Back to my Duggar-bashing ways


A long time ago, I wrote this post about my first experience watching a show about the Duggars. Many commenters were aghast at my judgments, others agreed with me. Since then, the Duggars have gotten much more popular and though I've entered discussions about them in other places, I've not posted about them again here.

Until now.

Last night, I watched "A Very Duggar Wedding," in which the eldest Duggar child, Josh, who is, I think, 20, got married. It was one of the most depressing and horrifying things I've seen lately.

Josh married a girl named Anna, who clearly came from folks of the same fundamentalist religious beliefs, or at least similar ones, to those the Duggars hold. Like Josh's sisters, his wife has long hair and longer skirts and is now expected to be under his leadership and control in her life as a baby-making machine.

Think I'm being facetious? I'm not. Josh and Anna not only didn't have sex before marriage, they "preserved their purity" by never kissing until they were on the alter. They were never alone unchaperoned. Josh made a phone call to Anna's father, asking him for her daughter's hand, before he ever mentioned the idea to her. Thus began their "courtship." See, according to their rules, dating is a no-go. You have to have a proposal of marriage before you "get to know each other" (and the getting to know seems pretty surface). Why? Because, as Jim Bob tells us happened to Michelle before she got with him, previous relationships leave you with "baggage."

When Josh and Anna said their vows, things got much, much worse. Love honor and obey wouldn't cut it here, Anna actually vowed to follow Josh as her priest and ruler, then they both vowed to have as many children as God saw fit. In an interview before the ceremony took place, Anna's father mused that he was thrilled that this ceremony was happening, in which Anna would be transferred from his authority to Josh's, as God intended. Could it be an clearer that Anna was property?

I know I'll get at least one comment here telling me that I am being insensitive to other people's religious beliefs. You know what? I am. I am not sensitive to these beliefs, and I have no problem with that. If you believe that women should naturally be under male authority, then no, I have no respect for your beliefs. If you believe that a woman should continue to have baby after baby, regardless of how she feels about it, then I have no respect for your beliefs.

The thing that turned my stomach the most, though, was the clear parallel between one generation and the next. Josh and Anna are clearly setting out to be Jim Bob and Michelle 2.0. I roll my eyes when Mark tells me that the Duggars and families like them are "building an army for Jesus," but honestly, it does seem that way. In one segment, Josh and three or four of his sisters go out to dinner, and they discuss what it will be like and how they'll see each other when they are all grown up and married and have kids. One sister points out that even if the only have 5 kids each (a relatively small number in their world, and one that probably wouldn't come about if they all devote themselves to birth control via God), they'll still have too many people to fit into a room. If we take the math to it's illogical conclusion, we see that the 18 current Duggar children, if they had 18 each, would make 324 more baby fundamentalist. If those had 18 each, that's 5,832 more. We're nearly army proportions in only three generations!

That, folks, is a lot of long dresses and matching polo shirts and bad hair.


"I am not sensitive to these beliefs, and I have no problem with that. If you believe that women should naturally be under male authority, then no, I have no respect for your beliefs. "

THANK YOU. I was criticized yesterday for something similar, and you've managed to articulate what I couldn't at the time.

There's a point at which "respect" and "tolerance" can actually be harmful.

While I agree that they are totally messed up, from the engagement show I saw, Anna seems really into it. I don't think she is saying she wants to have 3 trillion children against her will. She's making a choice there's not "regardless of how she feels about it."

What I also don't get about them is that YOU CAN keep track of your cycle and pretty effectively not get pregnant. Why is that not okay?

The Duggars and other evangelicals are pretty open about the army for Jesus thing. I think the way the show deals with their religion is weird. Clearly the show doesn't want to talk about it all the way. And do they ever go to a church? They must, right? What religion are they exactly? It's unclear.

