Mike Huckabee: Member of destructive Bill Gothard cult
The more that comes out about Mike Huckabee, the more I get scared.
So far, he's admitted he's part of the "Left Behind" fandom crowd, he's gotten endorsements and help from hate groups (like a pastor linked with "Watchmen On The Walls" who also wants to kick all non-dominionists out of the country), released rapist-killers from prison, wants to change the constitution to make the US a de jure theocracy, snd rather explicitly has invoked "God's Army" in his speeches.
As bad as that gets, though, it's worse than I feared. It seems that Mike Huckabee is not only a good friend of neopente cult leader and "Bible-based baby beating" and Joel's Army-with-guns advocate Bill Gothard...but he's also a member of his Bible-based cult.
And folks...that has some very scary implications in regards to that whole "Christian Nation" thing.
Huckabee: Joel's Army stalking horse?
The more I read about Mike Huckabee, the more that people find in digging up stuff, the more he opens his mouth...he sounds, more and more, like someone who would be the perfect "sergeant-at-arms" for the most extreme wing of the dominionist movement--the "Joel's Army"/"Joshua Generation" contingent of neopentecostal dominionists.
First it was the call for the US Constitution to be "changed" to be in accordance to "God's law"--and the US de jure converted to the Republic of Gilead, or (more properly, considering Huckabee's theology) a one-nation version of the "Tribulation Force" popularised in the Left Behind novels. (And he could do so; something like 34 states have made calls for a constitutional convention to attempt to pass a "Human Life Amendment" that would ban not only abortion but practically all forms of birth control. According to Article V of the US Constitution, only 27 states need call for this; it is still legally iffy whether a "ConCon" resolution can be revoked or whether it can be limited.)
Then it was finding that Mike Huckabee was explicitly getting not only endorsements but a lot of informal help from Joseph Fuiten--yes, that Fuiten, the same guy who called for mass denationalisation of non-dominionists.
Then it was finding he was a Christian Zionist, a premillenial dispensationalist, and released a rapist-killer from prison despite protests.
Then it was Huckabee literally invoking "God's Army" in a speech in New Hampshire, using words that would have more place in an Assemblies tent meeting.
One of the real puzzlers to me in all this is why he has supported stuff that...even for a dominionist, steeplejacked SBC...seem more distinctly neopente than SBC. Why is he getting so much support from neopentes (even more so than the SBC itself)?
As you will soon see below...some new discoveries have pretty much revealed why--and made it even more absolutely imperative that Mike Huckabee is not allowed near an office of trust in the US, much less the Presidency.
Mike Huckabee: So fond of Gothard, he became a member of his neopente cult
Huckabee has been throwing some major danger-signals for me for some time, even with him ostenably being a Southern Baptist preacher. For one, he's been supporting some things--and been getting a lot of endorsement from people--that tend far more towards the Assemblies of God end of things than SBC (things like endorsements from practically the entire Assemblies leadership of the Washington/Oregon/Idaho area, for starters, or endorsements by some of the SBC theological seminaries where Assemblies partnership is close but not others, or Tim LaHaye's explicit endorsement).
I had suspected it may be a sign that Arkansas may be having worse troubles than most with neopentes partnering with the SBC and possibly injecting some of their theology in--but then I saw this little article in Salon and things made frightening sense why Huckabee has gotten most of his support from neopentes:
As governor, he also promoted the faith-based programs of a reconstructionist minister named Bill Gothard -- and even boasted that he had gone through Gothard's "basic program" himself. More reputable evangelicals consider Gothard to be a cultish fringe character, but he has built an enormous empire, which depends on funding from local and state governments to bring his authoritarian version of the Gospel to prisoners, police officers and welfare recipients, among others. He experienced a moment of unwelcome notoriety recently, when the Denver Post revealed that Matthew Murray, the 24-year-old gunman who killed four people at two Christian centers in Colorado in December, had been subjected as a teenager to Gothard's superstrict "home-schooling" programs.
