part of this group for 18 years, and I am still dealing, as you say, with the ‘ thread of the cult that runs through everything’…

  • Charissa

    Thanks for this, Micah. I just found your blog and really enjoyed reading it, thinking through some of the junk we were “taught.” I’m so glad I now know the Jesus that loves and weeps and holds me while He is slowing peeling away the nasty layers of hypocrisy and pride I hid behind for so many years, and it makes me hurt for all the people I damaged with my twisted view of God. Anyways, thanks for this, and despite all the crap, CIs really were fun, (don’t get me wrong, there were no babies in that bathwater) -Charissa Bailey

  • Maribeth Curry

    “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ became a saying because in medieval times, poor people had one bath a week- the father took his first, then the boys in birth order then the mother and girls in birth order- then the baby. The water was so filthy it was often impossible to see into it- so was possible to ‘lose’ the baby in the bathwater- so when they were pouring out the bathwater- they could possibly throw out the baby too….
    This saying DOES NOT MEAN to accept the good with the bad but to PROTECT THE HELPLESS FROM THE BAD!!!! So if you hear it used incorrectly- DO make the point of what the speaker is actually saying!

    • Kate

      There is no historical evidence to support your claim. The idiom is and always has been, metaphoric. It generally discourages overreacting.

      • Elizabeth Keith

        n ope she is correct in the inference of the historical origins. it is also a reference to mideaval abortions and unwanted pregnancies in the one percent of the population that had servants to assist them.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” they say.

    I thought the Christianese phrase was “Chew the meat and spit out the bones.”

    To which my answer is “What if it’s all bones and no meat?”

    Because when someone tells you that, they’re often trying to unload a bag of bones on you.

    • mrz80

      The told me that I’d fall away unless I followed what they say
      “Who needs the Bible anyway?!?!” (I want to be a clone!)
      Their language it was new to me but Christianese got through to me
      Now I can speak it fluently (I want to be a clone!)

      Be a clone and kiss conviction good night
      Cloneliness is next to godliness, right!
      I’m grateful that they showed the way
      ‘Cause I could never know the way
      To serve Him on my own
      (I want to be a clone!)
      — Steve Taylor, finger on the pulse, for sure :)

    • Elizabeth Keith

      or it is carrion to say the least. poison. good point.

  • Guest

    As another who grew up spending way too much time in Gothard seminars and circles, thank you for keeping the discussion going.

    I didn’t realize until my late teens that what was going on in my family was “off” and not at all a healthy way for a family to work.

    I remember vividly the experience of realizing it, but I couldn’t tell you what the incident was that sparked it, or what day it was. I remember I had apparently violated some unspoken rule (we had plenty of spoken ones, most of them reasonable, but those tricksy unspoken ones you never knew when one would jump out at ya) and my father was yelling. Again. And what was coming out at me was “What would Bill Gothard say about your disrespectful attitude?!” Not “How does your walk reflect your profession of faith?” or “How does the Lord tell us to be to one another?” Bill. Gothard.

    I can tell you I don’t give a flying fig what Bill Gothard thinks of me, my attitude, my life choices, or anything else.

    And not too long ago, I may have scared a new family off at church. They said they were using ATIA or whatever the alphabet soup was, and had I ever heard of Bill Gothard. My heart flew into my throat, and I did my best to calmly, clearly, beg them to look into what is taught, and what scripture says, and just pray hard about it, please. I think of their adorable kids’ faces, and I hope wherever the Lord led them, He helped them steer clear of that particular iceberg.

    • 1956cyndi

      I am sorry you were raised with that, but anyone referring to Mr Gothard in such manner was going distinctly against what the seminars and other leadership were saying. NEVER did we use such terms, and have been with ATI over 25 years.

  • Lori

    I think every Christian at some point goes through a time of extreme disappointment, hurt, or abuse by a spiritual leader they look up to. God allows it so that we learn NOT to follow a person, but to only follow Him. I was sexually abused by my pastor. I leaned in further to God, and came through it by His grace, although I admit it was a terrible experience. I teach my children to question things, think for themselves, keep going back to God’s Word, and then trust their own instincts.. not someone else’s. We all have the Holy Spirit to teach us. (Jn 14:26) Thank-you for sharing your story, and I pray that you are able to embrace what is true from God’s Word, and discard the rest and find peace, joy, and healing in Christ.

  • 1956cyndi

    agree, many have written that are only walking in the well needed Balm, but- among those writing in other areas of the website- there is also much bitterness of some that seem to just be looking for someone to blame and gossip of. I would assume they are the ones she was referencing.

  • ShannonLee66

    Thank you for sharing your story, Micah. I appreciate your humble spirit. Long story short, my mother grew up w/ an authoritarian father and distant mother. Her greatest fear was that God was angry and rejected her every time she sinned (just as her mother did). Unfortunately, Bill Gothard was making the rounds in the conservative churches in the 70s/80s. Many of her friends jumped on board. Because of her background, his legalistic and crazy ideas messed w/her mind and thus, mine. It took years of therapy, godly teaching and personal reliance on God for her to recover. Her Christian counselor once told her that after a Gothard seminar, the phones would starting ringing. Personally, I can’t pray for him. I think he is an evil man without a conscience and I am so happy that his deceit and abuse is finally being uncovered. Best to you and all of the other who have suffered so much.

  • Naomi Weston

    the worst part about ATI for me was that it makes you feel as if everything bad is always your fault. as a Christian even today i still struggle with this because i know as humans we aren’t perfect. it doesn’t mean that you can always blame yourself for everything bad that happens. in college i was sexually abused, and was at a loss for what to do. i thought that it happened because i hadn’t followed the strict guidelines for how to dress, or because i hadn’t followed the puritan-type, submissive behaviour that we as women were supposed to have. i thought i wasn’t spiritual enough. so i figured i should seek a more spiritual lifestyle, and went to BJU. i thought maybe being surrounded by christians would give me the ‘stability’ i was lacking….. but there i was only met with more of the same thinking. i left after two weeks. it’s been a few years since then but the brainwashing still lingers. often i catch myself thinking things like “maybe if i had listened more to ____ (name authority figure), then this ____(name bad thing) wouldn’t have happened. i can’t believe that image on ‘counseling sexual abuse.’ i’m glad i didn’t turn to ATI for counseling

    • Jayla Damaris Weston

      I’m glad you didn’t either …. there are many better avenues to help. Can I offer support in any way? At any rate, I will always always love you. And be here in any way I can.

  • Naomi Weston

    God redeems, not ATI, not BJU, not any HUMAN figure or organization or group or cult or whatever.

