When the Duggars first arrived on the reality TV scene back in 2008, they attracted the attention of curious viewers for two reasons:
They had a ton of kids, and they were very, very religious.
Those two facts are not unrelated, of course.
The Duggars are adherents of what's known as the Quiverfull movement, which teaches its followers that it's the God-given duty of every Christian to have as many children as possible.
Jim Bob and Michelle are among the few who remained loyal to the movement even after the sex scandal that brought down Bill Gothard, founder of Institute for Basic Life Principles, and its off-shoot, the Quiverfull Movement.
But the IBLP is not the Duggars' religion, of course.
It's sort of a cult-within-a-cult that caught Jim Bob's attention after he'd already reached adulthood.
The exact timeline is unclear, but it seems he dragged his wife along on this new endeavor -- though we have no way of knowing if she offered anything in the way of resistance.
Anyway, to get at the heart of Jim Bob's belief system (for it's his belief system that dictates the beliefs of everyone else in the family), we need to understand the strange subset of Christianity that shaped his way of looking at the world.
The Duggars are Independent Baptists, a sect that is very different from other forms of Christianity, in that it prides itself on exclusivity.
While most religions welcome all interested parties and seek to induct as many new members as possible, Independent Baptists pride themselves on how difficult it is to join their ranks.
Members of the Duggar clan worship publicly at Sunday church services, but they also join other high-ranking members of their faith for regular "home church" sessions, which are invitation-only events.
If that level of exclusivity sounds like a confusing contradiction of the teachings of the Quiverfull movement, it is.
“In the Quiverfull movement, your kids are blessings from God and they are also weapons in the culture war,” USC assistant professor of religion Cavan Concannon explained to People in an interview.
“Some people in the movement would say that part of having a lot of kids is an attempt to birth more conservative Christians in a world that doesn’t have enough of them.”
The combination of exclusivity and a desire for global dominance is common to cult mindsets and can be found in everything from the teachings of the Jonestown Cult to the writings and speeches of Adolf Hitler.
How can a group be exclusive and seek to take over the world at the same time?
Only by destroying those who oppose them.
In the Duggars' belief system, the destruction doesn't take the form of immediate physical violence.
However, they fantasize about the Rapture -- a time when, they are taught, God will destroy the infidels -- and they seek to have opposing viewpoints outlawed through political action.
It's for this reason that Jim Bob and his sons continue to view political clout -- ideally in the form of elected office -- as their ultimate goal.
Jim Bob was a member of the Arkansas State House of Representatives and ran for the US Senate before he landed his first reality show,
His eldest son, Josh Duggar, was a Washington lobbyist who rubbed elbows with the likes of Ted Cruz before he -- like Bill Gothard before him -- was brought down by a sex scandal.
Earlier this year 21-year-old, Jed Duggar ran for the Arkansas State House but was soundly defeated by his Democratic opponent.
(Said opponent is a woman who's soon to complete her PhD. This must've made her victory especially painful for the Duggars, who don't believe women should hold jobs or receive formal educations.)
But you can be sure that other Duggar men will follow in Jim Bob's footsteps by running for public office.
After all, you can't take over the world with a group of elites unless you start by seizing political power!
You might think you're unaffected by bizarre religious sects like the Duggars.
But if they have their way, that won't be the case for long!