Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jim Bob Duggar: Quiverfull Cult Leader, Shameless Self-Promoter or Spreading the Word

Now I think way back in the beginning, Jim Bob found ATI, Gothard, and heard of Quiverfull and all of it made a little sense to him and he and Michelle began to build it into their faith. As they did their faith began to grow as their family began to grow. They attended ATI conferences on a regular basis, connected with families and went to the seminars, read the books, bought the homeschool materials, raised their kids with the values, and life was good. Jim Sammons taught them how to manage their money and they became debt free and life was even better.

Jim Bob went off to the State House and helped shape the government of the great state of Arkansas. His family continued to grow. They kept homeschooling, living by their beliefs in moral character, Christ-like qualities, and how many ATI conferences they attended while he was in office is anyone's guess as it's not documented for us anywhere--but they stayed in touch.

Jim Bob ran for a state Senate seat and lost and went back home to Springdale. Their family continued to grow, they continued to homeschool, they remained debtfree, they bought a huge chunk of land, and they decided to build themselves a house. Then TLC came knocking on their door and asked if they could do a 1 hour documentary.

It's been said that in the 1st documentary some footage was cut where Jim Bob spoke up about Gothard and Quiverfull and now that footage is no longer available. Of course there are conspiracy theories about Kennedy's assasination too, but of this we will never know unless someone posts a You Tube clip--of either. Since Jim Bob and Michelle currently don't espouse either Gothard or Quiverfull associations, my guess is this: They grew up.

Even Bible-believing Christians are allowed to come under the influence of someone, maybe even borrow a few ideas, then decide it's not really for them and leave. If I had to compare it to something I'd compare it to all those weird cults in the 70s, but on a much milder level. Kids would join all excited, then opt out, or their parents would drag them out. With this situation I'd say that Jim Bob is far too much of a personality to "follow" any person. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but politicians and carsalesmen have pretty strong personalities and don't make good cult-fodder.

I think they remain tight with ATI because it's a good experience for them as a family and their kids enjoy it. How often do they get a chance to bond with other large families with similar goals and beliefs, share homeschool information, and worship together as a large group? ATI makes perfect sense to me. I can also see why Jim Bob would promote the Jim Sammons seminar--it did make him financially sound--it's the same reason people praise Dave Ramsey when they use his program to become debt-free.

I've never truly believed they had anything officially to do with the Quiverfull movement. I think because they have the quote from the Bible on their website people assume that they do. A bible quote and a membership in a movement do not two things make. For one thing, Jim Bob is way way way too vocal, too public, and too ON TELEVISION for anything as private as a movement like that. There's a reason why the show "Secret Lives of Women" did a show on Quiverfull--they don't openly talk about their movement. Why? I have no idea. You'd have to ask the producers of "Secret Lives of Women."

But for those of you that think Jim Bob is raising his own cult--again--he's too loud, too vocal, and too public. Cult leaders don't let their kids roam around in public, roam around on a TV show, have a website, cell phones, and leave the country. Yes he's a protective father, some say over-protective. Detractors say he keeps his daughters hostage until he chooses their husbands for them. Frankly, that I don't see, especially since his and Michelle's marriage was a love match and so was Josh and Anna's. But that's another story. So just because they have orthodox religous beliefs doesn't make them a cult--are Chassidic Jews then a cult? The Amish?

I think I'd go along with a shameless self-promoter before cult leader, but that's pretty harsh language. I'm only giving it to the detractors, and because he's well, a politician and carsalesman deep down inside.

But to be honest with you, he's a businessman. From the time they got married they have opened one business after another with the goal of having a home-based business so they could be closer to family. The reason they sold the tow business was that Jim Bob would just sit down to dinner and inevitably get a call for a tow. They wanted a wholesome family life. So now they've built up a real estate 'empire' and they have the cell phone tower, and now they have their TV show. There is nothing at all "unChristian" about being a capitalist. So i think he's just using the tv show to show the world you can live your life believing your faith, living debt free, and still have the family life you've always wanted--happily.

But then of course there could have been a second shooter.


  1. There really isn't any such thing as a QF monement. That makes a handy label but "trend" would be more accurate. Christians in many conservative denominations accet the belief that children are a blessing and that God opens and closes the womb; they may have a dozen-plus chilfdren or none at all, be Baptist, Presbyterian, or any number of other affiliations.

  2. Actually if you talk to people who research Gothard, they'll tell you differently. But Chassidic Jews/Orthodox Jews feel the same way, as do Catholics and Mormons. Lots of faiths don't believe in the use of birth control. But Quiverfull, there are books based on the name, takes it's name from the quote in the old testament.

  3. I just read a lot of different links and blogs basically bashing "quiverfull" bc it is patriarchal, controlling, ect. Quiverfull is none of those things. There may be people who act those ways but that is by their own fault, not bc they also chose to have many children. It seems to me that many ppl have a hard time accepting more than 2.4 children in a famliy and there is obviously somethign very wrong with anyone who would choose different.

