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Jinger Duggar breaks silence and compares ultra-religious family to a cult

Claire Reid

Published 
| Last updated 

Jinger Duggar breaks silence and compares ultra-religious family to a cult

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@jingervuolo / TLC

19 Kids and Counting star Jinger Duggar Vuolo has compared her family’s strict religious upbringing to a ‘cult’.

The former reality star, who appeared on the show between 2008 and 2015 and also starred in its spin-off Counting On, has spoken about the rules she and her siblings were made to follow growing up.

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In an interview with People, Jinger said 'fear was a huge part of my childhood' as she spoke about growing up in a family who were followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) group.

Jinger, 29, said: "I thought I had to wear only skirts and dresses to please God. Music with drums, places I went or the wrong friendships could all bring harm.

"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."

IBLP was founded by Bill Gothard back in the 1960s and Jinger’s parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had spoken at numerous seminars.

Jinger has said the rules she grew up following were ‘harmful’. Credit: Instagram/@jingervuolo
Jinger has said the rules she grew up following were ‘harmful’. Credit: Instagram/@jingervuolo

In 2018, Gothard stepped back from the church after more than 30 women made allegations of harassment and molestation.

Jinger went on: "[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'.

"The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world."

Jinger says her opinions began to change around 2017 after she started to notice the effects of the church’s teachings on close friends.

“His teachings were so harmful,” she said. “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.

“There are a lot of cult-like tendencies."

Jinger was just a child when she appeared on the show. Credit: TLC
Jinger was just a child when she appeared on the show. Credit: TLC

Jinger explained that while she had fully denounced IBLP she was still a practicing Christian, albeit with a very different understanding of how her faith impacts her life.

Jinger has also written a memoir, titled Becoming Free Indeed, in which she writes about overcoming her fears and starting a new life - and she hopes the book will be helpful to others.

She added: "The teaching I grew up under was harmful, it was damaging, and there are lasting effects. But I know other people are struggling and people who are still stuck. I want to share my story, and maybe it will help even just one person to be freed."

Topics: Celebrity, TV And Film

Claire Reid
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