Greed, Giving & The Duggar Family

Greed, Giving & The Duggar Family September 1, 2012

by Calulu

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one should give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver

This week as Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar seem to have been everywhere in the media I’ve kept returning to their family website, seeking to figure out the ‘why’ about the changes the family has made since 2004.  I’ve read through many pages, been both disgusted and amused by some of what I’ve seen.

Many of Michelle’s blog posts seem to be in defense of some aspect of their life style, home schooling, childrearing, handling money, handling the kids handling the money, grieving over miscarriage. Other stuff, but mostly stuff involving commentary from the public.

That blog has come a long long way from the simple one in the naughts that held recipes for Tater Tot Casserole and 101 uses for Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup plus how to make your own laundry soap. Now it’s slick, sophisticated and advertorial even if they still have a direct link to modest swimwear maker WholesomeWear.


But three things jumped out at me from their site.

  1. Most of the links lead directly to things to buy or ministries that want your money instead of homespun words of wisdom from the Duggars. I am supposing that they are getting a cut of every single click thru and purchase from their links. Tells me that money has started to take the place of just about anything else in their lives. Mammon is king. Looks very suspiciously greedy.
  2. The website is the only real positive clue that they are still firmly enmeshed with the teachings of ATI and Vision Forum. Links to both and buying home schooling curriculum, books and left-handed Doug Phillips approved thingamabobs are up. So no matter how they try to down play their involvement with both of those ministries on television the Duggars are still fully involved with both of those dangerous cults.
  3. There are a couple of attempts on Michelle’s blog to explain their tithing at their home church, The Church of the Holy Basement, which never fully explain where the tithes to the home church are going.

And I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about giving. Nowhere on the Duggar site does it say what they give to beyond Michelle talking about the kids tithing. I would love to know if they do give to others or merely stash it all away like squirrels hording nuts for the winter.

There’s a couple of reasons that giving has been on my mind and makes me curious about the Duggar giving. First, I’ve had some small involvement with my new big mainstream church’s stewardship committee. Over the last few years we’ve tried to get people to tithe and tithing is up in a time when tithing is down nationwide.  Looking at the statistics from Christianity Today – Are American Evangelicals Stingy? it seems that  giving to charities are down around 11% in their received donations and overall churches nationwide seem to average 2.42%. Fundigelicals seem to be hovering right around 4 %. The beginnings of the splintering of my  old church Possum Creek started when tithing dropped to a rate too low to pay the pastor or even keep the lights on. We’ve been more successful in keeping the money needed to keep running the new church coming in. My new church doesn’t just benefit our members, our large meeting rooms and fellowship hall host things every week from homeschooling area meetings through things like AA meetings and the USDA food program giveaways. Our giving impacts many people in our community that need help.

Ronald J Sider says in his book “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” that not tithing is a blatant sin. I don’t know if it is or not as I’ve heard arguments from the pro tithing and anti tithing crowds. But it seems to me if you’re committed to a church or a cause you might want to put your money where your mouth is and give.

The other reason for my musing on giving is that my mother in law is 89 years old and has been rather ill. Thinking about her the other day I was struck by the fact that she is one of the most giving people you’d ever want to meet. I suspect the Fundamentalist Patriarchal Evangelical Quiverfull crowd would label her a heathen going to a homosexual abortionist church. But they’d be wrong, this lady has throughout the thirty years I’ve known her been someone that gives to the poor, gives to those who ask, and was always ready to lend a hand. I’ve watched her minister to the poor and generously give to causes not necessarily related to the church.

Her giving wasn’t always monetary either. She’s volunteered many many times in ways that improved her community at large. I try to emulate her grace and graciousness but I know I fall short. She is an inspiration to me.

Once, when Jim and I were newly coined Fundigelicals attempting to quiver I remember that my ancient sewing machine I made much of the childrens clothing on broke down. It was going to cost more to fix it than it was worth and I was very upset by this since Jim and I were not exactly wealthy. We were pretty much a few paychecks away from disaster as Jim was still in the military. Money was tight, I tried to economize, repairing or buying a new machine was out of the question. One night my mother in law asked me if I could have any sewing machine which one would it be and I told her I had my eye on a certain Singer sewing machine that ran around 400 dollars. A few days later I got a check in the mail from her with a sweet note telling me she wanted me to have that new sewing machine. She didn’t have to do that but it blessed me so greatly where I was in that moment. Through the years I’ve seen her repeatedly give to others with no expectation of any return on investment.

I keep looking at the Duggar family web page and hoping that they are giving back to their community from their financial windfall instead of hording it. What unspoken lessons on giving, generosity and the importance of money are being passed on to the Duggar children. No matter what Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar might say or teach the kids, let’s face it, it’s what you do when they are watching you that leaves a stronger impression and reveals your own real beliefs.

