The Josh Duggar scandal is only the most recent of a disturbing trend in what I’ll call Cloistered Christian Patriarchy movements. Although the communities have differed in approach and tone, location and rules, there are a number of them who have seen similar scandals. They have all promoted strict authority structures, vilification of anyone who didn’t adopt the group’s core messages, isolation from outside influence and rigid gender roles. The Doug Phillips fiasco was one such example. Doug Wilson siding with child molesters (and essentially marrying them to members of his congregation) would be another. And then there’s Bill Gothard, the man whose homeschooling curriculum the Duggars followed, who resigned in a cloud of rumors with a whitewashed apology for being inappropriate with a number of young women.
I’ve addressed this before by speculating that particular kinds of sociopaths could easily be drawn to these movements, but what came first, the sociopath or the environment that encouraged him to be one?
The pattern of all of these scandals is:
-Perp gets caught molesting someone.
-Perp is wrangled into meeting with the elders of his church.
-Perp does one of several things: acts dumb, downplays the accusations or claims the victims were involved or being seductive — in each of these cases, minors; sleeping sisters; females under the perp’s direct employ who aren’t actually paid anything and thus have zero legal protection under employee-employer harassment laws; or some combination thereof.
-When pressed, perp confesses and “repents.”
-Since “repentance” is all that is called for, great lengths are gone to in order to ensure that the criminal aspects of this are downplayed or are not reported to secular authorities before the statute of limitations expires.
-The victim may be called upon to repent as well. If the victim refuses, says she is not at fault, or indicates that she is angry at the perp, she is labeled “bitter” and “unrepentant,” among other things, and if she continues to be “bitter,” potentially excommunicated.
-When word of this gets out, the faithful defend the molesters and the structure that protects them by saying things like “he made a mistake! Everyone makes mistakes! And now he’s sorry!” Or even “You’re just after him because he’s a Christian, you terrible liberal! Why don’t you get outraged over something that’s actually important, like trans people being allowed to use different bathrooms?” Or possibly “What about the girls? Why aren’t they getting called to task?” You know, similar to the assertion that an infant who gets his face blown up by a SWAT team is at fault for not just getting out of the way.
I’m not going to pretend to know why, according to police reports, Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters as well as an unnamed babysitter, but I sincerely doubt being raised in an environment where this was the pattern of dealing with abuse helped.