Wednesday, January 11, 2006

From TruthOut:

Cult of Character
By Silja J.A. Talvi
In These Times

Monday 09 January 2006

How the 'secular' Character Training Institute is working to build evangelist Bill Gothard's vision of a First-Century Kingdom of God-one city, one state, one school board, one police force and one mind at a time.

From the outside the bland, unmarked exterior of the Character Training Institute's headquarters blends remarkably well into its immediate surroundings. This is a section of Oklahoma City that hasn't yet benefited from the nearby, upscale urban development intended to draw both tourism and business to the area. Both the downtown Greyhound Station and the county jail are situated a few blocks from here, which explains the number of forlorn, transient men and women wandering down West Main Street. For the

most part these folks seem to have more immediate priorities than paying attention to the dozens of foreign-looking visitors entering and exiting the 10-story Character Training Institute (CTI), which also serves as the headquarters of the International Association of Character Cities (IACC).

But one elderly woman wearing mismatched clothing and a weathered plastic visor ambles across the street to get a closer look. She leans against the wall and tries to peer inside, but the heavy double doors, darkened windows and drawn shades make it nearly impossible to do so.

"What's going on in there?" she asks a young man with a military-style haircut walking toward the door. He takes a polite moment to explain that this is a very important "Building Cities of Character" conference, sponsored by the IACC. Many people, he adds, have come from all over the world to be here. And with that, he disappears into the building. The woman tries, one last and unsuccessful time, to see what's going on inside.

"The Sin of Witchcraft"

Inside the institute, Arizona state treasurer David Petersen takes to the conference podium to tell how his state's Family Services Committee passed "Character Education Legislation."

"All schools now have it implemented," he says proudly. "We're fighting for the soul of this nation." Petersen is not being hyperbolic. He attributes his passion for "character" to a personal meeting with evangelist Bill Gothard.

Gothard, the 74-year-old, unmarried man at the head of the Oak-Brook, Illinois-based Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP)-which brings in an estimated profit of at least $63 million annually-has been in the evangelism business since 1964. Originally named the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, IBLP changed its name in 1990. All totaled, IBLP boasts that at least 2.5 million people have attended the organization's seminars and ministries in the United States and other countries, including Russia, Mongolia, Romania and Taiwan.

Although legally and fiscally independent, the CTI is for all intents and purposes a "secular" front group for Gothard's IBLP. In the last decade, the CTI has quietly gained entry into hundreds of elementary, middle and high schools, state and city offices, corporations, police departments and jails.

Though he never uses the term, Gothard's ideology fits into the framework of the burgeoning "Christian Reconstructionist" movement, which aims to rebuild society according to biblical mandates. Within the Christian Reconstructionist worldview, modern-day chaos is directly attributable to the division of church and state and the consequent degradation of individual character.

How often do I have to repeat that the pushers of mind-crack have the absolute destruction of the Constitution and the American way of life as their ultimate goal? Bush, Rove, Abramoff, DeLay, Burr et al have used "more Christian than thou" campaigns to get elected across the backs of the unfortunate mind-crack addicts, cults and fringe-groups.

The result?

  • Systematic destruction of the Constitution by executive order and by questionable legislation.

  • Systematic destruction of the public school system through ill-named legislation like NCLB.

  • Systematic corruption of the American form of government by means of stampeding "wackos" (Scanlon's word) to the polls to elect politicans who are rotten with corruption and greed, whilst leaving rational voters chilled enough to stay home (and out of the way).

  • Endemic and pervasive misuse of executive powers and privilege, all to the detriment of Americans and our Constitution.

  • Willingness on the part of Republican politicians (the very ones who ran the "more KKKReeshchyin then yew" campaigns) to sell their votes for money and favors

  • Willingness on the part of Republican politicians to take money, medical help, services and a decent standard of living away from the elderly, simply to line the pockets of large corporate donors -- not to mention their own

When, oh when, will the poor, unfortunate mind-crack addicts wake up and realize that they are simply expendible tools, used by a few slick snakes? It is far, far past time to investigate turd-merchants like Gothard, Robertson, D. James Kennedy, Dobson, Falwell, Phelps and others who mouth religious-sounding prattle whilst lifting the wallets of their followers. Full disclosure must come immediately and must be completely thorough.

Truth always stands scrutiny. Lies and liars self-immolate in the light of day. I say, throw 'em a match.

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