Jinger Duggar says the family’s ‘cult’ beliefs had her ‘terrified of the outside world’

Former reality star Jinger Duggar Vuolo, who became famous on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” talks about her family’s religious beliefs, describing them as “harmful” and “cult-leaning.”

Vuolo, the sixth child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, previously adhered to and zealously promoted the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP), a nondenominational Christian organization founded in 1961 by disgraced minister Bill Gothard. He left the fundamentalist organization in 2017 and now opens up about it in his new memoir, “Becoming Free Indeed.”

“Fear was a big part of my childhood,” the 29-year-old told People. “I thought that I had to wear only skirts and dresses to please God. The music with drums, the places I went or the wrong friendships could cause damage.

The mother-of-two said she felt “terrified” that she was defying God’s will even as the family played broomstick, a sport similar to hockey: “I thought I might die in a car accident on the road, because I didn’t.” I made. I don’t know if God wanted me to stay home and read my Bible instead,” she said.

Chronicling her experience in her third book, “Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith From Fear,” Duggar writes of how she was expected to meticulously obey modesty guidelines, always obey her parents and authority figures, promote courtship relationship standards and avoid any music with a mundane rhythm. Her memoir details “how she began to question the unhealthy ideology of her youth and learned to embrace true freedom in Christ,” and what it was like to live by Gothard’s principles, according to Christian content editor Thomas Nelson. .

“[Gothard’s] Simply put, the teachings are based on fear and superstition and leave you in a place where you feel like, ‘I don’t know what God expects of me,’” she told People. “Fear kept me paralyzed with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world.”

“His teachings were so damaging, and I’m seeing more of the effects of that in the lives of my friends and people who grew up in that community with me,” he said. “There are a lot of cult trends.”

Duggar moved from Arkansas to Texas, then to Los Angeles, after marrying pastor and former professional football player Jeremy Vuolo in 2016. During that time, she distanced herself from the practices of her ultra-religious family, who starred in “19 Kids.” of TLC. and Counting,” which was canceled in 2015 after allegations that her brother Josh Duggar sexually abused four of her younger sisters as a teenager. The family’s follow-up show, “Counting On,” was canceled in 2021, months after Josh Duggar was arrested on child pornography charges. (He was convicted and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison last May.)

Gothard, who led the church until 2014, resigned after being accused of sexually harassing dozens of women. He has denied the claims. When the allegations resurfaced in February 2022, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar released a joint statement calling Gothard a “fallible human male” and a failed messenger. They also said they don’t agree with everything he or IBLP teach, but they did gain some “life-changing Biblical principles” through IBLP that “helped us deepen our personal walk with God.”

Jinger Duggar told People that she wants to share her story with others “who are still trapped” and in the hopes that she can help “even one person to be released.”

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