The Dark Underbelly Of The Duggar Family’s Secrets, Revealed By Jill Duggar

Apparently, the Josh Duggar horrors are just the start of it.

It was the show you couldn’t look away from. 19 Kids And Counting followed the seemingly idyllic life of the ultra religious Duggar family, and their brood of J-named kids in Arkansas, United States.

The premise was simple: two loving parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who subscribed to the belief that God’s will should overrule birth control, showed their version of Christian family values through the long-running reality TV series, which had to be renamed twice as additional children were born.

It portrayed a shiny view of family life, where the parents never lost their temper, and the children never misbehaved. 

the duggar girls
Joy Anna, Jinger, Jessa, Jill and Jana Duggar. (Credit: Image: Instagram)

It also gave an insight into the more orthodox rituals of the independent Baptist community (including their chaperoned courtships, homeschooling and conservative dressing).

Yet, underneath this utopic rural life was a dark underbelly, and it is being exposed in a new Prime Video docuseries called Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.

First reported by People, the documentary will cover the troubling elements of this radical religious way of life, focusing on the family’s affiliation with the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), founded by a man named Bill Gothard.

michelle and jim bob duggar
Duggar parents Michelle and Jim Bob. (Credit: Image: Getty)

In 2014, Gothard stepped down from the IBLP after more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment and molestation, some alleging that they were minors at the time. Gothard maintained his innocence but was later sued, in 2016, by an additional 10 women, per People. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2018 as the statute of limitations was exceeded. He has never been convicted of any wrongdoing.

Now grown, some of the Duggar women have spoken out about their issues with the IBLP and Gothard, including Duggar cousin Amy King and one of the 19 children, Jinger Duggar.

Jinger wrote in her book Becoming Free Indeed, “A few years ago, it became abundantly clear to me that this man I had always looked up to as a model Christian was, in fact, no better than the false teachers Jesus and Paul described.”

“Gothard was not only teaching his own principles instead of Christ’s but reportedly harming those closest to him.”

The documentary is expected to delve further into some of the more troubling practices involved in the IBLP and will involve Jill Dillard (née Duggar), her husband Derick Dillard and cousin Amy King (née Duggar).

In the teaser for the docuseries, Jill, 32, says, “There’s a story that’s going to be told and I would rather be the one telling it.”

She adds, “We were part of the IBLP as early as I can remember.”

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Of course, the series will include coverage of one of the elder children, Josh Duggar. In 2015, a historical police report emerged that showed Josh was accused of molesting four Jane Does between the ages of 12 and 15, when he was 14. It was later revealed in an interview his sisters did for Fox’s The Kelly File, that siblings Jill Duggar and Jessa Duggar were amongst the victims.

jill dillard duggar
Jill Dillard and her husband Derick are speaking out about the IBLP. (Credit: Image: Instagram)

Later in 2015, Josh (now married with children of his own) confessed to cheating on his wife Anna through affairs website Ashley Madison, following a data leak of their members list. It was devastating to the religious family, who follow monogamous relationship structures as a part of their beliefs.

It all came to a head in 2021 when Josh was arrested for possessing child pornography. According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas, “Duggar allegedly possessed this material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12.”

josh duggar
(Credit: Image: Getty)

He was eventually found guilty of two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.

While this was horrific for followers of 19 Kids And Counting, producers of the new documentary told People that Josh’s story is just the “tip of the iceberg”.

Olivia Crist, one of the program’s executive producers, told the publication, “There are so many thousands of families that have been hurt by this and have not had a voice, not for lack of trying, for many, many, many years.

“I mean, hope, the takeaway is really hearing the survivors, hearing what they’ve been through. And then, I think also for people still in, trapped in a fundamentalist or IBLP group, that hopefully this is a chance for them to say, ‘Hey, it is possible to get out and that they’re not alone.'”

One of the people talking in the trailer alleges it very bluntly, saying, “The Institute raises little predators.”

Another interviewee in the trailer adds, “This is much bigger than the Duggars.”

Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets premieres June 2 on Prime Video.

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