Respectful Insolence

Although I’m clearly not as vociferous about this as other ScienceBloggers, I do remain concerned about the rise of fundamentalist religion, whether it be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or whatever. Whenever dogmatic, literal, fundamentalist interpretation of whatever holy scriptures someone believes in takes hold, the brain shuts off, and no other interpretation other than the narrow interpretation of the fundamentalist is viewed as acceptable. Another pernicious effect is that, if scripture seems to conflict with science, science loses, and religion-inspired non-science like creationism takes hold, something we see happening in this country. It’s also something that, despite setbacks to intelligent design creationism dealt at Dover, is likely to remain a problem.

Always fans of having lots of babies, now a sect of fundamentalists is taking it to an extreme and making babies by the “quiverfull“:

Lives such as these: Janet Wolfson is a 44-year-old mother of eight in Canton, Georgia. Tracie Moore, a 39-year-old midwife who lives in southern Kentucky, is mother to fourteen. Wendy Dufkin in Coxsackie has her thirteen. And while Jamie Stoltzfus, a 27-year-old Illinois mom, has only four children so far, she plans on bearing enough to populate “two teams.” All four mothers are devoted to a way of life New York Times columnist David Brooks has praised as a new spiritual movement taking hold among exurban and Sunbelt families. Brooks called these parents “natalists” and described their progeny as a new wave of “Red-Diaper Babies”–as in “red state.”

But Wolfson, Moore and thousands of mothers like them call themselves and their belief system “Quiverfull.” They borrow their name from Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” Quiverfull mothers think of their children as no mere movement but as an army they’re building for God.

Quiverfull parents try to have upwards of six children. They home-school their families, attend fundamentalist churches and follow biblical guidelines of male headship–“Father knows best”–and female submissiveness. They refuse any attempt to regulate pregnancy. Quiverfull began with the publication of Rick and Jan Hess’s 1989 book, A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, which argues that God, as the “Great Physician” and sole “Birth Controller,” opens and closes the womb on a case-by-case basis. Women’s attempts to control their own bodies–the Lord’s temple–are a seizure of divine power…

“Our bodies are meant to be a living sacrifice,” write the Hesses. Or, as Mary Pride, in another of the movement’s founding texts, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, puts it, “My body is not my own.” This rebuttal of the feminist health text Our Bodies, Ourselves is deliberate. Quiverfull women are more than mothers. They’re domestic warriors in the battle against what they see as forty years of destruction wrought by women’s liberation: contraception, women’s careers, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and child abuse, in that order.

And the babies are meant to be culture warriors who, when they grow up, will make sure that the same dogma is perpetuated far and wide. Also, like nearly all fundamentalists, Quiverfull parents’ beliefs are absolutist:

Quiverfull beliefs are absolutist. Purists don’t permit even natural family planning methods, such as tracking fertility cycles (the only form of birth control condoned by the Roman Catholic Church). Also taboo: any form of artificial fertility treatment. “The point is to have a welcoming heart,” says Mary Pride, a mother of nine whose 1985 book, “The Way Home,” celebrated a return to traditional gender roles. It has sold about 80,000 copies and has inspired many quiverfull families. “You shouldn’t be unnatural in going to a fertility clinic or in trying to avoid having children by regulating when to have sex with your husband,” says Pride.

Geez. Even the Roman Catholic Church allows the “rhythm method” of birth control, in which the couple tracks the woman’s cycle and abstains from sex in the fertile time around ovulation. Of course, Church teaching on birth control is widely ignored, and many (if not most) Catholics now use other means of birth control, but not the Quiverfull families. No, Quiverfull families are producing and raising what they themselves describe as a new army of warriors for Jesus or weapons fired by the parents:

Only a determination among Christian women to take up their submissive, motherly roles with a “military air” and become “maternal missionaries” will lead the Christian army to victory. Thus is Quiverfull part of Mary Pride’s whole-cloth solution to women’s liberation: embracing an opposing way of life as total and “self-consistent” as feminism, and turning back the tide on a society gone wrong by populating the world with right-thinking Christians.

