The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

OPINION | The not-so-shiny happy side of the Duggar family

OPINION | The not-so-shiny happy side of the Duggar family
Yumi Domangue

If you happened not to look at your phone or Prime Video this summer, you might have missed your world getting rocked by the limited edition documentary taking a deep dive into the Duggar family and their religious sect, ironically titled “Shiny Happy People.”

Does that name not ring a bell? Well, for those unaware, the Duggars were the stars of a 2000’s reality show on TLC called “19 Kids and Counting.” You can guess why they have that name: the Duggars are a huge family of 21 total.  

Like many others when I was younger, I was mesmerized by this seemingly perfect, large family with soft-spoken parents, well-behaved kids and Christian values. 

The long denim skirts and “courtships” threw even young Chloe off a little, but other than that, I saw nothing of alarm. This is where the documentary comes in. 

The name may also be familiar due to recent events regarding the eldest son, Joshua Duggar, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence. He was charged with the possession and receipt of child sexual abuse images and was found guilty in December 2021. 

Unfortunately, his arrest was merely a harbinger of what we were to discover when the Duggar documentary dropped.

On June 2, “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets” was released and it promised to remove the rose-colored glasses through which this family used to be viewed. And boy, does it do just that. 

In a nutshell, “Shiny Happy People” reveals how the Duggars were essentially part of a cult, and their show’s purpose was to push their agenda of indoctrination into people’s lives and politics. The only members of the Duggar family involved in the documentary were Jill Dillard, the fourth-oldest Duggar child, sister to Duggar patriarch Jim Bob and Dillard’s cousin Amy King. 

The documentary also featured survivors of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a nondenominational Christian fundamentalist group the Duggars tried to trick everyone into following with their show. 

According to the survivors of IBLP, the organization’s tactic in getting people to join their cause was to prey on families’ vulnerabilities. For example, families who were poor or unstable, people who wanted more control in their lives, particularly patriarchs of the family, etc. 

These were the prime subjects IBLP targeted.

Now, I knew their form of Christianity was strict, but I didn’t know just how truly dark and twisted it got until watching this documentary. That was why the reality show was such a gold mine for the organization: it would hide or gloss over any of the horrors this family’s children and women went through. 

One of the main topics the documentary touches on is the IBLP’s emphasis on the “umbrella of protection.” Essentially it is a decreet that kids must obey their parents, wives must obey their husbands and everyone must obey Bill Gothard (their cult leader) because he understood God’s teachings the best. I could write a whole other article about Gothard’s level of creepiness

Many survivors of IBLP in the documentary said how this umbrella of protection essentially made children, and especially women, these perfect victims of abuse in all shapes and forms. 

A child couldn’t speak out about their parents hitting them because that would be disobeying their word, which was wrong and would put them in hell. The same goes for wives who found themselves in dangerous situations with their husbands. 

They were trapped, but if they broke free they would be damned. 

That is the main reason the Duggar children were all so well-behaved on the show. It is never explicitly stated in the documentary, but it’s heavily hinted that these children were abused. IBLP even encourages one tactic of putting a baby next to something they like and swatting the baby’s hand when they reach for it to teach it obedience, which the Duggar’s matriarch Michelle Duggar openly talked about doing to her children. 

If you haven’t caught on by now, in IBLP,  the man always has the power; whether it be money, abuse or good ol’ misogyny, they had all the control because of the stupid umbrella of protection. It’s worth noting that none of the Duggar children earned a cent from the show once they were adults until recently because their father pocketed it all. 

When looking at more of the misogyny in IBLP,  women not only had to have their clothes a certain way, but even their hair a specific style to be considered more “Godly.” Also, once girls are old enough to walk and talk, they are made to help take care of the house and their siblings.

One survivor even was quoted as saying how she was only really taught fractions and no other mathematic skills because, as her father said, “fractions are used in cooking and baking, and that’s all you need to know.”

It’s no surprise, knowing this, why when it came out that Joshua had touched underage girls, some of them including his sisters, the Duggar family did all they could do to cover the situation up. This even encompassed having his sisters go on television and try to play down the situation. 

The IBLP men can get away with practically anything…because they’re men. In their cult, there were no consequences for them. 

All of this is so wrong on so many levels. They took Christianity, which is supposed to be about love, acceptance and truth, and they turned it into this scheme for money, power and control. While it may seem that this cult may not have an effect on your life, they have the potential to. 

Many of the men involved in IBLP run for office to push their misogynistic, cultish agenda into politics. Even a few of the Duggars ran for or held political positions. After watching this documentary, it’s not a huge surprise that Roe v. Wade was overturned after seeing how many of these pro-life IBLP families get their children involved in politics with their harmful beliefs.

Not to mention the toxic Christian and possibly IBLP internet influencers out there are able to constantly push their harsh, misogynistic, homophobic agendas all over the internet. 

If you don’t end up watching the documentary, I hope that this article at least taught you some signs of harmful religious propaganda.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Chloe Williams, Editor-in-Chief
Chloe Williams is an English major with a concentration in creative writing and minors in communication and theater. She hopes to become a newspaper reporter who will be able to write and travel for the news and spread the voice of the people. You can find her anywhere that contains a stage, hanging out and eating with her friends on campus or taking a nap when she gets the chance.
Yumi Domangue, Staff Reporter & Graphic Designer
Yumi Domangue is a double major in mechatronics engineering technology and new media and animation. She joined Student Publications in the Fall of 2021 as a graphic designer. She intends to use her skills to have a career in design.
Donate to The Lion's Roar
$600
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Lion's Roar student journalists at Southeastern Louisiana University.
In addition, your contribution will allow us to cover our annual website hosting costs.
No gift is too small.

More to Discover
Donate to The Lion's Roar
$600
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Comments and other submissions are encouraged but are subject to The Lion's Roar Comments and Moderation Policy. All views expressed are those of the author and should not be interpreted as the views of The Lion's Roar, the administration, faculty, staff, or students of Southeastern Louisiana University.
All The Lion's Roar Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *