On the EDge: Duggar revelation a blow to religious right

OPINION – The conservative Christian right took another blow to the midsection when TLC took the TV show “19 Kids and Counting” off the air amid revelations of child molestation by Josh Duggar, the eldest of the brood.

Now, in itself, the molestation is tragic. However, Duggar, as a representative of the Family Research Council – he was executive director of FRC Action, a nonprofit and tax-exempt legislative arm of the conservative lobbying group – has been a strong advocate of allowing medical workers to refuse to provide certain treatments to their patients such as abortions, blood transfusions or birth control. The FRC also advocates for abstinence-only sex education, intelligent design, prayer in public schools and vigorously opposes same-sex marriage.

In other words, he was the poster boy for the conservative Christian coalition. That was all fine and well for Duggar until a 2006 Springdale, Arkansas, police report detailing the molestation incidents – yes, they were multiple – was unearthed.

The Duggars were interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News last week to, as they put it on their website, “share our hearts with you about the pain that we walked through as a family 12 years ago, the tears we all shed and the forgiveness that was given.”

Well, forgiveness has already been given by one fairly influential guy, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Fox News TV show host and seemingly perpetual presidential candidate.

“No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story,” Huckabee said on his Facebook page. “Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.”

Josh, by the way, also weighed in on the subject, tacking the following message onto his family’s “official” Facebook page:

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”

So, what happened, in essence, is that Daddy Duggar laid out some heavy cash, the cops refused to pursue charges and Josh got off free as a whistle, eventually taking to the soapbox where he now spreads his hypocritical venom in defense of his version of Christian virtue. Until the truth came out, that is, which, rightfully, cast disparaging light on the Duggars, the TV show, TLC and some red-faced members of the FRC.

I mean, are we really expected to take counsel on sexual morality from an admitted pedophile?

And, just because this guy has supposedly made his peace with his God does it mean that he has done so with ours? What about the state of Arkansas? Should the law there just forgive and forget?

It doesn’t work that way.

The thing is, we wouldn’t know much about Josh Duggar at all if TLC hadn’t made him part of one of its cash cow reality shows.

TLC, however, has become a freak show network, with programming that appeals to some bizarre tastes. There was, of course, “19 Kids and Counting,” which has been pulled. But, they also offer “Sister Wives” and “My Five Wives,” shows with definite pro-polygamy stances, and “Sex Sent Me to the ER” and “Strange Sex,” shows about, well, you get the picture. There are also programs about obese people, “little” people, tattooed people, people who hoard and a host of other bizarre programs.

READ MORE: On the EDge: ‘My Husband Is Not Gay’ hits new depths in reality TV

Originally, TLC took to the airwaves as The Learning Channel, but the only lessons being taught now are demeaning.

That’s why although I rarely support boycotts, I am in 100 percent agreement with a statement issued jointly by friends who founded Polygamy.org, Sound Choices Coalition and Voices for Dignity, originally formed to educate and rescue those bound to lives of servitude and degradation as part of polygamous communities.

As a matter of full disclosure, because of my book “plygs,” I have become associated in varying degrees with these groups. However, as a result of my humanity, I have always been associated with human rights, dignity and the rights of children to live lives free of abuse. Neither should disqualify me from sharing the revulsion I feel when discussing these abuses and concerns. I make no apologies, but in the interest of credibility and honesty, believe the declaration is necessary.

We urge sponsors to discontinue advertising with TLC shows that suppress women’s and children’s rights, or minimize or hide sexual abuse of children,” the statement issued by the three groups states.

It goes on to express “condemnation of TLC’s abandonment of principle in pursuit of profit.”

It also says “there is strong evidence that females raised in highly patriarchal cultures are more vulnerable to these kinds of sexual abuse. In addition, these abuses are more prevalent in cultures where women are required to have large numbers of children and where those children become mini-surrogate parents responsible for raising their own siblings.”

Morality has become a sort of negotiable thing in today’s world. It seems, at times, as if we slice off pieces of it and apply them to those of a certain faith or group while holding others to other standards.

