“We were supposed to change the world. And that meant being this weird kind of extraordinary that was defined by Gothard’s lists. When that’s your normal, your everyday status quo, the message that’s hammered into you is just ‘You’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough.'”

I met Jake Youngman a few months ago, when he was producing a documentary as a high school senior project. He had grown up near the IBLP Headquarters outside Chicago, and had always been curious about “the cult next door”.

The day after Christmas, he interviewed me in an empty stairwell; we talked about what it was like growing up in Bill Gothard’s cult, what I know now that I didn’t know then, and how it still affects my life a decade later.

The finished project is just over a half-hour long, and it tells the story of the cult that was my “normal” for the first twenty years of my life. I had mixed feelings as I watched it — the world described is utterly bizarre and hard to believe, yet at the same time it is completely familiar to me.

I’m grateful to Jake for putting this all together, and to all the others who shared their experiences as part of this project. It helps me feel less alone.

There are still so many stories to be told, but this is a good place to start. Watch:

The Cult Next Door (Official Short Film) from Youngman Films.

Read more:
On Growing Up in Bill Gothard’s Homeschool Cult (My Story)
Dear Christianity, I Have a Few Questions
How Not to Discover God’s Will For Your Life
Do You Ever Miss It?

 

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