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Its members are not concentrated in one area, and yet they maintain insular groups and often form churches in which all members are affiliated with ATI and/or follow its basic principles.Referred to as “Gothardism” within fundamentalist Christian circles, the teachings of ATI form an ideological system of practices based on the extremely strict, fundamentalist, and idiosyncratic Biblical interpretations of the organization’s founder, Bill Gothard – a man who, in 2014, stepped down as head of ATI following allegations of sexual misconduct with young girls. Gothard” (as he is respectfully and worshipfully referred to by his acolytes) were an open secret among group members for many years.As a friend who worked at ATI headquarters once said to me with a wink: “The prettiest girls are always chosen to work the closest with Mr Gothard.”ATI’s teachings trickle down into every single part of its members’ lives.This is not just a homeschool curriculum, it is a fully institutionalized religious sect with incredibly strict demands to conformity — rules that, in my experience, more often reflect Gothard’s personal preferences than actual Biblical teachings.In this excerpt from America Tonight, correspondent Adam May visits the Flanderses to talk about their lifestyle and gender roles. Stories of courtship to encourage young people growing up in courtship-only families.The foundation of the Duggars’ fame is the fecundity of Michelle Duggar.Even the name of the show changes as she gives birth again and again and again.
The Duggars didn’t emerge from a subterranean bunker, though.Other ATI beliefs that I learned range from utterly bizarre to downright barbaric, like the creator of Cabbage Patch Kid dolls is actually a Satanic wizard who implants demons into the dolls that then sneak into children’s bodies while they are sleeping — along with the old standard that rock music is inherently sinful.One boy from our church would walk around supermarkets with his fingers plugged into his ears to prevent himself from hearing it.From my experience in the ATI culture, it is very, very slim.A cornerstone belief of ATI is that God appoints husbands in an “umbrella of authority” over their wives, who are mandated by God to obey their husbands completely.