The 19 Kids and Counting family kept their religious affiliations under wraps since the premiere of their reality show in September 2008. However, Jinger Vuolo (née Duggar) detailed in her forthcoming memoir how she separated herself from her family’s beliefs and revealed that the reality TV stars follow the non-denominational religious organization, Institute in Basic Life Principles. The Counting On alum went as far as to compare brother Josh Duggar to IBLP’s founder Bill Gothard – but who is Bill? Keep reading for everything we know about the religious leader.
What Is IBLP?
The Institute in Basic Life Principles is a non-denominational Christian organization established by Gothard in 1961, originally launched under the name Campus Teams. In 1974, the name was changed to Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts or IBYC, before landing on IBLP.
According to the institution’s website, IBLP “was established for the purpose of introducing people to the Lord Jesus Christ,” adding that they are “dedicated” to providing others with a “clear institution and training on how to find success by following God’s principles found in Scripture.”
They do so through seminars, printed texts, educational programs and training centers.
“Over 2.5 million people have attended our seminars and discovered practical application for restoring relationships with God and others [sic],” the website claims.
Who Is Bill Gothard?
Gothard was raised in Illinois and graduated from Wheaton College in 1957 with an undergraduate degree in Biblical studies and later a graduate degree in Christian education. Decades later, Gothard completed his doctorate in Biblical studies at Louisiana Baptist University in 2004.
By the time he was a teenager, Gothard was “greatly concerned” for his peers who “seemed to lack direction in life and were making unwise decisions.” According to his IBLP website bio, he decided to dedicate his life “to helping teenagers and their parents make wise choices,” beginning with “inner-city gangs in Chicago, church youth groups, high school clubs, youth camps, and families in crisis.”
Gothard’s teaching include “male superiority and female obedience,” guidelines on how men and women should dress, homeschooling curriculums and Bible memorization, according to a July 2016 article in The Chicago Magazine.
In 2014, more than 30 women accused the religious leader of sexual harassment. After placing the founder on administrative leave and conducting an investigation, IBLP released a statement claiming that “no criminal activity” was found, but that “Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner.”
“The Board realizes the seriousness of his lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ’s example of being blameless and above reproach,” the statement continued. While he denied any wrongdoing, Gothard ultimately stepped down from his position with IBLP.
Bill Gothard Faced New Charges in 2016
About two years after dozens of women came forward with allegations against Gothard, another 10 women filed a lawsuit targeting the religious figure, claiming that he and the leaders of the IBLP church not only sexually harassed and abused them but covered up their alleged wrongdoings.
Speaking to Gothard on the phone in the wake of the lawsuit, The Washington Post reported the former IBLP minister as saying, “Oh no. Never never,” when asked specifically if he had raped one of the plaintiffs. “Never in my life have I touched a girl sexually. I’m shocked to even hear that,” he said.
Further addressing the claims of sexual harassment against him, the former IBLP leader said that such allegations were “really … not true,” and denied commenting further.
The case against Gothard was later dismissed due to statute of limitation issues.