Josh Duggar

Digging in: Yes, this is another headline containing the all-important search term 'Duggars'

Digging in: Yes, this is another headline containing the all-important search term 'Duggars'

I realize that, in the current Washington Post effort to organize and increase its religion coverage (we applaud, of course) the flag headline "Acts of Faith" has become a kind of logo and catch-phrase to attract readers.

Still, I wonder if anyone at the copy desk stopped for a second before producing the following double-decker head on the tabloid-esque story of the week, producing some rather painful content when read in one flow:

Acts of Faith
Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters and a babysitter, parents tell Fox News

Hang on, because we will get to the content of the Post story, which was actually quite straightforward and subdued -- in contrast to the take-no-prisoners tone of some of the other coverage.

Religion News Service also produced a rather flat, sensible news piece, but as is the norm in the edgy social-media age, felt the need to wave the editorial flag with this bite of snark in the promo headline atop the daily email newsletter:

Duggars keep digging

As in the Duggars keep digging their own grave, of course.

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Washington Post gets it: The Duggar TV empire made all kinds of people nervous

Washington Post gets it: The Duggar TV empire made all kinds of people nervous

In recent days, I have had quite a few emails asking what the GetReligionistas think of the fall of Josh Duggar of the Family Research Council and then the whole "19 Kids and Counting" TLC reality-television empire.

As always, people seemed to be asking what we thought of the story itself, as opposed to our reactions to the mainstream news media coverage of the story. That's two different issues.

As always, most of the coverage has looked at the story through a political lens, asking how this scandal among hypocrites on the Religious Right would impact public debates about same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage and same-sex marriage.

That's an interesting angle, since I never got the impression -- as someone who has never seen a complete episode of the show -- that the Duggars were the kinds of folks who were very effective as apologists, when it came time to changing many minds on the cultural left. They seemed, to me, to be the ultimate preaching-to-the-choir niche media product. For those who are interested, here is the family's public statement on the controversy.

It's safe to assume that folks on the cultural left pretty much hated these folks, with good cause. The more subtle point is that the Duggars were also very controversial among evangelicals, including among folks who are often accurately described as very traditional, or even patriarchal, on family issues. This television empire made all kinds of folks nervous, with good cause.

Here is the key, if you want to dig into the serious coverage. How early does the name "Bill Gothard" appear and to what degree does the coverage make it sound like Gothard and his disciples represent mainstream evangelicalism or even orthodox (let alone Orthodox or Catholic) Christianity?

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