I agree with you and think the males involved and of the same mind are assholes!

omg thank you. I cannot stand those people! Ahhh crazy, brainwashed, freaks! (I am maybe less sensitive lol). Not to be gross, but does she even notice when she gives birth anymore? :x

Yes, totally with you. Especially in that I'm tired of being told that I should respect these beliefs. It's a slightly raw topic in light of Rick Warren's participation in Obama's inauguration. Even aside from his totally offensive beliefs about gay people, this is a person who thinks that women can be subservient to their husbands. That's not a belief that we should respect or try to encompass in any coalition. It's just not. It's a belief that should be confronted and stamped out and taken seriously as bigotry, and it kills me that it's not.

I don't watch the show so I'm not really familiar with any of it but wow! This can't be for real.

I am with you on this one, Grace. I am not anyone's property. There is a huge problem with the "full quiver" idea - the Earth does not have enough room for everyone to have 18 babies. Not enough room for even 5 or 6.

If the Duggars drove 6 Hummers they would not be on TV. But the size of their family has the same environmental impact as 6 Hummers, or clubbing 1000 baby seals, or whatever. Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices, even *gasp* use birth control, for the greater good.

That family has even been in the news here in Holland when they had their 18th baby. I was reading another blog this weekend where the writer also explained how, according to her beliefs, her husband is the one who gets final word in everything and she is subservient to him (is that the correct word?) because he is the one with the final responsibility to God. I was pretty shocked when I read that, first of all because it goes against everything I feel a relationship should be, and second because I didn't expect that from her. Apparently it's quite common among certain religious groups. And as far as not getting pregnant, I believe even charting is considered birth control and thus "forbidden".
Totally NOT my cup of tea, all of that stuff.

PS: lol at your description of long skirts and bad hair.

I have a morbid fascination with them, also. Although they're pretty extreme, there was a point in time where their beliefs were not so completely inaccessible to me; as a result, the religion part isn't what bothers me most. What makes my blood boil is mostly thinking of all the things that I do to lessen my impact on the environment, and how this family is single-handedly (or 40-handedly) undoing all of my efforts and those of several others. And their negative impact will only exponentially increase with every generation...

But I'm fascinated by other things, too. I want to see what their children up being like as adults. Don't get me wrong--I don't wish unhappiness on them. But I want some assurance that growing up as a Dugger is damaging somehow, because I want to be able to conclusively say that what they're doing is wrong.

Wow. What a great blog. Grace, thanks for articulating everything I feel about these kind of people. I was raised in a church that was quite fundamental, although nothing like these lemmings -- thank God -- so I understand it more than I wish I did. It is scary when people this extreme produce so many children to brainwash and carry on the legacy. Even scarier -- and sadder -- is the notion of "creating an 'army' for Jesus -- as if Jesus WANTS armies and wars created in his peaceful honor. Creating an "army for Christ" makes about as much sense as creating an army for Ghandi or Mother Teresa.

Sandy, I love your comment about their impact on the environment as this is a particularly insulting area for me as well. I recently went vegan as I am horrified at the hell perpetrated on innocent animals so families like the Duggars can have Christian BBQs with them, while at the same time practicing MURDER while simultaneously claiming to be "pro-life." I could go on and on about the hypocrisy of these people but I won't because I can't stand the way I feel when I let myself get started but suffice to say, they all make me want to puke.

Sure, the leader of the family can afford to feed them, clothe them, etc., but the fact remains, our earth would implode on itself if everyone else on the planet lived in this selfish, gluttonous way.

I'm glad this blog is here because it at least gives me some peace of mind knowing that I am not crazy, nor alone, in my feelings about the growing trend in our country to glamorize self-seeking, irresponsible religious fundamentalism as if it is some kind of heroic way to live.

Tina -- (single, thankfully child free, vegan, adoptive dog mother in California)

I agree completly. what their doin is totally worng and might even be considered Child neglect.I mean thnink about it. 18 now 19 going on 20 kids. they all dont get to share equal time with mommy and daddy. All the attention goes to the babies like the now youngest Josie. and all though they are very fourtunete that she got alot better what about baby 20 will it be as lucky. the women is 43 years old and she says her days as a mommy are coming to an end they havent ended at all because she still has 20 other kids that need her attention and does she give it to them. amybe for like 5 seconds then its off to do wifely duties for the husband. An the fact that their youngest is the same age as their grandchild SICK!

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