At least this time it’s not totally about Josh Duggar himself, but still, it’s pretty bad.
First, a quick recap. Way back when l’il Josh was in his mid-teens and molesting and sexually abusing a bunch of little girls, his parents were pretty chill about the whole thing till they caught him with his literal hands literally in the literal vagina of his own literal five-year-old sister, who was quite awake and on his lap (which contradicts the family’s official story that all of his sexual abuse occurred while his victims were both fully asleep and fully clothed).
When Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar realized how far their son had escalated his attacks on the girls under their care, these irresponsible extremists finally decided it was time to do something definitive. So they shipped their problem child off to a family friend who put the lad to work for a few months helping to remodel houses. And apparently that was it for Josh Duggar’s therapy and rehabilitation.
Like any predator who hasn’t reformed, all Josh Duggar learned was how to sneak around better thanks to his fake therapy. He lived quite the double life–rumors abounded about him being a regular at strip joints while loudly proclaiming his Christian faith publicly. He must have thought he was damned near bulletproof when he got a job persecuting and harassing LGBTQ people with hate group Family Research Council. This professional bigot-for-Jesus continued to loudly and proudly declare his superior morality while conducting smear campaigns against people who’d never done anyone any wrong–all while he was hanging out on OKCupid and Ashley Madison and cheating on his wife for “several years” with, among others, a stripper.
In the ensuing shitstorm, he decided to slink off to another pseudo-therapy fake rehabilitation center to work off his crimes through hard labor and penance.
Ah, but which fake rehab center to pick?
Demons of psychiatry, begone!
Christians really don’t like psychology as a profession. Even back when I was Christian, the evangelical and fundamentalist groups I was involved with had a deep distrust of it. They considered it demonic–if not an example of direct demonic oppression/possession (which mean the same exact thing, except you can’t call a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ possessed or they get really torqued), then at least an example of how demons were influencing our culture away from using the Bible as a prescription and antidote to every single part of people’s modern lives. As Neil’s pointed out, fundagelicals really do think that the Bible is an instruction guide that can help them with every single part of their lives. There are “Biblical” marriage guides, diet plans, workout guides, childrearing systems, educational curricula, and of course civics guides.
So the idea that Christians might ever need some of that newfangled client-centered therapy to help them for anything is just anathema. Surely they should be able to just pray away problems! Give your stresses and cares to Jesus, and he’ll fix them! Or he won’t, in which case you didn’t pray enough, or you harbored doubts that he would, or you sinned and didn’t realize it, or someone around you didn’t pray enough, feel sure enough, or repent enough, or the answer isn’t coming right now but rather later, or it was “God’s” will that you suffer crippling anxiety or schizophrenia. Everything has to be Jesus-centered, not anyone-else-centered. Focusing on anything else, even on one’s own mental health and recovery, is a sin in that culture. It is seen as the ultimate sin: selfishness, or even worse: idolatry. And even talking about people as anything but sin machines who were born wretched and in need of saving grace? Oh, don’t get ’em started.
Many fundagelicals also see education as a distraction from one’s religious faith if not downright dangerous, since they are well aware of the link between education and deconversion, disengagement, and atheism. There’s a streak of anti-intellectualism that runs deep in right-wing religious thinking–and that streak gets a lot wider when it comes to mental health. Even caring about the qualifications of one’s mental-health professionals is all but a declaration that one doesn’t trust Jesus. That’s why not one single staff member of the fake rehab facility Josh Duggar finally enrolled in, Reformers Unanimous (yes, I know, it’s a really wacky name), has one single qualification to his or her name in actual therapy or psychology–but wow do they ever sound gung-ho and hardcore for Jesus. If you have enough Jesus in you, you’ll be totally fine, is clearly the thinking. (But good luck finding that staff list by navigating the center’s site itself. I think they’re redoing a lot of stuff in the wake of the recent leak about their
ruler–er, leader, and quite a few of their links and image calls are broken. I had to get that link from Gawker.)