I don’t think that was the plan God had in mind when he created us.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • BIG GUY June 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    A perfect example of the irreligious left. This is the most thoughtless and disgusting editorial Ed has ever written. Ed’s only reason for rehashing Josh Duggar’s actions here is to cast aspersions on the religious right. And just several weeks ago Ed called for more civil behavior by all of us. Hypocrite!
    There is a much more serious subject that Ed’s editorial should have addressed, a topic with serious implications for our country and the world. I’ve used Ed’s theme and many of Ed’s words to write it. See my post below.

  • BIG GUY June 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Hilary Clinton is the poster woman for progressive left-liberals.
    Progressive left liberals have taken repeated blows to the midsection as Hilary Clinton’s unethical and likely illegal behavior in accepting bribes (oops, I mean donations) to her foundation have been uncovered. Now, in itself, accepting bribes is tragic. However, Hilary, as Secretary of State, compromised our country’s standing in the world with her unethical behavior and now refuses to address the issue.
    Hypocritically, she has been a strong advocate of getting money out of politics and overturning Citizens United while raking in hundreds of millions of dollars that are being spent on political operatives’ salaries instead of for her foundation’s supposed charitable purposes.
    Twenty years ago, while President of the United States, her husband acted inexcusably for which she is extremely sorry and deeply regrets. He hurt others, including Hilary’s family and close friends. Unlike Josh Duggar, he never confessed or apologized.
    So, what happened, in essence, is that the liberal media chose to excuse him just as Obama’s Justice (?) Department refuses to pursue Hilary’s egregious violations of government laws in accepting bribes/donations. Now she is taking to the soapbox where she spreads her hypocritical venom. I mean, are we really expected to take counsel on good governance from a hypocritical and unethical politician?
    However, as a result of my humanity, I have always been associated with human rights, dignity and the rights of a political party to nominate whomever they choose. In that light, I look forward to Hilary’s explanation of her foundation’s activities.
    Honesty and ethical behavior have become a sort of negotiable things in today’s world. It seems, at times, as if we slice off pieces and apply them to Democrats while holding Republicans to other standards. A Republican Secretary of State who had done what Hilary did would be indicted and awaiting trial right now.

    • izzymuse June 7, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Hillary Clinton is nuts. I hope she doesn’t become president! ?

  • native born new mexican June 6, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I see no blow to the christian right. People are people and individuals. Some do the correct thing and some don’t. Some admit to their problems and try to do better. Others find various ways to cover up their behavior and keep on doing what they are doing. you can’t make truths like christian teachings all of a sudden not true because an individual who says he believes in some of those truths is not perfect. So what. The truth is still the truth no matter how many times an individual person mess up. The Clinton’s are shady, immoral, characters therefore the liberal left has taken a big hit because all liberal thinkers are just like good old Bill OR not- maybe Bill is an individual and a flawed one at that. Maybe my liberal thinking friend is really a good person and not like Bill at all. I may disagree with him but he is a nice guy, and no tlike Bill Clinton the INDIVIDUAL who messed up. People verses a belief system; they are two different things.

  • AnotherReader June 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Ed, you never cease to amaze. This really is a despicable commentary with your broad swipe at anything religious because of the reprehensible acts of one minor a dozen years ago. The son and family came forward at that time, to law enforcement as well, in an attempt to treat and remedy this youth’s actions. He was a youth at the time Ed. While I may not be a TV fan, I appreciate the Christian goodness expressed by the Duggar family on a regular basis. They are entitled to that opinion because the strive to live that life. I believe the Dad recently noted that, to paraphrase, “Christians are not perfect, yet they seek repentance of mistakes and try to be better afterwards”. Christians are not perfect, that is why they need a Savior. Striving to learn, improve and become a better person is virtuous. Let’s open your closet door Ed. What might we find? If TLC really is just a network of kooks, I imagine your show is coming soon.

  • DB June 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Ed, you watched Fox News? 🙂

  • voice of reason June 6, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Let’s all take a minute to realize the true extent of the abuse Josh Duggar committed. There were (according to his own admission and the LEGALLY acquired police reports) at least 5 victims and at least 9 individuals incidents over a span of two years. The youngest victim was 5 years old, Josh was 14 at the time. The touching took place underneath and on top of clothes. This wasn’t mere curiosity. This was a pattern of abuse. I’m glad he’s changed his life around, but don’t diminish what he did. He was a predator. He needed real and legitimate help and counseling. He needed more than “church counseling” and a “work camp” to sort these things out. Don’t gloss over the facts just because you believe in the same God as him. Don’t diminish what he did because of his “repentance”.

