Gothard: How to Protect Your Sons and Daughters By Cleansing Your Home

Below are the links to a survey engineered by Gothard to let you know how good a job you and your teen are doing at staving off the forces of darkness.

I started filling in the answers but got bored after page 4. You all can take a crack at filling in the rest.

(page 1)(page 2)(page 3)(page 4)(page 5)(page 6)(page 7)(page 8)(page 9)(Back Cover)


many thanks to supernova8610 for doing the work of scanning these in.

120 thoughts on “Gothard: How to Protect Your Sons and Daughters By Cleansing Your Home”

  1. It’s sad that these points aren’t supported with Scripture . . . though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because some aren’t biblically defensible at all!

    And only 5 minutes of Bible reading is required each day? I would have thought they’d suggest a lot more! Most Fundy sermons I’ve heard suggest more like 1/2 hour as a good amount. I’m so thankful for the freedom to spend as little or as much time in the Word as I’d like without anyone dictating for me what amount makes me right with God or how much I have to read before I can put another mark on the checklist.

    1. come on, you know all the really “spiritual” people get up at 4:30 a.m. each morning and read for hours.

    2. The last three pages about sensual material, alcohol, and worldly music have Bible verses next to them, but they verses in many cases are being twisted to fit his position.

      I am particularly offended at the page on music. He inserts the words “worldly music” actually INTO the Scripture text. Wow. What arrogance. Frankly, if God wanted to say “music” He would have. It’s OK to apply these verses to music in your own life, but Gothard, by purposefully inserting “music” into the Bible passages, is twisting God’s Word to make it say what he wants it to say.

      Shame on him.

      1. Actually, I think that almost none of the scriptures have anything at all to do with the statements they are placed beside. You would think the Gothard people at least know how to proof-text, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

        1. That’s why you have to go to the seminar/watch the seminar videos. These clearly explain how seemingly unrelated verses really are talking about “worldly music” and “being under the umbrella of authority.”

        2. It’s all magic in the anthropological sense. Ritual and words to enact your will.

        3. I was in a Gothard pastors’ workshop when a pastor challenged him on his prooftexting. His reply: As long as BG’s interpretation fits in with “the spirit” of the Scriptures, it’s legitimate. And of course, to know whether is DOES fit, ya just have to ask Bill. 😡

  2. I couldn’t get past the euphamism in your first answer on pg 1. Unfortunately, this means your home is not cleansed.

        1. True story:
          Some hipsters in my old neighborhood opened a vintage-furniture-resale shop, which they humorously named, “House of Dang” (I don’t get it either). I always did a double take when I passed the sign, because a Vietnamese friend of mine has the family name Dang. I couldn’t help thinking, “No, I’ve been to the Dangs’ house, and this isn’t it.”

          The store has gone out of business now, but the
          Dangs were fine last time I talked to them.

      1. By the way, “Kenneth” literally means handsome, as you can see by my photo at left.

        1. You’ve got the sideways ‘g.’ (oh, was that the point?)

          So we can add “handsome” to “beloved” for Darrell?

  3. This is absolutely one of the more painful quizzes to read. Just open ended pointless questions meant to beat the few idiots that fall for it into submission. I barely made it through your answers, but your frustration shows as you go along, I think.

  4. I’m off to “visualize my altar” as page 3 (I think?) suggests.

    Love the parts on not dating until you have your father’s approval, and not marrying until you have both sets of parents’ full approval. This opens the door to so many bad scenarios. Ugh.

    1. That’s sort of the point. Gothard’s whole system basically sets the father up as a substitute for God, with the children’s obedience to the parents, and wife’s obedience to the husband being emphasized even above obedience to God.

      This is why they only recommend 5 minutes a day of Bible reading, but much more time spent on “character training” by reading Gothard’s materials and learning to live the lifestyle he advocates.

