4 Reasons Conservatives Should Join Liberals in Opposing the Duggars
By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Michelle Duggar is the matriarch of the popular conservative Christian homeschooling family featured on The Learning Channel’s 19 Kids and Counting. Several months ago, she made a robocall to citizens of Fayetteville, Arkansas urging them to vote against a bill that would grant transgender women access to public accommodations for cisgender women (such as restrooms and changing areas). Duggar insinuated that “men,” particularly “males with past child predator convictions,” would use this bill’s passage to perpetuate child sexual abuse.
In August, HARO board member Shaney Lee pointed out the hypocrisy in Michelle Duggar’s supposed concern for child abuse victims:
“To put it bluntly, Michelle Duggar is a hypocrite. She supposedly cares about keeping women and children safe from sexual predators, yet her family continues to be associated with a known sexual predator: Bill Gothard. The Duggars have long been huge supporters of Bill Gothard and his ministry, Institute of Basic Life Principles… Bill Gothard resigned from IBLP and all its affiliates back in March of this year when over 30 women accused him of sexual harassment….In the face of overwhelming evidence showing Gothard to be a sexual predator, the Duggars have said nothing. In fact, they continue to profit from promoting ATI and IBLP…In addition to showing a lack of personal integrity, Michelle’s call reinforces that common misconception that sexual predators are strangers. This is simply not the case–particularly when it comes to children…[This misconception] allows people like Bill Gothard to get away with their abuse. Michelle Duggar is more than willing to throw trans* people, who are no more likely to be sexual predators than anyone else, under the bus, while refusing to do the uncomfortable work of publicly denouncing a known predator whom she has supported and promoted for years.”
In light of Michelle Duggar’s robocoll, a petition was started back in August calling on The Learning Channel to end the Duggars’ show 19 Kids and Counting. As of November 19, the petition only had 9,000 signatures. But overnight, due to media coverage likely caused by the Duggars’ Facebook “kissing challenge” and its resulting controversy (they allegedly deleted pictures of same-sex couples participating in the challenge), the petition today has over 100,000 signatures.
Suddenly everyone took note. Conservative and Christian websites have fired back with their own coverage and petitions. The Daily Signal declared that, “Some People Want the Duggars’ Show Cancelled Because They Oppose Men Using Women’s Bathrooms.” “Defend the Duggars as they come under attack!”, beseeched Life Site News (LSN). LSN created a counter-petition which — as of 3:15 West Coast time on Thursday — has almost 20,000 signatures. Here is part of LSN’s petition text:
“In the past few days, liberal extremists have launched a full-scale attack on the Duggars, demanding that The Learning Channel cancel the Duggars’ popular reality TV show… We need to launch a counter-attack, letting TLC know that the American people stand by the Duggars and their defense of traditional family values. Rather than being extreme, the Duggars represent the majority of people in state after state who have stood up for the traditional family.”
Actually, Life Site News: no, the Duggars do not defend family values nor do they represent the majority of people. The Duggars are in fact extremists and have explicitly defended extremists who tarnish the name of both conservatism and Christianity.
Conservatives should be just as vocal in opposing the Duggars as liberals. Here are 4 reasons why:
1. The Duggars promote immodesty.
This might seem an odd claim, considering that the Duggars are long-time advocates of wearing “modest” clothing. However, the Christian concept of modesty comes from the Greek word κόσμιος, which refers not to what a person wears but rather an inward state: a state that eschews materialism in favor of making the world a more just, compassionate place. This is why the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 does not suggest replacing “elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes” with “denim jumpers” but rather “with good deeds.” Yet the Duggars have transformed their family into nothing less than the Truman Show. Jim Bob and Michelle have robbed their children of their childhoods, thrust them into the spotlight, and made their own parental narcissism into a brand name. As Christ and Pop Culture observed in their incisive comparison between Lena Dunham and Jill Duggar, “While we watch from our respective corners, cheering or jeering as the case may be, each woman sacrifices her sense of self and the freedom to grow up in private on the altars of ideology and politics and commerce.”
This is not conservative. This is not Christian. These are not family values. The Duggars’ show promotes immodesty in its truest, darkest form.
