Thursday, March 11, 2010


Recently there have been many questions about my father. Since he doesn't seem shy about posting here when it suits him, I'll answer those questions (with the standard disclaimer that names have been changed and certain details won't be discussed to keep his identity private).

Was your dad involved in drugs or alcohol?
I don't believe he has even drank or done drugs. I've never seen him touch alcohol or anything stronger than Tylenol. That doesn't mean that he didn't have addiction issues. In speeches and talks he has given in the past, he has admitted to being addicted to pornography. This may or may not have been a ploy. In my opinion, somoe fundamentalists or evangelicals will claim they have a "porn addiction" when they're only human. Humans enjoy looking at the opposite sex. My understanding is that this is a biological imparitive to keep the species going. Evangelical Christians with the desire to self-punish will feel guilty because they see it as an uncontrollable vice. (I'm sharing this because my dad doesn't feel it's private enough to keep secret.) When my dad was a teen and young adult, he had a collection of pornographic videos and magazines that he used for self-pleasure. When he became involved with BYC, he had to renounce that usage and publicly admit his short comings. Ever since that day, he's claimed an addiction. In addition to that, my dad has obsessive compulsive tendencies. He's an absolute perfectionist. He's "addicted" to hs his image and keeping his space in perfect order. I think that's one reason he gets so flustered by this blog - he isn't in control of it. He demands this perfection from those around him.

Why does he treat your brother - the boys who left ATI- differently?
Your guess is as good as mine. My guess is that it's because men are just viewed differently in the ATI worldview. It's not desired but it's accepted when young men take their families in a different direction, so long as they stay evangelical, conservative Christian. Even so, all is not rosy between one brother and my father. My father still blames one brother for supporting my exit. He only keeps up a relationship with him, by my math, because my brother helps my dad in business and they have to associate for financial purposes.

How did he get involved in ATI?
My father met Bill Gothard during the BYC days. Gothard hired my dad and invited him to be part of "something big". Dad experienced a great deal of loss in his own life and I think Gothard knew that my father needed a "father figure" or someone who just cared about what he did. One thing Gothard is great at is telling people what they want to hear about themselves and building them up.

Did I miss a question?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Interesting. I did not know one of your sisters was engaged Ruth. While on the TwoP boards many see marriage as "way out" for the women of ATI, if the marriage goes badly it can be more stifling- especially if there are children involved. Getting out of a marriage is both legally and practically a lot more difficult that getting away from your parents if you are past the age of majority. Keep writing Ruth!

    edited because I know the difference between "there" and "their"

  3. What is BYC? I googled it and most of the first pages were for yacht clubs.

  4. From what you've said, the attraction to Gothard makes sense. It's so difficult to go against someone you need.

    Thanks for talking about ATI and men. I'd guess that this different view has something to do with the principle that men, when they leave home, are allowed to lead their own families, whereas women always have to be under someone's umbrella.

    Finally, I really admire the way you've talked about pornography and addiction. Whether or not your father was addicted himself, the distinction between use and addiction is such an important one. It allows us to identify real harm, and stops us removing enjoyable things entirely for fear that they might possibly be abused.

  5. Basic Youth Conflict- the original name of Bill Gothard's seminars back in the '70s.

  6. Thank you, Ruth, for letting us know a little about your father. Ruth's father, if you're reading this, Ruth has said nothing that is derogatory about you. None of us are perfect including you. She makes you sound more human; that's a good thing.

    It doesn't really sound like he was a horrible man, sounds like a man that was searching for answers and Bill Gothard came along to fill that void. Too bad that Bill Gothard is a wolf in sheep clothing (my opinion). As far as his obsessive/compulsive tendencies (which many people have), I can imagine that the strict, legalism/fundamentalism didn't help those tendencies. I can imagine that that whole combination made your family's life pretty difficult.

    P.S. - I do believe that different rules apply to women vs. men in the whole ATI scheme of things - with focus on the word, "scheme."

