Lauren Caldwell is the sister of Joseph Duggar’s wife, Kendra Caldwell.
If you’re a longtime fan (or critic) of the Duggars and their media empire, then you’re probably already familiar with Caldwell clan and their importance to Jim Bob.
Paul Caldwell is not only father to Kendra and Lauren, he’s also the pastor at the Independent Baptist church that’s attended by most of the Duggar clan.
We probably don’t need to tell you that in a community like the one the Duggars live in, there is no more prominent figure than the local pastor.
Of course, there may have been a time when Jim Bob was equally well-respected:
He famously told friends and neighbors that his family’s reality shows were not to be thought of as money-making ventures, but should instead be regarded as a sort of "international ministry."
But even before the string of scandals that made the Duggars subjects of scorn and derision, Jim Bob had already alienated his neighbors by constantly buying up land in an effort to become more powerful than local and state governments.
The members of his community saw Jim Bob for what he was even before the national media caught on.
So it’s possible that what Jim Bob wants from Paul (with wife Christina, below) is more than mere friendship or the sort of spiritual guidance a pastor can provide.
He may be looking for a sort of salvation through association:
Jim Bob might be thinking that if Pastor Paul can forgive his many sins and continue their friendship, perhaps the locals might be more forgiving in their assessment of the Duggars.
Of course, it would take a public display of solidarity to the people of Tontitown and Springdale to show them that the two families are still united — and it seems Jim Bob knows exactly what sort of gesture would send that message.
For years, it’s been rumored that the Joseph and Kendra’s marriage was arranged by Jim Bob and Paul.
Thankfully, the arrangement seems to have worked out for all involved, as Joseph and Kendra are rumored to be among the happiest of the Duggar couples.
Now, it seems that Jim Bob is hoping to repeat the experiment with one of his other sons.
For quite some time, we’ve been hearing reports of Kendra’s sister Lauren Duggar being courted by one of the Duggar boys.
First, Lauren was linked to Jed Duggar, who married Katey Nakatsu earlier this year.
More recently, insiders have claimed that she’s involved in a courtship with James Duggar.
There was a brief period when Lauren was engaged to a man named Titus Hall, but the couple abruptly broke things off, allegedly at her father’s behest.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Jim Bob and Paul have been attempting to coerce Lauren into marrying a Duggar ever since she reached adulthood.
She’s resisted, and now, her anti-Duggar argument is stronger than ever.
Earlier this week, Lauren re-gained the attention of Duggar fans and critics when her mother posted the photo below that shows her being embraced by Kendra.
"When life is filled with Jesus, life is filled with joy," the photo was captioned.
“’These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15:11.’"
Aside from the striking resemblance between the two sisters, there’s nothing remarkable about the photo itself.
But it sparked a conversation about the Duggars and their current position within the evangelical community.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Josh Duggar was arrested on child pornography charges last month.
While the public only recently found about the investigation that led to Josh’s arrest, the Duggars would have known about it since 2019, when a car dealership owned by Josh was raided by agents from the Department of Homeland Security.
So Jim Bob’s insistence that Lauren marry one of his son’s may have been part of his effort to secure the family’s reputation before the scandal went public.
And Lauren’s resistance to going along with the plan despite hew father’s urging may have been a result of her knowledge of the investigation.
No doubt Jim Bob is confident that his media empire will endure no matter what happens to Josh — after all, it’s survived numerous scandals already.
But what we’re witnessing now might be the slow unraveling of everything Jim Bob has built.
And Lauren’s efforts to distance herself from the Duggars might soon be mimicked by the entire evangelical community.