"I think that's the scary part that you really have to look deeper and see how does this affect people in the long run," Jill Duggar Dillard tells PEOPLE
Jill Duggar Dillard is calling it like she sees it.
The former reality star's family are followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). The controversial, ultra-conservative Christian organization, founded in 1961 by Bill Gothard, has promoted female submission to male authority and encouraged followers to abide by strict rules that prohibited much of the outside world, placing restrictions on movies, television, music, dancing, dating and more.
Gothard resigned from his IBLP leadership position in 2014 amid sexual harassment and molestation accusations, which he denied, calling them “false accusations” that were aimed at destroying him and the IBLP.
Now that she's no longer connected to IBLP, Jill tells PEOPLE why she considers the organization she was once long associated with to be a "form of a cult."
"I really do think that IBLP is a form of a cult. I think that even if you remove the person in leadership, a lot of those same values and principles are still being taught, so it doesn't fix the problem," Jill, 32, says. "I think that's what some people think like, 'Oh, we've removed Bill Gothard from the situation. It makes everything better.' No, it changes and maybe adds a nice storefront to the picture, but it doesn't change the overall principles that are still being taught and held to."
"I think that's the scary part that you really have to look deeper and see how does this affect people in the long run," she continues. "My dad even said somewhat recently on a family group text, he was like, 'You owe your life to Mr. Gothard.' I'm like, 'No,' I think that you just have to not look at the sugarcoating, or whatever. They try and gloss it up and repackage it. But you have to look at the long haul, how it really flushed out. What do these principles look like."
For Jill, she believes it's crucial to "be careful not to get sucked into something because it looks great or because you see a family that you're like, 'Oh, I want to be like that,' and ignore the warning signs."
However, despite the bad, the 19 Kids and Counting alum says: "There were a lot of things that I value that my parents did teach me."
"So many happy memories. And you made one-on-one time a priority with us kids and finding out what our interests were, doing fun things for us," she recalls. "So those are definitely high points in my childhood. I think we do that as well with our kids. We try and value family time, be intentional. Don't just let the days pass."
"I didn't want to have to write this story," she says. "I do love my parents. I love my siblings. I struggle with the weightiness of it. But I feel called to do this."
Jill continues, "I feel passionate about empowering other people to find their voice, and if they do that through my story, great. I want them to feel like they're not alone."
The pair's former ties to IBLP will be a big part of their debut memoir. And like Jill, Derick also isn't shy to share his thoughts about why he compares the religious organization to a cult.
"I'll call it what I think it is, a cult," Derick, 34, tells PEOPLE. "A lot of verses in the Bible are taken out of context and manipulated for people who are not desiring to follow Jesus but wanting to control and manipulate and see this as an opportunity. The organization has attracted people who have that goal and see the ability to use it for that."
"It's attractive to people who are vulnerable or looking to fix certain problems, and it takes 'em down to a completely different path that's harmful," he adds.
Jill, continuing, notes that it's all "fear-driven."
"A lot of what they teach is fear-driven, but I think it's important to make decisions that you feel good about," she says. "As parents, we don't want to teach them to fear, which is hard to do."
"IBLP is neither a church nor a religion but rather a nondenominational Christian ministry that desires to introduce individuals to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to help them apply Christian principles found in God’s Word. IBLP affirms and teaches historic Christianity," their statement read, in part. "We know that our aim and our efforts are all designed to help people find God’s love, redemption, and the best for their lives."
Because of her own experiences, Jill says she now feels "passionate about empowering others to find their voice."
"And if they do that through finding something in my story that's relatable, that allows them to feel like they're not alone, that they don't have to feel isolated, they can gain back some of their life, maybe because I think that isolation and control go hand in hand," she explains. "If somebody can isolate you, then they can have control over you and power over you."
Jill concludes, "So when you're able to have a little more independence, and as Christians, we want to follow what the Bible says and not just go out and be like, oh my goodness, we're going to do whatever we feel is good for us, but thinking about other people and taking that into account, following where scripture is clear in leading us, but also disentangling our faith and surrounding ourselves with good people, supportive people."
For more on Jill Duggar Dillard and Derick Dillard, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
Jill and Derick's memoir, Counting the Cost, will be available wherever books are sold on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
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