    Thank you for your post. Take care. :)



  7. How are you doing inside, Ruth? I can imagine that this rejection rips your soul apart. {{hugs}}

  8. ***Hugs***

    You give me courage Ruth! I'm trying to make some really big decisions about my future and when that little voice inside of me starts listing all the "why nots" and fears, I think of you striking out on your own, and I remember that I'm a fierce woman.

    Thanks for reminding me of that.

    BTW, most societies view pornography as natural. The US is incredibly Puritanical in that regard. It's a shame that people take sex and turn it into a sin.

  9. Hi Ruth. I've been following your blog for a while now and I just want to say your story is so fascinating to me. You truly are inspirational for overcoming and rising above. I wish you all the best of luck in finding yourself.

    <3 Hugs


  10. Ruth...quick question....

    I have heard that one of the aspects of the Gothard financial program is that a person is not supposed to enter into business partnerships. Do I have that wrong? If not, I wonder why your dad is a partner with your brother in a business partnership...???

  11. Sj3339sta - It's treated differently if it's family. If a son inherits a business from his father and they use it to better the family situation, then it's permissible. The contigency about business partners involves working for someone who wouldn't share your spiritual values or who wouldn't share your convictions about family. You're also discouraged from having business partnerships outside of the ATI circle because that's less money going back into the organization.

  12. Ruth - I've been following your blog for awhile and I am rooting for you. I've never felt the need to comment before because so many other's have done it so eloquently. But I do want to say a couple of things...

    First... please know that while you are opening your private life up to a bunch of strangers, there is nothing wrong with that. We are rooting for you. We want to see you happy. It is a bit voyeuristic on our part but at the same time, we know your story and we have grown to care about you. While those in your family circle might know who you are, we don't. And we don't care. We simply wish you well. We know you as Ruth. We are content with that. So don't let them tell you that they are worried about you because of the people on the internet.

    Don't let them tell you that you are turning people away from God. You are not. In fact, it is quite the opposite. You are bringing God into our lives. Your story, without a doubt, gives us a reason to question organized religion. But at the same time, it makes us think about our personal relationship's with God. At least it did for me.

    Lastly, Daddy Darth is set in his ways. It doesn't matter how we react to him. He will never listen. In his mind, we are all wrong and he is right. So I beg all of you... just stop reacting. Stop trying to reason with him. Stop quoting scriptures that contradict his beliefs. It will never work.

    Instead, kill him with kindness. He isn't worth the argument. At the same time, profess your love for God. Whatever God that may be. Profess your encouragement and support for Ruth. Because, if I am not mistaken, that is why we are all here.

  13. I've been reading your posts for a while now, and I think you are truly amazing. You have a grace and strength that I admire. One question, what kind of upbringing did your father have? It would be great to have more insight into why the tyrannical need for control comes from. Don't let him get to you too much. You're a million times better than he could ever be.


  14. Without giving away too much (because dad speaks of his childhood in lectures), my dad had a normal, post-WWII childhood. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but my dad is quite a bit older than my mother. Dad's parents were hit by the depression very hard, but rebounded in war time and were able to provide my dad with a solid education and a home without many needs. The only negative thing I do know is that dad's parents were very strict and methodical. It was their faith and their culture. My grandfather was in the military and raised his family as a small unit. I've heard that my grandmother was a lovely woman who gave my dad a warm place to fall during his early childhood. She died when my dad was six. My grandfather remarried to a nice lady who kept her memory alive and never said an unkind word about dad's mom.

    I know people want to believe that my dad had some horrible childhood that caused him to fall into Gothardism and fundamentalism, but it's just not there. Dad's upbrining was boringly normal. If anything did happen - we kids would've been the last to know.

  15. Hi Ruth,
    I've commented on your last post, can you check it's OK and remove it if you don't like it?

  16. "So I beg all of you... just stop reacting. Stop trying to reason with him. Stop quoting scriptures that contradict his beliefs. It will never work.

    Instead, kill him with kindness. He isn't worth the argument."

