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I'm Tired of Talking about Bill Gothard & the Duggars

I’m so very tired.

I just got home from a four-day camping trip — four days of sunshine and rain and afternoon naps and black coffee — and when I opened my computer for the first time last night, the notifications started rolling in. Tweets and Facebook comments and interview requests from the tabloids and click-bait blogs.

I know what they want.

They want to talk to me about the Duggars. About Bill Gothard. About my life in a cult.

They want to talk to me about sweet, sweet scandal — the poster-children for family values caught in a headline-making disaster.

But they don’t want the truth. I know what they really want.

They want to split me open and dissect me like a freak.

They want a juicy quote from me — “The Duggars are cult freaks too!“, perhaps. I’ve done this before. I know the drill.  

They want to splash words and pictures on their shiny pages and say, “Look at the way these folks lived! Isn’t it cute? isn’t it fascinating?”


No. It’s not cute. It’s not fucking fascinating. It’s devastating.

And I’m tired of it.

Because sitting in their media conglomerate offices in New York or L.A., they have no way of comprehending the questions they’re asking.

They bounce from one thing to another — the Training Centers, courtship rules, and oh my god they didn’t kiss until they were married can you imagine that? — looking for a juicy tidbit to carve out and serve to their barely-interested readers.

They have no way of comprehending what it means for that to be your normal.

And I’m tired of trying to explain it.

I’m tired of watching them fumble around with dramatic heaviness the “oh my god can you believe this scandal?” when it was my fucking life for twenty years. It was all of our lives.

It was normal.

What the gawkers and headline-makers can’t comprehend is that for every scandal splashed across their glossy tabloids, there are a thousand broken lives that will never make the news. 

Sick as it is, sexual abuse sells page views. So they fire up the ol’ outrage machines and crank out a few thousand dollars worth of shock over the latest discovery.

But there will never be headlines for broken marriages and broken hearts, for eating disorders and suicidal depression. For innocent faith destroyed beyond repair. You won’t read in the news about years and years of therapy, about brainwashing and codependency and deprogramming. There won’t be stories about the way some songs still make us get up and walk out of church services, about the thirty- and forty- and fifty-year-olds still trying to believe that their childhood hearts were loved.

This is our normal.

I’m so tired of it.

I’m tired of reading stories of abuse at the hands of those entrusted with the hearts of children. You should be too.

I’m tired and fucking sick to death that we need to keep having this conversation.

And I keep thinking that at some point the church will open their goddamn eyes.

But they duck and weave and slip sideways to avoid how complicit they still are. The church wants to wash her hands of Bill Gothard — “we never knew him!” — but the backers and supporters and poster children are still celebrated. I’ve told you all this before. And I’m tired.

Every time another pillar collapses, you clutch your pearls and buy your tabloids and “oh god isn’t that awful.”

Yes. It’s fucking awful.

And also, it’s completely unsurprising.

But they just rename and rebrand and the show goes on and on and on.

And you keep defending it: “Not all homeschoolers… It was a mistake… Nobody’s perfect….”

I’m tired.

I’m tired of hearing folks like Mike Huckabee taking to the microphones to say shit like:

“They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends.”

Goddamn it, Mike Huckabee. Don’t bring God’s love into this. Not like that. Not now.

Because your words are fucking clanging cymbals. Your religious phrases are the brush-strokes whitewashing the tomb of a system rotten to its very core.

You want to talk about Jesus?

Let’s talk about how Jesus said, “If the root is evil, the fruit will be evil. Then there’s nothing to be done but to cut the whole tree down and cast it into the fire.”

Stop gathering around the rotted-out tree, gawking at the rotten fruit sagging from its branches and saying “How awful. How terrible. How could all this rotten fruit come from this wonderful tree?”

Please, just stop. Stop.

I’m so tired.

Somebody grab the matches and gasoline.

It’s time to burn this motherfucker down. 

Here are some good places to start:

published May 26, 2015

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