IBLP: Where Are The People From Shiny Happy People Today?

When the Duggar family first made their way into homes across the U.S. (via Discovery Health TV and then TLC), it was 2004, the country was a more innocent place, and the questions everyone had were along the lines of wondering if there was ever a point when all the laundry was simultaneously clean. Sure, they had a big family, but that was why they were on television, right?

Over the years, things have spiraled out of control in a weird way. Their show, "19 Kids and Counting," was canceled in 2015, amid accusations that the eldest child had molested his younger sisters. Josh Duggar issued a statement that appeared to reassure viewers that everyone involved was getting the help they needed, but in 2022, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of receiving child pornography.

Meanwhile, people began to take a closer look at the family's ultra-conservative Christian views, and that's where the docuseries "Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets" came in. Using the famous Duggar family as a sort of touchstone, the filmmakers spoke with others who had also been involved with the Christian ministry called the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). What unfolded was a shocking tale of misogynistic teachings and a so-called "purity culture," that existed against the backdrop of alleged abuse and sexual assault. Speaking out after a lifetime of indoctrination is incredibly brave... so what became of those who put it all on the line for the documentary?

If you or someone you know is dealing with spiritual abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Jill Duggar Dillard

Of all Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's dozen-and-a-half of children, there was only one who appeared in "Shiny Happy People." That was Jill Duggar Dillard, who agreed to speak in the documentary alongside her husband, Derick. She'd been in the news before: She was one of the women who came forward amid the molestation accusations against her brother, saying that she had been one of the siblings he had assaulted.

She confirmed to Us Weekly long before the documentary that her split from the rest of her family — and the franchise they'd built around themselves — had resulted in some long-lasting tension, although she was still holding out hope that fences would ultimately be mended. It would be an uphill battle, particularly considering the book that was in the works (2014's "Growing Up Duggar"). 

Whether or not any fence-mending is going to happen remains to be seen, and even as "Shiny Happy People" aired, the Dillards made it clear that they weren't exactly backing down. Instead, they announced the release of a memoir, "Counting the Cost," which — in addition to being a companion to her previous book, promised to give readers a behind-the-scenes look into the community and belief system that they refused to raise their three children in.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Eve Ettinger

Appearing in "Shiny Happy People" wasn't the first time Eve Ettinger has spoken out about the Institute in Basic Life Principles and similar fundamentalist groups: They shared on TikTok that they'd left the cult they'd been raised in about a decade prior to the documentary. But Ettinger also stresses that they grew up not in IBLP, but in a similar group called Quiverfull. (Their family was, however, courted by IBLP, but Ettinger says that their father refused to give up playing the electric guitar and therefore, wouldn't join.)

Since their own escape, they've written a series of articles on the subject, and along with co-hosting a podcast called "Kitchen Table Cult," they've also become an outspoken proponent for home-schooled children. The Virginia-based Ettinger is a board member for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which advocates for home-schooled children, conducts research for both parents and lawmakers, and works to ensure that home-schooled children have resources if they need to reach out in instances of neglect or to report abuse.

Ettinger has made it clear how important documentaries like "Shiny Happy People" are, writing, "If you didn't grow up in this world, it's dark stuff. But consider that watching this [is] an act of witnessing... That act of witnessing is a kind of solidarity that is meaningful to us."

Brooke Arnold

It was Brooke Arnold who described her experiences with Institute in Basic Life Principles founder Bill Gothard as "looking the devil in the eye," and that's terrifying stuff. She also spoke about things like the revelation that they were taught that Cabbage Patch Kids were imbued with evil spirits before they were sent to the homes of the unsuspecting, and since the documentary, she's done what many people can only dream of: She's packed up a van and started to live a life where every day is travel. With her on the journey is her dog, Arthur, who she describes as helping to rescue her every day since she rescued him from a Texas gas station. 

Arnold offers a number of services through her website, including Q&As, speaking engagements, and Zoom calls. For home-schooled students, she supplies a link and a promise to help with their educational journey in any way she can.

Like others who have appeared on the documentary, it's not the first time she's spoken out about the group's fundamentalist teachings. In 2015, she wrote a piece for Salon in which she described herself as a real-life version of Kimmy Schmidt and stressed that the drama that played out in the Duggars' television show is rooted in very dark, very strict teachings. She's seen the damage first-hand, writing, "My close friend's mother even refused treatment for breast cancer because she saw the disease as God saving her from her abusive husband, and the burden of caring for her many children."

