Is Religion to Blame?

I don’t want to talk about Josh Duggar in this post except to say two things: The first being that the recent media attention of his case is why I’ve felt prompted to write this article, and the second that this article is in *no way* condoning his actions.  They were wrong and horrible, no matter what age he was.  But this article is not about Josh Duggar.

Everywhere I see news of this issue, it’s guaranteed to be in one of a couple different contexts.  One is that “these people” were so against gay rights and claimed gay people were child molesters so this is hypocritical of them.  The other is to attack Christians and give no concern to the victims in these cases, instead choosing to use the opportunity to present an anti-religious stance.

I won’t pretend to know what those girls went through.  I have had similarly difficult times in my life, but never under such circumstances.  Every article that attacks their family is an attack on them as well.  You can imagine they must feel victimized all over again each time.  Had this happened to you, the last thing you’d want is such a public mockery of your life.  Everyone who believes in a higher power of some sort has the right to connect with that higher power however they see fit, provided it doesn’t harm another person.  These girls are being told by everything they would find about their family  and their religion right now that they are wrong and bad.  How does that help the victims of this?

I grew up in a very strict religion.  You could say it’s similar to some of the descriptions I have heard of the Duggars’ faith, though probably not as strict.  There are accusations of horrible things from nearly every religious denomination.  I’ve always found it curious that it seems the more strict or smaller denominations come under fire for this more harshly than larger religions. The faith I grew up in never claimed to be perfect.  Your typical faithful person won’t do that.  And though it is not my choice of a religion anymore, I have respect for the people still in it who choose to walk that path.

It’s so rare in life that something is 100% good or 100% evil.  So very rare.  It’s also rare to find even two people who are exactly alike, so imagine lumping an entire religious group into one stereotype and assuming no one can be any different.  I have met so many wonderful religious people who live a very strict life.  I have met awful ones as well.  I have met kind and loving atheists and I have met some really awful ones.  The world is not black and white.

The second that the media turned this into a political debate was when those victims lost, again.  You can’t blame religion for a person’s actions.  You can’t blame your past.  Everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves.  I won’t attest to if Josh has done that or not.  As I said, this article is not about that.  It’s about the immediate need for blame on a religion or faith instead of on the individual. It’s about these girls being victimized ten years ago and having to relive it all now through vicious attacks on their family from just about every source.

In the end we can’t possibly know how they feel.  We can’t possibly know what will happen or what happened exactly back then.  But I do know this – I know that blaming religion or an anti-gay stance for this is not going to help anyone.  Until the discussion can be grey and not black and white, the conversations between religious people and anti-religious people will never get anywhere.  Life exists in grey.  Try to meet in the middle and see.

Jessie Ivanowski

Jessie Ivanowski is a polyamorous mom and stepmom living in New England with her Anchor, Jason. Recently addicted to Starbucks, and not-so-recently addicted to Chucks, she is looking into a twelve step program. She has, however, accepted that she can’t help starting ten books at once, getting lost in old shows on Netflix, and spending random game nights with friends. Her other passions include photography, home schooling, Magic the Gathering, and cultivating her son’s love of all things geeky. Currently studying to become a doula, she hopes to educate women as a birth assistant and also publish her novel about step families and polyamory.

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