Is it really all that surprising that Hobby Lobby had a hand in the “Christian” counseling child molesting reality TV star and beloved conservative icon Josh Duggar received after he violated at least five young girls while they were sleeping? Duggar was, and still is, a conservative superstar.
Though he has admitted to his horrific criminal activity, the Right has been going out of its way to help their embattled Jesus freak through this terrible ordeal — after all, because of the attacks from the liberal media over something so trivial as child molestation, he lost his show and resigned from his position at an anti-gay hate group.
One might assume that child molestation is a nonpartisan issue — but that person would be depressingly wrong. Since Duggar’s fall from grace, GOP Presidential candidates and right-wing everymen alike have spoken out in his defense. A Huckabee-appointed judge even ordered records related to the multiple sexual abuses destroyed, though such records are typically kept indefinitely.
Last July, Gawker noted that the billionaires at Hobby Lobby — the same ones who continually abuse women by attempting to further insert their Bibles into the uteri of America’s female population — heavily funded Bill Gothard, who founded the Advanced Training Institute, which produced some absolutely horrific guidelines on dealing with child sex abuse.
Gothard, who resigned his position amid accusations that he sexually harassed and abused dozens of teenagers and women, had this to say about Hobby Lobby’s Green family:
“The secret of their success is their generosity. They’re friends. I see and talk to them periodically.”
Gawker’s Adam Weinstein points out that “the basis of that friendship…has been massive giving”:
In 2001, the Greens, through a family trust, sold Gothard’s group a 2,250-acre campusin Big Sandy, Texas, for $10. The campus, which has a landing strip and aircraft hangar, now houses the Institute’s International ALERT Academy, a boot camp where young men train in disaster response techniques. The academy also runs a program for girls 15 and older. The website for that program notes that “skirts are required to encourage the girls to remain feminine in an active lifestyle.” The application—under the heading “mental health”—asks girls if they are struggling with “day dreaming,” “fantasy,” or “lustful thoughts.”
In 2000, Hobby Lobby donated a 529,717-square-foot building in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Gothard’s outfit. The company had purchased this property, a former Veterans Affairs building, two years earlier for $299,000. The Institute now runs a prison ministry out of this location, providing curriculum to a faith-based Arkansas Department of Corrections program known as Principles and Applications for Life. For about a decade, according to Gothard, the Institute leased the ground floor of the building for $1 per year to the Little Rock Police Department for use as its downtown station. Now, Gothard says, the police are paying a regular rental fee.
In Nashville, the Institute operates a training center in a former hospital that Gothard says Hobby Lobby purchased for his group. Public records show that in 2005 a corporation affiliated with Hobby Lobbysold the facility to the Institute for $10. TheNashville Business Journalreported that Hobby Lobby bought the building for $3.5 million. It currently houses theEmbassy Institute, where the Institute in Basic Life Principles hosts many seminars.
The Green family, according to Gothard, also “bought a training center in New Zealand and gave it to us.” He says that by providing the institute with these facilities, the Greens and their company “really helps with the bottom line.”
The Green family has not much spoken of their relationship with the Duggar mentor, but an Amazon review for one of Gothard’s books includes a “glowing endorsement” of one of Gothard’s books from Hobby Lobby CEO David Green.
“Through the example and teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, we have benefited both as a family and in our business. It is as we take those lessons from God’s Word that Bill clearly articulates that we live the full life that God intends.”
Josh Duggar was taken to Gothard’s Basic Life Principles Training Center in Little Rock for “counseling” after his father Jim Bob discovered the inappropriate liberties his son enjoyed taking with children.
“I really don’t remember the circumstances on why Josh came to our center,” Harold Walker, a former leader at the Little rock location, said of Duggar’s visit, “He came down … they used to work at the center, the entire family did.”
Gothard’s philosophy on child abuse is, understandably, terrifying — but it certainly explains how Duggar was able to simply decide that God has forgiven him for his terrible actions.
Adherents to Gothard’s philosophies are taught that sexual abuse is not the fault of the abuser — it is the fault of the abused for “immodest dress” or “indecent exposure” or “being with evil friends.” Victims are taught to question what they did wrong, and abusers learn that they can easily fix everything by shifting the blame onto others.
In one example from training materials, a situation very like that involving Josh Duggar is outlined. An older brother who was caught abusing his young sisters answered, apparently acceptably, that his actions were the result of his sisters exiting the bathtub naked (go figure) or not wearing their dresses “as they should.”
Eventually, after Gothard left, the ministry was shuttered, but the beliefs espoused by the Duggars’ mentor and his cult live on through them.
Featured Image via Salon, Modified by John Prager