I was ‘terrified’ of outside world, raised in ‘cult-like’ religion
Jinger Duggar Vuolo, who once starred on TLC’s now-canceled hit show “19 Kids and Counting,” is coming clean about her strict religious upbringing.
Vuolo claimed that she was “terrified” of the outside world after being raised in what she described as a “cult-like” religion, according to a new interview with People published this week.
Vuolo was brought up following the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a strict organization that was established by minister Bill Gothard in 1961, who has since been forced out under allegations of abuse, reported NBC News.
“Fear was a huge part of my childhood,” Vuolo, 29, told People. “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.”
On the show “19 Kids and Counting,” Vuolo’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, raised her and her siblings under the strict practice that taught women that they should be obedient to their husbands and defer to them. The IBLP also discouraged its members from dating, dancing and following pop culture, according to People.
Both Jim Bob and Michelle were dedicated followers of the religion and had spoken at many seminars.
Vuolo said that her religious practices had made her “terrified” of the outside world.
“[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 People. “The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world.”
Gothard was booted as the leader of the religion in 2014 after more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment, according to Chicago Magazine.
However, in 2017, Vuolo’s outlook on religion began to change, and she decided to walk away from the teachings of IBLP. She said that she’s still a “strong Christian” but is no longer bound to the organization’s principles.
“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,” she said of Gothard.
Now, the former reality TV star has penned a memoir called “Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith From Fear,” which chronicles her experience as a child growing up in the religion, as well as her journey to freedom.
The memoir will be available on Jan. 31.
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