Bill Gothard

Is there any on CAF familiar with Bill Gothard or attended any of his seminars? I did with my first one 35 years ago when it was known as IBYC. I did attend the basic more than once and the advanced once. I was not involved with it when it morphed in IBLP/ ATI home school movement (Duggar style). I do find a number of sites such as recovery that are dedicated to exposing his errors and misconduct which he was forced to resign over this year. I’m looking for a Catholic perspective and response since most of the sites are clearly Protestant in nature. One site I did stumble over claimed Bill Gothard was in error because Catholics attended his seminars. I am not aware of Catholics in any significant numbers attending a fundamentalist seminar. I am looking for a Catholic type response to a number of things he taught such as authority and his misuse of scripture, his reducing Christianity to a cause and effect. While Bill Gothard does come out against artificial birth control and sterilization, I feel he uses the wrong reasons different from what the Catholic Church says. I am looking for CAF members who have actually attended his seminars not those who may have known those who have or watch the Duggars on TV.

Bumping this becuase I would like to see the answer. I like to read and learn about extreme religions for fun;)

I am not so sure what is fun about extremism in religion. If you have read any of the testimonies on the web site recoverying, they are not very funny nor what Bill Got hard had to resign over funny at all. I call it sick and prevented. This comes into play because hobby lobby which won that big victory for religious freedom is being lamb lasted by liberal press for being big supporters of Bill Got hard. Maybe a sex scandals by a fundamentalist doesn’t seem to matter but is does.

Woah there sister cool your jets! I never said any of it was funny. It’s not. My husband an I have helped people leave Two by Two’s another fundie cult. I am fascinated by them and spend lots of my free time reading up on them. So stop twisting my words around.

Again, I am not familiar with two word study. Obviously, there are very few Catholics that attended his seminars which were pretty big in the 70’s when I went. Actually some of Bill’s material ended up leading me into the Catholic churh in a strange sort of wany, especially no birth control and some of his ideas concerning authority. I am very grateful that the Catholic church does not manipulate and micro manage peoples lives aka Bill Got hard. He elevated his personal opinions to the level of the Bible, manipulating scripture along the way and too many Bible only Christians went along for the ride. I hope that there can be more of a Catholic response since recovery grace web site can be pretty anti Catholic.

Yes, I stumbled onto the Recovery Grace site while trying to understand the version of Christianity the Duggars follow. There was indeed a very anti - Catholic comment in a discussion that was utterly irrelevant to the thread - basically saying Gothardism was “Catholic Lite”. I politely but strongly disputed the point.

What was strange to me was apparently Gothard even dictated clothing and hairstyles, is that true?

Yes, he is also blames sexual assault victims of tempting thier assalter.
Robar, are you familiar with Doug Phillips and Vision Forum? Also patriarchal fundies. Doug is also involved in a sex scandal. The good news with that scandal is some people are holding him accountable for his actions, and the girl is getting some support within her community.
I think it is interesting how Gothard led you to Catholicism… I often thought if they could get past the prejudice fundies would really appreciate Catholicism. One of the young women I was helping really enjoyed Catholic Mass. She did end up in a sort of Mega Church with her cousin currently.

Yes this is correct, he dictated these sorts of things as well as what music is appropriate, toys sect and so on, all in the name of being Biblical. He stated that women’s hair is their glory and long flowing hair is what a Godly woman should wear. Notice that all the Duggars wore their hair this way. This also comes into play with why he was forced to resign. He surrounded himself with young teenage girls with long flowing hair in which he obviously couldn’t keep his hands off of. In other words, it’s not that wearing long hair is Godly but that long hair is what his perverted mind liked as a style

I do not understand the question, except whether anyone was familiar with Bill Gothard. I attended his seminars thirty years ago, if that counts for anything. Like all such seminars, you take what you like. I think his analogy of an umbrella for authority is apt and has stuck with me.