The gentle manner of Deidre Welch, another Coxsackie mom, with four boys, seems at odds with Quiverfull’s militaristic language, which describes children as weapons of spiritual war, as arrows shot out by their parents. But she describes the movement toward larger families in the same way: “God is bringing revelation on the world. He wants to raise up His army. He wants His children to be.”

The Quiverfull movement to me appears to be a rather obvious tactic to reimpose traditional order with the subservient wife raising the child, ruled by a–hopefully–benevolent husband:

Stephanie Coontz, director of research for the Council on Contemporary Families, says she has increasingly noticed articles on the subject in the Christian press. Part of the reason, she argues, is that conservatives are reacting to revolutionary changes in women’s social roles and seeking to re-impose a more traditional order. “The rhetoric is getting more shrill because people are getting more desperate,” she says. “It’s a backlash that I don’t feel will triumph. In the past, large families were helpful economically, but today, they become a disadvantage, especially to younger kids who don’t get as many resources.”

Indeed, hundreds or thousands of years ago, child mortality was so high that large numbers of children were needed to provide a reasonable chance that a few of them would survive to adulthood. Children could also work on the farm and help support the family beginning at a fairly young age. Now, I have nothing against families with lots of children. If that’s what you and your spouse want to do and you can afford to raise them all, it’s nobody’s business but your own, and more power to you. (Heck, my best friend has five children.) But making the bearing of children the be-all and end-all of a religious movement is disturbing. For one thing, it is clearly meant to place women in the submissive role (you don’t see any Quiverfull husbands staying home with all those kids). Also, what is happening is that movement members judge each others’ righteousness by the number of children they have. If you’re infertile, God must have somehow judged you unworthy:

The hard Quiverfull line is something that bothers Dawn Irons, founder of Blessed Arrows. After Lyme disease left Irons “postfertile,” she felt stung by the assertions of “movement Quiverfullers,” who view the number of children one has as a gauge of holiness or spirituality. “If you follow the discussions on the Quiverfull Digest right now, you can see what happens when a ‘movement’ mentality sets in. Someone just asked the question today if a person can really be considered Quiverfull if they’re past the age of childbearing…as if being able to birth a baby is all that makes one Quiverfull. It’s a heart change.”

Sorry ladies, if for some medical reason you can’t have children, you don’t fit in. If a woman develops a condition that makes it dangerous to her health for her to have children, too bad. No birth control is allowed. And forget about fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization, or other assisted reproduction. All of that’s strictly verboten. If God doesn’t want you to have children, then there must be a good reason, and you should not dare to try to circumvent His will. I wonder if what these people think about modern medicine. I mean, if God wants you to get cancer and die, then what hubris it is to go to an oncologist and take radiation and chemotherapy to attempt to thwart His will. Why is it that reproduction is the area where these people view medical treatments as trying to defy God?

One other disturbing aspect is the thinly disguised racism behind part of the movement:

Population is a preoccupation for many Quiverfull believers, who trade statistics on the falling white birthrate in European countries like Germany and France. Every ethnic conflict becomes evidence for their worldview: Muslim riots in France, Latino immigration in California, Sharia law in Canada. The motivations aren’t always racist, but the subtext of “race suicide” is often there.

Yep. Better start making nice Caucasian babies or the white race will disappear in a tidal wave of brown. This subtext isn’t necessarily surprising, given one of the originators of the movement:

Among the first contemporary Protestants advancing the theory that contraception is anathema to Scripture was Charles Provan, an independent Pennsylvania printer, lay theologian and father to ten who was until recently deeply involved in the Holocaust revisionist movement. In 1989 Provan, whom both Pride and the Hesses name as an inspiration, published The Bible and Birth Control, which has been called the authoritative source for Protestants seeking scriptural guidance on contraception. In it, Provan traces Protestant opposition to birth control to three main scriptural bases: Psalm 127, the Genesis command to “be fruitful and multiply,” and the biblical story of Onan, slain by God for spilling his seed on the ground (seen by Provan as a form of birth control).

