Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: The Fall of a Deep Web Fundamentalist Fraud

unnamed-15Pastor Pillow here!

A FUNDAMENTALIST DEATH STAR HAS EXPLODED!

Let us rejoice.

Please turn in your hymnals to No. 42.

By the way, “yub-nub” is Ewok for “HALLELUJAH!”

Most of our religio-political attention this week has been attuned to Republican Party leaders throwing their legs up over their heads for their annual CPAC swab.  Under the microscope, the results are much the same as ever:  a viral load of pro-war, anti-worker, ANTI-CHRISTIAN messaging by men and women intent on turning the United States into an Evangelical theocracy.

The speaker lineup reads like a Who’s Who of Justice League Villains of Civilization:  Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Jim DeMint, Bobby Jindal, Wayne LaPierre, Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Tim Scott, Rick Santorum.

Seriously, does anyone want to play Red Rover, Red Rover with Russia and exchange these philosophical wet noodles for the worst post-Soviet Union dreck Vladimir Putin could throw at us?

Only, one thing’s for sure.  There’s no way in hell Russia would accept Donald Trump.  Nor Michele Bachmann, who “was greeted with roaring approval Saturday…”

If that’s not evidence that God is much more frugal in His use of worldwide floods than Ken Ham would have us believe, I don’t know what is.

Yet while all of this was happening, Bill Gothard, the founder and now former leader of the Institute for Basic Life Principles, was forced to resign on Thursday “following [sexual] abuse allegations” that go back decades.

Odds are, the average reader (thank the stars!) has never heard of Bill Gothard.  But let me tell you:  Gothard isn’t just another Jimmy “I have sinned!” Swaggart or James “I know best for everybody’s family” Dobson.

Bill Gothard is the heart of Deep Web Evangelicalism in the United States.

Gothard is Kingpin.

When you peel the grassroots homeschooling fundamentalist onion in our nation, Gothard has been the invisible core at the center ever since he graduated from my alma mater, Wheaton College, back in the 1960s.


Now, finally, Gothard’s reputation has been dashed against the rocks for his “alleged” inability to keep his pecker in his pants—“allegedly” even with minors—despite the fact that he preached sexual abstinence to millions of Radical Righters.  Actually, Gothard went so far as to forbid dating and was just a hair’s breadth from promoting betrothal as the best way for Christians to obtain their lifelong mates.  I’m telling you, folks, this man is Gnarls crazy.

But that’s really only the beginning.  This is a man who taught that Cabbage Patch Dolls were demonic—literally.  A man who insisted that the beat of rock music would cause people to pee spontaneously.  A man who forbid church communities to purchase white bread.  (Listen, I don’t let my kid eat Wonder Bread, either, but a Satanic conspiracy—sheesh!).

As a child, I attended a church that was heavily influenced by the teachings of this asshole.  A church that all but fits the definition of a cult.  And I approached my parents at the age of 14 and presented them with an ultimatum:  either leave their Gothard-inspired Christian community, or consider me a future runaway.

I can never have my childhood back.  Nor can millions of others who had their childhoods and adulthoods stolen from them by Gothard’s cultic control.

For many, Gothard’s fall, even at the age of 79, is like watching a great dictator flee the presidential palace.  If there were a great square where we survivors could gather, we would.  And we would stack tires to the clouds and light that rubbery column as a smoldering warning to the world.

At 14, something inside me told me the man was a fraud, and I acted on instinct.  I have been running toward progressivism ever since.  And I am so grateful that the truth about this spiritual swindler has finally emerged.

This is a moment for which I have prayed for decades, so let me announce one more time from the mountaintops:

BILL GOTHARD IS DISGRACED!  HIS MESSAGE IS HORSESHIT!

RUN FOR THE PROGRESSIVE HILLS!

Though his multimillion-dollar Institute in Basic Life Principles remains, it is in organizational and financial freefall.

And I hope and pray that every single one of the millions of individuals who ever spent a dime on his ministry, ever attended one of his cultic mega-auditorium seminars, can take a step back and recognize how they have been hornswaggled by religious authoritarianism.

It’s never too late to embrace common sense and diversity.  It’s never too late to cast a vote for civilization.

See you at the ballot box on November 4.

Behold, the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up.

