Since the news broke that Josh Duggar sexually assaulted multiple girls?, including several of his own sisters, many of the family’s fans have come to their defense, saying that they are a “good family” who have dealt with their son’s “mistake” and we should all move past it.
There’s a problem with that line of thinking: The Duggars are not good people. Far from it.
It’s easy to see why people think they are. They have been packaged as such by TLC: one very big, happy family that faces similar joys and challenges as the rest of us, and happen to devote their lives to Christianity. But the image we’ve been fed of them and the truth about their lifestyle and beliefs are two very, very different things.
They are full of hatred. They are hypocrites. I don’t believe they care about their daughters — or yours — in the least. Here’s why.
The cults of Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips
As they’ve discussed on 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars are followers of the ministries of Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, whose religious groups former member Theodore Shoebat says even many of the most evangelical of Christians reject as being cults. The family is a well-known advocate for Gothard’s ATI homeschooling curriculum — Josh Duggar’s brother-in-law is its administrative director — and his Institute in Basic Life Principles program (IBLP).
Things women within ATI and IBLP are not allowed to do, according to one raised in the group: wear fashionable shoes, listen to “worldly” music or watch secular movies, use any kind of birth control including the rhythm method or refuse to admit that a sexual assault victim is blameless.
According to documentation revealed by Recovering Grace, ATI’s sexual abuse curriculum seminar includes a handout on how to counsel victims, including an interrogation on whether the victim dressed immodestly, hung out with “evil” friends or spent time with the molester away from the protection of her parents — an incredibly victim-blaming line of questioning. Another document asks, “What factors in the home contributed to immodesty and temptation?”
Gothard, to whom the Duggars appealed for help when Josh’s perverse inclinations were discovered, has been accused of allegedly sexually harassing 34 young girls volunteering for his ministry and sexually assaulting four others. According to reports, these girls complained for years about their treatment at the hands of Gothard, but the organization’s administration did nothing. Gothard resigned his post in 2014 when the accusations went public, but the Duggars continue to speak on behalf of ATI and IBLP.
Phillips, one of the most prominent leaders of the Quiverfull movement, was sued in 2014 by a woman alleging he molested her from the time she was 15 years old. The board of the Vision Forum kept Phillips in his leadership position until it became apparent they could no longer keep his secret, according to the alleged victim’s lawsuit.
The Duggars continue to support both organizations, and various family members — including the daughters, themselves abuse victims — still speak on behalf of ATI, a group that covered up and excused the sexual abuse of young girls.
Family Research Council
Josh was the executive director of the Family Research Council (FRC) before he resigned over the molestation scandal. According to their official site, the FRC is an ultra-conservative Christian lobbyist group that campaigns against gay marriage, LGBT adoption, reproductive rights, divorce and stem-cell research.
They were designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center alongside the KKK, white power skinhead groups and Holocaust deniers because of the lies and fear tactics they allegedly use against the LGBT community, including pushing so-called conversion therapy and claims that a primary goal of the gay community is to prey on children. The FRC is the greatest means by which the Duggars try to push their political agenda on American legislation.
Gay is not OK — and neither is trans
The family is well known for their hateful, anti-gay and anti-trans views — more than a little hypocritical in light of Josh’s past. For example, according to the Fayetteville Flyer, they campaigned against a nondiscrimination ordinance in Arkansas that would have made it illegal to discriminate against a person seeking housing or employment on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. Michelle herself recorded a robocall filled with anti-trans scare tactics, stating, “The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance… that would allow men — yes, I said men — to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only.” She added that she doesn’t believe citizens of Fayetteville “would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas reserved for women and girls.”
Let’s break that down: She accused trans people of being pedophiles, all the while knowing her own non-LGBT son is a sexual predator.
Josh’s work with the FRC most recently included leading a demonstration in Washington in hopes of convincing the Supreme Court to declare gay marriage unconstitutional based on infringement of religious liberty.
