Is the IBLP still active today? Here's what's going on with the controversial ministry from 'Shiny Happy People'

Can orthodox beliefs—like no jeans or rock music—survive in 2023? Is the IBLP still active today and where do the Duggars stand with the ministry?

Is the IBLP still active? Pictured: IBLP devotees Michelle Duggar and Jim Bob Duggar
(Image credit: Kris Connor/WireImage/Getty)

Is the IBLP still active, and is it possible for such a hyper-conservative practice to maintain a following in today's world? 

The Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Christian ministry founded by Bill Gothard in the early 1960s, aims to help "apply Christian principles found in God’s Word" and has allegedly reached over 2.5 million people since its inception. The foundation is said to focus on seven principles: design, authority, responsibility, suffering, ownership, freedom and success. 

But once you examine the inner workings of the faith-based organization more closely, you might start to question its tenets: women are subservient to men, denim is forbidden, rock music is not permitted, and neither is TV. Ultimately, the practice feels unrealistic and terribly restrictive in the year 2023. 

According to Prime Video's new docu-series, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, the belief system that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar adamantly support is actually highly controversial, despite its puritan facade. Interviewees featured in the project, including their own daughter Jill Duggar Dillard, speak out against the IBLP and all that it stands for. 

"[Gothard's] teachings, in a nutshell, are based on fear and superstition and leave you in a place where you feel like, 'I don't know what God expects of me," Jinger Duggar Vuolo told People. "The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world."

Given all of the allegations against the ministry, is it still keeping an active following?

Is the IBLP still active today?

The Institute in Basic Life Principles, which "affirms and teaches historic Christianity," is still active today, though the organization has definitely undergone some changes. 

In 2014, Bill Gothard stepped down as IBLP leader after sexual harassment allegations surfaced from over 30 women. He also defended Josh Duggar in the wake of the molestation cases made against the Duggar son in 2015, some of which came from his own sisters. (Today, Josh Duggar is serving over 12 years in prison for possessing and receiving child pornography, leaving his wife, Anna Duggar, and their seven children to carry on without him.)

Despite the claims against Gothard, as well as his stance with the Duggars, IBLP still adheres to its founder's seven principles and continues to offer his basic seminar, "a 24-hour video course that emphasizes the factors needed to develop and maintain healthy, growing relationships with God, family members, and friends." However, the IBLP's homeschooling ATI education program, which used the help of "Wisdom Booklets" to bring Biblical references to various subjects, was suspended in 2021. (Wisdom Booklets are still available for purchase, however.) 

In light of the criticism that stemmed from Shiny Happy People, IBLP released a statement to reiterate its purpose and condemn the "manipulative" media. 

"The focus of this ministry is the Lord Jesus Christ and the practical truths found in Scripture, and not any single person or family," part of the statement reads. "IBLP will always be about helping people find Christ and the timeless values of the Bible that bring hope and stability to each facet of life."

Where do the Duggars stand with IBLP?

Despite the controversy surrounding IBLP, some of the Duggars still adhere to its teachings, and some people even seem to believe that Jim Bob is now heading the ministry himself. In a 2022 statement, the family—who often welcomed Gothard into their home—revealed where they stood.

"We do not agree with everything taught by Dr. Bill Gothard or IBLP, but some of the life-changing Biblical principles we learned through IBLP’s ministry have helped us deepen our personal walks with God,” their statement read, according to NBC.

Some Duggars left IBLP and have spoken out about their trying experience, including Jill and sister Jinger. A few have even penned memoirs about their journey, proving that these orthodox teachings can still have a frightening impact.

Counting the Cost: a Memoir by Jill Duggar with Derick Dillard & Craig Borlase (January 16, 2024)

Counting the Cost: a Memoir by Jill Duggar with Derick Dillard & Craig Borlase (January 16, 2024)
 <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">$18.08 | Pre-order from Amazon

Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear&nbsp;by Jinger Duggar Vuolo

Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear by Jinger Duggar Vuolo
<a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">$18.33 | Amazon

Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is now streaming on Prime Video. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.