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The Cincinnati Beacon
The Grand Unification Theory:  From Local Republican Phil Heimlich, to President George W. Bush
Monday, June 05, 2006

Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati

It is almost impossible to use a phrase like “grand right-winged conspiracy” without sounding like some kind of freak.  The moderate mind of the masses disallows such discomfort.  But what if evidence actually demonstrated that something of the sort might be going on?  What if proof—despite sounding off the wall and seeming totally strange—could be provided to substantiate the notion of just such a right-winged conspiracy?  What if I told you that local Republican Phil Heimlich is involved in bizarre political goings-on?  What if the circuit of these twisted connections reached all the way to the White House?  I know, it sounds crazy!  Nevertheless, I believe the claim to be true.  This revelation comes after months upon months of researching the backstory on Phil Heimlich.  If some have wondered why I seem “infatuated” with him, it’s because the Heimlich stories reach their arms into so many places as to border on unbelievability.  I have refrained, until now, from attempting to write about these connections on a larger political scale.

Let’s start with the picture below, from the Home School Legal Defense Association Jan/Feb 1999 issue of Home School Court Report:

That’s our president, George W. Bush, standing next to a guy named Jim Leininger.  Who is this Leininger character, and what does he have to do with Phil Heimlich?  The answer is a simple Google search away.

Jim Leininger sits on the Board of Directors of the Institute in Basic Life Principals—the secular front for the Bill Gothard evangelical ministries that many experts liken to a cult.  Gothard sits on the same Board with Leininger.

Gothard and his followers have always been big into homeschooling.  But their homeschooling program is not what you might expect.  Check out this excerpt (source):

To enroll in Gothard’s ATI home schooling program, parents and enrolling children are required to complete the Basic and Advanced IBLP Seminars (and pay the yearly $675 per family tuition fee). Families must agree to many guidelines in order to be accepted into the school and continue in it. At the yearly ATI conference, the dress code is nearly a uniform consisting of a white shirt and navy blue pants or skirt. They must follow a dress code while they are homeschooling, and the curriculum itself describes in detail what is required for proper and modest dress and grooming. Beards are not allowed, but an exception is granted to those who have one because of religious conviction. Once in ATI, a family is sent the curriculum on a regular basis. The curriculum consists of 52 Wisdom Booklets, which provide nearly all that is required to complete the education. These booklets make a stack just over a foot high. When a family has completed all the booklets, they start again from the beginning. The curriculum is intended to be used for all ages simultaneously—K-12.

Gothard claims that “As students explore information, it passes (consciously or unconsciously) through a grid of presuppositions in their minds. After the information is evaluated by this ‘grid,’ it is acted upon.” (Emphasis added.) One of the goals of the training is “To identify each son and daughter’s purpose in life and establish direction for their training.” One of the “Tools” to accomplish this is a “Life Purpose Appraisal,” which sounds much like personality testing! (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.)

This Gothardite fundamentalism has not only infiltrated homeschooling circles:  the Character First! curriculum has infiltrated charter schools and public schools—nowhere as effectively as in Florida under the supervision of none other than Jeb Bush, the president’s brother.  Check out this excerpt (source):

The plan has the full support of Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of Texas Gov. George Bush.

Efforts to pass vouchers in Florida supplement not only the push for charter schools, but another program that put a “values” curriculum in public schools which is known as “Character First!” It also shows the synchronicity between vouchers and extremist religious organizations which have established a thriving network of sectarian schools and so-called “Christian academies.” In many cases, the curriculum in these schools teaches youngsters that evolution is a false doctrine, and implements a stern religious behavior code.

A bill to fund the program to the tune of up to seven million dollars in tax money passed unanimously last year in the state legislature, and will likely be on the governor’s desk for signing in 1999. The Character First! program is published by the Character Training Institute (CTI), and offshoot of the Chicago-based Institute of Basic Life principles. According to the New Times paper of Palm Beach, IBLP “is the brainchild of a 64-year old evangelical Christian guru named Bill Gothard, who boasts some 2.5 million “alumni” of his Bible-based seminars, and he promises to give the world a ‘new approach to life.’”

Along with the Florida voucher proposals cheered on by Gov. Jeb Bush, bills to institute Gothard’s “Character First!” regiment in public schools—supposedly sans over religious references to Jesus Christ and religion—have been introduced by State Rep. Tracy Stafford and Sen. Howard Forman, Democrats from Broward County.

