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Bill Gothard: The Biggest Conservative Fraud in Modern Times?

The following was a letter originally sent to our family and friends on January 12, 2015.


Dear Family and Friends,

I have not heard much from many of you about the events that have been exposed over the past year about Bill Gothard and his organization. It is time to break the silence and tell you what I know and where we as a family stand. If any of you, years ago, had seen some of the things that I am going to share with you, I wish you would have warned us about them. Silence allows sin and false teachings to continue and many to be defiled by them. It is important that sexual abuse, false teachings, and deceptions be exposed to the light so that others are not deceived and harmed. Jesus has warned us that in the end times: “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13) We thought it would not happen to us—to be deceived—but it did.

I am grieved that I was so easily deceived by a false teacher. I have had to repent and apologize to my family for leading them in the false teachings of Bill Gothard, the conservative homeschool model, and their courtship model.

We followed God’s direction in 2005 and left Bill Gothard’s ATI (Advanced Training Institute) homeschool program, but many of his false teachings still influenced our family. This past year we have worked intensely to purge our thinking and practices from all the false teachings that we imbibed from Bill Gothard, ATI, and conservative homeschool leaders. It has not been easy, but we have made significant progress in unlearning false teachings and in making Godly corrections to our thinking. A number of our children rededicated their lives to the Lord and we have seen a significant change in their attitudes and thought processes.

As a family, we are committed 100% to following Jesus Christ and His Word, and have no desire to follow any man, man-made doctrine or division of man (denomination).

In documents that were just released in December 2014, it was revealed that there were 14 senior and long term staff people who worked closely with Bill Gothard in the 1970’s and 1980’s who were involved in sexual immorality. This gross and perverse immorality had continued for at least seven years that Bill Gothard knew about it and perhaps as long as 14 years. Bill Gothard kept them on as staff because they were producing materials that brought in millions of dollars to the organization.

I had known that Gothard’s brother, Steve, had committed fornication with seven secretaries, but did not know the extent of the sexual perversion of those who wrote many of the IBLP books and publications. These 14 staff people were involved in writing the following publications while living in known sexual immorality:

The sexual immorality of these 14 staff persons and that of Bill Gothard has significantly influenced some of the teachings and publications of IBLP and ATI. Some of these influences have been pointed out by various people on the Recovering Grace website.

As serious as all of this is, the sexual immorality, sexual abuse and sexual harassment in Gothard’s organization is much more extensive than anyone imagined. There are many people that have come forward and exposed rampant sexual immorality and sexual abuse by Bill Gothard, Steve Gothard, staff at Headquarters, staff at training centers, and in ATI homeschool families.

A sheep with the wool pulled over its eyes

A Sheep With the Wool Pulled Over Its Eyes—God likens people to sheep. There are many similarities between people and sheep including this one of having “the wool pulled over one’s eyes”. When we were shearing sheep, one of the guys took a sheep that he had just finishing shearing. She was relaxed from the shearing process, and he gently laid her head down on the shearing board and covered her face with wool. She laid there, almost perfectly still with no one holding her for five to ten minutes while we went to get a camera and took pictures of her. It is not natural for a sheep to lie still in that position with no one holding them. The instant the wool was removed from her eyes; she jumped up and ran off. The same is true of us as people. When we have “the wool pulled over our eyes” we willingly submit to the teachings and bondage that others place us under. Others looking on wonder why such intelligent people would willingly believe that teaching, or allow someone to put them under unnecessary bondage and they not reject false teaching or the bondage. The people with the wool over their eyes have been rendered helpless and need to have someone help them by removing the wool from their eyes and showing them God’s truth. God says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6


As I found out the following things, the “wool” was removed from my eyes and I could see the error for what it really was. Yes, we all knew that Bill Gothard’s theology and Biblical application was inaccurate and stretched in places, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt because he appeared to be such a Godly man, like we have given the benefit of the doubt to many others who have differing interpretations or applications in some areas than what we do.


Bill Gothard is perhaps the biggest false teacher, sexual predator, hypocrite, and fraud in modern conservative circles. His “ministry” empire in recent years was worth somewhere around $80 million dollars.