2. The Duggars promote a dangerous relationship model.
Much has been made of the Duggars’ “courtship rules”. These rules include never being alone with your potential marriage partner prior to marriage. They also include the promise from Michelle Duggar that, “There is no failed courtship.” Oh, if only that were so. As someone who grew up in the conservative Christian homeschool world, I have seen so many courtships fall apart. They have hidden sexual assault. They have promoted shame, caused pride, and created skewed views of relationships which lead to dysfunction. They have created broken, bitter families. In fact, courtship can lead to more heartache than dating. Since courtship is basically two families dating each other (instead of two individuals), break-ups mean not only two individuals get hurt, but entire families get hurt. It can be devastating. I know — I’ve seen it first-hand.
And most disconcertingly, the relationship ideas of the Duggars directly groom women for sexual abuse. As homeschool alum Lana Hope has pointed out,
“The news media has finally connected Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, who sexually assaulted a young woman for a period of a few years, to the Duggar family. It’s not that the Duggars have sexually assaulted anyone.
But they are following the very teaching of courtship and stay at home daughters that allows women to be vulnerable to an abuser. The control they put their daughters under is quite frankly terrifying.”
Conservatives and Christians should be joining with liberals in speaking out against any relationship model that promotes shame, pride, and dysfunctional relationships. In fact, as the self-proclaimed standard-bearers of family values, conservatives and Christians should be speaking out louder than any other groups on this matter.
3. The Duggars have promoted, and continue to promote, spiritually and sexually abusive teachers.
As mentioned before, the Duggars are long-time advocates of Bill Gothard and IBLP, his cult-like ministry that has left immense damage in its wake.
Let’s review the facts: Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles have been (1) covering up sexual abuse since the 1980′s, (2) accused by over 30 women in the last few years (since 2012) of continuing to cover-up sexual harassment and abuse, and (3) promoting horribly abusive teachings regarding counseling survivors of abuse, Despite this, the Duggars continue to promote IBLP. Not once have they denounced Gothard’s actions or teachings. In fact, just earlier this year, Jim Bob and Michelle continued to be IBLP conference speakers.
And Gothard is just the beginning. The Duggars have also directly promoted Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, a racism-tinged ministry that engaged in the theft of another Christian’s private property. Earlier this year, as documented by a very-not-liberal news site, WorldNewsDaily, Phillips was accused of using his nanny as a “sex object.” Phillips and his teachings have ruined the lives of numerous conservative Christian families. Furthermore, his advocacy of an extreme form of patriarchy directly sets up young women for abuse, especially sexual abuse. In The Cry of Tamar: Violence Against Women and the Church’s Response, Pamela Cooper-White explains that, “Patriarchy sets the stage in general for more abuse of girls and women of every kind at the hands of men, and conditions men to view women as objects for their gratification rather than fellow human beings worthy of empathy and care.”
This is seen clearly in conservative Christian subcultures. Homeschooling mom Julie Anne Smith has observed how patriarchy is “setting up…young ladies for abuse”. And homeschool alum Sarah Jones concurs, explaining that, “The Christian patriarchy movement grooms young women for abuse, consciously or not, by brainwashing them into compliance and encouraging them to forgo developing skills necessary for independent lives.”
Like with Gothard, the Duggars have made no efforts to denounce Phillips.
4. The Duggars threaten homeschool freedoms.
If not for simple morality alone, conservatives and Christians have every incentive to call out the Duggars’ promotion of people like Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips. The fact is, the actions and teachings of Gothard and Phillips directly threaten homeschool freedoms. HSLDA’s Michael Farris himself declared this earlier this year when he called out — by name — the Duggars’ idols, Gothard and Phillips. Farris stated that “families, children, women, and even fathers…have been harmed” by the legalism and patriarchy of these individuals and their ministries. If conservatives and Christians did not start speaking out against this, Farris had a dire warning:
“Their teachings continue to threaten the freedom and integrity of the homeschooling movement…If public policy makers believe that the homeschooling movement promotes teachers and teaching that have a strong likelihood of damaging people—particularly children and women—then our freedom will suffer. Treating children well and treating women well is intrinsically the right thing to do. But it is also the necessary thing to do if we wish to preserve our liberty.”
