Yesterday, I watched Amazon Prime’s docuseries, Shiny Happy People as I wrote my daily blog post. The series, which was eagerly anticipated by Duggar family snarkers, was preemptively condemned by Jim Bob Duggar, who hadn’t seen it before he wrote his statement on Instagram. I shared his comments in yesterday’s post, so I won’t repost them here. Suffice to say, I think he knew this wasn’t going to be great PR for his family. However, in spite of Jim Bob’s fears, although the series promised “Duggar Family Secrets”, I’m not so sure it really delivered too much more of what most of us already knew. I did notice, though, that both Joy Anna Forsyth and her brother, Jedidiah, have respectively announced the births of their son and daughter just in time for this docuseries. Joy Anna’s baby, Gunner, was born May 17th, and Jed’s daughter, Nora, was born on the 24th. Both births were just announced within this week. Jim Bob probably hopes people will pay attention to those blessed events instead of what’s on Amazon.
What the docuseries has done is shine a light on Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles. It has revealed just how sick and bizarre that cult is, and how so many innocent people have been caught up in it through no fault of their own. Yes, we heard from Derick and Jill Dillard, but they weren’t the whole focus of the series. Quite a few lesser figures in the IBLP were given a voice, including a couple of men. I think people don’t realize that culty groups like the IBLP are not just destructive to females. Men who don’t toe the line can also suffer greatly.
This morning over breakfast, as I was telling Bill about the docuseries, I commented that I was so glad I wasn’t born to super religious parents who were stuck in a fundie Christian cult. I’ve mentioned before that to a lesser extent, we’ve been getting an inkling of what it’s like to be raised by an extremely narcissistic control freak through listening to Bill’s daughter. The IBLP puts that micro cult experience on a whole new level, causing a generations of young people to be stuck, undereducated and too sheltered to function effectively in the world.
Heather Heath, who wrote the book Lovingly Abused, about her experience growing up in the IBLP, spoke about how even the most intimate aspects of life were controlled. She spoke of how she bought tampons at WalMart during one of the conferences she attended. When the tampons were discovered, she was severely chastised for “taking her own virginity” with “devil’s fingers”. To be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such ignorance. Years ago, I read and reviewed a book called Do Tampons Take Your Virginity by Marie Simas. Simas was raised by strict Catholics, who had similarly odd views on feminine hygiene products.
The series indicated that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were moving into leading the IBLP, since Gothard was forced out for being such a pervy old man. Maybe that’s a comfort to Jim Bob, who has been trying to get back into politics so he can help turn the United States into a theocracy. I don’t think he’ll ever get back into public office, but if he’s running the IBLP, that’s a measure of power. But, then, a lot of people have seen the Amazon series by now, and will be warned away from him and his like minded friends. It’s a lot harder to suck people in to such cults now, because of the Internet and the easy availability of vast information. So, their only hope of survival is courting the ignorant and keeping the members they already have busy with breeding and church activities, hemming them in with legalistic rules.
The IBLP is just one of so many religious organizations run by extreme narcissists. Some of what was said in the series sounded a lot like things I’ve heard about religious movements, such as Mormonism. Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS church, basically “married” the wives of church members and had up to 40 wives. Some were as young as 14 years old. The LDS church has obviously changed some of its problematic earlier policies and become more mainstream. But there are still offshoots of the official church that do things more the way they were allegedly done in the early days of the church. Some of what I heard yesterday reminded me of what I’ve read about Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, and lesser known religious cults. Really strict religious groups with lots of rules tend to have a lot in common with each other, even if their actual beliefs are very different. I was actually reminded of Scientology when I heard about how Jim Bob got a lot of his children to sign lifetime contracts that obligated them to work for him. After all, Scientology has their famous billion year contracts for members of the Sea Org.
