by Max Brantley
Gotthard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles was once a popular gathering spot for thousands of Christian families, including the Duggar family from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute conferences were also popular among devotees of the Quiverfull movement, who promote large families and eschew birth control.
He’s also rubbed shoulders with Republican luminaries. He and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee were photographed at a campaign lunch together;
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are featured on the IBLP website, which credits one of the seminars as providing "direction for them as a couple:"The news requires an update on Gotthard's Little Rock connections. He runs a faith-based program for ex-convicts in the former VA hospital on Roosevelt Road, a building given to him by the conservative Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby chain. Tax records show his institute still owns the building and its website indicates the center is still active. Gotthard was a friend of former Mayor Jim Dailey, and the city worked out a deal to take space in the facility for police use.
These lessons were lifted directly from a company called Character First Education, which was founded by an Oklahoma businessman named Tom Hill. He is a follower of Bill Gothard, a minister who runs the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Christian organization that teaches its members to incorporate biblical principles into daily life. IBLP is considered a cult by some of its former followers. Gothard developed character qualities associated with a list of “49 General Commands of Christ” that Hill adopted for his character curriculum. Hill then removed Gothard’s references to God and Bible verses and started marketing the curriculum to public schools and other public institutions.
The values taught by Responsive Ed can often be found word for word on Gothard’s website.