In short, if Life Site News and the Daily Signal truly want to defend conservative, Christian family values, the very last people they should be defending are the Duggars. They should be joining with these “liberal extremists” and asking The Learning Channel to cancel 19 Kids and Counting — albeit perhaps for different reasons. If there is anything conservatives, liberals, Christians, and non-Christians should be able to unite around, it is fighting child abuse and promoting healthy families.
Defending the Duggars, unfortunately, does the opposite.
Yes! Let’s all oppose this couple who have managed to raise decent human beings….geesh!
Have you actually had any significant in-person relationship with their children?
kh, have you actually *lived* this lifestyle so that you know – from the inside – that the “decent human beings” don’t have the freedom to be anything but PERFECT? I’ve lived this life. It’s not as great as they make it look on TV!
I have actually only met them once.
kh…. K…..eri…… H……urley…..
…I bet this is the Keri Hurley who went on nonsensical rants on the HA Facebook page! She was awfully presumptuous on there. And to assume she can determine that the Duggarz “managed to raise decent human beings” simply based on meeting them once… hey that seems exactly like something Keri would do.
Admin note: This comment has been deleted due to attacking abuse victims, which goes against our comment policy. Further violations will result in this e-mail being blocked.
Ah yes. And appearances are NEVER deceiving. We learned that message loud and clear from Billy Gothard and Dougie Phillips.
And no, I haven’t read what I’ve written. I type with my eyes closed. ‘Cuz that makes sense.
That’s Douggie Phillips ESQUIRE(TM).
…I’m assuming this is sarcastic? Was there a specific point you disagreed with, KH?
Yes R.L. There is. Before I take the time to put them on here I would like to know that they will not be taken off because I disagree with you. After all, you did mention conservatives. We’ve had a problem with that in the past.
Disagreement is always welcome. But you’ll need to respect our Comment Policy. You can review that policy here: https://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/forum/
Sorry R.L. Stollar but you and I both Know that I did not attack any abuse victims in my above post so I’m going to up front here and just say writing anything further after this comment will not happen. Simply because someone challenges what you say and the conclusions you have come to. You are just not truthful about it. That is obvious.
KH — I didn’t see your comment. Another member of the admin team did (and sent the rest of the admin team a copy of it) and she removed your comment for violating Comment Policy #3: “Comments containing language or concepts that could be deemed offensive or triggering due to abuse survivors’ experiences will be deleted.” I have reviewed your comment now and I agree that our admin team member did the right thing. According to the saved copy of your comment, you stated that abuse survivors on HA were indecent human beings. That is a direct violation of our Comment Policy.
You and I Both know that is not what I said! I feel sorry for you Riot. Why do you feel the need to be dishonest about my comment? I never said that abuse survivors were indecent human beings and You Know that! What a joke!!
That is what you said. We have a copy of your comment saved if you would like to review it.
Banging your sisters down to age 4 is decent?
Since when? (At least outside of NAMBLA….)
You should do your research into this family before supporting them. I used to work for a non-profit that tried to help families like this and it was of no use. Anytime you have the Patriarch movement and the Quiverfull movement wrapped up in Christian Fundamentalism, you have child abuse,pure and simple not to mention what the brainwashed wives go through.
On the contrary, I believe cancelling the Dugger’s show would likely protect the Duggers – that is, the Dugger children. I think it has to be worse for them being in the spotlight and sheltered like that.
The intimate partner abuse is scary and it’s real. I know someone who married her boyfriend only because he sexually abused her and she thought she then had to marry him. It’s just sick and it’s got to stop. To do that, we have to stop people from feeding these messages to young people.
Send it along to me R.L. Better yet, repost it!
No, we won’t repost it. It violates the Comment Policy.
While I appreciate that you sent it to me, we both know that is not what I said! When someone disagrees with you even in a respectful way you hide their comments Riot. Well, it is your blog!
You have been disagreeing with me this whole time and I have not hidden any of your comments.
I won’t continue to argue needlessly about what you did or did not write in the admin-deleted comment, however. What you wrote was clear and unambiguous.
