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The Duggars' Fall From Grace

Duggars Losing Fans

With millions of loyal viewers, a slew of best-selling inspirational books and possible spin-offs in the works for recently married daughters Jill and Jessa and their husbands, the supersize Duggar family is sitting on top of the reality TV heap…but for how long?

With patriarch Jim Bob Duggar voicing controversial Christian beliefs on such topics as abortion and gay marriage — and encouraging the rest of his family to do the same — a backlash against the clan has taken shape, and it’s growing by the day. A petition to cancel 19 Kids and Counting has already garnered nearly 200,000 signatures — and many believe that if they don’t ease up on the rhetoric, the Duggars really will be taken off the air.

“This is the show’s Duck Dynasty moment,” an insider says. “The family beliefs are stealing attention from the story lines. They are risking losing a lot of fans.”

Indeed, Duck Dynasty’s ratings plummeted significantly after that show’s patriarch, Phil Robertson, made homophobic remarks that many considered offensive. And the show has never quite recovered. Its season opened in November took in its lowest ratings since 2012 — and many believe the Duggars’ may very well follow.

“Jim Bob and his family may come to realize that freedom of speech also means the freedom to destroy your own brand,” the insider explains.

The Duggars have been exercising their freedom of speech for a long time. Back in August 2013, eldest child, Josh Duggar, spoke out against gay marriage — claiming that his aunt, Evelyn, a lesbian, shared his feelings. “I have an aunt who has chosen that life,” Josh said of Evelyn, adding that she “has told me she is not for all these measures that are being pushed when it comes to marriage and things. She believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Josh’s decision to drag his aunt — a private citizen — into the spotlight in order to promote his antigay agenda enraged many, especially since she’s never appeared on 19 Kids and Counting or shared any of her views in a public forum. Yet Josh and his family refused to heed their critics’ warnings. Continuing to espouse his point of view as shared by his silent aunt, Josh spoke out at an antigay marriage rally in November.

“It’s ignorant,” says a show insider. “And it’s offensive to many viewers.” But Josh’s parents clearly applaud it. Michelle and Jim Bob recently donated $10,000 toward getting a law repealed that would give rights to transgender people, with Michelle recording her voice for a series of robocalls likening transgender men and women to sex offenders. And when gay couples answered the Duggars’ request for “kissing” photos on Facebook, the family promptly deleted him. “We love everyone,” Jim Bob recently explained,” but we don’t always agree with them.”

Gay rights activists aren’t the only ones whom the Duggars have offended. Over the summer, Jessa, sparked a Twitter war when she compared abortion to the Holocaust. And in the wake of school shootings in the spring, Jessa’s then fiance, Ben Seewald, posted pictures of her on Facebook, happily posing with a .22LR semi-automatic rifle.

“They have the right to state their opinions,” TVFishbowl editor and reality show expert, Ed Brophy, says. “But it would be nice to see Jim Bob and his family using the show’s power to unite, rather than divide.”

With no sign of that happening, the show’s days may very well be numbered.


Jim Bob Duggar Talks 19 Kids Cancellation Rumors

Jana Duggar Ditched, Left Out of Family Missionary Trip

Duggar Disgrace! 19 Kids Family Shun’s Anna’s “Wild” Sister

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