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Why this movement makes us fully quiver

by Jeremy Hooper

On a couple of occasions, we've spoken out against the way shows like NBC's "Today" have presented the popular Duggar family in a way that mostly overlooks the religious root behind their decision to have 18 children. After all, since it's the family's subscription 200903251233to the so-called "quiverfull" movement that leads them to eschew birth control and ratchet up their procreation, we think it's imperative for any program that runs their story to fairly detail the faith-based impetus.

The reason why we care is because we have long known that their family dynamic, one that is usually presented as fun little kicker story about the trials and tribulations of mega-parenthood, is borne out of an intrinsically anti-gay seed. Now two mainstream outlets have filed their own reports the Quiverfull movement's overall goals, and why LGBT people (among others) are right to have some concerns. One report comes from NPR:

EXCERPT: Still, Quiverfull is a small group, probably 10,000 fast-growing families, mainly in the Midwest and South. But they have large ambitions, says Kathryn Joyce, who has written about the movement in her book Quiverfull: Inside The Christian Patriarchy Movement.

"They speak about, 'If everyone starts having eight children or 12 children, imagine in three generations what we'll be able to do,' " Joyce says. " 'We'll be able to take over both halls of Congress, we'll be able to reclaim sinful cities like San Francisco for the faithful, and we'll be able to wage very effective massive boycotts against companies that are going against God's will.' "

FULL PIECE: In Quiverfull Movement, Birth Control Is Shunned [NPR]

Right. And we all surely know why they consider San Francisco to be sinful, and which kinds of companies these folks typically like to boycott.

The other report comes from Newsweek, written by the same Kathryn Joyce who is cited in the NPR piece:

EXCERPT: But there's one big omission from the on-screen portrayal of many of these families: their motivation. Though the Duggars do describe themselves as conservative Christians, in reality, they follow a belief system that goes far beyond "Cheaper by the Dozen" high jinks. It is a pro-life-purist lifestyle known as Quiverfull, where women forgo all birth-control options, viewing contraception as a form of abortion and considering even natural family planning an attempt to control a realm—fertility—that should be entrusted to divine providence.
FULL PIECE: Extreme Motherhood [Newsweek]

So yea, again -- we refuse to see this movement's poster children (and children, and children, and children...) in a way that ignores what's going on here. And If shows like "Today" insist on following and scrutinizing Nadya Suleman's every last fart, then the next time Michelle Duggar comes on to announce another baby, they can surely ask her one question about the fuel that's lighting her quiverfull fire!

**ALSO: Check out these links that are featured on the Duggars' website. If you follow the so-called "culture wars," you'll surely recognize many of the anti-gay names:

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Your thoughts

The Eagles Forum and National Right to Life are for kids? Wow, and I thought my family was a bit extreme.

Posted by: Timothy | Mar 25, 2009 1:08:19 PM

extra large families - statistics show that at least 1 out of all those sibs have a good chance at being gay. imagine being that 1 in that shit-storm.

Posted by: c-freak | Mar 25, 2009 1:11:27 PM

What baffles me is how these women can survive having this many kids. At some point, the physical stress makes each pregnancy more difficult than the last, for mother and baby. Even if they can manage the physical stress, there's still the issue of hormones. There have been multiple women in my own family have had nervous breakdowns because of how many pregnancies they had.

One other thing that occured to me: considering that we're likely between 5-10% of the population, I wonder how these families will treat the multiple gay children some of them will inevitably have.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Mar 25, 2009 1:20:04 PM

Actually European scientists have discovered that the more older brothers you have, the more likely you are to be a gay man.

So chances are Very high that one of the younger lads will grow up to be gay. Unfortunately, I'm not certain how it works for lesbians, and there isn't a conclusive sibling bisexuality link that I know of, but I'm not feeling good about what will happen if one is gay, so I just hope that not a single one is - I can't imagine growing up in that family will a happy LBGT person make.

Posted by: corvidae | Mar 25, 2009 1:59:35 PM

I'm from a LDS background, and I can tell you a few things about that. Thay have large familys, thay hate the gays, you can't walk into a gay bar in the west and not bump into a x-moron, and its all coming back to bite them on the ass.

Posted by: garth | Mar 25, 2009 2:23:58 PM

I think that it is pretty simplistic of the Duggars to expect that their children will grow up to be carbon-copies of themselves. Especially in today's world where it is virtually impossible to eliminate outside influences on the lives of children. And, those outside influences have a tendency of undermining the farcical teachings of the loonies.

Even just by looking at the Phreaky Phelps Phiefdom where at least two or three of the (now prodigal) phamily members have basically been disowned because they walked away.

A century ago, when big families were an economic commodity and necessity, and when there weren't 300 satellite TV channels, or ten billion internet pages, and when all family members spent almost all of their time earning a living, it might have been more possible to raise a litter of Stepfords. But that is much less possible today.

It is also going to be increasingly difficult for the Duggar-esque wannabees to secure similar Mega-familio-corporo-sponsorship deals to help defray the costs of their mega-broods. Once you have seen one "Twelve is Enough" weekly reality series, you've basically seen them all - so the market for that crap dries up pretty quickly.

So, the economic reality of raising, feeding and clothing your own soccer team coupled with the sheer terror of DIY orthodontic and medical care and ... well you get my point. Most single incomes couldn't cover the medical insurance, let alone all of the other expenses of a mega family, so that alone will probably ensure that not many of them ever exist.

So, sure, they are freaky, frightening, and the sadistic / masochistic aspect of that form of child / family abuse is extremely unsettling, but ultimately it probably is much worse for the insiders of those families than it ever will be for anyone else. Not that that isn't a concern, but that's for Child Services to sort out.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Mar 25, 2009 2:31:37 PM

Garth, I too, have had my ass bitten by Mormon survivors - but in a pleasurable way!

Posted by: Dick Mills | Mar 25, 2009 3:06:01 PM

I listened to the NPR report this morning on my way to work, and my mouth hung agape the entire time. I couldn't believe it (well, I could believe it, but these people sound hilariously delusional).

I'm sorry, but bringing more kids than we need in the world is a strain on the global economy/ ecology. A couple is fine. A baseball team's worth? Not so much...

Posted by: Michelle | Mar 25, 2009 4:13:47 PM

OMG I almost wanted to gag and throw up my dinner after reading this conservative, overpopulation bullshit. People like this need to have some serious counseling and NOT with and "Christian" doctors either.

And you wonder why I am a pagan. At least WE know how to properly live within our means on this earth

Posted by: Traci | Mar 25, 2009 6:09:00 PM

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