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The Duggar controversy is not an indictment of conservative Christians

Josh Duggar from YouTube/ABC

The Duggar controversy is not an indictment of conservative Christians

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By Joe Newby

If it weren’t for double-standards, the saying goes, liberals would have no standards at all.

Consider: We are told that ISIS militants murdering innocents in the name of Allah has nothing to do with Islam. But now we are supposed to believe that the actions of one person – namely, Josh Duggar – is an indictment of all Christians who happen to be either “fundamentalist” or “evangelical.”

Let’s get one thing straight right from the start, lest someone falsely sees this as a defense for child abuse. What Duggar admitted to doing is vile and reprehensible. There is no excuse for it. Worse yet, he appears to have escaped the long arm of the law thanks to a quirk of fate. And no doubt, his victims will have to spend the rest of their lives coping with the trauma.

But now the left, in its never-ending propaganda war against anything to the right of Josef Stalin, is attempting to use the Duggar case as a bludgeon against conservative Christians.

A particularly nasty screed at the far-left Alternet, for example, breathlessly condemns the Duggars as being pro-life, as though opposition to abortion somehow leads to child molestation.

“My point here is to say that contemporary evangelical Christianity sets ‘biblical families’ up for this sort of disaster,” Vyckie Garrison wrote. “Let me tell you more,” she added, continuing with her anti-Christian rant. Similar rants can be found in several other places, all of which engage in a form of intellectual laziness that apparently appeals to a growing number on the left.

The Christophobia (a topic we’ll explore in subsequent articles) was on full display on Twitter:

And of course, it’s the brand of Christianity held by “all” conservatives, according to some:

One person gets it:

A comment from a respected colleague raises some questions, however. What if Duggar’s parents were gay? Or secular humanists? Or atheists? Or Muslim? Would the left use this as a weapon to indict those groups as well?

Hardly. In all likelihood, liberals would argue that the actions of one person does not reflect on the whole. And in this instance, they would be correct. So why indict all conservative Christians over the actions of one man?

The answer, sadly, is rather simple. Christians are what we could call “low-hanging fruit.” As a general rule, they don’t go on shooting rampages or fly jumbo jets into buildings over a crucifix dunked in urine. They are content to live their lives in peace, following the teachings of Christ as best they can while recognizing that they are part of a group hated by the left.

And no, they do not support child abuse of any kind, despite what the Alinskyite propagandists would say.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake,” Christ said in Matthew 5.

Double standard? You bet. Sadly, it’s to be expected.

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  • MHilditch

    It’s not a “double standard” when the same lazy, thoughtless, sweeping generalizations and recreationally-inflammatory rhetoric is employed by the Right and the Left. It’s just sad.

  • Chris Snow

    Joe, you are making the same manner of sweeping generalizations in this article. You are Cherry picking quotes that fit into your article while refusing to indicate that there are other viewpoints on the left, not to mention through the whole spectrum. I opened your article looking for the possibility of discussion and found an article attacking the left as you put it for the comments of a selection of individuals.

    • Chris, please link me to some of these positive or at least different left of center posts you are referencing. I’ve not read them yet. I’m not saying they are not out there but I’m not seeing them yet.

      • Neal Schindler

        Again, pointing out structural problems in groups, institutions, or movements isn’t bigotry. Liberal entities like Re-evaluation Counseling and PJALS and Oberlin College (my hyper-liberal alma mater) all have problems, at least according to some observers. These groups or institutions must look within to make improvements. Just like any of us: liberals, conservatives, the Family Research Council, the Anti-Defamation League, Socialist Alternative, the Green Party, and on and on. Groups may each have unique areas to work on, but the need to do the work isn’t unique at all.

  • Joe this is a volatile subject, one that is easy to get heated up over when one is a theologically conservative Christian. I appreciate you daring to step into the line of fire on it. I do think a response was needed from this site that reflects another view. I do think the issues can get lost in personal attacks from either side and I expect we at SpokaneFAVS can struggle towards a better understanding even if we may vigorously disagree. I hope we can hammer out some fair observations. I also hope that we as writers can step in the ring, duke it out but shake hands when the bell rings. I do think you took the gloves off a bit with Liv and must say I don’t want to see her hurt even if I too disagree with how she said some of what she said in her article. I was slightly hurt by the associations she made but I understand her overall points. I hope others can see yours too. I must confess I’ve felt bruised by the predominately progressive responses around here but I do value what I learn though ive been stung plenty of times by cutting and cruel remarks. I see what the friends of writers post and recognize that in general us conservatives are a joke or plague to some. But as rough and tumble as debate can get, I do think it’s important to listen to all sides. Hopefully we can all still find the ability to be with one another face to face.