  • David Campbell

    It’s good to live in a culture where victimhood is so coddled and accusation or suspicion are viciously supported. This culture will hold all accountable. Let’s look at the real accusations here. Did Micah actually see abuse from the leader? Well, it’s pretty obvious what happened in those “private counseling sessions”. Really? After 20 years of pedaphilia, 33 women have stepped forward and accused him of nasty sexual abuse, or well harassment…. One has accused him of physical abuse…. I’m all for accountability, full investigation and voicing our suspicions. I’ve never been in a cult and I’ve resisted the allure of cults by applying common sense. But the same temptation to join the cult is causing everyone to join the lynch mob before the witnesses have stepped into the public. Micah is not a witness. I sympathize and fully support his right to speak up and heal from the experiences, but he isn’t a witness, nor an accuser. He’s testifying about his family with very little to say about the group. Even the book quote is just applying current victim counseling standards to past amateur counseling books. This is hardly evidence. Please, get through this and I pray for your healing, but trying to conjure blog readership for yourself from this victim sympathy crowd is as cultic behavior as any lynch mob screaming for blood.

  • Elizabeth Keith

    the sense of betrayal is very real. the floundering when i discovered those familiar markers i have staked my life and identity on were actually strangling ropes. jesus. how any of us survived long enough to get to grace and the kingdom i do not know.

    ahh, like the last church i will ever be involved in, “Preachers teaching that they’re leading a special chosen group. Preachers insulating themselves from criticism by claiming that they have a special vision from God. Preachers using fear to control their people – fear of hell, fear of the liberals, fear of the world. When you see that, run far away. ”

    i was one of those young women at age 17 in Spokane at a stadium BG event. taken there by other women and a youth group (?) who were concerned that i was not living like a ‘good girl’ . There was a yearlong workbook, a bible, handouts. worksheets, etc. 1978 or 1979. the happy shining face around me of spiritually content young people made me suicidal as well. i left there and left that season of my life, groomed and raped by my boss, pregnant with a baby ‘they’ told me i was unfit to raise because i was unmarried. so an aspiring adoption lawyer of the Christian persuasion convinced my mother to make me make that choice to relinquish. 33 years later i am still untangling from the web of lie and deceit and guilt and lack of accouintability. “it’s over, my mother said last summer, “why do you still want to bring up all that hurtful memories? Let God have it, i didn’t know what i was doing, it was your dad.” well, easy enough to blame the dead for the sins of the living.

    the godly life. yeah. screw that. his “IF Gid let this happen” section on the abuse/rape worksheet hit all my triggers.”

  • Abbey

    I to grew up in this cult but in NewZealand.
    I never like the program and never felt accepted I grew up feeling rejected not good enough godly enough or girly enough. I do not blame my parents they accepted all three of us children as we were and were simply lead astray by this so called leader.
    The mental and spiritual damage done by this program ha taken many years to undo and only now at 31 am i truly free of the twisted brainwashed ideas taught to us.
    I tell people that despite years of depression, failed suicide attempts, spiritual bondage and social abuse I and my family have survived growing up in a cult.

  • daviddrozdowski

    I get some of what this is like with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But there is a baby. It might be homeschooling, less dependence on the state, less to do with the world, or whatever. Those are some things people might be too extreme/legalistic about or not do well but that are great ideals. For JW, there is a baby too. It’s God’s Kingdom on a paradise Earth, as intended in Eden but better. They’re missing a lot, but there is a baby. I was angry, bitter, resentful, and unforgiving for a long time, and I still acknowledge there’s a LOT wrong, also including sexual abuse as with many cults (although I didn’t experience it personally, I know of incidents that were covered up). I’m sure it’s top down. I don’t have any criticism of the article or its author, but there is usually a baby, and I believe you’ll see it one day and take it somewhere. That doesn’t diminish the tragedies, and I hope all cults fall.

  • Mamaof6

    I am glad that we decided against using ATI curriculum for my childrens and that God led us away from IBLP before we ever got in it. However I grew us an MK in another country
    and I was sexually abused by a missionary man. It happens even when a cult is not involved. So glad I did not drag my kids through ATI and all the junk it brought.

  • Michael Baker

    Thank you so much for sharing this Micah. I was at the ITC in 94 with my parents, and we didn’t get out of ATI until close to 96/97 I believe (it’s getting hard to remember some of that stuff). I saw these double standards, and so did my parents. My Dad actually confronted Bill about what was going on at the ITC with Donnie Barr and the construction crew, and we were summarily sent home without any money or way to get home. Thankfully, the inner city church we had been attending while we were there needed a pastor, and they asked my Dad to come back and pastor. So we still had contact with BG and the kids from the ITC who would come and attend on Sunday. I really don’t know how we got to this point, but the truth needs to come out, we need to not only seek healing for ourselves, but we need to prevent further generations from making this mistake that our parents made. The buck stops here!

  • I was homeschooled through middle school and most of high school. At least 1-2 of those years was spent in ATI. My parents had attended a IBLP seminar and we dove into the dysfunction head first. At 17 I went to Indianapolis for a week long seminar. The double standards and judgmental attitudes ran rampant. You were treated with disdain for acting human.

    While there were morsels of truth buried in the lies it doesn’t justify an iota of the Bill Gothard cult.

    And don’t even get me started on the trauma of being forced to wear dress shirts and khakis everywhere at 14.

  • guest233

    Thank you for sharing your amazing insight. How true it is that the good from Gothard can not negate the aberrant and abusive teachings and ministry of Bill Gothard.

  • Christie

    We homeschool for primarily educational reasons. Not ATI at all. I had not even heard of them. So in that sense…..just cause bill gothard is a bastard and his curriculum is crap not all homeschooling is even in the same hemisphere. So no don’t throw all homeschoolers in with him cause I had only really ever heard of his name.

    Now to what happened. Holy cow. I had no idea of the evil that was going on there. That pamphlet on sexual abuse is pure evil. How does a child who barely knows the words for their body parts report abuse on that level? How do you expect a teen who is barely come into their sexuality that is taken advantage of by a respected leader to report that? Then minimizing the damage because it is only physical. That is pure baloney and in truth heresy because our physical bodies are very important, so much so that God will resurrect them in the new beginning. That sorry wretch! He can take that pamphlet and stick it where the sun does not shine.

    I am sorry for all you have experienced. May the great physician who see all heal your heart.

  • dan waits

    wow! that took guts! proud of you for being SO transparent

  • Elsa

    Thank you for standing up for us HQ girls. Thank you for believing us.

    • Luna

      Elsa seems like an appropriate character to represent being free from Bill Gothard’s empire of lies.

