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“Huckabee announces White House bid” was the title of the article by Aaron Sadler at the Arkansas New Bureau on January 29, 2007. Outside of Arkansas not too many took notice. I had suggested to several in the media shortly afterward that they may want to keep an eye on this not very well known Arkansas politician, mostly due to his ties to Bill Gothard. This was pretty much met with a collective yawn. I am not going to get in to the merits or lack thereof with regard to Huckabee’s candidacy and positions. As a religious not-for-profit organization I am not really at liberty to do that and the point of this writing is not really political in nature but rather to ask some questions. According to several former employees from the late 1970s era Bill had a landing strip built at his 3,000 acre Big Bear lodge retreat in the Northwoods and he had it built to accommodate Air Force 1. I am told that he indicated God had told him that one day presidents to come to him and he wanted to be prepared. Will this happen in the near future? Well, if Bill has his way it may. It is not difficult to believe. as we pointed out in our book A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life that Gothard often claims special revelation and mystical understandings of Scripture from God.

This is perhaps further confirmed in his thinking as he claims that he received An Invitation From China about which he writes:

Two delegations from China have come to Headquarters this year in order to learn about our ministries. As a result of those visits, we have an invitation to train 20 million people in China. This is a marvelous opportunity that we never imagined possible.

Why wouldn’t a U.S. President turn to a fellow American leader which the Chinese government has turned to for guidance in fixing their nation’s woes? After all it wouldn’t be the first time Huckabee turned to Gothard. He did so when he was Governor of Arkansas and Gothard his plan to rehabilitate prisoners. Huckabee also invited Gothard to expand his juvenile rehabilitation program in to Arkansas according to Mark Hollis in his article Religious Institute Increases Political Alliances:

But Little Rock, Ark., had already been established as friendly terrain for Gothard. Two of his long-time admirers — Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee and Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey, a Democrat — are loyal advocates of Gothard’s agenda and have encouraged him to expand juvenile rehabilitation programs there.

Hollis goes on to claim:

In a letter published on the institute’s Internet site, Gothard said
his organization has been asked to “present a plan and contract to restructure (Arkansas’) welfare program, their educational system and their juvenile justice methods.”

He also claims that Gov. Huckabee’s aides “have already begun taking steps” to put the proposal into action.

Of course if Bill and his organizations have been put in charge of educating 20 million Chinese by the Chinese government and prison, juvenile correctional and welfare systems for Arkansas at Gov. Mike Huckabee’s request, why wouldn’t he be involved with Huckabee’s election campaign? Huckabee is an alumnus of the Institute. He is quoted on Gothard’s Prison Ministry website:

“As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people.”.

Gothard is multi-talented. Not only can he fix the educational problems for the Chinese government, the correctional and welfare problems in Arkansas but he also heads up the Medical Training Institute of America. He brings his extensive medical knowledge in to the Basic Seminar to let attendees know that that most mental illnesses including schizophrenia are simply varying degrees of irresponsibility. In his medical manuals we learn that doctors are in cahoots with Satan and are trying to destroy the godly seed. Your name may actually be the source of your physical infirmities. Breast cancer is caused by women being angry at their mothers. This and a great deal of other important medical guidance is offered through his many manuals from MTIA. (Our chapter Bill Gothard Medicine Man in our book A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life may be helpful).

As the Iowa Caucus drew closer another event took place. ATI (Gothard’s homeschooling branch) student Matthew Murray went on a shooting spree in Colorado. In spite of Matthew Murray’s claims to have been driven to utter hopelessness and despair by Gothard’s teachings the Denver Post notes:

Ultimately, Gothard blames rock music for Murray’s murderous rampage.

“That is the most contributing factor,” said Gothard, who is based in a small town south of Chicago. “It’d be important to see the connection between his passion to rock music and how it ultimately brought this on.”

Whatever you may think about Rock music this raises an interesting question. Gothard contends that there are TEN SCRIPTURAL REASONS WHY THE ROCK BEAT” IS EVIL IN ANY FORM. Gov. Mike Huckabee is a base player in a Rock band. He even played base with the band on the Jay Leno Show on the Monday night before the Iowa Caucus. Now if Gothard is supporting Huckabee wouldn’t that mean he is supporting the very evil that he claims drove Matthew Murray to his murderous acts? But support him he does. Can we demonstrate that Gothard is currently supporting and/or assisting Huckabee? I believe we can.

In addition to the above past relationship between Gothard and Huckabee, they were together at a private fundraising even in Texas on December 23, 2007. One of the Gothard followers that was there, the Robert Staddon family, provided a photo of Bill Gothard, Mike Huckabee and Texas billionaires Mr. and Mrs. Dr. James Leininger on their blog. This particular page of their blog was recently taken down.

For many the name James Leininger doesn’t ring any bells. However, the Houston Chronicle calls him the Paymaster of the Radical Republican Religious Right in Texas. He is also on Bill Gothard’s Board of Advisors. I am not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with Leininger being involved with the political process nor that he financially supports those he agrees with. He, like the rest of us, have to make our decisions about political involvement as well as which ministries we will support financially.

It is also my understanding from several that James Leininger is a partner in Doug Phillip’s Vision Forum. Again, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with putting your money where your belief system guides you. All of us do that. And without specifically commenting more on the views represented In James Leininger’s choices, we have done that in article and blog form, I would suggest that we probably have a better idea of why Huckabee did so well with so little money in Iowa. There was a virtual homeschooling army at his disposal through Gothard and his connections. (There is a compendium of Huckabee’s ties to Bill Gothard.)

Many (though not all) homeschoolers view Huckabee as one of them or at least their friend. According to his own statement he is an alumnus of Gothard’s Basic Seminar and has ties to him that go back quite a number of years which have benefited both men. Gothard’s followers help Huckabee’s campaigns and Gothard’s programs appear in Arkansas government programs. Gothard has 15 Character Cities in Arkansas and Mrs. Arkansas and Mike Huckabee posed for a photo op for the March 2006 Character Education month.

Many of the political pundits have been perplexed at the polls for they thought it was the Evangelical vote but a number of Evangelical’s did not vote for Huckabee according to the polls. I would suggest it was a particular kind of Evangelical. The homeschoolers. They are enormously dedicated to their cause and work well as a unit when called upon to do so. As I have discussed this with homeschoolers that I know they have concurred and pointed out that homeschoolers will not only work hard but will pay for the privilege to do so. We see this in action with Gothard follower Jim Bob Duggar. They also tend to vote in a block. There could be 5-6 voters per household. As a result Huckabee will likely do well in states where homeschooling is big. Will Gothard succeed in being a kingmaker? Only time will tell. If he does will Huckabee turn to him to fix the U.S. prison and juvenile correctional, welfare and educational systems? Perhaps instead of being a consultant he could be the Surgeon General, or Secretary of Education or Secretary of Health and Welfare. Perhaps Gothard’s landing strip will come in handy after all.