Anna Keller married Josh Duggar back in 2008 and the rest, shall we say, was history. Though Anna led a normal, non-reality show existance in some ways before she was absorbed by the crazy Duggar clan, her upbringing was also far from typical.
Originally published April 2016. Updated February 2017.
Growing up Keller
Anna is one of eight children — five girls and three boys — who at one point were all on camera during a 2012 episode of 19 Kids and Counting, when the Duggars attended Anna’s sister Priscilla’s wedding in South Florida.
A step above the Duggars?
Sources have said that Anna’s religious upbringing was possibly even more extreme than that of the Duggar children. When Anna met Josh as a teenager in 2006, she wasn’t allowed to discuss her interest in him with her siblings. Feelings were reserved for a weekly 15-minute chat with her mother, Suzette.
Anna and her sisters
Anna and her younger sister, Susanna, were thick as thieves as kids, but they couldn’t be more different now. Susanna has definitely left the Keller fold — she’s been photographed wearing shorts, and lives in Atlanta with her boyfriend, with whom she has a child. She has renounced her family’s fundamentalist faith. Rebekah Keller and her then-husband (the couple has since filed for divorce, another huge no-no) practiced a more liberal form of Christianity than that with which Rebekah was raised.
Learning about the Duggars
Anna learned about the Duggars when she was 13, after reading an article about them. She later saw the documentary 14 Children & Pregnant Again! which aired on the Discovery Health Channel in 2004. Anna: “I was so excited to see another family who was brought up so similar to the way our parents were training us.”
The Keller brothers
Anna’s brother Daniel, the older Keller, and his wife Candice appeared in the 2012 episode of 19 Kids and Counting, and it turns out they have quite the scandal of their own. After having trouble conceiving, the couple adopted a child, which goes against the tenets of the Christianity in which the Kellers and Duggars believe. Daniel and Candice are estranged from the rest of the Kellers, and Daniel hasn’t been shy about letting the world know how he feels about Josh Duggar. Anna’s brother, Mike Keller, is also estranged from the family.
Did Anna have a choice about who to marry?
Anna and her family knew about Josh Duggar’s molestation scandal before the two were married, but a source close to the Kellers told People that the degree of the situation was downplayed, and that Anna didn’t fully understand it. “She was very sheltered with anything that came to physical relations or anything like that. She knew the words ‘rape’ or ‘abuse,’ but I don’t think she really understood what that even meant.” Mike and Suzette Keller gave their blessing for the marriage, which in their world essentially meant that there was no getting out of it.
Ministering to those in prison
Mike Keller, Anna’s father, left his job in 1996 to minister full-time to inmates who wanted to further their religious beliefs. Anna often went with him to work with incarcerated young women.
The Kellers homeschooled their children, and Anna graduated from high school at age 16. She taught Sunday school, as well as Awana, a youth ministry curriculum.
Mike Keller’s shady past
Anna’s father, Mike, converted to Christianity at the age of 19. Before then, he apparently led quite the scandalous life, but the details are definitely guarded. Priscilla, Anna’s sister, wrote of her father on her blog: “God truly redeemed my dad’s life from sin and gave him a tremendous freedom from the past.”
Her parents wrote a book
In 2000, Mike and Suzette Keller wrote a book called When Tragedy Hits You, on how to turn to God when bad things happen.
Meeting up at homeschooling conventions
Anna met Josh in real life at an ATI homeschooling conference in 2006. The Advanced Training Institute is a project of Bill Gothard, a Christian minister whose teachings informed the Duggars’ and Kellers’ beliefs. In 2016, Gothard and other leaders were sued by 10 women for sexual abuse, harassment and cover-up.
Journey to the Heart
In 2007, Anna and her sister Priscilla went on Journey to the Heart, an Advanced Training Institute retreat/bible study in the Northwoods of Michigan. Both Anna and Priscilla credit the event with changing their lives. Anna: “I went on a Journey as a single young girl and God used it to draw me to His heart. I highly recommend Journey to the Heart to every person that wants to get closer in their walk with the Lord.”
The bossiest Keller?
While Anna might be soft-spoken these days, she wasn’t always that way, according to a source who spoke to People magazine. “She was always the bossy sister, but in a fun way. If she and her siblings were playing a game, she would make sure they were doing it exactly by the rules. They always had a good time together.”
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