It saddens me to see the Duggars raising such perfect little puppets. I know – I was raised in the same ATI program. I know *exactly* the teachings and mindset of always smiling – “ministry smile” – but can only imagine the pressure those children and young adults feel to uphold the family name and the reputation of all of patriarchy. If I had a bad day as a young adult, especially if it was noticeable by others such as at church, I got scolded by my mom for embarrassing her. But these young people have the pressure of TV cameras! If they “embarrass” their parents, then their whole way of life is embarrassed. True emotions MUST be suppressed, as the ONLY permissible emotion is joy. They didn’t choose this life… their parents did.
I do hope that the Duggars’ show goes off the air. I hope that the ADULT children then feel free to discover who THEY are – not who their parents say they are – and I hope that several of them are able to find freedom in Christ. My heart breaks for all of those kids and young ADULTS who are trapped in that family – and families like them – by the bondage of legalism and patriarchy. The Duggar kids have the added pressure of TV cameras following them around, leaving them less room than most patriarchy kids to discover their own opinions and viewpoints.
Our family was also actually in ATI for a while. Just because your parents made you feel that way doesn’t mean that all parents make their children feel this way. The Duggar kids that are now grown and married seem to be very articulate and happy. I’m certainly not saying everything in life is perfect for them because in all honesty is it really for any family. A lot of this is just completely unjustified.
“Our family was also actually in ATI for a while. Just because your parents made you feel that way doesn’t mean that all parents make their children feel this way.. I would also like to add that my husband and I have raised six children in a Conservative Christian home… ”
It seems you were in ATI as a parent, not a child. If someone who was raised ATI and is now grown and out of the home say ATI teachings don’t make them feel that way, wake me up.
I hate to break it to you, but reality shows are heavily edited and sometimes scripted. There’s no way that the family is completely happy and functional all the time, no family is. To say that the kids are perfectly happy with their lives and upbringing is delusional.
Susan, I would also like to add that my husband and I have raised six children in a Conservative Christian home who don’t have bitterness about the way they were raised. Five of them are adults in their 30’s and 20’s. Not that we were perfect or expected them to be. I have actually only seen a few episodes of those shows and those Duggar kids certainly seem to have minds of their owns.
Ahhh… you watched a few episodes of a reality television show… no wonder you are an expert on their lives…
Oh my stars! “KH”,do you ever just shut up? I have lost my train of thought due to your incessant “need” to attack people and have the last word!
Ugh. I will hopefully be back eventually. But for now, I will say this. Gothard is vile. He was vile when i was a kid and now i am 46 and guess what? STILL VILE! God is cleaning house and isn’t it so interesting and TRAGIC for the kids that so many “ministries” the Duggars are affiliated with have come to a screeching halt due to a sex abuse scandal?? How is it that teaching modesty and not letting boys and girls swim together creates so many POS abusers?
I am SO glad I knew Jesus before all of this – and it breaks my heart that people look at the D’s and reject Jesus because they think that is how a godly family behaves. 😦 It is not.
That’s nice for you, but it really sounds like something my mother would say. She has no idea, and has this stupid utopia idea that all her children are coping with life perfectly fine, her methods of raising us were completely acceptable and nothing really went wrong.
I was physically abused, sexually abused, and chronically emotionally abused, in addition to being denied and discouraged from seeking medical care and educationally neglected. Years down the track I’m still in counselling, and I’m one of the “milder” cases. Seriously. Take your shit elsewhere.
Not all homeschooling parents are abusive, and not all homeschooled children are abused – though I’m still waiting to see if they exist. This stuff is deadly. Of course the kids here are putting up a nice front. Homeschoolers have this drilled into them to keep face. HA is a massive step in allowing those of us who have an “unspoken vow of silence” put upon us to have a voice!
The problem with the Duggers is they believe the world fits into a certain size box, everything is black and white, wrong or right and it doesn’t work like that. Courtship does set young women up for abusive relationships, and unfortunately the whole homeschooling set-up as currently stands generally endorses these ideals, and gets the tragic consequences.