Much of the following is condensed from testimonies and documents on and from comments by readers. Toward the end are some of my observations. This is a brief synopsis and is not intended to cover all the evidence and documentation.

Wisdom Booklets
Wisdom Booklets

We are living in the end times. We need to be sober and we need to be vigilant, because our adversary the Devil is going about seeking whom he may devour. God has warned us that Satan will try to deceive the elect if at all possible. It is time to stop giving false teachers the benefit of the doubt. If a teaching seems off, check it out. Check out the teachings that you have held for years to see if they are really true. If it is not what Scripture teaches, forsake the false teaching and make the appropriate changes. Many doctrines of man are based on Scripture and appear to be what Scripture teaches, but they have added the interpretations of man and are false teachings.

If you find out about false teachings that I have believed or that others are believing, please let us know. It is important that sexual abuse, false teachings, and deceptions be exposed to the light so that we and others are not deceived and harmed. The silence about sexual abuse and false teachings needs to end.

If you don’t believe or agree with some of what I have shared with you, please don’t spout off at me until you have investigated at least some of the evidence first. There is a lot of evidence out there. If it is not worth your time to investigate the matter, it is not really worth my time reading or listening to your uneducated opinion and responding to it. If, after you have looked at the evidence and still disagree, I would like to hear what you see. I want to know what is truth. God has not asked me to argue or to force you to change your mind.

I share this out of love for you, and I desire the best for you and your walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Myron Horst

PS. Please feel free to pass this on to others who you think should know about it.

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The Missing Key to Spiritual Maturity

In the fall of 2007, Willow Creek church released the results of their three million dollar research into the effectiveness of their church program and 30 other churches. They were shocked to find that they were not bringing people to spiritual maturity. What they thought would produce spiritual maturity was not. They believed that the more people participated in church programs the greater spiritual maturity it would produce. They found that the amount of involvement in church programs had no correlation with the depth of someone’s spiritual maturity. What makes this mistake so significant is that Willow Creek is a church that has 12,000 churches in their Willow Creek Association, and has taught thousands of pastors how to “do church” to produce church growth. To some degree, Willow Creek Church has influenced how most churches today “do church”. “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matthew 15:14)

What is the answer to helping people come to maturity in Christ? Take another look at the Great Commission. The answer is there. We have been focusing on the first part of the commission – evangelism – and have overlooked the second half thinking we know what it is saying. But look again at what Jesus says in giving us the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19) The missing key to spiritual maturity is teaching others Christ’s commands in the New Testament and teaching them to follow the commands. An excellent subject for Bible study is to take each of Christ’s commands and study them. There is a list of Christ’s commands on this website.

Discipleship, Spiritual Maturity, and Christ’s Commands

Jesus defines a disciple as one who follows His commands. A person who is spiritually mature is one who knows Christ’s teachings in the New Testament and who follows them with all his or her heart, soul, mind and strength. The following passages of Scripture over and over stress the importance of doing what Jesus says to do:


Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

2 Corinthians 2:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

Galatians 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion [cometh] not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

1 Timothy 6:14 That thou keep [this] commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny [him], being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

See Also

ATI: Designed Around a False Education "Principle"
The Advanced Training Institute (ATI) curriculum was promoted and sold to pastors and homeschool parents as the best homeschool curriculum in the world. Instead of being the best, it has failed horribly in many ways. The ATI curriculum was produced by Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles and was designed around a false education 'principle' that produces results that are opposite of what Bill Gothard stated that they would be.

Doug Phillips, Vision Forum and the Bigger Picture
Doug Phillips’ extra-marital affair is not an isolated incident of a conservative church leader being involved in sexual sins. There is a much bigger picture that we need to see.

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The Advanced Training Institute (ATI) curriculum was promoted and sold to pastors and homeschool parents as the best homeschool curriculum in the world. Instead of being the best, it has failed horribly in many ways. The ATI curriculum was produced by Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles and was designed around a false education 'principle' that produces results that are opposite of what Bill Gothard stated that they would be.

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