Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sarah Palin Tied to Radical Anti-womanist Bill Gothard? There Went the Women's Vote!

Salon magazine today notes that Sarah Palin's mayorship of her home town reveals connections to an old name among Evangelical heavies. Before there was Family guru James Dobson, there was... Bill Gothard. While the article focuses on Palin's usage of a "secular" (though maybe not so secular) spin off from Gothard's organization, my own interest is in what depth of connection exists between Palin and Gothard... and / or his teachings on family and women.

Remember Bill Gothard and his Institute on Basic Youth Conflicts? Today, the organization is called Institute in Basic Life Principles, though the former name is still used as part of the "Basic" curriculum. The materials Gothard's group churned out in the 1960s and 1970s featured micro-management of every aspect of a Christian family's existence. I recall, and this may upset some folks, literally laughing until I cried over various illustrations regarding the exact way a woman's blouse should look, her hair should look, and her make-up (or lack thereof, actually) should look. I'd reproduce one of these drawings here, except that Gothard doesn't take kindly to folks reproducing any of his materials without paying for them.

I wouldn't laugh today as I did then, knowing more about what women have suffered at the hands of such male arrogance in the Church. In fact, I'd probably shred the pamphlet. That's me exercising my own Christian authority, Mr. Gothard. I authoritatively say that your treatment of women is not the work of Christ, nor in keeping with the heart of Christ, and that you have gravely injured not only women but the men who love them.

But I would laugh still over Gothard's music lessons, where he with all seriousness warns against rock music's evilness and then -- I kid you not -- suggests that certain chords on the scale are bad. Like, for instance, the augmented seventh! For real. Oh, and also any sort of syncopation is bad. Try this... tap out four beats on a table. Then tap them again, emphasizing the first and third. Then do it again emphasizing the second and forth. Well, the latter is really not good, according to Gothard. Why? 'Cuz that's syncopation, man! You might feel your body or something! WHOA!

What again isn't funny is how Gothard conceptualizes the Family. His ultra-militarist, top-down, male-centric model bears no discernable resemblance at all to the family I (and I pray most other!) Christians see in Scripture. Bill apparently channeled this stuff direct from the throne of God, because it has zero biblical or theological backing, despite his continual usage of verses with little to no application to the topic he's touting. For instance...

He fervently claims that a couple who marry without their parents' permission cannot be blessed by God. Note, this refers to a couple regardless of that couple's age, and also regardless of what the parents' set of beliefs is! I suppose a racist set of parents could, under Gothard's teaching, permanently prevent their Anglo daughter from marrying an African-American. Or, one might suggest, an Atheist parent with a mean streak could forbid her born-again daughter from marrying a fellow Christian. Did anyone ever, I wonder, mention to Bill that sometimes honoring someone requires disobeying them, not baaaing like a sheep and doing what one's told? Example: Suicidal parent telling the child to get the gun from the cupboard, the child obeying but of course hoping the parent doesn't decide to make suicide homocide as well... BANG!

The obtuseness of what "honoring" one's parents means vs. an adult obeying their parent's every whim should be obvious. Unfortunately for Gothard, it is not. Willful ignorance, it is called. And how does such a man get the authority he still, after all this time, wields? Ask the Republicans.

I hope and pray Evangelicals ponder deeply the parallels between Bill Gothard's blind self-referential teachings and the Republicans' blind self-referential approach to governance. For me, the parallels are screaming to be noticed.

Meanwhile, the question here is if Sarah Palin, being pitched to us as an empowered woman, believes the viciously anti-woman lies Gothard is spreading? Sigh...


JMJ said...

Upon my parents' insistence, I actually have been to Gothard's live seminar, twice, back in the late 80s, when I was 13 and 14. It was held in Detroit's Cobo Hall. I also remember the crap that he taught (you forgot the never-married Gothard taught that married couples should only have sex for procreation and even then only once a month during that "fertile" time.)

The seminar was a week long, during which there must have been one or two decent things that were taught. The sad part is that whatever those things were, I only remember the junk (like cabbage patch kids are of the devil). And there was a lot of junk. This is one of those things that my friends and I reminisce and joke about.

A secular organization taking these one or two things, secularizing them and then applying them to other aspects does not a direct connect make. Nor is it a newsworthy story.

I personally am on the fence regarding our two presidential candidates, simultaneously opposing and supporting various platforms of both.

But I do know that the character assassinations of the left regarding Palin are as bad as the right's attempts on Obama.

Drawing attention to such a non-story is irresponsible at best, and inflammatory at worst.

Honestly, I expect more from you.

bob brown said...

Gee Jon,

Don't you reckon we ought to get Gov Palin's full report on her connection to Mr. Gothard and what his influence in her life might be? Of course, we know that BHO and family sat in front of Rev Wright on a semi-regular basis while he was spewing anti-US filth for 20 years. I have read Gothard's material and I agree it is sadly laughable in parts, but I think you are way out in front on this one driven by your obvious political agenda.

@bdul muHib said...

So, what does Gothard have to say about the application of lipstick, especially on non-humans?

@bdul muHib said...


