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Madfloridian's Journal
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Oct 05th 2008, 03:09 PM
Wasilla was named a City of Character by the International Association of Character Cities in 2000.

There are some of the other "Cities of Character" as listed at the IACC website. Texas, Oklahoma, and South Carolina seem to have the most cities listed.

From Salon:

Sarah Palin, faith-based mayor

Subtitled: "How the vice-presidential nominee brought fringe biblical teachings to her work as the chief of Wasilla, Alaska."

Sept. 18, 2008 | In April 2000, under the direction of then-Mayor Sarah Palin, the Wasilla City Council passed a resolution declaring itself a "City of Character." Adopted unanimously, the resolution pledged that the city would "do all in its power" to promote "positive and constructive character qualities which distinguish between right and wrong," which the resolution predicted could work a range of wonders, from reducing juvenile delinquency to increasing corporate profits. Thanks to Palin's efforts, Wasilla is now among roughly 200 cities nationwide (and others in 27 countries around the world) that have committed themselves -- in name, at least -- to following the teachings of the International Association of Character Cities (IACC), an organization that purports to be secular but is modeled on the evangelical teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).

Palin's personal connection to IACC, and her efforts to bring its agenda to Wasilla as mayor, sheds new light on her connections to the Christian far right, as well as her willingness to infuse government with its ideals rooted in religion.
Her championing of IACC principles raises further questions about Palin's views on running government, including the hiring and firing of government employees, an area in which she has come under intense scrutiny in part due to her involvement in "trooper gate."

By becoming a City of Character, Wasilla under Palin committed to adhering to 49 "character qualities" as outlined by the IACC, which are secularized versions of IBLP's 49 "character qualities" derived from the Bible. Critics have charged that the organization and its affiliated Character Training Institute are for all intents and purposes a front group for the evangelical IBLP.

..."Through its Character First training seminars, IACC has spread its gospel of character to local government officials like Palin as well as to Fortune 500 companies, law enforcement agencies, federal government agencies, and the private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America, which uses the character training in its prisons. Character First principles are taught in hundreds of public schools across the country. Each of the 49 character qualities, as outlined by Gothard, have a biblical basis and are therefore required for believers to fulfill God's goal "to transform them into the image of His Son so that they may be a reflection of the character of Christ." The character quality of diligence, for example, is rooted in Colossians 3:23 ("Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,") meaning, for Gothard, that one should "visualize each task as a special assignment from the Lord and use all my energies to accomplish it."

IACC's secularized version requires one to "invest my time and energy to complete each task assigned to me," and is compared, like Gothard's version, to the diligence of a beaver. (Each character quality is linked to an animal, although apparently none to the barracuda.)


Bill Gothard's website has his very controversial religious beliefs displayed. I am linking to his views on courtship. He seems to feel that the whole family is involved in the choice of a mate, and that being over 18 makes no difference at all.

The foundational command for the happiness and success of any marriage is “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). God emphasized the seriousness of this command by giving the following penalty for breaking it: “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him” Leviticus Ch. 20, verse 9.

....If we say that a person over eighteen years of age has the legal right to make his own marriage decisions, regardless of whether those decisions please his parents or not, we are making the Law of God of no effect by our traditions.

The commandment does not say “Honor parents only if they are believers,” nor does it mean that to honor is always to obey. If parents command a son or daughter to marry outside of God’s will, that son or daughter must respectfully refuse to carry out their wishes.

To violate this command is to experience generations of grief and iniquity. “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Proverbs 30:17).


The education system listed at the IACC is called Character First.

Character First was founded on the principles of The Institute in Basic Life Principles, a group founded by Bill Gothard. Here is more about IBLP. Its founder, Bill Gothard has been known for some very controversial methods.

About IBLP

At the age of 15, Bill Gothard observed many of his classmates making unwise decisions. Realizing they would have to live with the consequences of these decisions, he was motivated to dedicate his life to helping young people make wise choices.

What We Do

The Institute in Basic Life Principles was established for the purpose of introducing people to the Lord Jesus Christ, and is dedicated to giving clear instruction and training on how to find success by following God’s principles found in Scripture.


In the words of the founder of the IACC's Character First who is on the board of Directors of IBLP:

Founder of Character First says based on IBLP

"Thomas A. Hill

Tom and his wife, Kay, attended their first Basic Seminar in 1974 and
brought home to their family the truths presented at the seminar. The
principles they learned and applied enabled them to work through problems
such as anger, bitterness, and rebellion. The result was harmonious family
relationships.

Tom and Kay have three married children and twenty grandchildren who are
living evidence of the abundant grace of God toward His children.

The family business, Kimray Inc., of which Tom is the president and chairman
of the board, has also benefited from the application of Biblical
principles. In 1992, they developed and piloted the CharacterFirst!®
program, which is now being used by cities and companies around the world.

Tom served on the IBLP Board of Directors from 1993 until 2005.'


I remember in 2003 that Florida's DCF under a Jeb Bush loyalist...wanted to require Character First classes for all it's employees. I never heard the final outcome, just that there was great frustration over it.

From a 2003 article:
DCF Training might cross church/state separation bounds

Lakeland -- The state's embattled child-welfare agency wants to build a more compassionate, efficient work force through a character fitness program with roots in biblical teachings.

The Character First! program has sparked controversy on grounds that it breaches the wall dividing church and state. Program administrators insist course materials are strictly secular. Still, Character First! has been embraced by Gov. Jeb Bush and Jerry Regier, the state's childwelfare chief who has pledged to restore the agency's credibility and boost morale.

Currently, the program is being taught in the Department of Children & Families' Orlando district, and it soon may come to District 14, which includes Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.

Should the program come to Polk, DCF workers will be schooled on 49 character qualities, such as alertness, diligence, humility and tolerance.


I never heard how that turned out, didn't follow it. Sounds like the movement is gaining ground by saying the group IACC is secular in nature....but there is no doubt it is based on the Gothard group's religious fundamentalism.

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