Huckabee's close connections with the likes of Grant and Gothard date back a decade or more -- and his rhetoric has surely changed, if not his views. He no longer denounces environmentalism, for example, at least not publicly. But he still maintains contact with reconstructionist leaders, some of whom are supporting his presidential candidacy. Just last month, Huckabee attended a campaign fundraiser at the Houston home of Dr. Steven Hotze, who became one of the nation's most notorious advocates of dominionist ideology when he led the religious right's takeover of the Texas Republican Party. Huck's old friend Gothard was also at Hotze's home, along with a bevy of extremists including Rick Scarborough, author of "Liberalism Kills Kids" and "Mixing Church and State."
Suffice it to say, I went "oh, hell"...and started looking for backup confirmation.
It did not take long to find. A longterm "Gothard-watcher" on Talk to Action has posted rather extensively on Huckabee's links to Gothard:
First came the Body Snatchers. Then the Night of the Living Dead. Now our nation must face what may the most cunning and relentless invaders ever. Yes, America, I’m talking about Gothardite Zombies for Huckabee!
As reported by The Cincinnati Beacon, it began in Arkansas. If only we’d heeded the warning signs in plain sight. If only someone had listened when Governor Mike himself admitted that he walked among them:
“As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people.”
Then, hiding behind an “aw shucks” grin and a Fender bass, he installed Gothard’s faith-based programs into Arkansas towns, prisons, and schools.
Another post by the same wonderfully irreverent Gothard-watcher also notes some interesting things:
But my letter today concerns matters far more serious than earthly possessions and multi-million dollar bank accounts. Today I’m asking you to save the eternal soul of the man you support to be the next President of the United States - Mike Huckabee. Thanks again to recent articles by The Dean, I learned that you and Governor Huckabee are longtime associates and that you were photographed together at a recent “Huckabee for President” campaign event at a Houston home.
Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has ties to a controversial Bible teacher known for authoritarian views that critics say border on spiritual abuse.
Most Americans never heard of Chicago-based teacher Bill Gothard until newspapers wrote about Colorado church shooter Matthew Murray's 2006 Internet rant about growing up under strict homeschool teaching developed as part of Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles.
That piqued attention to a photo of Huckabee and Gothard together at a Houston fund-raiser posted to a family blog of a Gothard disciple.
The Cincinnati Beacon described Huckabee as a "long-time admirer" of Gothard. The former Arkansas governor wrote a letter used by Gothard to promote a program aimed at infiltrating city governments with core principles of the ministry stripped of overt religious references.
"As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people," Huckabee wrote in a letter promoting Gothard's prison ministry. Arkansas prisons had been using Gothard seminars and materials since 1996.
Huckabee also endorsed Gothard's "Character Cities" program. Gothard described a meeting in Little Rock as laying groundwork for "the most exciting opportunity I can imagine" to merge his institute's teachings with government programs.
The actual Cincinnati-Beacon article is even more horrifying--apparently, Huckabee is not only swallowing the Flavor-Aid here, but was ready to turn practically the entire social infrastructure of the state of Arkansas to Gothard and his methods of doing things:
Just this year, Gothard’s advocacy for teaching public school children character qualities such as obedience, gratefulness and attentiveness brought him to a southern state capitol. But Little Rock, Ark., had already been established as friendly terrain for Gothard. Two of his long-time admirers—Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee and Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey, a Democrat—are loyal advocates of Gothard’s agenda and have encouraged him to expand juvenile rehabilitation programs there.
Gothard has described his meeting in Little Rock as the start of something big. He said it laid the groundwork for “the most exciting opportunity I can imagine” to merge the institute’s teachings with government programs. In a letter published on the institute’s Internet site, Gothard said his organization has been asked to “present a plan and contract to restructure ( Arkansas’ ) welfare program, their educational system and their juvenile justice methods.” He also claims that Gov. Huckabee’s aides “have already begun taking steps” to put the proposal into action.
To quote Ralphie in A Christmas Story: "Ohhhh...ffffffffuuuuuuuuddddgggge..."
Folks, it's official. Mike Huckabee is pretty much SBC in name only.
He is, quite officially, a member of quite possibly one of the most destructive and horrifying "Joel's Army"/"Joshua Generation" cults in America.
A cult that literally supports "God's Army with Guns".
A cult that makes Scientology look downright like a Prague spring in some aspects.
A cult that kills...both in body and in soul.
A little about Bill Gothard (as if I've not written enough about him)
It is almost impossible for me to overstate just how much of bad, bad news this is.
As I'm not going to repost every article in full I've done on Gothard, I'm going to concentrate on the links here--but the links in and of themselves are just a summary of what a Bad, Bad, Bad thing this is.
For those of you who are new readers to my columns here on DailyKos or NewsVine, I'll give you as close to a Cliff's Notes version as I can.
Firstly, I am not exaggerating when I refer to Bill Gothard's material as a bona fide Bible-based cult. Gothard's material more than meets the criteria for coercive religious groups; Rick Ross Institute considers it a group of grave concern, among others.
Gothard's teachings are almost assuredly responsible for the tragedy of Michael Murray's church shooting and death, up to and including what ended up being a terminal mental breakdown caused both by being raised in the abusive Gothardist system and his later involvement in Youth With A Mission.
Gothard also combines in his own way two of the most disastrous, mind-bending, damaging tactics ever used in coercive religious groups--the practice of "deliverance ministry" (which teaches that literally anything can be infested by demons, and is essentially a "Christianised" version of the same stuff Scientologists teach about "engrams", "body thetans", and "suppressive persons"; Gothard has specifically taught, among other things, that Cabbage Patch Kids are possessed by the devil and that adopted kids are damned to suffer due to "generational curses" inflicted on them by their natural parents) and an even more coercive (in comparison) version of abusive "cell churches" and discipling/shepherding movements (Gothard rather explicitly teaches that everyone must have a "covering"--a shepherd over them--and that this "shepherd" who has their "covering" can never be opposed or even questioned for any reason).
It is, again, not a case where I am exaggerating to state these are the two most harmful methods ever devised by coercive groups. "Deliverance ministry" enforces an almost complete isolation from the outside word and even essentially teaches that any doubts about the group are due to demonic oppression or possession; people are often subjected to violent, occasionally involuntary, "exorcisms" where mental breakdowns (some requiring inpatient treatment in psychiatric units) and suicide are not uncommon sequelae. (Matthew Murray himself was a known victim of this who eventually snapped and killed seven people including himself when he was unable to escape.) Gothard's program is known to be extremely isolating even in comparison to the general isolation of neopente dominionist groups in general; even Christian music with a "rock beat" is absolutely prohibited (and yes, people participating in his programs are required to sign contracts promising not to play music with a "rock beat"--rather ironic, seeing as Huckabee seems to regularly play bass guitar).
Cell churches of even a less extreme manner than those proposed by Gothard are known to cause both short- and long-term personality changes in people while actively involved in "discipling and shepherding" groups (and in many ways, Gothard's model is even more coercive than that used in Maranatha or the International Churches of Christ).
Hard info on stuff promoted in Gothard's seminars is largely available from walkaways; Gothard requires non-disclosure agreements to be signed by people who participate in his seminars, and his seminar material (including the "Basic Course" is not sold to people who do not attend his seminars.)
Gothard explicitly encourages people not to seek legitimate medical treatment; among other things, he's claimed schizophrenia is the result of being an "irresponsible person", runs an entire completely bogus "medical academy" (where, quite literally, the recommended cures for even serious illnesses are "annointing" people with Wesson oil and babbling in tongues over them in an Assemblies of God-style "exorcism"), and has even encouraged women to give birth at home without any sort of external assistance to allow kids to be born completely unregistered. (Yes, you read that right. He even discourages midwives for fear the kids will end up with birth certificates.)
The "unregistered birth" stuff becomes of particular importance when it is realised that Gothard is one of the more extreme, and one of the biggest-selling, promoters of religiously motivated child abuse in the United States (yes, the same sorts of child abuse that literally caused Matthew Murray to snap and suicide in a blaze of gunfire that also took six other lives). In fact, Gothard is among the earliest documented promoters of "Bible-based baby beating"; some sources note this may go back to the 1960s. More than one expert has noted the levels of coercion and recommended "discipline" practices in Gothard's courses are a veritable recipe for not only spousal and child abuse but make for a great way to hide evidence. (Rather disturbingly, there are indications that Huckabee may have explicitly used Gothard's advice on religiously motivated child abuse and his own children may have been victims.)
Gothard also has extensive, extensive links with other promoters of abuse in the neopentecostal dominionist community, in particular within the Assemblies; an incomplete list notes quite a number of these--among the most damning being his links to a number of "Joel's Army" groups and de facto Assemblies-front-company Hobby Lobby (itself a major corporate funder of neopente dominionism, and Assemblies front groups targeting youth in particular).
Abusiveness in Gothard's programs don't stop at home. Gothard runs a rather extensive front-group called the Character Training Institute (of which an extensive expose has been written called "Cult of Character"--disturbingly, Gothard has managed to get the program and an associated program called "Cities of Character" in public schools in many parts of the country. (Even Scientology hasn't had that level of success with its multitude of fronts.) One of the numerous front programs Gothard runs--a "Faith-based" reform school run in Indianapolis--was shut down by the state due to horrific reports of religiously motivated child abuse in the facility; even so, Gothard happens to still be a major player in the "Bible-based boot camp" industry.
Disturbingly, too, Gothard's various groups are increasingly a method of steeplejacking--of churches and denominations (Gothard's material is becoming increasingly popular in the SBC, which portends very badly for that denomination), of public schools, of legit homeschool associations.
Those "Basic Seminar" talks in and of themselves are worrying. Again, BDM discloses some of what little is known of the secretive content (which Gothard, not unlike the Scientologists, considers a trade secret)--it is far too extensive to quote here, but it is recommended as a useful expose. (One of the more distinctly bizarre bits promoted in their particular version of neopente "spiritual warfare" is the practice of "praying a hedge of thorns" around one's ex.)
One footnote gives some details:
Gothard advertises Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar ("The Basic Seminar" -- $75 for an individual; $125 for a married couple) topics as follows: "(1) How can I break habits which I know are wrong?; (2) What are the eight keys to true success and happiness?; (3) How can I resolve major conflicts with parents and others?; (4) How can I have a happy and successful marriage?; (5) What are the three root causes to which all major problems in life can be traced?; (6) How can I overcome guilt from past failures?; (7) How can I have freedom from financial pressures?; (8) How can I resolve anger and bitterness toward others?; (9) How can I conquer boredom and discover purpose in life?; (10) How can I conquer fear and overcome feeling inferior?; (11) How can I establish true friendships? ... PROVEN RESULTS" (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.) Notice the focus on self and what "I" can get out of this -- where's the focus on Christ and Him crucified?
Amplifying further, Gothard says, "The Basic Seminar addresses seven Biblical principles that apply to every person, regardless of culture, race, religion, age, education, or social status. A sampling of the topics include insights on how to break unhealthy habits; resolve anger, guilt, bitterness, and fear; and discover real purpose for life. ... Designed for alumni of the Basic Seminar, the Advanced Seminar discusses more specific application of how Biblical principles apply to marriage, family, education, financial responsibility, and additional topics. ... In the Financial Freedom Seminar, IBLP board member and real estate developer Jim Sammons shares Biblical perspectives related to debt, business relationships, and stewardship he learned after experiencing an overwhelming financial collapse. Mr. Sammons intersperses Biblical counsel with personal anecdotes and lessons drawn from his own financial woes and successes. ... Each Children's Institute is held in concurrence with a Basic Seminar and uses nature stories, object lessons, and a 'team' approach to encourage children aged 6-12 to understand the importance of Godly character. Its purposes is to turn the hearts of children toward their parents (see Malachi 4:6) and to assist parents in building strong families. [Held in concurrence with the Basic Seminar, it offers 21 hours of instruction and has taught 88,000 children since its inception in 1992.]" (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 10/00.)
(Nice bit of scripture-twisting for purposes of a threat: Mal. 4:6 quotes "And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse."--in other words, "you better respect your parents and follow the traditions of your forefathers or else". Full context is specifically in regards to a prophecy regarding the return of Elijah, meant to turn Israel back to the path of Judaism. Most of the entire book of Malachi in general is a massive condemnation of the nation of Judah (and also a rebuking of the nation of Israel for tolerance of foreign religions) and in fact is one of the most condemnatory books in the entire Biblical canon, and has been massively (mis)used in scripture-twisting of this sort.)
And at least one of Gothard's fronts crosses over into a highly troubling area, or at least it should be for any lover of democracy and freedom--namely, Gothard's schemes include the concept of the Paramilitary Joel's Army.
An increasingly worrying development in neopente dominionist communities has been embracement of a highly militarised version of neopente dominionist theology--descended in part from the "Manifest Sons of God" movement in the 1930s and 1940s (and occasionally classified as a revival of MSoG theology)--known alternately as "Joel's Army" or "Joshua Generation" theology; increasingly the concept of "spiritual warfare" is being seen as acceptable to train for physically. And, as it turns out, Gothard's ALERT Team is among the most explicitly militarised of "Joel's Army" groups of this sort--disturbingly, with apparently official support from US military leaders:
Gothard operates what appears to be a paramilitary-like training school for teenagers on a 2,200-acre former college campus in Big Sandy, Texas, as part of his ALERT program (Air Land Emergency Resource Team) -- purportedly for domestic missions work via the providing of disaster relief and humanitarian aid (see second paragraph of Endnote #9). Gothard states that "ALERT is an intensive program in which young men [male graduates of ATI] ages sixteen and older are trained in Biblical principles, Godly character, and practical skills. ALERT utilizes military disciplines to train young men to restore life, rather than take it, and to bring peace and encouragement to those in distress. The present program involves the following phases: (1) Discipline: in physical strength, endurance, and self-control; (2) Skills: in a wide range of vocational specialties; and (3) Emergency Services: in response to calls from cities, states, and nations." (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.) As of July, 2000, the program had 181 enrolled and 600 graduates.
Since the hyper-spiritual warfare motifs of the Latter Rain movement are beginning to take a sinister shift towards actual military, Gothard's involvement in paramilitary-like things causes us to wonder if there is a connection. Don't forget that Joel's Army has a "chosen seed" (the coming generation) to carry out its purpose on earth, which is dominion (both physical and spiritual). In this context, Christians should have some grave concerns about Gothard's activities.
(Originally from Biblical Discernment Ministries expose; BDM is a conservative Christian group highly critical of dominionism.)
Huckabee's support of a bona fide paramilitary training camp for "Joel's Army"
Knowing what all Bill Gothard supports is disturbing enough.
Knowing that Mike Huckabee is apparently a faithful Gothardite is even scarier.
Knowing that Huckabee explicitly used the public school system of the state of Arkansas to recruit for what amounted to a madrassa for the "Tribulation Force" is nothing short of terrifying:
The state of Arkansas is one of 14 states that have required character training in the schools. Moreover, Arkansas has mandated Gothard's CharacterFirst! character training program be used: "The plan calls for teaching character in all their public schools and, at the same time, enrolling thousands of outstanding high school boys in an 'Arkansas ALERT Program' (Air Land Emergency Resource Team). These young men would learn personal disciplines, character qualities, practical skills, and basic life principles. They would respond to needs throughout the state and enlist welfare recipients to work with them on special projects. A superintendent of a school district in Arkansas has offered his schools for a totally new approach to education. We would restructure his schools around age-integrated learning teams rather than the traditional age-segregated classes. The older student team leaders would be trained to be role models and to work with younger students on their teams. Teachers would be guides, academic consultants, and professional tutors working to serve the parents, who would accept primary responsibility for their children's education and facilitate further teaching in the home." (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.)
Of note, this is shortly after Huckabee took office as Governor in Arkansas--and yes, you are reading that right; pretty much all Arkansas public schools were explicitly required to promote Gothard's front-group, and all schools were officially required to recruit for Gothard's paramilitary trianing camp. (One school district was even pretty much shifting to de facto dominionist home education.)
All of a sudden, it makes sense why Huckabee seems like he's spouting the "Joel's Army" party line harder than I've seen most SBC preachers.
A snippet from a site highly critical of Gothard's abusive tactics summarises Gothard's teachings--and why a Huckabee presidency could well make Dubya's Reign of Misrule seem like the veritable Golden Ages--better than I could:
Gothard’s magic cure for all the problems that ailed the youth of the late ’60s and early ’70s could be summed up in one word: "Authority." Everything he taught flowed into or out of the central principle of submitting to authority.
Gothard made authority such a basic principle to all of life that even faith itself — considered by evangelical Christians to be the most basic life principle — was based on it. And Gothard wasn’t talking simply about submitting to God’s authority as the basis of faith. Rather, he was talking about submitting to human authority — i.e., "those in authority" that God has placed over us. Gothard told his audience that the secret for achieving "great faith," spiritual growth, protection from temptation and guidance in life, was complete, loyal submission to the following human authority figures: parents, government leaders, church leaders, and employers.
. . .
Gothard’s system is based on the assumption that human authority structures are a central moral and spiritual principle. His corrective measures for dealing with abusive authority is a system for "making a proper appeal" that discourages disobedience to corrupt authority with its complexity and burdensome introspective requirements.
Another critical page--an expose by a Florida newspaper of Gothard--also sums it up nicely:
Each new seminar attendee in Titusville had to pay $60 to enter Gothard's world. The seminars last 32 hours and are spread over six days. Afterward Gothard has plenty of books -- one of them called the Men's Manual, which he forbids women buying -- and tapes to sell. Gothard doesn't regularly attend his seminars and rarely updates the videotapes, so he doesn't grow old on the seminar circuit: His black hair shows no gray, his big squarish face remains unwrinkled. He looks a little like Casey Kasem but with a slight, rather Fargo-esque voice.
. . .
Gothard's seminar is focused on his seven principles: design, authority, responsibility, suffering, ownership, freedom, and success. Violating the rules will lead, he says, to a "life of continuous failure." But if the rules are followed, wealth will likely follow (he teaches "20 Aspects of Financial Freedom"), and bad habits will be broken.
Several times throughout the seminar he mentions "wrong clothes," and says that when a teenager is wearing them it means he or she has deep spiritual problems. Same with rock music. Teens are told not to date but instead to "court," a process by which "two fathers agree to work with a qualified young man to win the daughter for marriage."
Gothard teaches in his seminars that obedience brings godliness. Authority figures -- the father, the politician, the minister, and the boss -- are to be obeyed as if Christ were giving the orders. Gothard's ideas of family life are rigid, as wives are taught to be submissive and men are encouraged to be the absolute head of the household. Quotes from the Bible are used as backup to his assertions. The biblical justification for always being subservient to the boss comes from 1 Peter 2:18: "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear."
Authority figures, according to Gothard, are on a higher spiritual plain than ordinary folk, and obeying them will help one get closer to God. He tells his followers that they are to obey everything, except orders to do "evil." If your boss is dead wrong, Gothard says it's OK to make a "Godly appeal" to him, but if the appeal is refused, the worker must live with it.
"Suppose Jesus Christ Himself was the manager of that store," Gothard asks a teen in one of the stories he tells. "Would that make a difference in the quality of your work?"
"It sure would!" answers the teenager.
"Do you realize that God expects you to consider that you are actually working for Jesus Christ on your job?"
As far as "wrathful" parents, Gothard teaches that they serve to develop character in children: "God even works through the wrath of parents to reveal character deficiencies in the son or daughter to develop additional character strengths or to reflect healing."
(Emphasis, again, mine)
If you're scared to death right now, imagine how I feel. (I lived in a lesser version of that madness for 26 years--not even as isolated and coercive as Gothard's stuff.) And I imagine people who are survivors of Gothard's coercive tactics must be practically messing themselves in sheer terror right now, if not actively filing asylum papers.
If Huckabee gets in--and if he does get his dream of changing the Constitution to his whim...it's entirely possible that even Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale may seem a refreshing "Prague Spring" compared to the theocracy he has in mind.