Overall, I thought the series was very well done. Four episodes aren’t really enough… and I think the producers are going to find that people would love to have more. I won’t be surprised if they make another series or another season of Shiny Happy People. It’s giving people what they want and, ultimately, that means more money for Amazon. I did notice a bunch of people wishing the series were available on other platforms, as they didn’t want to subscribe to Amazon Prime just to watch the series. Fortunately for me, I use Prime a lot, so it was not an issue for me. I don’t use the video part of the membership much, so it was good to get to use it yesterday. Especially since I have memberships to both the US and German versions of Amazon Prime. Yes, that’s right. Amazon Prime on the US version of the site doesn’t carry over to all Amazon stores worldwide. I don’t know if just being able to watch Shiny Happy People is worth subscribing to Amazon Prime, but if you use Amazon a lot, like I do, it may be well worth the money.
One other thing that really seemed very sad to me was how young children were constantly reminded of Hell and how they would be tormented forever if they didn’t instantly obey their leaders. I mentioned it yesterday, but I was especially sickened by the pastor who demonstrated how to properly spank children, forcing them to be “grateful” for the corrections. The little boy who served as the model will grow up someday, probably married to a woman who didn’t necessarily want to be his wife. He will likely discipline his children in a similarly sick way.
Or maybe not… Here’s an unlocked article from the Washington Postabout a couple who were raised in Christianity and homeschooled, deciding to do things differently with their own children. It caused a huge rift in their family, but they decided they didn’t want to raise their children the way they were raised. They didn’t want to be instructed to beat their children with rods. So maybe there’s some hope.
While I’m sharing unlocked WaPo articles, here’s another one about a reviewer’s reaction to the series. I think it’s well worth reading… but really, I think you should watch the series, if you can stomach it and have the means. Hypocrite fundie blogger, The Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, is obviously dismayed about it… For that fact alone, you should watch. She’s an idiot who really needs to zip it.
Well, it’s noon, and we have some plans for today, so I think I’ll sign off. Have a great Saturday!
It turns out Amazon’s new docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is available on Amazon.de, which is good news. That means I can watch it on my television. But, because I want to do some writing and other stuff, I will watch it on my laptop and use my handy new Mini Pod speakers. As I wrote yesterday, I wish I didn’t care about the Duggars… but I actually think people should pay close attention to them. There are a lot of non-famous people in the United States who would love nothing more than to see conservative, white, Republican, pro-life, pro-gun, fundie Christians running the country. And one of the reasons they have such humongous families is so there are higher numbers of people like them, voting for people like them. So, I think those of us who are more “mainstream” in our ways should pay close attention.
Jim Bob Duggar is not too pleased about the docuseries. He and his wife, Michelle, have issued a statement on Instagram. See below…
I find it interesting that Jim Bob is so concerned about his privacy now, when he worked so hard to keep his reality show on TLC (The Learning Channel) for so long, even after his eldest child, Josh, was outed as a sex pest. And Jim Bob pushed for creating his show, 17, 18, and 19 Kids and Counting, even when he knew that Josh had this disturbing past.
It’s now common knowledge that, back in 2002 or so, when Josh was about 14 years old, he molested four of his sisters and a babysitter. One of his victims was just five years old at the time. Josh was, himself, a child when this happened, so his parents were obligated to do something to help him with his problems. They did eventually take action, but what they did was completely ineffective, as later results shave shown.
Life went on, and for a time, Josh Duggar was even betrothed to Jim Bob’s best friend’s daughter, Kaeleigh Holt. Jim Bob and Michelle eventually told the Holts about Josh’s issues. Their solution was to have Josh lectured by an off duty cop, shave his head, and be sent away to do hard labor for a family friend. There was no consultation with a mental health professional, nor were there any legal consequences. Later, when the relationship with Kaeleigh fell apart, the Duggars simply glossed over it, and went on with their show, for which they became world famous. Jim Bob had the added benefit of also becoming very wealthy, but he did not share his new wealth with his children, who were the real stars of the show.
In 2015, the old business regarding Josh’s sexually abusive past was revealed to the masses, in a huge bombshell that dominated headlines for weeks. When this news hit the airwaves, the Duggars were still very popular. 19 Kids and Counting was still going strong. The eldest children were being married off and having children of their own. Their lavish weddings were shown on the show, and they went on fancy honeymoons in exotic locations. Josiah Duggar had just announced a “courtship” (dating with the intention of eventual marriage) with Marjorie Jackson. In the wake of the scandal, that courtship fell apart. Josiah went on to marry Lauren Swanson.
