How Dangerous Christian Cults Create The Josh Duggars Of The World

The revelation that Josh Duggar is a child molester who sexually assaulted his sisters and another victim, one of whom couldn’t have been more than five years old at the time he abused her, has rocked the right wing family and their supporters to the core. Even worse is the fact that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar covered up the crimes with the help of a state trooper who is now serving 56 years in prison for child pornography himself, and even he says he was lied to about Josh’s crimes when the Duggars told him that Josh only molested one kid. With each new piece of information, this story becomes more and more sickening, right up to, and including, the hardline defense the Christian Right is putting up for the Duggars. This even includes Mike Huckabee, who is actually running for President of the United States. This is a potential presidential candidate defending a child molester and the family that helped cover it up, just because they are Christians. Think about that.

All of this points to one glaring fact, though: This isn’t just about the Duggars and their cult of a family that they displayed in all its sick glory for the whole world to see on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting. This is about the cult culture that is the fundamentalist Christian home schooling movement as a whole, particularly the widely popular “Quiverfull” sect, of which the Duggars are a part.

These people isolate and insulate themselves and their children from the rest of the world. No proper education is received at all; in fact, they teach extremely disturbing material, specifically when it comes to the roles and treatment of women and children. Jim Bob Duggar once opined on the use of contraception, which he ignorantly equated to abortion. Further, these people advocate what is essentially child abuse, using the book by Quiverfull heroes Michael and Debbie Pearl, To Train Up a Child, which has been linked to numerous disturbing instances of child abuse and even child death in the homes of Quiverfull adherents.

Large home schooling families are ripe atmospheres for abuse. For one thing, by simple necessity, the older children must “educate” (and I use the term loosely when it comes to these people) their younger siblings, and take care of them. That puts the older children into an automatic parental role by default. Because of this hierarchy, the younger children must obey their older siblings without question, just as they would a parent, or risk punishment, which usually comes in a physical form, because they take the Bible verse that says, “spare the rod, spoil the child” quite literally.

To that end, the younger children are completely powerless, and therefore are unlikely to resist abusive treatment- including sexual abuse- at the hands of their older siblings. Couple that with the fact that in this culture, children are taught that sexual abuse is the fault of the victim for having “evil” friends or for being “immodest,” and the victims remain silent. They accept that God wanted this to happen to them for a reason.

In other words, the Duggars and families who adhere to similar teachings hit all the risk factors to foster an environment of sibling incest and sexual abuse. Children in parental roles, absolute submission, ignorance on what is healthy with regards to sex, lack of any sexual education whatsoever, an imbalanced power structure among the siblings, and, most of all, complete isolation from the rest of the world, so that no one would ever be able to see any signs of abuse.

The thing is, the Duggars and all Quiverfull families are perfectly within their rights to practice their religion as they see fit, no matter how bizarre the rest of us might find their lifestyle. However, the movement needs oversight given how ripe it is for abuse. The children are kept so ignorant that Josh’s molestation victims didn’t even know the proper names for their genitals when they were being questioned by police. This level of ignorance and lack of education in today’s world is abusive in and of itself. It’s no wonder these kids didn’t know that what was happening to them was wrong and illegal.

The abusive nature of this movement and its teachings leads me to believe that the whole thing should be treated as a cult. Every family that adheres to the Quiverfull teachings needs to be investigated. I’d be willing to bet that, considering all that we know about the movement and its beliefs and practices, Josh Duggar is just the tip of a very big iceberg. This sort of thing doesn’t happen out of nowhere. This is a culture that creates people like Josh Duggar. They sincerely believe that allowing these things to happen and then covering it up is perfectly fine, because only God’s judgement matters. If all is forgiven by their god, then the victims and the rest of the world should forgive them as well.

Luckily, the Bible and the Quiverfull movement’s bizarre teachings do not trump the rule of law in this country, and now that the cat’s out of the bag about what these people teach and what they are really like, perhaps someone in a position to investigate these families will do so. I shudder to think how many more Josh’s are hiding within the confines of a home schooling Quiverfull family, and how many more victims are being abused. Unfortunately, we may never know, and the cycle, generations long already, will likely only continue.

Featured image via Permission to Live at Patheos