I totally agree that is exactly what my mother would say as well. She tells people on Facebook all the time how much she “loves her beautiful children” It’s very convenient for her that everyone can see how she openly proclaims her love for her kids. But she has absolutely no clue what is actually going on with her children. We are all a mess. But she is living in a fairy tale that we are all ok and successful at life and we should just forgive her because she’s our mother.
I’m a homeschooling mom. Not abusive. You’ve met one now. We homeschool not for religious but health. Safer for my son and less stressful for a public school teacher.
That’s #4. The Duggars are dragging the homeschool name through the mud!
Homeschooling without state oversight and standards is a recipe for child abuse. Thank goodness my mother started parenting a few years before homeschooling caught on. She probably still thought the truant officer would come around if we didn’t show up on registration day. If it weren’t for public school some of us might be dead.
LJ Lamb, Let me just say that not every homeschool parent physically, sexually and chronically emotionally abuses their kids! You can also believe that it makes me absolutely Sick that someone treats there kid this way! I really am sorry! That is just wrong and sick! I have not been a perfect parent but I have not done those things to my kids. You can choose to believe me or not. I do believe you should all have a voice. I also don’t believe a lot of what was written in that last article about the Duggars. It doesn’t negate what you went through. I also don’t agree with how they(Duggars) handle the relationship thing with their kids in regards to courtship. I have adult kids in relationships and we certainly don’t all follow those strict guidelines. They are adults. I don’t tell them to take a chaperone. That’s stupid. I also do see how it can be a problem in a relationship or marriage down the road. Not all home-schooling set up endorses these ideas. I’m sorry for what you have been through.
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I am not an abuse victim. I’m not a homeschooling alum. I have no personal bitterness. I’m just a Christian homeschooling/public schooling mom who saw the kissing photos online. Why are they doing this? Do they think they’re going to drop the divorce rate or something? I find it all so extremely embarrassing, to be honest. They like attention…for THEMSELVES. It’s drilled in them to do such and such “for their testimony.” But, we know the curled hair, steamy instagrams, etc. are not “for their testimony.” It’s because they’re bored and want attention. I love your point…modesty is about putting certain things away to do good works. Thank you for clearly spelling out the reasons why this ideology is dangerous. Even those who hold firmly to a different view on the public restroom issue need to hear the concerns. I want no more People magazine/TV interviews/TV shows/workshops, etc. with minor children! Allow them to develop away from the spotlight. It’s so disturbing. It’s not like they’re even like Melissa Gilbert, a childhood actor. They’re just kids who are supposed to pretend to “be real” in front of cameras. So so disturbing and greedy. Please stop supporting this. Watch Old Yeller if you need to have something wholesome…just get those kids off the air.
In response to a question in the Chattanooga Times Free Press about why she and her sisters wrote Growing Up Duggar, Jill said, “We’re human just like everybody else, we make mistakes and have challenges and we want people to see how God’s ways work. We live our life on television and, Lord willing, everybody will be able to see Christian values that we hope will point other people to God.” This quote is so sad…I don’t feel they point people to God…they point people to themselves. Jesus Himself didn’t demand as much attention as they do. He spoke Truth, He prayed, He served, He healed and He sacrificed His life. I think that’s why this bothers me so much. I am sad for all the homeschooled kids who didn’t see Jesus, but abuse and hypocrisy. The Duggars are a trigger for them. But, please know: you are not alone. This is not the God I follow. Yes, conservatives and liberals should shun this because it is not right.
I thought the God’s way and Christian values meant to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the afflicted. Not go on social media and sneer at modern society’s version of lepers, people who are members of visible sexual minorities.
Reblogged this on lit! and commented:
In case you missed it, here’s a critique of the Duggars from a veteran of the homeschooling movement.
Those commenting here may not all be aware (though some of you clearly are) that part of the Quiverfull/Patriarchy movement’ score teaching is that children must be under the absolute authority of their parents. This translates to children potentially being punished for “disrespect” if they fail to demonstrate a cheerful and pleasant, smiling countenance at all times. Sadness, disagreement, questioning, failure to immediately and CHEERULLY comply with all demands can result in punishment. Corporal punishment is strongly advocated and praised. Therefore, the “evidence” of smiling happy children who are never disobedient, defiant, or even mildly questioning of absolute parental authority (even into adulthood) is considered sinful and an evidence of “rebellion”. This covers dress, speech, thought, behavior, education, careers, friendships, music…it’s a pretty all encompassing control expectation. So “happy” kids may be a result of something way different than self esteem and self confidence alone. It may be a conditioned response to avoid correction.
