Jinger Duggar Vuolo wants people who have been manipulated by false teachers in the name of Christ to know that God is trustworthy, loves them and wants to be in a relationship with them. In an interview with ChurchLeaders, Vuolo shared what it was like for her to question the teachings she was raised with, an experience she describes in her newly released memoir.
“Even though it’s tough to walk through initially,” said Vuolo, “I would encourage anybody who has been raised in that fear-based teaching or harmful theology to stop and examine it according to the Word of God…As painful as it is, it’s ultimately the most rewarding [experience] because it lends itself to finding freedom. And that freedom is found in Jesus Christ, who is our only hope. And he doesn’t ever change.”
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Jinger Duggar Vuolo on Growing Up With the Teachings of Bill Gothard
Jinger Duggar Vuolo is the sixth child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, whose family was featured in TLC’s reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” and later, in TLC’s “Counting On.” Vuolo’s new memoir, “Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear,” came out on Monday, Jan. 31, and focuses on “how she began to question the unhealthy ideology of her youth and learned to embrace true freedom in Christ.”
Vuolo was raised to believe in the teachings of Bill Gothard via his Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). She explained that Gothard gained influence during the 1960s and 1970s when parents were concerned about protecting their kids from sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Gothard “came on the scene as the man with every answer to every problem in your family and how you could have a family that was set up for success long-term,” said Vuolo. “He promised that if you lived by his seven basic life principles, that God would bless your life. And not only would he bless your life, but you would be kept from harm.”
Gothard stepped down from IBLP in 2014 amid allegations of sexual harassment, but the organization still holds family conferences throughout the country, including in Big Sandy, Texas, where Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have been regular speakers. Vuolo said that she attended these conferences while she was committed to Gothard’s teachings.
Those teachings, said Vuolo, are “based on fear, manipulation, control and superstition. So whenever you’re in that place, you think life is very black and white.” Vuolo believed that if she obeyed IBLP’s principles, her life would be successful, but if she did not, her life would be a failure. “I wholeheartedly embraced that,” she said.
What’s more, Gothard warned people that rejecting his teachings would bring disaster. Said Vuolo, “Bill Gothard even said himself that if you know these teachings and you walk away from them, it’ll be worse off for you because you knew and you departed from it.”