Bill Gothard, an Illinois-based advocate for home-schooling and conservative dress and who also warned against rock music and debt, has been placed on administrative leave after allegations of sexually harassing women who worked at his ministry and failing to report child abuse cases.
Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principals was once a popular gathering spot for thousands of Christian families, including the Duggar family from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” Gothard”s Advanced Training Institute conferences were also popular among devotees of the Quiverfull movement, who promote large families and eschew birth control.
He’s also rubbed shoulders with Republican luminaries. He and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee were photographed at a campaign lunch together; former Georgia Gov. Sunny Perdue spoke at one of Gothard’s conferences; and Sarah Palin, when she was a small town mayor in Alaska, attended his International Association of Character Cities conferences and declared Wasilla among Gothard’s “Cities of Character.”
In a statement posted Thursday, board chairman Billy Boring told World magazine: “After completion of the review, the board will respond at an appropriate time, and in a biblical manner.” Until then, the statement said, Gothard “will not be involved in the operations of the ministry. The board of directors will be prayerfully appointing interim leadership.”
Gothard is 79 and unmarried.
The allegations against Gothard dovetail financial woes. In recent years IBLP’s net revenue has dropped significantly, and the ministry is losing money each year. In 2009, they reported a net income loss of $1 million, a loss of $4.1 million in 2011, and a loss of $3.5 million in 2012, according to their most recently available tax forms. Its net assets dropped from $92 million in 2010 to $81 million in 2012.
Since it started as a class at Gothard’s alma mater, Wheaton College, in 1961, more than 2.5 million people have gone through his “basic seminar” training on authority, success and other issues. IBLP held 504 seminars in 2010, but that number dropped to fewer than 50 in 2012.
The drop in finances came around the same time that the whistle-blowing website Recovering Grace was formed in 2011. A string of allegations have been posted on the website, including one alleging that Gothard molested a woman who was underage at the time in the early 1990s. Four articles allege Gothard was engaged in sexual harassment in the workplace, and four articles allege his failure to report child abuse to Child Protective Services.
Calls placed to IBLP Thursday were not immediately returned.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Religion News Service
Sarah Pulliam Bailey