5.  Bill Gothard Falls Hard:  Slow.  Clap.  According to Christianity Today:  “Bill Gothard Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation”

Read ’em and weep, fundies.  Your Institute in Basic Life Principles warlord, Bill Gothard, has fallen.

Click the link above and check out IBLP’s most recent post on “Dependability.”  Yeah, that’s right, not even all of the musk oxen in the world can circle and protect your fallen leader.

Now check out the whistle-blowing website, Recovering Grace, devoted to alerting the world to the “alleged” multiple abuses by Bill Gothard.

You know what, I think I’ll just let the Recovering Grace mission statement speak for itself:

Recovering Grace is an online organization devoted to helping people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI). Recovering Grace provides a unique perspective in that it was founded and is operated entirely by adults who were raised as children in Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute. We all have attended Bill Gothard’s seminars, and most of us served within the IBLP organization in some form or fashion. Among the members of our team are pastors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, businessmen, and stay-at-home moms. We have all taken different journeys, but we all have one thing in common: We survived ATI. (For more about who and what Bill Gothard, IBLP, and ATI is, visit our FAQ section).  Some of us had pretty great parents who, by the mercy of God, were able to bring balance to Bill Gothard’s legalism. To this group, survival means that they graduated high school and moved on. However, many of those involved with our site survived physical and/or sexual abuse that causes nightmares and trauma even today. Some survived spiritual abuse at home or training centers that has left them with years of untangling who God is, whether faith is worth having, and whether church and religion are anything more than a cosmic joke. Others have survived emotional abuse, being told that they weren’t good enough, weren’t pretty enough, didn’t look right, or whatever. To these people, survival means a lot more. It means there is a lot of hurt, guilt, and pain that is dealt with every day. Together, we have decided it is time to speak out. Others have done so before in books, magazine articles, and websites. Still, they couldn’t speak from the perspective we can. They wrote about Bill Gothard’s ministry from the outside. We write about it from the inside. They observed our legalism and tried to warn our families. We lived in legalism and wish we’d listened sooner.

Slow.  Clap.  For every single one of these brave individuals.

4.  Baptist Homosexual Waffle House, over at Baptist News:  “ERLC: Criminalizing Homosexuals Unjust”

Hey folks, two leading Baptist ethicists want us all to know that “we believe laws criminalizing homosexual activity to be unjust and an affront to the image of God embedded in all persons…”

That’s a good thing, right?  I mean, this appears to be an outright condemnation of violence against homosexuals in Africa.  Those dang Ugandan and Nigerian barbarians!

Hold on a second.  The ethicists aren’t finished:

While we really think it’s not the right of any state to stone homosexuals to death, keep in mind that “…sexuality is to be expressed only within the one-flesh union of the marriage of a man to a woman.  Anything else is a sin against God.”

End result:  we ain’t in support of stoning no fags, but we still want all y’all to know we’re arm-in-arm convinced that fags are gonna burn for eternity in sulfuric hell.

Um, is that what passes for Baptist ethics these days?  Back to the drawing boards, bubbas.

3.  Santorum Wags the Papal Dog, via The Christian Post“Santorum: Republicans Need to be More Like Pope Francis”

Before you get excited by the headline and think that Rick Santorum might actually be on the verge of joining civilized minds everywhere, consider his words.  He doesn’t want Republicans to act like Pope Francis—just sound like him.

Santorum:  “[Pope Francis] hasn’t changed a single policy.  He won’t change a single policy.  But what he’ll do is he’ll go out there and talk about the good news to a hurting world because he believes that is what the world needs.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a more brazenly disgusting speech in all my life.  And I truly do not look forward to hearing all of the pending, Koch-sponsored “positive spins” on Wall Street greed-mongering, happy-go-lucky drone murders and the like in the coming 8 months.

Honestly, I would rather spend a final week in the bunker with Adolf Hitler than ever have to sift through another weekend’s worth of CPAC speeches.  At least the Fuhrer realized in the end that he was on the losing side of history.

2.  The Newly Revised Character Sketches:  Fundies-Gone-Wild Super Sessy Version over at Institute in Basic Life Principles! 

If your family was ever under the spell of cult leader Bill Gothard, then odds are there’s a copy of Character Sketches buried somewhere in your parent’s home library.