Jim Bob and Michelle went on Fox News, where they were interviewed by Megyn Kelly. I remember watching that interview in May 2015, thinking that they were lying through their teeth. I even wrote about it in my original blog. They claimed Josh was a changed person after their “treatment”. But, of course, he wasn’t. In November 2019, the Department of Homeland Security raided Josh’s business. News came out about how Josh had paid a sex worker for a private lap dance, and had very rough sex with her. The sex worker, Danica Dillon, eventually sued Josh, although the suit was later dropped. Josh also had a secret Ashley Madison account. Ashley Madison is a website where married people pay to find others who are willing to have affairs. All the while, Josh’s long suffering wife, Anna, who bore him seven children, stood by his side… even as he was led away in handcuffs after being convicted of sex crimes against children.
When it became clear that the public still wanted to watch the Duggars, TLC and Jim Bob came up with a new concept. The spin off was originally called Jill and Jessa Counting On, which was supposed to be about Jill Dillard’s and Jessa Seewald’s married lives. But then, as more Duggar “kids” got married, they were included in the show, and then Jill and her husband, Derick, dropped out of the program. It was retitled Counting On, and went on for several seasons. The spinoff was finally canceled in June 2021, in the midst of Josh Duggar’s legal woes. Josh was sentenced to about twelve years in federal prison after being convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography.
So… all of this stuff is already very public, but this new series kind of condenses the whole thing into more salacious entertainment. This is pretty much what Jim Bob did when he agreed to put his family on TV. Only now, he’s no longer in control of the final product, and all of that stuff that he willingly put out, is now being used against him. Television is a sword that cuts both ways.
I think Jim Bob’s reputation is pretty much shot now. I guess it’s understandable that he would issue a statement pleading for privacy. However, he can’t think that his pleas are going to be taken seriously. For years, he was all over TLC, openly advertising Bill Gothard’s fundie ways to the world, trying to make it seem like an idyllic, wholesome, squeaky clean way to raise families. He influenced countless people to follow his lead and join a very damaging cult. And NOW, he wants privacy!
I have already watched the first episode of this docuseries. It’s exciting to see the people involved in this series, to include Heather Grace Heath, whose excellent book, Lovingly Abused, I read and reviewed in December 2021. Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband, Derick, are on the series, as is Jen from Fundie Fridays, a YouTube channel I have been enjoying for some time now. I understand that Katie Joy, from Without a Crystal Ball, was also contacted about being on the series. However, she does not appear on the program. I know she’s a controversial figure, and there has been some speculation about why she’s not involved in this series. However, I’m not involved in any drama regarding Katie Joy, and I have no personal beef with her. So I’m just going to say that she’s not on the show, and I don’t specifically know why. I can only speculate, which I won’t do in this post.
Jim Bob Duggar was paid millions of dollars for showcasing his massive family, and being a living billboard for the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a fundamentalist Christian sect founded by Bill Gothard. Gothard never married or had children, but he expected his followers to marry and have huge broods. Additionally, Bill Gothard had a certain way he preferred the girls in his movement to look. He liked girls with long, curly hair. So, years after perms went out of style, the Duggar girls and their ilk were perming their long hair, so they could please their cult leader, Bill Gothard.
I am probably so interested in learning more about the IBLP and Bill Gothard because I’m interested in cults. I’m not just interested in big, established cults, though. I’m also interested in mini-cults… those within families. Cult leaders are usually narcissists, and they typically behave in telltale ways. My husband’s ex wife, for instance, is kind of like a cult leader within her own family system. When her children were young, she controlled every aspect of their lives and refused to allow them to be influenced by anyone above her. That meant that when her relationships with their fathers fell apart, the kids were expected to take her side. If she had her way, they’d never leave her home or her sphere of influence. But it’s not because she loves them so much. It’s because she craves absolute control, and she sees other people as tools.
