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Bill Gothard

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Bill Gothard
Bill Gothard 03.jpg
Bill Gothard (2002, age 67)
Born (1934-11-02) November 2, 1934 (age 87)
Illinois, United States
OccupationInstructor, author
Known forInstitute in Basic Life Principles

William W. Gothard Jr. (born November 2, 1934) is an American Christian minister, speaker, and writer, and the founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). His conservative teachings encourage Bible memorization, large families, homeschooling, aversion to debt, respect for authority, conservative dress,[1] and extended principles related to identity, family, education, healthcare, music, and finances. In 2014, he stepped down from the IBLP after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and molestation were made against him. In 2016, Gothard and IBLP were sued by a group of alleged victims; the lawsuit was dismissed in 2018, due to the statute of limitations.[2][3]

At the height of his popularity during the 1970s, the Basic Youth Conflicts seminar with Bill Gothard was regularly filling auditoriums throughout the United States and beyond with attendance figures as large as ten thousand and more for a one-week seminar.[4] In this way, he reached many in the evangelical community from the Baby Boomer generation during their teen years and young adulthood. Other seminars during this time included an advanced youth conflicts seminar and as well as seminars for pastors, physicians, and legislators.[citation needed]

Bill Gothard has credited a large influence to his parents. His mother, Carmen Christina Gothard (née Torres), was of Mexican-American descent.[5][6][7] His father, William Gothard, Sr. was a speaker at many seminars during the early years, and held high positions at organizations that included the Gideons, Child Evangelism Fellowship, and Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.[8]


Bill Gothard began his post-secondary education at Wheaton College, receiving his B.A. in biblical studies in 1957 and then his M.A. in Christian education in 1961.[9] He completed his Ph.D. in biblical studies at Louisiana Baptist University in 2004.[10]

In 1961, Gothard started an organization called Campus Teams,[11] which changed its name in 1974 to Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts. The organization's name changed again in 1989 to Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP),[12] of which Gothard was the president and a board member until his resignation in 2014.[13]

In 1984, Gothard founded the Advanced Training Institute (ATI), a homeschooling program with a curriculum that is based on the Sermon on the Mount.[14]

Gothard has had many political connections with Republican political leaders, including Mike Huckabee, Sonny Perdue, and Sarah Palin.[1] His ministry was also popular with the reality TV Duggar family and others.[1] He has never married.[15]


Gothard's primary teaching, his "Basic Seminar", focuses on what he refers to as seven "Basic Life Principles". He claims that these principles are universal, and that people will suffer consequences for violating them.[16] Gothard's principles are called Design, Authority, Responsibility, Suffering, Ownership, Freedom, and Success.[17]

  • The design principle is that people should understand their specific purpose for which God created them. Gothard writes: "A person's attitude toward himself has a profound influence on his attitude toward God, his family, his friends, his future, and many other significant areas of life."[18]
  • The authority principle is that inward peace results when people respect and honor the authorities (parents, government, etc.) that God has put into their lives. It is based on the idea that God gives direction, protection, and provision through human authorities.[19]
  • The responsibility principle is that a clear conscience results when people realize that they are responsible to God for every thought, word, action, and motive. Part of this principle is asking forgiveness from whomever has been offended so that no one can point a finger at you and say: "You've offended me and never asked for my forgiveness."[20]
  • The suffering principle is that people should allow the hurts from offenders to reveal "blind spots" in their own lives. Genuine joy is a result of fully forgiving offenders.[17]
  • The ownership principle is that people are stewards, not owners, of their possessions. Gothard teaches that anger results from not yielding personal rights to God.[21]
  • The freedom principle is enjoying the desire and the power to do what is right. Moral purity is the result of true freedom. The key to freedom is learning how to walk in the Spirit and appropriate the victory that Christ has already won through His death, burial, and resurrection.[22]
  • The success principle is that when people learn to think God's thoughts by meditating on and memorizing scripture, they make wise decisions and fulfill their life purposes.[23]

In addition to the Basic Seminar, Gothard also has an Advanced Seminar and an Anger Resolution Seminar. He also has a 49-week "Daily Success" series where he expounds on the "Commands of Christ" found in the Gospels. Gothard's "Total Health" training seeks to bring a Biblical view of sickness. He considers that there may be spiritual aspects of illness. His organization published "Basic CARE Bulletins" and offers "Stress Resolution Seminars". Gothard teaches that dating is morally dangerous and that courtship is the better alternative. Gothard encourages parents to be involved in their children's courtship. The father, especially, should be involved in his daughter's relationships. He should at the very least have the right to say "no" when a man asks to marry his daughter. Gothard also advocates conservative dress.[1] Gothard's teachings discourage dating and rock music, including Christian rock. He has warned that Cabbage Patch dolls are idolatrous.[24]

Gothard has been the subject of much debate in Christian circles, and occasionally in mass media.[25][26] Various books[27] and articles[28][29] have challenged Gothard's teachings on legalism, law, and grace, and questioned his handling of the IBLP ministry.[citation needed]

Sexual harassment allegations

On February 27, 2014, the Board of Directors of the Institute in Basic Life Principles placed Gothard on indefinite administrative leave while it investigated claims that he sexually harassed several female employees and volunteers.[30] No criminal activity was uncovered, but an investigation found that Gothard had acted in an "inappropriate manner".[30] The claims had been publicized on Recovering Grace, which is a website, Christian ministry, and support group for former followers of Gothard's teachings.[31] As many as 34 women who worked for Gothard have claimed that he harassed them.[1] Gothard denied the allegations and admitted no wrongdoing but announced his resignation from the Institute in order "to listen to those who have ought [something] against him".[32][1]

