Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Keeping Up with the Duggars: Wacky and Women-Hating but Beloved of the Republican Right

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar: closer to God or creepy as all get out?

(updated below)

I never watched "19 Kids and Counting," but the concept of both the family and the show -- and the apparent devotion of the Christian fans of the show and the political hard right -- is, for a humanist like me, decidedly creepy.

Yet politicians flock to defend them, with Mike Huckabee soiling his brand in pursuit of what?

Amanda Marcotte of Slate offers an eye-opening look at the Duggar tribe and their cult-like lives, along with a savage takedown of their near-total (what am I saying? Total.) control over the lives of their women. Ouch, but oh so true.

I am reminded of this famous passage in the Bible telling how unclean women are compared to men. Leviticus 12-5 speaks of a women who gives birth. She is unclean twice as long if she gives birth to a girl child than if she gives birth to a boy child. Hard to spin that, don't you think?

I suspect I don't need to mention that what blew this TLC show up was the revelation that Josh Duggar -- an executive director with the Christian evangelical group, the Family Research Council -- had in his teenage years molested girls, among them his sisters. It was covered up until now. CNN shares the status of the scandal and its impact on the TV show.

Gawker speaks to the cult-like homeschooling program called Advanced Training Institute to which the Duggar family adhered.

At the heart of this brand of fundamentalism is Biblical, or Christian, patriarchy, where men have complete dominance over women. How this leads to molestation of women, I wouldn't know (just kidding). This authoritarian patriachal model is favored by the religious right, about which George Lakoff has often written. Lakoff contrasts this with the nurturing parent model favored by liberals (and me).

I guess makin' babies is real Christian-like. Onward Demographic Soldiers?

As for the Duggars and the fate of the show, let's leave that up to the great whatever. But let's remember that we've seen this movie before, countless times, as religious zealot after religious zealot is outed as the hypocrite they often are. Fundamentalist Christians love to lean on the "we're all sinners" defense at times like this, while I like to quote favorite blogger Atrios at Eschaton with his celebrated line "shit is fucked up and bullshit." Gets to the heart of it.

For fun and games, check out the Duggar family Facebook and the bitch-slapping they're taking in the comments threads (holy shit!). How long they can leave that up is anyone's guess. Check out this devoted fan blog. Check out how the Family Research Council and FRC Action -- which Josh Duggar headed until last week -- are supporting poor Josh. Lastly, check out this WaPo rundown of the position the Republican clown-car occupants find themselves in after the Duggar family molestation flap. Yikes! (See sample tweets below.)


Uh-oh uh-oh.

Creepy is the right word here.

Update. For a trip down the rabbit hole of Christian hypocrisy, read this blog post by Josh Duggar's younger sister's father-in-law. Not only is in eye-opening -- as a look at "modern" Christianity -- but it essentially says Josh repented and he's okay, and his parents' handling of it was okay because he was a teenager. And the judge was right in ordering the police report destroyed because victims. And do, please do, read the comments. Jeebus.

Also, please note that a strain in this blog post -- as pointed out by Talking Points Memo -- is that we should not be surprised that this molestation took place in a Christian household because we are all sinners. In other words, hey, shit happens. Double jeebus.

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