  • Simone June 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    I feel that I should weigh in here. Before I do, I would liketop go on record for a few things:
    !.) I am not a christian.
    2.) I do not support what he did and I am not excusing his behavior.

    I think that we need to consider a few things here The first being that, at the time he committed these heinous acts, he was still a young BOY and not a man. Children make mistakes. We can go back and forth all day about how he deserves to pay for what he did and It is also a very well known fact that the Duggars are extremely conservative people who home school their children for whatever reasons so I HIGHLY DOUBT that they taught their children anything about sex or appropriate sexual behavior beyond the “abstinence only” mantra that conservatives love to espouse but has no basis in reality and, in my opinion, actually contributes to things like, oh I don’t know, extremely high teen pregnancy rates in conservative states like, yep you guessed it, Utah.

    • Simone June 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      “We can go back and forth all day about about how he deserves to pay for what he did and how bad of a person we think he is but at the end of the day, he was 14 years old and most likely did not know any better. He was a young boy who made a horrible mistake. Does that excuse his behavior? Absolutely not. Does he deserve to pay for what he did? Of course he does but was what he did as a young boy so horrible that his life should be destroyed forever? Not in my opinion. As I said in my presvious post, I think that what he did is deplorable, I am not excusing his behavior and I do not agree with the religious views held by the Duggar family but I appreciate the fact that Josh owned up to his actions and took responsibility for them instead of denying what he did like so many of our elected representatives do.

      • voice of reason June 6, 2015 at 11:05 pm

        14 is not a young boy. 14 is a young man. What if instead of a 14 year old Josh and 5 year old sister, it had been a 19 year old josh and 10 year old sister? or a 24 year old Josh and a 15 year old sister?

        • Ladyk June 7, 2015 at 1:19 am

          There is a reason the laws are written they are for the ages involved. A 14 year old boy is very different than a 19 year old adult in every way possible. Including brain function and adaptive reasoning. While I understand your thoughts the argument you make is a bit off.

          • izzymuse June 7, 2015 at 11:48 am

            Didn’t Jesus Christ teach the Christians to not judge? “Those who are perfect throw the first stone.” mean anything for the Christians? It seems that the law was served, why stir this up now and this way? This does nothing good for our lives. Let the law deal with criminals. If you have issues with the U.S. justice system, take it up with the judge involved. More mud slinging is just stupid and needless. :/

        • 42214 June 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm

          We’d call that FLDS

  • NotSoFast June 6, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Disappointed in your attempt to reach way down in the mud barrel to gather and throw out what you think is a politically correct subject. Your off base Ed. You should have stayed with the Belmont Stakes morning line odds or the Baltimore murder rate increase .
    Oh well, I’ll just sit back and wait for you to regain your honesty. Remember Ed, your at your best when you think before writing.

  • hb bev June 7, 2015 at 12:19 am

    The cash cow has shot itself in the foot (or elsewhere)