In fairness, however, it should be noted that Provan always believed that the Holocaust did happen; he simply thought the death toll was “exaggerated.” Eventually, he rejected most (but not all) of the tenets of Holocaust denial. He even did an experiment that showed that diesel gas vans could indeed kill as described in eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust, anathema to Holocaust deniers who deny that diesel gas can kill as described in the gas vans or that gas chambers were even used by the Nazis in the first place. His publication of a pamphlet describing that study made him persona non grata among Holocaust deniers. Also, in fairness, I’m guessing that the vast majority of Quiverfull parents are probably not racist; they’re more culture warriors determined to produce a new generation of fundamentalists who bury the Godless heathens in a tsunami of righteousness:

But if the Quiverfull mission is rooted in faith, the unseen, its mandate to be fruitful and multiply has tangible results as well. Namely, in Rick and Jan Hess’s words, to provide “arrows for the war.”

After arguing Scripture, the Hesses point to a number of more worldly effects that a Christian embrace of Quiverfull could bring. “When at the height of the Reagan Revolution,” they write, “the conservative faction in Washington was enforced [sic] with squads of new conservative congressmen, legislators often found themselves handcuffed by lack of like-minded staff. There simply weren’t enough conservatives trained to serve in Washington in the lower and middle capacities.” But if just 8 million American Christian couples began supplying more “arrows for the war” by having six children or more, they propose, the Christian-right ranks could rise to 550 million within a century (“assuming Christ does not return before then”). They like to ponder the spiritual victory that such numbers could bring: both houses of Congress and the majority of state governor’s mansions filled by Christians; universities that embrace creationism; sinful cities reclaimed for the faithful; and the swift blows dealt to companies that offend Christian sensibilities.

I thought this had to do with religion and God, not politics. Apparently not.

The whole Quiverfull movement, however, really just illustrates the seriously magical thinking that drives fundamentalist dogma:

The references aren’t so much Falwellian bombast–9/11 as God’s judgment on a sinful country–as the magical thinking that goes along with a faith strong enough to convince poor families, who are struggling to make ends meet as it is, that God will provide for them unequivocally.

“Lean not on your own understanding,” Quiverfull mom Tracie Moore tells me, describing the scriptural foundations she’s discovered for the movement: Children are a blessing, a reward, an inheritance. Don’t worry about money–the Moores have never had much of it–because God will provide for his flock.

And in its most innocuous self-explanations, this is what Quiverfull is about: faith, pure and simple. Faith that God won’t give women more children than they can handle, and faith that by opening themselves up to receive multiple “blessings,” they will bring God’s favor upon them in other areas of life as well: Their husbands will get better jobs; God will send a neighbor with a sack of used children’s clothes just when the soles on Johnny’s shoes fall out. God, many Quiverfull women say, deals with their hearts about birth control, and if they submit, they are cared for.

This last equation–submit, and be cared for–is a fitting summary of the social logic of the Quiverfull life.

A better description of fundamentalist religion I have a hard time coming up with.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    November 16, 2006

    The article Orac quoted sez:

    This last equation—submit, and be cared for—is a fitting summary of the social logic of the Quiverfull life.

    Now, class, raise your hand if you know the definition of Islam. . . . :-/

    (Not sayin’ it’s all the same, just noticin’ an odd pattern of thought.)

  2. #2 David Harmon
    November 16, 2006

    And what does their dogma say about tapping government aid to help feed and house all those kids? How well is a housebound mother going to “homeschool” a dozen kids, while also taking care of the little ones?

    Like much of extremist religion, this idea is fundamentally anti-human. In this case, that’s seen by considering that humanity is by nature a high-K species (indeed, the highest). Across the planet, we’ve seen that as soon as decent healthcare, birth control, and education are available, most of a given population starts limiting their offspring. That is, once they know their kids are more likely to survive, they can focus their child-rearing resources on fewer kids, to give them a better lifestyle. Note that China and India aren’t really exceptions; they needed to apply top-down pressure, but that’s because they were trying to cut birthrates before the education, healthcare, et al was universally available to the populations in question.

