Big news in my own state of Arkansas as this week ends, which has implications that reach far beyond the borders of the state, since this news involves a family with a national presence and following in the religious right and the Republican party: as In Touch Weekly reported several days ago (and here), anti-gay family-values religious-right superstar Josh Duggar, executive director of Family Research Council's FRC Action arm, was reported to the police in 2004 by his father for molesting underage girls.
As Jenny Kutner notes, the police then determined that Duggar would be charged, but the state trooper who took Jim Bob Duggar's report never followed through and was himself then convicted on child pornography charges and is serving 56 years in prison on those charges. In Touch is also reporting (and see here) that Duggars' parents, the stars of TLC's "19 Kids and Counting" television show and widely admired role models for Christian parenting in religious-right circles, waited a year before they reported their son's molestation of underaged girls. They then claimed to have sent him to a therapy program that turns out to have been a man remodeling a building, with no accreditation in the field of psychotherapy.
Josh Duggar has admitted his wrongdoing and has resigned his position at Family Research Council, which has been designated by Southern Poverty Law center as an anti-gay hate group. As Brian Tashman notes,
Last December, [Josh] Duggar led a successful campaign to defeat a LGBT nondiscrimination measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which he said jeopardized the safety of children during an interview on the FRC radio program "Washington Watch. . . ."
Michelle Duggar [Josh Duggar's mother] also ran a robocall pushing for the repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which she warned would empower "child predators" to threaten "the safety and innocence of a child."
As David Badash reminds us, GOP contenders for the White House have, until this story made headlines, fallen all over themselves to have their photos snapped with Josh Duggar: Badash writes,
What did Josh Duggar do for a living before becoming the executive director of Family Research Council Action? What qualified him to run a multi-million dollar Washington, D.C. lobbying firm?
He was a used car salesman.
Remember that the next time Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, or any other the other Republican presidential candidates start talking about the evils of same-sex marriage, or compare gay people to polygamists or pedophiles. And remember how they'll put someone on a pedestal because they talk about their Christian faith all the time, without ever bothering to find out who they are.
Judd Legum points out that Josh Duggar has never shied away from any opportunity to lecture the rest of us about family values, or to push outrageous claims that permitting gay people to enjoy the same rights as anyone else enjoys will result in child abuse. Sarah Posner sums up this sordid story in the following way:
The Duggars are no ordinary spokespeople for the religious right; they are super-spokespeople. For years, they have been held up as exemplars of biblical living, of devotion to Christ, and of, especially, homespun honest living and sexual purity. It’s long been obvious to many that this is a product of marketing and packaging, not reality. But now no one can pretend anymore.
And she's right.
The photo of Josh Duggar and his wife with his parents is by Scott Enlow of TLC.