How Josh Duggar Shifted Homeschoolers’ Sense of Security

After recognizing that sin and evil aren’t outside threats, families are doing more to promote abuse awareness.

Josh Duggar was slated to stand trial this month on charges of downloading and possessing material that depicted the sexual abuse of minors. Instead, his court date has been delayed until the fall. His family’s series Counting On has been cancelled by TLC.

In the months to come, Duggar’s case will be covered as the saga of a former reality TV star, making headlines in celebrity magazines as did every courtship, wedding, pregnancy, and birth announcement from the famously fruitful Duggar brood.

But for some who come from Christian circles like the Duggars’—conservative Christian churches, tight-knit homeschool networks, big-family “quiverfull” movements—this case isn’t just about Josh Duggar. It represents a larger concern over how their communities teach about sexual abuse and, sadly, have missed opportunities to respond to it.

“Josh Duggar is in the position he is in because he was enabled and protected from consequences at every step by his revolting parents and their patriarchal, dehumanizing theology,” said Jacob Denhollander in a series of tweets posted after Duggar’s arrest in April of this year. Denhollander advocates for victims along with his wife, Rachael, herself an abuse survivor. But he also grew up one of 13 siblings in “the same homeschooled circles as the Duggars.”

Duggar has confessed and apologized for sex offenses he committed as a teen back in 2002–2003, and for infidelity in his marriage. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges that in 2019 he downloaded material depicting the sexual abuse of children.

His pattern of sexual abuse and misconduct has been reported on for years, but the recent case comes at a time of more attention …

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