Population: Quiver or Quake

March 17, 2009 | By | 12 Replies More

The writers on this blog are generally aware of the problems caused by population growth, for example here and here. But there is a movement in modern American Fundamentalist culture that puts the Catholic baby mill mentality to shame.

Flickr photo by PhotoBlackburn

"Too many babies" by PhotoBlackburn via Creative Commons at Flickr

They call it the Quiverfull Movement. The idea is basically that a woman is a quiver full of potential babies, and therefore must produce as many babies as possible. Only when she runs out of eggs may she consider another career.

I first read about it at FreindlyAtheist a few days ago, with typically scathing commentary. Then another friend sent me a link to this report on Salon.com.

It began a generation ago:

Since 1985, Quiverfull has been thriving in the Southern and Sunbelt states. Although the conviction of “letting God plan your family” is not an official doctrine in many churches, there are signs of its acceptance in high places; the Rev. Albert Mohler, Theological Seminary president of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, argued, for example, that deliberate childlessness was “moral rebellion” against God.

It is mainly a propaganda campaign,

Quiverfull has gained exposure through cable TV’s fascination with extraordinarily large families, including the 18-child Duggar family. The Duggars, an Arkansas couple whose husband Jim Bob was a former Arkansas state representative, have appeared on several Discovery Health Channel specials about their immense brood and currently have a TLC reality show, “18 Kids and Counting,” that focuses on the saccharine details of large family life.

So the principle of outbreeding your opponents is now a conscious tack of the American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. Thoughtful citizens of this world intentionally breed less. Therefore we are bound to be ever more seriously outnumbered with a couple of generations of this nonsense.


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Category: American Culture, Communication, Consumerism, Environment, Good and Evil, Health, ignorance, Politics, Religion, Reproductive Rights, Sex

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. An interesting and important thought to include in this discussion is the proportion of atheists who grew up in different backgrounds.

    Now, I don't know the hard numbers on this, but judging from the ARIS surveys' results, and judging from personal acquaintance, a significant portion of adult atheists grew up with some form or another of religious belief – including many who were conservative evangelicals of the sort that might be tempted by this quiverfull nonsense.

    So before we go raising alarms about being out-bred, remember: they're not just raising the next generation of ecologically irresponsible nuts; they're also raising a good portion of the next generation of atheists.

    (This isn't to say we should encourage them – the environmental harm of overpopulation is hard to overestimate.)

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Will Shirer wrote about a similar tactic by Hitler's Nazi party in "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". One major difference was that the Nazi version relied heavily on providing healthy, fertile young women to farmers as both laborers and concubines.

  3. Alison says:

    Dan, the actual meaning of "Quiverfull" has to do with the daddy, not the mommy – much as most odd fundie beliefs do. From Psalm 127: "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed,

    but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." Yeah, those kids are the weapons in Daddy's army of God. There are so many disturbing things about this movement and its objectification of both women and children that its impact on world population barely scratches the surface.

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    Alison has corrected an obvious error. I always forget that it is only a couple of centuries since it was generally accepted that women provide only a fertile field for the seed. The arrows.

  5. Alison says:

    I wouldn't be surprised if there are still folks who adhere to that, Dan.

  6. P Smith says:

    Like most morons, the particular group of christians being discussed aren't thinking very far ahead.

    The divorce rate of such people is going to skyrocket, not to mention the costs of childrearing. No doubt the morons will expect the government to support their _lifestyle_ (because it is a choice of how to live) yet they will still be against "welfare moms".

  7. There was a report on these folks on NPR this morning and it made me shudder. The thing that gets me every time with people like these is the utter lack of any other ambition on the part of the women. It would seem to me that there are so many cool things to do in life that being nothing but (and I stress the NOTHING BUT) a baby factory and child rearer, no matter how noble, is just not very imaginative. Never mind the obvious problems with overpopulation, etc, but what a waste of all that potential.

    And before I get beat up about supposedly denigrating the worth of motherhood, that's not my point—there are always people who want to be good parents, but there are others who not only don't want to be but also those who, whether they want to be or not, wouldn't be. None of which is relevant to the larger point of: it has to be a choice.

    Now, many of these folks are choosing this path. That's fine, as far as it goes—but it's the "this is the way we all should live" part that disturbs me. One woman was quoted as saying that if "good christians" breed enough they can take over sinful cities, like San Fransisco.

    If I were a woman I would be very, very disturbed by these sentiments.

  8. Dan Klarmann says:

    Here's an interesting presentation on The Quiverfull movement

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Quiverfull has existed for many years, even before the name caught on. I live next door to a Catholic family with 13 children. I went to Catholic grade school with a family that had so many children (19) that they lived in two houses. Every grade had at at least one member of that family as a student.

      To justify huge families in today's over-crowded world, all you need to do is repeat this mantra: "God's bounty."

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