  5. “daily bathing was a good start”
    😀 😀 😀
    what a great way to start out the morning

  6. “Forgive me for taking up offenses for others.” Hmmm. This is different than “being offended by others.” It sounds like you are not to be offended on someone else’s behalf. I partly agree with this in that you’re not allowed to be hateful and spiteful toward people who have wronged someone you love, but I’m cautious about how this could be applied. I could see it being used against someone who speaks up in defense of another; the authority figure could tell the helpful one that it’s none of his business and that he/she is not to be offended on someone else’s behalf. The problem is that God’s Word tells us to defend the helpless and those who have no voice, so there will be times when we stand up for those who are being abused by others, not holding hatred in our heart toward those in the wrong, but definitely stepping up and speaking out and stopping the sin as much as we can.

    1. “Forgive me for taking up offenses for others.”
      “I could see it being used against someone who speaks up in defense of another; the authority figure could tell the helpful one that it’s none of his business and that he/she is not to be offended on someone else’s behalf.”

      This is exactly how it was used in the christian school I attended. A teacher had a habit of assaulting students. If a student reported the teacher for assaulting him, the teacher denied it. If student reported the teacher for assaulting another student, he was “taking up an offense”. This made the teacher bulletproof. He eventually became the principal.

  7. I cleansed my home yesterday. Used some laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, and a broom.

  8. “I purpose to . . . put myself to sleep each night by quoting this or other Scripture to the Lord.” My blood pressure’s starting to rise. This list of promises does nothing to free someone; it ties them in chains of obligation and guilt. Can you imagine the shame of a consciencious young person who realizes that they have failed to go to sleep EACH night by quoting Bible verses? EACH? Why say EACH unless to inflict guilt on someone? Maybe you could go to sleep reflecting on all the good gifts God gave you that day. This is legalism.

    1. I think I’ll try putting myself to sleep each night by quoting verses from the Song of Solomon.

    2. I thank God my family was never into Gothardism. With my OCD, I probably would have been checked into an institution by 14.

      1. LOL, I have OCD, too, so I can soooo relate. (Have you tried Luvox, by the way? Miracle med!!!)

        I wonder whether control-freak pastors take the same approach my control-freak boss does? She doesn’t target the slackers or the people who just (essentially) flip her off. She targets the conscientious people, the people who work their butts off (both because they are striving for their personal best and because they are eager to please). The more conscientious you are, the more vulnerable you are to her manipulation and bullying. It’s almost as if she senses this, as a shark senses chum, and so she zeroes in on YOU, the self-doubting conscientious victim, whom she can play and bully and manipulate.

        Do these bullying, controlling pastors do the same thing? Supposedly most control freaks do — they have a sixth sense WRT the people they can successfully intimidate, manipulate, and control. (Except that…conscientious people do rebel, because NO human being can stand this stuff indefinitely!!!)


    3. I memorized Romans 6 and Romans 8:1-15 at Gothard’s urging. It didn’t hurt me, but it didn’t appear to help me overcome temptation, either.

  9. “I do purpose to be properly accountable to Scriptural authority to carry out these decisions and to maintain daily victory.”

    To maintain daily victory? I long for continual victory over sin, but I often find myself sinning, even as Paul did. He said, “O wretched man that I am? Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” If even Paul realized that he did the things he didn’t want to and didn’t do the things he wanted to do, why should I assume that simply by staying under authority, I would maintain daily victory? I am victorious through Christ positionally certainly, but daily I struggle; this statement of Gothard’s sets up an unattainable expectation. Blech.

    1. It’s impossible for anyone to maintain complete daily victory over sin. . .at least until heaven.

    2. Incidentally, Paul never says anything about victory. He says he runs, he fights, and he struggles, but he never says he won. What a blessing that your friendly-neighborhood traveling evangelist figured out what even Paul didn’t.

  10. I noticed again the command to “avoid any appearance of evil”, that common misunderstanding of the Bible verse. This verse creates incredible pressure on a sensitive conscience and keeps many Christians from stepping outside their comfort zone to aid those in need: “I can’t stop at the side of the road and help this lady change her tire because we don’t have a chaperone and someone might think we were together. So I guess I’ll just ignore her.”

