Quiverfull: Outbreeding the World

Yes, the Quiverfull movement really wants to out breed the rest of the world. That’s kind of the idea. You hear all the time in families influenced by Quiverfull ideas the travesty of the average Western family only having two children, and how that presents an opportunity for those true Christian families that have many more than that average, and about how if we don’t do something the Muslims with their huge families will take over the world. I got these messages loud and clear growing up. I was taught that I was to change the world with my uterus.

Today, I came upon a Quiverfull article illustrating exactly the ideas I’m talking about here, and thought I would post it in whole for those readers who may not have had exposure to the ideas I did growing up. I have put the parts I think especially important in bold.



The Population Bust An Opportunity

By David Crank

The predicted population explosion has not occurred. In most countries around the world, birth rates are reported to be at or below the replacement rate (2.1 births per woman). Worldwide the birth rate in 2000 was estimated at 2.9 per woman, as compared to 5.4 in 1970. In the U.S. the rate has been near the replacement rate (reported to be 2.01 births per woman in 2002). Virtually all population growth in the U.S. is resulting from immigration. A number of countries are seeing a reduction in population that is of great concern, and are now trying to encourage couples to have more children – with little effect.
The population bust creates a very real opportunity for segments of the population willing to move counter to this trend. As American Christians, most of us would like to see our society and government change in many ways. We would like to see an end to legalized abortion, we would like to see strong Christian influences and witnesses throughout our society, we would like to see major reductions in pornography, immorality, gambling, misuse of drugs and alcohol, homosexuality, and a host of other evils that have been growing in our culture. What can we do about these things?
We can work to change laws, to influence our neighbors, to teach and preach and write about these things, etc. However, all of these efforts would be much more effective if there were many more of us working towards these ends. We need more Christians, and not just ones who make a one time profession and then continue living much as before! We need to make many more disciples and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:18-20).
We all know this, but sometimes we overlook one of the most effective ways to achieve this over the longer term. With each child born into our families we have an incredible opportunity to present the gospel to them and disciple them thoroughly over a period of perhaps 20 years. The more children we are able to have and raise for the Lord, the greater our long-term impact on our culture. In a period when the general population is barely producing enough children to replace themselves, the potential impact of a high birth strategy is greatly amplified.

The Impact of Your Family Alone

Just how much impact can just you and your spouse have on the future world merely by birthing and raising children for the Lord? Assuming all of your descendants are able to find godly mates outside of your family and, on average, reproduce at the same rate you do, and these descendants are all faithful to follow in the same footsteps …

If 6 children per couple:

Generation #1: 6 children
Generation #2: 36 children
Generation #3: 216 children
Generation #4: 1,296 children 

Total direct descendants: 1,554

If 8 children per couple:
Generation #1: 8 children
Generation #2: 64 children
Generation #3: 512 children
Generation #4: 4,096 children
Total direct descendants: 4,680
If 10 children per couple:
Generation #1: 10 children
Generation #2: 100 children
Generation #3: 1,000 children
Generation #4: 10,000 children 

Total direct descendants: 11,110

Compare these numbers with four generations of 2 children per couple:
30 total direct descendants.

Population Numbers

What percentage of the U.S. population is truly Christian? And what percentage of these are truly seeking to live for the Lord and to evaluate everything by the standard of the Bible?
Suppose, for example’s sake, that 10% of the U.S. population was truly Christian and serious about their Christianity, and were willing to have a few more children that the typical unbelievers (say 4 children instead of 2). Then suppose 1/5 of these, or 2% of the total population, were willing to seriously diverge from the norm of our society by not using birth control and being willing to accept as many children as God would bless them with (suppose an average of 8 children per family). Then suppose succeeding generations were convinced to do the same, while 90% of the population continued to average 2 children per family.
Given this scenario, how might the population mix change over a few generations? (Assume a population of 100 million for simplicity and that all spouses are taken from within the same group).