When I went to his seminars which was 35 years ago, I belonged to charismatic church that was involved in the sheparding movement and these people would not be considered fun dies at all. I think the authority side was what the appealed. The sex scandle with his brother greatly decreased attendance and BG then switched his focus to the ATI and home schooling quiver full movement.
I think for me was authority which in a basic idea God has set up and work through authority which is the rock of Peter, the Catholic church. It isn’t Bill G. And his warped views on a million things. When we see groups such as either him or the people you mentioned or even the charismatic sheparding movement is a longing for genuine real God ordained authority in Christianity which is the Catholic church. Just looking at the big mess that Protestantism is. You have a million popes claiming to be Biblical and pointing fingers at each other. I aso think there are opportunities here is outreach to these types of people.

I probably didn’t word it correctly, I guess I was looking for a discussion about Gothard and the things he taught. When i went, the image Gothard used was the father is the hammer, the mom the chisel and children diamonds in the rough. That is a pretty sick view of family life isn’t it? He changed the hammer/chisel image with the so called umbrella of protection which if you really look at it closely is totally bogus and not even found in scripture. Yes, there are God given authority figures in everyone’s life but that has been extrapolated into something rather unbiblical in that a person will not have any God given protection from harm and sin if they are not “controlled” by their so called authority (parents mostly). Gothard also taught that single adult children are suppose to live at home obeying their parents until married. Tell that to some of our greatest saints such as St. Francis of Assisi who broke with his father. Tell that to the many saints that refused to marry arranged marriages because they felt called by God to the religious life. Likewise, Gothard obviously didn’t practice what he preached to others. He told others to stay at home and obey parents yet he had no problem convincing well meaning but star struck followers to allow them to send 14 to 18 year old daughters to work with him, rather closely.


I have not attended Gothard’s seminars so I did not respond to this earlier. You are correct; he has a very ill, legalistic view of married and family life and that has harmed many families. It is all coming to the light now with women speaking up about the abuse. I follow the recoveringgrace website because I am recovering from a spiritually abusive environment and because I find it to be helpful to learn and read about how these things come about and how people recover from them.

I see parallels in the Catholic Church with some of the issues. One example is in regard to the Legionaries of Christ and the model of community they upheld which included absolute/unquestioning obedience and very strict rules. While the LC were the apple of the Pope’s eye for years we now know that they were a cult led by a sociopath who was also a pedophile. Inherent in any human institution is the pull for power, control and esteem. When checks and balances are not made we have disasters like the LC and sex abuse scandal. Personally, I do not think the hierarchical structure is a healthy one. It is prone to abuses of power and control. I know the Pope is working hard to clean these up. I think there would be a healthier balance with both married persons and women involved more in the decision making process of the worldwide and local church.

I have read extensively about Gothard and what he teaches. I am disappointed when I see Catholics view the Duggars as a wonderful model. I know it all looks good from the outside. But when you truly look at what they embrace and what this man teaches it is not too hard to believe that for every Duggar family there are 10 families who are seriously harmed by this. (The Duggards have been very strong followers of Gothard for along time…) Besides, what we see on reality TV is not reality.

To sum it up: I see unhealthly beliefs seep into the Catholic faith as well. In a quest for holiness some adopt very legalistic/unhealthy views of God. Hopefully, we can learn from the Gothard scandal and the LC scandal and keep wisdom close at hand on our spiritual journeys.

Hi Sailor28,
thanks for responding, you post is the type of conversation I was trying to have and yes there are some parallels to Catholic Church and what I will call Gothardism. Yes, the Catholic Church has an authority structure and in many religious orders, there are vows of obedience, even priests take vows of obedience to their bishop. We as lay Catholics are suppose to obey the teaching of the Church in faith and morals. Unfortunately in some groups even in the Catholic Church such as LC, authority did get out of hand and people were abused. One difference I do see between Gothardism and Catholic Church is one, the authority of the Catholic Church was established by Christ from the beginning. Bill Gothard does not have any authority and is held accountable to no one for his actions and his teaching. The other difference is the example of Christ washing the feet and His directive that leadership is to be a servant of all, not the bully at the top. Of course that had not been always practiced at all but that is the model we should be seeing in our Church leadership. Bill Gothard never taught or even mentioned the servanthood of leadership, it was a blind obedience or else one would not be under the “umbrella of protection” and bad things would happen to you. I am sorry about your previous abuse and hope a pray you will continue on the road to healing.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit