Shiny Happy People: Who are the Duggars and where are they now?
Buckle in, as we’re venturing into the twisted world of the Duggar family and the cult-like church they belonged to as we answer the questions: where are the Duggar family members now? What is the IBLP religion? And did Bill Gothard ever go to jail?
If you grew up in the 2000s, chances are you’ve heard of the Duggars. The highly-religious family made their TV debut in 2004, going on to become a household name with their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, presenting Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their ever-growing brood as a seemingly “perfect” family.
However, in 2015 a sickening controversy came to light that would change everything. An explosive new Prime Video documentary series, titled Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, exposes their secrets and lifts the lid on the fundamentalist church they were a part of.
Amid the release of the docu-series, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the Duggar family, the IBLP church, and its founder Bill Gothard. Warning: some may find this content distressing.
- Who are the Duggars?
- What is the IBLP religion?
- Is IBLP still active?
- Where are the Duggars now?
- Did Bill Gothard ever go to jail?
Who are the Duggars?
The Duggar family rose to fame on the TLC reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting, drawing intrigue from viewers across the globe thanks to their strict religious beliefs and prodigious size.
Jim Bob Duggar, 57, and Michelle Duggar, 56, are the parents, and you can find a full list of their kids below, including their names and current ages:
- Josh James Duggar, 35
- Jana Marie Duggar, 33
- John-David Duggar, 33
- Jill Michelle Duggar, 32
- Jessa Lauren Duggar, 30
- Jinger Nicole Duggar, 29
- Joseph Garrett Duggar, 28
- Josiah Matthew Duggar, 26
- Joy-Anna Duggar, 25
- Jedidiah Robert Duggar, 24
- Jeremiah Robert Duggar, 24
- Jason Michael Duggar, 23
- James Andrew Duggar, 21
- Justin Samuel Duggar, 20
- Jackson Levi Duggar, 20
- Johannah Faith Duggar, 17
- Jennifer Danielle Duggar, 15
- Jordyn-Grace Makiya Duggar, 14
- Josie Brooklyn Duggar, 13
Despite portraying themselves as the “perfect” family in their show and its spinoff, it was an entirely different story off-camera, one rife with sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, with horrific actions brushed to the side by the fundamentalist Christian sect they were a part of.
In 2015, it was revealed that the Duggars’ eldest son, Josh James, had molested numerous underage girls, including four of his siblings, when he was aged 14 to 15. These revelations led to the cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting, but the scandal was far from over.
In IBLP teachings, women are considered to be among the lowest forms of authority, and Josh’s actions were swept under the carpet as a result. Two of his sisters who he had abused were even made to go on TV to speak in defense of their abuser.
In 2021, Josh was arrested after police discovered he had been receiving and was in possession of child pornography. But, as explored in Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, these incidents are just the “the tip of the iceberg” of the IBLP church and those who were in charge.
What is the IBLP religion?
IBLP stands for Institute in Basic Life Principles, a nondenominational Christian sect that serves as an umbrella organization for several ministries founded by minister Bill Gothard in 1961.
Viewers of Shiny Happy People soon discover that the religion has some questionable beliefs — and there are many reasons why the man behind it has been labeled a “monster” (more on him in a bit).
Now, IBLP follows the regular fundamentalist Christian teachings, including a total disregard for science — claiming that evolution is fake and fossils were made in a day. But this barely scratches the surface.
The church’s teachings center on a tier system, with God at the top, followed by men, women, and children. Children are expected to be homeschooled and follow a curriculum based on “wisdom booklets” and other IBLP-made resources.
Meanwhile, women are obligated to follow the “Quiverfull” principle, whereby they are supposed to have as many children as possible to send out into the world and spread the word of god.
But, perhaps the most troubling teaching explored in the docu-series is IBLP’s obsession with sex. In its pamphlets, it goes into great detail about sexuality, merging consenting, adult acts into the same “sinful” category as child molestation and incest.
This manifested in disturbing teachings, with one of the many examples of their rules being: “Do not allow boys to change diapers, especially of baby sisters.” Ex-IBLP member Heather Heath says in the doc that this essentially means “he’ll know what female anatomy is and he’ll be tempted to touch it.” She added: “There’s a very prepubescent subtext I think runs throughout Gothard’s teachings, and I think runs throughout the wisdom booklet.”
What’s more, when it comes to sexual assault, the blame is placed on the woman, who is meant to dress modestly to avoid creating what is named an “eye trap.” As explained by another former member, Eve Ettinger: “If the pastor is molesting you, it’s probably because he’s attracted to the young woman you’re becoming and it’s your fault for seducing him.”
Is IBLP still active?
Despite the controversy against it, IBLP is still an active ministry based in Big Sandy, Texas, and many of the Duggar family members are still members. However, in 2014, founder Bill Gothard stepped down amid numerous sexual harassment allegations against him.
The Duggars, particularly Jim Bob and Josh, are just a small faction of the followers who used the church’s rules to their advantage. In the documentary, it’s revealed that Jim Bob and Michelle knew about their eldest son’s abuse for years, but covered it up and even concealed the information for his bride-to-be, Kaeleigh Holt, who is the daughter of their ex-friends.
According to Kaeleigh’s father Jim Holt, when he confronted the Duggars about it, Michelle allegedly said: “We weren’t gonna have them tell you guys at all. We were gonna have Josh confess to Kaeleigh once they were married.”
When the scandal came to light in 2015, it’s believed Jim Bob pressured his daughters to speak in defense of Josh on The Megyn Kelly Show in a bid to save their TLC series. In hindsight, Jill said she “wouldn’t have done” the interview, but she felt “obligated to help.”
Despite their attempts, 19 Kids and Counting was axed — but Jim Bob’s exploitation of his daughters didn’t. As per Jill’s accounts, she was made to take part in the spinoff series, Counting On, but she claims she never saw a penny of the money earned from it and that her father fraudulently signed contracts on their behalf.
Where are the Duggar family members now?
A number of Duggars have left IBLP and are estranged from their family, while others remain to this day. Josh is currently serving a prison sentence, having been arrested in April 2021 on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. He was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 12 years behind bars in 2022.
Jim Bob and Michelle are still connected to IBLP, with Jim and Bobye Holt claiming they took over the day-to-day running of it after Gothard stepped down. Boybe said Michelle still “encourages people” to come to the IBLP campus in Arkansas, describing it as a “cult move.”
Although we can’t know for certain who remains in the sect, especially as those such as John David, Joseph, and Josiah lead private lives, it’s believed a majority of the 19 kids are still living under IBLP rules.
However, a few have defected, including Jill Duggar Dillard, who is still married to her husband and father of their children, Derick Dillard. The couple appear in Shiny Happy People where they share details about the controversies surrounding the Duggar family. Jill is now a licensed midwife, and she also runs a YouTube channel.
Similarly, her sister Jessa Duggar Seewald is a content creator, sharing on her YouTube page and Instagram account. She’s married to Ben Seewald, who she shares four kids with. Although she hasn’t spoken publicly about IBLP, her content suggests she’s no longer affiliated with it.
You may remember Jinger Duggar, who famously distanced herself from IBLP and offered her side of the story in the recently released memoir Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith From Fear.
Speaking to People about why she didn’t appear in the documentary series, she said: “I was actually approached and asked to participate in the docuseries, but I thought that from my perspective, I really wanted to make sure that I was able to share my story in my own words and in my own timing.
“So that’s why I wrote Becoming Free Indeed, was to share more of my journey out of IBLP’s teachings. I wanted to be able to share it in a way that was, like, god-honoring and hopefully sharing my story in a balanced way.” In the same interview, she explained that she’s happy Jill now “has her voice” too.
A number of the Duggar children followed in their siblings’ footsteps by launching their own YouTube channels – although it’s unclear whether they’re still practicing IBLP members. The list includes Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, James, and Justin. As for the younger siblings, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie created a music album called Happy Heart, which you can find out more about here.
While there are numerous accusations made against Jim Bob and Michelle, it appears they still deny the claims. Following the release of Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, the couple shared a note on their website which reads: “The recent ‘documentary’ that talks about our family is sad because in it we see the media and those with ill intentions hurting people we love.
“Like other families, ours too has experienced the joys and heartbreaks of life, just in a very public format. This ‘documentary’ paints so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way because sadly that’s the direction of entertainment these days.”
Did Bill Gothard ever go to jail?
Although more than 30 women who worked for Bill Gothard accused him of sexual harassment, the IBLP founder never went to jail.
In 2016, two years after stepping down from his position amid a number of allegations, Gothard and IBLP were sued by a group of women who claimed he had sexually abused and harassed them, alleging that IBLP chose to look the other way as this was happening.
The documentary series sees a number of survivors come forward and bravely share their stories, including Lindsey Williams, who said she was “asked to be a part of” the lawsuit, but ultimately declined as she was “petrified.” Adding to this, Emily Elizabeth Anderson said she felt that she would be “in danger,” and so joined as Jane Doe #3.
Due to the statute of limitations, the case was dropped. And, if that weren’t shocking enough, Gothard countersued the women for $18,000 each, although he lost in the court of law. According to Patch, Gothard, now 88, lives on Arlington Avenue in La Grange.
With the documentary series now out, and details of his deeds reaching global audiences, many are calling for Gothard to be locked up and for the alleged survivors to receive justice.
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, which you can sign up for here.
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