Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Taliban Dan's Teacher

Sarah Posner has written an interesting article about an evangelist called Bill Gothard. Remember this political ad about Daniel Webster?
In the ad, run last fall by congressional candidate Daniel Webster's Democratic opponent, the Florida Republican is shown speaking at an Advanced Training Institute conference, part of Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles, the $95 million nonprofit the evangelist founded in 1965 — and which today boasts it has educated millions, included public officials, around the world at its own conferences, in homeschool curricula, and in prisons. Webster is shown saying, “wives submit yourselves to your own husband” and “she should submit to me, that’s in the Bible.”
After the ad ran, Webster countered—and watchdogs and the media largely accepted—that Grayson had taken his words out of context and distorted their meaning. Still, though, Webster never denied that he believed wives should submit to the spiritual authority of their husbands. That there is a “chain of command” that families must obey has been at the core of Gothard’s teachings for decades.
It's not only Daniel Webster who lurves Bill Gothard:
Webster isn’t the only member of Congress with deep connections to Gothard. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), who just became chair of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, is the chair of the board of directors of the IBLP. Other politicians, like Texas Governor Rick Perry, have spoken at IBLP conferences, and Mike Huckabee is fan. And many others, such as Sarah Palin, as mayor of Wasilla, have attended his ostensibly secular—but not—International Association of Character Cities (IACC) conferences, based on his 49 character traits, and declared their municipalities “Cities of Character.” The supposedly secularized version of Gothard’s “character traits” have been taught in public schools.
So you should read what Posner has unearthed about Gothard. Her piece covers issues about the Duggars and stories from women who have "escaped" this particular religious world.

But I cannot help finishing with this:
Gothard insisted to me—in direct contradiction to materials on his own website—that he does not teach submission. When I asked Gothard whether he teaches that wives should submit to their husbands’ authority, he laughed, answering, “no, no,” adding, that Jesus taught “he who is the greatest among you be the servant of all. That makes the woman the greatest of all because she has served every single person in the world by being in her womb.”
Every single person in the world! And I thought it was just indigestion.