Generation #0
90% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

8% Serious Christians  (avg. 4 children)
(8 Million)

2% “Quiver Full” Christians  (avg. 8 children)
(2 Million )

Generation #1

79% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

14% Serious Christians  (avg. 4 children)
(16 Million)

7% “Quiver Full” Christians  (avg. 8 children)
(8 Million)

Generation #2
58% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

21% Serious Christians (avg. 4 children)
(32 Million)

21% “Quiver Full” Christians (avg. 8 children)
(32 Million)

Generation #3

32% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

23% Serious Christians (avg. 4 children)
(64 Million)

45% “Quiver Full” Christians (avg. 8 children)
(128 Million)

The Outcome. Isn’t it amazing how fast a small difference in birth rates can change the makeup of a population? In two generations – that would be the grandchildren of a young couple starting out right now, a 10% population segment of Christians could almost overtake the unbelievers and nominal Christians – and that’s without counting any conversions resulting from evangelism outside your immediate family! By the 3rd generation, that original 10% could represent 68% of the whole!
Of course it is really a bit more complicated than this. These numbers just look at each generation separately, in actuality about 3 generations are living at the same time and young children do not have a great influence until they grow up. So it might take one more generation to change the actual voting majority. There are also other factors which would impact the final numbers, but probably not a great deal.
Essential Conditions. There is however one other necessary requirement for reaching this end. The Christian parents averaging 4 or 8 children must also successfully raise their children to similarly follow the Lord and to also marry and reproduce accordingly. Many children straying from the faith or following the world in averaging only 2 children per family, and things do work out nearly so well.
Is This Truly Feasible? What I see when exhibiting at homeschool conferences is encouraging. Particularly among those Christians who have been home schooling for longer periods, larger families are very common. I would guess that the average number of children among Christian home schoolers is around four and going higher. We meet a good number of such families with 8, 10, or 12 children! Though there will always be some unable to have children at all, and others blessed with only one or two, I would still expect an average of 7 or 8 children per family among those not using birth control. Doing a little genealogy research on various branches of our family, I found the average number of living children in the 1700 and 1800s to be in that range or higher – in spite of higher mortality among infants and small children.
And is it feasible for Christian parents to on average lose less than 10% of their children to the world? Statistics have been published indicating that as much as 80% of the children from Christian families are turning away from the church as young adults. However, this is clearly not happening among most home schooling families. Some young people from fine Christian homeschooling families are lost, but I would estimate the number as well below 20% at present (from those families who homeschool through high school).


So yes, I think such a change is very feasible and could be driven heavily by the homeschool movement – IF – we would (1) be diligent in speaking out against the world’s view of children as burdens; and (2) strongly encourage one another and others to trust God in this area; and (3) truly welcome more children into our own families, if God would provide.
Notice the assumption that if you raise your children properly they will grow up to be your ideological clones and copy your exact lifestyle. Of everything I read in articles like this, this is the part I find most destructive. It’s not just about raising children who love Jesus, it’s about raising “true” Christians (aka ones who agree with you on every minute point of theology, morality, and politics) who will have six, eight, or ten children like you. Raising Christians who “stray from the faith” (aka questioning even a single doctrinal point, such as young earth creationism or anti-gay rights) or “average only two children like the world” represents failure.  

“Some young people from fine homeschooling families are lost,” the article says. I am one of those “lost” young people. So are those whose blogs are listed under my “Links” tab. And let me tell you, for those “lost” young people this kind of thinking wrecks havoc with familial relations.

Also, it really does seem that this strategy represents an abandoning of the original Christian strategy of evangelicalism. Rather than making Christians by giving birth to them, why not make Christians by converting them? Has conversion failed? If the only way you can get others to share your religious beliefs is by birthing and indoctrinating them, you have a serious problem.

Oh and also, apparently infertility doesn’t fit in this model either.

Child Marriage and the Rest of the Maranatha Story
Guest Post: The Many Valuable Lessons I Learned at ATI
Patrick Henry College: Claims to be Anti-Quiverfull, Invites Quiverfull Speaker
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Anonymous

    You don't seem lost to me. You seem like a good person doing her share to make the world better for ALL people – regardless of their beliefs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    I don't feel lost either, I feel "found." :-P But for my parents and those involved in the thinking of the Quiverfull movement, I am lost – or at least, that's how they see me.

