19 Mar 2009

Victory Through Daughters: An Excerpt from Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement

Talk To Action March 18, 2009

By Kathryn Joyce

Today my first book, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, which I've written about at Talk to Action before, was published by Beacon Press. In it, I've investigated the growing ranks of the explicitly pronatalist, and self-named, "patriarchy" movement, which advocates strict interpretations of wifely submission to male headship, women forgoing all forms of contraception to bear as many children as God gives them, and homeschooling their daughters to do the same. So far, the book is being received as a fair and accurate depiction of a growing movement within conservative evangelicaldom (including kind words from Christianity Today) that deserves more attention than it has received to date.

An excerpt of the book has been published at religion journalism site Killing the Buddha:

There were complications when Geoffrey Botkin's first daughter, Anna Sofia, was born. The problems were physical--Anna Sofia's mother, Victoria, could have died--and more esoteric, too. Geoffrey Botkin is one of the leading voices of a ministry called Vision Forum, the intellectual avant-garde of fundamentalism. One of Vision Forum's chief concerns is child-rearing, which the movement considers both a process of theological conditioning and an art lost sometime in the 19th century. So as Botkin held his newborn daughter perfectly still in his cupped hands, he prayed to God for guidance: after having raised two older sons, how should he raise a daughter? He felt God move him to a specific prayer for the infant sleeping in his hands, a prayer for her body. He remembered baby girls are born with two ovaries and a finite number of eggs that will last them a lifetime. He placed his hand over his new daughter's abdomen and prayed for Anna Sofia to be the "future mother of tens of millions." He prayed that the Lord would order everything in his daughter's life: "What You will do with every single egg here. How many children will this young lady have? Who will be her husband? With what other legacy will these little eggs be joined to produce the next generation for the glory of God?" He explained to a room full of about six hundred fathers and daughters gathered for the annual Vision Forum Father and Daughter Retreat that he had prayed that his new daughter might marry young.

Today, Anna Sofia and her sister, Elizabeth, strikingly poised young women in their early twenties, are the preeminent Vision Forum brand for promoting biblical womanhood to the unmarried daughters of homeschooling families, girls largely raised in the patriarchal faith but susceptible to temptations from the outside world. In all their testimony to fellow young "maidens," the Botkin daughters, raised in both the American South and the Botkins' Seven Arrows Ranch in New Zealand, stress the dire importance of one of their father's favorite talking points: "multigenerational faithfulness." That is, the necessity of the sons and daughters of the movement--especially the daughters--cleaving to the ways of their parents and not abandoning the dominion project the older generation has begun.

Some children do rebel, as Natasha Epstein recalls. There were several runaway girls from Boerne Christian Assembly, the church pastored by Doug Phillips, the founder of Vision Forum, Epstein says. Some ultimately succeeded in leaving the lifestyle after having been caught and brought back to the church by their fathers and other men in the church. Natasha herself ran away from home following the excommunication of her family, living with her grandparents in Oregon for a period before returning to Texas and taking up the modern young woman's lifestyle that her mother grieves. But the more common--and more dangerous--rebellion is the quieter assimilation of movement children into modern society, not running away but merely drifting into more lax expressions of the faith and away from patriarchal adulthood.

A common nay-saying liberal reaction to the patriarchy movement and "Quiverfull," a conviction that Christian women should birth as many children as God gives them as a means of "demographic warfare," is to assume that the children of strict homeschooling families will rebel en masse--like the 1960s youth rebellions against a conservative status quo. However, the heads of the movement are already well aware of this threat, and they are taking all the precautions they can to cut off the possibility of such defection in the cradle.

As Jennie Chancey tells the Botkin sisters in their book, So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God, children of the movement should have "little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives" as insulation from a corrupting society. Daughters shouldn't forgo education but should consider to what ends their education is intended and should place their efforts in "advanced homemaking" skills.

Concretely, Geoffrey Botkin explains, this means evaluating all materials and media that daughters receive from childhood on as it pertains to their future role. The Botkin sisters received no Barbie dolls--idols that inspire girls to lead selfish lives--but rather a "doll estate" that could help them learn to manage a household of assets, furniture, and servants in the aristocratic vision of Quiverfull life which Botkin paints for the families around the room. The toys the girls played with were "tools for dominion," such as kitchen utensils and other "tools for their laboratory": the kitchen.

R. C. Sproul, Jr., in a book of advice to homeschooling parents, When You Rise Up, describes the critical secret of God's covenants as the cornerstone of the homeschool movement: the imperative of covenants, he says, is to "pass it on to the next generation." He's done so himself, he relates, in what he calls the R. C. Sproul, Jr., School for Spiritual Warfare, in which he crafts "covenant children" with an "agrarian approach" and stresses that obedience is the good life in and of itself, "not a set of rules designed to frustrate us but a series of directions designed to liberate us." In that freedom, boys and girls are educated according to their future roles in life, and girls are taught that they will pursue spiritual warfare by being keepers in the home.

To gauge the amount of secular baggage his homeschooling readers are trailing, he tells the story of a family friend whose homeschooled nine-year-old daughter still cannot read. "Does that make you uncomfortable?" he asks.

Are you thinking, "Mercy, what would the superintendent say if he knew?" . . . But my friend went on to explain, "She doesn't know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then she takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds." Now I saw her, rightly, as an overachiever. If she didn't know how to read but did know all the Looney Tunes characters, that would be a problem. But here is a young girl being trained to be a keeper at home. Do I want her to read? Of course I do . . . . But this little girl was learning what God requires, to be a help in the family business, with a focus on tending the garden.

Read the entire excerpt at Killing the Buddha.
Order Quiverfull from Amazon.

This article was found at:


Full-Quiver Theology

The Huffington Post - July 7, 2008

by Christine Wicker

Remember when George H. W. Bush promised us a kinder, gentler form of Republicanism? Did that happen? No. We're now being told that the Religious Right is becoming a kinder, gentler political force. Is that happening? No. In fact, core supporters of the Religious Right are moving only one direction -- farther out. And that is exactly where they want to take the country.

Last week, I told you about a sermon given by Bruce Ware, a professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He used the Bible to back up his notion that God means for women to be submissive to men and that men because of their sinful nature beat women who because of their sinful nature aren't submissive enough.

Now I want to tell you about some of the other ideas coming out of this seminary, which has become a primary mouthpiece for the most fundamentalist positions of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is the seminary that defended the use of torture in the fight against terrorism. It is also the seminary that is bringing us a new theology featuring what Kansas City Baptist minister Keith Herron calls a religious sexual obsession that links the Bible with "the ickiest viewpoints about sex and procreation and pleasure."

This new teaching is being called "the full quiver theology" and is based on Psalm 127: 3-5 which reads: "Children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. As arrows in a soldier's hand, so are the sons of the young. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them." So the more children, a couple has, the better.

But fundamentalists never stop with what's good. They always address both sides of the question. Obedient insiders get God's blessing. The disobedient get God's condemnation.

According to the seminary's president, Albert Mohler, couples who choose childlessness are guilty of "rebellion against parenthood [that] represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design." God will decide whether to open or close the womb. Using birth control is an act against God's will. The truly Christian couple will allow God to decide whether each act of sex will result in procreation and sex will be returned to its proper place in a Christian's life.

And the Christian woman? She'll submit, of course. Couples who delay marriage until they are older are also guilty of disobedience under this new theology. When President Mohler explained the teaching some years ago to the Chicago Tribune, he explained that under-population was a pressing concern.

"We are barely replenishing ourselves," he said. "That is going to cause huge social problems in the future."

That led Miguel De La Torre, professor of social ethics at Denver's Iliff School of Theology, to wonder exactly whom Mohler meant by "we." The world's population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050. The United States' population is expected to grow to 400 million by 2040. No under-population there.

But wait. There is one U.S. population that's declining. White people. If present trends continue Euro-Americans will cease being the majority race in the United States by about 2050. Over the next half century, America will become a predominately non-white nation.

"Hence, the religious call for 'full-quiver' theology is white-supremacy code language advocating for the increase of white babies," writes De La Torre. "Mohler's call, whether he realizes it or not, is a race-based warning. It is a call for white fecundity, lest America becomes overrun with "colored" children, which would only lead, as Mohler puts it, to 'huge social problems in the future.' "

Oh, yes. And one more point, for decades Southern Baptists have loudly declared that their fundamentalism is the "right" Christianity and pointed as proof to their own growth while mainline denominations were declining. But the Southern Baptist Convention's growth rate has been shrinking since the 1950s, according to new statistics.

It has now fallen enough that the Southern Baptist Convention is recording membership losses. One reason? Birth rates among Southern Baptists are declining. President Mohler and Professor Ware back up their contentions with plenty of Bible verses. For some people, that means they are teaching the truth. But other evangelicals say their interpretations are as wacky as using the Bible to defend slavery, segregation, white supremacy, oppression of the poor and unjust wars.

"Dr. Ware needs to have his head examined. He and the others who share these views need therapy and should be banned from teaching the next generation of ministers who sit at their feet learning about God, about human pain and suffering," writes Rev. Herron.

"Warning signs should be posted at the entrance of the seminary: "Warning! Sexual Obsessions Abound Here ... Enter at Your Own Peril!"

Professor De La Torre writes, "It is the height of biblical naivete to impose modern concepts upon ancient texts." Women and children were considered property when the Bible was written. When Job's cattle and sheep and goods were taken away, his children were also killed, De Le Torre points out. In the happy ending, God restored them all. The property was interchangeable. Cows dead. Children dead. No real difference. Just get some more. Happy ending. That was a very different time.

Few commentators are going to be willing to call fundamentalist evangelicals' positions sexual obsessions. Few will be willing to call them racist. So this could be the only place and the only time that you will see them labeled as such.

These positions, in fact, are unlikely to be broadly brandished as the campaign moves on. But Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is not a fringe institution. Albert Mohler and Bruce Ware are well respected and their words are heeded. Young people do sit at their feet, learning.

This article was found at:



Fearful Quivering in the Quiverfull Movement 

Christian Patriarchy movement's subjugation of women and girls no different than Islamic fundamentalism

Christian tyrant Gothard and his patriarchal cult of fear that demands total subservience of women and children


  1. The comment about the nine year old who couldn't read makes me think of the reasons that slave owners didn't allow their slaves to learn to read and write.

    All of the 'abilities' that man lauded were entirely focused on working for others, and being a good servant.
    Who cares about whether or not she is getting the intellectual stimulation to develop her mind and imagination? Or learning how to adventure in her mind....

    Its not like a home cleaning robot-slave needs those things, right?

  2. The Quiverfull: The evangelical Christians opposed to contraception

    BBC News May 17, 2013

    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 reading the main story

    Start Quote

    Get married, have a quiver full of kids if you can”

    Mitt Romney's speech to Southern Virginia University graduates
    In the UK, where the average family size is 1.7 children, this makes couples who follow its teachings stand out.

    Vicki and Phil have just had their sixth child. "I feel this is the normal [situation] God created and God initially wanted, and that actually society has gone a little skew-whiff," says Vicki, of south London.