  3. #3 Alison
    November 16, 2006

    Aw, come on, David. Homeschooling that many kids is a piece of cake, especially when you need only one book.

  4. #4 Platypus
    November 16, 2006

    I wonder whether this could backfire. How are these kids going to feel, knowing that their mothers (and, presumably, fathers) see them as “ammunition” or as symbols of their own piety, and not as actual people? Most of my family is from this same part of the religious spectrum, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some second cousin or something subscribed to the “quiverfull” ideology, but far less than half of my extended family seem to have followed in those footsteps. Many have outright rebelled against it, and are now “culture warriors” for what these folks would see as The Other Side.

  5. #5 Flea
    November 16, 2006

    I get your point, and understand that this is polemics.

    However, not all religious people shut their brains off, or permit no “other interpretation other than the narrow interpretation of the fundamentalist is viewed as acceptable.” This characterization may fit some, but certainly does not all Orthodox Jews I know.

    To the contrary, 1 and a half millenia before the Scientific Revolution, the rabbis of the Talmud fought what they referred to as a “war for the truth” using methods that are almost indistinguishable from the scientific method.

    The argument you will make is that their axioms were statements by rabbis and revealed texts instead of observable phenomena in nature, and this is a fair point.

    But permit no other interpretations? Say what you will about the Jews, but that’s not among their sins.

    best,

    Flea

  6. #6 anonimouse
    November 16, 2006

    Fanatically religous people do wacky things in the name of their faith? No way!

  7. #7 DragonScholar
    November 16, 2006

    Platypus,

    I’ve specuated where this can backfire and frankly, it seems pretty likely:
    1) Resource drainage. My friends have trouble raising a few kids and affording it – I can’t imagine them supporting five or six. On one income it’s pretty hard, unless you’re in a profession (like farming) where children provide a more immediate economic benefit.
    2) Education. Without the resources to educate your kids as well, you risk them doing worse than you, especially in our current rather unpredictable economy. Even if you’ve got a business that allows you to optimize the family (again, farming), that’s no guaranteed life – and what will your ignorant brood do if they loose that lifestyle?
    3) Leadership. These overburdened families won’t be ruling the world – they’ll be pawns. Overspawned, undereducated, low resources. They’re not going to be leaders, they’re going to be followers.

    I am especially amused by the idea of “outbreeding” some supposed enemies. As if it’s BETTER to be a horde of poor, ignorant, ill-informed people than a smaller group of smart, technologically-sophisticiated folks with enough resources to survive.

  8. #8 sconzey
    November 16, 2006

    Um.

    One generation. At most, two.

  9. #9 William the Coroner
    November 16, 2006

    What these people call quiverfull I learned were “grand multiparas.” Because I’m a mean, nasty, awful person, I get some schadenfreude when thinking of their pelvic floor problems.

    But when not being snarky, I have problems when people are seen as means to an end, as breeders or warriors or whatnot, rather than as people in their own right.

    I have hope, though, that children individuate and may not accept their parent’s values. When you play chess with live pieces, they do act on their own sometimes.

  10. #10 Prup aka Jim Benton
    November 16, 2006

    Given my own atheism and opposition to fundamentalisms, I find myself in the surprising position of defending the people at Quiverfull from some of the charges made here. I actually went to their site, and maybe I was overly influenced by their strong attacks on the Ezzos — among the worst of the over-controlling ‘bible based baby beaters.’ But these people do not seem to be intent on raising an ‘army of robots.’ They do believe in large families and are against birth control, but when they talk about raising their children, they seem to truly be loving parents, hardly as much into the ‘submissive wife’ idea as I would have expected. I do think these ideas are hard on the mothers — and for this reason, I would expect few of the children from the Quiverfull families to follow their parents blindly.