    1. Hey, Mark Minnick untied this Gordian knot. He says let the stranded woman take your car, that way you can simultaneously support the needy and “avoid the appearance of evil.” Glory!

      1. If you’re a woman, and you know which churches teach this philosophy, it would be a good way to steal cars. Just “get stranded” near those churches.

    2. I knew a church where the Pastor wouldnt even shake the hand of a woman visitor after the service unless her father or husband was with her LOL!

  11. On page 8, they include two of Alexander Pope’s couplets, but do not put them in quotations (plagiarism) or credit the author, change some words, leave out “her” in front of “face”, and for some insane reason, don’t set it on the page properly. The poem is run together like a normal quotation, instead of being divided line by line ending with the rhymes. Why do this? It didn’t save space. It would have only taken four lines to print it correctly too.

    1. Yepper, PW, Gothard positively makes me twitch. I have seen the train wrecks from following him instead of God’s word. I attended two Basic Youth Conflicts seminars, and felt so discouraged afterward.

    2. Artwork in Gothard publications is clearly…um…”inspired” by already published art. It’s amazing how Mary Magdalene looks exactly like Anne Bancroft and an apostle is a dead ringer for Anthony Quinn (both in “The Greatest Story Ever Told”).

  12. There’s a perfect recipe for an angst-ridden, guilt-ridden, fearful,isolated teenager–and it’s worse if you’re a girl. How could anyone live like this? What happens to the second generation, if the first is so totally submissive to the authority of parents, preachers, God and whoever else the fourth source might be? Where do they learn to think?

    Also–there’s scripture condemning television? Who knew?

      1. I know Ruth is in school(how she got out of her home life and into college amazes me) and busy, but her last post is more than a month old. I hope she’s OK.

        1. I’m a little concerned about Razing Ruth also. I check for a new update to her blog a couple of times a day. Does anyone here know her personally and could let us know that she is okay?

      2. I spent hours reading that blog today. I admire her courage. I too, hope she’s ok in spite of the old post! How do you email her?

        1. Darrell obviously didn’t get to page 8, which is definitely a problem since he didn’t “complete the work which God gave him to do” “with all of his heart.”

          Apparently Darrell is choosing not to live in victory today.

      1. I didn’t catch either of those references, but try to remain unfamiliar with both, so I feel like that actually paid off for me for a change.

    1. My friend’s little boy wraps a dish towel around his head and another around his waist, and twirls around like Maria in the first scene. I don’t think he would make the fundies happy. A little bit of trivia: the I have Confidence song was not in the stage play. Richard Rodgers wrote it for the movie version. I’m not sure fundies would approve. A true fundy cannot have confidence in himself except through Jesus.

        1. Give Alexis an award! Darrell, ya gotta come up with a prize for that kind of brilliance!

  13. My wife and I attended the Basic Seminar about 14 years ago and purchased some of the Building Character series. The use of scripture and the logic was just as bad as this. With in a year, we had thrown it all away. Our consciences would not let us donate it to the local thrift shops, we did not want others to use this crap.

    Why use this meatloaf when God gives us the steak of his word?

    Gothardism is a cheap substitude for a healthy relationship with family, friends and God. Gothard basicly is the high priest to those who follow his teachings.

  14. Shouldn’t #10 be #1, since none of it means anything unless that one is fulfilled?

    1. Good point. Not sure why that one isn’t in first place. Maybe because being morally upright is the focus not being right with God?

  15. WHOA! Page 8! Porn (at least I assume he means porn) does the following: Lays the foundation for insanity, and results in harsh discipline & child abuse. I would argue Gothard does the latter, not porn, and for all the problems with porn, I don’t think anyone can make a case that it “lays the foundation for insanity”. Is about as stupid as the guy running around claiming all porn is gay porn (as if somehow gay porn is worse than normal porn. What’s up w/ the obsession w/ finding every consequence you can think of for porn?

