Mike Huckabee with Bill Gothard Last Week in Houston
deanofcincinnati printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 10:45:20 AM EST
Guest front pager DeanofCincinnati writes for the The Cincinnati Beacon, from which this piece is crossposted. -- FC

Original photo here; hosted photo here.Huckabee and Gothard

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.

I haven't the foggiest notion, but it looks to me like Giuliani isn't the only one with an 'associates' problem. Perhaps Hucklebee hound feels his bona fides could use a little bit of nutjob friends to round out his portfolio?

by trog69 on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 02:56:59 PM EST

to have been in Gothards seminar before he had wirtten materials, as he taught a small group of us around a blackboard the materials which became basic Youth Conflicts Institute. Starting with some keen insight, and sound principles, this developed quickly into highly controled brain washing sessions which so heavily overloaded the participants that in their state of fatigue,they could only accept uncritically whatever was taught. Guilt producing and control oriented, I however, still use some of his effective illustrations.

by chaplain on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 12:39:40 AM EST

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