    Vicki and Phil were both raised as Christians, but came to Quiverfull ideas after they were married. Early on, they used contraception, but after Vicki responded badly to the contraceptive pill, they began merely avoiding sex during Vicki's most fertile time of the month. From there they decided to do without contraception completely.

    "Over time, we realised that actually if He [God] wants to conceive a baby during that time, and he made her naturally desire her husband more, maybe that's what he'd prefer us to do," she says.

    In common with other Quiverfull families, Vicki had to wait for her husband to come round to her ideas.

    "He saw it wasn't such a scary thing to do after all, and that God wouldn't overwhelm us with more than we could handle. One baby at a time arrived, and we were handling it, so we felt our marriage was being blessed by this choice and we continued."

    The movement is growing in the UK through informal social networks and the Christian homeschooling community. Doug Philips, a leading American Quiverfull figure, is behind the organisation Vision Forum, a major provider of home education materials.

    Vicki and Phil were encouraged by the teachings of Nancy Campbell, a Tennessee-based preacher influential in the movement. Her ministry, Above Rubies, advocates motherhood as a woman's highest calling. Its magazine is distributed to more than 100 countries worldwide, with a circulation topping 160,000.

    Vicki found out about the ministry through a blog by a mother and began subscribing to the magazine and attending Campbell's annual retreats. This year's European tour saw Campbell visit six countries in a month, preaching at women-only and also family retreats attended by like-minded couples and their burgeoning broods.

    Campbell believes that many women have forgotten their biological, and for her, God-given function. "He created her with a womb. And in fact that's the most distinguishing characteristic of a woman. In the American Webster's 1928 dictionary, it says that woman is combination of two words: womb and man. She is a womb-man."

    continued in next comment...

  3. But there's more to the Quiverfull mindset than a love of big families. It's based on a backlash against the growing acceptance of birth control and feminism within Christianity.

    Sarah Dawes, 34, from Derbyshire, has six children. She had worked in an office and a shoe shop before embracing the Quiverfull life. "I always wanted a big family, but when I read Above Rubies it was like drinking when you're thirsty," she says.

    Dawes says that her career didn't offer her any comparable fulfilment. "If you look at the children you're filled with so much love for them that even if it's a rough day there's nothing better. You don't get that from a job."

    Quiverfull ideology also advocates a return to "traditional" roles in the home, where women are wife and mother first of all. They are their husband's "helpmeet", designed to support him as head of the household and primary breadwinner.

    Dawes's husband Damian, who is self-employed, admits the pressures of raising a large family on a single income can be stressful. "They're all great kids, but sometimes it's a bit overwhelming and you think, how am I going to pay?"

    He has doubts about continuing to follow Quiverfull teachings on family planning. "I don't want any more at the moment. I'd like to have a break."

    One woman who tested her faith in Quiverfull to the limit is Vyckie Garrison, a mother of seven. Once a cornerstone of the Quiverfull movement in the US, she left in 2008. Her website No Longer Quivering is described as a "place for women escaping and recovering from spiritual abuse".

    Garrison suffers from a rare bone condition that made pregnancy dangerous. Her husband had a vasectomy after baby number three. But after reading Campbell and other Quiverfull authors, her ideas and the vasectomy were reversed.

    Garrison continued to get pregnant against all medical advice, almost dying with the birth of her last - and seventh - child. But for a true believer, dying in childbirth is supposedly a noble act, she says.

    "I really believed that I wouldn't die unless God willed that I die, and if he did then I would accept that, because obviously he's the smart one, and has the big picture and knows the whole plan."

    There are plenty of critics of the Quiverfull beliefs. Heather Doney, who grew up in a Quiverfull household in the US, says the emphasis on men leading the house is a problem.

    "Absolute power corrupts absolutely. In these situations you're giving the man ultimate power - you're saying the only one that can check his power is God," she says.

    Within the Quiverfull movement, having larger families is part of a broader plan.

    "Mothers determine the destiny of the nation," Campbell says. "We're in a battle for the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. And our children are all part of that battle."

    Campbell believes there are specific groups of people with high birth-rates that she is worried will soon outnumber Christians. "We are limiting our children. And then we are allowing other cultures to come into our nation who are having a lot more children than us.

    "Gradually, down the line, the culture is going to change, without anyone doing anything except having children, or not having children," she says.

    Back in south London, affecting the destiny of the nation was something Vicki could identify with. "I do think I'm raising my children to be future voters, and possibly to be future politicians, the MPs."

    The Womb as a Weapon will be broadcast on the BBC World Service on 18 May at 19:32 GMT. Listen back via BBC iPlayer radio or download a podcast.


  4. How Playing Good Christian Housewife Almost Killed Me

    Our Christian sect encouraged a mindset in which Dad was supreme Patriarch. It led to extreme emotional abuse.

    By Vyckie Garrison, InterNet September 18, 2014

    Vyckie Garrison was once a minor celebrity in the Quiverfull Movement, made famous by TV’s Duggar family. As a devout, Bible-believing Christian and the mother of seven children homeschooled children, Vyckie spent 16 years, together with her husband, publishing a newspaper for families on a similar path. Today, via a website called No Longer Quivering, she publishes resources for women leaving the movement. Recently she addressed American Atheists about her experience. This article is an abridged version of her remarks.

    Whenever I talk about my escape from the Quiverfull movement, Christians immediately dismiss my experience by saying, “Your problem was not with Jesus or Christianity. Your problem was that you were following an extreme, legalistic cult. Let me tell you about my personal relationship with Jesus.” It can be extremely frustrating. I was in a close, personal relationship with Jesus for over 25 years. But rather than telling you about the beginning of my relationship with this man, I am going to spare you the long story and skip straight to the break up.

