How do evangelicals view the Duggars? It’s complicated.

23 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

19 Kids and Counting, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and 5 More TV Shows Brought Down by Scandal.

Why were evangelical reality star and conservative political activist Josh Duggar’s parents Jim Bob and Michelle so slow to act on the revelation that their eldest son had molested his younger sisters—and, ultimately, so lenient? LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — TLC pulled the reality series “19 Kids and Counting” from its schedule on Friday, a move that follows reports of sexual misconduct allegations against one of the stars, Josh Duggar, stemming from when he was a juvenile.And after this week’s latest drama regarding the Duggar family, who quickly became a household name after the success of TLC’s , it’s safe to say we can add another series to the ever-growing list.

A popular reality TV star has resigned from Christian watchdog group the Family Research Council following allegations he molested several young girls, including members of his own family. Documents about sexual abuse from the cult-like homeschooling program the family follows—which focus on public image and lay heavy blame on the victims of assault—may help answer the question. In a statement, the channel said it was “deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.” The statement didn’t elaborate. Shortly after a recently discovered police report surfaced, Josh Duggar released a lengthy statement addressing the accusations that he sexually abused underage girls in 2002 and 2003. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenage I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” he wrote on Facebook. “I hurt others, including my family and close friends…I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. You see, the Duggars aren’t just “Quiverfull” breeders and Bible adherents—they’re also adherents of the Advanced Training Institute, a Bible-based homeschooling program run by alleged cult figurehead Bill Gothard.

Huckabee’s quick and full-bodied embrace of a disgraced figure at the heart of a shocking scandal immediately stood out as an almost politically suicidal act of loyalty. Also Friday, Arkansas police said they had destroyed a record outlining a nearly decade-old investigation into Duggar, a day after the 27-year-old resigned his role with a prominent conservative Christian group amid reports about the allegations. Months before the family had to deal with the revelation of Josh Duggar’s past sexual abuses, they were coping with sexual abuse allegations against Gothard.

His comments lit up Twitter, with even conservatives expressing incredulity that he would go all-in for the Duggars, who are well-known in social conservative circles. TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: Just last year, amid reports that Mama June (June Shannon) was dating a convicted child molester, the once popular program was cancelled.

Suddenly, the presidential candidate was a central part of the story — and found his name on social media alongside with words like “molestation.” Yet Huckabee’s unapologetic defense of the family is less politically risky than meets the eye. He’s engaged in a battle with Rick Santorum and several other candidates for the votes of evangelicals and social conservatives — at a time when those voters feel besieged by the forces of secularism and the mainstream media. While they are best known for their hit TLC show “19 Kids and Counting,” the family has spent years campaigning for Republican presidential, senatorial and gubernatorial candidates and have directly dabbled in politics. The document also blames porn, advising families to “pray for protection from pornography.” According to Recovering Grace, ATI’s Counseling Seminar curriculum also includes a handout on “Counseling Sexual Abuse,” which examines the many ways that a victim could have brought abuse on him or herself by “defrauding” God: Did you dress immodestly?

Craig Detweiler, a filmmaker who teaches about evangelicalism and culture at Pepperdine University, said Thursday’s news may turn the Duggars into “a cautionary tale.” Until now, he said, their image has been “as the ultimate family rooted in homespun Christian values… and now we discover it really is hard to keep up with two kids, let alone 19.” During the show’s long run, evangelical leaders became more outspoken against abortion and even contraception, and the Duggars forced ethical questions. It would never have occurred to the Duggars (or perhaps even TLC) that all along they were making a TV show about a subculture, but that’s exactly what they were doing. According to the report, Jim Bob met with church elders about the problem and decided to send the molester, who is not named in the report, to a “Christian ministry” program that consisted of “hard physical work and counseling,” but the Duggar matriarch later revealed there was no counseling involved and that the accused was simply sent to live with a family friend who was remodeling a home. They endorsed him again this year — abandoning Santorum, their 2012 choice — and several members of the Duggar clan even attended Huckabee’s recent presidential launch in Hope, Ark. Josh Duggar is married and expecting his fourth child with his wife Anna, who claims her husband confessed his regretful actions to her before they were married.