    I agree with you that it will never work, nothing will change his mind. I disagree with you that it isn't worth the argument though. The argument needs to be had, Ruth deserves to see people's honest reactions to her father's crazy. She deserves to see that there are people on her side, even after Darthy Baby "speaks" his mind. If she doesn't want to see it, then I'm sure she'll ask people to stop.

    I also disagree that we should kill him with kindness. I much prefer honesty and reality.


  17. Ruth: I've read so many NLQ accounts about intelligent, normal people who were sucked into Gothardism, that I have no need to think your dad had a particularly bad childhood. The scary thing is that it could have happened to any of us if we were in the right place.

    Christina: I see your point about self-righteousness being impenetrable, but it is possible to argue with kindness and still keep the focus on our support for Ruth. Good arguments can help to put his posts into perspective, even if they don't convince him himself. I've seen a lot of people here who are kind and, at the same time, won't allow sanctimonious ranting to be the only visible argument.

    Ruth, if there's anything you'd like us to refrain from, please say so.

  18. Christina,

    Some of us arent typing for Darth Daddys benefit. We we type for those still in the cult who are absorbing what is said here.

    This is reality.
    The comments here are the reality about how the world views parents who abuse their children. Men who shackle their wives to the house. So on and so forth.

    If Darth Daddy said in person to us what he spouts off on the blog, he would have his ass handed to him.

    Frankly, Im thrilled when he shows up and has to deal with Ruths 'fans.'
    Every time he shows his ass, he re-enforces Ruths assertions of abuse, of control, of sheer fundie crazy.

    If he can dish it, he can sure as hell take it.


  19. Ruth,

    I'm not shocked that your father claims to have had a porn addiction. So often porn is not so much about sex as it is about controlling others and viewing people of what ever sex you're interested as objects. Sounds very much like how your father sees your mother as different than himself (and no I don't mean "more special" in spite of what he may spout off).

    Actually, of those who are sexual predators and sexually abuse there is a much higher percentage of strongly religious people than are represented in the general population. (Yes, I've studied this.) There are many theories out there as to why religous (ie. deeply dedicated to their god or religion, which ironically bans such perversion) commit these acts. Often, because of their own issues, they end up being the most strict in their behaviors and insisting on modesty, though true modesty is not so much about what you wear. (But men or women who may be dogged with deeply disturbing sexual issues miss this point.) In other words, imo, the more controlling, the more insistent on modesty, if you dig deep enough, the more the person is obsessed with sex.

    Now this part is purely my opinion and about to offend many, but maybe some will try it on for size and consider it. Remember just my stupid opinion (as if being stupid ever stopped me from spouting off before), but I do believe that in many, many cases (NOT ALL, PLEASE BE CAREFUL TO BE AWARE THAT I AM NOT SAYING ALL) where a man is significantly older than a woman and they are together romantically, I can't help but believe that in many of those cases, it is often a man who is looking to control, who feels helpless in life and is looking for someone he can control*. Now I know this is NOT all cases by a long shot. And I know you can be controlled by someone your own age or younger than you. But when you said that your dad was quite a bit older than your mom I thought, "That fits."

    (*Please keep in mind that I am probably being a complete hypocrite because I am far much more attracted to younger men than I am men my own age. Though I've questioned myself a hundred times about it and asked friends, and I still don't think it has anything to do with control. Maybe it's a different reason for men than women?)

  20. I think it's fear, folks.

    Cults can pull in anyone--smart, stupid, normal, weird--if they can offer the right deal at the right moment, which is almost certainly when someone is feeling scared, weak, alone.

    No matter how smart or well-brought-up, we all feel fear and lack of control sometimes, and that is what cults and manipulative persons rely on.

  21. This post makes me so happy for you (in spite of the pain) I can't even fully explain it. So many abuse victims just fall into cycles of abuse, and to have found your voice and be willing to take on your abuser like this is spectacular strength & courage. I'd seen it in a previous post or 2 and some of the interaction you'd written previous to this post, but this is just so incredibly healthy & strong to just flat out challenge him and naming him as the problem is just beautiful.

    Hall of fame post.


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