The Quiverfull: The evangelical Christians opposed to contraception

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A Christian evangelical movement where followers avoid contraception and have as many children as they can is spreading to the UK. They are The Quiverfull, writes Cat McShane.


"Get married. Have a quiver full of kids if you can."

So said unsuccessful presidential candidate and father-of-five Mitt Romney in a recent speech to graduates. It was a conscious echo of Psalm 127.

The psalm – where children are compared to arrows for war – is the inspiration for the Quiverfull movement.

"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 shall not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."

Christians in the movement believe in giving up all forms of contraception and accepting as many children as God gives, both as a sign of obedience to God and in a bid to ensure the future of the faith.

In the US, Quiverfull families frequently reach up to a dozen children with the numbers of adherents in the tens of thousands. But now the movement is gaining popularity in other countries.


continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

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  1. I have such an ick response reading this article. As if a family needs to be huge to be happy. This just reeks somehow and it seems so selfish on a planet with limited resources to have people breed like rabbits because of belief in foofoo. I need to stay as far away from people like this as I can.

    • In reply to #1 by PY:

      This just reeks somehow and it seems so selfish on a planet with limited resources to have people breed like rabbits because of belief in foofoo.

      I can never understand why the journalists on these stories never ask the most obvious questions. Why didn’t they make your point to these families about over-populating the planet?

      • In reply to #6 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

        I can never understand why the journalists on these stories never ask the most obvious questions. Why didn’t they make your point to these families about over-populating the planet?

        It wouldn’t matter if they did. They’ll tell you “It’s all going to burn anyway” or “Jesus will be back soon” and some likely believe that using up all the Earth’s available resources (or by making the planet uninhabitable) will hasten Jesus’s return.

        I grew up in the “It’s all going to burn” and the “God wouldn’t allow it to happen” camp, but I heard a lecture from someone working in environmental law who talked about the problems dealing with the “Jesus will come back if we destroy the planet” people.

      • In reply to #6 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

        In reply to #1 by PY:

        This just reeks somehow and it seems so selfish on a planet with limited resources to have people breed like rabbits because of belief in foofoo.

        I can never understand why the journalists on these stories never ask the most obvious questions. Why didn’t they make your point…

        So true. I feel the same way about reporting on extreme weather. There will be never ending blather about how hard the winds are blowing, how high some river is cresting, how record setting this year has been, but seldom a word about the fact that climate scientists have been predicting that this kind of weather would happen. And when they talk about “what we can do” its always short term solutions like building better levees and shelters rather than real solutions like addressing carbon emissions.

  2. Breed all you can is the selfish gene strategy of animals. Some humans realise it is a strategy that leads to suffering for parents, children and society and they restrain themselves. That woman has the body, mind and moral responsibility of a sow. Part of the selfish gene strategy is to try interrupt such activity. Someone that irresponsible deserves a hardball response.

  3. Fits right in with the primitive religious notion of women as the vessels by which men, the REAL people of God, multiply themselves. All three of the Abrahamitic faiths like their women barefoot and pregnant. My secular Jewish friend’s son turned orthodox and now he and his wife have ten kids. TEN. And more on the way as long as she is fertile.
    And he has been unemployed for over a year.

    What a god-damn (you’ll forgive the expression) fool.

  4. And we all know that ‘woman’ has nothing to do with ‘womb’. There was never such a word as ‘womb-man’ in English. Any reputable dictionary will give you the correct etymology of ‘woman’. What kind of crud would define human beings by some particular item of their anatomy? Answer: a member of the Quiverfull movement.

  5. Sarah Dawes, 34, from Derbyshire, has six children. She had worked in an office and a shoe shop before embracing the From source article. Sarah Dawes, 34….”I always wanted a big family….”

    She might have always wanted a big family, but they certainly have a big mother! Last time I looked gluttony was one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and if she wants to spout fundamentalist Christian nonsense, she should look to her own behaviour and health, and show a good example to her children based on positive diet and lifestyle. If she doesn’t take herself in hand, soon her children won’t have a mother.

  6. World population problems would be solved completely if no unwanted children were born. I don’t have that much of a problem with those who have wanted children who are able to provide their own resources for them. On top of that, wanted children in a developed country is more likely to be an extra brain to help solve our problems than they are to be a drain on the planet. Recoverabke Resources and wealth per capita have never been higher in the history of the human species than it is today. Let’s focus on the bigger problem of unwanted children by making sure free and accessible contraception and the education regarding that, plus free and accessible abortion services are available to every female on the planet. After that, if there are still any problems, then we can talk about reducing the number of wanted children that are born.