On June 17, 2014, IBLP issued a statement,[33] summarizing the investigation conducted by "outside legal counsel". They asserted that although no criminal activity was uncovered, nevertheless Bill Gothard had acted in an "inappropriate manner" and so "is not permitted to serve in any counseling, leadership, or Board role within the IBLP ministry". In July 2015, Gothard re-launched his website, including testimonials from several women.[32][34]

In 2016, Gothard and IBLP were sued by a group of alleged victims who accused him of sexual harassment and assault.[35] The plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit in 2018, citing "unique complexities" with the statute of limitations, but emphasized: "We are not recanting our experiences or dismissing the incalculable damage that we believe Gothard has done."[2][3]


  • Advanced Seminar Textbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles, 1986, ISBN 0-916888-11-8
  • Basic Preparation for Engagement. Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, 1971, ASIN B00
  • Basic Seminar Textbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles, 1979, ISBN 0-916888-05-3
  • Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts: Research in Principles of Life. Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, 1981, ISBN 0-916888-05-3
  • Men's Manual, Vol. 1. Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, 1979, ISBN 0-916888-04-5
  • Men's Manual, Vol. 2. Institute in Basic Life Principles, 1983, ISBN 0-916888-09-6
  • Nuestro Dios Celoso/Our Jealous God: El Amor que no me deja ir/The love that doesn't let me go. Editorial Unilit 2004, ISBN 0-7899-1215-5
  • Our Jealous God. Life Change Books, 2003. ISBN 1-59052-225-7
  • Rebuilder's Guide. Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, 1982. ISBN 0-916888-06-1
  • Research in Principles of Life: Advanced Seminar Textbook. Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts 1986. ISBN 0-916888-11-8
  • Rewards of Being Reviled. Life Change Books, 2004. ISBN 0-916888-30-4
  • Self-Acceptance. Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, 1984. ASIN B0007270AO
  • The Amazing Way. Institute in Basic Life Principles, 2010. ISBN 978-0916888497
  • The Power of Crying Out. Life Change Books, 2002, ISBN 1-59052-037-8
  • The Power of Spoken Blessings. Life Change Books, 2004. ISBN 1-59052-375-X
  • The Sevenfold Power of First Century Churches and Homes. Life Change Books, 2000. ISBN 0-916888-18-5
  • Why Did God Let It Happen? Institute in Basic Life Principles, 2011. ISBN 978-0-916888-54-1


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bailey, Sarah Pulliam (March 7, 2014). "Conservative leader Bill Gothard resigns following abuse allegations". Washington Post. Washington, DC. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b Stankorb, Sarah (June 15, 2018). "The Daughters' Great Escape". Marie Claire. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Bockelman, Wilfred (1976). Gothard: The Man and his Ministry: An Evaluation. p. 35.
  5. ^ Original data: Cook County Clerk, comp. Cook County Clerk Genealogy Records. Cook County Clerk’s Office, Chicago, IL: Cook County Clerk, 2008. {6F4264FE-9EED-43E6-8E7A-F49A41733724}
  6. ^ Year: 1910; Census Place: Cicero, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_238; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 1539; FHL microfilm: 1374251.
  7. ^ Year: 1940; Census Place: La Grange, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T627_782; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 16-277.
  8. ^ "A Tribute To William Gothard, Sr". Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "Biographical Sketch". Archived from the original on January 1, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
  10. ^ "Outstanding Alumni". Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  11. ^ Cassels, Louis (June 23, 1973). "Clergyman-Novelist Links Wit, Theology". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  12. ^ Poll, Rich (March 1, 2003). "A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life". Christianity Today. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  13. ^ Knowles, Francine (June 18, 2014). "Ex-head of religious group acted inappropriately, not criminally: investigation". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  14. ^ "IBLP Educational Programs". Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  15. ^ Menzie, Nicola (April 18, 2014). "Bill Gothard Denies 'Sexual Intent' in Hugs, Foot Contact With Young Ladies in Statement Following Resignation". Christian Post. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  16. ^ "Resolving Conflicts". Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Basic Life Principles". Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  18. ^ Basic Seminar Textbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles. 1979. p. 10.
  19. ^ Basic Seminar Workbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles. 1993. p. 16.
  20. ^ Basic Seminar Textbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles. 1979. p. 42.
  21. ^ Basic Seminar Textbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles. 1979. pp. 100–102.
  22. ^ Basic Seminar Workbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles. 1993. p. 46.
  23. ^ Basic Seminar Workbook. Institute in Basic Life Principles. 1993. p. 64.
  24. ^ Smith, Bryan (June 20, 2016). "The Cult Next Door". Chicago.
  25. ^ "Religion: Obey Thy Husband". Time. March 20, 1974. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  26. ^ Chandler, Russell (April 5, 1982). "Moral, Morale Questions Rock Gothard Ministry". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ Veinot, Don; Veinot, Joy; Henzel, Ron (2002). A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life. 21st Century Press.
  28. ^ Bradbery, Angela (December 29, 1992). "Minister's Kingdom Not Without Foes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
  29. ^ "Gothard Staffers Ask Hard Questions". Christianity Today. February 6, 1981. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  30. ^ a b "Bill Gothard placed on administrative leave". World Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  31. ^ Knowles, Francine (March 7, 2014). "Leader of Oak Brook religious group resigns amid sex harassment allegations". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on July 17, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  32. ^ a b Smith, Warren Cole (June 24, 2015). "Bill Gothard defends himself on new website". World. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  33. ^ "A Time of Transition: A Statement From the Board of Directors". IBLP. June 17, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  34. ^ "Testimonials". Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  35. ^ Bult, Laura (January 7, 2016). "Bill Gothard, Christian counseling ministry leader with ties to TLC's Duggar family, target of sexual assault lawsuit by 10 women". New York Daily News. New York, NY. Retrieved August 22, 2018.

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