    I have to question you, Orac, as well. You rightfully argue against the racist claims that “THEY are trying to outbreed us” when it is used against Muslims and ‘brown people,’ yet aren’t you doing the same thing here in regards to Christians, equally wrongfully?

    I did not read the forums, but I did read some of the articles they linked to, and found nothing racist in their positions — admittedly only on a cursory look. (And I find the idea that “Protestant opposition to contraception’ started in the 1990s laughable, since there was similar opposition to Margaret Sanger many decades earlier.

    And to David Harmon, while I believe in government aid to families, I think you will find that most Christian fundies DON’T, and do not seek or accept it. Yes, it is hard for the kids, managing on a single parent’s income while the other stays at home, but they try and make do, not tap the government.

    I’m not defending their ideas in themselves. In many ways I think they are sad, disturbing, and disturbed. But I am simply speaking out in favor of fairness, and arguing, as a good skeptic, that readers should check the facts rather than respond as automatically and unthinkingly as the average fundie — and that means going to the source, not judging on articles from sources bound to be biased. (I like THE NATION, may even decide to subscribe to it, but it has its own biases.)

    Oh, and a final comment to Flea. Thanx. I have been discussing the effect of Talmudic education in fostering the independence that so many Jews, even Orthodox ones, show. (“Two Jews, Three Opions” to use the catch phrase) It is a good correction to people who have a weakness for conspiracy theories involving Jews in general, or Israel in particular.

  11. #11 figmo
    November 16, 2006

    When I meet a woman who is childless by choice, I’m not surprised to find she is the oldest girl in a family of many siblings. Called upon by Mom and Dad to help out, they decide that being a mommy isn’t all that much fun.

  12. #12 Orac
    November 16, 2006

    I have to question you, Orac, as well. You rightfully argue against the racist claims that “THEY are trying to outbreed us” when it is used against Muslims and ‘brown people,’ yet aren’t you doing the same thing here in regards to Christians, equally wrongfully?

    No. I don’t see how you got that idea, quite frankly. There’s a big difference. Unlike Muslims and “brown people, who are not consciously trying to increase their numbers, Quiverfull members are explicitly trying to increase their numbers and openly say so. It’s part of their philosophy. I also pointed out that I don’t think most of them are racist, merely that there is an unfortunate racist subtext to some of their rhetoric and that one of the influential fathers of the movement was a Holocaust denier.

    As for the Quiverfull site, of course it’s warm and fuzzy. It’s there to attract new converts. The two articles I cited describe the origins and philosophy that drives the movement, stuff that’s actually in the books. It also cites interviews with a number of Quiverfull members. I’m sure more pro-Quiverfull people would object to much of it.

    Finally, I never meant to imply that Quiverfull parents don’t love their children. Of course they do. Viewing your children as “arrows” for God and loving them as your own children are not incompatible.

    Finally, as far as the economics, one of the articles discusses one national economic rationale for large families, namely to replenish the Social Security system such that more workers are supporting each retiree. Of course, if you don’t keep up the high birthrate, eventually all of these Quiverfull children will become retirees, and you’ll have the same problem as now, only worse.

    Sorry for the brevity. Gotta go to the O.R. now. (Nothing like checking in on the old blog between cases in the doctors’ lounge. Our annoyingly long turnover times allow it.) Maybe I’ll try to respond to Flea later. All I can say now is that what he seems to be describing is conservative religion, not fundamentalist religion per se, and that the Talmudic tradition is reasonably well known to me for a non-Jew. I’m sure he knows about my stand against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. My critiques were not against Jews, but all fundamentalist religion, regardless of which one.

  13. #13 Anna in Portland (was Cairo)
    November 16, 2006

    I don’t think you can go back to earlier social mores even if a tiny percentage of people in a highly developed society choose to. In third world countries the birth rate is going down as education for women and access to birth control go up. People know they can’t provide for so many kids so even if their culture extolls large families then will stop at 2 or three kids because they want to send them all through school and to university.

    These people are an anomaly. And as figmo mentioned their kids will probably all have small families because they will remember what their mother went through and also because by that time it will probably be even more economically difficult to raise more than 2 kids in a family.