    • Tracy Simmons

      Thank you Eric, what you said is what FAVS is all about – respectful dialogue, even when challenging

    • Joe Newby

      Thanks, Eric, and I do consider you a respected colleague and friend. There are times, I think, when the gloves need to come off a bit. As I recall, Christ Himself took them off a time or two. And he really didn’t have very many kind things to say to the Pharisees of the day.

      My intent is never to hurt, but to make people think outside the box a bit. And I’m always happy to shake hands with anyone.

      • Charlie Byers

        Pharisees? Really? Joe, I think there was a gentle rebuke in Eric’s comment, and I want to make sure you caught it. I would love to hear you acknowledge that people are going out of their way to show respect for your ideas, here.

  • Megan

    A blatant cover-up is not a “quirk of fate.”

    • Sunnie Cravens

      Who’s covering up anything? The family? Please tell me ANY family that wouldn’t want to keep something like that quiet. I also know the victims would want to, as well- most aren’t charging into the spotlight to show the world their shame. And yes, they feel shame, even though they did nothing shameful.

      • Megan

        The family lied about sending their son to treatment. The law enforcement officer, a family friend, they spoke to about the sexual abuse is currently serving more than 50 years for child pornography charges. They did not report the abuse to the police; the police came to them after they were notified by the Oprah Show about an email received detailing the crime. (The statute of limitations had expired by that point.) And now a judge has ordered the records of the case be destroyed. None of this is a quirk of fate.

        • Neal Schindler

          These details are foul. They don’t indict conservatism. All anyone seems to be saying is that fundamentalism may have some structural flaws. Knowing folks who grew up fundamentalist, I can tell you that anti-vax is one such flaw. Parents have power, don’t vaccinate kids, teach kids vaccines will kill them. Kids grow up, get dread diseases.

      • Brad Thompson

        Of course they *want* to cover up their son’s crimes, and of course that’s a completely natural impulse. Thing is, what we want to do, and even what our natural impulses urge us to do, is not always (often?) the *right* thing to do. Their son committed a serious crime and, instead of facing it directly, they chose to bury it. In doing so, they became complicit in his crimes.

        • Brad Thompson

          Also, I think it’s important to avoid euphemisms here. Sunnie Cravens refers obliquely to “something like that.” We need to be honest, need to have the courage to speak the name of what happened: Josh Duggar raped several little girls. When we dance around the truth, we do a grave disservice to everyone involved; what’s worse, we perpetuate the culture of silence and shame that allowed this young man to avoid accountability and forced his victims to forego justice and healing.

  • Brad Thompson

    True, the problem isn’t exclusive to conservative Christianity, nor Christianity, nor conservatism. The point I saw raised (and then immediately lost in the heat and haze of mutual recrimination) was that there are structural elements of fundamentalism (from which no ideology nor tradition is exempt) that make children more vulnerable to abuse and perpetrators less likely to face consequences. As evidence of this, I have seen the following (part of the home schooling curriculum the Duggars use, from the Gothard Institute).

  • BlaineStum

    “A comment from a respected colleague raises some questions, however. What if Duggar’s parents were gay? Or secular humanists? Or atheists? Or Muslim? Would the left use this as a weapon to indict those groups as well?”

    No, that’s what the Family Research Council would do….

  • Dave

    I think your article has some good points but only picks out certain quotes. What is brutally missing from it however is what is also missing from some other things I have read …. re: the victims get lost in all of this … and there seems to be a greater move on the right to quickly forgive him and ignore what was a purposeful denial of his actions for enough time that prosecution was unlikely. Child abuse is a messy topic. The victims of it may not want to be reminded of it everyday in the media. So … not a great move for the media on either side.

    The sad reality is … this family was very active in attacking lgbt issues and people publicly and politically but didn’t even take care of abuse in their own home …. nor did they consider the affect on what appears to be a victim outside of their own home. My concern is the verbal support they seem to be continuing to get from resources that seem to consider their show or their anti-gay message more important than their shameless mishandling of these traumatic events that hurt their daughters and an unknown outsider to their family. I don’t know if they used the counseling curriculum that Brad Thomas shared in a post on this article … but if they did … it points to an even more shameful practice of failing to care for the victims.

    For one example of the verbal support I am talking about see this page (though his followers and supporters did give him heck over what he said) https://www.facebook.com/mikehuckabee/posts/10152994543137869

    • Sunnie Cravens

      So, are you saying that you think they did nothing about it at all just because they wanted to keep it quiet?

      • Brad Thompson

        Worse than that, it appears that they actively conspired to keep matters quiet. And while I cannot know their reasons, I have strong suspicions (having been raised in the same religious tradition) as to what they might be; ironically, a big part of their motivation was likely to avoid the sort of response they’ve been getting. The outer appearance of wholesomeness, of Godliness, is cherished and protected even while the reality of brokenness and sinfulness is assiduously ignored. Their theology has left them no viable way to address the problem, no path to healing and reconciliation, and so they *have* to bury it.

        • Dave

          I think society today is still trying to work through how to handle sexual abuse cases in order to protect the victims but still do justice. And there are a lot of voices out there that tend to spin the facts one way or another. But the problem here is that first of all there is deception … re: a claim that they sent their son for counseling when in reality they just sent him to work with a family friend for a while. And why take a year to tell the police? I would feel better if I was hearing that everyone involved received professional counsel. But … again … the only reference to counseling I heard was a lie.

          Forgiveness is certainly something Christ calls us to … but forgiveness involves facing the issues and being walked through them … it doesn’t involve sweeping them under the rug … And the victims also should not be pushed to quickly forgive … they too should be carefully counseled else what they endured will be suppressed and not dealt with under the guise of forgiveness.

          Again … phony counseling and taking a year to inform the police is not the way to address the problem.

    • Jan Shannon

      Dave, I read an article about that “counseling” on Cosmo. Here’s the link in case anyone else here would like to read the kind of resources generated by the homeschool program the Duggars use. http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/tv/news/a40980/duggars-homeschool-program-blamed-victims-of-sexual-assault/

      • Dave

        Thanks Jan … I have seen this elsewhere …The article information seems to conflict with what I have read elsewhere about the counseling Josh went to actually being just doing work for a family friend .. My concern is that I don’t know if this is exactly what they were using … the curriculum listed is from the 1990’s where-as this incident took place after 2000 if I have the ages right. Also … forgiveness is one component of dealing with abuse … its just not the only one …

        Again … sexual abuse is a complex issue to deal with … the privacy of the victims is a concern which seems to being missed in all of this … My friends Lindsey and Sarah are doing a very intense series on sexual abuse … here is part 2 of that series http://aqueercalling.com/2015/05/26/sexual-violence-manipulation-and-cheap-grace/

  • Jan Shannon

    I do not lump Josh Duggar in with any camp, and I pray that he and his family will receive the kind of compassion and care that I would want if I was the abuser in this situation. Had I done something so heinous, so against my value system, and harmed others as Duggar has, I would want to be able to repent and seek restoration away from public view. I have done some shameful things in my life, and I would hope that Duggar receives better treatment from other Christians than I received. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” All.

    You and I both adhere to Jesus’ teaching to “do unto others” and yet your article uses the same sweeping generalizations that you decry. I do not want my individual opinion lumped in with those of others. I really wish that we on Spokane FAVs, as a way of righting old wrongs,
    could begin to avoid using sweeping generalizations of the type you use
    here, Joe. Not all on the “left” blame anyone but the individual, and those who covered it up, for his crime.

  • Neal Schindler

    I agree with the statement that constitutes the title of this piece, and I’m very liberal. But the piece itself seems intellectually like the equivalent of me finding the worst homophobic dreck from Christians on social media and smearing it on a page and saying: “There! See? Christians hate LGBT people.” That statement — “Christians hate LGBT people” — is false in the way that any sweeping generalization is. Not even all conservative or evangelical Christians are homophobic (obviously). I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to take from your post other than “Some people are anti-Christian assholes.” Which is a true thing, but not your point, I feel like.

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