  • Retha

    You are right – it is evangelism, not indoctrination of children, that should form the basis. Previously, I also thought to react to that article, with an article with some logic and mathematics in it.In your estimate, Libby (and I also ask any ex-members who also hang out here) what percentage of patriarchy children leave patriarchy/ choose not to teach patriarchy curriculum to their kids? And what percentage actually have that many kids, as I read elsewhere that many daughters of over-controlling courtship fathers never get a husband?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Interesting question – and I hope others answer as well! I was one of the older kids in my community growing up, so it's hard to tell yet. In my own family of origin, more of us who are grown are going a different direction than are echoing our parents' lifestyle. In another family I know, though, they've still got everyone in, living at home – but then none of them are married, even the daughters in their mid-20s, and there have been no prospects so far. So while I can't say for sure, because some families growing up were more Quiverfull than others and because most of the most Quiverfull families my family associates with are too young to tell yet, I would say that from my experience the statistic he gives – 20% "lost" and 80% busy starting their own Quiverfull families – is a vast exaggeration.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    And if you DO reply to the article, let me know, I'd like to read what you write!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09371826731550331938 AztecQueen2000

    The author is failing to take another factor into consideration–that fundamentalist monotheists of ALL stripes (not just Protestant Christians) are also trying for their own population explosion. In other words, strict Catholics, and fundamentalist Jews and Muslims, are also shooting for larger-than-average families, who are also indoctrinated with their own particular beliefs. Most of my fellow Orthodox Jews, for example, average about 6 kids per family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10353346026765317698 College At Thirty

    I just always wonder what it is that they think they're supposed to accomplish. I've read the entire bible several times, and Jesus is very clear about his kingdom being "not of this world." Do they just parse together what they do and don't want to see in the bible? (Don't answer that…I know they do.)As for population drop-off, I'm just not seeing it. It's possible that we're heading towards another evolutionary bottleneck, and with all of the environmental changes happening, it could very well be, but I don't think that multi-level Amway-style breeding is the answer.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    You mean like in this article.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Ugh! This kind of mentality still creeps me out, because now I'm afraid that they are going to outnumber the sane people by hook or by crook. My old indoctrination is still there, and I find myself wanting to birth and raise a million kids just to outbreed the quiverfull movement. But instead of raising robotic conforming breeding machines, I could raise healthy empathic loving freethinking adults who could change the world!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Me too, me too! We need to outnumber them with sane people! In all seriousness, though, I would like to hope that the power of sane ideas will be enough, and that fundamentalist groups trying to outbreed everyone else will bleed children to the sane side in sufficient numbers that it won't be a problem. The thing is, to do that, the kids being raised in these families need, well, exposure to sane people and sane ideas. Maybe we can be a part of that, at least.

  • http://rant5k.blogspot.com Grikmeer

    A different, but equally frightening thought is the fact that, if they keep breeding at that rate, the world is leaping and bounding towards mass overpopulation. We're already at 7 Billion, isn't that enough?Personally I would like to have one biological child (sue me, I'm a slave to my DNA) but I'd also like to adopt a couple more, maybe even from a country currently suffering overpopulation/lack of resources like India or an African state.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06401440551873070129 Elin

    If there is something that creeps me out big time it is these quiverfull ideas… I love children, I like the idea of a big family but I would never get one for political reasons. Outbreeding another groups is distasteful to the max in my view, to mention how disrespectful it is to the children you breed. We decided to have children not because we love them and wanted to have a large family but because we want to outbreed other people. We had you as a part of a carefully thought-out political plan, not because we felt we could love and support another child. As a Christian and a human I see children as gifts, not pawns in a political game.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    "Pawns in a political game. I like that. I mean I don't like that, but I think it's a fairly accurate reflection of what goes on with this kind of thinking. My parents loved us children dearly and did see each of us as a gift, but they also saw us as pawns in a sort of cosmic political and religious battle. When I stopped being their willing pawn, the trouble started. And that's the problem.

