Ask the guy who grew up Gothard

As requested in this thread, I am starting this to answer any questions about my life as a kid as it relates to homeschooling, growing up on the far right and Gothard.

I went to a private christian school for K and 1st grade, then was homeschooled until graduation. For a number of those years, we used Bill Gothard’s program called ATIA (advanced training institute of America) which was in part modeled after his Basic Life Principles seminars.

The focus of ATIA study is in a series of ‘Wisdom Booklets’ which primarily uses the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) as it’s basis.

For some background;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gothard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_in_Basic_Life_Principles

I can give more info as requested or just answer questions.

I won’t be around much more tonight, just wanted to start this. We have a night of drinking to get to. :slight_smile: (you can see all the good Christian stuff I was taught didn’t stick.

During your upbringing, were you exposed at all to non-Gothard teachings? If so, what was your reaction to them?

At what point did you “leave” the teachings?

How much of the teachings do you still follow or believe in?

Did Gothard have any specific teachings on race, gays, or non-Christians?

Some general questions.

How did you compare to your contemporaries on standardized tests, like the SAT, etc?

What kind of colleges were you accepted in (if you applied), and did you think you were hindered by being home schooled or not?

How about public perception? Any negative feedback because of the home schooling?

And finally personal perception. If you went to college, did you find it a tough transition to do socially?

Thanks! I’m sure I’ll have more.

How badly did you want to have a Cabbage Patch Kids doll? (;))

Seriously though, how old were you when you first got the chance to hear popular music or rock-n-roll?

Non-Gothard, yes. Non-conservative, not so much. I’ll say I had a fairly sheltered upbringing, but not nearly as sheltered as a lot of people that were involved.

I don’t think I ever truly believed any of it to be honest. I did learn as much as I could, partially because it was information to read and I can’t resist reading and absorbing anything I can get my hands on. I left my parents church when I left home, went to a far more liberal church for a year or so after that but haven’t been involved in any sort of Christian community in almost 15 years.

Some of it sneaks up on me though. I can tell when I’m viewing something through the lens of my conservative upbringing.

Race, I don’t recall anything specific. Gays are bad. Non-Christians are bad. Fairly standard conservative christian stuff in those aspects.

I was sent to counseling for a few days at least partially over being gay.

Fairly high. You’re making me think way back here, but my IQ was measured at 148, I took the…Iowa Basic I think it was in 7th grade and scored mostly at high school and early college levels. I didn’t take an SAT, but for my GED I scored in the 99th percentile. Tests have always come easily for me. Being a bit of a perfectionist and being very hard on myself, I cried the first time I ever got a B.

I didn’t go to college. I wanted to leave home, couldn’t afford school and didn’t want debt. That was probably somewhat from the Gothard stuff, he’s very big on not having debt. I somewhat regret it now, although I do have a good career.

Not that I’ve experienced personally. Though I have seen a fair bit of anti-home schooling sentiment here on the Dope.

I didn’t go then, but I have done some community college work. The thing that struck me the most was how dumb most of the others were. I’ve never had social problems, we always had a circle of people to be with when I was a kid and I was pretty outgoing anyway. My younger siblings have both gone, one has a Masters and the younger is doing her graduate work now. They don’t seem to have had too many issues.

Heh. Not at all.

My home life was an interesting mix. My Mom would go through phases of being ultra conservative (no tv, no movies, no pop/rock music, etc). We didn’t listen to a lot of current music, but I know a ton of ‘oldies’.

Fascinating. What do you think led you to not believe in those teachings? Were you and your family involved in the sheltered community of fellow believers? How have your parents reacted to your leaving? Do you still have contacts with the people you grew up with? Can you talk more about how you “can tell when [you’re] viewing something through the lens of” your conservative upbringing?

Thanks for being willing to answer questions. I grew up in the Bible Belt, and have some experience with pretty hardcore evangelical families, but the Gothard/Quiverful stuff is foreign to me.

ETA: Also, were your parents involved in Quiverful, or just the Gothard stuff?

Oh wow, that’s so interesting.
Ok, did you have many siblings? Do the females have wavy hair? Did you know the Duggars? (had to ask that one) What are your thoughts on them? And I always laugh and pronounce it got hard. No offense meant, I have a dirty mind.
Do you think of it as a cult? Do you still consider yourself a gothard(ite)? I have so many questions!
Did your mom work outside of the home? Was your father considered the head of the household? Did you attend ati events? Thanks for answering!

Back in the morning, I’ll get to the rest then.

Thanks so much. Have fun :slight_smile:

How do you feel about Bill Gothard himself?

There are 4 of us.

My mom and sister always have had long hair. My sister does the wavy thing now but didn’t so much as a kid. For those reading along, there is a guideline for any girls working at a Gothard event and a standing ‘suggestion’ for all the time. Girls are supposed to have shoulder length hair with a soft curl.

No, I never met them.

I wouldn’t say a cult necessarily. I don’t remember any suggestion that you cut off contact with friends, or consider Bill to be the all knowing leader or any of the usual cult-like things. Mom didn’t work, but she wasn’t doing that before we started with ATIA. Yes, he was the head of the house. Yes, we went to the ATI events, mostly the big conference in Tennessee and I was part of the youth choir there. That was kind of amazing though, 5000+ kids and teens in a mass choir can be a powerful experience. I remember this one soprano that could hit amazingly beautiful high notes and when she belted one out you could hear her over everyone else.

