Petitions call for TLC to cancel ’19 Kids and Counting’ amid Josh Duggar child molestation scandal

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Reality TV star Josh Duggar issued an apology Thursday, May 21, 2015 after reports surfaced that he allegedly molested girls as a teenager, saying: "I acted inexcusably." Duggar, 27, is the oldest of the children who appear on TLC's hit show "19 Kids and Counting." The Duggars are known for being devout Christians who don't believe in practicing birth control and whose children follow strict courtship rules.

Will the show go on?

That is the question surrounding TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” after claims that Josh Duggar molested girls as a teenager. The network pulled repeats of the show off the air Friday even as support emerged for the Duggar clan, including from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

But there is a movement afoot to persuade TLC to cancel the show.

In this story

  • The show has been temporarily pulled from TLC's lineup
  • Some are calling for it to be canceled amid abuse allegations
  • One critic urges the network to continue with the show

Several petitions on call for the cancellation of the TV series about the devout Duggar clan: parents Michelle and Jim Bob and their nine daughters and 10 sons (all of whom have names beginning with the letter “J”).

Fans were outraged after In Touch magazine published a police report outlining allegations that Josh Duggar, now 27, molested underage girls when he was 14 and 15 years old. The claims were reported to police when he was 18.

The Duggar family is well-known for a stance against birth control and for their dating rules, which are dictated by their conservative religious beliefs. Only chaperoned dates and side hugs are allowed, and there’s no hand-holding until a couple is engaged. They share their first kiss after they are married.

The network took heat for airing a marathon of the show after the revelations and Duggar’s public apology, in which he said, “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends.”

TLC announced Friday that it was pulling repeats of the show off the air but has yet to announce long-term plans for the series.

Viewers used social media to urge TLC to end the reality series permanently.

The Duggar family has also been the subject of previous petitions to end the show.

In 2014, a petition gathered tens of thousands of signatures asking TLC and its parent network, Discovery, to oust the Duggar family’s show because of what the petition called their anti-LGBT stance. According to the petition, Michelle Duggar’s voice could be heard on a political robocall urging residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas, to repeal a law that forbade business owners and landlords from evicting and firing people based on gender identity.

In the most recent controversy, Josh Duggar resigned as head of the lobbying arm of the conservative Family Research Council, whose website states that it has a “mission is to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.”

Duggar reportedly withdrew over the weekend from a planned public appearance at a Christian home-school convention in Sandusky, Ohio. He and his wife, Anna, who is pregnant with their fourth child, have taken down their website.

TMZ reported that at least one advertiser, General Mills, has pulled out of backing the show. The site also reported that “Mama June” Shannon has threatened legal action against TLC because it canceled her series, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” while the Duggars’ show has not been scrapped.

Shannon’s family reality series was canceled in 2014 after pictures surfaced of her with registered sex offender Mark McDaniel.

“I read that the Duggar family said, this happening with their son brought them closer to God and each other,” Shannon said. “So they’re saying it’s OK to have family touch time? Hell no.”

Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever writes that while the initial response might be for the Duggar show to disappear, he thinks TLC should actually use the opportunity to put some reality into reality television.

“Now is the time for TLC to double down and have the courage to present America, at last, with a truly unscripted show about a family enduring a crisis largely of its own making,” he writes. “Life is not what it quite seems at the Duggar compound — but who ever watched that show and sincerely thought it was always that perfect?”

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  • Tina Heinle

    This is utter BS. that guy was a 14 year old boy. no excuses for what he did……..but he also shouldn’t be punished his whole life because of it. Its time to leave it alone.

    • Jennifer Bayer

      So he was 14-15 he still knew betters is parents knew and hid it and they are old enough and also there are people out there that has to register for something they did around that age so why is it fear that he doesn’t have to register as a sex offender but others do? Oh that’s right I forgot he is famous and he has a pass to do whatever…I’m not saying he isn’t changed or forgiving from God but they are on a family channel and the whole show needs to be canceled to put up a stand against child molesters no matter what age it’s wrong

  • Elizabeth

    Leave them alone people! Who are we to judge others. Nobody is perfect, we all have a secret to keep. As a parents we will always protect our kids. Never judge others because you never know what could be coming for you. NEVER SAID NEVER

  • Jennifer Wellington

    Tina and Elizabeth you make me sick. If that what your child who got molested by 14 year old or 15 year old. I highly doubt you would let it go. That is basically a 9th or 10th grade in high school. Dam hypocrites. Plus, you would be first people condmening if the person was jewish or buddhist or muslim or hispanic or african american or asian. I bet you that.

    • Cary

      You are spot on correct, Jennifer! These people are giving that guy a free pass is disgusting. If he molested 5 girls, how do we know there isn’t more cases? 5 is a lot of cases! Even one is. Duggars should be ashamed and stop making excuses.

  • Patty

    I hope you keep the Duggars on. They addressed the situation in a good way. Josh has turned into a good man as a result. There is no such thing as a perfect family. None of us can cast the first stone.

  • Linda Bellmyer

    TLC should continue to sponsor the Duggars as a reality TV show. They are real life Christians dealing with real life problems. TLC has shows about misfit Amish, and volatile gypseys. They should stick with the Duggars. I love watching their show!

  • Vickie Mckinney

    Josh was a child back then and parents do the best to raise their child why put down the whole family for a mistake one child made when he was a teen I will always watch 19 kids and counting and hope TLC will not cancel them because of a mistake of one child when he was young I still love that family and they are still a good family they are the only thing I watch on Tuesday on TLC right now till the couple comes back on .

  • Disgusted

    This crazy show should never have been put on the air to begin with. After these latest sickening revelations, keeping it on the air would be nothing but cruel to the victims of Josh Duggar’s sexual battery. Hopefully some of those kids will find a way to escape from that freakshow house (and TLC should certainly pay their way AND get them some real counseling, not the Bill Gothard variety, which teaches that sexual abuse is the victim’s fault). But no real healing can take place as long as the Duggard children continue to live in a forced public fishbowl. As it stands now, TLC and the whole Discovery conglomerate are enabling and encouraging child abuse by glorifying the Duggar parents and downplaying the extremely disturbing aspects of their cultish belief system.

  • Rebekah

    So all of you that are calling for Josh’s head on a silver platter are going to tell me that you have never sinned? And if you have sin in your life from youth………….you should lose your job……..your whole life???????????? I do not condone what has happened, but where grace has been given………grace is also required.

  • Tom Smith

    dont keep stating girls…they were his sisters for God’s sake! TLC, please END this show swiftly and permanently. The hypocrisy is unbelievable…you couldn’t make this stuff up!