Jinger Duggar Vuolo opened up about her childhood experiences, including how she felt her worldview was affected by her parents’ religious beliefs.
“Fear was a huge part of my childhood,” Vuolo told People during a recent interview. “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.”
The mom of two said she was afraid to participate in simple activities such as sports because she feared being judged. “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 explained.
The Arkansas-based Duggars were devout Christians and followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, which was created by Bill Gothard in 1961. He led the church until he left in 2014 after more than 30 women accused him of harassment and molestation.
“[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 the publication. “The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world.”
She said Gothard’s group was rife with “cult-like tendencies” which ultimately drove her away. “His teachings were so harmful, 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,” Vuolo said of the former church leader.
While the reality star left IBLP, she told People that she’s still a Christian and won’t let that bad experience ruin her faith.
Vuolo’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, have also criticized Gothard but remain committed to their religion.
“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 shared in a February 2022 statement.
“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,” the couple explained to NBC News at the time.