Abortion and birth control enable women to determine their own economic futures — that is, to control their means of reproduction — better than any other technologies. This is central to the Christian patriarchy movement’s rejection of modernity: denied personal autonomy from birth in a god-ordered system of absolute sexual purity, shaming, and male privilege, children learn to sublimate their pain and blame themselves for abuse while the abusers retain the respect of the world with their piety. We are all familiar with the Vatican abuse scandals that have come to light in the last decade, and the horrors of life in reprobate regions of the Muslim world are constantly propagandized against Muslims everywhere. But in America, it is still impolite to point out that Protestant churches produce their own sexual abuses in plenty, just like any other patriarchal religious movement.

On their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars discourage their daughters from having any personal goals beyond marrying young and breeding fast. In training their girls to smile and stay happy at all times using corporal punishment, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar follow the “godly” education principles espoused by Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, ‘Christian’ homeschooling ‘experts’ and close friends of the family. Last year, after resigning from his Vision Forum over a sexual affair, Phillips was accused of grooming a 15 year-old girl to be his sex slave. Gothard was also forced to resign under a cloud of sexual harassment charges, and now five women are suing Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles for covering up his sexual abuse. Last week, their attorney told Sarah Posner of the Washington Post that the IBLP’s board has aided and abetted Gothard’s abuse of interns, employees, and program participants:

The victims, said (David Gibbs Jr.), were as young as 13 or 14 years old, and often had been subjected at home to physical, sexual and other abuse or neglect. The “pattern” common among the plaintiffs, he said, was that the girl would “act out” as a result of the abuse at home; her parents would then send her to IBLP for counseling.

Other women who have been counseled by Gothard have said he questioned sexual assault victims about whether they were dressed immodestly or had “lustful” thoughts. He also taught that sexual assault victims must “cry out to God” to stop the assault; if she does not, Gothard has taught, she is equally guilty with her assailant.

Gothard, said Gibbs, was aware of the abuse the girls had suffered at home, and would offer to counsel them at IBLP headquarters. When they were alone with him, they say he inappropriately touched them. Sometimes, he added in an interview, a driver would take the pair out for ice cream, for example, and “inappropriate touching” would take place in the back seat of the car.

If they pulled away or rejected the advances, Gibbs charged, Gothard or another IBLP leader would “call the parents and share with them all the allegations of abuse that were shared in counseling, and then send the children back into those environments.”

This is where the Duggars sent their son Josh for ‘counseling’ after he admitted to inappropriately touching some of his sisters and girls who were not in his family. Given such conditioning, is it any wonder that their son grew up to be a gay-hating hypocrite with four children, boundary issues, Ashley Madison accounts, and a predilection for rough, unprotected sex with strippers?

IBLP is not some small, insignificant organization, either, but an $80 million ‘ministry’ tied to some of the most consequential and deepest pockets in right wing organizing, including Hobby Lobby founder David Green and his family. You may recall a recent Supreme Court decision in their company’s name, as the family sued to get out from under the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employer health care plans cover birth control. That five male Catholic justices actually gave the Greens veto power over even the most necessary reproductive health care choices of their employees is a testament to the power of patriarchal politics to unite Protestant and papist against the terrifying threat of female autonomy. The Greens have been generous with IBLP, even gifting them pricey land in Arkansas and Texas, where the organization is now moving to better shelter itself against litigation.

Of course, the Duggars had long since become a cultural institution when the lid came off their son’s story. With the cooperation of cable channel TLC, which exploited their megafamily without ever showing viewers the dark side or demographic political purposes of their rapid-birth lifestyle, the Duggars had years to mainstream a sanitized vision of their patriarchal belief system. Bringing Up Bates, a reality show on the Up channel, is less well-known than the Duggars family’s show, but the Gates family is at least as toxic as the Duggars; patriarch Gil Bates is named in the new lawsuit against IBLP, for he sits on the board of the organization.

And remember, the declared purpose of all this politicized religion is to outnumber godless heathen liberals at the voting booth, thus transforming America into New Jerusalem. Yet large families are inherently authoritarian, and the ‘godly education’ system propagated for so long by the two accused serial sexual predators so closely linked to the Duggars only enhances this trait. Recruited to speak for the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council, Josh Duggar was supposed to be the very model of what the evangelical patriarchy movement produces, and so he is. Behold the children of Christian fascism, marching in lockstep to seize control over everyone else’s reproductive organs.

  • muselet

    These are seriously unlovely people, and their behavior cannot be too widely known.

    Thank you, Matt, for shedding some light on this dark, dank corner of American culture.

    –alopecia