    The end of my life as a "Bride of Christ" came after a visit to Bright Horizons, which is the local domestic violence shelter in my hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska. I went there for help in filing a restraining order against my husband, whose emotional and mental abuse against me and my children had escalated to the point that I was in the midst of a complete mental and physical breakdown. He had taken 6 of our 7 children to a town three hours from our home and was preventing me from having any contact with them unless I agreed to his terms for our "reconciliation."

    At the women's shelter, I was given a form to complete ... I wrote three pages describing the situation in our home, and after reading what I had written, the crisis volunteer said to me, "The judge will not grant you a protection order unless you actually accuse your husband of abuse."

    I told her that I didn’t really think my husband was “technically” abusive, and in fact, I had no doubt that he truly loved me and the kids. He always put us first … he basically centered his entire life around us! We were a good Christian family. The Bible commands husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church.” That’s the sort of godly man I was married to: a true patriarch who ruled his home according to God’s principles for marriage and family.

    We had studied the Bible carefully, and knew so much about “Biblical Family Values,” that we felt qualified to teach others via our “Pro-life, Pro-family” Christian newspaper, The Nebraska Family Times. In 2003, we were named “Nebraska Family of the Year” by the Nebraska Family Council … and this was in recognition of our work to help get DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) passed in Nebraska. That’s not something that I’m at all proud of these days, but at the time, being named “Family of the Year” was enough to convince me that we were on the right track so far as marriage and family goes. I had become somewhat of a leader in what is now called “the Quiverfull movement” - Christian fundamentalist families who are dedicated to actually living out the biblical model for marriage and family in their daily lives.

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  5. Probably the most recognizable and influential Quiverfull family in America is reality TV’s Duggar Family of “Way Too Many and Counting” fame. But unlike fundamentalist Mormons who tend to congregate in just a few places in Utah, Arizona, Texas, etc., you will find Quiverfull families in nearly all types of churches in every community. This is because Quiverfull is not a denomination, with a creed to sign and a church to join. And it’s not technically a cult in the strict sense of having one central leader … instead, Quiverfull is a mindset (a very powerful head trip) in which each family becomes a cult unto itself with Daddy enshrined as the supreme Patriarch.

    Based on a literalist interpretation of Psalm 127, Quiverfull families eschew all forms of birth control. They have a high regard for the patriarchal family structure found in the Old Testament which emphasizes hierarchy, authority, and strict gender roles for men, women, boys, and girls.

    The reason you can find Quiverfull families in nearly every type of Christian congregation is because Quiverfull beliefs are not actually a radical departure from traditional Christian teachings regarding marriage and family. It is my contention that Quiverfull IS regular Christianity writ large ... lived out to its logical conclusion.

    As Quiverull believers, my husband and I proudly embraced the ideal of biblical headship and submission. We believed, as the Bible teaches, that it is the man who is ultimately responsible for the spiritual well-being of his wife and children, and who must one day stand before his Maker and give an account. My husband understood this, and he took it very seriously … which is why he tried SO hard to be a loving, godly patriarch.

    “So,” the woman at the domestic violence shelter asked me, “if he’s such a great, loving husband and father, what are you doing here? Why do you need a protection order?”

    I tried to explain that, for some reason, despite how hard we were both trying to live according to Christian principles, our home had become an oppressive, miserable place in which none of us were happy, and it felt like we were all losing our minds. The problem was, everything I knew about relationships had been so completely redefined by Christian teachings that I did not have the language to name the abuse.

    So I went to therapy. One of the first things Deb, my counselor, showed me was a "Power and Control Wheel" which is a tool for helping abuse victims identify ways in which they are being manipulated, exploited, mistreated and enslaved.

    As Deb went over each aspect of the Power & Control wheel, I began to realize that, yes, of course, all of these elements were present in my marriage … it’s just that we had different names for these things … we had chapter and verse to teach us that power and control is actually good and godly. We called it “Agape Love” - it’s the kind of love which God has for His creation …this was the relationship we were supposed to use as our model between husband and wife.

    For instance: the signs of emotional abuse include put downs, shaming, and guilt-tripping. Well, this is something my husband would never do … there really was no need since I was already fully aware of my inherently sinful nature, my “desperately wicked heart,” … He didn’t need to remind me that even my very best efforts were like filthy rags in comparison to God’s holiness.

    Plus, I knew that as a woman, I was particularly susceptible to deception by Satan. How many times, when we were discussing an important decision, had my husband said to me, “What you are suggesting SOUNDS reasonable, but how do I know that Satan isn’t using you to deceive me?”

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  6. Well according to the Bible it was very likely that Satan WAS using me “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through child-bearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (1 Timothy 2:14-15… As a good Christian woman, the last thing I wanted was to be accused of having a “Jezebel Spirit”!! Jezebel is the bossy, bold and dominating woman, who ‘wears the pants’ in the family, and in the Bible account, things ended badly for her: “’Throw her down’Jehu said. So they threw her down and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.” (2 Kings 9:33)

    Intimidation creates fear … but how can fear be a bad thing when, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?” Was I afraid of my husband? Not in a physical sense, but I was always hesitant to contradict or “disrespect” him because God had placed him in authority over me, and God-given authorities can be considered “umbrellas of protection.”

    Patriarchy is God’s umbrella of protection. By honoring and submitting to their husbands, wives receive the privileges of their spiritual protection. If a wife resists her husband’s instructions, she forfeits her place under his protection - not just for herself, but for also for her children.

    My husband didn’t intentionally isolate me and the children … it just kind of happened as a logical progression of our decision to live radically for Jesus. First, I dropped out of college and quit my job in order to be a “keeper at home” as the Bible commands. Then we cut out all meaningful associations with unbelievers, and most of our extended family who didn’t share our dedication to righteous living.

