8 Things Josh Duggar And Rachel Dolezal Have In Common

Two names that have been making headlines lately, in rather negative contexts, are Josh Duggar and Rachel Dolezal. Their misdeeds don’t appear to have much in common: Duggar has admitted to molesting several young girls, and Dolezal was caught in the bizarre act of falsifying her racial background. However, a glance at their backgrounds shows that the two have some startling things in common (and no, I’m not talking about cheap shots like ‘they’re both white’).

It turns out that Dolezal’s upbringing was pretty similar to Duggar’s, based on the public information about both — and it’s an upbringing that needs to be recognized. In fact, it’s an upbringing that even led Dolezal to suggest that her parents might not really be her own family.

Here are eight rather creepy things the Duggar family and the Dolezal family have in common.

1. Religious extremism.

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As you know, the Duggar family has an extreme position on religion. The girls wear long skirts, and don’t hold jobs outside the home. They don’t use birth control, instead allowing God to decide the size of their families.

According to Homeschoolers Anonymous, the Dolezal household was similarly religious: the New York Times described the household as ‘strict’ and ‘cult-like.’ This wasn’t a random attack: the information was based on a memoir by Rachel’s brother, Joshua Dolezal, in which he used the words ‘cult-like’ himself to describe his home life. There’s mre about that in some points below.

Both families take similar strong positions on abortion and other religious/political issues.

2. Fundamentalist homeschooling.

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People homeschool for a lot of reasons. Some families homeschool because of the quality of education available in their area, or because of learning disabilities and the opportunity to more greatly individualize learning, or in order to let their child focus on a specific interest, or for nearly as many other reasons as there are homeschooling families.

Some, however, use homeschooling as an isolation tool. They prevent their children from learning science and history that might contradict their worldview, and prevent them from interacting with people outside their faith. In some cases, they prevent their children from interacting with the adults who might see signs of abuse and contact authorities.

In both the Duggar and Dolezal families, it appears that punishments were used that would be considered abusive by many, though they may or may not meet legal definitions.

3. Limited contact with outside world.

The New York Times describes Dolezal’s household as having ‘no tv and little contact with the outside world.’

While the Duggar family was on, they do not watch television themselves, and, while they have, thanks to TLC, more contact with the outside world than many in their belief system, they still do keep to themselves, control the children’s contact with those who believe differently, and control internet access to prevent the children from seeing other views.

4. Blanket training.

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Let’s talk for a moment about Michael and Debi Pearl. They’re a fundamentalist couple who are also the authors of a book called To Train Up A CHild. It’s a book the Duggar family has endorsed, and according to Homeschoolers Anonymous, one that families who knew the Dolezals said they used as well.

The Pearls’ first relevance in both of these families is for blanket training. The Dolezals are reported to have used this method, and the Duggar family, according to the Duggar Family Blog, does as well.

So, what is blanket training?

Basically, an infant, old enough to be slightly mobile, perhaps at crawling or wriggling age, is placed in the center of a blanket. He may or may not be given a toy. He is told to stay there. Bear in mind that this is a child only a few months old. If he moves, he is spanked. The Pearls reccommend using a length of plumbing pipe for this purpose. Michelle Duggar is rumored to have been in fundamentalist chat rooms, before she became reality-show famous, suggesting plastic flexible rulers for blanket training infants. According to Homeschoolers Anonymous, the Dolezal family used plumbing line and two-foot-long glue sticks. (The glue sticks are apparently another commonly used implement in Pearl-following families, specifically for beating infants.

In blanket training, every time the infant attempts to leave the center of the blanket, he is hit. This is done until he gives up. The parents may tempt him by placing a particularly exciting toy outside his reach. This ‘training’ is complete when he is too broken to leave the blanket for even the most enticing of toys.

5. Sparing not the rod.

This too harkens to the Pearls. They recommend, as previously mentioned, using a length of plumbing pipe as a ‘rod,’ and spanking until the child is broken. They actually use the word ‘broken’ in their book. That’s not all, though. You’ve heard the saying “Beatings will continue until morale improves. The Pearls take this pretty literally. You see, if a child does not accept his discipline ‘cheerfully’ then he is said to be defiant and disobedient. Christianity Today describes the use of the rod, noting that a child must come willingly to be hit, and may not express any displeasure or hesitation. They also mention that the beating should continue until the child ‘submits,’ which may take more than 40 lashes.

The Duggars’ use of a ‘rod’ to beat their children was documented in the police report. The sources who spoke to Homeschoolers Anonymous, people who knew the Dolezal family, say that they did the same — and forced the two oldest children to, in turn, use the ‘rod’ on the younger kids.as well.

6. Hard labor as punishment.

When Josh Duggar was caught molesting his sisters he was sent away to what the parents initially claimed was a therapy group, but later admitted was basically a job helping to remodel a building. The Duggar parents described it multiple times as therapy through hard labor.

NBC reports that the reason one of Rachel Dolezal’s brothers, Izaiah, requested emancipation at age 16 and left his parents’ home was because he said he was being abused. He described physical punishments, as well as being forced to participate in hard labor as a punishment.

7. Male dominance.

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The Duggars’ rule of male dominance is well-documented. They believe a woman should submit to her ‘headship,’ either her husband or her father. The Dolezals’ position on this is less clear, though it’s hinted at in excerpts from Joshua Dolezal’s book. A few of those excerpts are reproduced in this Homeschoolers Anonymous post.

One details the time that Ruthanne Dolezal (the mother of Rachel, Joshua, and Izaiah among others) left her husband, and her husband’s search for her. Though it stops short of indicating that he felt any type of authority or ownership over his wife, the overtones are there in the exceprpt. Another talks of Rachel suffering abuse at the hands of her own husband , and the husband’s response when Joshua attempted to help his sister. Again, there is no explicit statement of headship, ownership, or authority, but there are hints of it, suggesting that perhaps this was a norm the Dolezal kids grew up with.

8. Victim blaming.

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Recovering Grace was the first to share images from the IBLP homeschooling programs that Josh Duggar’s parents use. Pages from the curriculum have since spread across the internet, uploaded to Reddit and other sharing sites.Check out the image below for information on sexual abuse victims — the items I’ve circled in red show how the emphasis is on the victim, describing all the ways she can be blamed: for not wearing modest clothing, being out of her parents’ protective circle, disobedience, choosing ‘evil’ friends.

Duggar Homeschool curriculum focuses on victim-blaming.

According to the excerpts from Joshua Dolezal’s book shown in the Homeschoolers Anonymous post linked above, victim-blaming was rife in that household too — when Rachel was suffering abuse at the hands of her husband, Joshua attempted to find help for her from the family, and was told that Rachel’s suffering was brought about by her own choices, and that she was responsible for causing her own abuse.

Central to all of these commonalities is the extremism, the dominance and control, and the frightening punishment style. Rachel Dolezal and Josh Duggar both grew up in households that are not legally defined as ‘abusive’ but that used poisonous, dangerous techniques to control and ‘train’ children. Both were victims, and both in their turns have acted out in ways that harmed others, though Josh’s crimes were a more direct harm, and Rachel’s alleged liees about suffering hate crimes do harm in a more subtle way, by helping discredit those who truly are victims of similar crimes.

Rachel Dolezal and Josh Duggar are hardly the only kids rased in these environments — and it’s about time we open our eyes and recognize the dangers of this type of child-rearing.

About The Author
Steph Bazzle
Steph Bazzle is a homeschooling mom who likes to write about justice, equality, and religious issues.