Most people have now heard about Josh Duggar from TLC's reality tv show, 19 Kids and Counting. It came out that he was guilty as a teen of molesting at least five young girls, some of whom were his sisters. Though he was indeed guilty and should not have been engaging in that behavior, I think people are focusing too much on Josh and not enough on his parents and their lifestyle, which they share with many other extreme "fundamentalist" and evangelical Christians. It's called the Quiverfull movement or sometimes, Christian Patriarchy.
Sibling sexual abuse is so much more common in the large Quiverfull/Patriarchal families, as is physical and emotional abuse. I've read many stories by individuals that have escaped that life. I also have a personal friend who escaped such a home. I was friends with her mother in previous years and had noticed several red flags over those same years. It was clear to me that having so many children, because she thought that was what she was supposed to do, was ruining her health and finances, but every time I tried gently warning her against continuing on, she brushed me off. Now that her oldest daughter is free—she's also a fellow atheist—many more revelations have come to light, including sexual abuse. Though I had not suspected the sexual abuse, I did suspect a lot of other things but did not have ample evidence.
Children who grow up in such over-sized families usually must raise their younger siblings, if they are all homeschooled, and there is no way the mother can properly educate that many children of that many different ages, keep a house clean, and adequately keep an eye on all of her children. When you add in the fact that those in such families are not given any sort of sex education, and perfectly normal things like masturbation are condemned, it's no wonder sibling sexual abuse has occurred often in those environments. Sometimes the father sexually abuses a child. Other times young women are simply sexually harassed or fondled by male authority figures in the various "ministries" the Quiverfull families follow (like Bill Gothard).
My friend wasn't even allowed to access the Internet when she was underage! My oldest son got his first iPod (and has since gotten an iPad mini and then a laptop computer) when he was nine and has used the Internet a lot for research and gaming. There is a porn blocker and a tracker so that I can check anything that was flagged, but other than that he's got freedom, and he's a very avid reader and researcher and enjoys educational Youtube videos as well. As for sex education, I started my oldest at the age of two with a children's book called Where Willy Went, which is a cute story of a sperm winning a swimming race and a baby girl being born. It even shows an illustrated picture of the parents underneath bed covers. I've always been open with my kids about sex and have answered their questions in age-appropriate ways (which isn't the same viewpoint of "age appropriate" among fundamentalist and evangelical Christians).
TLC has cancelled the 19 Kids and Counting television show, but there was talk beforehand of just firing Josh. That really bothered me, because even though he should have known not to commit sexual acts against his sisters at the age of 14, I really believe the Duggar patriarch and his wife should be closely examined. There's way more to this than their teen son molesting his sisters and another young girl.
One great example of this is their following of the sick book, To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. It's basically a child abuse instruction guide and is popular among the Quiverfull/Patriarchy families. I was either pregnant with my firstborn, or he was an infant, when I stumbled upon the book in a free online format, or maybe it was a preview of a limited number of pages. Either way, I only read a few pages and stopped, because I was so appalled people could teach others to treat children that way. What is more appalling, of course, is that thousands of parents who read that sadistic book actually do not recoil in horror but think it's a good idea, and so they follow its instructions! There are actually those out there who believe that it's ok to deliberately entice an infant to touch an item you don't want touched, and then hit them when they do, and to deliberately touch your child's hand to a hot stove to teach the child it's not a good idea to touch a hot stove, and to push your child into a pond to teach the child you shouldn't play near a pond, and that you should beat a child for acting unhappy and also for crying after a beating. The implement they recommend parents use for hitting their children is a flexible plumbing line. My friend and her younger siblings were all beat with such an implement, because she followed the Pearls' teaching.
Debi Pearl even says you should yank your infant's hair when he or she bites during breastfeeding at around four months. Is she ignorant? Does she honestly think the child has evil intentions? When teeth are growing through a person's gums, it hurts to suck. Biting down temporarily relieves the pain. Perhaps a little compassion should be shown. How about reacting normally, like we would in any other circumstance when something hurts us, by crying out and removing the offender (in this case, unlatching the baby from the breast for a few moments)? How about kissing the baby's head and relatching him or her? If the baby is biting too much, he or she may need to chew on a frozen washcloth or other frozen or cold item or even have some numbing agent applied to his or her gums. This is what a loving and compassionate mother does for a four-month-old baby who is biting during a nursing session. Maybe Debi Pearl and all the other ignorant women out there who subscribe to her ignorant and evil teachings would do well to take a child development class and/or thoroughly read a good pediatrics book.
Obviously this kind of behavior toward one's children has nothing to do with a Christian upbringing, if one is aiming to bring up a child in "new covenant" theology, the underlying point of which is to plant seeds in a child's mind that will grow into an inner desire to do what is good and beneficial for him- herself and other beings, because of that very fact alone, namely that they want to do what is good and beneficial, because they see that it brings forth good fruit and helps everyone be healthy and happy. The sadistic Pearl method does the exact opposite by training children to do things authority figures teach them to do out of fear of punishment. If a child is not strong-willed, then he or she will eventually always be compliant, but it won't be because the child has been taught and shown that good actions help everyone. It will be because the child lives under tyranny and is fearful. That is not the kind of human being I want to bring up to adulthood. That does not produce adults who will take the time to meditate on important decisions and develop moral and ethical judgments. It produces adults who will not question authority and will obey, regardless of whether it is moral or immoral to do so.
