Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Brother's Visit

I'm sorry I didn't update or check-in. My brother moved up his visit and we've spent the last several days visiting in between my studying for finals and writing papers.

Over the last several months, there have been comments and e-mails asking about life in ATI from the male POV. My brother took the time to answer some of your questions and we're posting them here. If you have more, he will be online tonight while I'm in class and studying.

Jennifer asked - Were your brothers favored by your father?
Sam replies - My dad was very strict with the boys, it seemed like he was more strict with us than he was with the girls. Our lives were regimented to the smallest detail. I always thought my dad loved us like a drill sergeant loves a recruit. When we did as he asked, we were his pride and joy. Then when we cut-up and acted out, we were punished severely. He would hit us boys openly but not hit the girls.

Does he treat the boys who left differently from Ruth? Why or why not?
He treats me better than Ruth because I was involved in a business with him until just recently. He sees my leaving as different than Ruth's because I left quietly and my marriage resulted from the courting process. Ruth broke all his rules. The truth is Ruth is braver than all us combined. When she left she embarassed him. She did the right thing for her and I will always stand behind her, it's still true that she laid his reputation on the line by exiting when and how she did and he can't get over her defiance.

Why did the brother who left ATI leave?
I was never into it. I don't believe in dominionism and I don't care for Bill Gothard. I wouldn't raise my family under patriarchy or that brand of Christianity.


  1. Your sister is courageous. I know many people who have been wounded by ATI, but few have suffered as much as she, nor are they as courageous. Some have not yet opened their eyes enough to walk away. They are so kind and caring, that I almost became very entangled by its teachings too. (I am a widow, so that dictates that they approach & respond to me differently also).

    I love them dearly and hope to help them see the lies -- like the sins of the father one. That misused verse seems to have caused the most vicious attacks and deepest scars.

    Praise God that "Ruth" has you to help her through this new-found freedom. I believe she is beginning to experience the freedom that Christ offers.

    It is interesting to me that Big Sandy campgrounds were owned by one controlling group and then another. What must the people of Big Sandy, TX think?!

    My prayers for your continued healing and restoration,
    T. Alena F. from AR

    P.S. These are some quotes that have helped me to heal. Perhaps they will bless you as well. Be strong and courageous.
    "As for His failing you, never dream of it--hate the thought. The God Who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end." -- Charles Spurgeon

    "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." --I Cor. 6:12

    "The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."
    ~Numbers 6:24-26

  2. You say your marriage resulted from the courting process. Was your wife ATI? How does she feel about leaving?

  3. Thanks for answering questions, Sam. I'm glad you are there to support Ruth. She's a plucky young lady and I know she's going to do great things with her life. I hope that you and your wife are doing well.

    Good luck on finals, Ruth!


  4. I just wanted to say that both you and your brother are very brave to go away from how you were raised. Thanks to your brother for answering some of the questions.

    Good Luck on your finals Ruth!!

  5. First off, Ruth, good luck on finals. I finished up last Friday evening at precisely 8:21pm PDT. Ton of bricks OFF the shoulders. :)

    Sam, if I may be so bold to ask, did you have to fake toeing the ATI/Gothard party line to remain in business with your father if you never really believed the doctrine? How long ago did you leave and how difficult was/is the process of un-learning the ATI lifestyle, especially if your wife was also a part of it? Were you both "Fakers?" (believe me, I know this one well). I never felt guilt; I was a teenager by the time I saw my parents' way of life was not for me, but I still had to live under their roof until I was 18. At least I was prepared (through classes in a PUBLIC school) to get a full time job the day after I graduated high school. Their view on college (despite the fact my dad had a Master's degree), having a car, etc. was "if you can pay for it, you can have it." But they didn't teach me a thing about how to do it. I learned my survival and money making skills outside the home.

    It's tough and I had to break off relations with my parents and most of my family until I was almost 30. It's tough, my parents mellowed A LOT (they converted to Dutch Reformed, conservative for sure, but not a cult) and by the time both parents passed actually accepted their gay son who, when I asked my dad at 16 what he would do if a child of his was gay answered "disinherit him." They came a long way and were what I view as true Christians when they died. I wish they would have stayed in my childhood church, or shown compassion rather than coldness earlier; I am soured to all organized religion.

    That said, however both of you choose to worship, it's going to be a rocky road, but no matter what you decide, the courage of your convictions in the face of such abuse deserves nothing but my true respect and support.

    A good read for anyone who has experienced abuses in the name of Jesus (or those of us who sort of did, or those who are sympathetic) is a memoir from the wife of an old professor of mine, Julia Scheeres called "Jesus Land." I don't remember her denomination, but the camp sounds a lot like the Gothard structure in the early days (the book takes place in 1985).

    One more (okay, after I wrote it, a couple short ones) for Sam (if he survived all that): is making a living difficult with the education you received at home (surprising since "Ruth" has presented your mother was well-educated, yet she was not ready to enter college)? Does your wife work? Are either of you going to night school to further your educations?

  6. "The truth is Ruth is braver than all us combined."

    Go Ruth Go!

  7. Sam - thanks for coming on here. Can you say a bit more about daily family life for boys, as Ruth has for girls? When Ruth was inside cooking and cleaning, what were you made to do?

  8. I think the big question I have here is whether or not what happened in Ruth and Sam's household growing up is typical of all ATI households or if it's only typical of a small handful of ATI homes. From what I can gather, Ruth's father is a nut and he was likely going to be a nut whether he was involved in ATI or not.

    I know there are a handful of other ATI people who claim abuse. But we have to remember that there are a certain number of homes that are abusive throughout society whether the parents are involved in ATI or not. What I want to know, and what I suspect will be difficult to answer, is whether there are more 'abusive' ATI homes than there are in the rest of society.

    Ruth presents a compelling and clear case of abuse. But the flip to that is that the Duggar's appear to have a loving, stable home with happy children. We may or may not agree with everything the Duggar's do but nothing that has been presented to us is abusive ala Ruth's family. The same with the limited exposure we've had to the Bates family.

    So how do we know that ATI is to blame for what happened in Ruth's home? How do we know that Ruth's father isn't just a random nut who caught onto a religious movement and went wild in the extreme with it while most of the other people in the movement aren't nearly as extreme? Mind you I'm not as a supporter of ATI, I'm a Christian who is opposed to ATI because it is baptist and not in any way reformed. I'm simply curious about it all.

  9. I do not think that the Duggars have a loving, stable home with happy children. Why, you might ask, do I think that? Because I do NOT think it is normal, nor is it the JOB of children (that's right - parenting is a JOB) to take care of their parents' children starting from age 6 months on. To drop a baby off in their siblings' room and have the siblings responsible for the daily and nightly care is BEYOND preposterous. To even think that the parents are sleeping peacefully and/or creating another Duggar while the girls are up at night doing the work the parents should be doing, work like changing diapers, giving a bottle, dealing with teething pain, dealing with a sick baby/toddler, nightmares is absolutely and utterly ridiculous. That's just the night care. I won't even get into the daily care of bathing, dressing, taking care of the small child, the homeschooling, housework, laundry, etc.