    We taught our kids at home to protect them from the evil influence of godless humanism which we believed was the religion taught in the “government schools.” We eventually got to the point where we were so "biblical" that we felt the local Independent Fundamental Baptist church in our town was too liberal, too compromising ... so we began homechurching with a couple of "like-minded" families who also were leaving their family planning up to God and homeschooling their many children.

    Minimizing, denying, and blaming … this one was obvious to me, because IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY, whatever suffering or adversity I might encounter as a result of our commitment to live according to biblical principles were merely “light and momentary afflictions.” Sure there were times when submitting to my husband’s decisions was a hassle, and yes, the pregnancies nearly killed me every time, BUT … who was I to complain, considering everything that Jesus had done for me? If I thought “almost” dying was bad, just imagine how horrible it was for Jesus, who actually died!! Motherhood was my mission field. Missionaries often risk their lives in order to spread the Gospel. And just like the missionaries, if I died in childbirth, in Heaven, I would wear a Martyr’s Crown.

    “Using children” didn’t really ring true to me. Everyone knows “Jesus love the little children” and the whole reason we were knocking ourselves out to follow the biblical model for marriage and family was in order to create a safe, loving home for our children, so no … I told Deb, “Using children? I don’t think that one really applies.”

    … oh, except the part where using any form of birth control was tantamount to playing God, so I was kept perpetually pregnant or nursing, or both for more than 11 years. That verse in Psalm 127 says, “Blessed is the MAN who has his quiver full of them” … and it goes on to say,”he shall not be ashamed, but will speak with the enemies in the gates.” We were taught that in Bible times, the city gate was the place where male leaders made decisions regarding local government.

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  7. So this was about political domination. The whole point of having a quiver full of babies is to ... out-populate the “enemy,” … that would be all of you; and to shoot those many arrows “straight into the heart of the enemy.” And by that, we meant that our children would grow up to be leaders in all the major institutions of our society. This was our plan for taking back America for God. So the children were like arrows (which is the ammunition) in God’s holy war. So, yeah … “using children” … definitely put a great big checkmark by that one.

    Oh … and for those who are curious, but too polite to ask what it is like for these Quiverfull wives who are breeding like rabbits, I have a little story for you. A guy bunny meets a lady bunny in the field, and he says to her, “This won’t take long, did it?” (My kids hate it when I tell that joke. They say that it’s TMI.)

    I wouldn’t say that my husband used male privilege to control and dominate me and the kids. Male privilege was his rightful position. As Paul says in the book of 1 Corinthians, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man.

    Biblical marriage is supposed to be a living portrait of the relationship between Jesus and the church, the “Bride of Christ.” Jesus has all power, all authority which is given to him by HIS Father (the same way power and authority are given by God to earthly fathers).

    … So even though I’d heard that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” I couldn’t believe thatGod-ordained authority could be abused because “Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for a friend.” Jesus had that perfect love … He was a “servant-leader” …. and husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, right?

    We believed that while men were “privileged” with greater authority, they also were burdened with ultimate responsibility … so a woman’s absolute dependence was really more of a hardship for the man than for the ones over whom he held God-ordained dominion.

    Economic abuse? Well sure, money was always tight, but hey, finances were no picnic for my husband either, and besides, we had these promises ...

    My God will supply all my needs,” and “I have never seen a righteous man forsaken or his children begging for bread” … It was really just a matter of trust, plus careful money management.

    God always provided for us financially … like the time He led me to deliver my 5th baby at home with just a midwife …. never mind that homebirth was insanely risky considering the health issues which led to my first four babies being delivered by c-section … the baby and I both survived … and we saved a ton of money.

    What could possibly make more sense than God’s financial plan?

    Coercion and threats … “No,” I told Deb, “he never threatened me.” I *willinging* went along with all the harsh demands of the Quiverfull lifestyle, and in many instances, I was the one who pushed patriarchy and headship ON HIM. Why would I do that?

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  8. Because I believed our family had an ENEMY who was determined to steal, kill, and destroy our souls, and the souls of our children, for all eternity! Our only protection from spiritual disaster, was within that one little secret spot of safety which Corrie ten Boom called, “The Hiding Place.” “The Hiding Place” isn’t any physical location … instead, it is a very specific, very narrow position ... directly in the center of God’s will. There, and only there, we could safely trust in God’s protection.

    He never had to raise his voice to keep me and the children in our place. And when he did raise his voice, well that was “speaking the truth in love.” When he constantly criticized and complained about all the ways in which the children and I failed to live up to God’s perfect standards, he was “hating the sin, but loving the sinner.” He didn’t have to brandish a weapon in order to control our every action, indeed even our thoughts and feelings. All he had to do was fulfill his God-appointed role of Patriarch; to love us as Christ loves the church.

    After going through all the points on the Power and Control wheel, I was ready to admit that, yes, I was in an abusive relationship. I told my counselor, “I want out!”

    Deb said me, “You have to protect yourself and your children! You need to divorce this man!”

    She was talking about my husband, and I was thinking, “Well, yeah ... him, too.”

    I did file for divorce and rescue myself and my kids from the tyranny of patriarchy. But for me, the primary break up was with Jesus. You see, being in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is a set up for dysfunctional game-playing and crazy-making head trips. According to Christianity, Jesus subjected himself to torture and death, so that we could have the “free gift” of eternal life … and by “free,” he means, it’s only going to cost you everything you have and everything you are.

    When the very definition of perfect love is sacrificing your children and martyring yourself, there is no place for emotionally healthy concepts like boundaries, consent, equality, and mutuality. I could not say that my husband’s patriarchal behavior was abusive so long as I was committed to a relationship with “The Big Guy” who exemplifies the abusive bully, and who commands his followers to imitate His very warped and twisted idea of “love.”