      • Elsa

        There ARE quite a few similarities… 😉

  • sarah7867

    I never thought, in my whole life, that I would be writing to thank someone for casting a love spell on my marriage, but that day has arrived! It’s true that I didn’t believe in this kind of thing at all, but now i do since i had my husband back to my life last month after all i have been through as a single mother but now i can give thanks to Dr. Ekaka email: ekakaspelltemple@yahoo.com for the love spell he had on my husband and now we are living as a happy family again. It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience,

  • Jan

    Well-written! Looking back over MANY years, I think that you’re spot on about cults and their leaders. I will certainly pray & pass along your prayer request to those I know, most of whom have a passing knowledge of Gothard. In the early days (I went in the late 60s) he seemed to legitimately be onto something. I never followed through on his teachings, because it seemed to me that if you sought to understand the Bible & its context that you needed no such seminar, however, I followed his progress through the years and became increasingly concerned at what I was hearing.

  • oceanwaves

    I’d like to add that even families who absolutely did NOT follow Gothard have been torn by other families who were Gothardites. When their “home churches” would fail (as they often do since they’re so focused on being exclusive and not wanting to associate with families who do not home educate or who do not tout gothardism), they end up visiting and attending normal mainstream churches. That should be a good thing, right? Well, what we’ve seen is that they refuse to join, complain about the music (going so far as to not attend the services unless it is only hymns), want all events and activities to be for the entire family, and some even try to target single teenage and college age girls to slowly and methodically guilt them into gothardism (but, oh they don’t mention his name), and finally alienate these girls from their family and friends and then they leave the church after they cause a complete mess. They never confess or apologize about anything. When someone tries to confront them about these problems, phrases like “well, that’s your opinion” are the only responses given. Many say they no longer are followers of Gothard, yet very much practice this insanity. I firmly believe that in most cases of the now adults who grew up in this cult, intense psychotherapy and professional counseling are going to be necessary for these dear people to truly begin to live normal lives. Sorry. I would give more detail, but our family has been shredded by an “ex-gothardite” family where the dad is still calling the shots for his adult children and their families. I do know the family lived at headquarters for years.

  • educateyourself

    I will never understand how one can take advice and a crapload of teaching from a man who was never married nor had a family of his own.
    Thank you for being a voice of exposure so that many will heal and can heal.
    Gothard’s back is not broad enough to receive the many, many stripes he is to get. That millstone is HUGE.

  • Wayne

    Note to Bill after reading his pathetic statement on his website (April 17, 2014): What if Bill, ‘The Lord’ and ‘God’ are simply parts of yourself that are trying to work out a huge soul piece of your own deep wrestle with your sexuality and your surrender to embody as a human. Never kissed a woman? Time to make that happen, soon, get laid too, before this life is wasted serving illusions and not actually growing in the life lessons you came here to learn. I attended your seminars in the 70’s, enthusiastically as I also was so deeply sexually conflicted and your message was my hope, until it wasn’t. I can’t feel any vulnerability in your above apology, only an attempt at self image loss mitigation. Losing that self image is your salvation.

  • Smith Dora

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  • Franklin Bacon

    I attended a church where a culture of coercion existed, similar to this. With no known sexual abuse, it has never been brought to public consciousness. It was not the brainchild of an individual, but of a large group of ministers and a disaffected portion of a congregation from a mother church. Together, these thousands of people formed their own congregations with coercive techniques very similar to those used by Gothard.

    One need not point to any one individual to blame, as such a culture can develop independent of a “cult” leader.

  • Krissy

    I was kicked out of an ATI following church because I was a rebel and had sex before marriage. They announced my mistakes in front of the entire church, and then wanted us to ask the church for forgiveness.
    The boy I slept with – he did. I wrote a note.
    I did NOT need the churches forgiveness, only God’s.
    I still fight with the feelings of rejection and embarrassment of having to go thru that at 17 yrs old.
    What I would like is a note of apology from that church – to everyone that they EXCOMMUNICATED because they felt it was their place to play God.

  • Wow, chilling story, Micah. Even though I speak with many people who have been abused and are looking for legal representation, these stories are still so poignant and I can never fully be an objective observer when someone is opening up about their abuses.

    Thanks for sharing this, Micah!

  • tomcee

    Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”.

    Satan couldn’t keep you out of heaven if you are indeed redeemed by faith alone in the work of Christ on the cross for you personally. So instead he can only neutralize you, make you of no more use to the Kingdom of God than an unsaved person. Being a liar, a deceiver, a murderer as he is, he used this cult to bring you to where you are today.

    I just want to encourage you not to give up! The scars may always remain, but God’s grace can help them fade! Keep pursuing God and a deep prayer relationship with Him – He has the power to heal you! Satan will fight you daily to feel sorry for yourself and wonder if you can ever be whole again. Don’t buy the lie from the father of all lies!

    The Christian life has always been a battle. Whether you lived through a cult experience or not, you must understand this. Don’t give up. Don’t feel sorry for yourself and give up the full life that God still has for you. The great work He created you for is still before you. Don’t fall for the lies of the deceiver. Let God heal you day by day, but push forward for God with all your energy and all your resolve! Let what you have been through cause you to be even more determined to make your mark on eternity! You are greatly loved!

  • Paul Krautter

    I was an ATI dad, 12 children. I just wanted the best for my family, having been a bullied child during my school years, home schooling seemed great to me. I remember my first Tennesee conference, all the beautiful people standing up singing, I holding my baby, my baby spitting up on the head of the girl in front of me, oops. The facade of holiness never occurred with me. The ideal program just never happened. The best I did was to read my Bible to the kids each morning while my wife loudly complained how boring I was, each day for twenty years. We were still on wisdom book one after three years. I was always an introverted passive individual. I enjoyed pondering theological theories based on sequential analogies, I suppose this penchant is what attracted me to Gothard. I’ve later learned that my introspective and fearful approach to life was learned in childhood as a way of dealing with suffering and avoiding conflict. Thank God, my kids turned out fine, seven grown, all successful, five to go. No social problems. My wife however has become the “teenager from Hell.” After completing her reproductive phase in life she chose to find her sexual fulfillment in other men, that is other than me. She filed for divorce four years ago and continues to drag it out. She refuses to settle and wants alimony the rest of her life making the case that I trapped her in a religious cult, made her a sex slave, forced her to have children, destroyed her health, was domineering and controlling and had my way no matter what the cost, and this cult was run by a sexual predator, or so my wife’s attorney says as she waves papers copied off the internet in front of the judge.