    Seriously, for our family of 9, we cook and clearn for a small army every day. The Duggars are at least 2.5 the size of our family; thus all the work is magnified. How do they do it? Because their older girls are indentured servants, that's how. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. You want to know why ATI is to blame? It is to blame because ATI teachers young girls to become Christian Doormats through the teaching of J-O-Y. To me, it stands for "full of sh*t." I guarantee that Bill Gothard, never in his life, had to get up in the middle of the night to comfort or take care of a baby who is teething, who has a high fever, or anything else. No girl in "normal America" is given the task of rooming with and taking care of her baby siblings 24/7 other than for reasons of a dysfunctional household (drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.) where the parents are non-existant for all practical purposes.

    You're opposed to ATI because it is "Baptist" and "Reformed". I'm against ATI because they are clearly human rights violators, because they endorse slavery, indentured servitude and basic lunacy. Basically they suck your will to live. They suck your brain and your free spirit until there is nothing there but a brain-washed shell of a person. The only thing I would like to see is ATI and Bill Gothard becoming as extinct as the dinosaurs.

    As far as abusive men flocking to ATI vs. regular abusive men, you have a point there. In regular society, some of these nutcases would be in prisons for crimes committed against their kids/spouses. In this ATI hermetically-sealed world, they fly under the radar and get away with their abuse. I don't let the mothers off the hook either. They are conspirators to the whole thing, especially the ones that went into it "normal", meaning they had their wits still about them when they agreed to turn into a psycho. Sorry, I have very little sympathy for all the child abuse, etc., that is committed "in the name of God." Too many bonafied nuts use "God" for their own personal delusions/mental illnesses.

    Ruth's brother, it is nice to see you on Ruth's blog. I wish all of you kids peace as you continue your journey through life. Take care of yourselves. :)

  10. Publius is asking some fair, if uncomfortable (and maybe unkind), questions. My experience with ATI is on several levels, and is significant, but I can only share from that experience. First, Ruth’s father may have been this way without ATI, but I can tell you that there have been many fathers in ATI with similar perspectives.

    ATI, like a cult, is an organization primarily based on marketing. They convince you that you need something and then convince you that they are the only source for what you need. In other words, they create and fill the need. The question of whether a family would be abusive (if you consider serious control and manipulation to be abusive—and some would not) is clouded by the marketing angle. Would they have seen the need at all without the outside influence? Certainly many of these families would be significantly smaller without the ATI or Gothard input. If the families had been smaller, maybe much of the control would not be necessary in the mind of the parents. So Gothard tells people to have as many kids as possible and then tells them that his way is the only right way to raise all these kids. The parents are often stretched far beyond their comfort or competence level.

    So blame is difficult to pin down. I would maintain that there is much more inappropriate control among the Gothard community than among the general population, and I would suggest that ATI attracts more controllers and more frightened (and easily manipulated) parents than most organizations, even most homeschool organizations.

    If you are saying that significant control is abuse, then I would tend to agree that there is more abuse among ATI families. If you limit abuse to physical or sexual actions, then I would say that the ATI community has an equal or lower ratio than the general population.

    Two closing comments to Publius: The chances are far more likely that the Duggars are the aberration, since they were chosen for the program. In fact, isn’t the whole fascination based on the uniqueness of the family? Personally, I think that Ruth’s father represents a much larger slice of ATI dads than JimBob. Second, to dismiss ATI simply because it is baptist, rather than reformed, seems bizarre to me. I can certainly think of better reasons to encourage people to stay away from it. Besides, I knew many within ATI who considered themselves to be very strong reformed believers.


  11. I just wanted to say, thank you to Ruth's brother for taking the time to answer our questions.

  12. I'd also like to say thanks to Ruth's brother.

    One additional question if possible: I know that you said you were "never into it." How do you realize something like that when you've been more or less brainwashed your whole life? Or rather, maybe a better question is, at what age did you realize how disillusioned you were with the whole process?

    Seeing the two of you gives me hope for many ATI children out there, including the Duggars.

  13. I just started reading your blog the other night and I couldn't tear myself away from my computer. It's not just the story of your very sad upbringing but also the way you are discovering everyday life as a sweet, damaged girl that I find fascinating. You have a very clear, insightful writing style. Have you ever thought of writing a book? I know I would buy it. It's something you could work on in the summers in between taking care of children. It's just a suggestion. I'm sure others have already asked. May God bless you and protect you.

  14. Thank you very much for answering our questions, Ruth's brother. And thank you again to Ruth for sharing your life experiences with ATI, especially for those of us who grew up outside of the USA (In Scotland)and had never previously heard of ATI until the Duggar family had their programme on the telly.

    Good luck with your finals, Ruth, and I hope you continue with your blog, as you surely give hope to other people who might be looking for a way out from under Gothard's controlling cult.

  15. Two questions:

    1. I would like to know what it is expected men do career-wise when they grow up. I know the path is laid out pretty clearly for women (baby machines). Are you expected to take on some work that 'honours God'? I know you're supposed to avoid connections with the mainstream and avoid worldliness, so how does that limit the businesses you would run, or is that flexible?

    2. Were your parents affectionate towards you? Would it be normal/acceptable to hug your father growing up?

  16. Thanks for your time also!

  17. I agree with Anonymous, who following Publius' question & comment, pointed out that the Duggars are in fact NOT a healthy, loving family. Whether there are more or less abusive families within ATI or outside is a mute point. That it happens anywhere is wrong; that ATI may be an environment in which is thrives due to the cloistered nature of the program should be of concern.
    As one raised in the ATI program, I should not have been responsible for the rearing of the younger children - I think that Anonymous was correct in the assessment that except in extreme cases of drug/alcohol abuse on the part of the parents, most older children do NOT parent their younger siblings to the extent that OFTEN HAPPENS due to dysfunction of ATI's encouragement to have as many children as possible. Neglect IS a form of abuse. Serious pause should be taken when the sheer number of children suggests the inability of the parents to provide basic nurture to ALL of the children.

    X-ATI pilot daughter

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your brother with us Ruth! I am so glad you still have loving connections with some of your family. You are an exceptional young woman, Ruth. And you are loved and cherished by your heavenly Father!
    Take Good Care,

  19. I don't think anything the Duggar's do is abusive. I think it's dangerous to toss that word around because it's a loaded term. The Duggar's expect their older daughters to do a lot of work and they seem to take care of their younger siblings. That isn't abusive and to call it such takes away from those who have actually been abused. I don't agree with what the Duggar's do particularly in this regard, but it isn't abusive and I think it's completely unfair to declare it unhealthy and not loving simply because we disagree with it and wouldn't practice it ourselves.