Food Network’s Cooking With Paula Deen: The successful chef landed in hot water after she admitted via video deposition in a lawsuit that she used the N-word and told what could be perceived as racist jokes. 5. Only then does it move on to what to do “if” the abused was miraculously “not at fault.” That advice basically consists of saying “It could be worse.

As the Duggars became huge celebrities and eventually high-profile advocates for politicians including Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, evangelicals debated whether it was crazy to keep looking at them as ideals of modern Christian living. “I think the big issue about them is whether they’re seen as any type of role model. Dave Carney, a veteran New Hampshire Republican strategist, said that every day candidates are asked about the activities and actions of supporters is another day their campaign message gets lost. “There are different levels of scrutiny, different levels of pain, but it’s always a distraction,” he said. “There are only so many media stories that are going to be written today about your campaign.” In broad strokes, some would say: ‘Hey, I love what they’re doing, trusting God, putting priority on family, saying faith is important.’ Another group would say: ‘In no way shape or form do they represent me and my friends because who does this?” said Timothy Muehlhoff, a communications professor at the evangelical Biola University, where he directs their Center for Marriage & Relationships. The former The Voice star was currently battling a court case where he pleaded no contest to one felony count of furnishing ecstasy to a female years prior.

I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. “(I know) who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended… Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.” Duggar’s parents released their own statement on Thursday. And if I have to choose, I’d rather have that than not be sexually abused!” It’s not certain that the Duggars came across either of these specific documents during their decades of ATI-approved homeschooling, but their association with Gothard’s institute is well-documented. When the Duggars first appeared on television in 2008, some evangelicals saw a fringe image of themselves, perhaps something like the experience of Mormons watching the reality show “Sister Wives,” about a polygamous family. “It appeals to people who are not comfortable with the mainstream culture in America, whether media, gender roles, sexuality or pop culture,” said Larry Eskridge, a historian and longtime observer of evangelicals. “And then people are fascinated with the mechanics: How do you house, feed and clothe that many kids in one household?” “It’s a minority way of approaching life in the United States, but it’s still a considerable minority that’s out there,” he said. “This is where the other America can tune in to see what the heartland or Southerners are doing.” “I feel like they’re very polarizing. For other people in conservative Christian culture, they’re excited to see something at least vaguely familiar on screen,” said Rebecca Cusey, a senior contributor to The Federalist and film reviewer. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. “Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God.

If you watch the show, you’ve probably noticed that the producers and the network steer away from exploring the nitty-gritty of the Duggars’s religious and political beliefs. The children go through a parent-guided courtship before marrying. “While evangelicals will often talk about gender roles, the way it’s played out is nothing like how it’s played out with the Duggars,” she said. As the Duggar family’s presence in the culture wars increased (matriarch Michelle urged voters last year to oppose a local anti-discrimination ordinance), the show was instead transfixed by the older daughters’ giggly wedding-planning and the logistics of wholesome family outings. After Josh Duggar admitted to the actions and Jim Bob Duggar consulted with his church, Josh Duggar was sent to Little Rock for counseling for three months in March 2003.

On Friday, the TLC network pulled all pending episodes of the show, citing the “heartbreaking situation.” In September, the show’s 10th season premiere drew in 3.29 million viewers, more than double the audience it drew with its summer finale in June, according to Variety magazine. Kate Shellnutt, associate editor of Christianity Today, said many evangelicals were wowed by the family’s self-sufficiency, with children doing their chores and making their own meals.

They seemed “like a well-oiled machine,” she said. “You have a sense that if they can do it with 19 kids, why can’t the rest of us with two or three?” Now, some of those values might be looked at differently, she said: “People are suggesting that maybe if they didn’t have such conservative views on sex, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

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