It appears you have a problem with anti-US statements. What do you do when pro-Kingdom is the same as anti-US? Or do you believe there's never a difference?

Jon Trott said...


I strongly disagree this is a non-story, because of one thing. Sarah Palin is being pitched to us as an empowered woman, even a feminist. Yet she is using principles coming directly from Bill Gothard, a man who teaches a version of hierarchical authority so severe that even most Evangelicals are uneasy about it. I did say that Gov. Palin's exact connections to Bill Gothard need to be explained... by her. Problem is, that isn't likely to happen before the election. Quite the contrary, the Republicans are keeping her far from any media folk. Until she says clearly what she does believe about family structure, women and men and the "hierarchy" (or hopefully lack thereof, if she's a for real feminist) between them.

Until then, this is of more importance to me than almost anything else that's come up so far regarding this candidate... except, perhaps, her possible connections to the "Latter Rain" / Dominion movements, which would also greatly impact how she views Christians involved in governing. The latter views are some of the most arrogant -- and frightening even to fellow Christians, much less those who are not Christians -- theological constructs re government I know of.

Jon Trott said...

Bob Brown wrote:

"Don't you reckon we ought to get Gov Palin's full report on her connection to Mr. Gothard and what his influence in her life might be?"

Yep. That's exactly what I'm asking for. But the links between her ideas on governance and his ideas are established. What we don't know is whether this is a large or small blip on the screen as far as how deeply she's committed to his radically hierarchical principles of authority. She'll have to tell us. But I don't thibnk she will, unless (unlikely) Joe Biden asked her outright during the VP debates. The Republican Party is uninterested in Sarah Palin being interviewed, esp. after the Charles Gibson (ABC) interview.

You also wrote:

"Of course, we know that BHO and family sat in front of Rev Wright on a semi-regular basis while he was spewing anti-US filth for 20 years."

Bob, Bob, Bob... the bait and switch technique is so old-school Republican. Go read about 400 years of Black History, and then get back to me on the Jeremiah Wright thing. Oh, and maybe listen to the actual sermon, in its entirety, that contained the "God damn America" quote. You can even read my own ponderings of this here on bluechristian.

But the truth is, bringing up Jeremiah Wright when I'm talking about Bill Gothard (and now William Branham as well) is singularly disengenous. It is known as misdirection, an old magician's trick to get the audience to look away from the hand that is creating the next illusion.

Will Sarah Palin clarify her position on the Trinity, on other Branham / Latter Rain concepts, and on the rigid governmental / authority ideas of Bill Gothard. THAT is the question, not throwing stones at Obama via Jeremiah Wright.

JMJ said...


You said:
Sarah Palin is being pitched to us as an empowered woman, even a feminist. Yet she is using principles coming directly from Bill Gothard, a man who teaches a version of hierarchical authority so severe that even most Evangelicals are uneasy about it.

Agree that Gothard's views on women are to be ignored. Agree that Gothard is a bit of a nut. I do not agree that these first 2 statements make all of his teaching worthless.

One reason I loved Cornerstone Magazine was that it implicitly insisted that Christians need to be more discerning. I'm not sure if you ever came out and said this, but the tone of your magazine made it clear that we should be "Bereans" (Acts 17:31--Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.)

As such, have you examined all of his teachings? Have you "bereanly" looked at the secularized principles that this municipal advocacy group is promoting? Or, did you see the name Gothard, and have a knee jerk reaction?

From the tone of your blog post, I suspect the latter.

bob brown said...

Mr Jon:

Bait and switch, my butt. We are right on a parallel track here. You are busting Gothard/Palin on some possible, might maybe connection second or third hand while I am presenting a hard-wired connection between a pastor/teacher and a congregant in the Wright/Obama combo.

Further, I am so weary of the old school Liberal tactic of excusing bad behavior (as opposed to theological positions with which we may disagree) based on group suffering. You are not exempt from the Fall and your sinful nature just because your group suffered for 400 years etc, etc.
Liberals do this all the time with Blacks, Indians, [Your Victim Group Here]

I am not throwing stones at R.W. to get at Obama, I am criticizing Wright/Obama directly for what I believe is an equal or more dangerous effect on the candidate from ideologies absorbed. Wright/Obama is more important IMO because 1.) Obama is the POTUS candidate, not Palin 2.) Obama's exposure to said ideology is direct from the horse's mouth, not referential.

To paraphrase Kahn - Mr Muhib, "Yours is a superior knowledge" when it comes to which policies are pro or anti Kingdom - so I will leave that up to your judgment. But I think the formula would start with something like "The Right is Wrong."


@bdul muHib said...

Bob, you completely ignored my question by suggesting that I know what is pro or anti-Kingdom. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. But that isn't even remotely germaine, any more than if you know what is pro or anti-Kingdom, or if you believe the Right is always wrong. The question, in case you forgot, is what do you do when something is pro-Kingdom but anti-US, or do you believe that never comes up?

//bb bob brown said...


Re your question. I did avoid it as I got caught up in defending my position rather than comprehensive reading. Sorry 'bout that

I recommend that you follow your conscience and do/say what you believe is the pro-Kingdom thang.