  4. Agree with all on this one. In our home believe that we do not have the right to control our own fertility, and make choices that may actually end a life - based on the "quiver" passage, as well as a few others. However, not all families that believe this way have a lot of children -some are "blessed" more than others, and that is important to remember as well. We've been married almost 15 years - and were convicted to give up our own control of our fertility almost 12 years ago - and had our first baby last September =) (yeah, we were surprised! ecstatic, but surprised!)Many people have asked why we chose not to do fertility treatments - and I have to believe it goes both ways - If I am trusting in God I have to trust if I have to wait, or if my children will come in a different way. We are also raising our nephew (who came to live with us when he was 5 almost 3 1/2 years ago). Quiverful does not always mean huge families.

  5. Julie---that's a point I try to make in other Duggar blogs but people look husband and I don't use birth control and have....ONE CHILD! People seem to think that everyone who "leaves it up to G-d" is going to wind up with a massive tribe of kids...well what they don't realize is that Michelle and Kelly are anomolies...huge families like that don't always happen, in fact they rarely happen...we'd love more kids and we know that when it's time, we'll be blessed, otherwise, we know Hashem has other plans for our family :)

  6. ATI has all of the tenants of a cult and is very anti-woman in every way. I do think that children are a blessing and my husband and I have only one child even though we would be open to as many as God gave us. Biblical patriarchy is a perfect breeding ground for spousal and child abuse and despite the "pretty picture" that Jim Bob and Michelle are allowed to portray, I think that Most ATI families live in much less comfortable settings. Bill Gothard is very anti Catholic and says they worship false idols, yet he himself is idolized by his followers. I find it interesting that men, in this patriarchal movement, preach that even operating on a woman with a tubal pregnancy is an "abortion". They are never in danger of losing their lives. I guess it makes it easy to say that women should die in agony rather than end a pregnancy that would never produce a baby when they are not the ones whose lives are at risk. The whole thing disgusts me. Michelle Duggar does not even parent her own children or keep her own house. Her older slaves, I mean daughters do it. Those girls are trapped in every way. It is no different than white slavery. They can't get out and just have to wait until Jim Bob picks a husband for them to be a "righteous wife" to. That won't happen until Michelle can't have any more kids. How this abuse can be shown as wholesome is beyond. me.

  7. i dont live like the duggars do, i work outside the home,i am a mother of 3, and i had my tubes tied but....i dont see the duggars as bad people, nor do i see michelle or her daughters as a matter of fact michelle looks very happy so does her daughters....and i see true sibbling love....the episode of i think was jill giving josie her first piano could tell she liked it...was doing it because she wanted too not b/c dad was standing over her with a wip...the duggars are different... most families like that are miserable,with an overbearing father/king/ruler of the home and that yes i am against that....but i dont see jim bob as being that way..but there friends the other big family from tennessee is another story, im not so sure about them...i see the duggars as a loving family that want to share the love of christ with the far as being too over protective,he did nlet his daughter go out of the country.....i dont live anything like they do and i wouldnt even let my own daughter do that so....

  8. I do hope that the quiverfull breeding sows come to their senses before we lose the gains we made in the last century in terms of women's rights. Perhaps they should all read Atwood's Handmaid's Tale and wonder whether they are Marthas.

  9. I'm guessing that most of the critics of the Duggar family don't watch their show or they would see that they are a very caring family. They care for each other and for others through out the world. Their television show has allowed them the opportunities to expand their ministry to others in the US and developing countries. I've watched every episode and never heard them judge any one else for choosing a different lifestyle. What I have heard is acceptance of others with Christian love. They know how people criticize them for their choices yet the have never said anything judgmental of people who live differently than they do. They homeschool but recognize that it's not the right choice for everyone. They've done home births and hospital births depending on what's best for Michelle and the baby. As for "enslaving" their children, American children are spoiled, lazy and, frequently, very demanding of their parents. I see no problem with those children helping to run a household or work in a family business. As for the amount of time spent on schoolwork, when you educate a child outside of the unruly classrooms most of our children try to learn in, you see that an entire day's lessons can be accomplished in half the time or even less. From what I've seen, people don't seem to like it when people have morals and values. For the record, I'm married twice, three children in public school, work outside the home and watch too much TV. Maybe I wish my family was more like the Duggars instead of what we are.

  10. When people follow what other people say is godly might not be God’s plan for them. Each person who accepts Jesus as their savior forms a personal bond with God and then spends a lifetime trying to discern God’s plan for their lives.

    When I see everyone following the exact same path I get a little suspicious. Even though Christians are supposed to be moral and love others, everyone having umpteen kids may not be exactly God’s plan for every family. But many quiverful followers seem to imply that to do any different is sin.

    In the 1950′s, missionaries had few children and left them in the care of others while they went to missionary fields. Were those missionaries disobeying God by not having large families then leaving them for someone to raise? Back in that day, it was considered truly holy to leave your child to go into dangersous places to spread the message. What has changed?

    The most famous and godly man who was chaplain of the US congress, Peter Marshall and wife had only one child. Were they disobedient to God?

    Poor Andrea Yates in Texas who drowned her 5 children was in the quiverful movement. The doctor told her to stop for a while so she could get her hormones back to normal but her husband said no, they had to follow God's will of letting HIM decide on how many kids to have. And she had baby after baby, then the horrible day happened when she killed them all. Now she is in prison for life, he has divorced her, remarried and has more children...What about the Bible saying divorce is a sin?

    The problem comes when someone says that something they do as a Christian is God’s ultimate truth, then everyone else who does not follow that exact thing is not obeying God or sinning. That person needs to reread the bible and find out what God really wants for their lives and just their lives, not everyone else. God does not make cookie cutter christians!

  11. BE careful of following anything but God's will and plan for your life. Too many christians get in trouble following what someone else claims is "the only way." Only Jesus claimed to be the only way and He left 2 commands to God and love your neighbor. The rest of how you live your life, how many kids you have, birth control or not is left up to you and your relationship with God.

    If a family want to have lots of children it is because wife and husband want to have lots of children and they can afford it.

    God does not make "cookie cutter Christians", meaning each Christian has to follow the individual path God has laid out for them....It is a personal relationship and we often miss the mark. Good thing our salvation cannot be earned or we would all fail.

    It is a mistake to think that what God wants in someone else's life is what He must want for ALL and then mistakenly try to put those ways of living on ourselves as being the only way.

    And the results of following God's will for other people can often have bad results.

    I.e. Andrea Yates (both her and husband followed quiverful blindly) who drowned her 5 children. Her doctor told her to take more time between children so she could mentally/physically and emotionally heal. They did not listen and she went off the deep end, now the woman is in jail, her children dead, her husband divorced her and remarried and now has a child. Where were the promised blessings of quiverful for them?

    The church view of families over the centuries has changed. Obviously there was no birth control until modern times, so large families were a way of life and very helpful in subsistence living as more hands meant more help raising crops and tending herds.

    In the mid 20th century, dedicated American missionaries chose to have only a few children and often left them behind for others to raise as they went into sometimes dangerous mission fields. That was considered truly following God to give up your children for the mission field. When did that stop becoming "God's way". How did those missionaries, seeking out the will of God, miss out on the message of quiverful?

    Chaplain to the U.S. Senate, Peter Marshall, had only one child. Was he not following God? Was he wrong for only preaching following God through a relationship with Jesus Christ ? How did he miss out on the message of having large large families?

    Quiverful also is closely linked to Bill Gothard, who has a reputation for putting legalism (following lots and lots of so called rules to earn God's favor. But no one can follow all those rules which has left many feeling they have failed and are worthless. Gothard has redefined many scriptures to say what they were not meant to say. See for more info on the man and his mistakes and the stories of those hurt by his theology.

    Isn't it interesting how God does not repeat Himself? Here are a few examples of the many One-Time-Only Wonders....There was only one Abraham who by faith believed God's promise to make him a nation (and he had only one son from Sarah), only one Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt and witnessed the one and only parting of the Red Sea, only one Noah who rode out the flood with all the animals on the one and only ark, just one David who using only one stone, brought down a giant. And one Mary who was visited by the one Holy Spirit to become mother of the one and only Jesus who proclaims that HE is the only One by whom salvation can be had. None of them attended any Gothard seminars and large home taught families was their only way of life because there was no birth-control. Nor were there cars nor electric lights back then but we use them now without feeling sinful. And God has made only one YOU and one incredible distinct personality found lost and wandering that He will paint and frame into one masterpiece! And that masterpiece will look like no other!

  12. Again, they aren't saying their way is the only way, but no the children are not slaves. They are good, hardworking, know how to run a household and family children that will not be a drain on their parents, their society or community. Good for the Duggars. I LOVE their parenting style. I raise my kids to know how to do each job, thoroughly, in a good time frame, without being asked. I want them to know how to, and be expected to take good care of themselves by the time they move out and starting when they are teens or preteens is too late. Attitudes have started to move in by then. Start when they are young and WANT to help. My kids will not be lazy, they will not move out and not know how to care for their homes. They will learn to garden, they will learn to raise and care for animals and they will learn how a family should respond to eachother in all situations. Ty Duggars for setting an example of children who would not be getting in trouble at school, who will not be a drain on society and that follow God's teaching as well as God's suggestions in the bible. We aren't cookie cutter christians but following each thing in the bible has made me more and more blessed with each thing I learn and add. The math can't be wrong :)