The Duggars, Bill Gothard, and Me

TLC’s favorite super-sized, conservative, homeschooling family, lately receiving less than positive attention. The founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, who stepped down in 2014 amid allegations of sexual harassment stemming back into the 1970s. And me, a pastor’s wife, mother of two, and blogger just trying to live a “normal” life. What could we possibly have in common? Actually, more than I want to admit.


This is me hiking (yes, hiking!) in 2001. Look familiar at all? The Duggar girls are actually more stylish than we ever were. 😛

And here I am, also in 2001, wearing my navy and white (a requirement) while working at one of Bill Gothard’s Basic Seminars.


The Duggars are avid followers of Bill Gothard, although they have tried to distance themselves a little bit since the allegations came out in 2014. They use his homeschool curriculum (if you can call it that), and so did my family.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you will know that I began to question a lot of Gothard’s teachings as I grew in a relationship with the real Jesus of the real Bible. (Who you will find, if you read it in context without someone twisting everything to meet their own agenda.)

The Duggar’s first appeared on TV in 2004. I was only two years “out” at this point and their original photographs (which you can find here) practically gave me a panic attack. (Okay, honestly, they still do.) I identified with this kind of family. We went to the “crazy church” with them. I had a friend who was still stuck being Cinderella in her large family with parents who wouldn’t let her leave. It was all too familiar, including the “facade of perfection” while dysfunction reigned underneath. I couldn’t talk about the Duggars for years without getting angry and emotional. So, mostly I just ignored their existence as much as possible.

I also didn’t talk much about Bill Gothard and his cultic organization until about two years ago. I would tell people that I was raised in a conservative Christian home. In reality there was tons more to the sub-culture I lived in, but it was incredibly hard to explain without sounding insane. So, I just tried to leave it all behind.

Everything changed for me two years ago when Recovering Grace (a website run by former students of Gothard’s “curriculum”) began to expose not only an incredible number of women who accused Bill Gothard of sexually harassing them, but also began to publish information and testimonies from people back in the 1970s and 80s that showed corruption in his organization and personal life. Suddenly all my doubts and questions and hesitations seemed vindicated. I’d known for years that something was off in his teachings, but Recovering Grace put words to my feelings.

I joined a support group Recovering Grace runs for those recovering from Bill Gothard’s teachings and tried to reach out to confused and damaged people, tried to share the real Jesus and real gospel of grace that I had found. My blog happened soon after; I became passionate about sharing truth as I noticed the ways Gothard’s lies have infiltrated “normal” Christian people and churches.

So, why am blogging about my connection to the Duggars and Bill Gothard right now? Because, believe it or not, Gothard is trying to start a new “ministry”, “seminar”, whatever. It’s the same old garbage, with a new name. You can find a link to his page here. The same vague wording with grandiose promises if you follow his secret steps. He posted on Facebook about it yesterday. (Or one of his minions did; I doubt Gothard himself is on Facebook.) And a bunch of us from my support group began to ask questions and post comments. They were quickly deleted by the “moderator” of the page. Anything that was questioning or negative was deleted and only the positive, encouraging comments were left up. Here is a screen shot of my comment, which had over 10 likes in a matter of five minutes before it was taken down.

IMG_3558 IMG_3559 IMG_3560

There is something screwy when a “Christian” organization can’t deal with criticism that their teachings don’t line up with the gospel!

So, why am I writing this post? For the same reason I write this blog. I am passionate about the truth! The truth that I believe is found solely in Jesus Christ. I’m writing in the hopes that someone who is looking for truth will find this post. I’m hoping they will read some other posts I’ve written and start to question themselves. I’m hoping to point people to Recovering Grace because they have a ton of resources showing the problems with Gothard and his teachings. But most of all, I’m writing because I am obsessed with Jesus and His grace, love, and forgiveness that He freely gives to all who believe. John 3:16-18

21 thoughts on “The Duggars, Bill Gothard, and Me

  1. I left a 2 sentence comment on Facebook and it lasted an hour before being taken down and my being blocked. I worked at HQ for 3 years and have many fond memories and friendships from that past, BUT the hypocrisy and pride of Mr Gothard has me speechless and I don’t know why I didn’t see it sooner.

    My husband and I both were fired for speaking our minds (politely – actually making an appeal like we were taught) and offending one of Mr G’s pet students. Now my husband laughs at the fact that the only time he’s ever been fired is from a volunteer position.

    We all have our stories don’t we 😉 Even with all our past experiences, the way Mr G has and is acting is appalling.

