This morning, I woke up to the news of the dismissal of the Duggar sisters’ “invasion of privacy” lawsuit against Springdale and Washington County officials, including Maj. Rick Hoyt of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Ernest Cate, Springdale city attorney and former Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley. The suit was filed in May 2017, two years after the Duggar family’s scandalous secret regarding eldest son/brother, Josh Duggar, and his penchant for molesting girls, was first revealed in the tabloid, InTouch.
An attorney for InTouch had made a Freedom of Information Act request for documents regarding an investigation done after the local Department of Human Services office had done after it received two tips about the molestation, which occurred between 2002 and 2003, when Josh was 14 and 15 years old, and his victims (four sisters and a babysitter) were between five and eleven years old. The police officials provided the documents, which of course, were made public. InTouch’s expose pretty much started the process that ruined the Duggars’ squeaky clean Christian image.
I remember being shocked about the revelations about Josh Duggar, but I had no idea what would happen a few years later, when Josh was busted for downloading some of the worst child sexual abuse images and videos that federal investigators had ever seen. Josh now sits in a jail cell, awaiting sentencing for his crimes. Meanwhile, four of his sisters, whose sexual abuse at the hands of their brother, have suffered another indignity.
I’m sure this lawsuit filed by Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo, and Joy Forsyth, was very stressful for them, especially since it’s been very public and has dragged on for years. It would not surprise me if the lawsuit was Jim Bob Duggar’s brainchild, to help recoup the loss of income that occurs when a reality show falls into disrepute and gets canceled. Of course, I don’t know if that’s actually the case. I just feel sad for Josh’s victims… all of them. It’s an outrage that this family became rich and famous off of their supposedly Christian image, when it’s very clear that they were lying to the public and hiding egregious sins. Hypocrisy abounds!
The Duggar sisters’ lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, so they can’t file it again. God only knows how much money was spent on this legal action, and how much stress it’s caused the officials in Arkansas, as well as the sisters. But it’s over now. All that’s left are probably massive legal bills. I didn’t realize that lawsuits were a particularly Christian thing. Instead, Christians are supposed to work it out among each other. I guess that Biblical principle goes out the window when money is involved.
After I read about the Duggar sisters’ lawsuit being canceled, I read two more articles about Christians. Both articles were about Christian proselytizing in public schools in two states. Sure enough, one of the states was Tennessee, which I have been writing a lot about lately. The other state was, not surprisingly, West Virginia.
In the first article I read, there was a story about a Jewish girl from Chattanooga, Tennessee who was taking a Bible class in her public high school. The class, which was supposed to be non-sectarian, was to focus on the Bible as literature, and in a historical context. However, it appears that the teacher of the course did not get the memo that she wasn’t supposed to proselytize or insult other religious beliefs.
Mom Juniper Russo wrote in a now unavailable Facebook post:
“[The teacher] wrote an English transliteration of the Hebrew name of G-d on the whiteboard. This name is traditionally not spoken out loud, and is traditionally only written in the Torah. She then told her students, ‘If you want to know how to torture a Jew, make them say this out loud,’” Russo wrote, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which first reported the story. “My daughter felt extremely uncomfortable hearing a teacher instruct her peers on ‘how to torture a Jew’ and told me when she came home from school that she didn’t feel safe in the class.”
According to the article I read, Jews typically do not pronounce the name of God as it is written in parts of the Bible, instead pronouncing it as “adonai,” which means “my lord.” I always wondered why my Jewish friends write G-d instead of God. Now, I know.
I remember our school had a Bible class offered in the late 80s that was supposed to look at the Bible as a literary and historical work. I recall that other religious books were also supposed to be explored. I was not at all interested in taking the class, since I hated going to church and wasn’t interested in religion at all. I have changed my views about religion over the years, although I still have no desire to attend church. I now find religion very interesting, mainly because I see how so many followers don’t seem to recognize how religion makes them behave badly, as they use religion as an excuse to act that way and be “forgiven”.