When the kids were young, there was a facade presented that indicated that the kids were “happy” (although we had our doubts). Now, we are hearing that actually, things were pretty bad, and there was a lot of lying going on, to present a certain image. Listening to Jill Dillard now, I can see that she went through a similar dynamic. Yes, when she went on Megyn Kelly’s show on Fox News, she was lying… Lying for her father, to preserve the show and her connection to her family… But she didn’t feel good about it, and now she is openly stating that it was all a lie, that didn’t turn out to be enough to save the family’s tarnished reputation.
I see people like Jim Bob Duggar as mini-cult leaders. Look at how Jim Bob has managed to keep so many of his children under his control, even though they are adults. And most of them don’t seem to realize that he’s controlling them so much. He uses the prospect of being cast out and ostracized as a means of controlling his children… to include their spouses and their children. Because they don’t get adequate educations, it’s hard for the children to break away. Heather Heath’s book addresses this issue, as does Tara Westover’s book, Educated. Westover was raised Mormon, as were Bill’s daughters. Not all Mormons are like Westover’s parents were, just like not all Christians are like the Duggars. But these are just examples of people who use extremist religions as means of keeping a viselike grip on their children, forcing them to stay trapped in their cults and continuing the indoctrination with their own children.
The second episode of Shiny Happy People includes a horrifying segment on how children in the IBLP are disciplined. At one point, a pastor demonstrates how to spank a child. A little boy comes up to the pulpit as the pastor pretends to spank him. Then afterwards, the boy is forced to give the pastor a hug. When the hug isn’t good enough, the pastor admonishes him and says he needs another spanking, which he delivers. Children in this movement are not allowed to move or defend themselves when they are receiving corporal punishment. They are expected to remain still, as this “discipline” is for their own good. Then, they are supposed to be “grateful” for the correction, even if it’s extremely traumatizing.
As if that wasn’t sick enough, the show also includes clips of lessons given by Michael and Debi Pearl, authors of the book, To Train Up A Child. This book is very popular and well known within the fundie Christian community. It’s basically all about how to beat your children, and they provide very explicit directions on which implements to use. The Pearls are extremely abusive, in my opinion. My father was a spanker, but he used his hand, and basically did it when he was very angry (not that that’s the best time to spank, either). I wasn’t forced to hug him or tell him I loved him after he hit me. And he didn’t use dowels or glue sticks.
There’s also discussion about how women in the IBLP are expected to just accept whatever man shows up and says he wants her… as long as her father approves, of course. As I mentioned up post, Josh Duggar was originally supposed to marry Kaeleigh Holt, eldest of Jim and Bobye Holt’s eleven children. This pairing was decided when both Josh and Kaeleigh were teenagers. When that fell apart, he ended up with Anna Keller. They were married when they were both about 20 years old. They now have seven children. Anna has all of Josh’s kids, and obviously made herself “joyfully available” to her husband. But that wasn’t enough. He still cheated on her and consumed illegal porn. Meanwhile, Anna had to present a perfect, happy image to the world, often while pregnant and on television.
It amazes me that the Duggars were able to keep up their facade for as long as they did. Jim Bob is “pleading” for privacy, and yet he’s the one who put all of that stuff out there in the first place. People love to see people fall off of pedestals, especially when they are as sanctimonious and smarmy as Jim Bob is. So… I suspect that things are going to be harder for Jim Bob and Michelle. I am sorry for their innocent children and grandchildren. I especially feel sorry for Josh’s kids, who will have to live with the stigma of their infamous father for the rest of their lives. I hope they can escape the cult and raise their children in a better way.
I’ll probably write about this tomorrow, after I finish the last two episodes. For now, I think I’ll end this post. It’s already pretty long. Hope you have a great Friday.
ETA: December 30, 2021- Heather Heath has reached out to me in the comments and explained that she was not actually interviewed by the Preacher Boys. My apologies! I often get sucked into videos about fundies and obviously got confused. Anyway, Heather was NOT interviewed by The Preacher Boys, and I still can’t find the video I watched that introduced me to Heather Heath’s story. It might have been Dr. Oz whose video I saw. Heather did tell me that he interviewed her.And now, I’ve seen Dr. Oz’s clip, and I think it was his show that I watched.