  2. I am a person who attended a Bill Gothard seminar about 35 years ago. My life was greatly impacted by Bill Gothard seminar. I think you should know that there are people out here who like Bill Gothard. We have not been hurt by him. I am my own person. I read the bible. I don’t follow Bill Gothard, I follow God. I think if more people did this in their lives maybe they would not have had as much trouble. Micah 7:5 tells us to not trust in a guide in these last days. A lot of people want to complain about Bill and his ministry. It’s just a ministry, they aren’t being forced to follow it. Quite frankly I fault the families a lot. After attending the Bill Gothard seminar my life really changed. I only went to 1 seminar and then I had nothing to do with Bill after that. I went to Chicago to see his ministry 1 time. You know what happened to me after I attended his seminar? God showed me my church was demon possessed, my entire church. God showed me the churches had fallen away, that we are in the great falling away. So you see, some of us like Bill and what he did for our lives. No one is perfect, Bill isn’t perfect. I can tell you for a fact that most of the families that homeschooled with him attend false churches and the false churches are the thing that caused all your problems, not really Bill’s ministry. Bill is at least 1/2 way out of the false churches. Families would come to Bill, who had 1/2 truth, and then go home to their demon filled churches the rest of the time. That what was happening. Bill didn’t hurt people, the demons in our church did. Unfortunately I was never able to share my testimony much with Bill over the years. I did a few months ago. What I dislike about this story is that Bill went to a church. Bill, himself still does not understand that we are not to go in the churches now. They fell away. Don’t go in churches, they are very bad now.


    • Kim, your entire church was demon possesed?? Except – of course – you?
      A. I’m glad the lord god of hosts almighty chose to reveal this to you alone, you must be a rare chosen one.
      B. Demon-possession (mental illness) in a church really doesn’t negate the harm Gothard committed.
      C. Must be the rock music though.

      • I gave up my rock music after attending a Bill Gothard seminar. I went home and burned all my rock music, Christian and secular, in the trash barrel. I was 26 years old when I did this and I’m almost 60 years old now. I’ve never been involved with rock music since. My husband was in a Christian rock band for many years. We sold everything involved with his band, including guitars and speakers. We got rid of it all. I totally agree with Bill Gothard about rock music. I know a lot of kids that went to Bill’s homeschooling program reject what Bill says about rock music. So if you’re a rock music fan, don’t come around me.


    • I agree with you about the churches falling away in the end times. But Bill Gothard most definitely did hurt people, whether directly or indirectly. He became sick with the power he had over his several ministries and abused that power. Stories are emerging about him seducing and/or sexually harassing young women (some underage or barely of age) who worked for his ministry. He or his underlings at times mistreated or took advantage of the paid and volunteer workers in his ministries. Forcing them to fast (even when medically unwise), working them to exhaustion, keeping them from families and romantic partners (even forcing them to break up with a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance), giving adults timeouts in a ‘prayer room’, humiliating them with pointless and menial tasks, charging them large amounts of money to volunteer or underpaying the paid workers. His ministry unfortunately helped to hide abuses by discouraging victims of abuse to come forward with the truth, seek actual help or counseling, or accuse their abusers to legal authorities. And his ministry materials and lessons even found ways to blame the victims or minimize their abuse. Patriarchal ideas about male headship encouraged spousal abuse, and teachings on parental authority enabled child abuse in many families. Also many of his so called Biblical teachings were actually very unbiblical and twisted and taken out of context to suit his particular spiritual formulas. As a result, many turned away from God or had to undergo some spiritual deprogramming in order to have a healthy spiritual life. Many young people who suffered mistreatment or abuse while in his programs have lingering physical and mental health problems. Because he taught that women should not work and college was unnecessary, many young adults struggled to catch up academically or survive in the workforce. Some ATI homeschooled children were very sheltered and struggled to adapt to social situations outside of their church or ministry bubble. He may have been well meaning when he began his ministry, but it soon corrupted him and everything he touched. My family was minimally affected by his ministries, and I still managed to have a somewhat normal childhood. Some were not so lucky and the abuses deeply affected them.

  3. No, Danny, I’m not rare and chosen. I’d sooner not be known like that. And yes, of course, I was not demon possessed in my church, that is why God showed me what he showed me. To get me to leave it. God was getting me out of my fallen away church. God is very good. The process took many years, I was very confused during a lot of the time. I even though God wanted me to try and help my church. I stayed for about 15 years only to have a restraining order put on me. Then I left it for good. It took me years to figure out the churches had fallen away and put the puzzle pieces all together. My testimony is long and hard to put down on paper. All I can say is that God showed me my church was demon possessed and that is all He showed me. He never said another word about it to me after that Sunday. Never explained to me. I just saw what I saw, all I knew is that was church was so demon possessed that a church shouldn’t be that way. It was horrible! The rest of what I know is what I have managed to figure out over the years.

    I was never involved with Bill’s homeschool program. Bill required the pastors to send a letter of approval. My pastor wouldn’t do that for me. So I couldn’t join Bill’s program. I have explained this all to Bill in a conversation I had with him just about 2 months ago. I homeschooled for 2 years by myself, got very ill, had to put my kids back in public school for 5 years. When I got well I homeschooled them again and this time I didn’t want to go thru Bill’s program because it was hard enough to do it alone without having to teach them extra cirrculcuim from Bill.

