The Advanced Training Institute—the fundamentalist, sex-offender-led cult subscribed to by the Duggars—has a lot of questionable practices. But in addition to cancer-causing semen and horrible fashion advice, ATI has one extra-absurd bit of wisdom it would like to impart on your children: Your Cabbage Patch doll is filled with Satan’s demons.
If you’ll recall, when you first open your Cabbage Patch doll, you’re greeted by an adoption certificate asking you to promise to care for your new, cuddly friend. But by signing into a written agreement to love a doll, children are apparently be violating the first commandment and, consequently, would be directly disobeying God. ATI teaches you that any sort of disobedience gives Satan what they call a “foothold.” Once Satan gets that first tiny grip of your child’s soul, he or she would be on that slippery slope into the lascivious, sinful world of sex, rock ‘n’ roll, and—worst of all—college.
Adopted children, Gothard teaches, carry the sins of their biological parents with them. According to [Baptist pastor G. Richard Fisher], Gothard wrote a letter to his followers in 1986 warning them of the evils of Cabbage Patch Dolls, which were very popular then. The dolls, which are “adopted” by their buyers in a written contract, caused strange, destructive behavior, according to the letter.
“It gets very, very weird,” Fisher says. “And these people who follow him are frightened to death that they might break one of his rules.”
Of course, while disobeying the no-Cabbage-Patch rule would bring Satan into your home, obeying the rule could produce all kinds of wonderful results. In a 1996 newsletter to Gothard’s own Medical Training Institute of America, he wrote about this latest breakthrough in obstetric medicine (i.e. burning beloved childhood dolls):
Cabbage Patch doll goes out, beautiful, godly son comes in! And though trolls dolls apparently also carry the seeds of Satan as well, the reasoning for this is less clear.
Either way, it’s obvious that the only way to rid your home of the dolls’ demonic influence was by destroying it—with fire. As one former ATI student explained to me over the phone, “My parents burned everything that had to do with my (pre-ATI) childhood—books, senior pictures that I had taken before joining—they even burned my Cabbage Patch dolls.”
In case you were wondering what exactly a ritual Cabbage Patch doll burning might have looked like, as with all things in life, the internet has the answer. And while this particular burning is not ATI-related, we imagine it to be fairly representative of a Cabbage Patch death-by-fire:
Illustration by Jim Cooke.