    I tend to agree that ATI is a cult, though for different reasons. If we're going to define cult as an organization marketing a need, then every church and religious organization in the world is a cult. I think it would be a major error to declare as such. I also think it's dangerous to call the organization a 'human rights abuser' because they believe women and girls should have a certain role in the home. And that's essentially what has been claimed in an above note.

    I guess my point with this note is that just because we disagree with the practices of a particular group doesn't mean they're child abusers, human rights violators, a cult or dangerous. ATI rejects modern feminism, that doesn't make them dangerous. I reject it as well. My wife and daughter wear skirts or dresses. Am I a tyrant cult member? Hardly. We have to separate our personal disagreement with particular practices in ATI from these loaded terms. It's entirely possible that ATI is a human rights violating cult but it isn't because we happen to disagree with a couple of their practices.

    For the record, I think they're a cult but they aren't human rights violators. I think there is no evidence whatsoever that the Duggar's have an unloving Christian home nor is there any evidence that they're abusers. I don't agree with everything they do but their actions don't rise to the level of unloving or abusive. In fact, they're actions rise nowhere near that level. Ruth's family seems to be the opposite which is why I'm wondering if her family is simply a statistic within ATI that is no different than the rest of society or whether it's a trend within ATI.

  20. Pressing your older children into surrogate parenthood because you have more children than you personally can manage is an arguable point as to whether it is "abuse". I think, however, a much stronger case can be made that exposing your children to national media attention, allowing cameras to follow them around at all hours and allowing them to grow up in the spotlight long before they have the mental awareness to develop an objection to it is a form of abuse. I don't care if you're talking about the Gossleins or the Duggers or any other celebrity "reality" family. I think that maybe 10, 20 years from now, people might rethink the wisdom of turning one's family into a source of entertainment and consider it to be a mistake. Fame tends to have a permanency about it that's hard to shake. Think any of these kids had a real opportunity to say, "Hey, I don't want to do this?" I think not. Think they're completely free to be themselves and say exactly what's on their mind? I doubt it.

    Jim K.

  21. Jim K perhaps makes the best argument against the Duggar's. That said, a distinction has to be made between the Duggar's and the Gosslin's. I really believe that Jim-Bob believes he's showing the world how a Christian family lives. The Gosslin's weren't showing the public anything more than their entitled outlook.

    All of that said, if reality show cameras are a sign of abuse are 5 year old Hollywood actors also abused? Is the modern day Shirley Temple abused? Even with all the government regulations, Hollywood kids are forced to work long hours on a set. Is that abuse? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But if we're prepared to accuse the Duggar's of abused on grounds that the children are to young to consent than we also have to be willing to accuse every family that has a little kid in a movie or television show of abuse.

  22. I don't know if it's abusive, but how many really young hollywood/TV stars have gone on to have happy, normal lives? One reason why I don't let my DD go to the "Casting for Disney Channel Shows here today" things that occasionally show up in the local mall (beyond the fact that I suspect they're designed to get parents to sign their kids up for expensive, useless services from a worthless "talent agency") is that IF it were real, I wouldn't want to see my DD turn out like one of the Olsen Twins or Lindsay Lohan.

  23. Publius, sorry I didn't comment to your first post about "abuse" as it pertains to the Duggars. I, personally, never said that how they treat their older daughters as indentured servants, unpaid au pairs, surrogate parents, and/or teen-age mom was "abuse". I said it was preposterous, and absolutely and utterly ridiculous. They expect A LOT more from their older girls than they should as it pertains to raising their procreative efforts. Just because they are teen-age girls, does not mean that they are miniature adults, and definitely NOT miniature parents with the maturity and wherewithall to be raising their siblings. Wait, now that I think about it, by golly, I think you had it right to begin with. I did MEAN that IS abusive!!!! See, in "regular", non-Duggar world, things like that might be investigated by CPS. I realize that the same laws that pertain to the rest of us don't apply to the Duggars as they are "above" the rest of us plebians.

  24. WHewww. I have spent the last few days reading your entire blog Ruth ! You are one amazing, strong, well put together woman ! To have gone through all you have , you have come out on the other side ! I know it might seem things are dark sometimes , but you have come so far.
    I have not read all the comments. But I did happen to read one from your "dad" I use that loosely . The abuse he put you through is not what a father does to a child. He gave me the creeps and made me shutter just from reading the comments. I cant imagine to have had to have lived with him. You are an amazing person . Keep up the great work and hang in there !

  25. *Am I a tyrant cult member? Hardly*

    Just going to point out here that the folks I knew in ATIA and other cults did not believe they were in cults until much later. In fact, they would often point to more extreme cults as the measuring stick.

    Publius, the lesser of two evils is still evil.
    If you do not afford your wife and daughters the same rights as men, then yes, you are an abuser...no matter how far you may try to mentally distance yourself from the truth.

    Sam, I find myself wondering how life is for you on the outside? Are you happy?

  26. I have a blog called, "Baptist Taliban Memoirs". I am the mother of 8 children. We came out of an abusive church who did not follow Gothard, but practiced the same principles and still does. I want to put your blog on my blog roll because I want those who read my blog, who are still practicing the patriarchy principles in their families, to read from the perspective of the young forced to grow up under its abuses.

    It is all too easy to adopt practices that 'sound' ideal, without considering the long-term effects on the ones who have no say.

    I am so happy that there are those who risk being honest, who make themselves vulnerable, so that others will think before embracing.

    Cindy Foster @ Baptist Taliban Memoirs

  27. I would actually say the comparison between child stars and reality child stars is vastly different. Thanks to the hard work of many former child stars, there are many rules and regulations regarding their work in front of a camera and the money they make from that work. There are no such rules, limitations or money set aside for child reality stars. The Gosselin kids will never see a penny from their life spent in front of a camera. The Duggar adult girls are not paid separately (that we know of) or given control of the money made off their backs. That is insane to me.

    As far as the Duggars go, negating your responsibilities as a parent so you can breed more children is abuse. You are denying the existing children the time and attention they need to foster healthy attachments. You are forcing the girls to be care takers for siblings instead of doing normal things like going to school. And please don't reference the school of the dining room table as 'school'. If the older girls were in school from 8 to 4 and had band practice with other heathen kids, would JimBoob and the Dairy queen continue to push out kids? The answer is no. They would not have more kids because they couldn't take care of them, clean the house, do the laundry alone.

    So using your other children to take care of kids you aren't interested in raising is ABUSE. And I can't wait for the tell all books that will come out of this family. No one can give 19 children the love and attention they need. It's a herd not a family.

  28. If the Duggars had 19 kids and a nanny (or an indigent relative trading room and board for child care, or a local day-care co-op, or . . . ), that would be one thing. But they are expecting children who are young enough to need care themselves to be the nannies, aunties, and day care providers--and to add insult to injury, they aren't even paid.

