Jinger Duggar Vuolo’s new book, which details her upbringing in what she now says was a cult-like religion, won’t be available for a couple more weeks, but she’s already opening up about some of its contents.
“Fear was a huge part of my childhood,” the reality star tells People in an interview published online Wednesday. “I thought I had to wear only skirts and dresses to please God. Music with drums, places I went or the wrong friendships could all bring harm.”
The 29-year-old was “terrified,” she said, even to go play a game with her family, because it might be going against what God wanted for her.
“I thought I could be killed in a car accident on the way,” she told the magazine, “because I didn’t know if God wanted me to stay home and read my Bible instead.”
Vuolo co-starred in TLC’s 19 Kids and Countingwhich followed the devout Duggar parents and their 19 children, including Jinger, as well as its spin-off, Counting On. While 19 Kids and Counting ended in 2015, after Josh Duggar, Jinger’s now estranged brother, apologized for having molested girls, including some of his other sisters, before the show, Counting On started in 2015 and continued through 2020.
In her new memoir, Jinger writes about another dark side of having grown up in her expansive family, which subscribed to the teachings of Bill Gothard, who resigned in disgrace from the fundamentalist Institute in Basic Life Principles, in 2014.
“[Gothard’s] teachings in a nutshell are based on fear and superstition and leave you in a place where you feel like, ‘I don’t know what God expects of me,'” Vuolo said. “The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world.”
That changed after Vuolo married husband Jeremy in November 2016, and the couple attended one of the institute’s regular conferences the following year. She noticed many of her friends who believed in the same teachings as she had were talking to her about having changed their minds, she said in a video last year that teased the book. She then said that the project would document her struggle not with her faith but with some of the things she had been taught. She called writing it “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” but also “the most important.” Vuolo emphasized that, although her faith had shifted, it remained.
She previously co-wrote Growing Up Duggar, a 2014 work with her sisters Jessa, Jill and Jana. Her husband was her co-author on 2021’s The Hope We Holdand, last year, children’s book You Can Shine So Bright!
Here latest, Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear, is available Tuesday, Jan. 31 at booksellers everywhere.