The name Duggar is one that immediately elicits opinions. Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar (who now have 22 grandchildren, and counting, in addition to their 20 children) have been the subject of fascination, disbelief, scrutiny, concern, and at times disgust since they first became public figures known for their massive progeny with a string of TV shows on TLC. Now, their sixth child Jinger Vuolo, has announced she’s written a memoir — Becoming Free Indeed — which she describes as detailing her “spiritual journey.”
In a video posted to her and her husband Jeremy Vuolo’s, YouTube channel, Vuolo begins by saying that this book represents “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but ... the most important.” She is transparent about the fact that while this memoir will delve into stories “nobody saw while the TV cameras were rolling,” it is not a tell-all about her family, but rather about her “spiritual journey,” in which she talks about “disentangling faith from fear.”
The idea, she explained, came to her in 2017 when Vuolo began to observe that many friends who were raised with the same or similar deeply conservative Christian beliefs have not only turned their back on their upbringing, but on Christianity in general. “They had rejected everything they’d been taught about God, the Bible, and the Christian faith,” she said. “While that’s not my story ... I have, like those friends, rejected much of the teaching I heard for many years. My faith is still intact, but it has changed.”
Vuolo hopes her book will provide insight and encouragement to those who have been hurt by “any religious leader who claimed to speak for God but didn’t,” and wish to reassess their faith without abandoning it.
Vuolo announced the publication of her memoir, set to release in January of 2023.
Vuolo specifically names controversial minister and founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), Bill Gothard, whose ultra-conservative teachings — including an intransigent hierarchy that places men above women — deeply influenced the Duggar family. Gothard has fallen from grace in recent years after being accused by dozens of women for sexual harassment and/or assault. The Duggars promoted IBLP events for years, though have more recently attempted to distance themselves from both Gothard and the institute, which has been categorized by many as a cult. A Facebook page called “Pickles4Truth,” a page dedicated to news about the Duggar family speculates that the timing of the memoir is not an accident: Amazon is set to roll out a docuseries from the creators of LuLaRich which will heavily feature the Duggars.
“I smell damage control from the Vuolos,” admin Diane Nevins wrote of the memoir. “They need to distance themselves from that mess.”
And yet in recent years, Vuolo’s religious schisms with her parents and some of her siblings have become apparent. She has expanded her wardrobe beyond what would have been considered modest in her childhood (wearing pants, for example) and celebrating Halloween with her children, Felicity and Evangeline. But while she has spoken out against her brother, Josh Duggar, who was convicted on child pornography charges in 2021 — calling him a hypocrite and his crimes a “horrific evil” — she has largely steered clear of divulging her current relationship with her family.
A publisher’s description of the book posted to Amazon notes that her brother-in-law, who did not grow up under the influence of Gothard and IBLP, also served as a catalyst to re-examine her beliefs. He was “committed to the Bible,” but didn’t ascribe to many of the beliefs Vuolo always took as Biblical truth.
“When you grow up in a tight-knit community, where everyone believes the same things about everything, it can be hard to even consider the possibility that what you were taught may have been wrong,” she said in her video. “But we all need to, even if it’s hard.”