When you attended your fundamentalist quiverfull church how important was giving to you and to other members of your church? I would love to know the true numbers at most of the cult-like churches.

Open comments below

Read everything by Calulu

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway

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  • Rebekah

    I remember a check being religiously put in the offering plate at church, but what percentage it was I have no idea. I certainly don’t recall any giving of any kind beyond that weekly check, and none of us kids were ever encouraged to give back or minister or tithe from our own earnings. I recall seeing those commercials for sponsering a child and thinking “why don’t we do something like that?” as putting a check in an offering plate had no meaning to me whatsoever. I certainly wasn’t going to put any of my hard earned pittance towards simply enabling long theological sermons week after week. But all ‘outside’ charities were looked with great suspicion that they were simply “out to get your money”, and no effort was ever made to do any community service whatever. It was no wonder I grew up clinging tight to my money and had to learn as an adult the true meaning and value of compassion.

  • Tami

    I tend to think that religion is just another way to get money and control people. Look at the republicans. Mitt Romney’s voice is scarily similar to Bill Gothard and they are a whole bunch of rich white people trying to get the conservative vote so they can maintain their fundamentalist grip on the country. when I was attending church tithing was shoved down our throats and preached regularly and your giving was monitored. The pastor preached a whole mess of sermons about living by faith and then what did he do? He took the monies and purchased a property the church couldn’t afford and went into debt for and completely remodeled the parsonage (which looked entirely ugly and horrible I might add). That year, my young family and I only made 6,000 when I checked my tax return and how much did we give to the church? 2,000 some dollars, and how much did we see back? We got a christmas card with 300 dollars in it because we were poor and couldn’t afford christmas presents and they had prayed about it and we had been faithful attendees so we deserved it. Bull. Crap. The duggars show makes me want to choke when I see it on TV. OF course it is easy to live a perfect little life when you are getting paid big bucks to have people watch how good and perfect you are!

  • Shanna

    I was part of independent Baptist churches growing up, rather than quiverfull (in fact, my mom said that the folks we knew who did that were “nuts” for that, and other things). My parents were really too poor to donate much to the church, but my grandparents gave every single week, and it was quite a bit (I don’t know the exact amount, but they were big believers in the “at least 10%” idea). We were handed at least a couple of quarters when we were younger, to put into the plate, to train us to do it when we got older. I never saw that that money did anything other than purchase land for the church, and build a larger church building and a school building where they could indoctrinate more kids, oh, and “missions”, which amounted to “saving the heathen from their ungodly ways”. They also got money from the members by having a savings bond drive. My grandfather invested quite a bit of money in these, and lost it all when they defaulted some years later. But the pastor was still driving around in a Cadillac.

    This was the same crazy church whose pastor told my grandmother that I was demon possessed (I’m bipolar, and went undiagnosed until my mid-twenties). For a so-called “normal” church, they were/are seriously messed up. My grandfather, one of my sisters and her family are still members there. Only time I’ve been in the building as an adult was to go to my grandmother’s funeral (and after all the religious crap my grandmother pulled on me, I only went to that to give my mom moral support).

    I know not all churches are crazy like that. My in-laws’ church actually stocks a food pantry that non-members can access without any preaching or anything, as well as doing other charity for the community. They aren’t heavy-handed or creepy about things.

  • Meggie

    What do we actually want from our tithes? My husband & I decided the original (biblical) reason for tithes was to look after the widows, orphans and others who needed it. Today this is done by the government; pensions and allowances provide for the elderly, sick and unemployed, medicare provides free health care for everyone, the army is sent overseas on peace keeping duties and within the the country for disaster reliefs and our government donates food and essentials for disaster relief overseas. Where does the government get its money? Our taxes. We see paying our taxes as the same as tithing. We pay nearly a third of our income in taxes but I am quite happy about this because it provides all the above services.

  • melissa

    We tithed at the very least 10% in our former cult-church. (it was expected and thoroughly preached about over and over!) Not to mention cooking and baking for the potlucks (can get costly) and buying supplies (and gifts) for church parties, baby showers,wedding showers,baptisms, etc etc. and these were all expected and only within the church family-so if you still spent time holidays/occasions with your real family you were pretty much broke…

  • Rachel

    I feel bad for those poor kittens. They’ll probably be forced to reproduce like rabbits.

  • Maggy

    Honestly, I would rather see the government take care of these matters than religious charities. It feels like these types of charities often have strings attached designed to bring the disenfranchised to their churches.

  • Jess

    Isaiah 5:20