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The Shocking History of IBLP: Inside the Racist, Sexist, and Abusive Teachings of Bill Gothard
Updated: Feb 3
Bill Gothard was born in 1934 in Peoria, Illinois. He grew up in a Christian family and was heavily influenced by his parents' strong faith. He attended Wheaton College in Illinois, where he studied theology and philosophy. After graduation, he worked as a youth pastor and Bible teacher in Illinois and Wisconsin.
In the early 1960s, Gothard began to develop his own unique approach to Christianity, which he called "Basic Youth Conflicts." He believed that all problems in life, both for individuals and for society as a whole, could be traced back to 33 "basic youth conflicts" that he identified in the Bible. He began to give seminars on these conflicts, which he called "Basic Seminar," and they quickly gained popularity among Christian youth groups and churches.
In 1961, Gothard founded the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, later renamed the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), to promote his teachings. He believed that by understanding and applying the principles he taught, individuals and families could overcome their problems and find success in all areas of life. He also believed that by applying these principles, society could be transformed and the world would be a better place.
Gothard's teachings became popular among conservative Christian communities and he began to give seminars across the country. He also established training centers, where people could come for extended periods of time to learn more about his principles and how to apply them in their lives.
In 2014, a group of former IBLP employees and participants sent a letter to the organization's board of directors, detailing their experiences of sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of Gothard, the founder of IBLP. The letter stated, "We have been emotionally, spiritually and physically abused by Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles." These allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, which have been made by multiple women, paint a disturbing picture of the organization and its leader. Many have criticized IBLP for covering up these allegations and not taking them seriously.
In addition to the abuse allegations, Gothard and IBLP have been criticized for promoting racist beliefs. Gothard's teachings include that interracial marriage is a sin and that people of different races should not mix. In a blog post on the IBLP website, Gothard wrote, "God has placed within each race certain distinctive characteristics and abilities. He intends for each race to remain distinct, as He works out His overall plan." These racist beliefs, which are not supported by evidence or mainstream Christian theology, have been widely condemned by many in the Christian community. They are seen as promoting division and discrimination and are not in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ who calls for love and acceptance of all.
Another problem with Gothard's teachings is his promotion of strict gender roles, which have been criticized for being harmful and oppressive to women. Gothard taught that women should be submissive to men and that they should not pursue careers or education. He also taught that women were responsible for men's lustful thoughts and that they should dress and behave modestly to avoid tempting men. This type of teaching has been widely criticized for placing the blame on women for men's behavior and for promoting patriarchal values that limit women's autonomy and opportunities.
In light of these allegations and criticisms, IBLP announced in 2014 that the organization would be undergoing a "complete restructuring." However, many have questioned the effectiveness of these changes, and concerns about the organization's practices and beliefs continue to be raised. The organization has also been criticized for not taking full responsibility for the harm caused by its teachings and for not providing adequate support for survivors of abuse.
Bill Gothard resigned from his position as president of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) in 2014, following allegations of sexual misconduct made by several women. He issued an apology for "any ways that I have injured or offended anyone" but did not admit to any specific wrongdoing.
IBLP has a close relationship with the IFB movement. The IFB movement is also associated with allegations of sexual abuse and harassment. The IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist) movement, which is a conservative Christian movement, has also been criticized for promoting similar racist and discriminatory beliefs. The IFB has a history of promoting strict gender roles, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and anti-homosexuality. These teachings are also seen as promoting division and discrimination and are not in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It is unclear what Bill Gothard is doing currently, as there is no recent information available on his activities or whereabouts. Some reports indicate that he may have retired or is living a private life.