It’s no secret that the Duggars are an intensely religious family, but there is a dark side to their particular brand of religion. The reality stars adhere to the teachings of an extreme sect of Christianity called the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), whose founder has been accused of sexually abusing over 30 women. From sexual assault to brainwashing and shaming, some of the organization’s former members have even labeled the church a cult.
According to In Touch Weekly, the Duggars homeschool their children using specific curriculum created by their church, called ATI. The ATI curriculum is derived from teachings from the Bible and is far from scientifically or historically accurate. Not only does the program — which includes quizzes, workbooks and a variety of resources — teach that semen is a carcinogen, but it also reinforces the idea that God uses diseases like cancer to curse people.
“When you look at the ATI curriculum it’s just so crazy,” former church member Nicholas Ducote shared back in 2015. “A lot of ATI’s ideas about disease and spirituality are that it’s kind of two sides of the same coin. Your spiritual problems cause your physical problems. They believe cancer is a punitive condition for a lot of people, that God will curse you with cancer.”
The ATI curriculum, as crazy as it sounds, isn’t the worst part of the Duggars family’s church. The church’s ties to sexual abuse and the way the organization treats sexual assault victims is very disturbing. In advising women who have been sexually assaulted, the church asks them to think about why God allowed them to get abused. After suggesting that the abuse was actually their fault, counselors tell the victims they should be thankful for what happened because it strengthens them spiritually.
Perhaps the darkest part of the IBLP and ATI is its founder, Bill Gothard. Over the past two years, two men and 34 women have come forward and accused Gothard of sexual abuse. He hasn’t been officially charged, but was the subject of a lawsuit back in 2014. Even more damning, Gothard has close ties with the Duggar family.
According to In Touch Weekly, the Duggars deny their connection with the controversial organization and insist they belong to an Independent Baptist church. However, the sect’s strict rules have been featured on the family’s reality shows — 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On — including their conservative courtship ideas. Of course, there’s also Josh Duggar’s scandalous sexual abuse case that involved members of his own family.
The Duggar family has not commented on the IBLP or ATI.
[Featured Image by TLC]