The Columns

Kate Shellnutt ’08 Blogs About the Duggar Family

— by on June 12th, 2015

Kate Shellnutt, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2008 and works for Christianity Today (CT), has been a go-to source on the Duggar Family scandal story. She’s been on CNN and quoted in the Washington Post.

On the blog she writes for CT, Her.meneutics, she said, “Take it from me, a TLC viewer, former reality TV blogger and Christian journalist: The most fascinating aspects of the Duggar family never appeared on the show that made them famous, ‘19 Kids and Counting.’ … The Duggars’ conservative Christian beliefs and ties with Republican politics were an invisible force in the show, and those familiar with this subset of evangelicalism could easily fill in the blanks. But the Duggars rarely brought up the specific teachings or scriptural backings behind their beliefs and practices. Theirs was a ‘family values’ program that largely skipped over where those values came from, as well as any controversy they caused.”

One TV critic, Ken Tucker, suggested the show should return to “confront what happened in their lives as a result.” Kate disagrees. She said, “ a good idea in theory, but that’s hugely overestimating the capacity of reality TV. TLC avoided focusing in on the Duggars’ theology during 10 seasons of the show. I doubt a network best known for series like ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ could appropriately portray the complicated factors in child sex abuse, recovery and restoration — especially in a way that would be healthy for Josh’s victims, who allegedly include some of his younger sisters.”

Kate follows current events and religion news across the web from her home outside of Augusta, Georgia. A former religion reporter and web producer for the Houston Chronicle, her work has earned honors from the Society for Features Journalism and Religion Newswriters Association. She studied religion and journalism at Washington and Lee University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Kate serves on the W&L Journalism and Mass Communications Department’s advisory board.