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Former reality star Jill Duggar-Dillard rose to fame on her family’s reality show, 19 Kids and Counting. Since then, she has authored two books and recently appeared in a documentary regarding her family’s deepest secrets. The Duggar family is known for being strict and extremely rigid, requiring their children to follow a number of hard-core rules. As followers of the Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), an ultra-conservative Christian organization, the Duggars are deeply rooted in their faith. However, Duggar-Dillard says her family’s church is a ‘cult’ – here’s why.

Who is Jill Duggar-Dillard?

Jill Duggar Dillard in 2014
Jill Duggar Dillard in 2014 | D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

 Duggar-Dillard is a former television personality and author, the fourth child and second daughter of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. According to US Weekly, she married her husband, Derick, in 2014, and the couple are parents to three children.

A native of Arkansas, the former reality star spent her early life doing interviews and participated in a  Christian retreat for teens and young adults called Journey to the Heart. According to Fandom, Duggar-Dillard worked hard around her family’s home, assisting her younger sisters with their schoolwork, taking music lessons, and working on her assigned household chores, which her family referred to as “jurisdictions.”

It was in 2015 that Duggar-Dillard and her husband left for a long-term mission trip to El Salvador. Fans and donors began complaining that the two were spending just as much time in Arkansas as on the mission field, causing them to begin refunding donations. The couple went on to appear in the family’s second reality show, Counting On, and soon permanently relocated their mission to Northwest Arkansas. In addition to becoming a Certified Professional Midwife, Duggar-Dillard has volunteered for the fire department and often promotes products from Christian-based companies on social media. 

Jill Duggar-Dillard Says Her Family’s Church is a ‘Cult’

Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard in 2014
Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard in 2014 | D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

The Institute of Basic Life Principles, founded in 1961 by Bill Gothard is known for being controversial. According to People, the organization promotes male authority and places strict rules on activities such as movies, television, music, dancing, and dating. Gothard left the organization in 2014.

Duggar-Dillard herself is no longer connected to IBLP after being a follower for quite some time. Now, she says, “I really do think that IBLP is a form of a cult. I think that even if you remove the person in leadership, a lot of those same values and principles are still being taught, so it doesn’t fix the problem.” Duggar-Dillard continued by adding, “I think that’s what some people think like, ‘Oh, we’ve removed Bill Gothard from the situation. It makes everything better.’ No, it changes and maybe adds a nice storefront to the picture, but it doesn’t change the overall principles that are still being taught and held to.”

Although the former reality star says that she still values a lot of the principles that she learned from her parents, she says that it’s crucial to “be careful not to get sucked into something because it looks great or because you see a family that you’re like, ‘Oh, I want to be like that,’ and ignore the warning signs.”

The Duggar Family

According to US Weekly, the Duggar family consists of the parents and 19 children, including two sets of twins, as the parents vowed to “let God bless them with as many children as he saw fit.”  All the children have names that begin with the letter ‘J,’ and all were homeschooled. The kids followed the rules, such as the girls only being allowed to wear skirts, no television allowed in the home, no tattoos, and long, undyed hair for all of the girls. One of the biggest—and most bizarre—rules the children had to follow? No kissing before they were married and only side hugs were allowed, lasting three seconds or less.

The Duggar parents worked hard to teach their children strong values, although they haven’t been without scandal. The oldest son Josh, was famously arrested in 2021, and since then, Duggar-Dillard and her family have been distancing themselves from the rest of the family. They recently appeared in their own docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, which will explore the Duggar family’s scandals and ties to the religious organization Institute in Basic Life Principles, all while giving an inside look at the unique family. 

RELATED: Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard Said Their First Thanksgiving Together Wasn’t Featured on ’19 Kids and Counting’