Amazon’s explosive docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, has Duggar family followers talking. It has also introduced the masses to the Institute of Basic Life Principles, branded as a Christian ministry but called a cult in the docuseries. The IBLP, as its known, has had several major scandals, most revolving around its former leader. Bill Gothard previously ran the IBLP but stepped down in 2014 amid sexual misconduct allegations. While Gothard spent decades controlling the ministry, he was never really the face of it, at least not to the public. That role went to the Duggars. So, with Bill Gothard now out of power in the IBLP, we can’t help but wonder who is running the show. Officially, the IBLP is now being led by a board of directors. According to Bobye Holt, a former family friend, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The IBLP doesn’t name an official president or leader
Officially, the IBLP is currently being led by a board of directors. If there is a de facto group leader, the ministry is careful to keep that information private from the public. The ministry’s website does not list an official leader. The website does list the board’s main members, though.
According to the ministry, the board is led by Tim Levendusky, Gil Bates, David York, and John Bechtle. According to his bio, Levendusky is a professor at Southern Methodist University. Bates is best known for his role in Bringing Up Bates, a reality TV series. Bringing Up Bates aired on UpTV for 11 seasons. The network unceremoniously canceled the series last year. York joined the IBLP early on. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is a pastor at Crossroads Community Church. John Bechtle has worked as a teacher at several bible colleges.
Bobye Holt claims Jim Bob Duggar has taken over as the leader of the IBLP
The Duggar family rose to prominence in the IBLP after they landed their TLC show. Jim Bob told several members of his family and community that he agreed to participate in 19 Kids and Counting as a “ministry” to reach more people and grow the IBLP. Thanks to their show, the Duggar family essentially became “royalty” within their conservative Christian social circle.
According to Bobye Holt, Jim Bob has now leveraged his family’s celebrity to become the leader of the IBLP. Holt shared her thoughts on Jim Bob in Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets. She said that she believes Jim Bob is trying to “emulate Bill Gothard.”
The Holts’ knowledge of the current state of the Duggar family is limited. While the Holts were once close to the Duggars, they had a falling out years ago over Josh Duggar molesting his siblings, and their connection has been tenuous since then. Bobye admits as much in the documentary, stating that Jim Bob, in specific, has changed so much that she doesn’t really know him any longer. Bobye’s estranged husband, Jim Holt, and Jim Bob Duggar grew up together, and the two families raised their children together until they learned of Josh Duggar’s behavior.