A few weeks ago, I was watching YouTube videos when I came across the Preacher Boys podcast, hosted by Eric Skwarczynski. I have watched the Preacher Boys’ channel a few times. It mostly focuses on videos about fundamentalist Christians and the abuses that come from that belief system. There’s a treasure trove of information about abuse within the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement on the Preacher Boys’ podcasts, so I highly recommend that channel to those who want to learn more about it. I am probably just moderately interested in fundies, so I only watch that channel when the mood strikes or when I am especially bored. I originally thought The Preacher Boys interviewed Heather Heath, but it turns out I’m mistaken.
In any case, I swear I saw an interview done with Heather Grace Heath, who, along with her editor, Lorna Oppedisano, just published the book Lovingly Abused: A true story of overcoming cults, gaslighting, and legal educational neglect. I see on Amazon.com, it first became available on October 21, 2021, so it’s a brand new book. I just looked for the interview I watched about this book, but I can’t find it. Otherwise, I would post it here for your perusal.
Anyway, it’s too bad I can’t find the video I watched, because it did influence me to buy and read Heather’s book. I do think it’s a book worth reading if you’re at all interested in what it’s like to grow up in a religious cult. And since Josh Duggar, a famous Gothardite, is currently on trial, this topic is very timely. As you can see from my recent posts, I’ve been thinking and writing about fundie Christians a lot lately.
As I was reading Heather’s story on the Kindle app, I found myself doing something that I don’t often do. I made a lot notes, mainly so I that I could refer back to certain passages in this review. I also shared some passages with my friends on social media, again so I could easily find them. I’ve read a lot of books about people– especially women– who have left religious cults. I’ve read some very shocking things. It’s not even so much that Heather’s anecdotes are necessarily more shocking than other people’s anecdotes are. It’s just that she has a real knack for describing what she’s gone through in a way that is relatable and compelling. A number of my female friends who are interested in religion– particularly the ex Mormons– were responding to the passages I posted. I suspect Heather might get a few sales from them, too.
So… what is Heather Grace Heath’s story?
Heather Grace Heath is a thirtysomething cisgender woman* from Connecticut who grew up in Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI) homeschool cult. Bill Gothard is an eightysomething American Christian minister whose teachings are very conservative. Gothard founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles. He encourages his followers to have many children and homeschool them. His focus is on teaching children to respect authority, memorize Bible passages, and adhere to strict gender roles. They are to stay under the “umbrella of protection”, pictured below.
Under Gothard’s rules, women are to dress modestly, always wearing dresses or skirts and clothes that emphasize the “countenance” rather than the figure. Men are to aspire to be ministers or missionaries. Both men and women are to get married young, eschewing any beliefs that aren’t Biblical. It doesn’t seem to matter too much whether or not the couples are compatible, only that they are Bible believing Christians who follow Gothard’s strict rules.
*In her book, Heather writes that she doesn’t feel comfortable being called a “woman”. She refers to herself as a “girl” who is cisgendered and uses feminine pronouns. But, for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to refer to her as a woman and hope it doesn’t offend.
Heather explains that her mother grew up in a pretty screwed up family system. Her mother’s mom was the youngest in a very large family and she had a half brother who was also one of her cousins. Heather’s grandmother’s father was abusive. Consequently, Heather’s grandmother married an abusive man, and her mother also grew up in a “fucked up” situation. That was what had led her to Gothard’s cult.
Heather’s paternal grandfather died young. Her paternal grandmother was a first grade teacher who was horrified that Heather and her sister, Hope, were homeschooled. But Heather’s father was all in to Gothard’s teachings. Heather grew up being taught that there were certain things that girls weren’t supposed to do. She was taught that she would remain under her father’s care until she got married. And then she was expected to be a housewife, help meet, and mom to many children.
If this sounds familiar, it should, as this is the very same cult the Duggar family is in. Heather explains that not all people in the ATI belief system are Baptists, but they all subscribe to Bill Gothard’s ideas on how people should live, and children should be raised. In fact, Heather alludes to her mother running into Jim Bob Duggar before he was the stalwart Gothard poster child he is today.