    So although they sound nuts I just can’t take them very seriously.

  14. #14 Bey
    November 16, 2006

    This kind of news really does not trouble me. Perhaps it’s because I was raised in a large Catholic family.

    As I see it, this is a self-regulating system due to the scarcity of resources for extremely large families. To use my own family as an example, despite my father being a professor at a state university, we hovered on the edge of poverty simply due to the size of our family. Only 2 of us chose to reproduce and among us, there are only 3 grandchildren. We sibs have talked this over and all of us agree it’s because we wanted our families to have a more materially comfortable life than we experienced growing up. The fact that we didn’t live in a heavily-Catholic area had something to do with it as well. If it had been the norm, we may have defined ‘comfortable’ differently.

    So, while the Quiverfull folk may attempt to form a societal enclave similar to the Latter Day Saints, I can’t see them being wildly successful at it. They will be surrounded on all sides by the affluent, privileged American lifestyle and try though they may, I doubt they can shut it out entirely.

    Many of those kids are going to look around at families whose mothers are not old women at 40. They will realize their peers weren’t required to be little co-parents of their younger sibs since gradeschool.

    They’ll make different choices than their parents and this movement will die on the vine.

  15. #15 natural cynic
    November 16, 2006

    This situation seems to be similar in ways to the Mormon polygamists in the rural areas of the mountain states [and a few in urban areas too]. The idea seems to be to outbreed the out-group. There are differences, however. The real losers in the polygamist sects are the excess males that get rejected and dumped on the outside society in the middle teen years. In addition, the polygamists are quite willing to subvert and take advantage of welfare laws so that local and state governments subsidize them through various welfare scams.

  16. #16 Garrett
    November 16, 2006

    Only 14 kids? Pheh. Amateurs. My brother married into a family with 16 kids. Family barbeques are hell to organize.

  17. #17 Jud
    November 16, 2006

    There are Jewish fundamentalists quite happy to take nonsensical stands against science in favor of the ‘revealed truth’ of the Bible. E.g., the organization that revoked its kosher symbol from a brand of yogurt that displayed dinosaurs on the packaging (since dinosaurs aren’t in Genesis and therefore to say they existed is heretical) – see http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v11/mj_v11i97.html

  18. #18 Dianne
    November 16, 2006

    Wasn’t there an article recently demonstrating a correlation between number of older brothers and probability of a man being homosexual? So the quiverful people are increasing the number of gays in the next generation…unfortunately, they’re probably also increasing the number of closeted, unhappy gays. Well, fortunately memes do alter by quasi-Lamarkian methods so with any luck a number of the quiver-kids will turn to science and humanism when they leave home and discover that there are other options out there besides being weapons for your parents’ war against someone or the other.

    Re Jewish fundamentalists: My completely anecdotal impression is that Jewish people are somewhat less likely to display rigid, inflexible, or irrational thinking, but that the Jewish religion in no way absolutely protects against same. See the idiot quoted here, for example Sorry, flea.

  19. #19 khan
    November 16, 2006

    I grew up in Coxsackie. It’s a very small town.

    I wonder if some of the fathers commute to NYC during the week and come home on weekends (common in the ’60s).

    Trivia: The Coxsackie Virus is named after the town.

  20. #20 Dave Godfrey
    November 16, 2006

    Apologies for hijacking the threa, but you may be interested in this, (ans it does link in with contraception). German Doctor to pay for unwanted baby

  21. #21 Joshua
    November 16, 2006

    Forced sterilization as a policy never seemed so attractive…

  22. #22 Renee
    November 16, 2006

    The Amish have large families, even though they are non-militant and aren’t trying to out-breed anybody. They do have a traditional, farm-based lifestyle, which makes having many children economically feasible.

    Re Jewish fundamentalists – I’m assuming that people mean the Ultra Orthodox known as the Hasidim. I’ve had some limited contact with two Hasidic women, one a distant relative, one a woman who I had to go see when I was preparing to be married in a synagogue.