This Character First! nonsense has been reviewed extensively, here at The Beacon and elsewhere.  For just a sampling, review the following:

*Faith Under Fire, a WISH-TV I-Team investigation in Indianapolis, exposing gross forms of child abuse under the watch of these Gothardites.

*”Cult of Character,” an In These Times article by Silja Talvi exposing some of the groups beliefs.  This article also mentions Phil Heimlich, the keynote speaker for this organization last September.

*The Rick A. Ross Institute’s Gothard Page, collecting tons of resources acting as a watchdog to this group.

*Phil Heimlich’s Gothard Connections Say Citizens Are “Fools,” one of our very own stories about when these Gothardites came to train the Cincinnati Police Department.

As stated above, Phil Heimlich was the keynote speaker at one of these Gothardite events last year.  See for yourself; Phil has the event listed on his web page (at least as of this publication):

International Association of Character Cities Annual Meeting [closed to the public]

Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Commissioner Heimlich will give the keynote address.

At this same event, local businessman Michael Daly also gave a speech.  (The speeches are all available for purchase from the Character First! web page as a DVD box set.)  In Daly’s speech, he seems to tell the story of a quid pro quo—how, after giving a campaign contribution to Phil Heimlich, he was invited to lunch where Heimlich asked Daly, “What’s on your heart?”  After this meeting, the duo decided to implement the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati —the local arm of the secular Gothard front.  Sounds to me like Heimlich is willing to push cultish evangelism if the price is right.  (Transcripts of Daly’s speech will be made available soon.)

By signing up with the “Character” programs, cities are offering up a pool of potential converts that the Gothardites might never otherwise get access to. And what better way to move into control of government, then through true believer government employees? They don’t need a lot of converts from each event to call it a success. Look at Phil. Here’s one guy who appears to have handed over hundreds of Cincinnati public employees as potential converts. Take a look at this nationwide list and do the math.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Who’s not in favor of punctuality or honesty? Those are “good character” qualities that everyone agrees on. But what about the “Character Cities” convention in OK City where women are forced to dress in floor-length skirts and wait on the men? What “character” traits is this promoting? Then there’s Sheriff Ray Nash who did the Cincinnati Police training seminars. According to his hometown paper he fired a deputy because the officer was living with his girlfriend out of wedlock. So Nash’s definition of “good character” includes a Victorian attitude towards personal relationships and a sense of entitlement to demand that his employees live according to his beliefs.

The most insidious thing is that the burden of protest falls on the individual. If you are an audience member in one of these seminars and you object to their value system or their thinly-veiled religious agenda, you have to assert yourself in front of the group and register your objections. Most people won’t stand up and complain, especially in front of co-workers and the boss. You know what happens—you get tagged as a complainer, troublemaker, or a misfit.  During the height of the Iraq war mania, churches were encouraging employees to go to work on Friday and wear Republican red to “support the troops” and some companies were “suggesting” that employees wear yellow lapel ribbons.  You can easily imagine how coercive this is. If an individual objects to the war, is a Democrat, or simply doesn’t want to discuss politics or religion at work, they’re put on the defensive by group think.

Finally, the idea that people will develop “character” by being forced to sit through a Sesame Street-level seminar is idiotic. Ethics and character are developed over a lifetime, starting in very early childhood. What these programs do, especially in an office, is to create a climate of conformity—rather like the Cultural Revolution in 1970s China.  People were forced to mouth platitudes and behave in lockstep. Is this good character? No, this is social control enforced by fear of ostracism or reprisal by authority. Obviously, that’s an extreme comparison, but the mechanism of social control is similar. The fact that this appears to be going on in a number of government offices, from County Commissioner Phil Heimlich to President George W. Bush, raises obvious concerns.


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  1. Really? says:

    I don’t even know what to say…

  2. what says:

    And who killed JFK? I mean what the hell is this?

    THE ALIENS ARE COMING, THE ALIENS ARE COMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    I know it sounds strange.  I’ve been thinking about it for some time.  But just look at it.  Where is the hole in my thinking?

  4. si says:

    “I’m not a divider, I’m a unificator”.