No wonder so many right-wing Christians are so fucked up. They’ve stripped from themselves any ability to seek help and destroyed all trust in that help, but are part of a culture that really messes with its members’ heads to the point where a lot of them need help. They push Jesus as the cure for all that ails people, but it’s quite obvious that Jesus isn’t healing them.
So Josh checked into a fake rehab facility, one characterized best by Gawker as “a Christian labor camp.” There, he will do more manual labor and get more inundated with yet more of the Bible verses and lessons he’s been subjected to his entire life. That approach worked so incredibly well when he was in his teens, right? And being completely submerged and immersed in Bible readings and Christian labor his entire life has already worked so well to produce a good, moral, upstanding young man living for Christ, right? So clearly doing even more of it is the thing he needs!
One definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” It’s simply dismaying–if not infuriating–to see that charlatans-for-Christ can prey upon unwary and gullible flocks by offering them fake solutions for serious problems–and I think we can all agree by now that Josh Duggar has some very serious problems.
Worst of all, the fake rehab center/labor camp itself seems to be run by someone with serious problems himself.
Libby Anne just broke the news that the founder of the second fake rehab center, Paul Kingsbury (the rather smug-looking chap with the shark stare in the first photo on that staff site I linked), has personal ties to all kinds of sex offenders like Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap (the first was involved with a sex abuse cover-up, the second convicted of having sex with and grooming underage girls for abuse), sponsors a known sex offender overseas in a mission field, and has refused to warn his own church about a sex offender in their midst.
Mr. Kingsbury is not, himself, accused of any sex offenses or sex abuses that I know of–yet. But he sure seems very lax about sex abuse generally. And he definitely follows the standard-issue fundagelical party line of fetishized “purity” for women, uncontested male power over women, and a rigid adherence to imagined 1950s gender roles and social norms. I’ve yet to see a situation where that combination of factors didn’t produce horrific tales of abuse and victimization. He literally preaches that women are “baby machines,” according to Libby Anne’s source. It’s hard not to imagine that where there is smoke, there is fire.
If the bizarrely regimented schedule that Gawker posted of his fake rehab center’s daily routine didn’t clue you in, this guy–and his entire religious organization–is hugely authoritarian and power-hungry, and he knows how to prey on the weak and vulnerable–speaking of which, did you notice that the daily schedule allows people 6.5 hours of sleep a night? Sleep deprivation is one of the tactics cults use to gain power over their victims. If I’d seen nothing else besides that, I’d know his fake rehab center is bad news–and that its leader is probably even worse news.
Mr. Kingsbury’s church, as well, is in solid with Bill Gothard–you remember him? He was the onetime ruler of a large number of churches and a homeschooling empire, but had to resign his position because of repeated accusations of sexual harassment by the young women working for him. Bill Gothard is an old buddy of the Duggars, who at one point even did their daughters’ hair the way this pervert liked young women to wear their hair.
Paul Kingsbury’s church, North Love Baptist, is a staunch member of the Independent Fundamental Baptist denomination that Bill Gothard once ruled. Good luck finding a single bit of that information on his church’s website, incidentally. There isn’t a single doctrinal position or affiliation statement there that I could find. But if you’re not super-familiar with the IFB, John Shore–himself a Christian and an all-around decent guy–has written an excellent summary of the foul, horrific, grotesque, and repulsive nature of this group.
There’s only one conclusion I can come to after evaluating the information available.
Reformers Unanimous is not just a fake rehab center. It’s a fake rehab center run by someone who categorically should not be in control of people who need real help.
And that’s where Josh Duggar is going for rehabilitation, gang.
These are the people he is apparently entrusting with his mental and emotional recovery from his various problems with sex, boundaries, respect, and honesty.
I simply don’t see how this plan of his could possibly go wrong.
I really do hope he gets the help he really needs, all that said. He seems to be spiraling further and further downward. For all my criticism, it’s quite clear to me that this kid ain’t right–and I genuinely want him to get better.
I just know it ain’t happening this way. It’s magical thinking at its worst to imagine otherwise.