    The Hasidim have arranged marriages, and most women are married by age 18. Consequently, they have many children, since birth control is taboo. A childless woman is someone to be pitied, if not scorned. One of the pressures on couples to have large families is the admonition to replace those Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Talk about guilt.

    An odd thing (or perhaps not so odd) is that the Hasidim look down on other Jews as being less authentically Jewish, because the latter lead more secular lives, and have more contact with non-Jews.

  23. #23 The Loony Bassoony
    November 16, 2006

    One irony stands out to me. These religious fundamentalists use the Bible to encourage procreating as much as possible. But other Christian fundamentalist groups (eg Cathares) had the exact opposite view. They used Scripture to advocate against breeding at all, based on exhortations to behave as if the world will end tomorrow and Jesus’ statement expressing woe to women who are with child.

  24. #24 akibare
    November 16, 2006

    I don’t know why this is hitting the news just now, it’s certainly been around for a while.

    But if you spend much time on quiverfull friendly sites, one thing you quickly notice is that VERY many of the quiverfull homeschoolers were not themselves raised in such families. They went to public school, dated, had one sib, not overly religious in childhood. Then they saw the light or became the Christian equivalent of BT or whatever, and now they want courtship/betrothal for the kids, homeschool, no college, etc etc.

    In other words, they didn’t follow in their parents’ footsteps, so it’s possible their kids will end up secular.

  25. #25 David Harmon
    November 16, 2006

    Alison: Ouch! ;-)

    Prup: If they do disdain government handouts, then I have to applaud them at least for not passing around the bill for their behavior, but that doesn’t mean they can make it work. I agree (with several posters) that it’s unlikely to be stable past the first generation, but that can still leave a lot of kids suffering.

    As several people have pointed out, this sort of overbreeding will strain all sorts of resources — not just the financial support, but parental health, medical care in general, living space, attention and caretaking. (Good intentions won’t let the parents be three places at once!) Note that even farming needs a fair bit of education to be commercially viable these days. (Even the Amish have schools!)

    Flea, Renee, et al: Yeah, the Jews are slightly less prone to this sort of madness, but they’re not immune. These days, the “regular” Chasidim are getting out-fundied by the “messianics”.

  26. #26 John Marley
    November 16, 2006

    How are these kids going to feel, knowing that their mothers (and, presumably, fathers) see them as “ammunition” or as symbols of their own piety, and not as actual people?

    As the product of a (much) less extreme version of this, I can answer that: probably very bitter and angry.

  27. #27 Anna
    November 16, 2006

    Aren’t a lot of the Quiverfull people also big believers in Revelations and that we are living in the end times? Damn, what is that wacky website I’m thinking of? Rapture Ready! That’s it! Pretty sure there’s loads of Quiverfull people over there. See, you don’t have to worry so much about paying to raise your 18 kids when you expect that all of you are going to raptured at pretty much any moment.

  28. #28 Justin Moretti
    November 17, 2006

    I’m male and fairly conservative (lapsed Catholic, no problems with contraception/female equality), but the way these creatures plan to use and brainwash their women – as baby-factories regardless of health risk – disgusts me. The men deserve at the very least life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit slavery.

  29. #29 Judy
    November 17, 2006

    Know what you call a couple who uses the Rhythm method?

    Parents

    Modern scientific methods of Natural Family Planning are much more effective than the old calendar rhythm method. I’m surprised you’re still stuck in the 50’s.

    I’m not familiar with the Quiverful movement, but I know a number of Catholic families with many children. Most live on one income — and live quite well. They learn to be frugal, it is true, but the parents (both of them) tend to be well educated and to send many of their children to college — after homeschooling them. Some of your readers would doubtless be startled to learn that.

    I have met some homeschooling moms from a variety of religious backgrounds who were not particularly well educated when they started teaching their children. They tend to carefully research their options for homeschool materials and choose programs which will prepare them to educate their children — and upgrade their own educations in the process.

    The ignorance and intolerance of some of your readers shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose.

