Ministry that once nourished Duggar family's faith falls from grace

  
Via:  Trout Giggles  •  6 months ago  •  29 comments

By:   Caroline Radnofsky (NBC News)

Ministry that once nourished Duggar family's faith falls from grace
Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a ministry that promoted a patriarchal family system, shaped the faith of the Duggars from "19 Kids and Counting," which was canceled because of its own scandal.

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Link copied Feb. 6, 2022, 9:30 AM UTC / Updated Feb. 6, 2022, 11:07 PM UTC By Caroline Radnofsky

When the Duggar family caught the public's eye in 2004 with its first television special, "14 Children and Pregnant Again," the lifestyle depicted on screen was alien to many viewers.

Conservative Christian parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar did not use birth control, home-schooled their family, wore "modest" clothing — including ankle-length skirts for the girls — and strictly limited influences from the outside world.

Yet some Americans recognized their own values in the fundamentalist Christian family, as well as the influence of one man: Bill Gothard, founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles.

Gothard once filled convention centers and earned endorsements from prominent politicians, and some of his followers were living out his values on national television.

The Duggar family has attended and promoted IBLP events on and off camera. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, regular speakers at its semiannual Family Conferences in Big Sandy, Texas, have said Gothard's teachings "changed our lives."

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar speak at the Values Voter Summit in Washington in 2010.Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images file

But today, the IBLP is losing income, and Gothard, 87, has been forced out over allegations that he abused young women working at its headquarters. And the Duggars' shows have been canceled: "19 Kids and Counting" in 2015 amid revelations that their eldest son molested four of his sisters as a young teen and "Counting On" last year ahead of his child pornography trial and eventual conviction.

"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," Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said in a statement.

Dramatic rise and fall


The dramatic rise and decline of the influential fundamentalist ministry and its poster family offer a window into the evolving landscape of American faith.

The Institute in Basic Life Principles began in 1961 as seminars by Gothard, an evangelical minister from Illinois with a master's degree in Christian education.

Over 30 hours, he taught attendees how to lead successful lives by following his interpretation of Biblical principles and warned them away from television, popular music, alcohol, dating and public schools. The group says more than 2.5 million people have takentheBasic Seminar.

At the heart of Gothard's teachings was the importance of respecting "God-given authority." He preached a strict hierarchy of divine authority, with Jesus at the top followed by church elders, employers and husbands, who are responsible for protecting their wives and children below them.

In marriage, a man's role is to provide "servant leadership" while "the woman responds with reverent submission and assistance," preached Gothard, who has never married.

Treated 'like a god'


One former member said such teachings are damaging. Elizabeth Hunter, 27, was raised in Greenville, Texas, knowing her future role was to be a wife and mother and that her father would one day help pick her husband.

Hunter said her parents had attended Gothard's seminars and committed to having no television. Like the Duggars, they home-schooled their children using the Advanced Training Institute curriculum, which the ministry said was based on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

The family saw the Duggars and Gothard at biannual IBLP events, where Hunter said Gothard was treated "like a god."

"Nobody wanted to cross him. They feared him, in a way," former IBLP follower Elizabeth Hunter said of Bill Gothard, above. Institute of Basic Life Principles

"Everywhere he went, everyone credited him with saving their lives, opening their eyes. Everyone swarmed him," Hunter, who no longer follows the ministry, said.

The IBLP's programs appealed to conservative Christians who had grown up in the cultural upheaval of the 1960s and '70s and mistrusted secular authorities to help them raise their families, said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin University and author of "Jesus and John Wayne."

"There is this real market within conservative Protestantism for safe and authoritative advice … Gothard was in at the ground floor of this," Kobes Du Mez said.

Gothard had prominent supporters. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is quoted on the IBLP website calling the Basic Seminar "some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people." GOP megadonor Jim Leininger sat on the IBLP advisory board and then-Texas Rep. Sam Johnson on the Board of Directors until 2012.

The Duggars' wholesome image made them a poster family for the IBLP as their TLC show "19 Kids and Counting" became a ratings hit: Elder daughter Jill Duggar's two-hour wedding special in 2014 drew an audience of over 4.4 million.

Some saw the Duggars as a curiosity; others felt a connection to their way of life, said ­­­­­­­Beth Allison Barr, a history professor at Baylor University.

"They could identify with male headship, protecting children from the influences of the world. … The Duggar family epitomized a lot of the struggles that Christian families dealt with," Barr, author of "The Making of Biblical Womanhood," said.

Harassment allegations


While the wedding episode was breaking viewing records, the bottom was falling out of the IBLP.

In March 2014, Gothard resigned from the IBLP board of directors amid allegations he had sexually harassed and molested women who worked for the organization.

"My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong," Gothard said in 2014 in a now-deleted statement on his website that is still linked on his Twitter profile.

The IBLP said an internal investigation it had found no criminal activity but concluded Gothard "had acted in an inappropriate manner" and would no longer have any role in the organization.