  • Ladyk June 7, 2015 at 1:13 am

    Once again Ed I am disgusted by your short sidded views. The fact that this family is religious and conservative has absolutely nothing to do with Josh Duggar’s behavior towards the young girls in which he was inappropriate with. It does have everything to do with the fact that he realized what he had been doing was wrong and that he self reported his behavior to his parents. Their religion has everything to do with the fact that his parents took him to the authorities and reported the behavior. It was their honorable behavior that did what it took to report the problem and do all they could to help the girls who were injured. Obviously you do not agree with their religious views and that is your right but what is it that you really have a problem with? That his dad “laid out some bucks” and paid for the girls that were effected to get the help they needed? Would you have been happier if he had gone to jail and no one got help. They certainly could have just kept quiet, it would have been the easiest thing to do. What gives you the right to try to disgrace this family who’s son, who was a boy at the time, took responsibility for his actions and worked to get the help he and the girls involved needed so early on in their lives. Years before they had life long behavior issues because no one knew or understood what they had gone through. You called this man a pedophile, so let me return the favor, your behavior is moronic. This man has done everything he can do to devote his life to bettering the lives of others in this country and unborn children based upon his beliefs. He is not nor has he ever been a pedophile. He was a boy who was curious and did some things he shouldn’t have done. But he did everything in his power to make it right. Your inappropriate use of that word is of no benefit to anyone and in fact serves only to cause needless and undeserved pain to all involved. So my question is, is that really your motive? As a person who worked in the juvenile court system I can tell you that the honorable way the Duggar family behaved as soon as they knew of a problem is rare. As a woman who has lived with the effects of abuse I can tell you that I know of very few women who as girls didn’t have to tell a boy they were dating or a family member/friend to “STOP ” ONLY to have them try again, again and again. I dated several different type of guys some religious and some not and I can tell you that if all men are honest or if we could talk to their former dates/girlfriends we would discover a very high number of times that as a teenage boy or even a man they behaved inappropriatly with their dates/girlfriends. You know the old saying “boys just being boys” that allows guys to get away with inappropriate behavior. I know that as my friends and I got older we ended up talking about the guys who we all dated who behaved inappropriatly to every girl they dated yet who turned out to be wonderful men, husbands and fathers. But they acted badly as boys and left many girls feeling used or abused.
    As for the labels you apply to the shows on TLC, since when are “little people ” or “obese people” considered bizarre? I think what you have shown by your words in this column is the opposite of your self proclaimed humanity. You have shown a true lack of humanity many times over in your writtings of past but this has to be one of the worst. Who are you to sit in judgement of anyone who has asked for forgiveness from those he has injured and from the God he worships little lone someone who you have never met or had any personal dealings with. You sit and spew your judgement of those ‘little people or horders or obese’ all while condemning unborn children to their deaths with the guise of moral idignation that you are preserving women’s rights. I have to wonder what your past would say about you? Are there things that you wouldn’t want talked about on the news. Are there girls in your past that you may have left feeling abused because you touched them before they told you it was ok to do so? Or do you claim to have never made a mistake. Since you are so clear about what God had in mind I am sure that unlike the rest of us you have no skeletons in your closet and nothing you have ever had to repent for. So good for you, but please spare us the name calling of a repentant 14 year old boy or those on TV who may not be as tall as you are since your place in this world is so much better than theirs. You should know that words have real meaning and power to effect the lives of those you write about or who read your words. You have quite the platform yet I am rarely left feeling good after reading your articles. So maybe your humanity could use some soul searching.

    • CaliGirl June 7, 2015 at 7:08 am

      Well said Ladyk, well said!

  • voice of reason June 7, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Stop with the misinformation and lies. The parents reported the abuse to the police 1 1/2 years after the first of at least nine incidents of molestation. They talked with the cop (who happened to be a close family friend) off the record. They did not “do the right thing”.

    • RealMcCoy June 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Where is your moral crusade against the mother in Hurricane that cooked her baby alive in a car on a hot summer day?
      No charges there either, but I bet you’ll say she’s ‘sorry’ and that should be enough.
      That baby is dead. That lady walks free. I see no one discussing her being a ‘murderer’, and that incident was very recent, not over a decade ago.
      If wrong is wrong, then spread it evenly, starting here at home.

  • voice of reason June 7, 2015 at 8:28 am

    This wasn’t mere curiosity! 9 reported incidents (and I guarantee there were a lot more than that) of molestation over a two year period is not being curious. Touching your 5 year old sister repeatedly is not being curious. Reaching under the dress of your sister to touch her private parts in not being curious. Congrats on getting your life turned around, but stop excusing the predatory molestation that took place. There are millions of young men and boys who go to bed every night without having laid a finger on their sisters private parts. Normal is NOT MOLESTING YOUR SISTERS. They did not report the abuse when it happened. They waited and waited and waited. The did not behave honorably.

  • maggie June 7, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I have so far been blessed in my family that we have never had to deal with anything on the level of what the Duggars have dealt with. However I have always prayed and told my children that no problem was to big for us to deal with together. Now I am doing the same with my grandchildren and pray that all of their mistakes will be small and they learn from them. However one never knows what someone you love may bring to you or you to them.
    I have never watched the Duggars and I know little about them other than some of the things that are being said by the public about this whole situation are really very uneducated and hateful. I hope none of you ever have to deal with anything like this. Although most of the responders on here really do get it.
    Ed ,you really should not show so much joy in watching others suffer through some really tough life situations.

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