Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cult Leader Bill Gothard: New Abuse Allegations, and His Disturbing Connections to HSLDA

Back in November 2012, I wrote a blog post on cult leader Bill Gothard, and his beliefs, which range from the bizarre, like expecting followers to follow old testament food rules to the disturbing, such as his view that most mental illness are the result of "guilt and irresponsibility". It became the most popular post of all time on this blog.

Now, I'm back to talk more about him because of two troubling revelations that have come to light about him recently: new allegations of sexual abuse against him, and new information about his deep connections to the immensely powerful homeschooling group HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

New sexual abuse allegations:

The Christian watchdog group Recovering Grace has been publishing accounts by former followers of his recently of sexual harassment and molestation. The worst account yet has been the story of a woman identified only as "Charlotte". She came to the headquarters of the Institute of Basic Life Principles, Gothard flagship organization when she was 16 to work for his organization.

During that time, Gothard while "counseling" her, blamed her for being molested by her father, saying that she had "tempted him", and then in turn, went on to have inappropriate physical contact with her himself.

She was called into a meeting with Gothard and several of his staff members later, where he denied all of this, and the staff members had told her that they didn't believe her. Several former cult members who were involved in this meeting are no longer a part of the group, have confirmed this detail to Recovering Grace

She was promptly sent away from headquarters, and back to her family, who thought that she had done something wrong to be expelled like this, and rejected her.

Read Charlotte's full account at Recovering Grace

There have also been other people coming forward lately, an avalanche of people contacting Recovering Grace with their accounts of wrongdoing by Gothard, including a woman, "Meg", who was 20 years old when she was a secretary for Bill Gothard, when she was sexually harassed by him, and was told later that he had wanted to marry her. Read her series, Sacred Grooming, starting here, it's a 6 part series in total.

Deep, disturbing connections to HSLDA:

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a frightening organization in and of itself (and one that my parents unfortunately belonged to). In May 2013, I talked about the worst of their beliefs and practices, including calling a man who forced his children to live in cages a "hero", wanting state mandatory reporter laws for child abuse (laws that require teachers, ministers, etc to report child abuse that they encounter or face prosecution), to end, and their belief that anonymous tips to child services agencies shouldn't exist.

What's just as frightening to find out, as a recent detailed report by the site Homeschoolers Anonymous shows, is that Bill Gothard apparently mentored HSLDA founder Micheal Farris, and still has deep ties to the organization.

Micheal Farris, in the 1980's, became a disciple of Bill Gothard, he was drawn to Gothard's beliefs on family size, most of all, because in the 70's, Farris had become very anti-birth control, and was starting to feel that it ran against God's will to limit the number of children that a family should have.

Farris's ties to Gothard continue to this day, and HSLDA, and Gothard's followers have had a very close relationship throughout HSLDA's history. A woman name Inge Canon, who developed Gothard's "wisdom booklets" for homeschoolers in his Advanced Training Institute system, was hand picked by Farris to start HSLDA's National Center for Home Education division. In fact, Gothard's ATI system is fully endorsed by HSLDA, and recommended to their homeschool families.

There have also been many other followers of Gothard who have gone onto jobs with HSLDA and their affiliated organizations, including a former IBLP board member who went to become a board member of Patrick Henry College, which is owned by HSLDA and Micheal Farris.

Read more about this at Homeschoolers Anonymous


  1. If there's anywhere that sexual abuse is more prevalent than in mainstream religion, it's in cults. There are tons and tons of cases where cult leaders get it on with their followers and make excuses about it later and their followers are only too happy to sweep it under the rug because the cult leaders are more of a godlike figure than you find in mainstream denominations.

    Let's just say I'm not at all surprised by this.

    1. Kind of like David Koresh wanting his followers to be celibate, and then sleeping with almost all the women in the compound...

  2. Gothard seems to me to understand the idea of sexual abuse victims and the vulnerability they are in. It is disgusting that he uses his position of power (and knowledge of abuses) to abuse people even further. I hope he goes to jail soon, and that this cult gets closed even sooner.

    1. Yes, he's a predator, he knows how to exploit vulnerabilities.

      So far, the only accusations that have come to light are from decades past, and beyond the statue of limitations. There has to be people abused by him in recent years, sociopaths like that don't change, but they're probably either still in the cult, or too scared/hurt to come forward.

    2. Thats really sad, as in this case the statute of limitations should not count. Effectively its a cult and could get worse.

  3. Keep us posted with any new information on the accusations against Gothard. Deeply disturbing, but at least they're coming to light now.

    1. If anything new comes to light, I'll let you know. Keep a watch on Recovering Grace, they may have more soon.


No spam, proselytizing, or personal attacks, such comments will never see the light of day around here.

Disagreeing with me is fine (I encourage it), but have some decency when writing your comment