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  9. I started a blog No Longer Quivering as a way to process my Quiverfull life and try to understand how I’d come to embrace such a fanatical lifestyle. The response was surprisingly phenomenal and over time, NLQ has grown to into something like a movement of women escaping and healing from spiritual abuse. There are now dozens of former fundamentalist women (and a few men) who are sharing their stories, and many of the kids who were raised in these homes have started their own blogs, including Libby Anne, who runs the amazing, Love, Joy, Feminism site on Patheos. Getting out is extremely hard. Leaving an abusive relationship is challenge enough, and when you have half a dozen or more kids, no marketable job skills … BUT, Quiverfull women are already used to doing the impossible, so when it comes to rescuing themselves and their children, “extremely hard” feels like a relief!

    [Editor’s note: Vyckie doesn’t say so, but in contrast to publishing resources for Quiverfull families, publishing for women in recovery doesn’t pay. Some of the women at No Longer Quivering recently launched a fundraiser to keep Vyckie from losing her house.]

    Some Quiverfull kids are making the break, too. Growing up in a Quiverfull home means being raised by a narcissistic father and having a mother with a huge martyr complex. The kids are treated as property to be hoarded. They are isolated, coerced and manipulated, abused and deprived socially and educationally. As surrogate moms, the older daughters bear the brunt of the work: cleaning, cooking … even homeschooling and disciplining their younger siblings when the Quiverfull mothers become too worn down and burned out from perpetual pregnancy and trying to keep up with this unsustainable lifestyle.

    When they finally encounter the “real world,” these kids are pissed. They feel ripped off … and rightfully so. The backlash is awesome to witness as they’ve channeled their anger into activism and begun to fight back with their own websites such as Homeschoolers Anonymousand Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. All of these sites are linked at No Longer Quiveringand I encourage you to check them out.

    Note: Credit for the original Power and Control Wheel goes to Domestic Abuse Intervention Programsin Duluth, MN.

    Vyckie Garrison, single mom of 7 kids, is a former adherent of the Quiverfull movement – a growing segment of Christian fundamentalist who advocate biblical patriarchy, prolific motherhood, homeschooling, courtship & betrothal, and other crazy shit like that. Garrison tells the story of how she came to embrace the extreme lifestyle and why she left at her “No Longer Quivering” blog and has created The Spiritual Abuse Survivior Blog Network.


  10. My childhood in a cult is hard to imagine but my survival is truly unbelievable

    The ATI cult and the ‘Quiverfull’ movement defined my life, until I was old enough to break away

    by Jenna Tracy, The Guardian June 1, 2015

    For the longest time, I didn’t know how to explain to people how I grew up.

    Raised in Minnesota, my family went to a suburban, evangelical church in the Assemblies of God denomination: most people would consider it conservative, but it was more mainstream than where we ended up. My siblings and I wore shorts during the summer, listened to music and watched Full House on TV.

    My family’s transition into the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) cult – the homeschool offshoot of Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles now infamous because of its association with the Duggar family – was slow. The institute teaches a rigid hierarchy where God comes first, men come second, women are third and children are at the very bottom. As with many people who join cults, my parents were drawn in by the teachings of a leader – Gothard – whose charisma and sense of moral certainty they ultimately found impossible to resist.

    In the third grade, my parents decided to start homeschooling and were introduced to the ATI curriculum by a family friend. It didn’t seem so out of the mainstream at the beginning. When we first attended Gothard’s seminars, for instance, we were crowded into the St Paul Civic Center with thousands of other families who didn’t seem all that different from us. Before long, we were attending a relatively large church in Minneapolis founded on ATI principles, where most members considered it their duty to give birth to as many children as possible to strengthen God’s kingdom – what would later become known as the “Quiverfull” movement. (With only four kids, our family was one of the smallest in the church.)

    An emphasis on controlling every aspect of a woman’s physical appearance was central to the ATI lifestyle, and conforming to Gothard’s personal tastes was an obsession shared by women and men. This meant wearing our hair (our Biblical “crowning glory”) long and keeping our curls touchably soft and loose. Gothard even made it known he strongly disliked the “wet look” (women wearing too much gel in their hair), and I was even once pulled aside at an ATI training institute in Oklahoma and told to start wearing less product.

    At church, women were supposed to wear head coverings to show our submission, though the guidelines weren’t strict. (Some women would just pin Kleenex to the top of their heads.)

    Ankle-length skirts were required for women and girls at all times. In our family, one of the more “liberal” in our church, we were usually allowed to wear pants at home (when we weren’t around other ATI families and for activities like horseback riding), but jeans were strictly forbidden.

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  11. We girls came to learn that policing our bodies, in addition to getting married and having babies, was our primary role in life. Even before puberty, we were required to swim in oversized t-shirts and shorts that came past our knees (while boys wore regular bathing suits), and were taught by our wisdom books: “when a man looks lustfully at a woman, a flood of impulses travels through the optic nerve to the back of the brain”, causing testosterone to surge, violent crime to go up and otherwise “godly” men to stumble.

    So when, in the seventh grade, I developed breasts and they grew to DDs, it felt like nothing worse could have happened. Finding shirts baggy enough to hide their size was a constant struggle, and it seemed like nothing I could find fully concealed the fact that they were attached to me. I remember begging my mom to take me to the mall, where I spent hours looking for bras that would minimize their size. My closest ATI friend and I would frequently buy the same clothes when we went shopping together, in the way teenage girls do. But while my parents were frequently pulled aside by other members in our church to be told my clothing was causing men to “lust” after me, my less-curvy friend never became a target of church leadership like I did.