As I’ve grown up, l have seen no evidence of a God and have become agnostic and functionally atheist.

I would say we were fairly sheltered, most of our friends were either from our church or other home schooling families.

My relationship with my family has been interesting to say the least. It’s evolved quite a bit over the years into something that I think works for all of us at this point. For a number of years, we barely talked and when we did my mom would manage to slip in that I was going to hell. Now we have a fairly functional relationship, my Bob Jones university trained, pastor brother and his wife have spent the last couple thanksgivings with us. :slight_smile:

An example of the conservative lens would be something like a woman’s role in a relationship. Sometimes my first instinct is ‘Of course she should have kids and stay home with them.’ Then my rational brain takes over. Or abortion issues. Intellectually I know that it is up to each woman to choose what is best for her, but I still get that pull telling me that it’s always wrong and is murder.

That is a great question. I am convinced that Bill truly believes everything he says. I also know that he follows his own teachings. The man gets up at something like 4am every day to study the Bible and has memorized massive amounts of it.

He has a heavy focus on the Old Testament and a very legalistic way of viewing things. He firmly believes in parental, especially paternal authority and most of the teachings flow from that. There is the concept of the ‘umbrella of authority’ and submission to your father or husband. http://billgothard.com/teaching/authority

I think a problem comes in, in that he seems to view himself as having that same authority over those in his ministry.

I also think he’s very wrong about a lot of things. For example, he takes the passage regarding the ‘sins of the father shall be visited upon his children unto the third and fourth generation’ way too literally. This leads him to discourage adoption because you don’t know what has been passed down from the biological parents.

Overall I would say he has a good heart and really wants to help people, but I think he’s gone about in ways that range from mildly wrong to outright dangerous.

Antinor01, if you don’t mind, I was also homeschooled (though not specifically Gothard) and can add a second point of view here.

I was homeschooled for K-12 with the exception of Kindergarten and fourth & fifth grades, which were spent at a private Christian school. (Not coincidentally, these were the years that my little brothers were 1-2 years old. Poor Mom could only do so much.) Like many of the other homeschoolers I knew, I took advantage of a program in my state called Running Start, in which juniors and seniors in High School can attend a local community college, the state pays for it, and it counts for both high school and college credit. I got an associate’s degree at the same time that most of my age group was getting a high school diploma, which made my lack of a formal high school diploma a non-issue.

I kicked some serious butt. So did most of the other homeschoolers I knew. My state required yearly standardized tests for homeschoolers, and I think the practice helped. The last time I heard numbers mentioned, homeschoolers averaged somewhere around the 70th percentile nationally, even including the higher proportion of special needs students that are homeschooled.

I was accepted everywhere I applied to, and was offered top scholarships at the two that I seriously pursued. In part this was because I had a ridiculously high SAT score, the other reason was that I had an AA as mentioned above.

Other than the general ‘hahaha homeschoolers, amiright?’ cultural reaction, I didn’t get much mockery to my face. The one group that did make fun of me for it was the girls in my church’s youth group. It was actually the adult leader of that group that perpetuated the worst of it. ("Nerds! All of them! Nerds! Oh, hahah, what about you, FlyBy?) Needless to say, I stopped attending after that. I have no trouble believing people’s descriptions of incredibly nasty behavior from people who call themselves Christians. (I later found a group at another church who were actually decent and kind human beings.)

The short version: I’m a member of a facebook group called “I was homeschooled, and I’ve got your social skills RIGHT HERE.”

The longer version: I went to a very homeschool friendly college, and going to community college took the worst edge off of my social non-conformance before then, so I was able to make the transition to the ‘normal world’ pretty smoothly. Most of the kids I knew went to community college or attended at least some high school, and had varying degrees of difficulty learning to blend in with their peers.

I had a normal sized circle of friends growing up, mostly other homeschoolers. We got along fine with each other, and I found out early that as a group we had no problem communicating and working with adults. It was only kids my age that I didn’t understand and was noticeably different from. I don’t think this was a bad thing. In our little world, the cool, admired kids were the ones who did stuff like build model rockets and raise goats for 4H. The social status games that went on in junior high and high school just weren’t present, and none of us felt bad about missing out on that. Maybe we were nerds, but we were having fun during our early teens.

Out of the fifty-odd kids I knew, we’ve all gone on to be productive members of society. There have been no unwanted pregnancies, no serious trouble with the law, no drug addictions (to the best of my knowlege), and the black sheep of the group is the guy who (gasp) dropped out of college. There’s been an average spread of mental illness. We’re pretty normal, successful adults on the whole.

Wow, Antinor, I had not realized that the flavor of conservative Christian you grew up with was Gothard/ATI! I only started learning about them when I started reading up on the Quiverfull movement about 18 months ago (I’ve been reading a lot on No Longer Quivering, among other things). That must have been something.

The impression I get is that Gothard is pretty extreme even by most conservative Christian standards, though it sounds like you had a slightly less rigid version in your home. Is that about right or am I not understanding things? I have a really hard time wrapping my head around a lot of it.

(This thread is more about growing up ATI than about homeschooling in general, right? Because I’m a homeschooler, but that’s kind of a different thing. I don’t want to come in here with my non-ATI life and move the focus, so I’m not planning on responding to homeschooling questions here.)