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People are endlessly fascinated by the Duggar family. Everything about them is unique – the size of their family, their house, the way they dress, and the way they act. That’s one of the reasons their TLC shows 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On have so many fans. It’s fascinating to see how differently the Duggars live compared to most other modern families.

But why are their traditions and values so intriguing? Well, it all comes down to one thing they have in common: their religion.

Josh Duggar 19 kids and counting
The Duggar family | Josh Duggar via Twitter

What religion do the Duggars follow?

The Duggars say they are devout independent Baptists, which is a strict and exclusive sect of Christianity. They have a specific church they attend where they’re not even the family with the most children.

“You’ll see a family with 21 children who sit up front and behave amazingly well. The Duggars sit in the back generally, and we like that too. When someone is as popular and in a leading position, it is always nice to see them put themselves in the back seats and not be on display as if important. Well done, Duggars,” a former church member told Bustle.

Some critics believe that the Duggars really follow a religion called Quiverfull, an extreme movement with ultra-conservative, patriarchal values. Followers intentionally have lots of children to use as “weapons” in the culture war. The Duggars have denied any association with Quiverfull, though their religion shares many of the same ideals.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar | Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

What is their religion like?

The rules of the Duggar’s religion are strict. For one thing, their religion (unsurprisingly) discourages birth control. That’s how they ended up with 19 kids! Apparently, Michelle was on birth control when the pair first got married. They had their first baby and then sadly experienced a miscarriage. The couple believes that birth control might have caused the miscarriage.

“As conservative Christians, we believe every life is sacred, even the life of the unborn. Due to our lack of knowledge, we destroyed the precious life of our unborn child. We prayed and studied the Bible and found a host of references that told us God considered children a gift, a blessing, and a reward,” the Duggars said about the miscarriage. “Yet we had considered having another child an inconvenience during that busy time in our lives, and we had taken steps to prevent it from happening.”

After that, the Duggars stopped using birth control and taught their children to do the same in their marriages.

Courtships are different

Dating life as a Duggar is vastly different than it is for most other people. For one thing, there’s no privacy – their parents chaperone the young lovebirds and read their text messages. There’s certainly no premarital sex permitted (though reportedly Joy-Anna Duggar broke this rule), no kissing, no hugging, and zero physical contact. Many Duggar children experience their first kisses on their wedding day.

This is all to discourage lustful temptation before marriage.

John David Duggar and Abbie
John David and Abbie | duggarfam via Instagram

They keep their bodies covered

The Duggar family avoids the beach not just because they wouldn’t ever wear bathing suits in public – or anything revealing for that matter – but also because they don’t want their children exposed to people in skimpy bikinis. They did famously travel together to the beach in 2016, but it’s a rare event.

“The goal really is just to keep our focus on our countenance and to not be drawing attention to places that our eyes don’t need to be going,” Michelle said on an episode of 19 Kids & Counting.

Apparently, the Duggar family has a code word for when the temptation of sin is near. If some yells out, “Nike!” it means the men of the family should look at their shoes to avoid staring at an attractive woman walking by.

Sometimes they break their own rules

Despite the strict rules the Duggars place on themselves, they’re just as likely to fail as anyone else. Josh Duggar made headlines after the news broke that he cheated on his wife with multiple women using the adultery-themed website Ashley Madison. There were also rumors about other sexual misconduct prior to the affair.

The Duggars are just as likely to fail as anyone else. The only difference is the strictness of their rules in the first place.