  7. Spot on, justinesaracen.
    The literal interpretation of monotheistic texts and the ambition of the bronze age patriarchs were exactly that: you hobble women with too many children and you drain their ability to assert their own needs, including sometimes to leave a bad relationship with the father. Convenient for him! And if you factor in that many ‘big family’ religious sects also thrive by segregation of varying degrees from the mainstream- the mother has all her social contacts within the ‘community’ and would lose all that potential emotional and practical help if she divorces because the ‘community’ will shun her for asserting different needs from the ‘protocols’ of obedience to the group definition of what a ‘good woman’ is.
    Large families are expensive to maintain and are prone to impoverished conditions. A second income is always beneficial- but how can a mother find decent work- or time- when she’s got a full house to cook and clean for? To leave this situation is hard, hard work.
    Bronze age thinking: women are the ‘soil’ to be ploughed for the benefit of growing Man’s ‘seed’- man is the ‘creator’ of life- woman just nurtures HIS child(property). SHE doesn’t create anything. Bronze age ‘man’ had no ‘co-creator’, therefore she had no authority and no right to say ‘no’ to men’s desires. And some people choose that structure today- or are indoctrinated into it from birth.
    A rather all-encompassing hatred of females I’d say. The woman in the photograph has truly drunk the Kool Aid. How tragic.

  8. That’s the one good think about atheists you see….they don’t breed well so hopefully they’ll all die out eventually. I think this is a great movement….Europeans breeding a Christian army….perhaps there is hope.

  9. Let’s look at what’s really obvious. Mom is morbidly obese. Statistics show she will likely live a shortened life. Six children may have to depend on others for support. It’s best she stop now and spend time on herself – losing weight, exercising and improving her diet. If she can make these “selfish” changes, her children will learn good habits which will then improve their lives and less likely need to depend on the UK health system. Sometimes generosity means being generous to oneself.

  10. ” the movement believe in giving up all forms of contraception and accepting as many children as God gives,both as a sign of obedience to God and in a bid to ensure the future of the faith.”

    So if they used contraception, god couldn’t get round that and give them children anyway? He’s that pathetic that he can’t drum up the odd hole in a condom?

    Methinks the whole thing is for the future (income) of the faith and be damned the over-population of the planet.

  11. I can’t hear or see an article about this repugnant cult without thinking of the infamous Duggar family of reality-TV notoriety here in the US. They epitomize every stereotype you’ve ever heard about ignorant Bible Belt Southerners – and the mother has 20 children. The last child was born prematurely and spent a month or two in a NICU at a major hospital, and one gets the impression that as soon as Michelle’s uterus gives out or she goes through menopause, her husband Jim Bob (yes, that’s really his name) will dump her for a younger, still fertile womb. The women and girls are required to have long hair and wear long skirts at all times. The men and boys work at jobs, and do “manly” (i.e., fun) things, while the females clean, sew, take care of babies and cook an endless stream of the worst food imaginable (“Tater Tot” casseroles and macaroni n’ cheese). The kids are all homeschooled with – you guessed it – a biblically-based, anti-science, revisionist history curriculum. One of their shows featured the family visiting Ken Ham’s creation museum in Kentucky and spouting their own ignorant ideas of why evolution is evil and can’t possibly be true. It’s truly hideous, and I’ve often wondered what people in other countries think when they see this freak show. I can’t imagine the kind of patriarchal browbeating and indoctrination that must be necessary to induce any sane woman to submit to this kind of lifestyle.

  12. “In the US, Quiverfull families frequently reach up to a dozen children with the numbers of adherents in the tens of thousands.”

    It’s a pity they didn’t stay in school until they were taught the 12 times table. Thoughtless selfish bastards.

  13. On the recent discussion about religion and morality, I suggested the theory that the mainly right wing moral values of authority, loyalty and concerns for purity were brought to the fore by the needs of agriculture and necessary stabilising effects of super tribes.

    The trap that agriculture forms for all its advantages is the massive demand for human labour, forcing an all or nothing investment in the land so to speak. Up until the age of sexual maturity children represent a fabulous slave labour resource. The more the better. For the farmer they are wealth, and given that grandparents had been fed and kept around as childminders, trainers and probably shamans for the last 20,000years, a goodly supply of your kids’ kids were your pension fund..

    This, I suggest, is the most likely reason for “be fruitful and multiply” at least in proto-religions. The use of population size as some sort of weapon (defensive and otherwise) probably came later. The subjugation of women was surely just the result of their slave/wealth generating capacity..Hunter gatherer societies seem to have been much more egalitarian.

  14. Reminds me of that family guy episode where the large drunk mother answers the door and a baby falls out from between her legs….To be honest I think there should be an IQ test, a physiological test and a living conditions evaluation. If they fail all three they need to be spade or neutered to save the tax payers millions of dollars.

