I include the Duggars in the groups listed because they espouse these views and teachings. Their website lists Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI), Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum Ministries, David Barton’s Wallbuilders, and many other links under “Essential Faith-Building Tools.” (David Barton is a revisionist historian who is revered by many conservative, home school, fundamentalist Christians. He has no training as a historian, holding a degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University, and his teachings are heavily criticized by academic historians.) Because the Duggars advocate these views and teachings, I think it’s safe to conclude that they follow them.
I refer to this collective movement as a “cult,” which someone noted is a very strong word. Many definitions of the word “cult” are rather broad, but I think most of us are referring to the 6th dictionary definition when we think of a cult:
a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
I believe this matches the Duggars and others within the ATI/Vision Forum/Quiverfull movement to a T. There are many others in this movement – Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries comes to mind – but ATI (or their parent group, IBLP) and Vision Forum are the predominant groups. They certainly fit the cult definitions of being unorthodox, extra-biblical, extremist, and living under a charismatic leader, with Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips being their primary leaders.
The Duggars have put a pretty face on this movement. The family everyone sees on television is attractive, fun, energetic, and happy.
But many people in this movement aren’t as happy as they appear. They’re experiencing a private hell. There are numerous resources critiquing and exposing the Quiverfull movement in far greater detail than I ever could. One of the more extensive resources is No Longer Quivering, a website containing a collection of stories from women who have been part of the movement as wives, mothers, or daughters. These women now range from atheists and feminists to conservative and complimentarian Christians. What they all have in common is they have escaped the movement. Their stories are eye-opening and heart-breaking.