  29. Not only that, but the sexist double-standard that exists sets the girls up for a future of drudgery that they didn't choose and, as we've seen in Ruth's writings, years of recovery if they leave. At least the boys are allowed to have their "businesses," but what if you're not mechanically inclined, or unable to sell water in the Sahara?

    I would assume that TLC has to pay the adult Duggar children; having moved out, Josh likely gets his own check, but I imagine even JD's money is funneled through JB and doled out as he needs it for his business. I seriously doubt Jill or Jana see a dime of their earnings. Hopefully it's being saved as a dowry, but with the expenses of renting the LR house for months (I bet JB's hatred of all things "handout" has his hand wide open to accept Josie's Medicaid payments. I imagine the girls have been brainwashed into sacrificing their pay for Josie's' sake and into the family pot. I hope they do have bank accounts with their names on them. I would think TLC requires all adults to have accounts in their own names, but I can see JB controlling the purse strings, leaving brainwashed, adult daughters with no way out. Looking at this wealthy ATI family who still have no autonomy as unmarried adults, Ruth's courage becomes even that much more amazing.

  30. One hundred years ago people had large families and older children were expected to do the lions share of work around a farm or around the house. I don't see what the Duggar's are doing as any different from that. They have a large family, the older girls are expected to help around the house. What do you guys expect those girls to do, sit around watching TV and surfing the net all day?

    I think it's one thing to expect a nine year old Ruth to manage her siblings and help manage a home as she has alleged. It's another thing entirely when we're talking about teenage girls who are more than capable of the work being asked of them. I wouldn't necessarily run my home in the same way (I expect my daughters to go to college) but I think it's a little arrogant to declare what the Duggar's do is wrong for no other reason than it isn't in compliance with modern notions of family life.

    My wife has every right to her ascribed in scripture. The Christian faith has long been a faith that protects women and treats them as equals before the Lord. God has given men and women different roles in the home but he has not given men the authority to sin against and mistreat his wife and certainly the Lord has not given all men authority over all women. This is where I find ATI's views absurd in the light of 2,000 years of Christian history and scripture. God gives women the power to object to their husbands sin via the courts of the church. It is the only major religion that treats women as equals. So if by having separate roles for my wife and daughter I'm abusive in the eyes of modern feminism, then so be it. But the reality is the opposite.

  31. Those girls should spend their day going to school and getting skills necessary to support themselves. The test here is that JimBoob and DQ could not take care of all 15 (give or take) minor children by themselves. They are denying their children an education, which should be a crime, and they are getting forced labor from the girls. Why don't we extend this conservation to what the male childrens' role is. The boys do NOTHING to help raise the other children or to cook meals. What ever their chores are, they are not getting up with the babies in the middle of the night. It's a sexist gender role.

    100 years ago, people used mules instead of tractors and died young because of disease and lack of medical care. If you want to party like its 1900, go for it. I prefer to live in a free society and make decisions by myself. God gave me a brain, I don't need a man taking my earnings and telling me what to do.

    I weep for these fundies. If the Duggars didn't whore their children out to reality tv, they'd still be living crammed in that little house. Even people in Stalinist Russia got so many square meters per person. Should fundie families following housing codes that limit how many people can be warehoused in a tiny home?

  32. It's not a matter of returning to 1900 technology. The technology of the 19th century is irrelevant and the lack of 21st century technology in 1900 doesn't make what families did back then wrong. Families tended to be large and children worked around the house and the girls helped mom. I don't see what the problem is if that's what the Duggar's want.

    Those older girls have high school diplomas, what more education do you want for them? Not everyone desires to go to college, not everyone belongs in college. Those girls are learning how to tend to a house, which is something they're going to be doing for themselves once they're married. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it wrong.

    The male children also seem to help around the property. Obviously Josh is married so we'll leave him out of it. John and Joseph, so far as we know, have been taking care of the property since December. The two of them seem to do most of the outdoor chores and fixit jobs. So it isn't like they're doing nothing.

    At the end of the day you don't like the gender specific roles the Duggar's have and that's your only real reason to criticize them. I have a problem with the Duggar's theology and I have a problem with their weak homeschool curriculum. But I have no problem with acknowledging that God gave men and women different roles in life and I have no problem raising children to fit into those roles. They seem to have a happy family, those older children all seem happy.

  33. I would love to see what proficiency tests these kids have passed. Is a GED a good indicator that you can forward and teach your own batch of hatchlings? If they are preparing for their own homes, that means they will be in charge of educating the next group of cult members.

    I don't think any of these kids are educated. They don't speak well, have limited vocabularies and use the wrong word in sentences and wrong verb tense on a regular basis.

    Not every person should go to college but every kid should be educated enough to speak clearly and concisely. If you are honestly suggesting they are, then we have two different ideas of what a high school education should be. Of course, I also don't think the earth is 6000 years old or that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans, so I guess that I'm too educated to judge these simple folks.

    People had huge families 100 years ago because they had huge farms and limited birth control. My own great great grandfather had 17 children, helping creating babies until he was in his mid 60's (how's that for a nightmare JimBoob image?).

    You didn't respond to the point about the Bates and Duggars cramming 13/15 children in a three bedroom house with one bathroom. If you can't take care of them yourself or afford decent dental care (most of the older kids didn't have braces until the TV show) then don't bread yourself to death.

    I don't believe that any parent can give 19 children the love and attention they need. I don't believe that children should be responsible for babies or teaching other children.

    We'll have to disagree. Perhaps you should find a Duggar fan site. I don't like most aspects of the family, including their lack of education, religious indoctrination, forced gender roles, and irresponsible breeding. The older children don't seem happy, they seem worn out and resigned to what fate has dealt them: a role as a breeder and house slave for life.

  34. Publius said, "God has given men and women different roles in the home"

    God did not do this, society did this.

    My big problem with the Duggar family (and why I believe abuse is a realistic term when referring to them) is that once a baby in that household turns 6 months old, he/she is turned over to their new sister-parents so mom and dad can work on a new paycheck.

    Abuse is not only confined to physical or sexual, it's also very much a mental thing, and submissiveness is a huge part of it. Having well behaved children is one thing, having children who AREN'T ALLOWED to question ANYTHING is quite different. Anytime a child (which is what all of the Duggars living at home still are, and are treated as such, no matter what their age) is made to deny their individuality, freedom of choice and right to an education (because those children are NOT getting an education) then that it abuse.
    A great example - even with the girls who are over 18, if Daddy says we're going to go get blood drawn, then guilt and a trained passive lifestyle override a terrifying fear of needles.

    Even Amish teenagers get a chance to leave the fold for a while and experience the "real world" - the Duggar kids should be so lucky.

  35. Cynthia, since when are children entitled to their own bedroom?

    Like I've said, I don't like the programs that the Duggars use in their homeschooling. I think their homeschooling isn't as good as the vast majority of homeschoolers. But it's better than 90% of the public schools, so there really isn't much to complain about.

