How Evangelical Churches Protect Abusers Like Josh Duggar

In the wake of similar allegations against Josh Duggar — who has admitted to sexually molesting five female minors, including his sisters, as a young teenager — churches and Christians have been quick to portray the Duggars’ brand of Christianity as a fringe sect, nonrepresentative of the mainstream. The Duggars belong to Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute, which describes itself as a home education system that gives homeschooling families training and support. But in reality, it’s a way of life that requires adhering to strict codes of conduct and very literal interpretations of the Bible. The Evangelical church is a closed system that values its own governance over the American judicial system. In fact, the church, structured by the laws of God, often finds itself at odds with “the laws of man.” These conflicts are reconciled through a practice referred to as church governance, where many churches espouse a system found in the Bible in Matthew 18.