Nel's New Day

August 30, 2015

Zombie Duggars Won’t Disappear

In the past, zombies were defined as the living dead, soulless corpses. Now the term is also used for legislation, debts, and anything else that reappears after people thought the issues had been resolved. Controversy surrounding the Duggar family, particularly oldest son Josh, fits into that category. The family of “19 Kids and Counting” started publicly suffering in mid-May when the report about Josh sexually molesting five young girls—four of them his younger sisters—went viral. At that time, he was 14, and the youngest girl was under five. The tragedy was more scandalous because his father, Jim Bob, concealed the information from the police until he was no longer in the state legislature and then downplayed Josh’s behavior so much that Josh didn’t face arrest for his crime.

In 2004, the Duggar family began their TV notoriety with a program called “14 Kids and Pregnant Again.” Two years later, Josh was still molesting his sisters. The information was kept under wraps until May 19, 2015, when InTouch published an article about Josh’s crimes along with a police report detailing the abuse. The police report was destroyed, and Josh apologized. He also resigned from his job as a lobbyist for the extreme-conservative religious Family Research Council. Reruns of “19 Kids and Counting” were pulled after over 20 corporations pulled their advertising. Not until July 26, however, did the cable channel cancel the program. Since then, Josh’s activities, past and present, have been headlined on the Internet.

Josh’s life further unraveled after a hacker found the names of 37 million people signing up for the Ashley Madison site. He was the first celebrity to be outed from the release of the names. As a paying member of Ashley Madison, the social-networking site made to facilitate illicit extramarital affairs, he spent almost a thousand dollars on two different accounts between February, 2013, and May, 2015, including an “affair guarantee” fee of two hundred and fifty dollars. Josh had not one, but two, accounts with the site which showed an extensive list of his sexual preferences.

The Ashley Madison account wasn’t the first that Josh created. Over a decade ago, his Facebook profile used to hook up with women was allegedly under the alias “Joe Smithson.” He used a photo of Jonathan Blankfein, son of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, on that profile. The “Smithson” profile was also linked to a profile on OKCupid, “joesmithsonnwa,” until it was flagged by Gawker and deleted. That photo belongs to Hollywood DJ and producer named Matthew McCarthy who is losing jobs because at least one club thought he was linked to the Duggar scandal.

According to porn star Danica Dillon, Josh had sex with her twice while his wife was pregnant. Before InTouch published this information, Dillon passed a polygraph test in which she talked about his coming into the Gold Club in Philadelphia where she was stripping. Josh talked about what a fan he was of Dillon, even before her recent “boob job.” Dillon said that sex with him was “creepy,” that “he was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll.” Although the sex was consensual, Dillon said, “It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.”

Satan originally got the blame for Josh’s actions, but the responsibility was moved over to Josh’s wife, Anna. The Duggars privately urged Anna to admit that “she should have been more aware of the pressures Josh was under, of the issues he was facing, and how she could have better counseled him or helped him,” according to an unnamed source. Divorce is not an option for Anna because their religion requires her to stay married to Josh forever.

Last week, Josh wrote, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.” Later the reference to pornography was replaced by a reference to allowing “Satan to build a fortress” in his heart and then completely removed. There was no apology to the lives he damaged through his bigotry toward LGBT people and others who don’t follow his faith. Duggars’ world teaches that women’s improper attitude and dress are to blame for men’s inability to control their libidos.

Family dynamics show possible reasons for Josh’s behavior. Father Jim Bob teaches his sons to repress sexual desires, partly by not looking at attractive women. “Nike” is the code word for the boys to look at their shoes because, as the autobiography Growing Up Duggar states, God forbid that they like looking at women. Sources say that Jim Bob operates like a dictator, for example telling anyone seen kissing before marriage that they shouldn’t do it. Statistics indicate that conservatives, many of whom grow in fundamentalist Christian churches, watch more porn than anyone else. In the Duggars’ home, the father cannot be challenged, women are inferior to men, and using birth control is a sin.

Two unnamed members of the Duggar family are fed up with the way that Josh has gotten away with his sexual behavior. The solution to Josh’s problems was to send him back to the same fundamentalist Christians who supposedly rehabilitated him over a decade ago; even family members don’t believe in this solution. Why they have doubts is understandable: Pastor Paul Kingsbury, who runs the North Love Church facility, reportedly helped a man accused of sexual assault evade prosecution in the United States by keeping him in a mission in Bolivia. According to his protector, the man had fulfilled his penance by showing remorse and would protect him in “any way necessary” from facing charges in the United States.

The brother of Josh’s wife went much farther. Daniel Keller, infuriated by a post from Josh’s sister Jessa about Jesus cleansing Josh if he confesses, engaged in a back-and-forth Twitter exchange that pointed out the difference between confessing and getting caught, concluding with calling Josh a “pig.”