    1. Even better: Page 7, having a TV will “eventually make them (your kids?) enemies of God”. They weren’t born enemies, they are made that by the presense of a TV.

      1. I don’t have pornography or TV in my home because most porn is tacky and most TV programs are stupid. That’s reason enough for me. I see no reason to pretend that they will also cause insanity, murder, hangnails, or what-have-you.

        When it comes to that, most of the people I know do watch TV, and some of them read “Playboy” or “Cosmopolitan” or something along that line, and not many of them seem to be insane, and of the ones who are insane, I’m pretty certain TV didn’t cause it.

        1. What I hate are the fundies that preach against television and then in the next breath quote something they saw on TV or else say they only watch the news or History Channel or else have one in the home for their grandchildren to watch The Bible Network on. Can we say hypocrisy? Good. I knew you could.

    2. Oh, and in case anyone isn’t sure, yes I implied I think Gothard has a secret porn addiction he’s either suppressed or keeps hidden.

      1. I think his not being married also greatly impacts his opinions, like telling people their parents must be in full agreement and support before they marry and that they’re more effective for God being unmarried.

        1. Oh wow, I didn’t know (or more likely had repressed) that info. I’m only marginally aware of Gothard due to having known a few idiots who bought it hook line & sinker. What on earth gives him the opinion that he’s an expert? I just wish people would think for themselves.

        2. He hasn’t ruled out marriage.
          Bill Gothard’s official biography says, “At the age of 15, Bill dedicated his life to helping teenagers and their parents make wise decisions. In order to give his complete attention to this, he has postponed marriage.”
          This means he has postponed it for 61 years, so far (he’s 76 now), but it isn’t out of the question.

        3. Sounds like a typical teenager, if you ask me. At 15, they think they know it all.

          Unfortunately for those “teenagers and parents” he claims he wants to help, Gothard knows diddly-squat about marriage or parenting.

    3. The last fundy preacher I had gave a sermon on how porn destroys the marriage by “making you expect perfection”.

      Anyone have a comment for that? It still leaves me dumbfounded.

        1. I’m wearing a poncho and gloves when handling any Gothard material just in case.

      1. In Bill’s case, maybe he’s still trying to live down the name GotHard, if you know what I mean. 😉

  16. So…do we know how much Gothardism is practiced beyond the super-fundy groups? And has there been any speculation about why he isn’t married and how someone who doesn’t have children could be an expert in raising them?

    1. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine he was pretty abused as a child, and is acting out his desire to repeat by enabling as many victimizers as he can.

    2. “A Matter of Principle” by Midwest Christian Outreach is a well researched expose of the Gothard empire.

  17. I did it.

    I don’t know why I did it, but…

    My old church was having a special speaker last Mon/Tue. I thought I would go, having been out of it for a bit to see what it was like. Kind of out of the blue, not really related to the conference, I got blindsided with: “If you’re not winning souls, YOU ARE A FAILURE!” Repeated variations of this with raucous “AMENS!”. He then told a cute story about how his son was more important than a hockey player because his son had “won more souls”. (Funny, I thought the Holy Spirit regenerated man). Anyway, all of the guilt I had been dealing came flooding back – felt the lowest of the low. OK, so I’m a failure.

    Hello, everyone — meet a failure.

    1. You are not a failure. What that man said is not true. The Bible says that some plant, some water, some harvest, but GOD is the one giving the increase anyway. Those people sound like they’re giving themselves all the credit.

      We are not all the same in the body of Christ; God has given us different roles and different gifts.
      To expect us all to do the same thing, and to all meet with success, is unbiblical.

      1. Thanks, PW; it’s so sad that this task is considered by so many to be retail sales instead of farming.

        Plus, they may be under the curse of God for taking credit for a work that He does (saving the soul).

        Or (maybe worse?), they are just getting a person to pray a prayer and then “assuring” that one that he will go to heaven, “messing with someone’s forever”. Wow.