Such children do not learn anything about gray areas in life, either. Everything is taught to them as strictly black and white. They are taught extreme right-wing biases, the results often of which break the spirit of the law of love and goodness in order to keep some flawed letter of the law. Such people ought to read the first thirteen verses of the 23rd chapter of The Gospel According to Matthew, as well as Romans 7:6 and all the verses even in the law of Moses that warned against not going to either the right or to the left to do what is wrong. Extreme right-wingers are guilty of exactly that; they go in the extreme to the right to do evil, trying to get everyone to strictly follow their religious beliefs according to the letter they believe.
There are many witnesses that claim the Duggars used to promote the Pearls' sadistic child abuse manual on their website but took it down after their show gained popularity, even though they are said to still promote the other Pearl books. I did see screenshot evidence of the Pearls promoting a book by the Duggars on their Facebook page, referring to the Duggars as their "good friends." I also have read women claiming to remember that Michelle Duggar was on a mothering board with them on which she recommended a specific kind of flexible ruler to use for hitting infants that tried crawling off their blankets. One woman said she got the screenshot before it was quickly removed after the show's airing, but she didn't want to post it, because it would expose others who had posted who might have since changed their actions (though I'm not sure why she doesn't just use a program to black out the names).
The "blanket training," as it's called, is another teaching followed among these circles. You are to use a spoon or other instrument to hit your infant's hand if he or she tries crawling off his or her blanket. This is to train the child to be still for a certain length of time in order for the mother to get things done. We live in a time of playpens, so there is no excuse for this evil. I've had elderly friends say that back in their time, before playpens, it was common for a mother to dress the baby in an adult shirt and place a big rock on the shirttail to keep the baby from wandering, if someone was not holding the child or carrying him or her in a sling. Hitting an infant is inexcusable in all circumstances. It's cruel and also kills normal development in a child who is naturally curious.
Links to the above-mentioned screenshots and other evidence will be posted at the end, along with a link to the police report that was taken when police were finally notified of Josh's molesting young girls. It recorded one of the sister victim's saying that they were all "spanked" with a "rod" when they were in trouble.
When I was a Christian, the last decade of it—nearly my entire adult life until I went apostate—was spent as a Sabbath-and-biblical-holidays-keeping Christian, and I despised all the mainstream beliefs and practices and strongly hated "fundamentalist" teachings. For only the shortest time in my early adulthood did I listen to things such as AFR (radio station of the American Family Association). I quickly tired of not only the many annoying musicians and songs (though some were good) but also all the focus going into support of war (which I believe is very unchristrian), anti-abortion (which they called being "pro-life" all the while being so pro-war), and homosexuals and the banning or preventing of homosexual marriage. They always took a short semi-break during the month of December to push the ignorant "put Christ back into Christmas" nonsense and wanting tax dollars to pay for nativity scenes. There was one thing I was suckered into temporarily. For a short time, I must admit that by listening to Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis creationist program that aired and by buying and reading some of the books pushed by that organization, I bought into the young earth teaching that includes the dinosaurs living with Adam and Eve, etc. That lasted about three years.
I really came to hate American Family Association and its radio stations and thought the president and his son were hateful and ignorant individuals. Fox News was something we watched for a little over a year when we subscribed to satellite television, and I grew tired of Bill O'Reilly's yelling and interrupting his guests and Sean Hannity's obnoxious attitude. I lost what little respect I had left for Sean Hannity when I heard him say that he supported torture during interrogations of suspected terrorists.
Those are the types of programs thousands, if not millions, of "Christians" listen to and support. It's sickening. However, the people in the Quiverfull movement go much further. Most Christians out there don't hit infants, deliberately set their kids up for failure in order to punish them, hit them for outwardly expressing a lack of joy, birth so many children that they cannot properly afford to care for them, and get their oldest child(ren) to rear the younger ones and do most of the housework. This is the kind of life the Duggars and other Quiverfull families live out. They desire to take over their "enemies" by outbreeding them. It scares me to imagine these fruitcakes taking over the government and establishing their religion, which is something which the Constitution specifically stated the government should not be allowed to do but that the "Christian" religious extremists in this nation want very much to do.
Even when I was a Christian I was mightily opposed to the extreme earth-hating, war-loving, hateful right-wing "Christians" taking over and forcing their brand of Christianity upon everyone. That's exactly what happened to bring in the Dark Ages in Europe. They shut down the schools of higher education, mandated adherence to Roman Catholicism, and conducted religious services in a "sacred language" that the laymen could not understand, as well as printed bibles in the "sacred" Latin language so that the common people could not read it themselves (and usually could not afford a bible, anyway).
Is this really the kind of lifestyle we want to support? Are these things truly "family-friendly values?" What you see on television isn't the full story. Remember, it's a television show. It's all for show. For an example of what really happens behind-the-scenes, read this article about Duggar fakery that went down just recently, about a thirty-five or forty-minute drive from my home.
I am hoping to soon write up a post that totally sinks the foolish idea that the bible teaches Christians they should breed like rabbits. The people who subscribe to that belief are dead wrong.
In the meantime, be sure to check all the links.
Quiverfull of Shit: a Guide to the Duggars' Scary Brand of Christianity
Are the Duggars Guilty of Child Abuse?
Duggars Believe in Pearls' Teachings and Promote Bill Gothard
Duggars Support Pearls (Find the nogreaterjoy.org ad)
The Police Report on Josh Duggar (inserted within article)
Blogs of Quiverfull Daughter Survivors
Permission to Live
Love, Joy, Feminism