  • Exrelayman

    An oldie but goodie SF tale treating of this matter:http://www.scribd.com/doc/23657356/The-Marching-Morons

  • Rosa

    The moderate and secular world has all the good stuff, though. We don't even have to recruit, and still most kids choose us when they grow up.Look how isolated kids have to be, to stop them from defecting, if you need proof.

  • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

    As a Catholic I have to say one thing. Most priests do not want to get anywhere near the birth control issue. The Vatican is one thing, down here where you have to face people is another. Also, I know many, many strict Catholics and almost none have huge families. The ones that do just get more ink is all.One interesting observation I am making about people leaving the QF movement is that a large percentage are atheists. So if those within the movement think they are raising up some huge population for Christ, they are seriously mistaken.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13195112449945205248 Angelia

    This is why I have 4 kids. I started by raising white Christian geniuses, something there were too few of, since everyone knew the lower orders, the heathen and the stupid were the ones breeding like bunnies. (racism was a feature of the faith. intellectual elitism is my own problem) And I produced three blond, blue-eyed very smart kids, and one with dark hair and eyes (like mine) who is smart in different ways than her sibs.I grew out of all that around the 4th kid. My two older ones are baptized, but the oldest identifies as pagan and the second says he's an atheist. My baby (at 12) is seriously pagan, as in wears a pentagram to school and has made her own altar in her room. There is hope.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Haha! I keep saying that leaving the church (not the faith but the institution for me) feels like a whole new life; almost like being born– again!

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha

    You are right when you say this is not what Jesus said to do, and his kingdom is not of the world.Jesus said to preach the gospel to all people – by his projection there are 90 million unbelievers/ nominal Christians in generation 0, another 90 million in generation 1, another 90 million in generation 2 and again in generation 3. Even if all of the breeder kids end up Christians (impossible, as Jesus' Christianity – as opposed to cultural Christianity – has to be a chosen thing) absolutely no progress is actually made in making disciples. That is the part of the problem that prove they cannot slap "Christian" on it.The other part is that in order to get all kids to be "Christian" their children suffer.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh! Why, why, why do these people feel they have to add umpteen children to a crowded planet? Why don't they adopt kids instead? That would subtract from the population of "unbelievers" while not burdening the women with endless pregnancies. There are tons of kids languishing in foster care waiting for a loving home.

  • Anna

    I have to say, I take comfort in the fact that kids are such wild cards. It is just ridiculous to think that you can turn your children into whatever you want them to be. As much as the QF movement wants to make parents believe that their children are just blank slates for them to write on, it just isn't true. I firmly believe that our nurturing can help our children become the best, most compassionate version of themselves, but at the end of the day they will still be THEMSELVES no matter what. The chaos factor is just too powerful for this to be a viable strategy for building a movement. To quote Jurassic Park, "life breaks free" :)

  • Meggie

    I'm sure I read somewhere that ultra-orthodox Jews have the highest birthrate in the world, due to following Old Testament teachings on the timing of intercourse to coincide with ovulation.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, yeah I think I heard that too! I just had an argument with my sister about this. I thought I was alone but infact i am not!! Vindication galore! Wow, I gotta show my sister this. Effing owned.

  • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    Off topic, but one thing that struck me in the aryicle was when they say: "We would like to see an end to legalized abortion." Note the addition of the word "legalized." It's very odd, but I realize that this phrasing is very common among the evangelical crowd. If they just said that their goal was an end to abortions, we'd have to talk about the only thing that has been proven to work: sex ed for kids. But by specifying "legal" abortions, they make it clear that the goal is NOT to save the unborn babies from genocide. There's an entirely different moral outrage at play…

  • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    Anyways, I brought this up with my husband when we were talking about ho many kids to have. I jokingly argued that we need to compete with the Quiverfullers. Totally deadpan, my husband says: "Naw, let them do the breeding. We'll just deconvert their kids once there's no diapers to worry about."