Lindsey Williams

Lindsey Williams' social media accounts are full of glamorous people, and there's a very good reason for that: Not only is she a licensed makeup artist, but it's almost guaranteed that most people have seen her work. Williams has worked with models on the covers of magazines such as GQ Style, Elle, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Parents, and Bride Guide, and in advertising campaigns for Saks Fifth Avenue, Urban Outfitters, Victoria's Secret, Baublebar, and Audible. 

She can also be heard on the podcast "We Speak Beauty," and as if that wouldn't keep her busy enough, she's one of the founders of The Makeup Standard. The organization was born out of the chaos of COVID-19, when no one was quite sure just what kind of sanitation standards were needed to keep everyone as safe as possible. It wasn't long before they found those questions extended to makeup, which led to Williams and her colleague, Mary Irwin, setting up a resource for not only crowdsourcing questions and concerns from the beauty community, but compiling research on the safest and most sanitary practices that should be put in place around the beauty industry.

Amy and Dillon King

Jill Duggar Dillard wasn't the only Duggar family member to participate in "Shiny Happy People" in an apparent split from the majority of their relatives' beliefs: Her cousin, Amy, also appeared, alongside her husband, Dillon King. They've made no secret of the fact that they don't subscribe to the family's ideas, with Dillon telling The U.S. Sun, "I've never actually been to their church and I probably won't. I'd probably catch on fire as soon as I walk in, with how they do things... my shoes would melt."

Amy, too, has been candid about how she didn't grow up with a mother who enforced the same rules, but has said that she was still expected to be respectful of her aunt and uncle's ways during visits. Now, however, she said she's in a place where, "I'm in my 30s now, and I just don't care anymore."

Both Amy and Dillon are active on social media, and both are invested in their own businesses. Amy is the owner of 3130 Clothing, a clothing store with modest and occasionally Christian themes. Dillon, meanwhile, is one of the three owners of Wellington's, a 21-and-up bar, restaurant, and cigar lounge in northwestern Arkansas. They boast "Old World-elegance" and modern cuisine, premium cocktails, and an extensive list of whiskey, scotch, and bourbons.

Chad Harris

Chad Harris is active on social media under various forms of the screen name Arch Radish. When he posted on TikTok after the drop of "Shiny Happy People," he shared a bit about how the documentary included everything he'd hoped it would. He also revealed that he remains good friends with fellow survivor Heather Heath, and they were both grateful for the fact that the documentary finally gave them a way to reach a wide audience. "I personally want to say thank you for listening," he said to everyone involved. He continued: "For so long, many of us have been talking on this platform and so many others, and we haven't felt like we've been listened to. But, now we're here. ... I feel [the documentary] set the record straight on what we've been saying for years."

Although Harris declined to say exactly where he was, he continues to maintain an active presence online, where he speaks out about fundamentalist lifestyles, the damage that they cause, and his journey in overcoming his past. It hasn't been easy: Born and raised in Alabama under the bootheel of IBLP's Advanced Training Institute, Harris has gone above and beyond to make sure anyone else trying to get away from similar lifestyles knows they're not alone. He regularly gives advice and direction to those looking for help, in addition to raising awareness. His post-doc AMA Reddit thread was wildly successful.

Heather Heath

Heather Heath is active on social media, posting to Instagram on two accounts. In one — @backsliddenharlot — she posts regular updates not only on her life, but on her experiences with raising her children while overcoming her own trauma, and making a conscious effort to avoid practicing the ways that she had been indoctrinated into. On the other — @clanginghangers — she posts glimpses into IBLP life... and it's not for the faint of heart. (The name Clanging Hangers, she explains, is based on a sermon given by Bill Gothard. In it, he explains that when he counseled a couple and found that the wife was fed up with her husband leaving clothes hangers on a door instead of putting them away, he recommended she just needed to let it go, because her complaints were more annoying than the sound of the clanging hangers.)

Heath was ultimately shunned by her family, in part for her decision to go against ministry teachings and pursue a higher education. She became a paramedic, and has since written a book about how her mother was targeted even as she tried to overcome her own past traumas, her escape from the community, and her fight for education. Proceeds from the book, "Lovingly Abused," are going (in part) to non-profit organizations supporting children who struggle for their rights to education, including the Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

Floyd and Tara Oathout

Floyd and Tara Oathout are active on social media, where they post together under the screen name AdvocateAverage. Along with being outspoken advocates for others, they've also been incredibly transparent about their own lives and what impact their past has on their struggles as a couple. In one TikTok video, they revealed Tara's health struggles — including a series of strokes and a diagnosis of a blood clotting disorder — along with their experiences with a difficult pregnancy, job loss, alcoholism, homelessness, and building their lives while still trying to come to terms with their pasts.

In addition to sharing their journey in an incredibly candid way and raising awareness of the long-term struggles they've faced to overcome their upbringing, they're putting all their energy and love into raising their son, Walter. Wrapped up in that are their posts on autism awareness, in which they share things from "adventure" outings to the days when Tara took him along with her to work, sharing how important it is for parents to make sure their teens develop all the crucial skills they're going to need as adults.

Jim and Bobye Holt

Jim and Bobye Holt have played a major role in the saga of the Duggar family, and talked about it in "Shiny Happy People." Their daughter had been dating Josh Duggar when the allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, and according to what they said in the docuseries, it ended up causing a major rift between the families. That rift undoubtedly opened into a chasm when Bobye went on to testify in court when Josh was brought up on charges in 2021, speaking about what she knew of the accusations surrounding the abuse of his sisters. 

It's worth mentioning a bit of background here, too. Jim Holt was an Arkansas senator in the early 2000s, and in 2001, Holt endorsed a bill that would have outlawed the teaching of evolution in Arkansas schools, and contained an addendum: If there were any books still in use that mentioned evolution, teachers would be required to tell students that it was an unproven theory. 

And that's kind of important to know, because since the documentary was filmed, it was reported that Bobye and one of their 11 children, Samuel, were granted court orders of protection against Jim. The orders were initially temporary but were later revisited by the court and extended, and when The Arkansas Times got wind of the protection orders, they reached out to law enforcement to find out what was going on. Their request was formally denied, because it pertained to an open and active investigation.

Emily Elizabeth Anderson

After a childhood tainted by the shadow of domestic violence, Emily Elizabeth Anderson — along with her mother — found a community within the Institute of Basic Life Principles. She was in her early 20s when she left, and was one of the people who filed a lawsuit against IBLP's Bill Gothard, accusing him of sexual assault. In the years since, she has not only been candid about the toll it took on her, but she's been using her own struggles to create a community where other survivors can find the support that she knows firsthand is so desperately needed.

Anderson created Thriving Forward as a private and safe space where survivors could connect with each other to give and receive the very personal support that's needed to heal. At the same time, she has been extremely upfront about her own health struggles.

Anderson was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a condition that causes the gastrointestinal tract to become chronically inflamed, leading to a host of serious complications, per Healthline. Although it is considered a disability, Anderson says that it was a long journey to get where she is today, willing and able to rely on her husband and her service dog for help. "All my life, people told me I should never label myself. 'Words have power,' they said. 'If you claim to be healthy and healed you will be. If you claim to be sick you always will be.'" Today, she is documenting her treatments.

Tia Levings

Tia Levings spent much of her life in various fundamentalist Christian groups, and she knows just how hard it is to leave. But hers is a message of hope, too: As she said in "Shiny Happy People," "When you leave, and you're actually out there, flailing like a new little fish... there are people that catch you." Now, she's becoming that person for countless others, and she's doing it in part by pulling back the curtain to reveal the teachings and beliefs that many grow up learning, and try to grow out of. 

In addition to the slew of content she's published — often stressing that fundamentalist Christian beliefs are more mainstream and widely taught than many people might realize — she also makes public appearances to discuss the lasting impacts of such teachings. Her memoir, "A Well-Trained Wife: My Escape from Christian Patriarchy," detailed her own split from a world that she knew up close and personal. Levings says that her goal is not only to raise awareness, but to let people know what they can do to help and support those who might be fleeing their own pasts in fundamentalist groups.

Bill Gothard

So, what about the man who started the Institute in Basic Life Principles, Bill Gothard? Gothard is heard from a lot in "Shiny Happy People," but where is he now? For starters, he resigned from the church a long time ago: According to The Washington Post, the IBLP officially cut ties with him back in 2014, amid sexual misconduct, molestation, and harassment allegations put forward by more than 30 women. A formal lawsuit followed in 2016, but nothing ever came of it: Since the statute of limitations was up, the case was dismissed. 

Gothard's social media accounts are still active, and filled with photos from his heyday of packing stadiums with devout followers, and religious artwork, along with his interpretations of the events depicted. But what about him?

Patch used public records to track him down, and found that as of the release of "Shiny Happy People," he was living in La Grange, Illinois, just a short distance from his old high school. While not much about his personal life has been made public, a Facebook post in 2022 said that he was celebrating his 88th birthday, and it was accompanied by a photo taken at a "men's gathering" at his home. The post finished, "He is grateful for you all and prays for you daily. You are the joy of his life."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).