Floyd on Duggar scandal: God 'can forgive'

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated since its original posting June 1.

PINNACLE HILLS, Ark. (BP) -- As the Duggar family of the reality show "19 Kids and Counting" deals with accusations that Josh Duggar molested five underage girls 12 years ago, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd highlighted forgiveness during an interview with People Magazine Sunday, May 31.

"Everyone does wrong, and what was wrong was very wrong as to what was testified to and it's completely unacceptable," Floyd, who pastors one of Josh's sisters, told People during an interview at the Pinnacle Hills campus of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. "But I'm thankful, whether it's him or any other one, that I serve a God who can forgive everything."

Jill (Duggar) Dillard and her husband Derick are active members of Cross Church and were married there in June, 2014, but according to the church, Josh Duggar and his parents are not members.

"All of us were surprised by the news because ... their reputation in Arkansas is that they are a very Christian family," People quoted Floyd in the story on People.com. "Things like [the scandal] have happened before and will happen again."

Floyd has not mentioned the Duggar family scandal from the pulpit. The church released a statement to Baptist Press Monday (June 1) saying, "We are deeply burdened for the victims of this situation. We stand against any abuse of children. ... As we pray about this situation, we are thankful for the healing and forgiveness provided through the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

The People interview came one day after Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of the TLC series announced they will discuss the scandal in a Fox News broadcast June 5 at 9 p.m. (Eastern Time). A portion of the interview will air on The Kelly File June 3 at 9 p.m.

"Next week we will sit down with Megyn Kelly on Fox News to share our hearts with you about the pain that we walked through as a family twelve years ago, the tears we all shed and the forgiveness that was given," the Duggars wrote on the family blog, www.duggarfamily.com. "We appreciate the outpouring of love and prayers for our family at this time."

People Magazine publicized the accusations against Josh Duggar in a May 21 article, which included the 27-year-old's confession to "wrongdoing."

"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," Josh said in the People story. "I confessed this to my parents, who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities, where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life."

Josh Duggar, now married with three children, also resigned his position as executive director of Family Research Council (FRC) Action, apologizing for the distraction. He and his wife Anna are expecting a fourth child.

"I deeply regret that recent media reports about my long ago past has brought negative attention to FRC Action and its work to preserve and advance the interests of family, faith, and freedom in the political arena," he said in his resignation letter posted on the FRC website. "FRC Action's mission to fortify the traditional foundations of civil society is more important now than ever before, and I'm heartbroken that any attention has been diverted from these noble causes to my wrong actions as a young teenager. I am so thankful for God's grace, forgiveness, and redemptive heart that allowed me to transform into a man of faith and testimony."

TLC has pulled all previously scheduled episodes of "19 Kids and Counting," but it remains unclear whether the series will be permanently cancelled.

"Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air," TLC said in a May 22 statement. "We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time."

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have said the incidents of 12 years ago created a dark time that drew the family closer to God.

"We pray that as people watch our lives, they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day," the couple said in the May 21 People story. "It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God's kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us -- even though we are so undeserving."

Anna Duggar has said Josh Duggar confessed the incidents to her two years before proposing marriage.

"When my family and I first visited the Duggar home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it," she told People. "For Josh, he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even very difficult past mistakes."

She said she knows "who Josh really is -- someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. [He is] someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right."

Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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