Gus Kenworthy
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WATCH: Duggars Claim Petition Against Show Is Gaining Them Fans

WATCH: Duggars Claim Petition Against Show Is Gaining Them Fans

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar claim the increasingly popular campaign to convince the Learning Channel to cancel their reality TV show, 19 Kids and Counting, is actually helping rather than hindering their fight against marriage equality and LGBT rights in general.

At last count, the Change.org petition begun by Jim Wissick to protest what he called “fearmongering” by the Duggars has garnered more than 183,000 signatures. Its popularity has attracted national media attention, but Jim Bob Duggar told supporters in Missouri last month that the petition does not concern him.

“They won’t succeed,” he said at a press conference before giving a talk with his wife at the Booster Banquet at Hannibal–LaGrange University, a private Christian college (see video below). “Our show is the number 1 show on TLC. We love everybody. It’s a small group creating this fuss. All it has done is give us more exposure. We’ve gained 50,000 Facebook fans. … God is expanding our borders through the national media.”

According to the Missouri Baptist Convention’s publication The Pathway, the Christian college hired extra security to protect the Duggars against “homosexual activists” who backed the petition and had made “accusations and even death threats.” There were no reports of protests, demonstrations or trouble of any kind at the annual fundraiser.

“We love everybody, no matter what background or what their beliefs are, but of course not everybody is tolerant toward us as we are to them,” Jim Bob Duggar said at the news conference. At the Booster Banquet, which university officials say drew 800 guests paying $50 to $150,  the couple shared stories about “their love for God, for one another, for their 19 children, and even for their enemies,” The Pathway reports.

Enemies included those angered by the Duggars’ opposition to an LGBT rights ordinance in Fayetteville, Ark., which voters repealed in a special election December 9. The Duggars live in a nearby town. Other enemies, according to The Pathway, were upset because the Duggars “removed LGBT photos from their Facebook page.” Those pictures were posted in response to Michelle Duggar’s call last month for “all married couples” to share photos of themselves kissing — a plea that unwittingly attracted dozens and dozens of legally married same-sex couples.

The Duggars now have a petition of their own, urging TLC to keep their show on the air. At last count, the petition had gathered more than 61,000 signatures since its launch November 21. In that same time frame, Wissick’s Change.org petition has received close to 100,000 of its nearly 185,000 (and counting) signatures.

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