Jinger Duggar book: Former TLC reality star sharing decision to pull away from strict upbringing

Vuolo remarked on brother, Josh Duggar, who was sentenced for child porn, Bill Gothard, who founded family's religion on 'GMA'

ByGood Morning America
Monday, January 30, 2023
Jinger Duggar sharing decision to pull away from strict upbringing
One of the members of the Duggar family is speaking out about her decision to pull away from her strict upbringing in a new book.

NEW YORK -- Jinger Duggar Vuolo, who rose to fame with her parents and siblings on TLC's reality series "19 Kids and Counting," is sharing her decision to pull away from her strict upbringing in her new book "Becoming Free Indeed."

She sat down with "Good Morning America" Monday to discuss it.

For the millions of fans of "19 Kids and Counting," Jinger Duggar's life seemed idyllic, as the dutiful fourth daughter in a pious household. But now the married mom of two is rejecting what she says was oppressive rules that dictated her childhood.

Vuolo said there was a lot of fear, rules and regulations. Women weren't allowed to work outside the house, get loans or even wear pants.

Vuolo wrote "Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear" about her departure from the strict Christian teachings she said caused her to suffer with perfectionism, eating disorders and panic attacks.

"I would say it -- has a lot of characteristics of -- like, some people would say it's a cult, right? But I can't say because I'm not an expert on that. But I would say it has a lot of similarities because it's so hard to leave," she said.

The Duggar family consists of devoted followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, founded by Minister Bill Gothard. Voulo is now renouncing his philosophies.

RELATED: TLC cancels '19 Kids and Counting' permanently

"I thought it was all true, all these teachings from this man I had followed. It was a teacher that -- I grew up thinking was teaching me the Bible. And I thought that his words were the words of God. And it wasn't until I got older, I stopped and started to examine his teachings," she said. "He's definitely a false prophet, false teacher. Initially -- he comes on the scene with the answers to life's biggest problems."

Gothard resigned in 2014 after sexual harassment allegations made against him by young women followers.

"My heart was just broken," Voulo said.

Gothard, who was never charged with a crime, called the accusations "false," telling ABC News "the thought of 'harassing' someone is totally foreign to my nature. It would never have happened."

Vuolo said it's also difficult to talk about her brother, Josh Duggar, who is accused of sexual abuse.

"I talk a little bit about that in the book and how my heart just breaks for the victims and their families. And also, just ... for all the ... trail of pain that's been left behind," she said.

Josh Duggar is now serving 12 years for child pornography.

Vuolo has condemned her brother's behavior by calling it "a horrific evil."

"I haven't spoken to him. Um, I think the best thing I can do is just pray for him," she said.

Vuolo said she is still a devout Christian and is still in touch with her parents, whom she loves.

When asked about birth control, she said simply, just because kids are a blessing from God doesn't mean you have to have as many as possible.

Her book goes on sale Tuesday.