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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Huckabee Hearts Gothard

Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati

Character Cities uses Huckabee Letter to Sell Program

Photo:  Mrs. Arkansas (Mary Elizabeth Tate) and Gov. Mike Huckabee proclaim “Character Education Month” in Arkansas.

As reported by The Beacon, last week’s Colorado papers reported that Matthew Murray, the young shooter who killed a bunch of churchgoers, had been raised according to the teachings of Chicago evangelist Bill Gothard. 

“I remember the beatings and the fighting and yelling and insane rules and all the Bill Gothard bull——and then trancing out,” he wrote Dec. 1 under the monicker “nghtmrchld26” on a Web forum for former Pentecostal Christians. Bill Gothard is the founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles in Illinois, which promotes a Christian home-education program. “I remember how it was like every day was Mission Impossible trying to keep the rules or not get caught and just . . . survive every single (expletive) day,” Murray wrote.

When it comes to criticizing Gothardism, Murray wasn’t the only one:


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.”

What last week’s reports didn’t mention is that political man of the moment Mike Huckabee is a “long-time admirer” of Gothard. In fact, “Character Cities,” the secular front organization which Gothard uses to infiltrate city governments, uses a letter from the former Arkansas governor to promote their program. From the training manual, “How to Build a Character City”:


Make an appointment with your local leaders and write letters to more distant officials seeking their support and endorsement of the local coalition’s efforts. Leaders to approach would include the state governor, federal congressman and senator, state representatives and senators, federal and state attorney generals, county commissioner, local judges, key business leaders, key faith community leaders, local celebrities of good character, etc. Ask them for a letter of support for the character-building efforts of the community, something you take to other community members in gathering their support. (See attached letter from Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.)

According to a March 10, 1997 Ocala Star-Banner article, Gothard sounded ready to take over Arkansas’s entire social infrastucture with Huckabee’s blessing:


Just this year, Gothard’s advocacy for teaching public school children character qualities such as obedience, gratefulness and attentiveness brought him to a southern state capitol. But Little Rock, Ark., had already been established as friendly terrain for Gothard. Two of his long-time admirers—Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee and Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey, a Democrat—are loyal advocates of Gothard’s agenda and have encouraged him to expand juvenile rehabilitation programs there.

  Gothard has described his meeting in Little Rock as the start of something big. He said it laid the groundwork for “the most exciting opportunity I can imagine” to merge the institute’s teachings with government programs. In a letter published on the institute’s Internet site, Gothard said his organization has been asked to “present a plan and contract to restructure ( Arkansas’ ) welfare program, their educational system and their juvenile justice methods.” He also claims that Gov. Huckabee’s aides “have already begun taking steps” to put the proposal into action.

According to the website of Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles, the governor jumped in with both feet:


Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas stated, “As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people.”

A 2002 New Times expose describes how Gothard’s program instilled character into the lives of young people in Indianapolis:


Inside a converted 300-room hotel, the prayer closet is a little room where kids are taken when they disobey staff at the Indianapolis Training Center (ITC). Once locked inside, the misbehaving youths are forced to sit and pray to Jesus, sometimes for days at a time. Some juvenile ITC residents have said the evangelical Christian teens and young adults who staffed the center sometimes forbade them from going to the bathroom, forcing them to sit in their own urine for hours. Some have complained of beatings with paddles by untrained staff that left bruises and welts. When not in isolation, the kids are forced to march and chant and pray, with gospel music playing almost constantly.

From yesterday’s New York Times Magazine cover story about Huckabee:


Like his father before him, he (and his wife) administered corporal punishment to their three children.

Mike Huckabee may be the first Presidential candidate to admit that he beats his kids.

The Times story doesn’t say if the Huckabee home has a prayer closet. If he gets elected, I’m sure his friend Bill Gothard will be available to install one in the White House.

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  1. Freedom Fighters says:


    Oh, it is not nice to ridicule religion.

    ”...Trust in the Lord,” he quoted, “and lean not upon thine own understanding”.

    We shall pray for you, dean.


  2. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    This post has nothing to do with ridiculing religion, and many mainstream Christians find Gothard to be appalling.

  3. Abbie's Dybbuk says:

    Hey Beacon media activists, let’s make this item go national!

    Send it around to the big lefty blogs, anti-Huck blogs, political reporters, and to Huck’s deep pockets competitor.

    Romney for President
    Beth Myers, Campaign Mgr.
    Fax: (857)288-6750

  4. Mike says:

    The conculsions and conjectures drawn in this article are borderline amussing.

    Huckabee admires “obedience, gratefulness and attentiveness” which are part of the Gothard teachings. Who wouldn’t? By the end of the article you are suggesting that he supports locking kids in closets and forcing them to sit in their own urine. Come on now.

  5. Yuckabee says:

    More Huckabee family values:

    As Mike Huckabee gains in the polls, the former Arkansas governor is finding that his record in office is getting more scrutiny. One issue likely to get attention is his handling of a sensitive family matter: allegations that one of his sons was involved in the hanging of a stray dog at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. Newsweek, 11/15/07:

  6. Bugaboo says:

    Mike: By the end of the article you are suggesting that he supports locking kids in closets and forcing them to sit in their own urine. Come on now.

    Child abuse allegations and other Gothard misconduct have been widely reported, yet Huckabee unequivocally endorses Gothard and gives him the green light in Arkansas. That’s no problem for Mike.