    Bill knew of my testimony about rock music but I never told him about seeing my church demon possessed. I didn’t tell anyone about that for years because people didn’t believe me. I’ve been trying for years to tell people, like I’m doing right here. No one will listen. I don’t know how much more plain I can get, God showed me the Laodicean churches are demon possessed. They aren’t just lukewarm churches, they are totally demon possessed churches. God is not allowing most people to know it because He is using the Laodicean churches as a great delusion. The antichrist is well on his way now of using the Laodicean churches to deceive the entire world now. The deception is done, basically, and we are soon to go into the tribulation. The antichrist is going to appear soon.

    I don’t know what Bill did during those years in his homeschooling program. I can only read about it. For some reason God spared me of that. I think it was so I could survive and tell you and Bill what I know. Otherwise, no one may have survived to know the real truth about the falling away. I feel sorry for the kids that got hurt, if they really did, I know a lot of them aren’t telling the truth because they rejected what Bill said about rock music. A lot of kids that are saying bad things about Bill still listen to rock music and that tells me a lot about these kids. A lot of the kids are still demon possessed.

    All I can tell you is that Bill is still, evidently, attending false churches. Everyone that attended Bill’s homeschool program went to false churches. The Duggars are involved with false churches, that is why they are having the trouble they are having. Bill and everyone was involved with their false churches, that is why you are having problems. These demons I saw HATE people. They will HURT you. They will KILL you if they can. They are bad and you should get away. That is why I tell people to get out of the fallen away churches. The kids that went to Bill’s homeschool program were hurt by the demons. Demons work through people.

    You have to understand, I was not really allowed to share my testiomony with Bill. Bill, basically, didn’t think woman were worth much or something??? Bill may have a domineering demon. I don’t know for sure. I don’t think Bill has had complete deliverance, probably, I don’t know. I still have a lot of questions about things myself. We know in part and we prophesy in part, none of us will know it all. As we come together as the true church, we should be able to put all the pieces together at some point and understand much more than what we do now.

    I would love to share more with you all, but it is just so hard to put it down in words. I do my best.


    • Dear Kim,

      I mean this I the kindest way possible, but I think that you should maybe see a professional. I want you to know that I’m not being sarcastic or rude or mean… I’m being serious and I am seriously concerned about you. Setting aside spiritual and theological disagreements about churches becoming lukewarm or rock music being bad, etc…. Your stream of consciousness posts deeply concern me for your and your children’s health and well being. You mention that ALL churches are filled with demons. Even if there were an instance where demonic influence was the case in a specific church, it is a statistically unBiblical possibility that you are surrounded by so much demonic activity unless you are the cause and if that is true you need to seek deep spiritual guidance and help. Conversely, in your arguement you go from stating the Bill Gothard is good, to Bill Gothard is potentially the tool of demons. (While many have strong opinions on Bill Gothard and the damaging effects of his ministry, none I know of have gone so far as to actually believe that he is actually demon controlled) this causes me to wonder if you potentially are suffering from treatable conditions such as paranoid schizophrenia, or other forms of psychosis. If a judge was willing to give this church a restraining order against you then there might be something bigger going on than simply a backsliding church. If your first response to anyone disagreeing with you is that they are part of a conspiracy of demonic activity that is your first sign that maybe something bigger is going on. These concerns don’t negate your religious beliefs. I believe you have a right to believe whatever you want, but I would strongly advise you to seek professional medical help, if not for you, then for the sake of your family who love and need you in their life, untreated… Such conditions can leave you isolated and filled with fear. God loves you and wants you to live a happy life without fear… That kind of life can be yours… Please consider seeking help.

      • Did you tell this to Jesus? I mean, He had a lot to do with demons too. You state in the beginning of your post that you mean this in the kindest of ways. You’re not kind.

        Shaking the dust from my feet and leaving.


  4. Kim I’m very sad to hear about your husband’s guitar. Did he burn it or sell it? I would have bought it. Yeah, I’m not just a rock fan, I’m a rock musician. Best of luck with your church. 🙂

    • I figured as much. You don’t fool me none. I can see right through you. I knew you liked rock music or else you wouldn’t have made that comment to me. Nor are you fooling God.


      • You want to know who I am? I’m the woman of Revelation 12 and I really give about 2 hoots about what you think or do. God won’t come against your free will to want rock music in your life. If you want to have 2 feet in the world, God will let you.


      • Kim, I’m not trying to fool anyone. Rock music is a big part of my life, recovery, and creativity. I don’t hate people for diasagreeing with my views though, in fact I love you Kim and I hope you find peace and healing. 🙂

  5. I’m confused…. What exactly is “rock” music?

    Kim, why did the church get a restraining order? Did you harm or threaten someone? Vandalize something?

    • Usually in this context, rock music means any music with a syncopated backbeat – which is present in nearly all modern music. So really, it’s not just rock, it can be pop, country, hip-hop, whatever. Anything with a backbeat is deemed “evil” by the Gothard crowd, they claim the beat can call up demons.

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