  • Paul Krautter

    The picture is me with my oldest daughter, now a physician. She was my “experimental child” started ATI in first grade. She is very self assured and never bought any of the unorthodox aspects of IBLP. Those who know me know I am the quintessential “Christian nice guy” unable to say no, unable to establish boundaries. My next, a son, also confident, read the Bible through after attending camp at the north woods, and started teaching me the doctrines of grace which he maintained that Gothard’s teaching contradicted. Gothard seems to me very human and very fallable just like me, and us all. Thank God we have a court system based on long held principles of justice and evidence by which we are judged, rather than judgement by rumor, hearsay, from only one side, tinged by emotional bias, by ulterior motives, even by psychotic delusions. Both sides of Gothard’s case need to heard, and the rules of evidence need to be followed, or you have nothing but judgement by a mob.

  • Ambaa

    Your story resonates for me. I also grew up in a cult, though a very different one. I completely agree that it takes years before you can admit to yourself that that’s what it is. I remember being hurt when people called it that, then joking about it/knowing better, then realizing the truth. There is hope for all of us who grew up brainswashed that we can realize it and come into the real world. Even though there are parts that stay with you.

  • dan waits

    every time I read this I’m thankful that you are finding your way out & finding a new center in Him that is your own

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  • Bekar Joe

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  • Georganne Friedrich

    Here is another voice with a different message. I attended seminars in 1975, 1976, 1980, and 1988, and one or two sessions in 1990’s. I was greatly helped by what I heard, and many of the principles, particularly the importance of reading and mediating on Scripture, (although I do not do it the way he taught us) have stuck with me. I think through what I learned at the seminar, I made some very important decisions that I am very grateful for today. I broke off a bad dating relationship; I found a good Christian husband; and later we had a fourth child. All of these things happened after a seminar, and they have greatly benefited my life. I think a lot, but certainly not everything, that Bill taught is Biblical.

    But I did not take it in hook, line, and sinker. At the end of each session Bill asked us to pray some prayers where we committed to follow certain principles. I didn’t do it, because I knew I could not pray those prayers honestly. When we had our family, and decided to home school, I carefully looked over the materials from IBLP, and determined I could not teach that way. So we did not join ATI. Reading what I have just read, I am so glad we did not join ATI.

    The Bible teaches us that we are all sinners in need of His grace. Bill Gothard is one, too. I am glad that the other side of Bill’s teachings are coming out, but life is very complex, and I will always be grateful for the way God used Bill Gothard’s ministry in my own life.

  • Mia Hanna

    Thank you for sharing. I am a mother of four who is new to homeschooling and was in no way raised the same as you. In that, I have been searching and hoping to find something that would give me all the answers. I am to free spirited and not organized so I thought I could follow Michelle Duggar and maybe all of this would be easier. My husband was isolated homeschooled came into adult life unable to have a thought for himself. God was distant. I have found your story and others and I feel that it was Gods plan for me to see your words. I believe in freedom and Gods love for me and our family. I do not believe in measuring up or being perfect. Thank you for speaking out. For those who are in the same situation as you and for those who would have blindly walked into false teaching seeking answers. You are loved.

  • Lynne Everest

    Thank you Micah for sharing this important story and being a safe haven for so many hurting people. I had never heard of this largely because of my age and my son went to public schools. Heather’s recent story is just gut-wrenching. I hope mainstream media will help bring all these facts to light. The fall from grace of these powerful public men is mind-numbing, but even their redemption stories can become great forces for the kingdom. I’m thinking of Colson’s prison ministry and Jim Bakker as well. I was relieved to see the title of his autobiography when he was released from jail…”I Was wrong”. He really owned it.

  • lucy559

    I have to give this miraculous testimony, which is so unbelievable until now. I had a problem with my Ex husband 2years ago, which lead to our break up. when he broke up with me, I was not myself again, i felt so empty inside me, my love and financial situation became worst, until a close friend of mine lucy told me about a spell caster who helped her in the same problem too his name is Dr Ekaka. I email ekakaspelltemple@yahoo.com the spell caster and i told him my problem and i did what he asked of me, to cut the long story short. Before i knew what was happening my husband gave me a call and told me that he was coming back to me in just 2days and was so happy to have him back to me. We have two kids together and we are happy with ourselves. Thanks to Dr Ekaka for saving my relationship and for also saving others own too. continue your good work, If you are interested to contact him and testify this blessings like me, the great spell caster email address is ekakaspelltemple@yahoo.com you are the best among all the spell caster online I hope you see my testimonies and also pray for my family too…

  • Gabriel

    Dr Itua HELP ME BRING BACK MY EX GIRL FRIEND BACK TO ME. Am so happy to testify about a great spell caster that helped me when all hope was lost for me to unite with my ex girl friend that i love so much. Am from norway. i had a girl friend that love me so much but something terrible happen to our relationship one afternoon when her girl friend that was always trying to get to me was trying to force me to make love to her just because she was been jealous of her friend that i was dating and on the scene my girl friend just walk in and she thought we had something special doing together, i tried to explain things to her that her friend always do this when ever she is not with me and i always refuse her but i never told her because i did not want the both of them to be enemies to each other but she never believed me. She broke up with me. i was so confuse cos i cant live witout her one day i decided to contact a spell caster and i emailed him with his email ituasolutionspellhome989@outlook.com and he replied me so kindly and help me get back my lovely relationship that was already gone for a months. Am so happy and all thanks to the GREAT DR Itua. that help me with his white love powers. If you have any kind of problem email him now for help with his email ituasolutionspellhome989@outlook.com or ituasolutionspellhome989@outlook.com

  • foodie

    All these stories about abuse by cult leaders and “spiritual” mentors and still you people don’t see the main problem.
    As long as you cling to a need to have some god in the sky guide your life instead of taking responsibility for yourselves and your children, you are open to being fooled and used, again and again.
    There is NO instant salvation, there is no god the father or his “true” word, whether in some ancient writing selectively put into a book, some leader with access to that god’s word. There is no “righteous path” or “holy way of life” — there is, however, the need to take charge and responsibility for one’s actions and live decently.
    That means not harming others – and that is just what religion does.
    Religion and “leaders” have preyed on the weak minded for centuries, as in check your brains at the door and just do what you’re told and you will be “saved”.
    Saved from what??????? The responsibility of living a decent life?
    Doesn’t take religion to keep me in line or prevent me from being promiscuous, violent, depraved, or cruel — why does anyone need the control of religion and the fear of eternal damnation to behave as you should??
    If you must follow some messiah, at least chuck the crap that men have made up to try to get control of you and just do what Jesus (and Hillel before him) said to do —- “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor”.
    That’s not hard, it’s all that matters too. The rest is trying to be better than others and controlling them — sick, sick, sick.
    Wake up folks — long as you go on wanting some heavenly deity in control of your life, you will be victims to some depraved charlatan or money grubbing preacher.

  • Andrew Mark

    My name JOY and I am a professional traditional healer spells that specializes in love, money, power, success, happiness and witch craft, Pregnancy, Inheritance Properties, win back his divorced husband back.i Can you help with any problem of your wish, you may have. I have more than 30 years experience in the field of magic / spiritual healing. Over the years I have worked for thousands of clients in more than 80 countries worldwide. My services are highly in demand, which is proof of the success I achieved on a daily basis. We can also help those who were victims of fraud by fake loan lender, or in any way scammed get your money back from this fraudulent loan lender that the occupation of our fake magic of the loan and the lender back the money to scam from you and also send money back in your country. i’ve helped so many people around the world and are satisfied with their charm our casting.the All you have to do is send us a false loan lenders e-mail address and name management company and we will help you, we will cast spells ruturn back your money on fake loan lender and after 3 days will be contacted and ask how to send back money scam from you, so it is a good time to get my money back from this scam people. Do you have the problems issues that you need to solved? i have a variety of love spells that change your life forever. Have you lost a loved one? Are you in love with someone who does not seem to you? Is your loved one in love with someone else? Call me and I will muster all his strength to make your dreams come true. You struggle to make ends meet? You are experiencing a financial crisis and can not pay all your bills? I know what it is. Let me help you by casting one of my much sought after money spells. I can help you increase your income country, the job you are after, to help you achieve success in many areas, to improve their happiness, and much more … You live in constant fear? Need protection spell? Call me and I will cast a very effective protection spell that will protect you and your loved ones from evil. Do not wait until it’s too late. Please contact us. Traditional temple gods. I specialize in different areas of spell casting. Can you help with any problem you might face. Contact me now for immediate results [ {iyaijebulovehome@gmail.com] OK Hello Thanks for your response. You are welcome to my shrine where all kinds of problems are solve with the power of my great grand father, you have make the right choice for contacting me, all you need to do right now for you to have him back is for you to fill this information and return it back to me immediately ok. Your full name Your ex full name Your country Your phone number Your age Your ex age The photo of both of you. Once I get this information from you I will be able to consult my gods for the items that is needed to cast the spell. i want to assure you that the spell i cast for people is 100% guarantee sure and safe no side infect or harm that will affect both of you in future i have been doing this for more than 40 years no body has come to my temple and left with the same problem or complain of his ex lover OK.

  • jessy

    I can’t hide this amazing testimony that took place in my life. A prophet named saibaba helped me to bring back my love who left me while I was six months pregnant and went on a peace keeping mission in new zealand. We both love each other and it was a shock to me and it really broke my heart. I tried to call him and both of his lines were disconnected. I tried to reach him on social networks but he deleted me off of them. I tried to reach his parents and they told me that their son said that he does not love me and does not want to see me and they do not know what is wrong. I cried and cried everyday because I loved him very much. Until I gave birth and the baby was one year old, I could not get my love back. Again, I was confused. I do not know what to do and I also lost my job and I have no money to take care of the baby. I was miserable in life so I cried to my sister and told her my problem and said that she knew of one lord prophet that prayed for her when she could not get pregnant. I contacted him by email and he said he will help me and told me that a revelation came regarding my husband and marriage problem, he will help me fast and pray so my man will come back to me and be mine forever. It was a great surprise to me that everything that he said came to pass. My man came back to me immediately, saying that I should forgive him. I am sending a very big thank you to this prophet. I pray for him to live long and do more of his spiritual work. If you have any kind of problem disturbing you in life, you have to contact this prophet! He can help you.contact him through this email; templesaibaba@yahoo.com


  • Lara Smith

    After six years in marriage with my husband with 3 kids, he suddenly started going out with other women and coming home late, each time i confronted him it turns out to be a fight and he always threatened to divorce me at all time, my marriage was gradually coming to an end. i tried all i could to stop him from this unruly attitude but all proved abortive, until i saw a post in the forum about a spell caster who helps people cast spell on marriage and relationship problems, at first i doubted it but decided to give it a try, when i contacted this Spell caster Dr. ZAKI via email, he helped me cast a spell and within 4 hours my husband came back apologizing for all he has done and promised never to do such again and today we are happily together again. Contact this Great spell caster for your marriage or relationship issues via this email; dr.zakispellhome@gmail.com ,

  • Ronaldo Spelltemple

    I was having a problem with my wife because she saw me kissing an old time lady friend she was so angry and she left the house living my two kids for me……I was searching through the internet looking for help on how to get I back and I saw so many posts on how Dr Ronaldo is restoring broken relationship…..so I contacted him on ronaldospelltemple@gmail.com…….he brought my wife back to me under 24hours……am really pleased and thankful @ dr Ronaldo.

  • Gloribel Stancy

    My ex an I broke up about 3 years ago and he was my first love so it was pretty difficult to get over. Our relationship was immature but there was no denying this crazy connection. Since our split I have only seen him 4-5 times each time we say hello chat a little he smiles at me and we part ways with my heart left fluttering. His ex girlfriend and I work together and since she has started at my job all she does is talk about him. For the past 3-4 months I’ve been having these dreams where I’m either just meeting him and all in love all over again or he has a new girlfriend and I’m fighting for him to be mine like I had done after our break up in the past. I had though I was over him but her constantly talking about him, me seeing him recently, and these dreams have me questioning my true feelings.email extremlovespell5@yahoo.com,

  • JoyFounder

    I am curious > where are the parents? Clearly there are so many children victimized, traumatized and damaged at the hands of this ‘ministry’ as a result of their parents narcissism, pride and manipulation. Why is it so difficult to find public apologies and repentance from the parents who willingly subjected their children to this evil? Speaking as a parent, can anyone explain why all these Mothers and Fathers aren’t crying out publicly for justice for their abused and violated children?

    • They’re likely feeling so guilty that they are sticking their heads in the sand hoping that god will make everything ok.

      Either that, or they’re sticking to their guns, in denial, afraid to face the fact that they ruined their child, or children’s, childhood, and damaged their relationships with their children.

      That’s the “great” thing about believing all wrongs will someday be made right. All the tears will be dried. Every knee shall bow, as we enter into a new era of world domination and all the infidels have been thrown into a lake of fire to burn for eternity. Death to the infidel! Hallelujah!

      The Abrahamic religions sure do love them some world domination.

      When you’re focused on this completely unrealistic, bizarre prophetic future, and you convince yourself that this world and life are only temporary, then many things simply don’t matter.

      How do your children feel? Eh, doesn’t matter – one day everything will be made right. Just like Abraham, those willing to sacrifice their children for the glory of god should be praised, right? It’s for their benefit, right? It will make them stronger, right?

      What a load of crap.

      Back to your point. Why aren’t the parents crying out for justice? Because they were the tools used by Gothard to build the business. Gothard told them to abuse their kids in this manner, and they complied. Gothard told them to believe in his twisted systems of behavior, and they complied.

      The parents are quiet because they likely, and should, feel like fools. Suckers. Chumps.

      The parents’ fears and idealism made them perfect prey for Gothard. The parents are quiet, because they want to blame Gothard, but they know deep in their hearts, THEY are the ones responsible for steering their family into a ditch.

      Who’s the more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?

  • Respect for posting this.

    I dealt with Gothard influences at a church directly myself in my early teens. Very much a fire and brimstone church environment. I had continual racing thoughts of apostasy and damnation – daily praying for Armageddon to come and then the rapture. Every day. It was the proverbial carrot on the end of the stick to keep me happy in a life I should despise. In a world I should despise. For shame.

    These horrible teachings made me disrespect women. I felt that man pride swelling up inside me. That I was somehow spiritually better, intellectually better – all these wacky teachings left my undeveloped brain spinning in circles while absorbing it all like a sponge. Subjugation of another human is despicable.

    I wound up with some serious issues between myself and my parents over all of this. Allowing your children to be subject to this kind of mental terror (based on no evidence) is a crime to me, but, it’s widely accepted.

    All of this has opened my eyes to, what I believe, is the bigger picture. Religion is a means of controlling a population. I refuse to believe the lies any more. It’s really tough to accept that you don’t know all the answers. That’s a tough ledge to step off of. It’s scary. But, it’s also liberating. I don’t have to worry about hades, or hell, or sheol, or zues or medusa – it’s all just stories. Some to teach moral lessons. Some to just instill fear of an unknown deity.

    I haven’t lost my faith. I’ve found my freedom. Freedom from cults. Freedom from fear. Freedom from spiritual abusers. Now I just shake my head an laugh (and weep for humanity).

    Don’t drink the kool-aid. Life, as far as we know it, is a one time deal. Enjoy it this go around. Let everyone around you enjoy theirs. Don’t judge. Live and let live. But don’t bow to lies. Don’t live in fear of the unknown or unknowable.

    I understand how people find refuge in their religion. I used to be one of them. Now, I realize, I don’t need it. Hopefully, someone reading this will be encouraged to ask those questions they were always afraid to ask themselves.

    Question everything.

    Believe it or not, there is peace in that.

  • Pricess Aisat Nuhu

    My Name is Anita Aaron I live in USA was, I married to my husband for 10 years and we were both bless with three Kids living together as one love, until 2013 when things was no longer the way it was 6 months after, he stated sleeping outside our matrimonial home. Only for me to find out that he was having an affair with the lady that gave he job. since that day, when i called him, he don’t longer pick up my calls and he nothing since to come out good. Yet my husbands just still keep on seeing the lady. Until I met a very good friend of my who was also having a similar problem, who introduced me to a very good love spell caster. But i told her that if it has to do with things that i am not interested, but she said that it has nothing to do with pay first. but the only thing he was ask to do was just to go and buy the items to cast the spell, and that was what she did. And she gave me the spell caster e-mail address and phone number. When i contacted him, i was so surprise when he said that if i have the faith that i will get my husband back in the next three [3] day, and off which it was really so. but i was so shock that i did not pay any thing to PROPHET SULEMAN but my husband was on his knells begging me and the children for forgiveness. This testimony is just the price i have to pay. This PROPHET SULEMAN is good and he is the author of my happiness. His e-mail address:[ PROPHETSULEMAN@GMAIL.COM]

  • I was born and raised in a Protestant, evangelical, fundamental, dispensational world complete with military and Republican trimmings. I was introduced to gothardism in 1971 by cousins who lived in an urban area while I lived in an extremely rural area. I attended seminars from 1971 until 1990. I tried to make this cultish worldview make sense until one day while at a women’s gathering I watched while various women whom I knew well try to rewrite history. I cannot describe the situation in any detail as it is not fair for me to say anything that would identify any other person and their journey to healthy maturity. They have the right to tell their own story. But I walked out. I got in the car where my husband was sitting waiting for my gathering to be over. I announced “I am never going back to church until I get professional counselling by someone outside this church.” And I meant it. Since we are very rural, counselling was somewhat difficult, but during the next several years I went on a search and finally did get some good counselling. Then in 1995 when I was 47 years old, through an unbelievable chain of events, I returned to university. While I was there I purposely sought out people who claimed to be Christian but obviously did not believe as I had been taught. I questioned them thoroughly. They believed in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but they had never heard of dispensationalism or Bill Gothard, two aspects of my background that I thought were universal. These Christian people were kind and sane and trying to live in a way that honoured the life-giving principles of Jesus. I decided by an act of my will to act according to sane principles and reprogram my brain to see the world from a new point of view. I am coming up to 20 years of purposeful re-evaluating. I am a much happier, healthier, honest individual than I ever was during my first 47 years. I have stopped having panic attacks. I am now a lay minister at a mainline church where no one has ever heard of Gothard or Scholfield or Darby or Mrs. Macdonald’s dream. I am still working out my theology. I finally have a faith. I had an indoctrination when I was younger. I knew every memorized answer. My only problem was the questions of my life were not among the questions all those answers went to.

  • Rita Smith

    Dr. Telemi is a trust worthy spell caster and he will
    be of great help to you. I never believed in spell casting but After 4
    years of marriage my husband left me because I lost my womb, and i was
    unable to give birth to children. I felt like my life has come to an
    end, and i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very
    long time, but thanks to this spell caster called Dr. Telemi whom i met
    online after my friend Tracy James told me how he also helped her to
    bring back her husband in less than 2 days. I believed her and decided
    to give Dr. Telemi a try and i contacted him on his email Telemisolutiontemple@yahoo.com
    and explained my problems to him. He laughed and told me that In less
    than 2 days, my Husband will come back for me again, and that he will
    restore my womb and i will give birth to children. At first i thought it
    was a lie but i took courage and believed as Dr. Telemi has said and it
    did happen just as this Great spell caster said, My husband called me
    and was crying, apologizing for forgiveness. I forgave him and today i
    am so glad that all worries and problems has gone away, and we are even
    happier than before, another good news is that i am pregnant now, and
    very soon we are expecting our baby. Dr. Telemi is really a gifted and a
    powerful spiritual man and i will not stop publishing him because he is
    a wonderful man. I advice you all If you have a problem and you are
    looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems
    just Contact Dr Telemi on his email on Telemisolutiontemple@yahoo.com
    at anytime, because he will always help you to solve all your problems.
    Once again thank you Dr. Telemi. Thank you, thank you.