  15. No. I meant that I can’t personally imagine anything that would induce me to submit to this lifestyle, not that it’s a completely unknown situation for women worldwide. Patriarchal abuse of women is, in fact, a huge problem worldwide. You just don’t expect to see it so blatantly in developed, supposedly secular countries.
    In reply to #28 by Smill:

    In reply to Sue Blue, post 22. You say you ‘can’t imagine the kind of patriarchal browbeating and indoctrination that must be necessary to induce any sane woman to submit to this kind of lifestyle’, which makes me wonder if you think that women have generally experienced a high level of emancipatio…

  16. In reply to #25 by Smill:

    In reply to posts 13 and 20, I notice that the content of your posts focusses upon the weight of the mother in the photograph. You may not be aware of this but women do tend to carry extra weight as a result of pregnancy and she seems to be carrying a very young baby.

    Of course I know that women often carry extra weight as a result of pregnancy. This was true of my wife and her friends when we were of child bearing (or causing) age. It is also true of my daughter and her friends in the present time. But they ensured that they had healthy eating and exercise to get back in trim. Besides there is a difference in carrying extra weight and morbid obesity. This is a health issue, not a gender issue. It also goes to the ideology which Ms Dawes avows: if her body is the temple of God, then she should look after it.

    The political and psycho-social dynamics of such comments are well known in feminist analyses…

    I suppose that like any belief system, feminism has the right to quote its sacred texts to undermine rational observation and comment, but I don’t see what you are trying to say with your hanging sentence. Just slipping in a hint to undermine your chosen adverseries, and to show how ideologically erudite you are, I suppose

  17. More examples of bad judgement. Apart form the logistic issues which are considerable these people should think carefully about wider implications. There is a large number of people in Tasmania, all related who have the Huntington’s gene and all traceable to one immigrant who in keeping with the social mores of the time just carried on breeding.
    Of her 14 children 9 developed Huntington’s Chorea and because the disease is late onset they all had large clutches of children and seven scions of this original 9 strong branch have living descendants. After 7 generations over 450 people were at risk and in 1990 Records showed that 357 had died and 1179 were still living and you guessed still breeding. 765 are known to be at risk. Late onset disease is associated with greater male fertility and at risk individuals have a signifcantly older mean age of reproduction. The selfish gene makes sure it beats the odds!

    All perfectly compatible with evolutionary theory but it makes God’s plan look like one serious fuck up by a talentless amateur experimenter with a don’t care a shit attitude to the consequences. So much for God and his quiverful of unutterable fucking nightmares.

  18. What a thoroughly selfish thing to suggest or do.

    This woman doesn’t seem to have taken notice of a word of what Malthus said in “An Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvements in Society, with remarks by Mr Godwin, M Condorcet and Other Writers.”.

    She needs to reread it; and with greater care this time!

  19. Further to my last: Thomas Malthus argued that because of the natural human urge to reproduce human population increases geometrically (1, 2, 4, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, etc.). However, food supply, at most, can only increase arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.). Therefore, since food is an essential component to human life, population growth in any area or on the planet, if unchecked, would lead to starvation. However, Malthus also argued that there are preventative checks and positive checks on population that slow its growth and keep the population from rising exponentially for too long, but still, poverty is inescapable and will continue.

    Just makes my day!

  20. These kids are usually as lame-brained as their parents, not the take-over-the-world types. And, unless they are growing up in a polygamous Mormon sect, usually they’re self-sufficient enough to grow up to hold down jobs and not be state-dependent. They pay taxes. More kids growing up to pay taxes means a retirement for me, right? Over population is India’s problem – THAT’s where they need to stop having unwanted and uncared for children.

  21. Judging from the picture, somebody who has eaten all the pies has few qualms about breeding more pie-eaters, and fuck the consequences for the rest of the planet as long as she’s happy. Selfish cow.

  22. Doesn’t it speak volumes about a religion when the only way it can survive is for its adherents to have lots of children and indoctrinating them from birth? It’s not as if it could survive on its own merits. Religion = FAIL.

    • In reply to #42 by I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing:

      Doesn’t it speak volumes about a religion when the only way it can survive is for its adherents to have lots of children and indoctrinating them from birth? It’s not as if it could survive on its own merits. Religion = FAIL.

      From a purely Darwinian perspective this is a very viable strategy of perpetuating the culture. Like natural selection as found with life, perpetuation does not care if it is rational or plays fair, just that the creation of a robust next generation is likely.

      I forget the denomination of Christianity (a subset of Quakers, maybe?) during the 19th century that did not believe in sex. Full stop. No sex. No babies. Nada. But the religion was able to perpetuate because it dominated the orphanages. It was the paradigm shift from those to foster homes that ultimately killed the faith, but so long as there were orphanages, it didn’t need natural progeny to sustain itself.

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