Interesting that the teacher would use the word “torture” in her explanation, especially as Tennessee is in the news because McMinn County’s school board removed the book, Maus, from its 8th grade curriculum. The incident involving the Bible class happened in Hamilton County. Russo and her family are members of Chattanooga’s Reform Mizpah Congregation. She has reported the incident to the Anti-Defamation League, which collects and investigates allegations of antisemitism.
It must be very uncomfortable for non-Christians to live in the southern United States, were many people are white, conservative Christians of the Protestant persuasion. Religion has become very polarizing in the United States since I was in school. In my day, most everyone I knew went to church, and the vast majority of the people I knew were Christians, and Protestants, in particular. I didn’t know any Jewish people until I went to college. That was also where I met my first Mormons, although I later discovered that a guy I knew in high school was LDS. I didn’t know it when we were in school, though. I did know a few Muslim kids in school, but they kept to themselves. I didn’t even know they were Muslim at the time; I just noticed that they dressed differently and were allowed to wear little beret type hats.
After I read about the incident with the Jewish girl in Chattanooga, I saw yet another article about proselytization in a school, this time in West Virginia. Sixteen year old Cameron Mays and his classmates were told that they had to attend an evangelical Christian assembly at their high school in Huntington, West Virginia. The assembly was a revival, and was taking place during COMPASS, which is a “non-instructional” break period during which students are usually allowed to read, study, or listen to speakers. Attending the revival, which was organized by the school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was supposedly optional. But Mays was told that he had to attend, and once he and his schoolmates got there, they were told to close their eyes and raise their hands in prayer. The assembly was being led by 25 year old evangelical preacher, Nik Walker of Nik Walker Ministries. Students were allegedly told that they must give their lives to Jesus Christ, and that those who don’t follow the Bible will go to Hell.
I was shocked to read about this incident, since it’s a clear violation of the separation of church and state, and should never have been allowed in a publicly funded school. But then I remembered my own high school years, and recall that a group called Teen Challenge came to my school. I think they were kids who had been in trouble with the law, but then found Jesus. They put on a show for us. It never occurred to me to be upset about it. I also remember the Gideons handing out pocket sized New Testaments to us in elementary school. But again, although I wasn’t interested in the Bible at all in those days, it didn’t occur to me to be offended. After all, I was raised a Protestant Christian– specifically Presbyterian. I can’t begin to imagine how awkward it must have been for the parents of children who weren’t Christian to have to deal with those situations.
In the case of the students in West Virginia, one Jewish mother said that her son had felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave the assembly. He was told by his teacher that he wasn’t allowed to leave, since the classroom was locked and there was no one to supervise him. The mother, whose name is Bethany Felinton said,
“It’s a completely unfair and unacceptable situation to put a teenager in. I’m not knocking their faith, but there’s a time and place for everything — and in public schools, during the school day, is not the time and place.”
Cameron Mays’ father, Herman Mays, agreed, and added,
“They can’t just play this game of, you know, ‘We’re going to choose this time as wiggle room, this gray area where we believe we can insert a church service,'”
But, even though some of the parents were not happy about the revival at the school, others were happy to see it. They see the evangelical ministry as positive, and good for their kids, many of whom are struggling with anxiety, addictions, and depression. Personally, I don’t think a public school is a place for a revival, even if it is an optional activity. It really is very creepy how so many Americans completely ignore some of the standards the United States was founded on, as they cite the wishes of the Founding Fathers and yell about their freedoms. It seems they only want freedoms for certain types of people.
There’s a reason why religion is not supposed to be part of government entities, although if you think about it, religion IS a big part of our government. But it seems to me that many conservative Christians would like to see public schools completely destroyed, so their kids can be indoctrinated at school, as well as at home. They would truly like to see the United States turn into a theocracy. That, to me, is a very sad idea. One of the things I like best about American culture is that it is diverse. What happened to our “melting pot”? It seems to me that some folks would like to see the spicy melting pot disappear in favor of a more depressing, bland, white concoction.
Here’s hoping the people whose children have been affronted by overweening Christian influences in government funded entities will get some justice. As for the Duggar sisters, I think it’s time they moved on and enjoyed their lives in private. Jim Bob Duggar is a very poor example of a true Christian. It’s time he stopped having an influence on American culture.