Three things you should know before writing about Josh Duggar

With the latest round of Josh Duggar scandals, it’s time to address a few things that have been floating around, both in the religious blogosphere and tabloid and mainstream media. If you’re going to write about the Duggars, here are some things you need to know. Before I begin with my list though, I want to say one other thing. If you defended Josh Duggar the child molester I don’t even want to hear your condemnation of Josh Dugger the adulterer. Consensual sex between two adults isn’t in the same universe as child sexual assault. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to reexamine their life. With that said, here are some things you need to understand if you’re going to write about Josh Duggar. 1. Fundamentalist ≠ Quiverfull It’s tempting to conflate the two concepts, especially since those who were involved in the latter insist that they’re the only true fundamentalists, but they’re not the same thing. Fundamentalism is, at its core, a theological position dating to the formulation of the Five Fundamentals of Christian doctrine and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of the early 20th century. The five fundamentals were the core doctrinal beliefs that those who came to be called “fundamentalists” believed were central to orthodox Christian doctrine. Those fundamentals were the inspiration of scripture by the Holy Spirit and Biblical inerrancy, belief in the virgin birth of Christ, that Christ’s death was an atonement for sin, the bodily resurrection, and that Christ’s miracles happened. Pretty much every Evangelical church in America believes in those Five Fundamentals, though most of those churches would eschew the “fundamentalist” label because of the additional baggage the term has taken on over the years. It’s entirely possible to believe in the Five Fundamentals and still believe in women’s equality, marriage equality, evolution, and left-wing politics.[…]

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A Recipe for Disaster

Sophie Anna Platt wrote the following piece in response to Jim Bob Duggar’s quote from Wednesday’s interview on The Kelly File. Sophie is a homeschool alumna who grew up in a conservative Christian homeschooling family with many of the same teachings as the Duggars. She’s given me permission to republish her thoughts here. (Also by Sophie: Which one of you have we wronged?) Nooo… Really? And not once did it occur to you that maybe the way you and these other people were raising your children had ANYTHING at all to do with it? Oh, wait, you were too busy becoming the poster family for that cult (so you could get rich off your gazillion kids instead of having to think about being responsible parents who have to plan on feeding the children they pop out) to be bothered to use your brain to think about becoming responsible parents. It is a recipe for disaster, and it goes something like this: 5 cups of teaching everyone that women belong to men They are born their father’s property, and are given as a gift to whomever their father sees as worthy. Should they at any time become free humans, they must immediately seek to become the property of whatever man is available or risk living in sin and going to hell. Usually their brothers are the first choice presented as an authority figure – particularly the oldest son of the family. 3 cups of girl’s bodies don’t belong to themselves It pairs well with the previous ingredient, but it adds some thoughts. Most notably are the ideas that a woman has to have sex with her husband anytime he wants to. Even as a daughter she must not leave the house without her father’s permission (even if she is an adult).[…]

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The Duggar interview and the need for homeschool oversight

Sibling sexual abuse is not some normal thing that happens in families. Not letting your children play hide and seek lest your teenage son molest his sisters again isn’t normal. A teenage boy repeatedly molesting his young sisters, including one still in the preschool years, isn’t just a thing that most families deal with. Unless you’re Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their friends, that is. Every single one of the Duggar kids, Josh included, deserved better than what they got from their parents and their church and homeschool community. If a teenager starts acting out sexually towards their younger siblings, something is wrong. When the sexual assaults continue after the offending sibling is caught and disciplined, something is seriously wrong. Josh needed help and he never got it. The girls needed to be protected and instead they had to grow up in a home with their abuser, never getting counseling from a licensed therapist. All because the Duggars and their community thought it was no big deal. While Jim Bob and Michelle may think that by describing it as something that happened in a lot of friends’ families, they’ve successfully downplayed the gravity of the situation, what they’re really doing is describing an epidemic of sexual abuse in their church and homeschool circles. Rather than following the law and reporting the sexual assaults to the relevant authorities, all of these parents seem to have simply reassured each other that it’s normal and carried on their merry way as if it were only slightly more serious than a sibling squabble. As this story has unfolded, I’ve become increasingly horrified by the number of people within the Christian and homeschool communities who have expressed similar sentiments to the ones Jim Bob and Michelle expressed in their Fox interview. This should be[…]

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Christian artist Steve Taylor called out Bill Gothard…30 years ago