They were at an Advanced Training Institute conference and Jim Bob complimented Heather’s mother on how well “blanket trained” Heather’s little sister was. Heather writes that her mom didn’t actually blanket train her two daughters; Heather’s sister just happened to like playing on her blanket. If you want to know what blanket training is, click here. I shared the passage below on Facebook and at least one person wanted to know what blanket training is, and was horrified when he read up about it.
Heather Grace Heath explains some of the rules of the ATI and how people within it are supposed to behave. Young people growing up in the ATI cult are expected to be involved in certain gender specific activities. The boys go to the ALERT Academy (Air Land Emergency Resource Team), which is a program in which boys are taught rescue and medical techniques in a military style. The Duggar boys all attend ALERT, as it’s considered a rite of passage. Girls attend EXCEL, where they were expected to learn how to be godly women and make crafts. Heather was much more interested in what the boys were doing; she was, and still is, very attracted to medical and rescue work. But, because she was a girl, she was not allowed to attend ALERT. I suspect that might have been the first chink in the armor when it came to her decision to leave the cult.
Heather includes some pretty shocking details about her experiences in one of ATI’s training centers. The center she attended at age 17 was in Oklahoma City. She writes that the Oklahoma City center was supposedly one of the less oppressive of the ATI training centers, which was why she chose it. The actual center had once been a hotel, so it was somewhat “nice”, besides being more lenient. Nevertheless, Heather was repeatedly given “heart checks”, which meant she was locked in her room with just water and a Bible. A staff member would be posted outside her door to prevent her escape. This was so she would have time to think about her behavior and examine her heart for the sources of “sinful behavior”.
What’s an example of a behavior that would earn a “heart check”? Heather writes that the girls were all on the eighth floor of the former hotel. Boys were on the third floor. This was done deliberately, so that there would be no reason for boys to pass the girls’ floor or go to a higher level in the building. Heather got a “heart check” because she allowed males to share the elevator with her. She also got a “heart check” when staff members discovered that she had tampons, which were considered “Satan’s fingers”. She was ordered to repent for any enjoyment she got from removing them– (ugh, I can’t even imagine). She got another “heart check” for knowing lyrics to a Broadway song. There are other examples.
As Heather got older, she realized that she was very attracted to the healthcare profession. But working in healthcare went against Bill Gothard’s teachings for girls. Instead, Heather was encouraged to pursue more womanly pursuits– jobs in which she could wear skirts and dresses and be subservient to men. It was pretty clear to me as I read this book that Heather Heath does not have a particularly submissive personality. She’s very bright, naturally assertive (although Gothardites would probably call her rebellious), and courageous. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to overcome cult programming. She also had the misfortune of being homeschooled in a way that left her incredibly underschooled. I was impressed when Heather wrote about the experience of homeschooling her twins last year, because the pandemic required it. She wrote she was shocked by things that she didn’t know that little kids who went to school knew. Not surprisingly, that left her with what seems to be some pretty serious resentment.
The frustration of growing up in the Gothard cult, wanting something the system told her she could never have, left Heather with some pretty serious psychological problems. She also suffered from some “female” physical issues that made her miserable. She did attempt suicide a couple of times, and was at one point, hospitalized. Her father tried to dictate her care. Heather found the courage to tell her medical providers that she would not be able to give them honest answers while her dad was around…
Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of the book for me is when Heather writes about her decision to marry her first husband. Heather had sort of come out of the ATI cult stuff at that point, as she was working as an emergency medical technician and had been a “candy striper” at a local hospital. She had a crush on a guy she met when they were both “candy stripers” at a local hospital (though they aren’t called candy stripers anymore), and then they both became EMTs and worked together at an EMS company. Because of her upbringing, Heather had some difficulty being trained as a medic, even though she clearly had the talent and aptitude. She would answer questions with Biblical responses. So she had to overcome that, but she also had this crush on this guy… and she didn’t really know him before she married him at age 24. The marriage lasted a very short time and he decided to divorce her.
