The loathsomeness of using faith to marginalize the actions of Josh Duggar

The loathsomeness of using faith to marginalize the actions of Josh Duggar August 20, 2015

(Edit: thanks to a precise comment below, the words “young women” re: Josh Duggar’s sexual assaults have been changed to “children”.)

In a recent story on the Seasons of Grace Patheos blog, Kathy Schiffer begins with the absolutely extraordinary headline:


Schiffer makes the remarkably flimsy plea in her piece to avoid judgement and condemnation for Duggar’s actions, reminding us that Jesus may yet write our own sins in the sand.

She says:

I’ve been pretty fed-up lately with Internet agitators, people who get their jollies peering down the hall at the misfortunes and the missteps of others. You know them: They break into fisticuffs in the combox, holding up their ethereal “Holier Than Thou” placards and chanting “Sinner! Sinner! Sinner!” toward the person who’s been caught in a lie or an unjust act.

Here’s my heartfelt advice:  Don’t be that guy.

But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

John 8:6-11

Let’s make something very clear: I am not particularly wild about the fact that a nobody reality-television star’s life has become news, except inasmuch as he is a social activist and his hypocrisy merits discussion, philosophically and politically. But it would be remiss of me absolutely to let Ms. Schiffer get away with the indescribably pathetic attempt to inspire our guilt because of this man’s actions, thereby lowering the executioner’s axe to this man’s reputation and–I feel it cannot be avoided–his faith, which she shares.

Of course, this is Catholicism born and bred: a reminder of guilt for even so low a crime as our humanity. Regardless, Schiffer brings to mind something rather more insidious than the fact that people who so quickly gloss over the moral ineptitude of others often have skeletons in their own closet–it’s that she uses her faith as a one-way reminder of forgiveness: that those who have offended within predetermined sanctions (usually subjective), deserve social absolution. I dare to venture a guess that her moral ventriloquism doesn’t extend as far as homosexuals, atheists, pro-choice advocates and other villains of conservative faith. To Duggar, she admonishes instead, we must turn a blind eye. 


The most detestable facet of this simpering ideology is simply that it makes all “sin” an equal transgression. Josh Duggar lied to a country, his wife, conducted a platform of social conversion by proliferating lies not only about his private life but about the credos on which that life was based–and, worst of all, sexually assaulted children (which Schiffer has the shameless effrontery to call “sexual improprieties”). I, for one, will not stand by and allow the likes of Kathy Schiffer to trivialize that dossier into something can be erased by a flaccid “Mea Culpa”, or worse: that it should be ignored entirely. Nor, by packaging it into the same small box from which all “sin” comes, allow many young Catholics who likely read her work to think that something as beautiful and honest as homosexual love–a “sin” in its own right–is an equitable offense to Duggar’s actions.

When people fraudulently engage society as moral leaders, their actions must necessarily stand up to scrutiny. Bland interpretations of shared faith is a thin veneer to defend what, rightly, is indefensible in others. If Schiffer has a guilty conscience, then she can drop her own stone. Duggar and the many people like him–especially those whose prima facie faith is their go-to barrier from public scorn–owe a reckoning to the world to which they had the unmitigated hypocrisy to morally lecture.  

(Images: Headline Screenshot from Schiffer’s Patheos Article; Twitter Screenshot from her Twitter Page)



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