Jinger Duggar Vuolo says her childhood was filled with “fear” due in large part to the “cult-like” teachings of the religion she followed.
“I thought I had to wear only skirts and dresses to please God,” the former “19 Kids and Counting” star, 29, told People Wednesday.
“Music with drums, places I went or the wrong friendships could all bring harm.”
Vuolo said she became so scared that she was hesitant to leave her home to do non-religious activities like playing a sport called broomball.
“I thought I could be killed in a car accident on the way, because I didn’t know if God wanted me to stay home and read my Bible instead,” she said.
Vuolo and the rest of the Duggar family were devout followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), a non-denominational Christian organization founded by Bill Gothard, a disgraced minister accused of sexually harassing dozens of women. He has denied the claims.
“[Gothard’s] teachings in a nutshell 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,’” Vuolo told People. “The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world.”
The “Counting On” star said Gothard’s teachings were “so harmful” and she now recognizes that it had “cult-like tendencies” with “lasting effects.”
The reality star said she is speaking up because she knows “other people are struggling” and “still stuck.”
Vuolo, who wrote about her experience in her new book “Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith From Fear” after leaving the organization in 2017, concluded, “I want to share my story, and maybe it will help even just one person to be free.”
Vuolo’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, was once listed as a youth minister at IBLP, but after Gothard was exposed, he and his wife, Michelle Duggar issued a joint statement, saying, “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.”
They also told NBC News in February 2022, “The public accusations against Dr. Gothard in recent years are troubling and grievous. However, our faith in God is not based on following a fallible human man. … Truth is truth, even if the messenger fails.”