What is Institute in Basic Life Principles? Documentary to target Duggars, Plaths, Bates

TLC Duggars Counting On

The Duggars and other famous fundamental Christian families are set to be exposed in a docuseries from the creators of LuLaRich.

Highlighting the horrors and cult-like behaviors of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, one may ask what is the IBLP and why do families like the Bates and Plaths continue to defend it?

What is the Institute in Basic Life Principles?

If you’re a close follower of “fundie” families like those from Bring Up Bates and 19 Kids and Counting, it’s likely that you’ve seen support for the “IBLP,” or the Institute in Basic Life Principles.

But what actually is the Institute in Basic Life Principles, and why is it so controversial? The answer is so scandalous, it’s being explored in am upcoming Amazon Studios docuseries.

IBLP in it’s own words “is dedicated to giving clear training on how to find success by following God’s principles found in Scripture.”

If the word “training” stood out to you, it’s probably because it’s a word fundamental Christians use a lot in replace of “teaching.”

Started by Bill Gothard, the defamed owner has since been exposed for his dangerous methods and sexist teachings.

For example, if you’ve noticed that the Duggar, Bates and Plath girls all like to wear their hair long and curly, that’s because it was Gothard’s preference.

Another one of Gothard’s teachings is Michelle Duggar’s infamous sex advice on how you should always be “joyfully available” for your mate, even when pregnant.

IBLP military camps

The Institute in Basic Life Principles “trains” its followers to be “the next generation of godly leaders.”

In addition to booklets, podcasts, and studies you can follow, there are also two infamous camps you can join: ALERT Cadets for boys, and Journey to the Heart for both sexes, though they are divided into male and female sessions to keep the genders separated.

These “camps,” especially ALERT, has long been seen as a military program to ‘straighten out’ fundie boys who may have wandered off their godly path. Josh, Joseph, James, Jeremiah, and Josiah Duggar were all sent to ALERT Cadets program.

In 2022, Jackson Duggar was rumored to be at ALERT when rare photos surfaced.

Most Duggar boys get sent there for “correctional” training, as the program insists that it encourages young men to “seek God.” It’s interesting to note Josh was sent there a rumored 3 times, and Josiah was there for an “unusually long” run.

According to the website, ALERT (which stands for Air, Land, Emergency Resource Team) you must purchase a number of packets and several uniforms before attending.

Bates and Plaths

If you’re wondering the connection to other fundie families, Gil Bates serves on the IBLP board of directors to this day.

As for the Plath’s, some question if Lydia’s choice of hairstyle represents Gothard’s teachings.

Olivia Plath, who’s family are the famous fundamentalist’s the Megg’s, were a part of the IBLP homeschool lifestyle, as well.

Though many members of all three families have since denounced the teachings, the connections to the famous fundies clearly still run deep.

Amazon Studios plans to reveal the dark side of these stories and more in a docuseries out this year. The Logline for the documentary explains:

On the heels of Josh Duggar’s explosive criminal trial, the untitled project will expose shocking connections between some of reality television’s most famous large families and The Institute in Basic Life Principles, a controversial fundamentalist organization and homeschooling empire. In addition, prominent commentators, writers, and social media voices will explore the broader zeitgeist of reality television, social media, faith, fundamentalism, patriarchy, and power.

Ashley Marie is a writer for Starcasm and the personality behind Twitter’s @RealityByAshley. You can contact Ashley via Twitter or email at realitybyashley(at)gmail.com

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