Josh Duggar, Mike Huckabee & the Complicated Relationship the South Has with Sin & Denial

Josh Duggar, Sexual molestation, 19 Kids and Counting As a Southerner, I’m not surprised at the political apology relationship between the Duggar family and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

The first sentence of my first book, Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt, is this: “The first time a boy told me that he wanted to f*** me, I was sitting on a pew in the First Baptist Church in Russellville, Arkansas.”

True story. I later found out that boy became a minister. Surprising, perhaps, but not in the repressive Bible belt, which is currently spinning over the scandal involving the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting fame.

That shocking news involves the infamous conservative family that has risen to fame thanks to The Learning Channel show they appear on. This week, it came to light that eldest son Josh was accused of molesting underage girls (allegedly some of whom were his sisters) when he was 14 and because of the revelation, he admitted that the allegations were indeed true. Meanwhile, his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar confessed that they had known about his actions for some time. They even worked to make sure he wasn’t charged with a crime.

This “news” might remain in the realm of yet another shocking story of a “reality” show celebrity’s real life gone bad. But it’s gotten more complicated, and more political, now that GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister himself, has expressed his enthusiastic support for and defense of the Duggars. The Duggars are long-time friends of Huckabee’s and both families have supported each other politically as Jim Bob Duggar served as an Arkansas state legislator from 1999 to 2002 while Huckabee was the state’s governor. Political loyalty runs deep in Arkansas, regardless of a family’s back story.

Huckabee has released a very long statement supporting the Duggars. In part, he said, “Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities.” The “victims?”  Does Huckabee mean the Duggar daughters?

He added: “They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends.”

I get it. I’m a Christian, and I believe in forgiveness. But really? Do we forgive the actions of parents who more or less tried to cover up the sins of their son at the expense of their daughters? And then put that son on television and turn him into an example of Christian celebrity? Odds are, if the family weren’t a high profile cash cow for a cable network, things would be different.

As for the Duggar parents, they had to know that the family’s sexual skeleton would fall out of the closet one day. So one has to wonder … if, as is reported, some of the victims were some of Josh’s sisters, what did they do to keep them from talking about it? Was it the Christian way to help these victims of sexual abuse by keeping the secret in the family?

In my experience, the theme of “Sin. Repent. Sin.” isn’t an uncommon one.

Turning a blind eye to certain offenses is often the beauty of the Bible belt and those who live here. Ignore a situation, toss out the Southern euphemism of “bless his heart” that’s often used to send to message of “that is really NOT OK” and move on.

We’ve seen it time and time again including with Bill Clinton who first said he didn’t have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, turned around and admitted that he did and then asked for forgiveness. And he was forgiven.

Bless his heart.

All across the South this Sunday congregations surely will be praying for the Duggars. No joke, I would guarantee a case of moonshine on it. And although TLC has reportedly now pulled their television program from the official line-up (though no word on whether the series will be canceled) – thank God! –  the Duggars will undoubtedly rebound from this scandal. They will very likely get a new program on a Christian network where they will preach to the conservative masses about how to handle such a repulsive act as molestation if it should ever occur in their families. The tricky thing to navigate will be how to deal with the question of what you do if the perpetrator and victims are siblings.

And somewhere in a church in the South this Sunday, there will undoubtedly be another teenage girl who will be fighting off some Bible-toting boy from making a pass at her as she tries to pray in good faith.

 Image via Wikimedia Commons/CC License

  • Yes, yes, and yes!
    DECADES of Mike Huckabee supporting HYPOCRITES My own PERSONAL story with him!

  • A J MacDonald Jr

    I’m always skeptical of anyone who markets their Christianity via reality show.

  • disqus_G7yY6kOo2O

    August 20, 2014bymelaniehollingsworthjester
    On Tuesday, August 5th the Sentinel Record published an article about a 21 year old young man that had pled guilty to attempted rape of a minor. This article was written to let the public know a terrible threat to society had been caught and given the maximum penalty for his crime. This crime occurred 8 years ago when the young man was a child. A disabled child.
    What you did not read was that this young man was a disabled child at the time this incident occurred. Left out of this article was the dozen or so therapists this young man met with hundreds of times over the course of his childhood. There was, also, no mention of the many stays in Psychiatric Facilities or even the 15 months he spent in Therapeutic Foster Care. Nowhere in this article did it tell you of the many different medications this young man took from the age of 8 until he turned 18. No information was given about this young man requesting admission to another Psychiatric Facility as late as age 19.
    This young man has never held a job because he is unable to complete a job application. Now he will have to register as a sex offender whenever he moves. Since this young man finds completing forms too difficult, he will simply be returned to jail repeatedly for the rest of his life for a crime he committed as a disabled child.
    This young man openly confessed and said he was sorry, believing that he would go home for telling the truth. He never considered lying or asking for an attorney. The police were his friends. Not the actions of a mature adult at all. The article failed to mention this also.
    Nowhere in this article was it reported about this young man’s childhood. No one cared to know. There was no mental evaluation for this young man nor was his mental handicap taken into account upon sentencing. The judge was never given any of this information. While even the victim’s mother requested mental help for the young man and not prison, no one cared. Consideration was not given for the 8 years that have passed without incident.
    Nothing can be done for this young man. No pardons are given for sex offences, no matter what the circumstances are. No one cares. Offer up prayers for this young man as it is not safe for a healthy adult convicted of child sex offences much less a young man with the mental age of a 15 year old.
    There are elections very soon and the article published on Tuesday, August 5th was pretty impressive given the size and placement for those seeking re-election to receive adoration for such a job well done. Hopefully those seeking a good reputation feel this young man’s life will be worth it to them in the end.

  • HighFashionAverageWoman

    The whole forgiveness thing worked when we didn’t know what this kind of behavior (molesting one’s kin) was all about and how to stop it from happening again. All people had was to forgive and pray it didn’t happen again. Maybe some other punitive punishment for the boy–like if he had those feelings to do X about it. But times have changed. We know that this kind of behavior may be hiding a deeper issue, like molestation from an older family member, or that it may be something not right in his brain. We know. To do the simple act of forgive and move on denies that behaviors like this have a root and are repeated if not dealt with head on. Also, back in the day, these behaviors might not have been seen as a crime but merely a human failing. We know better now. That, though, is what galls so many of us (aside from the reality TV angle.) Forgiving and moving on denies something was done, keeps it in the closet to fester and happen again. It denies that someone was hurt, and that the behavior is not just a human failing but a crime. With a punishment. Some say it’s too cruel to punish for something that is really “family matter” and that more harm is done by prosecuting. But is it? Had Josh Duggar been prosecuted or found out earlier, maybe some poor woman wouldn’t have married him and had his children. Now his children will have to deal with his crimes, too. In a different way than in the past–when families would do some sort of internal policing by keeping children away from him or other ineffective protecting behaviors. But over the longer haul, it will be better for so, so many potential victims of Josh Duggar and perhaps of his children. Because we all know that this stuff, if kept in the closet, keeps on keeping on.

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