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Sunday, December 23, 2007

EXPOSED! Mike Huckabee with Bill Gothard Last Week in Houston

Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati

Original photo here; hosted photo here.

As recently reported by The Cincinnati Beacon, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has close ties to fringe evangelist/tycoon Bill Gothard, who runs the little-known Chicago-area Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and a string of affiliated businesses. It’s been widely reported that Gothard’s organizations advocate strict authoritarianism and blind obedience. Allegations of child abuse such as locking kids for extended periods in “prayer closets” and other misconduct have led to investigations.

According to a recent In These Times cover story, “The Cult of Character,” Gothard oversees an evangelical empire “which brings in an estimated profit of at least $63 million annually.” For example, see these photos of “IBLP’s beautiful Guadalajara Training Center property” which looks like a 5-star resort. Among the many hats Gothard wears, he’s “Chancellor” of a non-accredited school and founder of the “Medical Training Institute of America” which recommends such unconventional treatments as calling “elders of the church for prayer before receiving medical treatment for a serious illness” and annointing with oils.

Then there’s the “Character Cities” movement, Gothard’s secular front which infiltrates the public sector and chips away at the wall between church and state by bringing their quasi-religious programs into schools, prisons, police departments, etc. - sometimes on the taxpayer dollar. We originally got onto the story because Phil Heimlich, former Hamilton County commissioner and Gothard fan who’s now running against fellow Republican Jean Schmidt, brought the Character program to Cincinnati.

More people learned about Gothard a few weeks ago when Colorado church shooter Matthew Murray was identified as having been raised and home-schooled in an extreme Gothardite program. From the Denver Post:

Gothard’s teachings have been criticized by other conservative   Christians who allege he has deviated from true Bible teaching and that his stand against rock music - even Christian rock - suspicion of modern medicine, belief in spiritual roots of disease, and opposition to women working outside the home and “evil” toys are wrong. Gothard warned followers in a 1986 letter that Cabbage Patch dolls can cause “strange, destructive behavior.”

Meanwhile, Gothard himself remains relatively unknown outside his gilded realm. He rarely speaks to the press and photos of him in mainstream publications are hard to find. So this photo from just last week of Gothard with Mike Huckabee at what is identified as a private campaign luncheon in Houston is noteworthy. The photo comes from “Huckabee in Houston” by Robert Steddon on the Steddon family blog. (The Steddons are apparently devoted Gothard followers. Son Robert Steddon says he previously travelled to Mexico with Gothard as his “assistant.”)

Perhaps Huckabee’s recent rise in the polls will motivate big media to finally take a closer look into the glitzy empire of his friend and supporter Bill Gothard.

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  1. Cabbage Patch Kidder says:

    Cross-posting of the above article on DailyKos is generating interesting comments. Here’s the link.

  2. Free Will Hunting says:

    For more information, the most vocal, knowledgable anti-Gothard organization is Midwest Christian Outreach, which describes itself as “a Christian Counter-Cult and Apologetics Ministry.” Click here for contact info.

  3. cincysuz says:

    Excellent reporting. Two creepier characters would be hard to find.

  4. Sympathy for the Governor says:

    From Don’t Blame the Music, Metal Frontman Implores, Denver Post, 12/13/2007 (Church shooter Matthew) Murray also claims online that he went through Bill Gothard home schooling, a fundamental Christian organization that has about 2,000 students enrolled nationally. Gothard’s program bases a curriculum on the 54 verses from the Sermon on the Mount, and its strict teachings prohibit rock ‘n’ roll and television.

    Gothard, in an interview Wednesday, said he “didn’t recall” ever meeting the Murray family, but he was sure one of the parents was probably trained in his program.

    Ultimately, Gothard blames rock music for Murray’s murderous rampage.

    “That is the most contributing factor,” said Gothard, who is based in a small town south of Chicago. “It’d be important to see the connection between his passion to rock music and how it ultimately brought this on.”

    Gothard said whenever he gets calls from parents having trouble with their kids, he asks about what they listen to. “In every case, (the kid) is listening to rock music,” he said.

    Gothard appears willing to make exceptions for at least one rocker, his funky bass player friend from Arkansas, Mike Huckabee.

  5. Paranoia Strikes Dip says:

    Gothardite Phil Heimlich’s 12/21/07 campaign press release:

    My wife, Rebecca, and I are the proud parents of two children, Henry, age 4, and Allie, age 2. Like all parents, we are concerned about the world in which our children grow up. Will it be a society that continues to treasure the traditional values our party holds dear? Or will it be a society that follows the liberal agenda of secularism over faith and family? With every seat the Democrats gain in Congress, the liberals make progress toward enacting more of their goals.

    Here come the Gothardites to tell everyone how to live. Yeah, right, Phil. The problem is the secular world doesn’t buy your freaky apocalyptic worldview. Why don’t you and Rebecca go burn a Cabbage Patch doll for “Dr.” Gothard?

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