Abuse Survivor ‘Proud’ of Duggar Daughter for Publicly Rejecting Gothard Fundamentalism

By Sarah Einselen
jinger duggar vuolo
Jinger Duggar Vuolo pictured with her husband, Jeremy Vuolo. (Photo via Facebook)

A woman who sued Bill Gothard over claims of sexual abuse and harassment tells The Roys Report (TRR) that she’s proud of Jinger Duggar Vuolo. The Duggar family member made headlines this week for publicly rejecting Gothard’s hyper-fundamentalist teachings.

Vuolo, 29, is the sixth child in the Duggar family that starred in TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” and its follow-up series, “Counting On.” The Duggars have strongly promoted Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and other programs.

But Vuolo told People Magazine that Gothard’s teaching was “based in fear, superstition” and left “damaging” effects. She said her efforts to disentangle what the Bible teaches from what Gothard taught drove her to write her forthcoming book, “Becoming Free Indeed.”

Blogger and trauma recovery advocate Emily Elizabeth Anderson likewise grew up under Gothard’s strict teachings. She described Gothard’s programs in detail as a legalistic, patriarchal cult in a 2021 episode of the TRR podcast.

Gothard resigned from IBLP in 2014 after more than 30 women accused him of sexually harassing or molesting them. Anderson and 18 other women later sued Gothard over allegations of sexual abuse and harassment.

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“For Jinger to really come out against something that her parents are still actively supporting—I mean, that’s just a whole other level of bravery,” Anderson said Friday in an interview with TRR. “I’m just very, very proud of her.”

anderson duggar
Emily Elizabeth Anderson (Courtesy Photo)

Anderson said Vuolo’s journey since 2017 appears to have mirrored hers closely. She said she particularly appreciated how Vuolo described the process as “disentangling” truth from Gothard’s dangerous teaching.

“I love her usage—I feel like that is a more accurate term for my journey, and her journey, rather than deconstruction,” Anderson said. “She clung on to her faith, and I have as well. But yet, we are having to completely disentangle the true and the fear-based teachings, and separate those.”

In Vuolo’s interview with People, she said Gothard’s teachings left people confused about God. She described a host of rules associated with Gothard’s programs, including restrictions against women wearing pants, prohibitions on music with drums, limitations on socializing with anyone outside the IBLP “bubble,” and requirements for courtship instead of dating.

But she’s since come to believe none of those rules are biblical.

“God’s word is sufficient,” Vuolo explained in the People interview. “It doesn’t speak about that, so I don’t need to speak about that.”

She also briefly addressed her brother Josh Duggar’s conviction last year on federal child porn charges.

“My heart just really breaks for the victims and their families, and all that they’ve been through,” Vuolo said.

She added she hopes her brother genuinely repents someday and that she’s available anytime Duggar’s wife or children wish to talk.

Editor’s note: Anderson is featured in a past episode of The Roys Report podcast, “Understanding the Duggar ‘Cult.'” 

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.



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11 thoughts on “Abuse Survivor ‘Proud’ of Duggar Daughter for Publicly Rejecting Gothard Fundamentalism”

  1. Years and years ago, I knew a couple women (one was 20, the other was in her late forties) that were big Bill Gothard fans. The twenty-year old had been to Basic Youth. The older one had that book of animals that Gothard (or his ghostwriter?) put together. I was a relatively young Christian but their enthusiasm about him and his approach to things I found uncomfortable.

    They both used the overused word “biblical” to explain his “rules.” Gothard did. Now we have someone here saying that the rules aren’t “biblical.” So – how do we define “biblical” so that there isn’t some contradiction involved? If different people can come up with Bible verses to support opposite things, then what? What use is the word “biblical” if one can use it however one pleases?

    1. Maybe the use of the word “biblical” isn’t useful. The Bible can be twisted, manipulated, and taken out-of-context to say whatever anyone wants to say. Perhaps better terminology would be to call things godly or God-honoring? However, people like Gothard would do the same things to those words that have been done to biblical, so the real solution is to use discernment and critical thinking in what you do or don’t believe.

      1. I agree with you.

        The word “biblical” was weaponized a long time ago. Usually they that use the word to describe their beliefs are indicating those that disagree with them don’t have “biblical” beliefs and thus are automatically wrong. That’s all right in an echo chamber but on the internet it is really, really annoying.

        Maybe it isn’t even “biblical.”

      2. Rabindranath Ramcharan

        Maybe so. “Mark you this, Bassanio,
        The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose!”
        –William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene iii

  2. I still keep Gothards notebook as well as the doomsday predictions that the world would crash the first second the year 2000 begins — “because every library needs a little heresy. “ 😂

    The law wasn’t given to save us but to convict us of a need for grace.

    May God bless & heal all our hearts & minds from Gothard’s and many others legalism and abuse.

  3. At the age of 12, in the sixties, bill g abuse me sexually spiritually mentally emotionally physically when I went I told what happened
    It was always my fault year after year because my knees showed one time when unloading those stupid Cult red Basic youth conflict notebooks then the advanced seminar books
    I have still not gotten over this
    I won’t get over it until
    the day day he dies
    Figure out my age

    1. Dear Mary Kay,
      I grieve to read of your torment.
      Early 90’s our family was introduced to Gothard’s ministry via our small church.
      We travelled hundreds of miles to a conference where adults and the children were separated for “teaching”.
      We purchased the stories on animals and character but I must confess I felt uneasy about the way the children’s ministry was set up.
      My family is now very shattered as much of the legalism affected the children and the marriage.
      For some reason I am being blamed for all of this. Only God can reveal the truth, however it would be nice for “flesh & blood” to come forth and help with the healing.

      And so, Mary Kay. I wish I lived close by to be a friend who truly cares for the deep wounds inflicted upon you.

  4. The only way to know for yourself is to check all teaching by The Bible itself remembering its The Whole Council of God and that a text out of context without its co text is a pretext!!! Unfortunately it’s all too easy to take enthusiasm over something to mean true knowledge of the subject

  5. Bill Gothard led me into a personal relationship with Jesus, when he spoke to my high school youth group retreat, over Lincoln’s Birthday weekend, when I was a high school sophomore. That night, Bill challenged me to follow Jesus and not trust church membership or anything other than to just trust in Jesus. And I did and it changed my life for the better ever since. That all happened at Lutherdale Bible Camp, just north of Elk Horn, Wisconsin.

  6. Jinger Vuolo, if you are reading this deep into the comments, thank you for defending true faith and the gospel of grace in Christ. I attended a Basic Youth conference in the late seventies as a new convert and a freshman in college. Going to the conference was what all the “serious” Christians at the student union were doing so I went along too. The lists of rules (“principles”) was overwhelming to me; Gothard’s oft-repeated admonitions that young Christian women had no business living away from their parents was unnerving. I moved back home, greatly disappointing my parents ( but they were supposed to be thrilled?). It took a long time for me to come out of all the false guilt and move forward in life again. So much fallout after only one week’s worth of teaching! Blessings to you for having courage to stand against the Gothard system after a lifetime of exposure.

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