On Wednesday night, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar went on Fox News to discuss the molestation of four of their daughters by their eldest son, Josh. During the interview, they made vague allusions to Josh’s “counseling” at some sort of “training center.” There’s a reason they never got into specifics: Josh’s counseling was bullshit.
The oft-referenced training center was actually the Institute of Basic Life Principles’ (IBLP) Little Rock Training Center, one of many scattered throughout the country that were once run by the single, 80-year-old cult leader Bill Gothard, who was forced to formally step down in 2014 in response to a few inconvenient (specifically, 34) charges of sexual abuse.
We know that Josh was definitely at the Little Rock Center, thanks to a former IBLP leader, Harold Walker, who confirmed to Radar Online the reality star’s stint. Of course, it took about a year after finding out that Josh had been molesting his sisters for his parents to actually do anything about it.
But what exactly went down during these “counseling” sessions? In addition to the construction work that Jim Bob has pointed to as being part of Josh’s “recovery,” it’s highly likely that Josh was subjected to IBLP’s special brand of warped, fundamentalist therapy. Of course, these aren’t trained therapists—at least not in any widely accepted sense. Rather, their credentials come straight from god himself. From IBLP’s “Comprehensive Course in Effective Counseling”:
So do people trained under IBLP have the necessary credentials? Absolutely not! But they’ll be damned if that stops them.
Which is incredibly unfortunate for the countless people who have been subjected to this sort of therapy. As we’ve seen with their material on counseling victims of sexual abuse, the program is full of the sort of dangerous, backwards logic that places blame in all the wrong places. In other words, it not only has the potential to be highly damaging to those already hurt, but it does little to actually correct the root of the problem in any meaningful way.
This is how IBLP trains their counselors to correct “immorality”:
Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing a little spiritual soul-searching. But when your 14-year-old son has been sexually abusing his sisters, there is clearly a psychological problem that needs to be addressed. By psychologists. Sending him to anyone other than a legally trained and licensed professional is not only irresponsible—it’s child endangerment.
And Josh certainly didn’t get trained on what an appropriate sexual relationship looks like during his time there. From a page in the counseling material labeled How Can Sex Education Courses Contribute to Juvenile Delinquency?:
Teaching children the details of a sexual relationship on the basis that this will satisfy their curiosity is a violation of sex and education. Sexual curiosity cannot be satisfied with detailed information about it. Those addicted to pornography understand this fact all too well. Scripture also affirms this point: “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
Translation: Surely teaching them about what it is that’s sparking their curiosity won’t work—instead let’s do nothing. But wait, it gets better:
Such a course is also a violation of education since it is based on the false assumption that right information will produce right living.
So instead of giving those in need of counseling the—by their own admission—“right” information, the counselors of IBLP are trained to give those in need...no information. Instead, all that likely got instilled in Josh was a deep sense of self-loathing and some wildly inaccurate science. IBLP, on the other hand, got some free labor for whatever construction might have popped up as well as the cost of admittance.
Whatever it is the Duggars (among thousands of others) were paying to send young Josh away, we do at least know it wasn’t going towards any sort of outstanding mortgage. That’s because the Little Rock Training Center was donated to IBLP by none other than Bill Gothard’s good friends the Green family—otherwise known as Hobby Lobby, as you can see from the deed below.
Of course it was.
So whatever the Duggar clan says tonight (when Jill and Jessa get their turn across from Megyn Kelly’s chair), you can be sure it’s not the whole story. And that while Jill and Jessa will almost surely advocate for the abusive brother, they’ve been trained since childhood to assume that anything bad in their lives is a result of their own sin. Which is awful, heartbreaking, and exactly why Josh Duggar will be absolved of any guilt in his family’s eyes.