Last week three dramatic flame-outs highlighted the eye-watering hypocrisy, self-serving cruelty, and undemocratic values of the “Faith & Family” crowd.
First up was Fox News host and staunch Catholic Bill O’Reilly, who just lost a bitter custody dispute with his ex-wife. (What’s a staunch Catholic doing divorcing his wife? You got me there.) Gawker reported that court testimony revealed one of Bill’s daughters had witnessed him dragging her mother down a flight of stairs by the neck. Interesting behavior for a man who, according to brainyquote.com, once said this, “The measure of a decent human being is how he or she treats the defenseless.” Also interesting is this comment from Grace Vuoto’s mostly positive review of O’Reilly’s 2008 memoir for the conservative Washington Times:
There are omissions, too. His relationships with women, apart from references to his mother and the nuns, are largely unmentioned. He is silent about his marriage and children. Readers are left to wonder to what extent the traditional values he champions pervade his personal and family life. In this respect, the book is incomplete.
Next up was Matthew Makela, a Lutheran pastor in Michigan. A married man with five children, he publicly endorsed the idea that same-sex attraction was a sin akin to alcoholism, and defined gay marriage as a threat to the family. Then Queerty.com posted images and comments from his Grindr account where he cruised the web looking for hook-ups with other men. This forced his resignation from the church, and it also inspired two members of his congregation to publicly accuse him of bigotry and cruelty. Jennifer Kish and her teenage son Tyler spoke on local TV and charged that Makela had earlier tried to shame and frighten Tyler into staying in the closet. Makela had warned the teenager that if he insisted on embracing a “homosexual lifestyle” he might as well kill himself because he was going to go to hell. (On Grindr Makela described himself as a top who likes to cuddle.)
Finally, we have Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the very evangelical family that stars in the wildly popular, if just suspended, reality TV show “19 Kids And Counting.” Thanks to some intrepid reporting by In Touch magazine, we now know that 2 years before the family became celebrities a 14 going on 15-year-old Josh sexually molested a number of very young girls, some of whom were his sisters. What followed was a long cover-up by his parents, and it is a sordid tale indeed. Jim Bob and Michelle turned to people in their religious community to give Josh lectures and informal therapy. One was Bill Gothard who ran a Christian “treatment” center. In 2014 he resigned over allegations that he had sexually harassed at least 30 women. (Hobby Lobby owner and billionaire David Green provided crucial funding for the center, reports Raw Story.) Another was a state trooper who is now serving a 56 year prison term for child pornography. In his public apology, Josh said that his parents helped arrange counseling for his victims (and sisters), but no details about what that entailed are known. However, we do know that the whole happy family continued to live in the same house as the TV cameras rolled.
This is a matter of public concern because the Duggars have used their celebrity to promote themselves as role models and campaign for the right to discriminate based on Christian beliefs. Until the scandal broke, Josh, now a family man himself, worked as the executive director of FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council. It’s mission is to “advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.” And here’s a typical statement by Robert Knight, its director of cultural studies, “Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”
The Duggars have also been involved in presidential politics, and have enthusiastically endorsed their ex-governor, Mike Huckabee. He in turn has enthusiastically endorsed them, saying at one point that they are an “example of something that’s wholesome and wonderful.” So invested is Huckabee in the Duggars, that after the scandal broke he doubled down and defended them on Facebook:
“[My wife] Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection.”
So now this “wholesome and wonderful” family is “no more perfect than any family”! But that doesn’t really matter, because it’s all about God and HIS perfection. Which shows that Huckabee’s real concern is defending the idea that America should be a Christian theocracy. He elaborated on this idea a couple of weeks ago when he officially entered the race for the 2016 presidential election:
“But we’ve lost our way morally…and are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity in demanding that we abandon Biblical principles of natural marriage. Many of our politicians have surrendered to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law and enforce it … The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and they can’t overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s God.”
Painting the Supreme Court as some sort of Inquisition is kind of funny, but he’s serious about overthrowing our democratic and secular government in the name of the “laws” of “nature’s God.” Presumably we’ll need some sort of priesthood to interpret those laws for us, and Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, no doubt feels eminently qualified for such a post. Ayatollah Huckabee for president!