    I think the Duggar's offer an interesting contrast to the way Ruth was raised. There are similarities but it seems to me the Duggar's have a loving home and Ruth's home was considerably less loving and run by an abusive, lunatic father. Which gets back to my original question, which family is more representative of ATI, the Duggar's or Ruth's family? Is the abuse that happened in Ruth's home the result of encouragement from ATI or is it the result of a random abusive nut taking things to extremes?

  36. Publius, I will say this again and again: The Duggar children should NOT be responsible for the "raising" of the children!!!! The offspring of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are theirs, and theirs alone. That means that the responsibility of raising them is theirs and theirs alone. No ATI/Bill Gothard/bible verse is going to convince me otherwise. Yes, it is good for children to have chores around the house. Yes, they should help out with all of the things around the house (making dinner, setting the table, helping out with laundry, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, etc.), but they should not, absolutely should NOT have a 6 month old infant put in their room and have to take care of that baby from there on. A 6 month-old baby does not always sleep through the night. A 6-month old baby is still using diapers (for several more years at least), bottle-feeding, teething, getting sick, etc. Why in the WORLD are these duties (of a parent) foister on the older girls????? I will not even go back to the point that they also do all the physical grunt work that it takes to run a household, but why, why, why do the older girls have to, in all effect, become teen-age moms???? Why are they FORCED to become the full-time caretakers of the babies and toddlers when Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are the ones that are the biological parents and supposedly capable of doing all of those responsibilities? Maybe the only reason is that they are NOT capable, because they are overwhelmed and lost their minds a long time ago. Maybe they are now just acting like robots, pumping out baby after baby for commercial purposes. I seriously have NO clue what is going on in America - if some people have seriously lost their minds if they believe that this is GOOD or NORMAL or that this is some sort of a "Christian example of a good family." Something is terribly wrong in this country if this is true!!!

  37. I went to a public school, as did pretty much everyone that I've known in my life, and to say that the Duggars home school program is better than 90% of public school's is an insult. I could go on a rant to disprove that statement, but I'll refrain and just say this; Michelle and the wisdom booklets that she uses are NOT conducive to a decent education, and those children would have a LOT of catching up to do if any of them seriously wanted to go to even a community college.

    The only reason the Duggars seem to be a loving family is because their life is edited by people trying to show them in the best light possible. Since that is the case, yet people can still see so many obvious cracks in their "perfect" family, don't you think there might bigger problems that aren't being highlighted? I'm sure Jim Bob isn't as outwardly abusive as Ruth's father seems to have been, and I believe he loves his children, but that doesn't mean there's no emotional abuse and scarring in the Duggar household.

    No one is saying that older siblings shouldn't be helping out with younger siblings. When my oldest is capable, I'll expect HIM to help me with household chores and taking care of his younger sibling(s), but I would never presume to completely take away someone's childhood by making them take charge of their brood of younger siblings, cook for a fleet of people, clean a huge house, do ALL the laundry for a family of 20+, and take over the education of their younger siblings (which the oldest sisters have had to do recently.)

    Jim Bob and Michelle haven't done anything significant in that house for years, aside from procreate like bunnies and foist off their latest results onto the already overworked oldest girls.

    For anyone interested, here's a very insightful sweet piece by someone who explains why she feels sad for each individual child - http://piperrhiannon.livejournal.com/759079.html

  38. I will be glad to reiterate that I feel that what the Duggars do is ABUSE. Perhaps Publius knows more about what goes on behind the scenes at the Duggars, but based on what I see on the show and what I lived in ATI they are cheating those girls of their lives! Neglect is Abuse. It is at the VERY least irresponsible to do what they are doing. As an older girl in just such a family, I believe those girls do not need their childhoods stolen by their parents, nor should they be teenage "mothers". In society at large, we try to prevent teen pregnancies because we feel that they MAY be ill-equipped to fully deal with all that it entails. So how is it that a religious family for purely selfish reasons can FORCE this on their children. Personally I think that it is wrong to steal their childhoods from them and it sets up an interesting dynamic that again FORCES (no other options) that their only way out is to marry young to get out of the house.
    I do not see the logic in Publius' distinction that calls 9 year old Ruth's servitude as potentially abusive, but what happens at the Duggars (with all the "for-TV" editing) as CLEARLY not?!? Did you really think that they would document abuse??
    My point was and still is that it is impossible to adequately care for that number of children resulting in NEGLECT of either the older childrens lives since they are FORCED into servitude or NEGLECT of the younger ones due to lack of time, lack of nurture, being raised by a teenage sibling "mother-figure".

    Although I do not resent my younger siblings, nor do I regret the experiences that I had, I did miss out on a childhood and that was a decision that was made for me by parents whose religious agenda was more important than their own children. It was not a choice that I would have made. In these closed environments, abuse is well hidden. Honestly Publius would not hear that they are being abused - he has already DECIDED that they are NOT - such a judgement is dangerous for the children involved. I dont suggest a witch hunt, but honestly there is no escape or safety net for these children that they are aware of or that they can turn to. I remember asking for help and being denied much as Publius' tries to deny the Duggars as being Abusive since it might minimize "REAL" abuse. (Please take caution!! - for the children's sake!)
    Obviously we are talking about reality TV - somewhat scripted, and edited and I think that there is NO WAY to state emphatically that there is no abuse, and from my perspective it is exactly the kind of closed society that is a hothouse for such abuse.
    x-ATI pilot daughter

  39. Publius said, "My wife and daughter wear skirts or dresses. Am I a tyrant cult member? Hardly."

    If you're guilt-tripping your wife (and, to an extent, daughter) into wearing skirts for whatever reason, be they religious or otherwise, then yes, you'd be a tyrant. I don't know you, so I have no idea.

    The Duggars, and most ATI families; however, DO guilt trip the females in their lives into wearing skirts and "keeping sweet" as this is what the female is suppose to do in their mind, and the men have all the control. It's a scary brainwash tactic that doesn't end just with what kind of clothing to wear.

  40. I don't have to guilt trip my wife over anything, we agree on 99% of the issues facing us. My daughter is 1, she wears whatever my wife puts on her in the morning. She isn't entitled to a choice, most 1 year olds aren't. :)

    I don't believe the Duggar's exclusively use those Wisdom Booklets because we know from the tv show that they use some sort of online service. There are a lot of online services out there where a teacher checks work and so on. My impression is that the Duggar's are using one of these and those silly booklets are a suplement. I'm a lawyer and I must admit the bankruptcy lesson is hysterical.

    I went to public schools as well. You would be hard pressed to prove that most inner city and rural public schools are better than the Duggar's homeschool. If we talk about homeschooling generally, they rank in the 80th percentile on standardized college enterance exames. That's true whether the parents are high school dropouts or if the parents have graduate degrees. (the range is 78 or so to 83 going from parents being dropouts to having graduate degrees) So homeschoolers on average do very well. I happen to agree with those that believe the Duggar's homeschool program isn't quite as good.