Losing their show cost the Duggars $25 million dollars. First they begged for money, and Michelle complained about having to do the housework. No comment about Jim Bob helping her with the housework. One of Michelle’s big rants came from having to fold laundry at 1:00 in the morning. Their next solution to financing their expensive lifestyle was to have a new show—counseling victims of sexual abuse. At the same time, they’re preparing a documentary, “Breaking the Silence,” featuring Jill and Jessa Duggar plus other sexual abuse victims to bring the issue further into the public eye. Beyond that, they plan a new series featuring themselves, parents who condoned sexual abuse, as sex abuse counselors. That from parents who never sought counseling for Josh’s victims.

If Josh were an ordinary person, leaving others to their lives, the news would not be important. But the family actively opposed a local ordinance to ban LGBT discrimination because they claim that LGBT people are a danger to children. The Duggars have always held themselves up as fine, upstanding Christians to be used as examples for all. After the show’s cancellation, parents Jim Bob and Michelle wrote that “our desire in opening our home to the world is to share Bible principles that are the answers for life’s problems.” Josh could not even take responsibility for his own actions but instead blamed his wife. His sisters, who were victims of his sexual molestation, tried to justify his actions.

As Josh’s sins become more openly known, the conservative world is either ignoring them or claiming that progressives are the hypocrites and that Josh isn’t because he has confessed. At the same time, they continue to pillory people who do not violate the law in the way that Josh has. And they want the United States to become a theocracy that would follow the Duggars’ teaching.

June 14, 2015

Christian Unjustified Paranoia Leads to Discrimination

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) may be a Catholic, but he opposes his church’s leader in climate change. Santorum thinks that Pope Francis should stay quiet about this subject because the pope isn’t a scientist. Santorum said,”I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality,” he said. Francis has an advanced degree in chemistry—which makes him a scientist.

During his interview on the Fox network, host Chris Wallace asked Santorum:

“I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?”

Santorum answered that “there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Santorum has company in Bill Donohue, Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, who thinks that the pope’s authority lies only with faith and morals. Donohue wants Pope Francis not to talk about climate change because “no one has ever said that air pollution is intrinsically evil.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who proved to his personal satisfaction that climate change doesn’t exist because he threw a snowball on the Senate floor, is equally upset with Pope Francis. He said:

“Everyone is going to ride the pope now. Isn’t that wonderful,” he said. “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours…. I am not going to talk about the pope. Let him run his shop, and we’ll run ours.”

A Presbyterian, Inhofe doesn’t need to follow the Pope’s precepts, but Santorum and Donohue should. And the pope is scheduled to speak to Congress in a little over three months.

The persecution complex of fundamentalist Christians ratcheted up when Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, a far-right mega-church leader in Texas, compared the treatment of Christians in the United States to Germany’s treatment of Jews before the Holocaust. “They marginalized the Jewish people, disparaged them, and make them objects of contempt.” Questioning from Fox’s Sean Hannity led Jeffress to add that Christians in the United States are “treated as objects of contempt by the media and once that happens then the taking away of further rights will be very easy.” Jeffress’ terror comes from LGBT rights in receiving businesses and services.

After Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order allowing refusal of services based on the provider’s religious beliefs, the “religious freedom” fans scored victories in other states. In Michigan, faith-based adoption groups can refuse to work with any couples that violate the groups’ religious beliefs. The bill was put on the state Senate’s agenda at the last minute with no notice, and the House immediately concurred. North Carolina now allows magistrates and registers of deed to recuse themselves from performing marriage duties that might violate their religious beliefs. The number of legislators required to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto was lowered because of absent legislators, some who had voted against the bill the first time. North Carolina’s bill has an interesting twist. Any North Carolina officials opting out in writing cannot perform marriage duties for the next six months, creating long delays for couples wanting to marry in rural areas. [My question is whether they still get paid.]

Although both Michigan’s and North Carolina’s laws are intended for same-sex couples, the legislation is so broad that anyone can be the brunt of discrimination. Almost 40 years ago, Carol Ann and Thomas Person, two legally blind North Carolinians, were denied a marriage license by two different magistrates because of their skin colors. This happened nine years after the Supreme Court had declared that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. Person recently wrote, “The magistrate told us that marrying an interracial couple went against his religious beliefs.” The current law gives magistrates the right to discriminate against couples because of their race, religion, divorce status—in short, anyone.