  5. anon says:

    Dean, it’s unclear why you’re apologizing for drawing these conclusions. It’s not as if you discovered this issue. It’s common knowledge that evangelical organizations have been infiltrating the government for decades, beginning with the Reagan administration. The most recent book covering the subject is Kevin Phillips’ “American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury.” The goal is to break down the separation between church and state, and to establish a Christian fundamentalist identity on the US. If that’s news to anyone, you should get out more often.

    Further, as has been widely reported, the International Association of Character Cities is a front for the Gothard evangelical organization. The IACC infiltrates various levels of government using their followers to install the programs. That’s what happened in Cincinnati. When he was a city council member, Phil Heimlich pushed council to adopt the Character program, which led to training programs for the Cincinnati Police and Fire Department. There’s no indication that Heimlich informed council that the group was a Gothard front. By the way, Heimlich is mentioned in the recent In These Times cover story, “The Cult of Character.”

    The unanswered question about Heimlich or other public officials is if they received payments from the IACC, which was the case with Arizona State Treasurer David Petersen, who is now under investigation by the AZ Attorney General.

    Heimlich has not hidden his extreme religious beliefs (although he has kept his Gothard connections private), but if he accepted commissions from the IACC for installing the Character program in Cincinnati, that’s news.

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

    Great point, but I guess I’m just thinking about how most people react when I start talking about this stuff.  They think it’s all “crazy.”

    So how do you get a story out there when the masses are predisposed to discredit it from the beginning?

    I thought I’d apologize…

    Maybe a bad idea…  Who knows?

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

    You are aleady getting the story out there.
    Contribute it to more blogs and you will
    connect more of the chain. It’s not crazy;
    you are just linking the people, patterns
    and processes that make it look crazy.
    Concentrate on Phil, sure, and who he is
    “reaching out to”, then concentrate on who is
    reacing back to him on both open and cloaked
    committees, appointments, campaign contributions.
    The 10 plus pages of contributions you helped
    document on PH’s $1500 reimbursement payment back
    to DW a few days ago should be a real eye opener.
    The lines of party are so blurred that when an
    elected official states they are one party or
    another———- you have to look at the cards to
    see if you are holding blue, red, green or other.
    Cheer up, this stone is going to break with enough
    water wearing it down.

  8. anon says:

    So how do you get a story out there when the masses are predisposed to discredit it from the beginning?

    Self-defeating - and false - assumption. Why conclude “the masses are predisposed to discredit it”? Stories like this don’t get enough play because big media doesn’t like to run challenging stories, especially when religion’s involved - and especially when politically-organized fundamentalist religion is involved.

    If the Enquirer ran a Heimlich-Gothard story, I suspect it wouldn’t be long before Focus on the Family or similar gangs would organize a letter-writing campaign against the paper and its advertisers.

    Is that an excuse for avoiding tough stories? Of course not, but unless a paper establishes itself as a tough and unrelenting news outlet, they leave themselves open to attacks by special interest creeps. As everybody knows, the Enquirer has been on its knees since the Chiquita fiasco. Gannett doesn’t want a strong paper. They want a revenue source. That’s why Callinan is there. You’ve already shown how he suppresses news. Until Gannett decides to radically upgrade the paper’s profile - which means firing Callinan and hiring a strong editor - don’t expect any changes there.

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

    To hell with DaVinci we have a full fledged conspiracy right here in River City! KOWABUNGA!

  10. anon says:

    Blue Gill, you daft twat, there’s no conspiracy regarding the Bill Gothard-Phil Heimlich story. Most of it is now in plain sight thanks to Silja Talvi’s “Cult of Character” cover story as well as reporting by the Dean. As stated above, the key point that’s unreported is whether or not Heimlich was benefited financially from bringing in the “Character Cities” program. If so, Heimlich broke the law and even the Enquirer won’t be able to shield him.

    All anybody has to do is ask the IACC if they paid him and, if so, how much? The IACC admitted to the Arizona Capitol Times reporter who broke the David Petersen story that Petersen was paid $4,000. Why shouldn’t they tell you if Phil is also on the tit? Here’s the IACC’s number: (405)815-0001 Just pick up the phone and ask, you intrepid reporters out there. You might break a nice story.

    As for Blue Gill, you’re proof positive of one of the most frustrating facts of life: stupid people don’t realize that they’re stupid.

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