The Duggars have been invited by the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) to provide the keynote address for an upcoming conference. But not everyone is enthusiastic about having the family known more for the scandals surrounding the oldest son Josh Duggar than for their wisdom on homeschool education, reported the CBC.
From confessing to having molested five underage girls, including four of his sisters, to admitting that he used the Ashley Madison website for infidelity, cheated on his wife Anna Duggar, and was addicted to pornography, Josh has become the most infamous member of the Duggar family. The scandals generated by Josh subsequently resulted in the cancellation of their reality TV show, 19 Kids And Counting, and Duggar now is in a Bible-based treatment center where he reportedly is being treated for sex addiction.
However, the AHEA is currently evaluating whether to have the Duggars speak at the spring conference and offer home school tips for families.
"AHEA is aware of recent media stories and comments on the Duggar family," said a statement from the group. "We are currently reviewing our speaker arrangements for the 2016 convention and we expect to make a decision early next week."
President of the association Paul Van Den Bosch explained that when the group extended the invitation to the Duggars, none of the scandals had occurred. And even after the reports surfaced that Josh had confessed to the multiple acts of molestation, cheating on his wife Anna, and addiction to pornography, as well as being linked to the Ashley Madison website with evidence that he paid for two separate accounts, the homeschool group still decided the Duggar family were popular enough to maintain the invitation.
"We ultimately decided that we were getting many more positive emails and calls from our members who still wanted to hear the Duggars who basically said, 'This did happen 10 years ago and it was the son not the parents and so please don't punish the parents for the sins of the son,' " explained Van Den Bosch.
The conference at which the Duggars may provide families with advice is scheduled to begin April 8.
The scandal involving Josh Duggar and the Duggars also included the revelation from Jim Bob and Michelle that when they learned their son, Josh, had molested some of his sisters, they sent him to what was described as a Christian-based rehab program, reported CTV News.
The Duggar matriarch and patriarch also shared that the molestation of the girls had been "resolved and forgiven."
However, the Duggars' use of the Institute in Basic Life Principles for homeschool program information also came into question. The leader of that organization was slammed with a lawsuit concerning sex abuse. Josh himself had gone to one of the organization's facilities when he was a teenager.
With all that in mind, why does the AHEA feel that Michelle and Jim Bob are ideal for their homeschool event?
"The AHEA does not condone Josh's behaviour but wishes to follow the example of the victims in this situation who have expressed a desire to 'forgive and forget,' " clarified the group. "It is AHEA's hope that Jim Bob and Michelle will share what they learned as parents from these difficult experiences -- learning of Josh's behaviour then, and now living through the recent media hysteria."
In addition, the organization feels that Jim Bob and Michelle are ideal because they survived the "trenches" of homeschool.
But what did their children, including Josh Duggar, Jessa Duggar (one of the sisters he molested), and Jill Duggar (the other sister thus far who has self-identified as being molested by Josh) learn about topics such as sex?
The Advanced Training Institute (ATI), whose parent organization is the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), to which Jim Bob and Michelle had Josh go to be counseled after he molested his sisters, has created homeschool documents about sex abuse, according to the Huffington Post.
Victims are told to think about what they did that caused the molestation, such as "evil friends" or "immodest dress."
During an ATI conference, the founder of the IBLP discussed the sex abuse lessons, says John Cornish, who helps with "Recovering Grace." John says he remembers listening to the founder Bill Gothard downplay sexual abuse.
"I remember that he was basically telling us that sexual abuse wasn't all that terrible because it only affected one's body, and not the more important parts of our being: soul and spirit," said Cornish. "[The guidelines] question whether the abused was at fault."
Gothard subsequently left the organization after 34 women accused him of assaulting or sexually harassing them. His organization also had a lesson about "moral failures in a family" that described a family whose son had sexually abused several young siblings. The boy says the reasons include being lazy, lacking "moral purity," and also having little sisters who were "immodest."
[Image via Duggar Family / Facebook]