By the way, Michelle Duggar has a sister who is a lesbian. She and her family do everything they possibly can to deny equal rights to their own family member.
Jim Bob and Michelle campaigned for Rick Santorum during his 2008 bid for president. Santorum tried to force public schools to reject teaching evolution in favor of intelligent design, is staunchly anti-abortion in all cases (including rape), compared ObamaCare to apartheid in South Africa, opposes gay marriage, compared homosexuality to bestiality, rejects any kind of birth control as unnatural and calls climate change “junk science.”
The Duggars have also campaigned for Mike Huckabee and Gov. Scott Walker. Huckabee, who defended Josh in a statement that could only be called laughable if it weren’t so sad, opposes the right to reproductive choice, including terminating a pregnancy in cases of rape or incest, all gay marriages and LGBT adoption, and rejects the theory of evolution.
Walker defunded Planned Parenthood in 2011, removing the only option for healthcare many women in Wisconsin had. He is also a regular speaker at the Heartland Institute, a primary supporter of climate change denial.
The Duggars use their fame to influence voters toward candidates who don’t believe women should control their own bodies, don’t accept science and deny equal rights.
The problem with Josh
When Jim Bob and Michelle found out that their son is a sexual predator, they did not report him to the police as many of the family’s defenders are saying. They first approached church elders who recommended counseling and hard labor — not legal action. As stated above, the counseling provided by their church is nothing more than victim-blaming nonsense. They also approached a family friend who happened to be a police officer, off the record, and asked for his advice on the matter. This officer never filed a report, and was himself arrested on child pornography charges later.
Michelle later admitted Josh never did get any formal counseling, and instead spent the summer remodeling houses with a church friend as his punishment.
The accusations only made their way to police when producers at the Oprah show were tipped off by a family acquaintance. Producers immediately notified the Department of Human Services, who in turn contacted the local police department. Jim Bob refused to allow Josh to be interviewed by authorities. Since the three-year statute of limitations had run out, police were not able to charge him with anything — but you can read their report here, from which this information is gleaned.
Education and careers for women and girls
The religious group that the Duggars belong to dictates that women are not to have careers of their own that take them away from their role in the home. If they have careers prior to marriage, they must still be family-centered and must be dropped after marriage to take care of their home, husband and children — regardless of what they may want for themselves.
They believe that adult, unmarried daughters must obey their fathers as if they were children, that attending traditional college is dangerous and that the only way to righteousness is to have as many children as physically possible.
Once married, women are taught that self-sufficiency will kill their husband’s spirit and they are to submit to him in every way, from money to their own hairstyle — and to his sexual demands.
“Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls,” Michelle said on the Today Show in 2014.
According to a Gawker exposé, the religious groups the Duggars belong to are staunchly patriarchal, and this means putting the needs of the males far ahead of the females. This was never made more clear than in the family’s statement about Josh and his history of being a sexual predator: it was all about praying for him, and not a single word was mentioned about his female victims — their own daughters. The women in their culture have about as much of a voice as the women of Saudi Arabia.
Other interesting anecdotes
Michelle Duggar reportedly got a crew member fired because he was gay.
The Duggars deleted photos of gay couples kissing after inviting married couples to post such photos on their Facebook page.
Jessa Duggar’s father-in-law says pretty much everyone has considered things worse than incest, so it’s no big deal.
During his Senate campaign, Jim Bob equated those who commit incest with capital offenders, yet he didn’t report his son to the police for the same crime.
Josh Duggar loves making incest jokes despite being a serial offender.
To sum it all up
The Duggars have made their point of view very clear on countless topics. If you are like me and support LGBTQ rights, believe men and women are equals and truly care for the countless, voiceless victims of sexual assault and incest, then this information likely changed your opinion on the family you thought you knew.
This is not an attack on Christianity. It’s about revealing the truths behind a family that so many people have wanted to emulate. Reality television, in most cases, is often anything but real.