        With such thoughts I have been consoling myself.

        But thank you for your thoughts.

        It’s not like I don’t care at all — I give generously to missions, and always try to be kind and polite when dealing with waiters and such like – always leave a generous tip and tracts as well. But, I guess in their world, that counts for naught.

        1. GR: What PW said os correct, we all have differing gifts, your giving tracts after being kind to a harried waitress may very well go as far if not further to winning a soul than someone quickly confronting them at a time & place in which they feel cornered. You are so right that it is the Spirit of God who draws & woos. God Bless you.

        2. I appreciate the encouragement, folks.

          It was disheartening to be in a large group and have everyone (except me) agreeing with the preacher that one is a failure if he is not “winning souls”.

  18. This is more God’s-work-in-the-world-is-all-about-me foolishness. When will people realize that the Scriptures are not written from a Precious Moments’/daily journal framework?

  19. I doth purpose to use stilted English whenevereth the opportunity appearest (cus everyone knows god hearest better when you pray in quasi KJ English).

  20. For some reason (it’s early in the day? I don’t know). I read Darrell’s answers as the ones that Gothard had put in. I was muy surprised that Mr. G had a sense of humor…lol.

    Checklist spirituality: making Christianity a to-do list since a very long time ago.

  21. I think of television like an unblinking eye that constantly looks into our home. Yuck. We keep it covered with a tablecloth (It’s an older model that sits on the floor) until we watch one of our VHS tapes. We had to even stop going into the electronic sections of Sam’s Club because they were always showing movies on their televisions.
    Our pastor just preached a sermon on how the television, especially the introduction of the tv into the bedroom, has resulted in Christians having fewer children. I had no idea television would do that!
    It seems like this Mr. Gothard may be on to something!

    1. CampMeetingGirl, I am sorry to inform you that a television in the bedroom is not a reliable means of contraception. If it were, the American birthrate would be very, very low.

    2. This makes me think that single people should put a TV in every room in the house and surround themselves with a TV hedge of protection! Or is that the equivalent of buying condoms?

  22. I can’t help but wonder if things like this, though they may be well-intentioned may actually help to produce a Bill Zeller situation where a son or daughter actually comes to hate hsi parents & their faith. I am so very thankful for Jesus & His grace to me.

    1. It does, very often, especially for daughters. The whole ATI/Gothard culture creates a worldview where many children end up emotionally devastated, and often end up blaming god and/or their parents. I’m a member of a message board with many people who were raised under Gothard’s teachings, and so many of them have rejected God & Christianity altogether. It’s more destructive than most could ever imagine. 😥

  23. I had some good laughs at Darrell’s answers but as I went on the flashbacks got stronger . . . I may have filled this out or something similar at one time. Or maybe it’s just the whole “you will never measure up” tone of the whole thing. I mean really, what in the WORLD! No one can achieve all of these things in one day or one filled out survey . . . I’ve been sick so I think my defenses are down but this really bothered me . . . somewhere inside my pathetic teenaged self is huddled in a corner crying becasue despite my carefully filled out commitment survey, I’m still not happy and things are not going right (and frankly I came from a very safe and happy home) and God just doesn’t love me (this reaction being something that in the future will be greatly alleviated by SSRIs).

  24. Just noticed the ridiculousness (ridiculosity?) of proposing 17 separate commitments and calling them all “BASIC”. I can think of maybe 4 or 5 commitments that could be considered basic. How many more commitments are there in the “advanced” category?!? 😯

    1. Ahh yes. That’s why you have to go enrol your kids in his ATI program (with the commitment to attend the conference every year), his ALERT program and journey to the heart program (He has a program for every occasion).
      I’m constantly flabbergasted how some fundie organisations (vision Forum is another example of this) try to market themselves as neccesities when they know their target audience tends to be large, single breadwinner families who are scrapping by on the barest of minimums.

