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StoryBrand Scandal: I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Purity Culture, Joshua Harris, Donald Miller, and…Josh Duggar??? 19 WTFs And Counting

This is your all-in-one recap of the StoryBrand Scandal and what Joshua Harris, Donald Miller, and StoryBrand have to do with Josh Duggar being arrested for child pornography.

I survived

1. Joshua Harris wrote the book on Purity Culture in 1997.

Joshua Harris wrote the New York Times bestselling book I Kissed Dating Goodbye in 1997 which popularized Purity Culture (the father of Rape Culture) and “courtship.” Fundie fact: Donald Miller was a mentor to Josh back then, promoted his work, and helped Harris start his own brand of purity infused conferences in 1999. He wrote about it in Blue Like Jazz.

Screenshot of Josh Duggar and Anna Duggar during their courtship on 19 Kids and Counting
You can never unhear Josh saying "Ohhh"

2. Josh Duggar (and his sisters) made Purity Culture and courtship cool in 2007.

Josh Duggar brought Purity Culture and the I Kissed Dating Goodbye courtship concepts from Joshua Harris' book into the mainstream on his family’s TLC show / self-professed ministry "19 Kids and Counting," (then "17 Kids and Counting" and later rebranded to "Counting On," after Josh ruined it for everyone).

Josh Duggar and Anna Duggar "entered into a courtship" on June 15, 2007. Ick. Their words, not mine.

Since the courtship cash cow started pumping liquid gold, the Duggars have televised each of their virgin daughters’ and sons’ courtships, where the fact that they don’t kiss or spend time alone with their spouse until the wedding day is reiterated again and again.

Fundie fact: the Duggars think baby girls can “defraud” adult men. They don’t believe in marital rape and they subscribe to “blanket training,” where you hit a baby until they learn never to leave the blanket you place them on. Hmmm.

A young Joshua Harris reading from the Bible against a black backdrop

3. Joshua Harris covered up sex crimes in his megachurch Sovereign Grace until he was caught in 2012.

In 2012, the church Joshua Harris led, Sovereign Grace, was hit with charges for conspiracy to cover up child sex abuse. Wait what?! Not only did Joshua Harris write the book on Christ sanctioned rape, then he actually sanctioned it within his own church...BUT WITH KIDS??? True (and terrible) story.

Joshua Harris had all the right words when he later went on HBO to talk about how Sovereign Grace tried to handle child sex abuse "internally" when what he should have said was that he committed a crime.

It's a crime to know about child sex abuse and not report it. It's a crime, Joshua Harris. Not a sin. A crime.

But Joshua Harris knows that. And so does Donald Miller. Which is why, I suspect, he spun a different story.

Josh Duggar Joshua Harris StoryBrand Sex Abuse

4. Joshua Harris left Sovereign Grace in 2015, the same year Josh Duggar was exposed for molesting his sisters.

HOLY SHIT I AM DISCOVERING THIS TIMELINE ALONG WITH Y'ALL AND I FEEL LIKE SANDRA BULLOCK IN SOME EARLY 90S MOVIE ABOUT HACKERS. In January 2015, Joshua Harris announced he was leaving the megachurch where he covered up the sexual abuse of children. In April 2015, Joshua Harris had his last day at the church. He then opened an Instagram account to announce he was a StoryBrand guide. In August 2015, Josh Duggar one upped Joshua Harris yet again when he was exposed as part of the Ashley Madison breach. Y'all you can't write this shit.

Instagram post featuring a young Donald Miller and Joshua Harris in 1995

5. Joshua Harris also became a StoryBrand guide in 2015.

Right as he was announcing his departure from his megachurch, Joshua Harris was blessed with some impeccably branded press, like the Christianity Today article with the cute title "Why Joshua Harris Kissed His Megachurch Goodbye." The article positions him as an overgrown homeschooler who just wanted to go "back to school." Two months after that article was published, Joshua became a StoryBrand guide.

Oh he went back to school, alright! Saw this coming a mile away. SMDH.

Joshua Harris ran straight from the church and directly into the arms of Donald Miller and StoryBrand without delay but didn't publicly disavow his book or the brand of Christianity that inspired it for nearly four more years. Why the delay, Josh? Did you go to the same bad boy boot camp they sent Josh Duggar after he abused his own sisters???