Those who remain at the Institute in Basic Life Principles will be the first to tell you that:  “The very nature and character of God is seen all throughout His created universe.”  Especially when a fraudulent fundamentalist leader “allegedly” can’t keep his yahoo in his pants.

Here’s how the Character Sketches literary mousetrap works.  The book shows off some David Attenborough-level lesson from the animal world, then ties it to a biblical character quality, like patience or forgiveness or steadfastness, etc.

Well, were I the editor for the next version of Character Sketches, I might suggest a leading entry on bonobo apes:  “Bonobos behave as if they have read the Kama Sutra, performing every position and variation once can imagine, just like the founder of our ministry.”

Hey, the next time a ministry wants to devote decades to preventing premarital sex, it might be a good idea if its leader is somewhat less promiscuous than primate whose “range of activities includes mouth-to-mouth kissing, oral sex, [CENSORED] caressing by hand, [RHYMES WITH VENUS]-fencing by two males, male-on-male mounting, and [CENSORED ON CENSORED] rubbing by two estrous females, who smoosh their swollen [CENSORED] back and forth against each other in a spate of feverish sisterly cordiality.”


[Sorry we had to censor some of that, given that the Google prude-bots are out and about these days.]

1.  Republicans Put Forward the Nutty Plagiarist, Hillary Begins Acceptance Speech, from Christian Broadcasting Network“Rand Paul Wins Presidential Straw Poll at CPAC” 

We usually like to end the day on a good note.  And what could be better than this!

For a second straight year, national conservatives have put forward Rand Paul as the leading Republican Party presidential candidate for 2016.  And Ted Cruz came in second.

Um, yes, Republicans:  PLEASE PUT FORWARD A PAUL-CRUZ TICKET IN 2016.

Oh, it’s been a long night.  Let’s just have one final chuckle at Mike Huckabee’s quote later in this article:  “No one trusts us, no one listens to us, no one respects us and no one fears us.”

Yeah, Mr. Huckabee, spot on there.  Except that final part.  I do fear you.  As does the planet itself.

That’s a wrap!

Please turn in your hymnals to No. 128.

And just why do we present the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up each week?

According to Forbes, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) alone brings in nearly $300 million per year in revenue. CBN isn’t alone in the 9-figure Radical Right Revenue Game. According to the website Ministry Watch, CBN is dwarfed in comparison to the nearly $900 million raked in annually by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

But TBN and CBN are mere bright stars in a galactic empire of hundreds of Christian news and media organizations. If you have a few minutes to spare, review the membership lists of the National Religious Broadcasters and the Evangelical Press Association.

Each and every one of these Christian media organizations have one thing in common: they report news to members of the Christian Right across the Fruited Plain. And the Christian Right account for nearly one-third of America’s voters.

Not only that, but here’s a list of what’s on the line in November 2014:

—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives

—33 seats in the U.S. Senate

—46 State Legislatures

—And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.

Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, but if that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.

See you next week.

And a final message for people everywhere, don’t forget: the November 2014 election is this many days away.

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!

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  • doesnt matter

    It doesnt matter who “falls from grace”. To these nutjobs the message is all thats important, it doesnt matter who the messenger is. There will always be another person to take the pulpit to spew the hate they so desperately want to hear.

  • Elizabeth Palmer McDaniel

    I attended the Bill Gothard Institute in the late 70s or early 80s. I think that’s why I’m an atheist now. Good job, Bill. Thanks.

    • Arik Bjorn

      Elizabeth, I am so sorry to hear of your experience. There are many of us Gothard survivors out there, which is why I wrote so much about him this week. Just know you’re not alone!

  • Pipercat

    The Fallacious Legion of Doof? Maybe, The Incontinent Injustice League…

  • Jen S

    I am so glad you wrote about Bill Gothard because he is a true blue asshole! I was in the home school program from 1st thru 12th grade and my parents moved our family from Georgia to Illinois to work for his cult for 10 years! This cult is beyond crazy! I had to burn my cabbage Patch dolls 🙁

  • Arik Bjorn

    I have received quite a few private messages from folks who are Gothardite survivors. You’re not alone! You made it! So did I! There is hope! Group hug and, no matter where you are now in your spiritual journey, let’s move on with the authentic message of Christian love!

    • Arik Bjorn

      Also, if you’re one of us, consider sharing this article so that others out there just like us can know that there is an end to his reign of deceit. It helps to know.