On their television show, 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars appeared happy like some sort of twisted version of the Von Trapp clan in “The Sound of Music.” But that was likely far from the case – as many of us long suspected in Arkansas.
I once found myself face-to-face with the Duggar clan.
It was the early 2000s before the Duggars were reality stars on The Learning Channel, proclaiming their faith and family values to the world. Jim Bob Duggar, an Arkansas state legislator, was running for U.S. Senate, and the family arrived at an event in a huge bus like something from The Partridge Family.
The Duggar children were young, and they lined up in a row to sing about their daddy. “Vote for my daddy, please,” was a lyric I recall, and it was strange and frankly, a little sinister. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that under all the sunshine lined up in perfect little rows lurked a bit of darkness.
Jump to 2015, and we know now that a dark Duggar family secret has come to light.
Eldest son Josh Duggar was accused of molesting underage girls (allegedly some of whom were his sisters) when he was 14 and because of the recent public revelation of those charges, he admitted that the claims were indeed true. As a result, Josh Duggar, 27, who is married with three kids and another on the way, resigned from his job at the super conservative Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group.
It turns out that his parents knew about what Josh did as a teen, but did what they could to keep the news from becoming public. They even worked to make sure he wasn’t charged with a crime, apparenrly excusing that decision by but said they made sure their son got counseling.
Oddly, there’s been no mention of whether the Duggar parents thought their daughters, who allegedly were some of the victims, received any counseling or special attention as the victims of sexual abuse. None of the Duggar girls have spoken out about what did or didn’t happen to them, but we’d really like to know, Jim Bob and Michelle, where was your concern for your daughters? On your show you often confess your concern for their “purity,” but what about their mental health?
Don’t be fooled by the talk about Josh Duggar’s so-called “counseling.” The Duggars clearly chose a palce for their son that would act as a shield for all of them — the Basic Life Principles Training Center in Little Rick. According to the Daily Mail in Britain, Duggar received help from Basic Life, which is a faith-healing clinic. I’ve driven past this place hundreds of times as it was once the state’s old Veteran Administration’s hospital. In fact, I visited my great uncle in it several times, so I can tell you there is a 1950s-like creepy asylum vibe about the mega-story building, not an aura you’d associate with a counseling center.
The building first sold to the religiously conservative arts and crafts company Hobby Lobby, of ‘we won’t provide contraceptive coverage for our employees’ fame, which in turn sold it to Basic Life’s founder Bill Gothard. Ironic, perhaps, because Gothard doesn’t have a stellar record when it comes to proper behavior around young girls. In 2014, he was accused of sexually harassing women who worked in his ministry. That included teenagers. He also didn’t report cases of child abuse.
But Gothard, who left the ministry he founded, wasn’t charged with any crime, and eventually, the ministry closed. However, the Duggars follow the homeschooling program created by Basic Life.
Gothard did, however, give Michelle Duggar a “mother of the year” award in 2010. So maybe that’s why the Duggars sent their son for counseling. What kind of counseling is unclear. But a quick perusal of the center’s website says a hell of a lot. (And I don’t use the word “hell” lightly.) The Basic Life Principles approach says we can start with why we sin in the first place.
“Looking back to our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, we can often trace our physical features, strengths, and weaknesses through the family line,” the website states. “In the same way, we can observe character traits and spiritual influences that span the generations.”
Right, abuse follows patterns and creates cycles of repeated actions for generations to come. That’s something not groundbreaking in the world of counseling abuse.
The Basic Life Principles website addresses sins of childhood. It gives the example of stealing a candy bar, because after all, stealing is one of the Ten Commandments. Stealing ate away at the soul of the childhood thief for years, but once he confessed, all was better in his life. Good for him. Is that all it takes? Repent, get a bit of counseling and you will be free from something so heinous as touching the private parts of your sisters and other girls that you can go on with your life without ever worrying again about the consequences of your actions?
The site also addresses the evils of temptation. It notes, “At the heart of impure thoughts are secret, wicked pictures in our minds. During times of temptation, we often “revive” these pictures and focus on them. Attempts to forget the pictures usually fail. However, as we superimpose God’s pictures over them, we will experience freedom from the influence of the evil pictures.”
Type the word “sexual abuse” in the Basic Life Principles website and only a few documents appear. One cites: “When we refuse to forgive our offenders and hold them prisoner by our anger and bitterness, we resist God’s grace and give Satan the ‘legal right’ to hold us hostage by sins that we cannot conquer.”
It additionally says: “Failure to forgive past offenders means that God will turn us over to tormentors, which can include lust.”
But that does bring us back to the Duggar sisters.
Where are they? How are they dealing with this? Did they get any help at all? On their television show, 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars appeared happy like some sort of twisted version of the Von Trapp clan in “The Sound of Music.” But that was likely far from the case – as many of us long suspected in Arkansas.
There has been very little mention of the Duggar girls or the other victim that Josh Duggar allegedly fondled. Sure, Josh Duggar now says he regrets all of it. But that doesn’t mean that his actions don’t haunt his victims in the middle of the night.
So were Josh Duggar’s victims told to forgive and move on? And if they didn’t they would be overcome with lust?
Perhaps. That’s because the Duggars are superstars in the Quiverfull movement, which centers on procreation above all else because children are blessings from God. This movement bans all forms of birth control including natural family planning. “Just say no” to the rhythm method seems to be its central theme. As a result, as many articles have documented, women have little or no say about their sex lives or their bodies. They are simply vessels for their husbands to impregnate.
Earlier this week, two sisters – and we don’t know which female family members were molested by Josh Duggar – were happily shopping as if they were new money socialites. Acting as though nothing is wrong in Duggar-land, Jill and Jessa Duggar posed for a selfie with big smiles earlier this week in a photo Jill posted on her Instagram account. In 2002, when the molestation allegedly happened, Jill was 11, and Jessa was 9. It’s unclear if those two sisters were involved, but they could have been or they could have known what was occurring under their roof.
Hey, Duggar Family. It’s time put away the Christian Kool-Aid and deal with the harsh reality that has knocked on your front door. Sure, keep praying but get some healthy counseling from some experts that haven’t been connected to their own sexual scandal, and that doesn’t quote scripture as a prescription to abuse. More importantly, come clean about what happened to your daughters and what you did, if anything, to help them. After all, they are the true victims.
I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV, but I think the whole Duggar clan needs deep counseling that is not connected to God.