On March 7, 2014 Bill Gothard resigned from the ministry he founded, the Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), after 34 women accused him of sexual misconduct and spiritual manipulation. Gothard’s groups were previously plagued by a massive sex scandal in the 1980’s and a child abuse scandal in the late 1990’s.
Brian Sikma, communications director for the conservative opposition research group, Media Trackers, used the homeschool curriculum and training manuals produced by Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI). Sikma’s wife, Amy, a political operative in her own right, also completed the same coursework. In addition to his work for Media Trackers, Sikma holds a privileged position on the board of directors for the family values group, Wisconsin Family Council. As the protégée of conservative radio and TV host, Charlie Sykes, Sikma is a frequent guest commentator.
After completing Gothard’s high school curriculum, Sikma enrolled in the Oak Brook College of Law, a non-accredited college that Bill Gothard founded and remained chancellor of until he was accused of sexual misconduct. The college is appropriately named after Oak Brook, the Chicago suburb where IBLP’s headquarters is located. As part of the college's application process Sikma was required to attend “all the sessions of Gothard's Seminar in Basic Life Principles sponsored by (IBLP).” Once enrolled Sikma and his fellow classmates were required to further study Bill Gothard’s teachings and complete coursework from his ministry. After completing his education there, Sikma went on to earn another non-accredited degree from the Baptist College of Ministry. The college’s website boasts that the school is “unashamedly fundamentalist and militantly separatist.”
Through seminars, pamphlets, books, and educational resources, Gothard, who is himself a bachelor, used his ministries to regulate what clothing women were allowed to wear, what days couples could engage in sexual relations, and how short one was to cut one’s hair.
Prospective ATI members are required to attend one of Gothard’s annual conferences before they are allowed to apply for membership. Once a membership query has been completed, a non-disclosure form is then signed, mandating the applicant promise not to share the curriculum with anyone outside of the immediate family.
Sikma’s involvement in and close ties to an organization that views women as mere chattels and their menstrual cycles as ‘visuals of Jesus’ death on the cross’ provides a profound and disgusting view of the real Sikma.
Ironically though, Sikma is at the forefront of the Wisconsin Republicans attempt to counter the Democratic “War on Women” narrative. Not only has he been vocal in attacking then Wisconsin Assembly Majority leader Bill Kramer over sexual misconduct allegations, but he also mocked a local reporters exposé of a bar asking women to go topless. Adding further insult to injury, he claimed US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had more ‘balls than a Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald,”and accused Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist, Dan Bice, of “misreporting female politicians”.
With such rich contextual information as this, conservatives must ask themselves if Brian Sikma actually possesses the credentials to speak to, much less define, their their beliefs.