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The First Breakout Duggar?

My bet has always been Jessa and I might be right.

Let me back up and say that I don’t watch 19 Kids and Counting on a regular basis. For one thing, I cut the cord so any Duggar stuff I get is from YouTube.  But even with YouTube, it’s a bit much. And it’s intensely boring, if such a thing was possible. But every now and then, a Duggar girl starts to court and my curiosity is piqued, so I go back to some of those earlier videos and try to get a feel for the personality, what little is allowed to express itself.

I’ve been tracking Jessa for awhile now. Jinger has her own FreeJinger humanitarian campaign that was a response to her facial expressions and stated desire to move to New York City someday, a notion that was promptly squashed by her parents.

Jessa always looked like a spring that has been wound too tightly. Her “jurisdiction” in the Duggar household is organization. This girl would make a good general. Instead, she’s been stuck with this holier-than-thou family and their zillion kids and no way to get a decent education or go to work. Here and there in the videos, one Duggar or another has dropped hints that, unlike Jill, who was the perfect child and family valedictorian, Jessa was, to put it bluntly, a pain in the ass. She’s willful.  In DuggarWorld, that’s almost the worst sin.  It’s hinted that she’s difficult to get along with and that her husband Ben Seewald could have a balancing effect.

In the recent episode featuring Jill’s wedding, Jessa seems to have partially given up the pretense of loving the Duggar life.  She expresses dismay at the idea that Jill is going to start popping out babies. (she is) She tells her dad that if he stands in the way of her marriage with Ben Seewald that she’ll elope. She says it in a “kidding on the square” manner. It’s surprising that the TLC cameras kept that in because I thought it was a big tell. It’s becoming more and more clear that her courtship with Seewald was more lusty than her sister’s purer than Ivory Soap courtship with her new husband.

Then there was the root beer float comment.  Jinger goes on and on about how everyone at Jill’s wedding got their root beer floats and they were delicious. Then Jessa says with deadpan sincerity and perfect timing, “I don’t like root beer”. In other words, she’s not anything like the other Duggars and she doesn’t mind telling you that.

So, this was the kid who has been acting the part for 21 years but may be fed up. She’s not really cut out to be a Duggar. It’s not her thing.

She married last week. It was a bit of a surprise but in Duggar World, courtships are long and engagements are short. That’s to keep you from feeling each other up before the big day. I’ve found it a little weird that they would allow Jessa to court Seewald in the first place. They’ve got an older unmarried daughter who isn’t courting. Ben is only 18 or 19 and it’s clear that his interest is carnal. Well, maybe not exclusively but it’s hard to miss. She’s hot and has an amazingly photogenic face. So, I’m guessing that the Duggars figured it’s better to marry her off quickly than to let her get into trouble.

But then the big day arrives and Jessa struck her first blow at independence from the Duggar family. They said their vows, the pastor pronounced them, and Jim-Bob gave the official go ahead for Ben to kiss his daughter and they said NO.

They decided, like the rest of the sane world, that their first kiss is intimate and they needed privacy.  Imagine that, a DUGGAR finally sticks up for her right to have a moment to herself without a sibling minder, or chaperone, without a million people watching.  She decided that she could make up her own mind as to what was good for her without someone else imposing their expectations on her.

It came as a surprise to the rest of the church and Jim-Bob. I hope they were applauded. I know I certainly did when I read about it. So, Jessa and Ben didn’t kiss in front of a crowd of screaming fundies. Instead, they left the altar unkissed and made out in a room of the church after the ceremony. Rumor has it they had sex there too but that’s ridiculous. But what difference does it make what they did? It’s none of our business and none of their parents’ business either.

And if Jessa and Ben still end up being a couple of sanctimonious churchy types, I don’t expect it to last long. She’s already waaaaay ahead of some of her siblings in her mind. The crack has been open and Jessa is making a run for it.

BTW, Jessa posted a very unDuggar like lusty photo of her and Ben kissing.  It’s absolutely wonderful.

How religious narcissism works

Ah, the Duggars are making headlines again.  They’re little headlines but you should pay attention anyway because they are part of the pattern of religious narcissism that I have written about previously.

Jessa Duggar, the hot one, is dating courting Ben Seewald, another obnoxious Jesus freak Southern Independent Baptist.  I can’t remember where I heard this, it might have been somewhere in the free thought skeptic media, but it turns out that the Duggars follow this self-annoited preacher named Bill Gothard.  If America has a Taliban, and it does, Gothard would be its leader and his IBLP, Institute of Basic Life Principals, would be its Sharia Law.  Wait, that would have been last year.  THIS year, Gothard has resigned his position at IBLP due to sexual improprieties, as well as failing to report child abuse cases.  Yes, the man who brought America the chaste “side hug” has been accused by dozens of young women of inappropriate touching, groping and other no-nos.  Maybe their knees were exposed briefly and were asking for it.  So much for self-control. (Funny side note: while I was writing this, the WordPress autocorrect function kept replacing “Gothard” with “got hard”.  You can’t make this stuff up.)

In the Duggars’ world, the Southern Baptists are too worldly.  Yes, those teetotalling, non-dancing, patriarchical fundies are just too wild and crazy for the Duggars so the Duggar family mostly worships at home with other similar families.  Note that they don’t form “friendships” with these families.  They “fellowship”.  The distinction is significant.  That’s because if one of these families steps out of line, they have to be ready to jettison that family before the infection spreads.  It’s cold and unloving but their own salvation is at stake, so it’s necessary.

So, Ben Seewald, who is 2 years younger than Jessa, who is all of 20 or 21, writes a twitter about his catholic friend.  It’s been erased but someone has been kind enough to save the content.