  30. #30 Jud
    November 17, 2006

    Renee: “The Amish have large families, even though they are non-militant and aren’t trying to out-breed anybody. They do have a traditional, farm-based lifestyle, which makes having many children economically feasible.”

    Actually, it’s becoming less economically feasible – they’re running out of land. Kids are having to take up other ways of making a living. Various forms of metal- and woodworking (furniture-making, homebuilding…) seem to be popular alternatives to farming around here (Eastern Pennsylvania).

  31. #31 Berlie
    November 17, 2006

    Judy:

    Concerning the Rhythm Method, that is still the only form of birth control advocated by the Catholic Church. I know because my wife is Catholic, and works for a Catholic Hospital. Because of where she works, her insurance didn’t cover it when she was taking it.

    Concerning home schooling, that may be only because of location. There are several private Catholic schools in this area, and that’s where most children of Catholic families go. Also, most of the women (Catholic or otherwise) are working mothers in this area. Although, they are quite often only part time employees.

    Now, all of that being said, everything I said above is hearsay. I have no evidence or numbers to back it up, and neither do you. We all have our opinions, it’s just a matter of the facts to back them up. Most of us here are atheists, or at least agnostics who lean in that direction. So, we wonder how anyone educated can still believe in a deity that not only condones some of this extreme behavior, but encourages it.

    Oh, and you want intolerance? Try announcing to anyone that you’re atheist. My experience is that being a Wiccan is considered more acceptable. At least they believe in something.

    -Berlie

  32. #32 DT35
    November 17, 2006

    My siblings and I received our early religious exposure from the Unitarian fellowship our parents attended (“where the name of God hasn’t been uttered since the janitor fell down the basement steps”). Most of us are at the agnostic/mildly religious end of the spectrum, except for my oldest brother, who took a hard right turn in youth and became an extreme fundamentalist. His six children were born at home, raised in a closed enclave of like-minded families in a rural area of the Deep South, home-schooled, prohibited from obtaining Social Security numbers or driver’s licenses, and expected to remain in the enclave, marry young, procreate and carry on the Lord’s work.
    The boys seem to have no problem with this plan. The girls, however, have all departed (at great emotional cost, amid caustic recriminations) to pursue higher education and careers in nursing, teaching and veterinary medicine. Procreation is falling behind, too; my brother has just one grandchild, and his older children are moving into their 30’s.
    I have to agree with those who predicted quick disengagement from the philosophy by oncoming generations. When you’ve seen the effects of overpopulation up close and personal, it’s a lot less appealing.

  33. #33 Penny
    November 17, 2006

    My parents, like Bey’s, are devout Catholics and had seven children. Out of all those kids, they got one, o-n-e, who is religious. And they got only 10 grandchildren.

    I only had two children because I resented the deprivation that goes with being one of many children. Raggedy clothes, not enough food, no privacy, parents too busy to notice what’s going on with kids, no money for special stuff like music lessons or being on a team, not to mention important stuff like college.

    Those quiverfull kids will grow up despising people who have too many kids. (projection!)

  34. #34 Tina
    November 20, 2006

    One thing I liked was that they linked homosexuality to feminism (or women’s liberation), particularly over the last 40 years. Because as everyone knows homosexuality has only happenend in the last 40 years, there was never any before that, deary me!

  35. #35 Judy
    November 21, 2006

    Berlie,
    Your wife is wrong or perhaps you misunderstood what she said. Modern scientific methods of natural family planning are NOT the same as the old Calendar Rhythm method. They do work if you actually use them consistently — rather like other methods of birth control that require daily practice (pills and barrier methods, for example).

    I live in one of the more expensive areas of the country and I know more than a few homeschooling families. Some of the moms work – some even work full time. It can be done.

    You say “Most of us hear are athiests.” – you did a poll? I must have missed that. Yes, there is intolerance among believers — toward believers of other faiths and toward athiests. That excuses ignorance and intolerance here? I don’t think so. People should find out a little about a subject before deciding that they know everything about it.

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