    I don't agree that the older Duggar girls are raising their younger siblings. Maybe it's true right now but I think most reasonable people recognize the current circumstances. I appreciate that those older girls are given a great deal of responsibility but I don't agree that they're raising them. They're helping their mother, who is the one raising them. I think way to much has been made of the single incident where one of the young girls (jennifer?) cried out for Jill. In the last episode, we saw all of the young kids swarming their mother to spend time with her and she was more than willing to spend time with them. It appeared to me to be perfectly normal relations between a mother and her little kids.

    I'm just not seeing the 'guilt trip' that you guys are seeing. I think you're harping against a lifestyle that you simply don't like or care to be part of. There are plenty of mainstream examples of girls being 'guilt tripped' into having careers, not having families and so on and so forth. To jump all over the Duggar's because they take the opposite view simply exposes your bias against conservative Christian families. I don't agree with everything the Duggar's do, I certainly don't agree with all of their theology. But these charges of abuse are outrageous and they take away from people like Ruth who I think has a legitimate claim of abuse.

  41. Up until I recently took a closer look into this family, I loved the lifestyle I thought they had at face value. A close-knit family with old fashioned values and morals, to me is a great thing. But now I see that yes, those girls are raising their siblings (I haven't seen Michelle do anything significant as a mother for her children that are older than 6 months for years now) and that they're pigeon holed into the same lifestyle they've been raised in. Any "mainstream example of girls being guilt tripped into a career and not having a family" that you can come up with is just as equally wrong (and may possibly be more about having to help earn income to raise a family than it is about guilt tripping.) Every person should have a choice, whether it's to be a stay at home mom, which I am, so I'm certainly not biased against that, or to be a career woman, or a combination of both. It's one of our many duties as parents (and for Michelle it's also her duty as an "educator") to provide our children with the skills necessary to go out and become their own person, whatever that may be.

    If one of the Duggar children were to leave the family fold for a variety of reasons - say they want to join the military, they want to go to New York to study fashion, they want to live with a mate before marriage, they discover that they're homosexual - that child would A. not have any idea how to live on their own or earn a suitable income and B. would most likely be condemned by their parents. THAT is not a sign of a loving family.

    My opinions of the Duggars have absolutely nothing to do with their Christian values, their high value of family, nor that the girls are probably going to be stay at home moms w/out careers. It has to do with the fact that they're isolating their children from real life and not allowing them to be individual people to make those choices for themselves.
    That and the fact that they're pimping their children out for money, same as the Gosselins and those disgusting pageant moms.

  42. The age of your child does not matter.
    If your intent is to teach her that she is lesser than a man by forcing her to forgo experiencing life as an equal...its still abuse.

    Im sorry you choose not to see that but you know, come to think of it, my parents opted not to see the blatant abuse they inflicted on us via ATIA...and Im pretty sure Darth Daddy chooses not to see the abuse he has heaped upon his children...and so on and so forth.

    You come to this blog and defend the Duggars. You pretty much crap all over Ruths story as if trying to discredit her.
    Frankly, it makes me wonder if you are a Gothardite, trying a more subtle message to discount Ruths story.

    Like someone said earlier, the lesser of two evils is still evil.
    If you find yourself having to distance yourself and your lifestyle from the Duggars because you arent *as bad as them* or they arent as bad as the next, more obvious cult, then you are still engaging in cultish practices.

    To look at the Duggars and want to defend them is not an emotionally healthy, normal response. To view a family that gives their girls no future beyond popping out children as okay is not healthy. To want to praise a woman who pawns her children off on each other because she is too busy fame whoring and/or producing more children to care for her children herself is not healthy. Period.

    Calling the Duggars as I see them, abusers, does not take away from Ruth's experience. If anything, it re-enforces the subtle nature of ATIA's dark side and shows the world that this does go on, that this neglect is being filmed.
    It validates Ruth, others who have gone through ATIA and possibly other girls in the Quiverfull movement who may read here.

    -If the big reveal is that Michelle is pregnant, I suspect it will be the end of the show because it will once and for all show the selfish nature of ATIA and the Duggar parents. The health and well being of their children be damned. They are going to keep popping them out to fill some gaping hole in their lives.


  43. Meh, If you've read my comments I think Ruth's story is credible and she has an excellent argument for abuse. What I wonder is whether or not Ruth's abusive home stems from ATI teaching themselves or if they stem from a father who is a nut and took ATI teachings to such extremes so as to become abusive. I'm not a Gothardite, I'm Reformed and Presbyterian. I disagree with Gothard on any number of theological issues which would prohibit me from joining his organization.

    As for the Duggar's, like I've said they provide us with a glimpse into a loving ATI/Gothard style home. I find the accusations of abuse at the Duggar home unfounded and usually milicious. The folks who attack the Duggar's are almost exclusively people who aren't Christians or aren't conservative Christians. So they have a religious or political ax to grind with them.

    Katrinka, why should the Duggar parents accept the actions of a child when those actions go against their moral beliefs? You're basically calling for moral relativism and pluralism. It is absurd to expect a Christian family to tolerate the homosexual acts of one of their unbeliving children. Why should they put aside their moral foundation? It's not popular to take moral positions these days and it's even less popular when people actually stick to them. But if a Duggar kid declared himself to be a homosexual, the Duggar's would be absolutely justified in cutting that child off until they repented. After all, scripture is quite clear on this subject. You might have an argument if an adult child got cut off for becoming a fashion designer or for joining the military. In the very least, those careers aren't sin according to scripture and the Duggar's would not be justified in cutting such a child off.

  44. Publius

    It seems you have an ulterior motive in your posts.

    An edited TV show does not prove that there is not abuse and it doesn't address the needs of the children or consider the fact that ATI is a closed society in which abuse has the ability to flourish. The concern here is the children and not whether, you sir, are correct.

  45. Let's flip that around, an edited 22 minute weekly television show doesn't prove abuse. I would like to think the burden of proof would have to be pretty high for proving abuse, be it in the Duggar home or in Ruth's home. I think Ruth has met that high level of proof. I don't think it has been met with the Duggar's. Again, just because you disagree with some of the Duggar practices and beliefs reguarding women doesn't mean they're abusive. Mere disagreement isn't a sign of abuse, if it was the Duggar's could easily turn around and accuse feminists of abusing women for no other reason than they disagree with them.

    It remains to be seen whether or not ATI itself encourages abuse or whether ATI has a higher level of abuse among their families than the rest of society. To declare ATI abusive and dangerous for children, it has to result in more cases of abuse than the rest of society. I think there are issues with ATI and I can see where some of ATI's practices might open the door for abuse. But I'm not seeing a community wide epidemic of abuse that goes beyond general society. At least not yet.

