The Duggar family of TLC reality show fame has been back in the spotlight a lot lately. First, Jinger Duggar Vuolo published book about breaking free from her family’s fundamentalist brand of Christianity. The book buzz was still happening when Jill Duggar Dillard made waves with her appearance on the Amazon documentary Shiny Happy People, exposing the abusive nature of their upbringing and the sect that dictated it. The documentary, which digs deeper into the Duggar family’s deep connections with Bill Gothard’s Institute of Basic Life Principles, is officially Amazon’s most successful documentary debut ever.
All that to say, interest in the Duggar family continues to run high, and probably always will. None of them can do anything remotely public without catching some controversy, and Jinger Duggar Vuolo’s recent appearance on Kirk Cameron’s TBN TV show “Takeaways” proves that to be true.
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Cameron, the much-beloved star of the 80s sitcom Growing Pains, has long been a staunch Christian and hasn’t been shy about speaking out about his beliefs. But in recent years, he has become more outspoken in an extreme way. He’s also ventured into more political avenues such as anti-mask protesting during the COVID-19 pandemic and engaging in the “drag queen story hour” culture wars, among others. He’s even gone so far as to suggest that God sent hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017 as punishment for the people living in the areas it hit, quoting the book of Job to justify that opinion.
Cameron’s TBN show started in 2021, and according to the network, it’s purpose is to “discuss pressing issues Christians are facing with compassionate, well-informed guests, in order to find actionable takeaways that everyone can use throughout life to bring more of Heaven to Earth.” With that description, I can certainly understand why Jinger Vuolo appeared on the show to discuss her book, Becoming Free Indeed. I would agree that breaking out of legalism-based fundamentalism that encourages and enables abuse as described in the Shiny Happy People documentary is a “pressing issue” that Christians are facing, and from what I have read and seen, Vuolo definitely addresses it compassionately.
In a preview clip of the episode, Jinger says she’s come to know the “loveliness of Christ,” and now knows God as a “loving Heavenly Father.”
“I’m not trying to work my way to God, even though I never would have said that, it almost played out that way,” Jinger says of her formative years in the IBLP. “Trying to do all this stuff to feel right, to make myself pleasing to God. But now I know…His righteousness is mine now in Christ.”
Many of Vuolo’s fans, however, don’t see Cameron himself as compassionate, and they said so on Vuolo’s instagram post about her appearance on Takeaways.