At least one presidential candidate thinks that Christian discrimination is more important than LGBT rights. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is positive that being LGBT is a choice and that LGBT people don’t suffer discrimination because they don’t have to drink out of different fountains from heterosexual people. He refused to discuss LGBT rights further, insisting that they talk about discrimination against Christians in the United States. T. Steelman wrote:

“When you have your Bibles confiscated, churches burned and gun-toting idiots protesting outside your sanctuary then you can talk about being persecuted. Nobody is stopping you from worshiping as you wish or burning you at the stake for heresy. Until they do, please just stop it.”

On his 700 Club program, Pat Robertson first explained that the death of a woman’s child was human error rather than the fault of God.  Then he explained to her that God killed the woman’s baby because he could grow up to be Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin or a serial killer. According to Robertson, God deliberately terminated the baby’s life to save the world.

The Duggar story keeps growing after the revelation that the oldest of 19 Kids and Counting molested at least four of his sisters, one of them five years old at the time, and another young girl several years ago. Two weeks ago, the parents refused to let DHS talk to a child in their care after a 911 call. The refusal led to a county DHS employee calling police for help. The information was revealed after Fox’s Megyn Kelly gave a cozy interview with the parents when patriarch Jim Bob Duggar said that child molestation is common in Christian families.

The Duggars had a compelling reason for not divulging Josh Duggar’s molestation of his younger sisters. While Jim Bob was in state legislature, Arkansas passed a law that the children could not have been homeschooled if Josh were forced to register as a sex offender. Jim Bob said that he knew Josh’s actions were crimes, but he didn’t trust government-sponsored programs to help Josh.

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee continued to support the Duggars after the truth came out. He told Megyn Kelly that “a person is innocent until proven guilty” although Kelly said, “But he confessed.” That didn’t matter to Huckabee, who joked that he wanted to be transgender as a teenager so that he could shower with high school girls.

Another of Huckabee’s friends has also been accused twice of child molestation. John Perry, the man who co-authored several of Huckabee’s books, escaped “sustained” allegations of “sexual battery” against children because the statute of limitations had expired. Perry was ex-communicated from the Presbyterian church because he “has confessed to committing heinous and repetitive sin […] and has not shown evidence of repentance.” Perry molested one of the girls for three years.

Have you read what the religious right has written about the alleged history of former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert molesting his high school students? No? There’s a reason. The conservative religious media is staying mum on the issue: to them, it’s not really news.

People who think that separation of church and state might delight in this exchange between Australian comedian and satirist David Thorne and the self-proclaimed “School Chaplain” at his son’s school. The email exchange is five years old but priceless.

“Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins,” according to Mayor Will Rogers’ sign in Hawkins (TX). Putting the sign on public land isn’t any violation of the constitution, according to Rogers, because “Jesus is part of every major religion in the world, so you can’t pin one religion on Jesus.” No wonder U.S. ranks 14th in the world in education. I’m surprised that the nation isn’t lower.

May 24, 2015

Worry about Josh Duggar’s Crimes, Not Sins

The conservative world is still reeling since the revelation that Josh Duggar, eldest son in his family and the face of Family Research Council (FRC) at anti-LGBT rallies, molested at least five girls when he was a teenager. As executive director of FRC Action, the organization’s political arm, he raised funds, hobnobbed with half the GOP presidential contenders, and talked about how LGBT people are a threat to children. Because the statute of limitations has run out on the 27-year-old’s crimes, he will most likely not be prosecuted, but the publicity surrounding his actions is well-deserved, because of his “holier-than-thou” demeanor toward people who don’t follow his path of hatred and bigotry. Duggar has resigned from his position, but the whirlpool of his actions and the resulting reactions spreads every day.

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The patriarch of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob Duggar, waited over a year—and three months after he told the elders of his church—to file a police report after learning about Josh’s crimes. Jim Bob also refused to allow police to interview Josh during a felony investigation in 2006. The police report emerged only after In Touch magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act request and has since been expunged at the request of a judge appointed by then Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Police spokesman Scott Lewis said the expunging of the record was highly unusual because similar records are usually kept indefinitely.

Huckabee explained that the file was destroyed to protect the “innocent victims.” Six years ago, Huckabee wrote about director Roman Polanski’s raping a child almost 30 years ago in a Fox op-ed: “If something is right, it’s right. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Diversity is a good thing; duplicity is not.” Huckabee has a history of releasing criminals, including two murderers who went on to kill six more people.

The police report shows that Josh was investigated for sex offenses—including felonies—against five minors, four of them his sisters. He was accused of touching the girls’ breasts and genitals, often while they slept. Instead of alerting the police, the family later claimed they sent Josh to a four-month Christian program of hard physical work and counseling in 2003 but really sent him to live with a family friend in the home remodeling business. Jim Bob finally took Josh to personal acquaintance Arkansas State Trooper, Jim Hutchens, who only gave Josh a “very stern talk.” Hutchins took no other action and is now serving a 56-year prison sentence for child pornography.

