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Cultish Christian Leader Teaches Women Should Submit to Husbands -- Victims of His "Submission Theology" Speak Out

The cultish Evangelical leader Bill Gothard espouses a theology that tells men to rule over their families, and for wives and kids to submit entirely, no matter the circumstances.

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That “that hedge of thorns has protected me all these years,” Webster continued, even when his political opponents referred to him and allies as “conservative, gun-toting Bible thumpers.” He claims that “pride is so destructive,” yet seems quite proud that his “hedge of thorns” has made his political career a success.

Razing Ruth, another anti-biblical patriarchy blog, describes Gothard’s teaching on the “hedge of thorns”:

Bill Gothard teaches that Satan can gain “jurisdictional authority” over a person’s soul. When a father or husband, as the authority and spiritual protector of the family, fears that this (Satan attempting to get ja) has happened or may happen, the man is instructed to “pray a hedge of thorns” around his wife/family/son/daughter. In doing so, Gothard teaches that the man will have created a “stronghold for Christ.”

Jack said the “hedge of thorns,” based on Hosea 2:6 and popular in conservative circles, is meant to “’lead the wayward back to himself with a ‘hedge of thorns’ in other words, ‘God make their life miserable so that they recognize the error of their way and come back under God given authority.’” While most traditional conservatives believe this is in reference to unfaithful spouses, “Gothard and IBLP extended it to cover all ‘wayward souls.’”

Gothard also extends the “hedge” in a segment on about how to teach children to “resist temptation.” He tells fathers, “ Your own obedience to God is a key factor in protecting your sons and daughters from evil. If you fail morally, you will give Satan access to those who are under your authority” (emphasis in original). He then suggests a prayer:

Heavenly Father, I ask you in the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to bind and rebuke Satan and to put a hedge of protection around me and each one in my family.

Power of One Accord

Jack said that one of the new twists Gothard added recently that contributed to his decision to break from the organization was “One Accord,” another topic that Webster has lectured on at ATI.

The idea, said the young man, is “based on Acts 2, is that when everyone is in ‘one accord,’ God unleashes His power on behalf of those gathered together.” Dissenters, then, “must be removed so that we can have the power. This has become his [Gothard’s] latest bludgeon to keep people in line with his agenda.”

But that bludgeon was an impetus to leave. Jack worked and talked with others at ATI as part of his decision to break from the group, he said. “We were all falling out of love with Mr. Gothard and really finding ourselves and finding a reason to live,” he said. Out of Gothard’s teachings, and the circles of his followers, “a very deep, complex morass of people and ideas and theology coming together and creating for a lot of people an experience that was devastating emotionally and spiritually and otherwise.” He added, “the huge devastation of ATI and IBLP is the emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage -- the stuff they can’t be held accountable for.”

Sarah Posner is associate editor of Religion Dispatches and author of God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters . Read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

 
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