Just months after TLC fired Derick Dillard from Counting On, he is making headlines once again by defying some strict Duggar family rules and inviting atheists to their church. Dillard has been stirring up controversy since last summer when he started sharing his ultra-conservative political views on social media but losing his job hasn’t stopped him from speaking his mind. Now, his fans want to know what his intentions are with this latest round of tweets.
According to Radar Online, this past week Dillard posted an invite to his 124K followers – including “any LGBTQ person and anyone else” – to attend church services this weekend with the family in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Fans immediately responded with questions about the meaning behind the invite, thinking it could be Dillard’s attempt at damage control after losing his job over his transphobic tweets against fellow reality star Jazz Jennings.
In response to the church invite, one fan asked if she could go even though she is an atheist, and Dillard replied, “absolutely.”
This comes just after Dillard’s wife, Jill Duggar, admitted that she read a book about not believing in God and expressed doubts about her family’s religion.
Inviting non-believers to church may seem shocking to some, but it does make sense in the fundamental Christian world. Is it not out of the ordinary to make attempts at converting those who don’t share their beliefs, and the act of inviting someone to church is a way to begin the process.
So, just because Dillard is open to the idea of having non-believers around, it doesn’t mean he agrees with their views. Instead, it looks to be more of an attempt to turn people on to his way of thinking.
Recently, he has been promoting an upcoming speaking engagement by the controversial preacher, Ricky Chelette, a proponent of the appalling practice of conversion therapy, the process of trying to turn gay teenagers straight.
“Tomorrow night we will have an opportunity to hear from Ricky Chelette on same-sex attraction,” Dillard wrote. “7:30 pm in the Arvest Building!”
The same day you issue this invitation, Cross Church announces Ricky Chelette as a speaker. I am curious as to how you can claim all are welcome when this speaker is all about "curing" homosexuality. https://t.co/Dgf6mhEnp9
— WileECoyote (@WileECoyote1977) February 19, 2018
It took no time for Dillard’s followers to remind him how reviled Chelette is, asking if this was the same guy who endorsed praying the gay away. Dillard avoided some of Chelette’s more revolting beliefs and instead said that his church invites everyone to come and is open to anyone who wants to join their church family.
Dillard doesn’t appear to have any concern about his words and beliefs affecting his career or public reputation. But, once the reality TV money runs out, he and his family are going to be 100 percent reliant on fan donations to make ends meet. He has already lost a ton of followers because of his Twitter rants, so it will be interesting to see if he makes any changes when he needs money.
Dillard is looking for ways to make some cash now that he is no longer a reality TV star, and he recently landed a gig to help pay the bills. He is driving students around during a weekend of worship at the 2018 Student Leadership University’s Lift Tour.
Counting On – without Derick Dillard – returns for Season 7 February 26, on TLC.