After TLC became aware of Josh’s history of molestation, the channel waited to determine the future of their cash cow program. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was immediately canceled after TLC learned that “Mama June” was dating a convicted child molester although he had not been a member of the cast, but TLC aired a Duggar marathon after Josh, a part of the program, apologized for his behavior on his Facebook page. The program began losing its advertisers such as General Mills, and the TLC indicated that it was pulling the show. The show is still listed to air on June 1, and the network hasn’t decided on its long-term decision regarding the show’s fate.

Josh’s former employer, FRC, has traditionally demonized LGBT people through false allegations. The website still posts a 2002 document, “Homosexuality and Child Abuse,” which wrongly assumes male molesters of boys are gay to purport that homosexual men molest boys at disproportionate rates to “the rates at which heterosexual men molest girls.”

Duggar mentor Bill Gothard, 79, has also resigned from Basic Life Principles, the Christian homeschooling organization he founded, after accusations that he sexually harassed over 35 women and teenage girls. Three years ago, Gothard was asked to step down because he “has exhibited a 40-year pattern of moral failure” and “publicly repent.” Basic Life Principles’ curriculum preaches that victims are at fault for being sexually assaulted and the perpetrators are the real victims who are defrauded by the sexual assault victims. Girls are also taught from an early age that they provoke the rapes and have no right to pursue justice. That is what the Duggar children may have been taught.

The billionaires who own Hobby Lobby have provided substantial financial support for Gothard’s organization for at least a decade. Gothard is also associated with Quiverfull, a movement championed by Jim and Michelle Duggar that advocates wifely submission and considers all forms of birth control as sinful. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green praised one ofGothard’s books: “Through the example and teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, we have benefited both as a family and in our business.”

In a religious homeschooling family in Wake Forest (NC) , four of the six brothers pled guilty to sexually abusing their sister for nine years. Anti-schooler parents, John and Nita Jackson, fled to Colorado with the victim to keep her from being interviewed. Eight indictments were handed down after they were returned to North Carolina. Oldest brothers Eric and Matthew received sentences of 12 to 15 years, and two other brothers, Nathaniel and Benjamin, will serve two years each for multiple counts of incest. One brother is expected to plead guilty, and another will go to trial. The girl told police that her mother had walked away after witnessing at least one of the crimes.

Like Josh, the Duggar parents are politically active. Jim Bob was a state representative from 1999 until 2003 and a U.S. Senate candidate. Michelle campaigned for overturning a measure that banned LGBT discrimination in Fayetteville (AR) on the basis that the law would endanger children. She said, “We   should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child.” She succeeded.

Fayetteville is the location of a Christian school that knowingly employed a man convicted of sexual offenses against an 8-year-old child. Paul Leroy Connor, convicted of “taking sexual liberties with” and committing a sexual offense against the child in 2001, served two years in prison and is barred under state law from being on school property. The school’s administrator, Joan Drayton not only refused to fire Connor but also told the reporting teacher to stop teaching students how to search for sex offenders. An investigation revealed grade tampering for the athletic program and wealthy families as well as “fraudulent conduct on the part of the school and its administrators.” One senior with a GPA of .97 received a diploma.

Freedom Christian Academy is one of the state’s top recipients of private school vouchers, almost $120,000 taxpayer funds in 2014. A recently passed state law diverted $10 million from the state’s public system to student vouchers at schools like Freedom Christian that operate with no accountability or oversight and are exempt from financial accountability, ethics oversight, and academic reporting standards which are required of public schools. Many of these schools have no certified teachers on staff, and at least 74 percent do not follow state curriculum mandates. They also collect taxpayer funds for schools who are taught at home rather than at school.

Mike Huckabee, the GOP presidential candidate who earlier slammed President Obama for letting their daughters listen to Beyoncé, praised Josh Duggar for his apology and said that his life as an adult “is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility.” Today, Huckabee told Chris Wallace on the Fox network that the president of the United States should not be required to follow a Supreme Court ruling that legalizes marriage equality. Wallace pointed out that the country has obeyed court rulings since the 1803 Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803) which formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review under Article III of the Constitution.. Huckabee answered that the president must follow the “Supreme Being” and not the Supreme Court.

Huckabee may be surprised by the negative response he has received on his Facebook page regarding his protection of Josh Duggar. Instead of praising him, they have erupted with criticisms. Responses can be found here. These comments reflect how conservatives are disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Duggars and those who defend Josh’s criminal actions. His behavior was horrendous, but the actions of those who try to protect him are far worse. Josh Duggar committed a crime, not a sin, and adults who tried to cover up for him are also committing crimes.

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