In the past two years, some sexual scandals have surfaced either directly connected to the Duggar family or connected to evangelical leaders they have promoted or been associated with. Whether it’s a side effect of their particular brand of conservatism or mere coincidence, it’s becoming frequent enough to raise eyebrows.
The latest in the long line of Duggar family friends and associates to be caught in a scandal is evangelist Clayton Jennings. Jennings released a confession video three weeks ago, in which he performed a “spoken word” piece about being a sinner and in the public eye.
On his Facebook page at the same time, he dismissed the scandal, wrapping it up as “a long time ago” and “sex before marriage.” He indicated that a lot of the information circulating was false.
“I had sex before marriage a long time ago and admitted as much MANY MANY times in videos and messages. There are two sides to every story and there are a lot of lies. I’ve just tried to stay humble and quiet and not tell my side. The internet is a funny place filled with lots of gossip, especially gossip aimed at public figures.”
However, Christian Post reports this week that there’s more to the story than premarital sex — coercion, prying victims with alcohol, pressuring victims to take the “Plan B” pill to prevent a pregnancy, and using “his authority as a minister” to convince victims to engage in acts they feared were sinful and would result in eternal punishment.
It’s not clear how close the connection between Jennings and the Duggar family is, but there are photos floating around the internet of Jennings and Duggar daughter Jill, along with her husband, Derick Dillard.
The photo is from the 2015 NWA Beautiful Girls retreat, where Jennings was a speaker. Presumably, Jill and Derick were attendees. The Duggar family has presented at these events in the past, though they were not listed as speakers at the 2015 event.
Whether he’s a close family friend, or just associated with the same ministries as the Duggar family, Clayton Jennings is one more in a growing list of people connected to the family who have sex scandals arise around their religious leadership.
The most well-known of these scandals is, of course, that of Josh Duggar himself — who lost his job with a conservative political organization after police reports were released carrying accusations that Duggar had molested multiple underage girls, and a hacker revealed Duggar’s name on the roles of a website devoted to extramarital affairs.
Then there’s the case of politician John La Tour, who according to Hollywood Gossip calls the Duggar family “close personal friends” and received campaign donations from them — before allegedly threatening to expose his genitals to a waitress. This is a minor one, but it’s still yet another Duggar-connected public figure, connected to their conservative political and religious activism, who has been accused of sexual impropriety.
Then, of course, there’s Bill Gothard — the former leader of the conservative sect the Duggar family joined early in Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s marriage. Gothard has been accused of sexual impropriety with women, many of whom, according to Christianity Today, were minors and under Gothard’s counsel for previous abuse.
After numerous allegations, some reality stars who had followed Gothard’s teachings openly distanced themselves from him. The Duggar family remained silent on the subject.
Summing up, there is sexual abuse (of four minors) alleged in the Duggar family, and allegations of further sexual abuse and misconduct by evangelists and politicians connected to the family. At the top, a founder of their particular belief system also has been accused of very similar violations and abuses of his power as a religious leader.
Where there is authority, there is the risk of abuse of power, and the beliefs the Duggar family subscribes to are heavy in authority. Share your thoughts: does their belief system, with its emphasis on male authority, carry a higher risk, or is it mere coincidence that several cases rub elbows with the Duggar family?
[Featured Image by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images]