Alan Grayson Vindicated in 'Taliban Dan' Claim -- By Religious Right Leaders and Former Activists

Former Congressman Alan Grayson, you'll recall, found himself in a heap of trouble when he ran an ad against opponent Dan Webster that referred to the Republican as "Taliban Dan" for his adherence to the teachings of evangelist Bill Gothard, patriarch of the Institute of Basic Life Principles, which runs the Character Cities program in which Sarah Palin sought to have her hometown of Wasilla take part.

No less a source than condemned Grayson for the ad, saying that Webster's words, made during remarks to one of Gothard's organizations, were taken out of context. Grayson's ad featured a clip of Webster saying, "Wives submit to your husbands." While the admakers unwisely edited the video of Webster's speech to suggest that was his own instruction (in reality, he was telling husbands that, when reading the Bible with their wives, to skip over those parts), a new report at Religion Dispatches by Sarah Posner makes clear that wifely submission -- even in the face of abuse -- is precisely the teaching given to Gothard's followers, who include Webster. Posner reports:

Webster never denied that he believed wives should submit to the spiritual authority of their husbands. That there is a “chain of command” that families must obey has been at the core of Gothard’s teachings for decades.

Posner talked to other religious right leaders, as well as two women who formerly adhered to Gothard's teachings in their oppressive marriages, to yank the curtain on Gothard's teachings. She also talked to Gothard himself, who used a lot of fancy footwork to try to deny the claims made by his critics.

Quoting an essay by Ronald B. Allen, senior professor of bible exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, Posner offers Allen's interpretation of Gothard's "chain of command" interpretation of biblical tenets. Allen writes that Gothard's teaching is “the basest form of male chauvinism I have ever heard in a Christian context... His view is basically anti-woman.” From Allen's essay, via Posner:

Paramount among these [beliefs] is the terrible picture of the chain of command in the family with the husband as the hammer, the wife as the chisel and the children as the gems in the rough... The ghastly picture is that he beats on her and she chips on them. If ever there were a reason for a women’s movement in the evangelical church—this is it. This illustration is simply not reflective of biblical theology; it is a parody of patriarchalism.

Another evangelical leader, Don Venoit, said of Gothard's authoritarian model for Christian families: “It’s a culture of fear, is what it is.”

Most chilling, though, are Posner's interviews with two women who survived oppressive marriages while in the grips of Gothard's theology. One, who is unnamed, told Posner, “what I remember most about Gothard’s teaching — and this sticks in my mind — you don’t have any rights.”

The other, Vyckie Garrison, runs a Web site called No Longer Quivering, “a gathering place for women escaping and recovering from spiritual abuse.” Which kind of says it all.

 Read Posner's piece here at Religion Dispatches.

By Adele M. Stan

Posted at February 8, 2011, 9:44am

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