  • Caravelle

    As Greta Christina put it, "they can't recruit so they have to breed"…As for the population explosion that never happened, what planet does this guy live on ? I live on the one where I can't get over the idea that in 1960 there were only 3 billion people. Less than half of today's population ! 1960 ! The Beatles ! They lived on a half-depopulated planet WTF !I still have childhood books telling me there were 5 billion people on the planet. Now we've added a couple of billion. "Billion" is a big number. And humans are big animals.

  • Caravelle

    Except that some of those adopted kids have ended up tortured and killed. A lot of fundamentalist Christian houses turn out not to be very "loving" to children who don't fall into their mold – and older children who grew up in different environments will have trouble falling into the mold.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00144602099806676505 Montana Wildflower

    And don't forget the Fundamental Later-Day Saints, who probably have a leg up since the population doesn't depend on one dad, one mom families. When a guy can knock his rocks off with 7 wives and have 56 kids in his life time, hell, they've got the population boom down to a science.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00144602099806676505 Montana Wildflower

    I think the term "legal" may be interchanged with "elective."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00144602099806676505 Montana Wildflower

    Life finds a way and so does nature. Personally, I'm not too worried about over-populating the planet beyond it's resources. I suspect that if they were to ever become the case, the physical world would have a way of balancing that all out eventually.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Yes, I agree, nature will have a way of balancing things out, but I do worry what that will be – famine? disease? global warfare over resources? Nature isn't always pretty!

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Well, it's not that simple. The so-called "family purity" laws about abstaining from intercourse during and for a week after a woman's period do have the effect of increasing fertility for some women (it depends on your individual cycle) but that's certainly not why those laws exist. How could it be? People didn't understand ovulation and the menstrual cycle thousands of years ago. The ultra-orthodox Jews (a relatively new movement) in Israel have loads of loads of kids because, as somebody else mentioned, they're trying to win their own demographic war against both Arabs and secular Israelis. And they don't do it with "family purity." They employ all kinds of modern means to make sure they crank out as many kids as possible. Fertility treatments and medical intervention is definitely not taboo.Orthodox families traditionally had plenty of children but there wasn't the same focus on having as many as possible and "family purity" won't assure you a large brood. That's not really the point. My grandma was raised Orthodox and I'm sure her parents followed the rules. They had six kids. Not twenty, six.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11665213464269297006 Sara

    I wish I could find it, but I read some history once about attitudes close to the turn of the last century. Apparently, the elite white gentry were scandalized that their people were marrying poor Irish and Italian immigrants to America. There were pamphlets published trying to get white elite women to breed as much as possible with their "own kind" so as to outdo those poor immigrants. Around this time was the myth that certain highly evolved whites were descended from a superior race called "Aryan", who were destined to control the world. Eugenics, and the Holocaust are the end result of this "manifest destiny". To me, quiverfull just looks like a form of christianized fascism. You can't breed faith, but xenophobia spreads like a disease in isolated special interest groups.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11665213464269297006 Sara

    I wish I could find it, but I read some history once about attitudes close to the turn of the last century. Apparently, the elite white gentry were scandalized that their people were marrying poor Irish and Italian immigrants to America. There were pamphlets published trying to get white elite women to breed as much as possible with their "own kind" so as to outdo those poor immigrants. Around this time was the myth that certain highly evolved whites were descended from a superior race called "Aryan", who were destined to control the world. Eugenics, and the Holocaust are the end result of this "manifest destiny". To me, quiverfull just looks like a form of christianized fascism. You can't breed faith, but xenophobia spreads like a disease in isolated special interest groups.

  • Richter_DL

    I especially like how they hold up Salafism as an example to follow, and don’t even realise what that exposes them to be.

  • Richter_DL

    Also, all orthodox Jews in Israel live off welfare on purpose, because they consider the state’s very existence a sin, and want to bring it down with overbearing welfare cost, in a combination of American and Israeli idiocy.

  • Richter_DL

    A thin covering for sexual abuse, but that is something you run into everywhere with isolated, insular, religiously fanatical communities. Peel away the ideology and it is usually Crastor’s den.

  • Richter_DL

    Also, apparently they don’t think about their own mortality a lot. Or their indoctrination system failing.