  46. The abuse is apparent, Publius.
    You seem to choose not to see the abuse, perhaps to salve your own conscience about your beliefs which may mesh, on some level, with the Duggars/Gothard.

    For those of us who have walked a mile in the Duggar girls shoes, we recognize the abuse when we see it.

    I understand why you feel the need to continue to defend the Duggars. Your posts to this blog make that crystal clear.

    Its a shame, though.
    I wonder when I read your post about not wanting to minimize Ruths abuse, if you dont realize you do so by supporting the Duggars.
    The Duggars are the kinder, gentler version of Darth Daddy.

    They clean up better than Darth Daddy but the sentiment towards women is the same. Their sentiment that children are for controlling is the same.
    Their intent to breed to build an army for God to wipe out all those who disagree with them is the same.
    Their belief in obedience at all costs is the same. Those of us who knew who Michelle was before the networks sanitized her and Jim Bob know the truth.

    I would remind you though, Publius, that control spoken softly, kindly, sweetly, gently is still control, not love which would be the desired basis of parenting.

    Its my hope that you will choose to allow yourself to take off the religious blinder to see ATIA for what it is.
    Your own religion teaches you that you will know the truth of something by viewing its fruit.

    Experience has taught me that the 'fruit' of ATIA is hostility towards children who walk away or even those who fall short of that mark of perfection that all ATIA children should be striving for.
    Hostility, judgment, excommunication, belittlement, hatred, cruelty...all done in the name of God and Gothard.
    Families destroyed while Mr. Gothard tut-tuts and washes his hands of any responsibility for the destruction his teachings have lead his followers into.

    You seem to be focusing on the egg/chicken discussion instead of viewing the end result.
    Ruths blog spells out for you the fruit.

    I know you want to believe this is the small percent of ATIA families but again, experience tells me that these families, like Ruths...like mine...are the norm.

    The abuse is the norm. The attempt to minimize that abuse is the norm, unfortunately.

    What is not the norm is a willingness to speak out about it like Ruth is doing and I give Ruth massive credit for doing so.

    Instead of fighting those of us who have been there, I wish Christianity would own the abuse, own that they have failed these children by not publicly calling Gothard on the carpet over this shit as whole.
    They wont though. They will just sit there, with folded hands and dulled consciences while more and more children are flushed away in the pursuit of one single, childless mans dream of perfection.
    One can only assume, that is because, on some level, all Christians, like yourself, Publius, support the abuse.

    That is a shame. A true shame. :(

  47. Publius,

    Are you an attorney for ATIA, IBLP, or any part of Gothards ministries or personal interests?

    I know you say that you arent a Gothardite now but have you or any of your family been so at any point in time?

  48. I am not an attorney for Gothard or any of his associates. I don't believe that I know anyone who has ever been to an ATI conference or is associated with any of Gothard's groups or with Vision Forum. I have never been associated with any of these groups in any way, shape or form.

    Anon, we're going to have to agree to disagree. I don't think anything the Duggar's do rises to the level of abuse. I think the attacks you're making on them are unfounded and your willingness to extend them to all of Christianity suggests you have a motive to attack them and the Christian faith.

    I agree that Ruth was abused but so far I don't think there is conclusive proof that ATI was responsible for it. I think her father is a nut who would have been abusive no matter what he was involved in. There are going to be nuts in every group and I don't see any reason to blame the group for what happened in Ruth's family.

    That's not to say that ATI doesn't aid, abet and/or encourage abuse. But the conclusive proof just isn't there yet as far as I'm concerned. There has to be more evidence than Ruth's compelling story and the handful of other claims, many of which are made by people who have a religious ax to grind. So let me be clear, I'm not saying that ATI can't possibly be an abusive organization. I'm saying that there just isn't enough evidence yet. We need more people to come forward, particularly people who remain part of the Christian faith.

  49. Publius, to answer your question about accepting a potentially homosexual child (which the Duggars may have to face someday, given their growing number of children.) I would hope that any loving Christian parent would accept their child, regardless of something as personal as who they choose to love. They don't have to condone or agree with their actions, but isn't it a good Christian value to leave judgement up to God?
    This may well be something we have to agree to disagree on, because everyone chooses how to follow their religion in different ways. Having said that, I know many devout Christians (my best friend and her mother are a Christian based psychologist and a Minister, respectively) who, although they don't personally agree with homosexuality, still love any friends and family who choose that path in life. They believe that "it's not our place to judge or condemn others, it's our place to love and serve god, which means loving others as god does. Why would god stop loving someone because of love, when there's so much hatred in the world?"

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. @Publius

    the thing i find most distressing about your comments is the victim blaming evident in your mindset. the 'high burden of proof' is put on the victim.

    the first thing a person (usually a man- because it's a very scary prospect, admittedly!) will often bring up to argue that is the old 'what about the man who is unfairly accused?' line.

    and yes, it's a terrible thing to see. but that wrong does not in ANY way excuse the many, many MORE victims that were not able to provide ENOUGH proof (or the right 'sort' of proof) to either get out of the situation or bring an end to the abuse, let alone bring the perpetrator tor justice.

    a system should instead show how it empowers those without power, how it speaks for those without a voice and provides a safe and nurturing environment for all. (which is what jesus did. he taught us that grace fulfilled the law and took the burden OFF us meeting all its requirements.)

    the patriarchal system (that is at its extreme in the gothard model) is based entirely on the good will and loving character of the male in charge. and i find that way too illogical (and terrifying) an assumption to make.

    regarding abuse:

    in only recognising the most extreme and violent examples as 'truly abusive' you set up the situation to explain away any number of harmful and potentially dangerous points along the continuum that often lead to the kinds of abuse from which there is no turning back and no second chance.

    recognising the tendencies and patterns of abuse at the earliest levels helps to keep people safe, to help them remove themselves from situations that are not in their best interest and could possibly take their lives.

    recognising how a system is set up to protect those in danger of being perpetrators is extremely important. it's not accusing every patriarch, but it's definitely pointing out how aware and full of grace they need to be!

    @ruth best wishes for your studies! (and your continued journey to healing.)

    [reposted because, goodness! so many typos!]

  52. Hold it, I haven't placed a high burden of proof on any victim. I said the high burden of proof is on those that are accusing the Duggar family of abuse. We're talking about people who don't know the family, who only watch their 22 minute program and only know so much about their beliefs and lifestyle. In other words, I'm suggesting folks take a step back with their charges of abuse and really consider whether or not they've actually seen any. I contend that there isn't any evidence of abuse, mostly because we're seeing a highly edited 22 minute weekly program and that's essentially all we know about the Duggar's.

    If one of the Duggar kids came forward and charged their family with abuse, their burden of proof wouldn't be anywhere near as high because they would have direct, first hand knowledge of the abuse. None of us have such direct, first hand knowledge so the charges of abuse as far as I'm concerned are unfounded.

