HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on December 23, 2014.
I’ve said it before on social media and I’ll say it again here. The mocking of Duggar children is not something I can get behind. Criticize the Duggar parents for what they’re doing to their children, criticize Jim Bob, Michelle, and Josh for their anti-LGBT activism, that’s fair game. Mocking the kids isn’t.
Kids like the Duggars, who aren’t being given a real education (you don’t get a real education from ATI Wisdom Booklets), who aren’t allowed college, and who aren’t even allowed a single private conversation with someone of the opposite sex until they’re married, are the ones I’m trying to help.
TLC may put a pretty face on it, but make no mistake, the Duggars are part of a high-control, authoritarian cult. ATI creates an alternate reality, complete with their own version of history and science, and a theology that seems, on the surface, to be orthodox Christianity but is anything but. ATI even redefines language, Scientology-stype.
This is but one small example of the way that ATI indoctrinates its members, but check out their definitions of the character qualities that Bill Gothard decided were important. I’ve included a few of those character qualities below. Notice how most of those definitions are nothing like the dictionary definitions of those words?
When I was a kid some ATI friends gave us the “Character Clues” game, which was supposed to teach you those traits by having you match traits to definitions. Apart from being the world’s most boring game, we gave up on it quickly because the whole thing was redefining words. We could give up on the game because learning Gothard-approved definitions of words was dull, but for people who are part of the ATI cult, learning an entirely new vocabulary is a step in the cult indoctrination process. A process the kids have no say in.
The Duggar kids’ entire version of reality, down to the meaning of the words they use, is the one created by being raised in the cult. Unlike Jim Bob and Michelle, who lived lives outside of the cult before joining, the Duggar kids have nothing to compare anything to. Their entire reality is shaped by the cult and everything they see in the rest of the world they’re seeing through the lens of the cult. TLC gives them a broader set of experiences than most ATI kids have, but they’re still experiencing it through the filter Bill Gothard created. That’s all they know.
Mocking the kids for doing the only things they’ve ever known isn’t doing anything other than entertaining yourself at the expense of kids being raised in an extremely controlling, if not outright abusive, home. That’s cruel. It needs to stop.