Twelve women alleged in a civil suit that they had been sexually, physically or psychologically abused by Gothard as minors and that the IBLP had covered it up. The case was dropped in 2018, but the women's attorney, Jonathan Mincieli, would not give a reason, citing attorney-client privilege.

The IBLP said in a statement that it had "no comment with respect to the claims alleged," because of a confidentiality order. Gothard has since denied any wrongdoing. He declined to comment when reached by phone.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said in their statement to NBC News: "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."

They said they never received any form of payment in exchange for their involvement with the IBLP.

Eldest son accused of molesting girls


A year after Gothard resigned, the Duggars had their own fall from grace. In May 2015, a leaked police report from 2006 revealed that the eldest Duggar son, Josh, had been accused of molesting five girls as a teenager.

In an interview with Fox News a few weeks later, his parents said he had confessed to them, first in 2002 when he was 14 years old, and that some of the victims were his sisters. Duggar was never arrested or charged with a crime related to the allegations.

His sisters Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald told Fox News they had forgiven their brother.

The reality show was rebranded as "Counting On" and focused on the older Duggar daughters, several of whom had married and appeared to have moved away from their parents' more conservative beliefs.

Some of the Duggar daughters shed their long skirts for skinny jeans and started posting testimonies on Instagram, where they built followings as Christian influencers.

1639087889065_now_morris_duggar_211209_1920x1080-mcdxy1.jpg

Former reality TV star Josh Duggar convicted of possessing child pornography


Dec. 9, 202102:48

But the scandal wasn't over. On Dec. 9, Josh Duggar, 33, was convicted of downloading and possessing child sex abuse images on his work computer. He is awaiting sentencing of up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 for each of two counts. "Counting On" has since been canceled.

"Our hearts and prayers are with anyone who has ever been harmed through CSAM," said the Duggars in a statement after the verdict. "As parents, we will never stop praying for Joshua, and loving him, as we do all of our children."

Barr, the Baylor University history professor, said Gothard's fundamentalist patriarchal teachings help create environments where abuse is more likely to go unchecked.

"As a man, they have more authority than women," she said. "Their voice counts more, and women have this propensity to be valued more for their sexual role, so it allows abuse to flourish."

The organization said in a statement that it "would never condone nor do we tolerate abuse of anyone. There is no teaching by IBLP that women are inferior to men because there is no such teaching in the Bible. From a Biblical perspective, all people are equal in value before God despite the fact that we are all different with varying gifts and talents, and may have different complementary roles."

Financial struggles


Even before the allegations against Gothard and Josh Duggar, the ministry had been struggling financially, according to tax documents.

In 2001, it collected over $41 million in revenue, with $14.9 million from IBLP services. By 2013, a year before Gothard's departure, total revenue was just $5.4 million, and it was operating at a loss.

In 2018, the last year for which tax returns are available, revenue was back up to $8.5 million after a leap in contributions and an unidentified $6.6 million of "other revenue." But income from services languished at $1.2 million, its lowest in decades, and the organization's profits remained a fraction of what they had been in the 1990s.

The IBLP said it still derives income from "donations, conference fees and the occasional sale of unused capital assets such as real estate (other revenue)." Income from conference and program fees has fallen because Basic Seminars are now free online, it said, and shorter programs have replaced extended residential courses.

The growth of Christian publishing houses, Christian family bloggers and streaming megachurch services have made the old model of salvation through a weeklong, in-person conference outdated, said Kobes Du Mez, the Calvin University history professor.

Television and the internet, which Gothard so railed against, have broadened the market and shifted Americans toward other forms of evangelism, she said. But Gothard's core teachings remain influential because they're being repackaged by younger messengers for new audiences.

"When you look at evangelicalism as a consumer culture … at books on marriage, sex and how to be a Christian man or woman, you can see Gothard's fingerprints all over the place, even though they're not citing him," she said. "It ends up shaping conservative evangelicalism for generations."

Caleb Reed, 29, credited the IBLP's ALERT program, a military-style boot camp for young men, with teaching him discipline and setting him on a path to preaching. The traveling evangelist spoke at the Family Camp in October, part of a new generation trying to focus on what they see as the biblical truths behind Gothard's teachings.

"There are some things that would be intrinsically Bill Gothard," he said, "but to the extent that he was communicating truths, that is eternal. That will always last."

Caroline Radnofsky

Caroline Radnofsky is a senior reporter for NBC News' Social Newsgathering team based in London.


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Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Trout Giggles    6 months ago

Trolling, taunting, spamming, and off topic comments may be removed at the discretion of group mods. NT members that vote up their own comments, repeat comments, or continue to disrupt the conversation risk having all of their comments deleted. Please remember to quote the person(s) to whom you are replying to preserve continuity of this seed.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @1    6 months ago

I really like these stories that expose all the religious scam artists for what they truly are, child molesters...