The music hasn’t worn well with time (so very ‘80s), and this isn’t one of Taylor’s better songs, but it’s all there. The chain of command, the seminar notebooks, the umbrella of authority, all of it. So next time people try to play dumb about how Bill Gothard was just some fringe figure that nobody in mainstream evangelical Christianity had ever really heard of, here we have one of the most important figures in Christian music calling the whole thing out. In 1985.  No wonder Steve Taylor was one of my favorite artists when I was a teenager. He’s one of the only people in American evangelicalism who have consistently called out the problems within American evangelical Christianity. We need more of that. I’ve posted the lyrics after the jump. I Manipulate Does your soul crave center stage?Have you heard about the latest rage?Read your Bible by lightning flashGet ordained at the thunder crash Build a kingdom with a cattle prodTell the masses it’s a message from GodWhere the innocent congregateI manipulate Take your notebooks, turn with meTo the chapter on authorityDo you top the chain of commandRule your family with an iron hand I dispense little pills of powerFrom my hideaway ivory towerFrom the cover of heaven’s gateI manipulate Now it’s time to fill in the spaceWhere we talk about a woman’s placeDo you want to build a happy home?Have you sacrificed a mind of your own? ‘Cause a good wife learns to cowerUnderneath the umbrella of powerFrom the cover of heaven’s gateI manipulate Yes, I know that parableThat’s the story of the prodigalIf you question what I’m teaching youYou rebel against the Father too If he loved him why’d he let him go?Well, I guess I don’t really knowBut I see it’s getting late

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I Don’t Forgive Josh Duggar

Posts keep showing up in my Facebook newsfeed saying that as Christians we should forgive Josh Duggar. No. We should not forgive Josh Duggar because we cannot forgive him. Josh Duggar did nothing to any of us. It’s not our place to decide whether to forgive or not because you can’t forgive someone if you’re not the person they wronged. As my friend Darcy points out, forgiveness in the Judeo-Christian tradition was originally centered around the concept of debt being owed to someone. Forgiveness means no longer pursuing the debt that you are rightfully owed. That you’re not going to demand retribution for the wrongs against you. I don’t forgive Josh Duggar because Josh didn’t wrong me, there is no debt he owes me that I can forgive. Only the person who was wronged can offer forgiveness, and it’s not our business to tell a victim that they should forgive. Our job is to support victims and to seek justice. Further, let me remind you that contrary to what we’re being told, we don’t know whether his victims have forgiven him or dealt with the sexual assaults. In the ATI subculture, forgiveness is forced. You have no other option than to forgive because otherwise you’ve created strongholds in your life, you’ve allowed the root of bitterness to take hold, and now you’ve opened yourself up to Satan’s works. Talking about forgiveness in the context of Bill Gothard and ATI is virtually meaningless. Even if Josh Duggar is truly repentant and this isn’t just damage control to make it all go away, forgiveness by God does not erase earthly punishments and the consequences of one’s actions. Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, but the thief still died that day. Jailhouse conversions don’t mean murderers can walk free. A repentant thief[…]

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Josh Duggar says he’s sorry. So what?

Josh Duggar is doing damage control. He can’t stop the truth that he’s a serial child molester from getting out, the police reports made sure of that. What he can do is change the focus. Josh doesn’t want you talking about his victims, he doesn’t want you focusing on the five prepubescent children he molested. No, he wants you to talk about how sorry he is. Don’t let him change the focus. Josh Duggar’s apology is not the story. Josh can apologize until he’s blue in the face, but that’s never going to undo the trauma that he put his victims through. Josh, and Jim Bob and Michelle alongside him, have shifted the burden onto the victims, painting Josh as a child who made mistakes, apologized and should be forgiven. They’ve tried to shift the narrative so that it’s just a short hop to viewing Josh as the victim. This isn’t penitence, it’s not repentance, it’s what child molesters do. Rewrite the narrative so that in the end the audience feels sorry for them and forgets about their victims. We’re supposed to give Josh points for confessing and resigning so quickly, while feeling sorry for him that he’s now unemployed with three children and a fourth on the way. Except that Josh didn’t confess quickly, he hid this for over a dozen years, hid it while he became a television star, hid it while he became a rising star in the religious right, hid it while the organization he headed repeatedly attacked LGBT people as child molesters. Josh Duggar would have never become the household name he is if he and his parents hadn’t hidden the secret that he is a serial child molester. Of course he’s going to release a statement apologizing once the police report is all over[…]

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