Insider article with headline "A former pastor who once wrote a book about avoiding physical touch before marriage says he excommunicated himself from Christianity"

6. Joshua Harris "excommunicated himself" from Christianity in 2019.

Yeah, uh, that's not how it works, Josh, but for the sake of the story I'll go with it for now. Joshua Harris publicly left Christianity in 2019, a few months after he disavowed his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. He then immediately went on an apology tour where he said sorry a lot on camera. That was when he did the whole "I excommunicated myself" song and dance, which reminds me of an Oscar Wilde quote.

“There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.”

Damn.

The documentary I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye was released a few months after his public break with the church. I'll let the trailer speak for itself:

7. Joshua Harris used StoryBrand tools to secularize his flair for manipulating the masses and Donald Miller had his back. (Josh's words, not mine.)

And we watched him do it. Over a few years of very carefully manufactured press referring to Joshua Harris as a "fallen" pastor in need of redemption, he successfully pivoted into marketing using the platform / brand recognition he built through Purity Culture.

Joshua Harris announced his intentions to do this in 2015 but no one was paying attention because we were consumed by his grandiose apologies at a time where white men saying sorry on camera was (and still is) all the rage.

Joshua Harris now uses the same communication skills he fine tuned over years of manipulating millions to switch teams and seamlessly parlay those skills into the “secular” work of a StoryBrand guide.

How could this be?! Donald Miller is known to be very precious about who he lets represent StoryBrand / Business Made Simple. It's unlikely he'd let Donald Trump waltz out of the White House and into Business Made Simple certification. So why'd he let Josh?

I don't think Donald Miller directly helped Donald Trump cover up sex crimes.

In Joshua Harris' case, Donald Miller was complicit.

It's all there in the books they both wrote, referencing each other.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm just a GirlBoss who knows how to Google 😉

Joshua Harris and Donald Miller looking like schmucks

8. Donald Miller helped Joshua Harris escape accountability for sex crimes using StoryBrand tools. 

Donald Miller didn't just help Joshua Harris pivot. He helped him bring the I Kissed Dating Goodbye courtship culture to life, supporting him in founding the New Attitudes conferences all the way back in 1999. And then, later, helping Josh prepare for "life on the outside" when Harris became a StoryBrand guide in 2015, just a few months before formally leaving his megachurch.

But why didn't you talk him out of it this whole time, Donald? If you were a "good guy" who left your own megachurch for more progressive pastures, why did it take Josh so long to come clean about the crimes at Sovereign Grace? Why did it take Josh so long to leave his own megachurch? Disavow his book? "Excommunicate himself" from Christianity? What the hell were you doing that whole time, Donald? What's the fucking point of "building a StoryBrand" if you know your friend is out there actively destroying peoples' lives and the only thing you do is help him hide it???

StoryBrand-Scandal-Joshua-Harris-Donald-Miller-Josh-Duggar

9. Sex pest Josh Duggar was arrested on child pornography charges in 2021. Finally.

On April 29, 2021, Josh Duggar was arrested and indicted on child pornography charges.

Again, even Oprah saw this coming a mile away. (More on that later.)

Josh Duggar, the poster boy for Purity Culture who you'll remember, brought the concepts from Joshua Harris and Donald Miller's book I Kissed Dating Goodbye to life for the millions who watch his family's show "19 Kids and Counting" and its scandal-fleeing spinoff "Counting On," was outed three times, which feels pretty on brand for this disaster of Biblical proportions.

First, in May 2015, for sexually abusing his own sisters, which even Oprah knew about, and I'm not sure what she / her team did with that information other than cancel a Duggar interview because it took years for it to go public.

Second, in August 2015, as part of the Ashley Madison leak, which led to further revelations that Josh Duggar had been violent with sex workers.

Third, in April 2021, when they finally got his ass for child pornography.

I would celebrate but this is bleak and the amount of harm this man caused, both personally and through his family's "ministry," ahem, show, makes me physically sick.

But hey! On the upside, this Purity Culture stuff really works! Also, isn't it cute that both the "guides" of this story are named Josh?!

It is dangerous, even deadly to have pastors who harmed MILLIONS turn into marketers shaping the messaging consumed by us all.

Donald Miller helped Joshua Harris position the story so if we don't accept his apology and allow him to move on, we're abusing him.

In fact, that's what Joshua Harris said to me a few weeks ago, when he backed out of the interview we scheduled back in February, because I dared make the connections anyone paying attention would make.

Joshua Harris told me, personally, that my questions about the connections between former pastors and marketers made me "abusive" like the church he left.

