There are lots of things that bothered me about the documentary, Shiny Happy People. For example, there was the blanket training that was described where they place a toddler on a blanket and put something they want just out of reach and then hit them with flexible rulers or glue sticks when they try to leave to break their will and promote obedience over all else.
There were many more things to notice like:
– extended “encouragement” (spanking)
– denial of feeling, not supposed to cry
– grooming for abuse
– taking advantage of child labor
– predatory nature of leaders
– childlike nature of leaders lying, parroting, preying (always against children and women)
The one thing that really stood out to me was a subtle thing. There were several clips and explanations from Jim Bob and Michelle’s origin story. Since Jim Bob is rather clumsy in public and when not scripted, most of the quotes are from Michelle. She admitted that she wasn’t raised in the same lifestyle that she is living now.
She was, essentially, a normal teenager, a cheerleader and someone that dated boys. However, the framing by the couple is that she was totally ignorant and Jim Bob saved her and moved her into this life that she now lives. This includes all the things above like abusing children, child labor, helping cover up abuse, etc.
But just like all the other issues with IBLP and other high control groups, the man always comes out to be the savior and most important. This is true even when they promote cult like activity. In Jim Bob’s mind, he thinks “Aren’t you glad I saved from your terrible life.”
It is evident from interviews that she is still trying to gain his favor. Just like how Christianity starts off with a view that we are miserable human beings. Leaders of cults first convince you that you are worthless without them and their solution. Then, it is increasingly difficult to measure up and be accepted, so they’ve got you where they want you.
I’m sure she went willingly because she was convinced as she had no other choice. Thousands and thousands of people are drawn in to these types of groups because we want to belong and we want to be a part of something that’s better.
Even though Michelle was living a perfectly normal life before Jim Bob, he convinced her that she was just ignorant, and now she could be a part of something better. That something better included having more children than she could raise and a endangering her health, but also abusing those children and promoting it to others.
The only way all of this could work is on the backs of the children who wwre coerced to raise children while they were still children and do most of the work of training centers, and accept that their primary duty was just to obey and then start producing children.
Like many Christians, Michelle was convinced by these childish men that the only way she could love her children was to abuse them and control them. She bought the lie that the only redeeming quality a woman has is to bear children and keep her husband happy.
Like many childish men, Bill Gothard and Jim Bob Duggar convince women and children to do their bidding. There are some initial reports after the documentary aired, that some are trying to throw Michelle under the bus now since she carried out most of the punishments, forced the kids to sign contracts, etc. But don’t forget, she was groomed first before being convinced to help groom their children.
The fallout to all of this is horrendous. We have listened to many stories on the Desert Sanctuary that made us cry. Some of you may think I’m too hard on organized religion, but organized religion is what allows this type of behavior and sanctions it sometimes as holy.
I won’t be happy until all of it is exposed and we start moving in the opposite direction. People often write off pastors that have deconstructed, but let me assure you, there are thousands of us out here that once we realize things like this, we can and will speak up. We don’t care if you don’t like us for exposing the injustice of cult behavior. We will keep blowing the whistle. The gig is up.
Be where you are,
Be who you are,