    The obsession with keeping men’s eyes off of women’s breasts didn’t end with trying to force me to hide mine. During an eight-week-long, all-female training program, my sister was chastised by an older woman because a flower in the patterned fabric of a vest she was required to sew came too close to her breast. (She got lucky though – unlike some other students, she didn’t have to destroy it and start over.)

    Dating was out of the question. If a young man in the church saw a young woman he was interested in, we were taught that the man should go to his father first and ask them to pray and decide whether he felt the relationship was God’s will. If he decided it was, the man’s father would then approach the woman’s father and ask him to pray and decide if he felt it was God’s will. If both fathers were in agreement, the children would then be allowed to embark on a closely-supervised “courtship” intended to lead to marriage.

    The father of another girl in our church found a partner for her after becoming concerned that, unmarried in her mid-twenties, she was failing in her biblical mandate to have as many children as possible. At their wedding, we were all handed a printed program that explained the couple’s journey to marriage and the daughter’s initial resistance to her father’s choice; clearly meant to inspire the young women in the room, it explained that she had, at first, no interest in marrying the man her father had chosen. But after she prayed and decided that their marriage was God’s will, she’d agreed to the union. I’ll never forget the palpable discomfort in the room when the couple was supposed to kiss at the altar (“saving” your first kiss for the day of your wedding is common in ATI) and, after a strained peck, the bride cringed, pulled back and, as her new husband continued to try to kiss her, pushed him away.

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  12. Women were under enormous pressure to marry, but men, we were told, could get a special exception to stay single if it was God’s will. Gothard himself liked to say that as he explained to us at a weekend retreat I attended to learn how to be a “godly” woman, God specifically set him apart for singleness, freeing him of the obligation to get married. (In retrospect, given the 34 women who’ve come forward saying they were sexually abused by Gothard, many of them as children, it’s even more disturbing.)

    Though we’d been raised to believe that college wasn’t part of God’s plan for women, I started researching colleges and searching for loans I could apply to in earnest around age 16. Our local public library was my salvation, since our family’s computer had long since been outfitted with a special web blocker designed for ATI families that blotted out virtually all of the internet. But at the library, I could spend hours indulging my nascent interest in design by browsing fashion websites and looking through back issues of fashion magazines. I took advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the world outside of ATI – even trying to arrive early to orthodontist appointments whenever I could to sit in the waiting room and steal a few precious moments with the piles of teen magazines.

    I became fixated on applying to design schools in New York and, though our ATI filter wouldn’t allow me to apply to universities from home, I quickly learned that most websites through which I could apply for student loan applications were allowed. My parents might have prevented me from applying had I started two years earlier, but disillusioned by a sex scandal involving our church’s pastor when I was 17 and worn down by years of me questioning my father’s authority and the strict confines of ATI, my parents agreed to let me go if I would pay for college myself. Despite the fact that I was largely shooting in the dark when it came to filling out my applications (especially in the applications for financial aid), I found a design school that was willing to accept me and, when I finished homeschooling at age 18, I moved east to New York.

    At school, I quickly shed my “homeschool image” and clothes, dyed my hair whenever I wanted, drank and went to clubs with a fake ID like everybody else. The transition might have seemed abrupt to an outside observer, but after years of secretly envisioning my life the way I wanted it to be outside of ATI, the experience was tremendously liberating. I eventually finished my degree and moved back to Minnesota, but today am rarely in touch with anyone from ATI or my old church here.

    Today, a lot of my friends don’t have any idea what I went through – and everyone in my family has since left the movement. Looking back, I realize I’m lucky to have emerged relatively unscathed, and to have a close relationship with my parents and siblings that’s stayed intact even as we’ve all transitioned back to living more normal lives.

    I know my past is something many people can’t relate to – and many struggle to understand even after it’s explained to them. It’s extreme, out-of-the-mainstream weirdness is something that makes it hard for most people to wrap their head around. And maybe that’s a good thing.


  13. The Duggars Fox News Interview Was an Unholy Disaster

    by Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast June 4, 2015

    At various times downplaying their son’s molestation of their daughters and playing the victims themselves, the Duggar family dug themselves a bottomless PR hole.

    Whether or not Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar are hypocrites, I suppose, is still a matter of debate. Whether they are despicable asshats, however, most certainly is not.

    Appearing on Fox News to answer Megyn Kelly’s questions about the scandal they’ve found their sprawling brood of holier-than-thou religious conservativesembroiled in, the matriarch and patriarch of the family featured in the TLC series19 Kids and Counting dug themselves into a PR hole no amount of high-minded righteousness can get them out of.

    Michelle and Jim-Bob were interviewed for two ostensible purposes. One was to explain themselves in the wake of the revelation that their eldest son, Josh, molested 5 girls, including siblings, 12 years ago, after which they took strides to cover it up and skirt the law as they eventually rose to fame on a reality TV show.

    The other was to defend themselves against accusations that they are religious hypocrites.

    They have used their fame to preach principles that, to many, could be construed as hateful, but they’ve defended as pure and moral. Women who have abortions are complicit in a “baby Holocaust,” they’ve said. They’ve damned the gay community. Michelle has recorded robocalls implying that transgender women are pedophilic child molesters.

    They’ve campaigned against proposed ordinances that would have protected gay parents from lawful discrimination when it came to raising their children. And they’ve taught their daughters that women should submit to men.

    All while their son molested children, and they helped to bury it.

    People who may have assumed that the Duggars agreed to a Fox News interview, of all outlets, because it may be a more hospitable environment weren’t exactly correct.

    Megyn Kelly may not have wagged a finger at them or damned them to hell, the way so many of us wished she would have. But she did ask them tough, responsible, and necessary questions.

