Sophomore Julia Walton’s personal blog (godsgirljulia.wordpress.com) gained major attention when she published an article concerning Josh Duggar, from the reality television series “19 Kids and Counting.” The blog “went viral” according to Walton, and currently has close to one-million views.
“The title is called ‘I am Josh Duggar,’ which brought a lot of people’s attention,” Walton said. “But I’m honestly not sure how it went viral — I just wrote what I was thinking.”
The purpose of Walton’s blog post was to share her feelings about the incident in which Josh Duggar was caught having extra-marital affairs online. This incident, coupled with the accusations that Duggar had molested his sisters as a teenager, has made Duggar a figure of serious controversy.
Walton wrote in her blog about when she visited the church the Duggars currently attend. During the service, Jim Bob, the patriarch of the Duggar family, stood up in front of the congregation and gave his testimony about his son.
“He went on about how he was, and is, a changed man,” Walton said. “He went on about how Josh is a great, godly man who no longer struggles with his sin. And Josh stood there, nodding his head in agreement, as he held one of his children.”
Walton originally defended Duggar when the child molestation scandal broke out earlier in May. But hearing Duggar’s father give this testimony in favor of his son “filled [her] with disgust,” she said.
“But then it hit me,” Walton said. “I am that person. I am Josh Duggar.”
Walton said she felt the need to argue that all sin is equal in the eyes of God.
“Now sure, I don’t struggle with the same sins,” Walton specified. “But I still struggle with sinning, and I always will. I am Josh Duggar because I too let people praise me and defend me while I stand there acting like everything’s fine.”
Walton’s blog post generally receives positive remarks, particularly among the Christian community. She has recieved e-mails from pastors of various churches asking to use her blog in their sermons. She has also received tweets from people saying her blog inspired them to “turn their lives around.”
However, in taking this stance toward Josh Duggar, Walton made herself the figure of controversy.
Atheist blogger, Libby Anne, wrote a counter-blog on the religious blog spot, Patheos.com, titled, “We are not all Josh Duggar.”
In it, she argued against Walton’s claim that all sins are equal in the eyes of God.
Anne asserted that evangelical Christians use the “all sins are equal” claim as a buffer against accusations whenever an influential Christian leader is caught in a scandal.
“While I’m all for Christians being less judgmental,” Anne wrote, “why is it that this only seems to come out when a prominent Christian commits a serious crime or an act of gross hypocrisy?”
Anne wrote she does not subscribe to the “all sins are equal” doxa, because she feels that it is used to promote guilt among Christians for lesser offenses, minimizing the impact of greater sins.
Anne wrote in her blog that “trying to get Christian leaders — who should be held to a higher standard to begin with — off the hook for gross offenses by elevating those more mundane offenses of their followers (and by extension their victims) is sick.”
Anne’s blog is one of the more level-headed retorts against Walton. Walton said that a user on the social media site Reddit, under the username “God,” referred to her as being “mentally challenged.”
Lynette Fager, the university’s social media coordinator, said it is valuable for students who are keeping track of current events online to listen to both sides of a particular story. She notes it is easier now to publish opinions with inflammatory remarks or “hate speech” thanks to the internet.
“I think that [young] people are tending to lose their social skills in some ways,” Fager said. “And that means they are unable to communicate effectively with one another — that they are not able to keep their emotions in check.”
Fager specified that this isn’t necessarily the internet’s “fault.” She believes the internet to be a valuable tool for communication. Nonetheless, conflict is, as she put it, “part of the story that the internet’s creating for us.”
“It’s easy to say that [the negativity] doesn’t affect me, but that’s not true,” Walton said. “It hurts when people are saying that ‘Julia Walton is a monster’”
Walton refuses to let the negative comments get her down.
“I believe that the Holy Spirit gave me the words to say.”
Walton loosely relates the feedback she has gotten to the feedback Jesus got in his ministry.
“If I am trying to be like Jesus, why would I think that everyone would like me?”
Julia expressed that the overall reactions – positive or negative – have not changed how she views herself in the eyes of Christ.
“At the end of the day, I know my identity doesn’t lie in what people say about me – my identity lies in Christ.”