Reblogged this on Living in Spirit and commented:
I have watch the show since the beginning when it was originally titled 18 kids and counting. As a Bible teacher for children and adults for over 20 years I noticed by the third episode that there was something not quite right about this family. This family is a dysfunctional closed family system which I had learned about During my studies for pastoral counseling. I have also come across a couple families throughout my lifetime that are as such. Do not let what you see on TV make you really truly think that this is an open family because it really is not. Everything you see about this family on TV is, I’m sure, bye Jim Bob and Michelle. I would not be surprised if the IBPL is involved in the scripting of the show through Jim Bob. I do not see where the children of this family have actually learned how to live in this world and trust Christ. I do not truly believe that this show is in anyway a depiction of family values which by the way were shown to us in the 50s and 60s on the shows of; the Donna Reed show, my three sons, leave it to beaver and so on.I truly hope that you will take the time and read through this re-blogged of an article that I just finished reading And may the Lord bless you and keep you.
I followed this link here from an article about the scandal now, and I can’t believe how “prophetic” this article really is. My feeling reading this is: you don’t know the half of it! I never saw the show and I didn’t want to because I could tell just by the media coverage and little pieces here and there that this was a group of people bordering on a cult. For full disclosure, I am unfortunately a graduate of Christian school. So while I didn’t quite have the misfortune of homeschooling, believe me, I did not go unscathed by it. And I knew people on the fringe who believed like this. My best friend did, actually. She planned on courting up to the point that she would not even kiss her husband in front of everybody. She went to the formal with “Jesus”. I won’t even get into everything that I was told about dating and sadly, I embraced it, much to my detriment. And,very sadly, I was abused by the first male (I cannot refer to him as anything other than that) that I got involved with that I met in the church. My feeling is that sociopaths and abusers are shrewd enough to know that they can find easy targets in a church that doesn’t teach empowerment to their members who are not adult males. We are obviously all free to live our lives as best as we see fit. However, I am starting to see more and more in this life that where there is smoke, there is fire. While they want to present themselves as loving Jesus more than most and having a lifestyle above most, these are the worst kind. The innocent looking Southerner with the bad combover used his influence to cover up his son molesting his daughters. This is why we have a legal system. I can’t get beyond folks who decry “big government” and then use “big government” to cover up their family crime. The truth is that if this was someone else without influence, Josh would have been in a juvenile detention facility. As he should have been.
In my opinion, this is not even a conservative vs. liberal issue. This is a human issue. And the sexual abuse of these young girls should be universally condemned. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am a bit surprised at the people who are condoning this as a “youthful mistake”. I have been all over social media reading the past few days, and I have seen support for them, I have seen them painted as the real victims here, and people quoting “he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Really? I think the show needs to end permanently. There is NO room on our televisions for perpetrators of sexual abuse and the family that enables it.
I lost my faith through everything that I have been through, and I can no longer pray. But I am sending thoughts of healing to the TRUE victims in all of this–the four daughters whose parents failed to protect them and the one that was caught in the middle of this mess. I hope they can all get away from the cameras and find healing from all of the abuse they suffered over the years.
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Looks can be deceiving. I know of a family with 5 grown daughters still living at home. On facebook they look like they are living a fairytale life, however I was recently informed that they are verbally and, perhaps physically abused. One of the daughters was told that if she goes against her parents’ wishes and marries the young man she loves, she will be disowned (A fine Christian young man by the way). The patriarchy movement has been given too much power. It needs to stop! I was in a couple of churches where this was taught big time, and I’m just so glad to be out of it. I have homeschooled my 3 children, although my daughter will be going to Christian school next year. That in itself was very hard for me. I think homeschooling can be very good, but we need to be careful not to add all the “extra baggage” to it. I think the issues with Doug Philips, Bill Gothard, and the Duggers coming out is very good for the homeschooling community. We need to face these issues and deal with them before we completely lose our children.