Links and Comments: About religious parents shielding their children from reality

More about the Duggars’ insular worldview.

Gawker: Tell Your Duggar Tales: Did Michelle Duggar Get a Gay Crew Member Fired?

The family kept their children so sealed from exposure to the outside world that their ideas about big cities like LA or New York were caricatures, and the TV crew filming them was instructed to be very careful not to “taint their version of the world”. (And the gay member of the film crew, who mentioned the fact matter-of-factly, was removed from the crew.)

During this time, the Duggars had very limited exposure to what they called the “outside world” and so most of the crew members being from larger cities, we were all very surprised at how very little they knew or understood about places like New York, Los Angeles, and London. All of their perceptions of these places were the most exaggerated stereotype caricatures as if their only source of news was from locally produced religious cartoons from the 1980s. As in, LA is full of surfer dudes and Valley girls, and everyone in New York talks and walks like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, walks in packs carrying switchblades, spray paints graffiti at every turn, with the only safe haven oddly being the mighty Trump Tower. Yes, Trump Tower was Jim Bob’s go-to when talking anecdotally about the elegance of lavish and luxurious places. … They didn’t own a television or had an Internet connection at that time, so, really, next to second hand church gossip, the local newspaper was really their only link to anything outside of Arkansas. The producers of the show had instructed crew members to not ever engage in conversation on our own with Jim Bob or Michelle in fears that we may either say something normal that they would find objectionable or that they would say something to where we’d react funny because we weren’t used to their level of “unwordliness” I think it was put.

Many other links, (e.g. Jezebel, The Duggars Aren’t Just a Family, They’re a Cult and The Atlantic: All Unhappy Families: The Downfall of the Duggars, but the point is made.

Conservative Resistance:
“religious inculcation of children, and the shielding of them from outside influences that would threaten their parents’ worldview”

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The Atlantic: Which Contemporary Habits Will Be Most Unthinkable 100 Years From Now?

Answers include burning fossil fuels, driving, having a lawn. And Daniel Dennett suggests:

Unsupervised homeschooling. When we come to recognize that willfully misinforming a child—or keeping a child illiterate, innumerate, and uninformed—is as evil as sexual abuse, we will forbid parents to treat their children as possessions whom they may indoctrinate as they please. They may teach their children any religious creed they like, but only if they also teach the uncontroversial facts about the world’s religions so their children can make an informed choice when they grow up.

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Slate: Were You There? As a creationist kid, I was determined not to learn about evolution.

So can religious students understand evolution even when they think it conflicts with their beliefs? In my own experience, as a case study for a creationist learning about evolution, the answer is no. Rissler has it right.

What I learned at home and church was like a fog that the most basic principles of biology could barely cut through. In science class, details got lost in the mist.

During one of Wortman’s lectures on natural selection—involving different types of bacteria—I was doodling. Normally an attentive student, I deliberately tuned out of the class. The subject made me uncomfortable because the process of new species coming about via natural selection directly contradicted what my church and parents taught me about the origins of life. From one corner of my page of sparse notes, a cartoonish rendering of Wortman peered at me from behind oversized spectacles. Abandoning the portrait, I traced angular shapes that fit together like puzzle pieces and circled them with flowers and vines. Then Wortman caught me.

“What, do you think you know this already?” Wortman asked indignantly, leaning on my student desk where my incriminating notebook lay. “Could you take the test right now?”

I was mortified.

(Of course, this “were you there” question was likely not asked in history classes about the Civil War. But then, perhaps the entire universe was created 100 years ago, just before any of us were born, or perhaps 2 minutes ago, complete with all our memories of a past.)

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