Throughout their time on TLC, the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting fame made their religious practice a key piece of their branding, but what church were they associated with? As it turns out, the Duggars followed the teachings of Bill Gothard and the non-denominational religious organization, Institute in Basic Life Principles. Gothard, meanwhile, stepped down from his position in the church in 2014 after more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment, leading some to wonder about his personal relationships. Keep reading for everything we know about the religious leader, his marital status and more.  

Is Bill Gothard Married?  

Despite a cornerstone of his religious teachings centering around the family, Gothard has never been married himself. Instead, he instructed followers to follow a “male superiority and female obedience” familial structure and to center their lives around “biblical character.” In addition to encouraging his congregation to have large families, Gothard provided homeschooling material, guidelines on male and female dress codes and more.  

Bill Gothard allegations
Courtesy of Bill Gothard/Facebook

How Is Bill Gothard Connected To the Duggars?  

As their star continued to rise on TLC, the Duggars associated themselves with Gothard and IBLP both on and off camera. Attending a homeschooling conference during season 2 of 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars promoted the IBLP teachings on their personal YouTube channel and even spoke at IBLP-sponsored conferences. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar went as far as saying that IBLP and Gothard in particular “changed our lives.”  

Though he stepped down from his position as a church leader in 2014, Gothard and his practices were still sought out by the Duggars. After being accused of molesting five underage girls in 2015, Josh Duggar attended counseling at an IBLP facility in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Gothard’s orders. Speaking to the Daily Mail at the time, Gothard said that Josh was “cleansed” during the retreat, adding, “The incident happened 12 years ago and since then Joshua has lived an honorable life, that speaks for itself, he certainly learnt his lesson and now he will have a whole new respect for young ladies.”   

Josh was later charged and found guilty of receiving and possessing child pornography in December 2021.  

What Was Bill Gothard Accused Of?  

Gothard’s first round of accusations came in 2014 when more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment. IBLP launched an investigation into the claims, and though the church found that “no criminal activity” took place, Gothard stepped down from his position.   

“The Board realizes the seriousness of his lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ’s example of being blameless and above reproach,” IBLP said in a statement following the investigation. Gothard has since maintained that there was no wrongdoing on his part.  

Just two years later, the IBLP founder was once again at the center of scandal when an additional 10 women accused him and IBLP church leaders of systemic sexual abuse. Not only did the accusers claim that Gothard and church officials harassed and abused them, but that the church covered up any evidence of wrongdoing. A lawsuit was filed against Gothard amid the claims, and The Washington Post was able to speak to him on the phone during the fallout.  

“Oh no. Never never. Oh! That’s horrible,” he said when asked specifically about a rape allegation lodged against him. “Never in my life have I touched a girl sexually. I’m shocked to even hear that.” 

The lawsuit was eventually dropped due to statute of limitation issues. 

Bill gothard iblp

Where Is Bill Gothard Now?   

Amid Gothard’s legal issues, the Duggars attempted to distance themselves from him and IBLP teachings, releasing a statement in 2015 that read, “We do not agree with everything taught by Dr. Bill Gothard or IBLP, but some of the life-changing Biblical principles we learned through IBLP’s ministry have helped us deepen our personal walks with God.” In the time since they were taken off the air, truths about the Duggar family have been released to the public in part by the 19 Kids and Counting children themselves.  

Jinger Duggar – whose memoir Becoming Free Indeed is set to release on January 31, 2023 – went as far as comparing her eldest brother Josh to Gothard, noting that the two operated within the same damaging system.  

“I realized that some of what I had been taught was hurtful and untrue,” the former 19 Kids and Counting star wrote in the book, according to Publisher’s Weekly. “I knew I needed to speak publicly about this because I promoted teachings that I now believe are damaging.”  

As for Gothard, he is still active within the religious community as of publication, sharing his teachings on social media and remaining a vocal part of his homeschooling systems, Embassy University and Oak Brook College.  

If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.

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