“[Bill] Gothard turned obedience into a matter of terror. If I misstepped in any way, I was removed from all protection, and Satan would have full access.”—Jinger Duggar, Becoming Free Indeed, p. 65
“Despite Shiny Happy People’s shortcomings, it’d be a great loss to the church if thoughtful Christians, pastors, and other ministry leaders choose to look the other way.”—Christian attorney, Alex Harris (interviewed on Shiny Happy People)
On June 2nd, Amazon Prime aired a new docuseries called Shiny Happy People (Duggar Family Secrets). It was difficult to watch for several reasons, but we knew it was necessary. If you watch it, we believe you will understand what we mean. What’s sad is that it took a secular group to expose what the church should have dealt with years ago. Basically, if the church refuses to judge itself on seriously gone wrong issues, then the world will judge us; and because they do not understand the nature of true Christianity vs those within the church who have sorely and often horrifically misrepresented Christianity, secular exposés will grossly generalize and lump together the real and the fake.
While Lighthouse Trails was troubled with Shiny Happy People’s misuse and misrepresentation of the term “Fundamentalist”* and other over generalizations, there are things to be learned from this series; church pastors and leaders have allowed false teachers and cultish teachings to pervade the church to the detriment of countless victims (often young ones, many of whom end up rejecting Christianity, thinking that biblical Christianity is equated with the false teaching; in this case, Gothardism). We hope this series, as painful as it is to watch, will be a wake-up call to defend truth and not be afraid to call out the names (and their teachings) of those who stand in the gates of the church proclaiming and practicing dangerous lies (in this case, legalism, unscriptural authoritarianism, and sexual and physical abuse). If the church doesn’t judge itself, the world will—in its own way.
Don Veinot of Midwest Christian Outreach has tried to warn the church for many years about Bill Gothard and IBLP (Institute of Basic Life Principles) (and the many associated false teachings) because countless numbers of unsuspecting Christian parents and their vulnerable children have been harmed. This week Mr. Veinot wrote the following article after watching Shiny Happy People.
“Bill Gothard and the Unpaid Bills of the Church”
By Don and Joy Veinot
Midwest Christian Outreach
There is a cost, very often a high cost, exacted by false teachers in the lives of their followers. Lives can be crushed. Often people are badly damaged spiritually and almost always emotionally devastated by authoritarian leaders in whom they have put their faith. Pastors and elders are charged with guarding and protecting the flock from predators that creep in from outside the church, or perhaps worse, arise from within (Acts 20:28-30), but too often, the wolf sneaks past the guard without being seen for the danger they are. The late Dr. Walter Martin used to say, “cults are the unpaid bills of the church.”
We were painfully reminded of the harm and damage that can be done to spiritually ravaged sheep by authoritarian predators as we watched the four-part series, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets on its release date, Friday, June 2. There wasn’t a story told that we had not heard from people who had experienced the same treatment over the past quarter century, as we have ministered to people victimized by Gothardism. One of the directors/Producers, Olivia Crist, called and emailed us numerous times while they were producing the series. She and others on her team read our book, A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life. and had also been in contact with our friends at Recovering Grace. We were not interviewed for this series, but one of the things we were able to point out to the producers is that although Bill Gothard has unfortunately had great access to Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches, he is neither an Evangelical nor a Fundamentalist. In the opening episode titled “Meet the Duggars,” Brooke, one of the women who was interviewed, said something very similar:
The IBLP teachings aren’t Christianity, they’re something entirely different.4
She is correct, but if Gothardism does not represent true Christianity, how can it be classified? What is it? Click here to continue reading.
LT disclaimer on the following article: We have decided to put a link to an article titled “Amazon’s ‘Shiny Happy People’ Has Lessons to Teach, If We’re Willing to Listen” by Alex Harris. However, the article is on The Gospel Coalition website, a progressive emergent Calvinist site, and our linking to this one article in no way is meant to be an endorsement of this organization.