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Religion, Politics, Fame — and Sexual Assault

Last week, we learned that Josh Duggar (one of the stars of the television show 19 & Counting) had molested five young girls, including 4 of his sisters, when he was a teenager. The outrage and backlash was immediate, with Josh resigning from the Family Research Council and TLC suspending the show. But many people also leapt to the family’s defense, claiming that he was just a teenager and that it was a youthful error and he deserves forgiveness. Josh has admitted these allegations, as did his parents, who characterized his actions as a mistake..

Many aspects of this case that have been covered extensively in the media, from the Duggar family’s anti-LGBTQ stance to their particular type of fundamentalist Christianity to the fame and fortune they have received as a result of their lifestyle. These are all important parts of the story, and they should be covered (after all, a religion that explicitly blames victims of sexual assault for their abuse should be exposed). But there is a simpler, more basic point that must be made: regardless of the religion or the fame or the politics of the people involved, sexual assault is an absolute wrong and it is a crime. Our concern must be for the victims of Josh Duggar’s crimes, and their healing and recovery.

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault, no matter how she* dressed, what she drank or how she acted. Sexual assault is a choice made by the perpetrator — not a mistake, not a youthful error, and not something that should be covered up or treated as a minor infraction that can be solved with a few months of physical labor. When it comes to sexual assault, religion, politics, fame and fortune do not (or should not) matter — it is ALWAYS wrong.

There are many excellent articles detailing the abusive practices of the Quiverfull movement, the hypocrisy of the Duggars’ claims that LGBTQ rights will harm children, and why sexual assault is not a mistake, but a crime. We encourage you to read all of them. You can also sign the petition asking TLC to cancel the Duggars’ television show — and add 19 & Counting to the list of television shows you will not support as a conscious consumer of media. To make a difference locally, you can get involved in the fight to end gender violence in Westmoreland County by volunteering for or donating to our organization. By working together, we can make a difference!

*While we use feminine pronouns for clarity in this piece, we recognize that men can be victims of sexual assault.

Learn More: Sexual Assault

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