Because she was raised in a cult, she was brought up to believe that now, she was doomed to spend the rest of her life alone, or else be labeled an adulterer. To people who follow Gothard, being an adulterer is considered to be just as “sinful” as engaging in homosexuality (not that I, personally, think either is sinful). Still, even though Heather Heath was taught these things, she exhibits a delightful pluckiness in the passage below…
Heather also writes that she briefly considered attending Hyles-Anderson College, in Hammond, Indiana. I have written about Hyles-Anderson a few times in the blog. It’s definitely not a place for women with “pluck” and an independent spirit. She was going to study a nice “feminine” program at the school, because having been homeschooled through ATI, she would have otherwise had a terrible time attending a secular university where accreditation, grades, and test scores matter. Fortunately, officials at Hyles-Anderson had issues with Heather’s choice to work as a medic. They told her she needed to do more “feminine” work where she could be dressed like a lady (wearing skirts and dresses). So Heather wisely decided to withdraw her application…
And when a woman asked Heather to sell her on the idea of homeschooling, wanting to know all of the advantages Heather got from being taught at home through Bill Gothard’s system…
I took a whole lot of notes on this book, which, as I mentioned up post, I don’t do very often. I highlighted many passages, most of which I didn’t include in this review. I could have included them, but I want people to read the book for themselves. The passages in this review aren’t even necessarily the most shocking. They’re just the ones that fit the best.
In spite of her limited education, Heather Grace Heath is obviously very bright, funny, and articulate. Even with the help of an editor, I could definitely hear her authentic voice in this story. I really admired her strength, courage, and resolve to live her life on her own terms. At the same time, there were times when I could see how her education had limited her, and she often describes how she was cheated by not having access to books, qualified teachers, and broader perspectives. She uses a lot of profanity and sometimes comes across as angry, which could turn off some readers, although personally, it didn’t bother me at all. I don’t blame her for being pissed. She had no control over how she was raised, and she did endure some legitimate abuse and educational neglect that have affected her as an adult.
On the other hand, I loved this passage… It demonstrates some of the biting wit and humor Heather has– and sharp wit is a sign of raw intelligence, which it’s clear that Heather has. She clearly doesn’t belong in Bill Gothard’s cult.
It may seem like I have included a lot of passages from the book in this review. But as I mentioned previously, I’ve actually only included a few passages that struck me and fit best. I imagine this book could be quite profound and even triggering to some readers. But I also think a lot of people will find it inspiring and educational. For that reason, I highly recommend Lovingly Abused to anyone who is interested in learning more about about what it’s like to grow up in Bill Gothard’s cult, or even what it’s like to be poorly homeschooled. To be sure, there are many parents who get homeschooling right and do a fantastic job. But there are a lot of other parents who should not be allowed to homeschool their kids. At the very least, there should be much more oversight as to what and how children are taught. I know the conservatives aren’t fans of that idea, since they see it as “government overreach”, but Heather Grace Heath is a living example of why undereducating children is a form of child abuse and neglect.
And… just as an aside, reading Lovingly Abused even gave me some insight into the Duggar family and the situation Anna Duggar is in right now. Anyone who wonders why Anna Keller Duggar hasn’t divorced her clearly deviant husband, Josh Duggar, yet, might have more understanding after reading Lovingly Abused. I didn’t get the sense that Heather Heath’s experiences were nearly as intense as the Duggar kids’ experiences in ATI have been.
While those of us who weren’t raised in a religious cult might think it’s obvious that Anna should leave Josh’s ass, it’s not such a cut and dried thing if you’re in a cult and have been taught that divorce is a pathway to Hell. Even though Anna has grounds for a divorce, it’s still an extremely difficult decision to make, as it makes her significantly less attractive to other men in the cult who are looking for godly helpmeets. Anna probably figures that if she divorces Josh, she will be alone. On the other hand, it’s many people’s fervent hope that Anna will be alone anyway, when a jury of his peers soon delivers a “guilty” verdict. But we shall see… sadly, it could turn out that he walks.
Anyway, below is a link to Amazon for those who want to read this book. If you purchase through the link, I will get a small commission from Amazon. Either way, I hope this review encourages some readers, and I hope someone else will interview Heather and leave up the video. She’s got a lot of important things to say.
And here’s a video by a lady on YouTube who also read the book. Sounds like she was as “triggered” as I was.
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