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The Duggars Practice Controversial Form of Christianity IBLP: Details Amid ‘Shiny Happy People’ Doc

Followers of the former TLC reality series 19 Kids & Counting and the since-canceled spin-off, Counting On, know that the stars of the show, the Duggars, stick to strict religious practices. However, since the large brood first aired on television in September 2008, the devout family has been held under a microscope following a number of scandals — including Josh Duggar’s guilty verdict in his child pornography case and his cheating scandal. To learn more about the Duggar’s religion, keep reading.

The Duggars Follow the IBLP Sect of Christianity 

Though the famed TLC family has remained cagey about their religious affiliation, Jinger Duggar revealed in her book, Becoming Free Indeed, that the Duggars follow a non-denominational religious organization known as the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). IBLP, which is tied to Christianity and has a controversial status within the religious community, was founded by minister Bill Gothard in 1961. 

Amid its life force as a religious affiliation, Gothard was accused of sexual assault by more than 30 women in 2014. Two years later, Gothard resigned from his position as the president of IBLP and was slapped with a lawsuit brought by 10 of his accusers. The lawsuit was later dropped in 2018. 

“I realized that some of what I had been taught was hurtful and untrue,” Jinger confessed in her book. “I knew I needed to speak publicly about this because I promoted teachings that I now believe are damaging.”

What Happened to Gothard and the IBLP Lawsuit? 

Despite claims from dozens of women against Gothard, an investigation found that his behavior was “inappropriate,” not “criminal,” according to Church Leaders. Though the lawsuit against him was dropped, Jinger has spoken out against Gothard – and has compared his behavior to that of her brother Josh’s – in her new book. 

The Duggars Say They Are ‘Independent Baptists’ 

If you ask any members of the famous family, they say that they are Independent Baptists, also called Independent Fundamentalist Baptists or IFB, which is a more strict and highly exclusive form of Christianity. They even attend a “home church” to worship amongst a select group of others. 

Are the Duggars Affiliated With the Quiverfull Religion?

The reality stars follow many of the same principles as the Quiverfull religion, though both Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar have both denied that they associate with this sect of Christianity. Quiverfull is known for putting emphasis on conservative, patriarchal values.

“In the Quiverfull movement, your kids are blessings from God and they are also weapons in the culture war,” USC assistant professor of religion Cavan Concannon previously explained to People. “Some people in the movement would say that part of having a lot of kids is an attempt to birth more conservative Christians in a world that doesn’t have enough of them.”

Most followers will only use the original King James Version of the Bible as they believe it is the only true Word of God and that it is meant to be taken literally. For example, followers of the religion believe that Satan is real and creates false religions, evolution has no merit and people who have not accepted Christ as their Savior are doomed to Hell. 

The Duggar’s Strict Rules

Viewers of the family’s two reality shows are no strangers to the rules they expected their children to follow. It is expected that men are the head of home and church while women must remain submissive — which has led to several rules that the daughters of the Duggars abided by before leaving home after marriage.

Women and girls are required to wear their hair long, wear modest clothing and both sexes have strict rules when it comes to courting, including having a chaperone present.

“Courtship is really waiting for the one God has for you and praying through the whole process,” Jim Bob told People in April 2014.

“The chaperones then have clear guidelines for what is acceptable and what’s not,” Michelle shared in a family blog in 2015. “They’re the accountability.”

The Duggar children are also strictly homeschooled, possibly with other members of their religious sect. 

Jim Bob and Michelle have strict rules that discourage birth control as well, but that wasn’t always the case.

Which Duggars Have Left IBLP?

Amid Jinger’s startling revelations in her book came more information about her current relationship with religion. Writing that her sister, Jessa Seewald (née Duggar) and Jessa’s husband, Ben Seewald, follow a different spiritual path, Jinger admitted that she now follows a different worship practice. 

“I noticed his church read the Bible in its entirety and preached scripture that way,” she wrote. “I feel like now I’m in a much better place. I see God as amazing.” 

Jinger isn’t the only member of her family to speak out against IBLP, however. Both Jill Dillard (née Duggar) and cousin Amy King (née Duggar) shared their experiences with the religion in Prime Video’s documentary Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.

In the trailer shared by People on May 18, viewers got a glimpse of Amy, Jill and her husband, Derick Dillard, reflecting on their experiences within the organization.

“There’s a story that’s going to be told,” Jill said. “And I would rather be the one telling it.”

She added that her family was “part of IBLP as early as I can remember.”

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