    Also no problem for Phil Heimlich or local businessman Mike Daly who snuck the “Character Cities” program into Cincinnati.

  7. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Any religion or philosophy taken too far crosses over into insanity. What we never hear about is all the moderates in this country who hate extremism of any sort be it christian, muslim, atheist etc. If the rational among us talked things out and left all those who try and force everyone to believe what they believe out of the equation they could all just fight each other and leave the rest of us to live our lives. Wouldn’t that be nice.

  8. Freedom Fighters says:

    ”...many mainstream Christians find Gothard to be appalling….”

    Perhaps, a letter to the Corinthians could help ?

    At least he is talking about ........

    Once again:

    “...Trust in the Lord,” he quoted, “and lean not upon thine own understanding”.


  9. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Many school shooting shooters having attended public schools. This proves public schools are bad.

    It sounds like a lot of bull to me, especially the line about Huchabee who “beats” his own kids, and the idea that he is the first presidential candidate to admit it. Before Dr. Spock, everybody “beat” their kids; but we didn’t have school shootings back then did we.

  10. Freedom Fighters says:


    What Really Matters

    Separation of Church and State ?


  11. My Left Behind says:

    I should know better than to step in front of this logic train wreck, but here goes.

    Many school shooting shooters having attended public schools. This proves public schools are bad.

    The item does not posit or conclude that Gothardism made the CO school schooter blow a fuse. The shooter himself said that.

    Does this prove Gothardism causes school shootings? Of course not. However, Gothardism is based on one-size-fits-all authoritarianism. Spend some time reading
    what kids from Gothardite homes have to say. It ain’t pretty.

    It sounds like a lot of bull to me, especially the line about Huchabee who “beats” his own kids, and the idea that he is the first presidential candidate to admit it.

    Huckabee said it to a reporter. Some might ask why would a presidential candidate wish to make such an admission? I’d suggest he’s speaking dog-whistle language to the hard right religious “Left Behind” set.   

    Before Dr. Spock, everybody “beat” their kids; but we didn’t have school shootings back then did we.

    Have I got it right that the commenter is suggesting that more beatings would reduce the rate of school shootings?

    That’s about all the sublogic deconstruction I can handle. I think I’ll go break some commandments. Now where did I leave that graven idol…?

  12. Jethro Bodine says:

    Hear iz a reel gud pitcher of Presinent Huckabee an the Firs Famly:

  13. Michael Harvey says:

    Dear Left Behind,

    For a logic train wreck I’m scoring pretty well. You conceded my first point, ie where the shooter went to school had nothing to do with his insanity. He is to blame, not his school.

    As for the rest, yeah right, I’m sure the governor really confessed to “beating” his kids. Sure he did. I’m sure President Kennedy and all of our other great presidents were never spanked, or “beaten” in your view. You may sincerely believe that if you’re younger than 40 years old, but you are still all wet, regardless of how sincere you are.


  14. My Left Behind says:

    Michael Harvey: Dear Left Behind

    Correction, Mr. Harvey! My username is “My Left Behind” as in “Hey, I can’t find my ‘Left Behind’ by Tim LaHaye.”

  15. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    I think the focal point of mainstream religion has changed - .That’s part of the “see the world in black and white” that the fundamentalists find so important about their “my way or the highway to hell”. Its far easier to use religion as the label for making oneself feel better or more important than someone else. I don’t murder, so I’m better/God loves me more than someone who does.

  16. BERNA - is asthmatic bronchitis contagious says:

    Credo che molto interessante argomento. Offrire a tutti i attivamente partecipare alla discussione.

  17. Steven says:

    I’m a kid from a “Gothardite home.”

    In general, the teachings themselves are excellent.  I’ve watched plenty of other “kids from Gothardite homes” grow up.  The vast majority of these kids turn out to be excellent - great assets to their communities, their churches, and their nations.  But I’ll readily admit that I’ve also seen those who reject the teachings run with everything they can muster.  And they generally become outspoken, die-hard IBLP/ATI/Gothard haters- and understandably so!

    Two observations- these are both personal opinion, and after seeing the other comments here, I’m sure that these will be trashed by someone.  That’s fine and fair.

    1) Of the dozens of cases I’ve seen where kids turn out to reject, hate, and bash Gothard and the Bible teachings that he promotes, I have not seen one where the parents interacted with their kids consistently (and not just publicly) in genuine, sacrificial love.  Ever.

    That’s not to say that you don’t know of a case that may appear to be the exception- that’s just my personal experience.  And after growing up in the home I did, you and I likely have very different views on what “genuine sacrificial love” looks like.  smile

    2) I am amazed at the credibility given to these juvenile delinquents.  I’ve never seen statements from tried and convicted juveniles granted this kind of matter-of-fact status in other juvenile detention centers.  It’s one thing, and perfectly acceptable, to report findings of investigations- private, public, deceptive, and hidden- but it’s quite another to mix the findings with undocumented and unproven claims from criminal youth, and expect readers to distinguish.

    @kusto Very true - in many ways it has changed, and people do often attempt to justify themselves either in their own or in others’ eyes by their religion, and that’s a real shame.  I fully believe that there are absolute moral standards, but unless we are perfect, we have no room to think ourselves better than others simply because our scale measures their imperfections as more offensive than our own.

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