    She asked why they protected a son who was harming their daughters. She asked for details that would refute the accusations that they covered his misdeeds up. She asked them if they were hypocrites. She asked specifically about Michelle’s comparing transgender women to child molesters. And Michelle stood by it. “It’s common sense,” she said, proving that she has no blessed idea what “common sense” is.

    More, she thinks people accusing them of hypocrisy have an unholy ax to grind.

    “Everyone of us has done something wrong. That’s why Jesus came,” she said. “This is more about—there’s an agenda. There are people who are purposing to bring things out and twisting them to hurt and slander.”

    Yes, folks, they are the victims.

    Is it possible to pick just one jaw-dropping, blood-boiling, unfathomable quote from this interview? Oh, there are dozens of them (and counting).

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  14. Certainly a frontrunner for the top prize would be when Michelle maintained that her daughters are being more abused by the press in the wake of the uncovering of Josh’s scandal than they were by Josh as children. “They’ve been victimized more by what happened in these last couple weeks than they were 12 years ago,” she said.

    What a disgraceful thing to say. If we’re throwing stones from glass houses and talking about “protecting” victims, how about we, as members of the press, talk about how we’re protecting the world from being influenced by bile like this by vilifying Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar after this interview.

    The Duggars presumably consented to being interviewed as a PR tactic to rehab their family’s image and, because everyone is the worst and everything is awful, salvage their dynamo reality TV careers and remain famous. Sweet Jesus did they fail.

    At best, they came off as bumbling Bambis, wide-eyed and unable to convincingly change any of the preconceived negative notions about how their family handled Josh Duggar’s molestation of five victims over the past 12 years. At worst, they came off as molestation apologists.

    “We tried to deal with this in-house as parents,” Jim Bob said, talking about why it took so long to involve police. “We did the best we could under the circumstances.”

    They stuttered and stopped and started as they explained the details of it, and more—and disgustingly—explained away Josh’s actions. At one point the sentence, “It’s not rape or anything like that,” was actually said. Actually said.

    It wasn’t the only minimizing of the events from the Duggars. The girls didn’t know it had happened, they said repeatedly, basically insisting that because they weren’t aware they were being molested it was perfectly OK that they were.

    Other families have said they had sons who did similar things, they argued. And—hey!—as parents you’re not mandatory reporters of child molestation anyway.

    You could see Michelle Duggar’s eyes rolling into the back of her head as she struggled to remember the PR talking points she had memorized for the interview. Words like “safeguards” and “devastated” and “counseling”—vaguely defined—were recited as nonsensical and, frankly, unbelievable word soup.

    The biggest narrative of the interview, though, was the assertion that their family is being victimized. There was outrage that the sealed juvenile record of their son was released publicly and, they claim, illegally.

    The press is on an onslaught criticizing the family for such amoral behavior like covering up the molestation of children and harboring their daughters in a very unsafe environment, but those people aren’t chasing the right story, Jim-Bob said. It’s that unjust release of the records, “That is the big story,” he said.

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  15. Quite grossly two of the daughters who were Josh’s victims were brought on air to weep and defend their brother and their family. Maybe they were supposed to be further evidence that the Duggars are not hypocrites, that the family solidarity and culture of forgiveness they foster warrants them to stand on soap boxes as if they were pulpits, criticizing the rest of us.

    Jim-Bob answered to that directly. “People on the outside think Christians are perfect,” he said when Kelly asked if they think they’ve been hypocritical. And because they’re fallible, they shouldn’t be deprived of their God-given right to an exploitative TLC reality series.

    “I don’t know if the rest of our family should be punished for the act of one of our children,” he said. “Whether they film us or not, we’re going to live life and continue to spread God’s word.”

    Are the Duggars hypocrites? No, not exactly. Hypocrites are guilty of the same crimes as those they are accusing. The transgender community, gay parents, anyone who doesn’t prescribe to a Biblical way of life hasn’t done any of the things the Duggars accuse them of.

    If not hypocrites, what are they? Misguided is one word. Ill-informed is kind. Disgusting is more accurate. Perhaps they’re monsters. And what makes it even worse? We’re Dr. Frankenstein.

    We made these people. We gave them a reality show. We made them superstars. Whether we were among those who lapped up their endearing family values and charming family interactions on 19 Kids and Counting, or we were among those who watched them to point and laugh at their curious religious practices, like modestly dressed animals in some zoo exhibit, we all created them. And what we’ve created are monsters.

    Now, what do monsters do? They roar. They growl. They snarl.

    To that regard, these are parents who gladly took the megaphone we gave them with the public platform of their hit reality TV show, held on to it with a white-knuckle grip, and used it to shame the rest of us for living impurely and raising our children without proper morals.

    Politicians used them in their campaigning. Viewers looked up to them, internalizing and acting on their instructions and beliefs. These people became cultural influencers. And, perhaps as karmic punishment, we must deal with the reality that we made that possible for them.

    At one point, I wondered whether TLC was smart to not pull the plug on 19 Kidsimmediately after the scandal broke. I thought that maybe giving the Duggar family time to explain themselves and then chronicle how they dealt with the stress and fallout of the controversy—and especially how they dealt with all the accusations and attacks against them in this past week—would actually make for valuable and responsible television.

    We glorify this family on camera when they’re at their best, so maybe we deserve and owe it to ourselves to document how they grapple with devastation when they’re at their worst.

    But this interview with the Duggars proves there is no merit in that. There’s no merit in giving any more publicity to these people who are delusional, victimizing themselves, and the worst kind of preachers of God’s word: the ones who don't bother to follow it themselves.

    see photos and links at: