Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Courtship Company

A reader sent me the link to this site: http://christiancourtship.us/enter.htm. She asked if I'd heard of people, I assume she meant in the ATI movement, paying a "dowry fee" to match their sons and daughters in courtship. I have, but I'd not heard of this particular ministry and I have some thoughts about it.

However, what caught my eye even more was this article within the site.
It states in part:
I wonder if you know about some of the tactics of Bill Gothard. I was helping a friend who was trying to get her daughter to come home. She was sent on one of the ATI youth centers and just as soon as she got there, her personality completely changed. She said she had read a book that said her family was dysfunctional,and so she would not return home. It is sad to see the anguish in this family. They trusted this ministry and now Bill has gone against them. He has told them that he cannot make her come home because he thinks the family is "abusive." I have written to Jennie about it and we are trying to think of anything we can to get this girl out of there, but Bill is working against us. On the web, there is an article called "Holy Kidnapping" written by a man whose daughter was sent to a ministry and ended up being free labor for the minister and his wife. He said there was a trend of getting these daughters to stay, and when the heat was too much, they would just shift them to another minister somewhere else. Since we have not heard from this daughter for awhile, we suspect she has been sent to another one of Gothard's centers. Do you know that he does things like this? He is also very evasive when the parents talk to him. He would not answer any questions. He claimed that the family didn't have anything going on at home for their daughter and it justified her being away in his center in NZ. We think it is all wierd. Stanley has emailed Bill but just gets evasive answers. I have emailed him and been told that since the parents are "abusive" they won't send the girl home.Lydia

Not knowing how old this 'daughter' (the 'kidnapped') is, I can't say if Bill Gothard is doing anything illegal, but this isn't the first case like this that I know of within his past.

Girls in this movement are taught that men are the ultimate authority on earth. They're taught that obedience is the key to a pleasing countenance. What parents may not realize is that they're setting their daughters up for tragedy! If you tell girls that godly men will take control of a situation and "lovingly" influence them into submission, then you can't be shocked when some men use that control in damaging ways. Parents, you trick yourselves into believing that "the wolves" are "out there" and not in your circle - this is foolish! The worst "wolves" I've experienced were in my own home and our home church. You let the wolves in and trust them completely with your flesh-and-blood. Shame on you! If you want to protect your children - start by loving them! Love them enough to objectively weigh the merits and short-comings of every person in their lives. If your daughter has "spiritual shortcomings" that need addressing, then address them as a family and love her through them. Don't send her off to an abusive charlatan to "fix". Maybe she doesn't need fixing?

Now to address the purpose of the linked site's ministry. They define "the problem" as:
The Problem
As we have attended good churches, home education conferences, and met good Christian families, we have noted a serious problem — that is, many young people are prepared for marriage, but have no contacts for good prospects who are equally equipped..

Please excuse my sarcasm = DUH! If you isolate your children from the world and proclaim the keys to the kingdom through your own, home church, then how do you expect the children to meet other people? Look at the Duggars and Bates! Two very well known families with, what some consider, "too much worldly exposure" and yet the choices for "mates" (I hate that word) are skim. They associate with few people in the first place. Take out the people who mommy and daddy would never allow to court their children and you end up with a small pool of possible applicants. Josh and Anna are a great example of how strange the priorities are. They saw each other across a crowded room and both decided to pray about the other. Josh finally decides that Anna is the one God has for him and asks his father to contact her father. Anna, probably figuring that no one else was coming for her, because she can't ask for anyone, says yes to a courtship that isn't really a courtship so much as a pre-marital placement. That's not options!


  1. Josh and Anna's courtship always confused me a tad. I know they met at an ATI conference, but did they ever have a CONVERSATION before Josh asked to court her? I mean was it a look across the room and they knew they had found "the one"? I'm not trying to be snarky I just don't understand under what criteria Josh used to determine if Anna was a candidate for courtship besides observing her from a distance and the conference and during family visits.

  2. I noticed that you touched on the worldliness of the Bates and Duggars. Could their exposure to the "world" via TV have an impact on their courtship prospects as far as ATI/gothard movement is concerned? Many people on other blogs like to point to the feasibility of a Duggar-Maxwell or Duggar-Staddon match up. Reading the the blogs of both families I wonder how acceptable they would be of Dugger/Bates daughters. The Maxwells did however hang with the Duggars this summer, and the Staddons actually built much of the Bateses' home, and both families posted pictures of their interactions with Duggars and Bates on their family blog so then again...who knows. Curiously, despite sharing "fellowship" and posting the pix on their blogs, both families were dead silent when Kelly nearly lost her life after delivery, and Michelle delivered prematurely. The only prayer request from the Maxwells of late is for their bus. Apparently Satan is attacking the axel.

  3. "Apparently Satan is attacking the axel."


    I must say, I am dismayed to hear Gothard's got a center in New Zealand--my husband and I are going there in hopes of it being a suitable place to start a family. Though to NZ's credit, they've got pretty strict standards as to who they let stay, as evinced by the following article on the IBLP director getting turned down by immigration:


  4. Great post. Of course, I doubt Jim-Bob and Michelle WANT the 4 older girls getting married at all--they run everything, raise the kids, etc. I believe Josh and Anna were allowed to talk on the phone or email, but with another person present at both ends.

    I met an ATI Mom who finally admitted being in the group [it was dead obvious] She said her daughter had been away and I rudely enquired if it was the Indianapolis Center. She first said yes, then when I tried to steer it back to the Indy center admitting I'd lived in Indy 20+ years she said "Did I say Indianapolis--I meant Grand Rapids..." ok!

    Just curious--is there a lot of overlap between ATI and Amway/Quixtar??

  5. Was the girl who Gothard kidnapped of age? If she was underage then you can say she was kidnapped legally but if she was over 18 I guess she was pretty much trafficked. That is an awful story.

    I am kind of surprised that TLC isn't pushing for more duggar weddings given the mileage they got out of Josh and Anna getting married and having a child. I suspect they want to keep Jana at home since they need all the available "buddies" they can get.

  6. The first part about what you wrote, about the "kidnapping" made me think about the Elizabeth Smart case. Now obviously most Mormons are nowhere near as extreme, but they are taught not to question, and that certain men have ultimately authority and can speak for G-d. I always wondered if that made her more vulnerable to this man who came along and claimed G-d was telling him what to do. Who knows...interesting post!

  7. There is not a lot of overlap between ATI and Amway. The main thing they have in common is their cultish environment, and that to be accepted in either one you had better have a nice wardrobe and a big travel budget.

  8. Becca, I thought so too before Elizabeth Smart was rescued/gave public statements, but her kidnapper used overwhelming force and she seems to have spent most of her time figuring out how to get away - she maneuvered him with religious language (or, hell, who knows, maybe God really did give her a strong feeling she needed to be in Salt Lake and visible to the public) to get into a position to be rescued, and cooperated very willingly with her rescuers.

    I think the prevalence of very young polygamous wives among splinter Mormon groups made it easier for her kidnapper to hide her in SLC, but he doesn't seem to have tried to convince her away at all - he just grabbed her by force.


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