It's no secret that the Duggars have strong religious convictions. In fact, religion informs every aspect of their lives, from their dating rules and dress codes to the lawmakers they support and opinions they hold. But, in the past, parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have dodged questions about their religious beliefs, despite being vocal about their overall views. That has left fans asking: What religion do the Duggars practice? The stars of TLC's Counting On adhere to an ultra-conservative version of Christianity that promotes patriarchal gender roles.
In the past, Jim Bob has said that he and his family are Independent Baptists, an unofficial sect of Evangelical Protestantism based on far more fundamentalist values, according to The Hollywood Gossip. Independent Fundamentalist Baptists — or IFB — diverge from traditional Baptist beliefs, and take on a more extreme, conservative view of religion, life, and higher purpose.
Independent Baptists are the second most common group of Evangelical Baptists, following Southern Baptist Convention, according to the Pew Research Center. A 2014 religious landscape survey released by the Pew Research Center found that people who ascribe to the Independent Baptist tradition represent 2.5 percent of the United States population. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, represent over 9 percent of the population.
The Duggar family's religious beliefs influence everything including what they wear, how they grow their hair, how they go about dating, and what type of education they pursue. For example, in regard to relationships, parents Jim Bob and Michelle have said they consider courtship as a path to marriage, according to TODAY. Jim Bob said of the family's courtship rules, TODAY reported,
Courtship is really waiting for the one God has for you and praying through the whole process. It's really examining the person and considering, 'Would this be the guy I want to be the father of my kids?'
As for children, Jim Bob and Michelle's Independent Baptists beliefs prohibit them or their children from using birth control of any kind, according to In Touch Weekly. After welcoming oldest son Josh, Michelle became pregnant while using birth control, and later lost the baby. The couple has blamed the miscarriage on birth control, explaining, according to In Touch Weekly,
As conservative Christians, we believe every life is sacred, even the life of the unborn. Due to our lack of knowledge, we destroyed the precious life of our unborn child. We prayed and studied the Bible and found a host of references that told us God considered children a gift, a blessing, and a reward.
They added at the time,
Yet we had considered having another child an inconvenience during that busy time in our lives, and we had taken steps to prevent it from happening.
Their religious views on birth control, courting, and clothing has caused many Counting On fans and critics to suspect the Duggars actually follow the Quiverfull movement, according to People. Although the Duggars label themselves "Independent Baptists," their beliefs are considered to be far more conservative and strict than the standard Independent Baptist tradition.
Cavan Concannon, assistant professor of religion at the University of Southern California, told People of the fringe fundamentalist sect,
In the Quiverfull movement, your kids are blessings from God and they are also weapons in the culture war. Some people in the movement would say that part of having a lot of kids is an attempt to birth more conservative Christians in a world that doesn’t have enough of them.
Jim Bob has denied, repeatedly, that he and his family belong to Quiverfull movement, which is considered controversial in its own right, according to People. But whatever they believe, it's clear that strict, conservative tenets are an integral part of the Duggar identity, and it doesn't seem that would change anytime soon.