“I have nothing against individuals who are Catholic. I know a lot of Catholics who are great people. What I DO have a problem with is the teaching that man can merit God’s favor through his own works or the works of other fallen men.

“My conscience is captive to the word of God. Where my Catholic friends adhere to God’s Word, I adhere. Where they depart from Scripture, I will in no way support, but will call them out because I love them and desire that they be turned from their deadly errors.”

Where to begin.  On the face of it, it looks innocent enough.  I mean, IBLP has been around for less than 100 years and is a niche sect, appealing to authoritarians and people who watch TLC and think it’s perfectly Ok to train children to be smiling, non-thinking, personality free, well behaved, chaste automatons in the name of Christ. (As my favorite aunt says, “Someday, one of those Duggar kids is going to write a book.”) The Catholic church has been around for 2000 years and has branch offices all around the world.  Catholics don’t have anything to fear from some American fundies in Arkansas.

But the debate of “saved by grace alone” vs “saved by good works” has been raging since Martin Luther.  In retrospect, Luther ignited a firestorm that to this day we can’t put out.  To many of us freethinkers or panentheist non-Christians, this debate is intensely boring and about as meaningful as how many angels dance on the head of a pin.  Really, who the hell cares whether it’s faith or good works??  Does preferring one to the other preclude you from being a good person?

Anyway, the money quote in the above tweet is:

“My conscience is captive to the word of God. Where my Catholic friends adhere to God’s Word, I adhere. Where they depart from Scripture, I will in no way support, but will call them out because I love them and desire that they be turned from their deadly errors.”

I’m sorry, who died and made Ben Seewald god?  That tweet almost sounds like it could have come from the pages of the Old Testament.

But this is pretty typical of the religious narcissist.  YOUR faith is not important to them.  Only THEIR faith is important.  They make it their business to interfere and make it their responsibility to set your ass straight.

Let’s recap: The Southern Baptists aren’t good enough for them.  They are superior to most of the denomination they consider their closest allies.  They worship at home because it’s safer for them and they can control who can bask in their reflected glory and who can’t.  They hold themselves up as paragons of virtue and expect that you show them respect for their life choices that they say are more moral than yours.  And they do not respect your boundaries as far as your life choices or religious beliefs are concerned.  Your beliefs are inconsequential and fungible, theirs are not.

I’m pointing this out now because a couple of weeks ago, a bunch of anti-choice protestors interrupted a service at a Unitarian church in New Orleans.  Amanda Marcotte wrote of the protests recently, describing the actions of the protestors:

Some of the anti-choice activists invaded the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans while members were observing a moment of silence for a deceased congregant and proceeded to abuse and harass the people inside the church. The folks from Operation Save America were hardly ashamed of this deplorable behavior, instead bragging on their website about disrupting services at the “synagogue of Satan” and making special note of haranguing the female pastor, who they called a “pastor,” in scare quotes. (But they’re in this for “life” and not because they have a problem with women!) This behavior isn’t necessarily any worse than the miseries they subject clinic patients and workers to, but it serves as a reminder that the reason anti-choice “protesters” get into the lifestyle is that they are bullies, full stop.

The protestors did not recognize the authority of the female pastor and they violated the boundaries of the congregants’ faith in a very literal way.

Now, the Unitarians are not really Christians in the strictest sense of the word.  They’re more deists or pantheist non-Christians who are respectful of Christians.  You can even be an atheist at a Unitarian church.  On the scale of churches, Unitarians are waaaaay over there on the commie left.  So, what’s going on here?  Marcotte’s theory makes sense:

There are many pro-choice churches, but the religious pluralism of the Unitarians is what really sets fundamentalists off. Indeed, there’s a strong reason to believe that the religious right is basically using the battle over reproductive rights to advance a much larger agenda against religious tolerance. And the strategy is to argue that their own “religious freedom” cannot be protected without taking yours away.

There’s an actual quote about that somewhere from one of the Christian fundamentalist imams.  I think it might be in this video from a recent free thought convention.  Found it.  Here’s the quote attributed to Gary North, former curriculum advisor for Ron Paul:

“So let us be blunt about it, we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education and no neutral government.  Then they will get busy in constructing a bible based social and political order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of god.”

But Catholics are hardly Kumbaya strumming hippies.  The church has its own authoritarian issues and, even though its members might think a bunch of red beanied single old dudes in Rome are cracked when it comes to reproductive health, it has had a significant impact on the American public through the appointment of 5 conservative Catholics to the Supreme Court.  The uber fundie independent baptist taliban in Arkansas has little to fear from Catholics.  They’re getting everything they claim they want through them.  Except that the Catholics don’t believe what they believe, and therefore, they must be “saved”.

No one is safe from this kind of religious narcissism.  First they came for the atheists and there are still laws on the books in some states that prohibit an atheist from holding a public office.  Then they came for the Unitarians because they’re all about inclusion and social justice.  They have no qualms about calling out Catholics.

When Ruth Bader Ginsberg said the 5 member majority in the Hobby Lobby case had “ventured into a minefield”, she only scratched the surface of the problem.  Political motives aside, the  conservative majority has given a tacit nod to the religious narcissists to continue to breach other people’s boundaries.  I think we’re going to see more of these protests and pretty soon, you won’t be able to go anywhere before some righteous religious person decides your beliefs need an attitude adjustment.  Countries have and are still to this day fighting religious wars.  Many people are hurt and lives are ruined over religion in other parts of the world.  For more than 200 years, we have decided we as a nation weren’t going to subject our citizens to a test when it comes to religion.  Are we now going to throw away that detente and for what reason?

What do we do about the religious narcissist?  I’m still trying to find the answer to that question.  There are some suggestions for dealing with narcissists in general.  I’ll talk about some of them in a future post.