Josh Duggar is in prison. Counting On has finally been canceled. The Duggars are over as a brand.
Jim Bob did not come up with the idea to raise his children in an abusive cult obsessed with toxic purity on his own, and he was not alone.
In many ways, the Institute in Basic Life Principles helped shape the Duggar world in the worst of ways.
IBLP has been in steep decline after years of being hit hard by some very familiar-sounding scandals.
Bill Gothard and his teachings have been a blight upon this nation for more than half a century.
Beginning in 1961, the man’s seminars began to radicalize vulnerable Christian families, driving people to be more extreme and insular.
Generations of children were victimized in a cult of extreme beliefs where everything in life is part of a strict, patriarchal hierarchy.
Like many other predatory schemes, IBLP was immensely profitable for a long time.
According to public records, in 2001, the dubious organization raked in $41 million in revenue.
$14.9 million of that was from official IBLP services.
It was a few years after that profitable year that the Duggars rose to prominence by appearing on reality television.
One might imagine that IBLP profits would only soar to greater heights after receiving free, albeit indirect, promotion on reality television.
Instead, just a dozen years later, the organization’s income had withered.
In 2013, IBLP was operating at a loss, taking in just $5.4 million.
As recently as 2018, revenue had taken an upward turn to $8.5 million … but $6.6 million of that came from vague “other revenue.”
In terms of people paying for IBLP’s services, they only made $1.2 million, making the cult a shadow of its former self.
IBLP themselves can offer their own explanation for this drop in profits.
Their business model is almost as outdated as their values.
Lengthy seminars and service fees are out, and a lot of their material is available for free online.
But a lot of IBLP has historically been supported from direct contributions.
Sadly, there are people who like the extreme authoritarianism promoted by the cult and were all too eager to say so with their money.
Between that and liquidating real estate holdings for added revenue, IBLP was more than just a series of conferences.
We don’t claim to be economists, but it’s not difficult to see why IBLP would be in decline.
We don’t simply mean that the cult’s alarming “values” were twisted and harmful, demeaning to women while leaving children easy targets for predators.
Oh, that part is true, don’t get us wrong — but as with the Duggars, IBLP had a much more obvious scandal several years ago.
Bill Gothard was, in many ways, treated like a god himself within the cult.
While reverence is not itself harmful (unless you’re a monotheist … which was obviously the case here), there is always the risk of what someone will do with absolute power.
According to numerous allegations against Gothard, he used his power to get close to, harass, and touch “young ladies” around him.
Twelve women came forward to accuse Gothard of sexually, physically, or psychologically abusing them as minors.
What’s more is that they accused IBLP of actively covering up Gothard’s crimes.
IBLP claimed that an internal investigation found no evidence of any criminal activity, for whatever that’s worth.
Gothard did release a (now-deleted) statement on his website that seemed to admit to impropriety.
“My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong,” he wrote.
In 2014, he stepped down in disgrace from his position within the Institute that he had founded.
It was only a year after Gothard’s downfall that the world learned what sort of creature Josh Duggar truly is.
In many ways, these are similar stories, in part because extreme cults where women have few rights are ideal stalking grounds for predators.
Both IBLP and the Duggars remain in decline, but these toxic groups — and others — still exist. We’re sure that there are more “familiar” scandals to come.