Christian family with 19 kids, the Bates, have similar values, courting rules like the Duggars

The Bates are friends with the Duggars of '19 Kids and Counting.'

Published 15 July 2014  |  
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The Bates Family

The Bates, an evangelical Christian family with 19 children, were the focus of a "Nightline Prime" documentary on Saturday.

ABC cameras followed the Tennessee family as they orchestrated the wedding of one of their ten daughters, Alyssa.

The family starred in the TLC reality show "United Bates of America" in 2012, and in a TLC special "The Bates Family: Baby Makes 19" the same year.

The Bates hold strict religious beliefs, and do not believe in family planning. Kelly and Gil's oldest child, Zach, is 25 years old, and their youngest, Jeb, is two and a half. In between are Michael, Erin, Lawson, Nathan, Alyssa, Tori, Trace, Carlin, Josie, Katie, Jackson, Warden, Isaiah, Addaliee, Ellie, Callie, and Judson.

Kelly has spent 23 of the last 25 years pregnant, and has had 14 home births without anesthesia. She has also had three miscarriages, and takes progesterone to decrease the risk of future complications.

"Although we just want to trust God, but at the same time, if there's already a life living, we don't want to deny medical help for a baby that's in trouble," she told ABC News.

The Bates also require their children's mates to be Christian, do not allow them to go on dates alone, and limit physical contact during the courtship period. The values are similar to their friends, the Duggar family of "19 Kids and Counting."

The Duggars also attended Alyssa's May wedding to John Webster, son of Florida Rep. Daniel Webster. Alyssa and John began dating over a year ago, and became engaged in January. About 600 people were invited to the wedding.

Two other Bates children – Zach and Erin – have gotten married, and Zach and his wife, Whitney, are expecting their first child. Michael is in a courtship with her boyfriend, Brandon Keilen, and looks forward to having a lot of children when she is married.

"Thankfully, praise the Lord, we agree, we both want a lot of kids, so, but if the Lord just gives us two, that's wonderful too," she said.

The Bates family has a large social media following, and their Facebook fan page has over 10,000 followers. The patriarch, Gil, is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Clinton, Tennessee.

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