That is some StoryBrand certified gaslighting right there, Josh!Donald Miller should be proud.

Who's the real victim here, anyway? The millions of people that Joshua Harris forever damaged through the book that taught modern parents how to weaponize their children's sexuality?

Or Joshua Harris because I won't stop asking him questions about it? You be the judge 😉

For the record, I can get down with second chances. But why marketing? It's not, by any chance, because it's lucrative AF, is it Josh? It's not because your pal Donald Miller helped you realize just how much more money you can make as a "thought leader" than a megachurch manipulator??? Asking for a few million ex-fundie friends.

Take action with me today. Ask Donald Miller and StoryBrand why they are silent about Joshua Harris. Is it because they are complicit in his crimes?

Three book covers: I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Blue Like Jazz, Building a StoryBrand

Muckraker's note: I first recorded the above live video as part of FREE SCHOOL on April 14, 2021. I didn't yet realize how far back Donald Miller and Joshua Harris were connected. Then, a fellow Miller fan (and former fundie?) reached out and shared a page from his book, Blue Like Jazz, where he talks about his "friend" Josh and his quirky ideas about relationships. Then another muckraker directed me to Josh Harris' very first Instagram post:

Instagram post featuring a young Donald Miller and Joshua Harris in 1995

There it is in black and white. Donald Miller supported Joshua Harris in promoting his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye 20+ years ago. And while Miller veered left in his faith, joining the "good" progressive Christians, he never tried to talk Harris out of his harmful views.

As the above Instagram post, published in April 2015, attests, Donald Miller continued to support Joshua Harris all these years, long before he split with the church and announced suddenly he was divorcing and, oh yeah, totally into LGBTQIA rights and sex positivity, too! "Whoops! Sorry for the marital rape stuff. Here's a documentary of me appearing contrite."

The timing on this reveals to me that not only did Donald Miller help Joshua Harris build Purity Culture (and, with it, Rape Culture) he also helped him cover it all up and baptized him "born again" as a StoryBrand guide, if you will.

The documentary I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye, following Joshua Harris on his "apology tour" to a curiously diverse group of former fundies harmed by his book, was released in 2019.

That's four years after Joshua Harris himself shared on Instagram that he became a certified StoryBrand guide.

What the actual fuck, Donald Miller!

I listened to Donald Miller's podcast "Building A StoryBrand" for years and suffered through him endlessly guffawing with J.J. about how smart they both are enough to know that this has the StoryBrand framework all over it.

But didn't Joshua Harris position himself as the hero in this documentary, RKA? Wouldn't that be contrary to the StoryBrand framework?

Look closer.

Joshua Harris' 6 year apology tour makes us the hero of the story because we have the honor of forgiving him so he can go on his merry marketing way.

As Donald Miller (and his parrot J.J.) always said, "If you confuse, you lose." And by those terms, I definitely "win" this argument.

Because this is clear as day.

News at 11: Christians are secularizing their social control and calling it storytelling.

Donald Miller and Joshua Harris knew exactly what they were doing this whole time. The convenient twists and turns on their faith "journeys" just so happen to perfectly align with changing public sentiment, the advent of a new form of accountability culture, and the rise of the nonreligious thought leader.

The worst part is that they did this in plain sight.

I can imagine the StoryBrand meeting around Joshua Harris' apology tour now. Donald and J.J. paint a picture of a world where no one remembers anything because of the 24 hour news cycle.

What about all the adults who actually survived the clutches of Purity Culture? What if they "notice" Joshua Harris tiptoeing away from the church and into the lucrative arms of Business Made Simple??? Won't they be mad?!

Make the victims of Purity Culture the "heroes" of the Joshua Harris story and they'll end up thanking Josh for giving them the opportunity to see him in a new light. 

And that's exactly what they did now, isn't it?

Bonus: Here's Josh Duggar himself explaining Joshua Harris and Donald Miller's thoughts on Purity Culture:

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WTF is FREE SCHOOL? Comedian and court jester of the royal shit show that is online marketing burns it all down in her Instagram stories. It's the biggest biz art experiment of all time!

My name is Rachael Kay Albers and the kids call me the One Woman SNL of Business Comedy (because I tell 'em to). I'm a brand strategist, business comedian, and a helluva good time.

I started FREE SCHOOL as a free business school and creativity university on Instagram. But then I followed Ranchard Branson into a rabbit hole shaped funnel and found myself muckraking my way into the madhouse. Literally. Try to catch up here. It's a wild ride.

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