    If we're talking about legal systems (and here I thought we were talking about individual internet judgments) the goal of a legal system ought not be to empower those without power. The goal of a legal system ought to be justice. There is justice in punishing someone who beats his wife and kids, there is justice when a rapist is punished and there is justice when a murderer is sentenced to death. Whether those without power were empowered in those cases is irrelevant.

  53. The thing is, we're watching a 22 minute TV show that's highly edited IN THEIR FAVOR, and people are still seeing things that are questionable behavior. It's not like the show is painting the Duggars as horrible people, they're trying to do just the opposite, and a lot of people are starting to see through the cracks. I imagine the backlash will grow a lot more if Michelle is truly pregnant again.

    Just because Jim Bob doesn't slap his kids around or threaten them doesn't mean there's not abuse. He and Michelle are brainwashing their children into thinking it's their responsibility to raise their siblings. He and Michelle have trained their children not to question ANYTHING. It goes beyond simple obedience, just read Ruth's entry about how she wasn't allowed to question things when she was younger. It's a dangerous thing to do to a child, but the Duggars have whitewashed it to look like, "Oh, look at our happy family and our obedient children." It goes WAY beyond that, and it's scary.

  54. @Publius

    you make a fair point about the difference between saying you believe something shows the signs of being an abusive situation without actually having all the facts, and an actual accusation by a member of the family.

    i am not sure that you have kept your own comments restrained to actual facts, though. OR a 'court of law'. and you were the one to raise the 'burden of proof' argument. my understanding was that we were discussing what ~could be considered an abusive situation. what is reasonable and what is not reasonable to expect of children etc. so i still stand by my comment to you.

    with regards to what i said about the patriarchal system (and particularly the extreme ones like ati) they are set up in way that effectively disempowers the majority of the family.

    that is a situation where if someone were being abused it would be A)possible they might not even recognise it, but assume it's 'their place' or 'their fault' etc, B)very difficult to get the courage to defy their leadership and C)very difficult to find someone to listen to them.

    i personally know people who have made the hugely courageous step of going to authorities etc only to either not be believed or actually be told not to make a report as it will make things difficult for the man in question.

    so, i still support the concerns raised in comments on this story.

  55. My point is still... NEGLECT is abuse. Minors should not have the burden of proof against their parents. You are talking about a closed society where grandparents, aunts and uncles and everyone outside the "cult" is cut off from having access to the children to verify their well being. Publius, you being behind the camera lens of a 22 min show cannot fill that void or DENY that there might be ABUSE or that those children might be reaching out for help! I was raised like that, which appeared "loving" to the outside, but was neglectful of the well being of the children. Both the children "raising" the siblings and the children not having parents to go in the middle of the night are neglected! There is cause for great concern given what is seen on the show.
    And where should that burden of proof be, on the producers of the show, the parents being paid or on the children who are neglected? Please do not turn a blind eye to the fact that those children have THEIR own stories, that should not be edited by their parents to keep the network happy and mommy and daddy's wallet padded.
    I thought that your question about more or less abuse in ATI was really a awkward question and here is why I still feel that it MIGHT be. There is an overriding dismissal of abuse being possible when there is an emotional attachment to the victimizers. (bear with me) The Duggar's show is based on an attachment to them as parents of ALL these children - "how do they do it?"
    If our best friend was shown in a court of law to be a child-endangerer behind closed doors of their own home, I think that we would all be shocked, because we thought that we knew them better than that. It is those who are closest and trusted that often cause the most abuse, whether more or less in ATI, I dont know, but I can offer my opinion. My parents were "more" normal before they got their heads filled with the authority crap that BG puts out. I think that I might have grown up to like "those" parents, but instead I have denial based parents that deny any and all wrong-doing because they are authority and not to be questioned. For me personally, I believe that it was the teachings that inspired my parents to "lose it". Sure there was the "potential" to be a bit cracked - enthusiasm for the latest trend in Christianity, being on the cutting edge of what God was doing, etc. IMO they had a genuine heart to "grow" their faith, to learn more. Joining this program was the end of our family. There is a strong idea that parents are infallible authorities, not just while you are under their roof, but forever. The individuality that is squashed by even the Duggars in their "loving" way destroys a safety net for those children. The iron-fist-with-a-smile-for-TV does not dissuade my feelings that the controlling environment that is called "loving" by the innocently unaware is actually a hothouse for dysfunction and neglect. You will never know the answer to your question, Publius, because
    you are not entrenched in system and no father would allow his failure to show. Its all about appearances and if the show has done its job, you will believe what the good marketing experts want you to believe - that most ATI families are loving and not rotting from the inside due to the lies that they are made to keep in the name of honoring authority.
    x-ATI pilot daughter

  56. Everyone has a burden of proof when accusing someone else. Even a child when accusing a parent. My position has been that those of us on the outside (which is all of us unless one of the Duggar kids is secretly posting here) have a much higher burden of proof when accusing the Duggar's of abuse than one of the Duggar kids would have if they made the accusation. I still suggest that we should look motive of a child who makes such an accusation.

    Could there be abuse in the Duggar home? Sure. But we have no evidence whatsoever that there is, which is why I'm arguing against calling them abusers. I don't look at every family and presume abuse. I believe in innocent until proven guilty. An association with ATI doesn't prove abuse or neglect no matter how much you might disagree with what ATI believes. Just like association with the Catholic Priesthood doesn't prove that a priest is a child molester, association with ATI doesn't prove that the Duggar's are child abusers.

    No one here has any concrete proof that the Duggar's abuse or neglect their children. All of us are limited to 22 minute television shows and a book or two and a website. What I've seen on television doesn't constitute abuse or neglect. Just because the older girls take on a 'buddy' doesn't prove that their parents aren't the ones parenting that child. I think it's a huge mistake to jump to the conclusion that buddy equals new mommy. Unfortunately that jump seems to make up the bulk of the accusations against the Duggar's.

    Just because Ruth's family was abusive doesn't mean all ATI families are abusive. Most of us have major disagreements with ATI and BG, I know I do. But the actions of a few ATI families (I know there are other ex-ATI kids who have made accusations similar to Ruth's) doesn't prove that all ATI families are abusive. Like I said in my original comment, I would like to see whether ATI has a higher rate of abuse than the general population. Either that or a mass exodus of former ATI kids has to come out and allege abuse. Until then, I think it's premature to declare ATI's beliefs and practices abusive.

  57. Publius: Is your law degree from Oak Brook?

  58. My law degree is from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.

  59. It seems publius is set on determining that abuse from cults is only determined when mass numbers of traumatized victims are verified in a made for TV documentary. Until then I guess I am just an insignificant and not-traumatized-enough NUMBER. Your professional perspective seems only to see abuse in stats and not in the every day living of lay people. It seems a little callous, but maybe its just the profession.

    Just A Number.

    PS there were requests made to Ruth to document her story as well as others...So maybe your dream of making stats out of us will come true!


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