    Dr. Telemi is a trust worthy spell caster and he will
    be of great help to you. I never believed in spell casting but After 4
    years of marriage my husband left me because I lost my womb, and i was
    unable to give birth to children. I felt like my life has come to an
    end, and i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very
    long time, but thanks to this spell caster called Dr. Telemi whom i met
    online after my friend Tracy James told me how he also helped her to
    bring back her husband in less than 2 days. I believed her and decided
    to give Dr. Telemi a try and i contacted him on his email Telemisolutiontemple@yahoo.com
    and explained my problems to him. He laughed and told me that In less
    than 2 days, my Husband will come back for me again, and that he will
    restore my womb and i will give birth to children. At first i thought it
    was a lie but i took courage and believed as Dr. Telemi has said and it
    did happen just as this Great spell caster said, My husband called me
    and was crying, apologizing for forgiveness. I forgave him and today i
    am so glad that all worries and problems has gone away, and we are even
    happier than before, another good news is that i am pregnant now, and
    very soon we are expecting our baby. Dr. Telemi is really a gifted and a
    powerful spiritual man and i will not stop publishing him because he is
    a wonderful man. I advice you all If you have a problem and you are
    looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems
    just Contact Dr Telemi on his email on Telemisolutiontemple@yahoo.com
    at anytime, because he will always help you to solve all your problems.
    Once again thank you Dr. Telemi. Thank you, thank you…………………………………..

  • Odom, Esq.

    Where is your definition of cult? This website and discussion demonstrates not ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” nor that it is a miracle that you are a Christian, but rather fruit that is evidence of unbelief. Regardless of Mr. Gothard’s teaching, or failures, Christ’s clear teaching on how to treat other believers, or even just apparent ones (within the church) is 180 degrees inconsistent with this created kangaroo court, engaging in false witness (though some portions may be true, most are poorly substantiated, vague, and otherwise substantially lacking in credibility) and libel before the unbelieving world, rather than resolving such disputes discreetly within the Church. May God cast down this website along with its father, the a Father of Lies, and truly redeem its supporters!

  • Penny

    Micah thank you for sharing your story and the negative influences of Gothard’s cultish teachings. This is a powerful testimony, which allows others to view this cult thru your life experiences. Hopefully your writings will encourage others to speak up and use their voices too.

  • mary


  • Dean Williams

    i want to give thanks to great Dr. Ogun Solomon, for what he has done for me, my husband left me for another woman for no reason, i try all i can to get him back, but nothing show up until i found the great love spell caster called Dr. Solomon Ogun, i contacted him and told him what i am paassing through, he asked of my details which i sent to him, later on he told me that there will be some love and return spell materials which will be needed by his oracle to cast the love spell on him and once this is provided, he will use it immediately and my husband is going to run back to me, i provided the money to him and have full confidence and faith in him, after three days my husband came back to me, he kneel down before me and beg with tears and asked for forgiveness, i forgive him and now we are now both living together, no problem no more fight, and we are now full happily settled down i am so happy today that dr has done it again in my life. i am dropping Dr informations if you also that is reading or listening to this testimony of mine if you wish to contact him also so that he can help you also out, his email is GREATSOLOMONALTER@OUTLOOK.COM AND OGUNLOVESPELLTEMPLE@GMAIL.COM from MRS Patricia Frontes here is my email PATRICIAFRONTES@GMAIL.COM if you have any question to ask freely and contact me also

  • Jeffrey Dowling

    Dr Aziegbe HELP ME BRING BACK MY EX GIRL FRIEND BACK TO ME. Am so happy to testify about a great spell caster that helped me when all hope was lost for me to unite with my ex girl friend that i love so much. Am from USA. i had a girl friend that love me so much but something terrible happen to our relationship one afternoon when her girl friend that was always trying to get to me was trying to force me to make love to her just because she was been jealous of her friend that i was dating and on the scene my girl friend just walk in and she thought we had something special doing together, i tried to explain things to her that her friend always do this when ever she is not with me and i always refuse her but i never told her because i did not want the both of them to be enemies to each other but she never believed me. She broke up with me. i was so confuse cos i cant live witout her one day i decided to contact a spell caster and i emailed him with his email Drossuva@gmail.com and he replied me so kindly and help me get back my lovely relationship that was already gone for a months. Am so happy and all thanks to the GREAT DR Aziegbe. that help me with his white love powers. If you have any kind of problem email him now for help with his email

    Drossuva@gmail.com or Drossuva@gmail.com ……………..

  • This was brilliant. I, too am a homeschool survivor, but in a very different way. We lived like we were on the lam from the FBI during those years, and we had no real social contacts outside of our nuclear family. I know many well-meaning homeschooling parents. They want the best for their kids. But what starts off being about the kids almost always ends up being for the security, convenience, comfort, or ego of the parents–as it was in my case.

  • Dan

    Dear friend, Thanks for sharing this. I have to plead utter ignorance about Bill Gothard. I had heard of him, but had no idea of any of these things about him. I have sat here doing numerous web searches and what I have found about him is horrifying. As a Christian, I desire to be aware of these wolves among us. God bless you for your courage and willingness to shed light on this false teacher. One more note; you should consider moderating the comments here because there are numerous comments that are bizarre and way off topic. Thanks and God bless you.

  • Lydia laures

    I am out here to spread this good news to the entire world on how I got my ex love back. I was going crazy when my love left me for another girl last month, But when I meet a friend that introduce me to DR Olawole the great messenger to the whole world who God has given him the grace to help people in their relationships, I narrated my problem to DR Olawole about how my ex love left me and also how I needed to get a job in a very big company. He only said to me that i have come to the right place were I will be getting my heart desire without any side effect. He told me what i need to do, After it was been done, In the next 2 days, My love called me on the phone and was saying sorry for living me before now and also in the next one week after my love called me to be pleading for forgiveness, I was called for an interview in my desired company were i needed to work as the managing director.. I am so happy and overwhelmed that I have to tell this to the entire world to contact DR Olawole at the following email address and get all your problem solve.. No problem is too big for him to solve. Contact him direct on: ugbeninspellsolutiontemple@gmail.com And get your problems solve like me….. ONCE AGAIN HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS: ugbeninspellsolutiontemple@gmail.com I will not stop sharing his name because he done a very great job for me now my mind is full of happiness

  • E.B.

    Thank you for this article. I remember the 90’s years of long skirts and head coverings. I remember the long fights with my mother after I became legal age when she tried to convince me that I was in rebellion, and I tried patiently to explain I just disagreed with her and wasn’t going to follow that lifestyle. I remember the final olive branch that if I went to just one more summer ATIA program ( through which she would repay incessantly) and if I would just give it a real honest open hearted effort she wouldn’t say anything to me again. I am married now. My husband and I are wanting to start a family. She, even still, hints at giving me Gothard materials to help make my marriage strong and raise godly children. No matter how many times I explain that it was a cult, she still can’t see it. It makes me sad, but also it is hard. Most of my friends have no ability to comprehend or relate to my childhood and teenage years. There isn’t anyone to talk to about it… I’ve grown on, but it is a part of me that I just never talk about. Reading this article was refreshing… Knowing that there are others who wore the navy and white and understand the conflicted feelings of my past.

  • texassa

    Thank you for sharing this. Watching the Duggar family gets more and more disturbing all the time. The way the kids are forced into the lifelong legal commitment of marriage just to gain the freedom to leave the house alone, to go on a date, and to make their own decisions is not right. Not to mention the way the girls are raised to be completely dependent. It’s so abusive.

  • Christian

    Micah, if you are who I think you are then we’ve met and hung out at a few of the Knoxville conferences. I believe I went to EXCELL XIX with your sister. I happened upon this blog completely by accident and I thoroughly enjoyed your post. You are SPOT on. I used to joke about ATI being cult-like and each time my mom would take great offense. Being forced to go the conferences and EXCELL and act like the perfect ATI girl is still a source of grief between me and my parents. They have since left ATI but have yet to admit that it was dangerous and a mistake. They still home school my younger siblings and while they aren’t using the Wisdom Booklets anymore they continue to use the other ATI and IBLP materials. I shared briefly with my sociology professor in college what ATI was all about and she immediately confirmed that it fit every definition of a cult. I tried sharing this with my parents but of course they wouldn’t listen since I wasn’t attending Bob Jones like they had wanted me too. I was somehow being disobedient by choosing a different Christian university. I’m still considered the “rebellious” one in my family even though I am 29 and have a family of my own now. When in reality I was never rebellious I just wasn’t “perfect” like the other ATI children. But you know what, I’m ok with that. It feels good to come across blogs like these and realize I wasn’t alone. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lind

    Wow, an incredible testimony!! Am so very sorry you and so many others experienced the horrors of being under the authority of the perverted, Bill Gothard.

    Sincerely pray you continue to heal , and keep testifying to the abusive society BG’s teachings produce.

    Linda in CT.

  • The phrase about throwing out the baby with the bath water came about because babies were the last ones to bathe. In an ironic parallel, the men bathed in the clean water first while it was warm. Then, it followed the hierarchy down to children and women, and then the baby. By the time the babies were bathed, the water was no longer clear and was usually full of particulates. If you dropped the baby in, you had to fish for them quickly, so the saying came about that they could be forgotten in the clouded water. Isn’t that a fitting analogy for how this system works? The children get the dregs and pay the higher price.

  • Jessiclaire Wolf

    My family was in ATI. I was raised on wisdom booklets.
    After I graduated I became a part of a legalistic “Christian” cult. I was also in a very emotionally and physically abusive relationship for over ten years.
    For a long time I have asked myself how I would fall into such deception.
    This and some simaler articles have very clearly explained that reason to me. I blamed myself for my abuse. I exhausted myself trying to find how to fix my relationships, to figure out what I was doing wrong. I was near the brink of insanity when I finally walked away.

    Thank you for your fearless pursuit exposing the truth. I have some of the missing pieces that help my past make sense. Thank you.

  • mindfloat

    What were the false Bible teachings? Maybe you can discuss at the end of the article or link to a list of the false teachings. Thanks.

  • frankyburns

    I’m like you. One day maybe you will learn that it is ALL BS. So many indoctrinated Christians just prune away some parts and go on with the rest, which is also a pack of lies. If you had grown up in an Islamic or Hindu culture, would you also believe it? I bet you would. You believe Christianity. Real human growth starts when we are no longer afraid to stand for truth and stop being beholden to lies.

  • Sam Westfahl

    I spent close to 10 years in the cult and still at age 36 have a very hard time wanting to read the Bible, pray attend church or have any kind of relationship with God or my parents. You are right when you say even reading the Bible doesn’t help. The worst part of the cult for me was the ‘ spiritual abuse ‘ since the Bible was twisted and manipulated to say what Bill wanted it to say, and to justify the abuse so many of us experienced. I’m enraged that most of my childhood was stolen by a so called ‘ man of God ‘ who has refused to admit wrong and make things right. I’m still angry at my parents, God and others as well. I feel as though the blackness in my soul will never go away. The pain is so deep and my emotions are often either raw or numb. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Suzannah Crady Kiper

    Really insightful. I can relate on some level because the Bill Gothard seminar came to our church once when I was a teenager and my brother and I went. We got a big red book which soon became a chain around my neck. Yes, a cult. No life, no Jesus, no Gospel. I felt relief when I finally threw the book away.

  • Bill Wilkerson

    I joined a church, soon after I became a Christian, at age fifteen. And the pastor’s wife was big into Gothard. My Baptist high school said nothing but good about him. I had friends through the years–nearly thirty now–who were to different degrees, part of the IBLP universe. One family was so all in that they tried very har to get me to sign up. They paid for me to go to the initial conference, one I had been to as a teen–paid for by the pastor’s wife. Both times I remember thinking, this stuff seems plausible (it actually caused me to go back and seek reconciliation with someone who had totally betrayed me–which was good for my heart, but the truth is, this woman would betray me again if given the chance); but how can I guy with no family himself really give so much advice to families about how to raise their kids? And I remember thinking that his way of dealing with culture was not so much pure and holy as just odd. Anyway, I never did take the teachings any further than I have related. But I find more and more folks who were really hurt by this stuff. For a long time I figured maybe Gothard was good for people whose lives were so out-of-control that they needed all that discipline and structure to help them get right. But I also knew that eventually, any person set free by the grace of Jesus would find Gothard’s teachings unhelpful, even toxic. I just didn’t notice wha now seems like the elephant in the room. Thanks for calling it what it has always been. –Duped a little, but wiser now.

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    Rejoice Ryan
    From USA