One rarely sees a critique of the Duggar family that doesn’t include the word “cult.”
And it’s easy to see why all but the family’s most diehard fans are able to recognize that their particular brand of fundamentalist Southern Baptism bears many of the hallmark distinctions of a dangerous band of zealots.
Dissent and rebellion are not tolerated within their ranks and are swiftly dealt with, often with harsh punishments.
They participate in ritualistic animal sacrifices in order to appease their fertility god, Ra’aa’al.
Okay, we may have made that last one up, but you get the point.
The Institute for Basic Life Principles — the organization that’s provided the basis for the Duggars‘ controversial belief system — is pretty unabashed in its cultishness, and the Duggars proudly live their lives according to the teachings of its disgraced founder Bill Gothard.
So make of that what you will.
Anyone who’s escaped a cult will tell you that discipline is the glue that holds such groups together, and anyone who’s ever been a teenager knows that perpetually cheerful dispositions and voluntary celibacy are two things that do not come naturally to the pubescent set.
We know about such controversial practices as “blanket training” for younger children, but surely even a practice as severe as striking toddlers with blunt objects wouldn’t be enough to foster a lifetime of blind obedience.
Josiah is said to be the most rebellious Duggar boy, and Jim Bob reportedly attempted to suppress this streak by sending him away for an extra long stint at a secretive IBLP facility known as the ALERT Academy.
Joe and Jeremiah also did time in the clandestine boot camp-like program, but they weren’t there for nearly as long as Josiah, who was gone from the Duggar compound for much of 2013 and 2014.
When he returned, Jim Bob must have been satisfied with the results, as Josiah was promptly tossed into a courtship with Marjorie Jackson.
Unfortunately, it must have been too much too soon, as Josiah and Marjorie broke up after just a few weeks of dating — a move that’s almost unheard of in Duggar courtships.
After that, Josiah once again “kept a low profile” for several months.
Jana Duggar was sent there in her youth, and she returned as exactly the sort of docile super-servant her parents needed.
“Jana used to be very outgoing,” John-David once remarked of the change in her personality.
“Whenever she was younger, she was very rowdy.”
Well, we can’t have that, now can we?
Of course, the most frequently brainwashed Duggar is Josh, who was shipped off to ALERT after he was caught molesting five young girls.
Unfortunately, the cerebral scrub-down wasn’t enough to keep from acting like Arkansas’ answer to Harvey Weinstein.