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3  seeder  Trout Giggles    6 months ago

I got the housekeeping out of the way now it's time for me to pull the stuff out of the article that made me giggle.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @3    6 months ago

gee, would that housekeeping have anything to do with the previous thread missing?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3.1.1  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @3.1    6 months ago

I had to delete a double comment

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
4  Tessylo    6 months ago

"My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong," Gothard said in 2014 in a now-deleted statement on his website that is still linked on his Twitter profile

I'm sure he did more than that.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  Tessylo @4    6 months ago

Yeah, there's the answer to my first question. I hadn't read that part until I got almost to the end

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.2  devangelical  replied to  Tessylo @4    6 months ago

I'll bet he touched some hair, and a lot of peach fuzz too. another thumper child molester on the books...

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.3  Gordy327  replied to  Tessylo @4    6 months ago

It's mind boggling that there are those who think simple displays of affection is wrong or crossing a line. I suspect those are the types with the most skeletons in their closets. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5  seeder  Trout Giggles    6 months ago
But today, the IBLP is losing income, and Gothard, 87, has been forced out over allegations that he abused young women working at its headquarters. 

I wonder what kind of abuse?

"We do not agree with everything taught by Dr. Bill Gothard or IBLP,

My Aunt Fanny...you people bought into Gothard's schtick hook line and sinker

"There is this real market within conservative Protestantism for safe and authoritative advice … Gothard was in at the ground floor of this," Kobes Du Mez said.

There is it is in bold purple squiggles. They need someone to tell them when to eat, when to sleep, when to make babies, when to pee, and when/where they should work. No individualism allowed

Some of the Duggar daughters shed their long skirts for skinny jeans and started posting testimonies on Instagram, where they built followings as Christian influencers.

Wow...once you get away from that destructive influence individualism makes a return!

I think this is my favorite part:

t the heart of Gothard's teachings was the importance of respecting "God-given authority." He preached a strict hierarchy of divine authority, with Jesus at the top followed by church elders, employers and husbands, who are responsible for protecting their wives and children below them. In marriage, a man's role is to provide "servant leadership" while "the woman responds with reverent submission and assistance," preached Gothard, who has never married.
 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
5.1  Tessylo  replied to  Trout Giggles @5    6 months ago

Did you come across Quiverful (I think that's the name of the cult) regarding the Duggars?  The whole thing behind the Duggars being broodmares was to have as many children (arrows) to fill God's quiver - an army full.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1.1  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  Tessylo @5.1    6 months ago

Yes, I have heard of them. They are a scary bunch...breeding and raising an army for Christ

 
 
 
Veronica
Masters Expert
5.2  Veronica  replied to  Trout Giggles @5    6 months ago
to eat, when to sleep, when to make babies, when to pee, and when/where they should work.

I think you forgot when to shit.

Gothard, who has never married.

Huh, I wonder why.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.2.1  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  Veronica @5.2    6 months ago

I thought it was implied when I said "pee"

 
 
 
Veronica
Masters Expert
5.2.2  Veronica  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.2.1    6 months ago

I need things spelled out - sorry - I am a dunce.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.2.3  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  Veronica @5.2.2    6 months ago

No you're not. I'm an asshole. I made another lame joke

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Principal
6  MrFrost    6 months ago

I wonder how many of the 19 kids were fathered by Josh himself? If I had to guess, I would say at least 3 of them. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  MrFrost @6    6 months ago

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

I don't think he had sex with his Mama...but it is Arkansas...

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Principal
6.1.1  MrFrost  replied to  Trout Giggles @6.1    6 months ago

Maybe, maybe not. It was rumored at the time. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.2  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  MrFrost @6.1.1    6 months ago

I never heard that one

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Principal
6.1.3  MrFrost  replied to  Trout Giggles @6.1.2    6 months ago

I heard it on a few different sites and honestly, given how freaky that family is, would it really surprise you? 

Wouldn't surprise me in the least. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.4  seeder  Trout Giggles  replied to  MrFrost @6.1.3    6 months ago

Me, neither but....ewwww

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
6.1.5  Gordy327  replied to  MrFrost @6.1.1    6 months ago

Family "relations" is in the Bible after all.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1.6  devangelical  replied to  Gordy327 @6.1.5    6 months ago
Michelle Duggar did not use birth control, home-schooled their family

sex ed, thumper style...

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7  Kavika     6 months ago

Bizarre to say the least.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
8  Paula Bartholomew    6 months ago

The cherry on top would be if they loose their tax exemption status also.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
9  Paula Bartholomew    6 months ago

I bet if you asked brood mare mama her shoe size, she would not know.  After all, she hasn't seen her feet in years.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
9.1  devangelical  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @9    6 months ago

she's probably barefoot most of the time, except on sundays of course.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
10  Ender    6 months ago

Bunch of crackpots.

 
 

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