      1. I DID go enroll in ATI’s first/pilot year. My wife and I drove 19 hours each way, with 10- 12-hour days of meetings in between, including the “strongly urged” daily 6:00 a.m. fathers’ prayer meeting. I ended up hospitalized with meningitis two days after returning. Spent three weeks at home recovering.
        Oh, and the ATI homeschool materials were pedagogically absurd. Teaching Greek (incorrectly, by the way; I had studied Greek) to pre-schoolers! Lesson plans full of abstractions for concrete-reasoning young children. I could go on, but it’s upsetting me…. 😡

      1. I expect to be purging/selling my large library soon. The Gothard materials will go straight to the dumpster.

      2. Actually, there are 6,468 commandments in the Bible (KJV), by this count:
        Nothing in the Bible designates a special 10 or indicates that we should disregard the other 6,468. Moses didn’t get just 10 laws on Mount Sinai; he got hundreds of them.
        (I’m sure glad that, as a Christian, I’m not ‘under the law.’)
        Why Mr. Gothard thinks he can improve on them with his own 17 is an interesting problem in psychology, though.

  25. This is really sad. It is totally man-centered theology. How can you protect your son and daughter? Well, according to this document it is up to you to cleanse your home. Where is Christ in this and where is the tract pointing for a solution? Isn’t Christ our shadow of protection and since when did spiritual security come forth from mere man? This tract has it all backwards and instead of granting assurance and comfort in the cross, it actually robs one of assurance in Christ. 😥

  26. Ever notice Gothard’s materials look like they stepped out of a Stepford Wives Movie Set?

    I think he needs to repent for the automation and replacement of human beings.

  27. Ummm…

    actually, depressingly enough, this seems to be simply a review booklet of the 17 basic commitments. Top of first page: “….God’s work in our lives is directly related to..commitments..made to him…”:roll:

    Depressing in that this was just intro material. No actual teaching on cleansing the home here, but these Commitment Contracts were de rigueur to making any “Real Spiritual Progress” in life, and were an absolute requirement if you were taking up the invitation to volunteer in one of IBLP/ATIA’s compounds.

    I remember discussing several of the points w/my parents who were by far not sold on all the wackiness. Their reaction was ‘well, don’t go making any commitments just for the heck of it. Check off what you want, but don’t put down anything you’re not comfortable with.’ However, since I really wanted to volunteer with them,(ah,youthful naivete) I went through and checked off on all 17, filling in the answers as honestly as possible. (I understood my chances of going to Russia would be greatly reduced if I didn’t come across as ‘completely committed.’ That ended up meaning a lot of creatively re-defining things. ‘Well if by ‘godly music’ they mean…,’ etc. 😆

    If you actually get into IBLP, it’s pretty depressing overall, even more so in ATIA. At least it is, if you have any intention of being honest with/about yourself as a needy sinner saved by grace.

    The “17 basic commitments” are just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. The lists of “7 basic commitments to achieve ____” just go on and on and on.

    As far as Gothard actually outright claiming that what he teaches are direct commandments of God… It’d be much simpler if he did. Then we could just publicly label him a false teacher and be done with it. 🙄

  28. FWIW, if you go to, one of the ‘foundational revelations’ more favored in recent years is his teaching on the 49 Commands of Christ:

    “Discipleship is what the Christian life is all about. But how do we know when we are true disciples? After searching for many years, I finally discovered the answer.

    It is right in the Great Commission: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”(Matthew 28:20). So what were all the commands of Jesus? A survey of the Gospels will produce about 49 general commands that every believer should follow. This, then, is the curriculum for carrying out the Great Commission and being a disciple. The great importance of keeping all of Christ’s commands before our eyes is indicated by the marvelous rewards He promises to those who do it.”

    Yep, only 49 general, basic commands to keep.

    That is, in addition to the roughly 613 ‘life commitments’ which will ensure everything from financial freedom to the moral purity of your children (provided that they’re not adopted.) 😯

  29. I know I read this post before but I’d like to see the links again. Unfortunately George and 404 are in cahoots and the links are broken.

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