Duggar Family Returns To Television — As Backlash Drives Reality Star Pal Offline

TLC has announced that the Duggar family will be returning for a second season of Jill and Jessa: Counting On, and there’s a new courtship to follow. However, life as a reality show star isn’t all roses for one friend of the family. There is always plenty of backlash for the parenting and religious choices Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have made, and more so since allegations against key leaders in their religion have come out. However, there’s another family who, despite association with the same religious sect, hasn’t been embroiled in Duggar-level scandal. Now, one member of that family is ditching social media because of public opinion.

Though many viewers fought to prevent Jill and Jessa: Counting On‘s return by contacting sponsors and asking them to actively choose not to support the show, TLC will bring back the Duggar family this summer, inviting the public to follow along as the sixth-born child (of 19) goes through the process of courting. That’s right — Jinger won’t be dating, but courting. That’s only one thing that this large family does differently than most — two, if you count the family size.

The Duggars began following Bill Gothard and his Institute for Basic Life Principles and Advanced Training Institute soon after their marriage, jumping in, according to Radar Online, with the organization’s religious homeschool curriculum. They believe in things like a family with a male “headship” who makes the decisions, having as many kids as God will allow, and a brand of modesty that calls for women to wear skirts or dresses rather than pants.

This adherence to gender that much of America would consider outdated, along with some political activism against LGBT rights, has earned the Duggar family massive amounts of scorn. Once the public learned that Josh Duggar had molested several young girls when he was a teen, and that he had never faced legal consequences, this only multiplied.

Meanwhile, there’s another family of similar size, also with their own reality show. The Bates family, featured on Bringing Up Bates (and previously on United Bates of America), are a bit lower-key than the Duggars — they don’t seem to be speaking at conservative political events, calling gay and transgender people child molesters, or claiming the holocaust was caused by a belief in evolution.

Low-key or not, though, the family patriarch, Gil Bates, sits on the board at IBLP, and some of his offspring have been quizzed about it on their social media accounts. In February, Gil’s daughter Erin Paine was told the following by a fan.

“If you..ever want out of the ATI lifestyle, there’s many of us willing to lend you a hand.”

She politely declined and said she doesn’t support Gothard or IBLP and ATI.

Erin isn’t the only Bates child to be scrutinized over her connection to Gothard, either. As they do with the Duggar family, fans get rather excited at seeing any of the female family members in pants, for example. This came up on Bates daughter Alyssa Webster’s Instagram recently. It’s far from Alyssa’s first time posting a photo of herself in pants, but the comments — though largely positive — focused heavily on her choice not to adhere to this religious belief.


Some of the comments appear to go beyond approving of the Duggar family friend wearing pants, to disparaging a belief that women shouldn’t wear pants.

It’s just one way that the offspring of ATI and IBLP followers, even if they’ve distanced themselves from the teachings, are always viewed in light of those teachings.

Alyssa, who is 21, has also been on the receiving end of some criticism recently that wasn’t related to religion. She posted a photo of her daughter in a car seat, and it quickly turned into a debate about what age is safest for turning a child from rear-facing to front-facing.

It’s pretty clear she was bothered by the comments, since a few days later she posted a cartoon image of a parent trying to figure out complicated car seat instructions, adding hashtags including “#relax” and “#NoNeedToFreakOut.”

It turns out child car safety is another criticism both the Duggar and Bates families face — in April, the Duggar Family Official Facebook page shared a photo of Josh’s son Michael, who wasn’t yet five years old, asleep in a vehicle while on a trip with Jinger, and the post was flooded with concerned parents, caregivers, and health officials who worried that the child was endangered by being only partially in his seatbelt.

Jinger Duggar and Alyssa Webster may have a lot on common — reality shows, religious upbringing, both are the sixth child in families of 19 — but what they don’t seem to have in common is their reaction to criticism.

The Duggars have addressed some criticisms of their family, through social media posts or comments on their reality show. Alyssa responded in a totally different way — by announcing that she’s dumping her public social media page.

A photo posted by Alyssa {Bates} Webster (@webster4ever) on

“To all my Instagram followers,
I’m taking a break from social media for a bit. I’m not sure when or if I’ll continue to post on this account. There’s just so much negativity. So many hateful comments about me, my family, and the lifestyle I’ve chosen to live. No one wants to see those nasty things being said about those they love. To all my fans and all of you who have supported me…

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all allow the option of making an account public or limiting access to those you choose. Several Duggar family accounts briefly went silent (or even private) for a short while as revelations about Josh Duggar became public over the past year.

[Image via TLC]