Raised Quiverfull: Panel Introductions

Please introduce yourself before we get started. Are you married or unmarried? Are you in school, holding down a job, or staying home? Do you have children? What religious beliefs or lack thereof do you ascribe to today? Provide whatever additional information you like.


On May, 1, 2012, I turn 32 years old.  I have more gray hairs than there are polar bears in either arctic zone and I am following in the tradition of my dad and both my grandfathers in keeping every hair all the way to the grave.  None of them went, or are going, bald.  Although I wouldn’t mind the Friar Tuck look.

I am married to the most awesome woman I know, this side of the sun.  If there happens to be a better one, I’ll never know or care.  I am fully devoted to her and proudly codependent.  She is everything to me.  Then my six children.  From oldest to youngest, they are, Renaya (10), Laura (8), Frederic (7), Felicity (4), Jack (3), and Analisse (2).  If I do go bald, it will be entirely due to them.  They have already contributed to my gray hair.

When Kristine and I were married, we were ultra-conservative Christians, she less than I, but I would not allow any discussion on potential compromise.  Since then, we have liberalized our views and recently, have become full-blown non-believers.  Personally, I have no religious beliefs and have completely rejected the god of the Bible.  I consider myself an agnostic because I cannot empirically determine that there is nothing supernatural and yet, in practice, I am very much an atheist.

I love the Minnesota Twins, writing, and anything to do with Kristine.


I’m in my thirties and have a young child that I now stay home with.  My husband and I consider ourselves extremely liberal Christians, but as ex-fundamentalists we haven’t found a group that we want to associate with.  We are currently living in California.

Libby Anne:

I’m Libby Anne, a married graduate student in my mid-twenties with one child and a baby on the way. I’m still not completely sure what I want to do “when I grow up,” but I do know I want to have a career of some sort in the field I am studying. I’m only planning to have a few children and I plan to put them in public school. As for religious beliefs, I’m an atheist. It took me a while to arrive there, but after I started asking questions the questions just didn’t seem to stop.


I’m Lisa, I’m 24 and I now live in Germany. I was born and raised in the U.S. but left the U.S. when I left my parents and siblings about two years ago. I have an American father and a German mother, and found shelter with my mother’s family here. I’m not married and I don’t have any kids. Right now I’m working on getting a high school degree. Since I was home schooled and didn’t do well, I never got one when I lived with my family. Besides school I work at as a waitress. I’m not quite sure what I believe at the moment. I do believe there is God, but I can’t make sense of anything else.


I’m “Mattie Chatham,” of The Nest Egg (the pseudonym and blog title are shamelessly stolen from Wendell Berry’s novel, Jayber Crow). I’m the oldest of nine kids. The youngest is five.  I’m 23, married, with no kids yet. My husband grew up in a similar sort of family (even participating in ATI for a time), but his family was less prone to extremes than mine was/is. At present, I work at a non-profit in the D.C. area doing funding research. My husband is pursuing his certification in music therapy. We attend a fairly conservative Episcopal church and would consider ourselves Anglican.  We both participated in Sovereign Grace Ministries churches for the large part of our childhoods.


I am Melissa, mid-twenties, married, working in the evenings and staying at home with my 4 pre-school aged children during the day. I am hoping to go to school for the first time this year, and I have no idea what to focus on, it is all so interesting to me. Currently, I am agnostic, we attend a Unitarian church here and there when we feel up to it. I grew up the oldest of 11 children in a Quiverfull/Patriarchal homeschooling family.


My name is Sarah. I have been married for almost 2 years now. We have no children, and don’t plan on having any for at least 5 more years. I work full time as a receptionist and pay all the bills for my household. I am also in school part time taking about 10 credits per semester. I go during the summer too so it comes out at around a full course load per year. My husband is still stoically Christian; I on the other hand have come to an uncertain agnosticism. This difference is religion has been the major cause of conflict in my marriage.


You can call me Sierra. It isn’t my real name, but I use it to protect the identity of my family and former friends. I am 25 and have been out of fundamentalism since 2006. I am currently in a History Ph.D. program in a Midwestern university, and hold a master’s in history from one of England’s big two. I am engaged to my partner of five years, and recently adopted a puppy. I can say without reservations that 25 has been the best year of my life.


Hello! My name is Tricia. I’m 26 years old. I had a fairly typical American childhood until age ten or so, when my parents began to homeschool me and gradually became immersed into the world of CP/QF. You might say they/we were fully “in” by the time I was fourteen. So I went on to live the stay at home daughter life– foregoing college to be a keeper at home, courtship in my early twenties and eventual marriage to another child of the movement, etc. Over the past two years I have come to consider CP/QF as an aberrant offshoot of fundamentalist Christianity that can, and often does, foster situations that create emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage in the name of “Godly living.” This was a painful realization to come to, and the process of healing, sorting, and re-evaluating my beliefs and experiences has likewise been intense, but at the same time very freeing. I’m still on the journey and don’t have all the answers or know for sure where I’ll end up, but am trying to be honest and enjoy life as much as possible along the way. True to my training, I am now a stay at home mom to two small children, but at this point it’s more due to pragmatics than conviction. When my kids are a little older I intend on pursuing college and career training of some kind.

I remain a traditional Christian, in the sense that I affirm the Nicene Creed with only a few minor redefinitions and accept the Bible as a collection of inspired writings that has had, and will continue to have, a shaping influence on my spiritual life. Beyond that, I gravitate towards Christian faith traditions that emphasize the mystical and experiential. I shy away from superfluous rules and rigid theological formulations, more because I find them triggering at this stage in my life than from reasoned objections to theology per say. After some exploring and shopping around, I’m currently attending an inter-denominational charismatic-lite sort of church. It is lively, diverse, and casual. I don’t kid myself that it’s perfect, but for now it’s a place where I can relax, breathe, and enjoy some undemanding faith based community.

<<< Introduction ———————————— Next Question >>>

Raised Quiverfull IntroductionIntroductory Questions Summary

Raised Quiverfull: Looking Back on Your Childhood
Raised Quiverfull: Advice for Others
Raised Quiverfull: What Helped You When Leaving?
Raised Quiverfull: What Helps You Today?
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.

  • Thorne

    I am almost 62 years old, married for almost 40 years, with two sons who have each presented us with a granddaughter. My wife and I were both raised Catholic, but I wandered away long ago, and neither of us has attended Church since before we were married. I now tend to describe myself as an agnostic-atheist, since I cannot prove whether or not gods exist, but I don’t believe that they do.

    I read your “Why I Am an Atheist” post on Pharyngula and came here to see if your blogging is as good as your writing there. Think I’ll hang around for a while to see what you have to say. Keep up the good work!

  • Cathy W

    Were any of the panelists raised in a Quiverfull family, but *not* the oldest child?

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Joe was in the middle iirc but I had bad memory.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        have* /facepalms

      • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

        If you have bad memory, how can you be sure you had bad memory in the past? :p

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Good question! Actually, I think all the panelists were the oldest, except for Sarah (number 4 of 11) and maybe Joe (not sure).

      • S. Lane

        I’ve noticed that this seems very common. My oldest brother (QF family) left Christianity completely. My family is split in half (all boys first, then all girls), and I am the oldest girl, which is like being the oldest in many ways. Obviously I have also abandoned Christianity. Seems to be something about oldest children that makes them more susceptible to questioning…

    • http://enigmamyjourneyofselfdiscovery.blogspot.com Sarah Enigma

      I am #4 out of 11. :)

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Yep, I checked and Joe was the middle one of 7.

      What I said about bad memory is completely true because I didn’t mention Sarah even knowing she was the little sister of Melissa (quite a surprise when I found it out from a post of Melissa on Enigma’s blog linking to a post about the wedding) and that being mentioned several times in the introductory posts of this series XPPP

  • Karen

    Welcome, panelists! This should be an interesting series.

  • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

    One thing that is always interesting to me when I read the experiences of people like Melissa, Tricia, etc., is the extent to which a lot of people crave the religious aspect itself, independent of objective things such as truth, the positive/negative effects of religion, and such. I guess my wife is a little bit like that — despite us both being staunch atheists, she occasionally goes to temple with her cousins or tries to find a faith-esque community for our family (and as such I’ve been to a couple of UU services, which were alright I guess…)

    It’s impossible for me to fully empathize with this sort of thing, because I feel just the opposite. I didn’t feel a connection with church or religion at all — even before I started to question whether any of it was true, I didn’t feel that visceral connection, and I didn’t enjoy doing it. Even If were 100% convinced that Mormonism were entirely true (I was raised LDS), I still wouldn’t want to go to church — presumably I would go anyway if I thought it was the right thing to do, the same way I do my taxes and take out the garbage even though I don’t want to… But objective concerns aside, I just subjectively don’t like it.

    Anyway, I think it’s probably good for me to read a little bit more from people who feel the way Tricia, etc., does. It would probably do me some good to understand a little better why some people feel that way.

    • Steve

      Same here. That’s probably why my indoctrination never took.
      But then I wasn’t raised in a cult-like church. Not even in a charismatic one, where they put all kinds of subtle and not so subtle pressure and emotional manipulation on people. Given the way many churches screw with people’s heads and emotions, it’s no surprise they buy fully into it.

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      My parents were atheists although they never told me until I asked (and I didn’t ask because I supposed it and it wasn’t important) so my only attempts and indoctrination came from my grandmother in the summer when she made us go to Church which was supremely boring and you had to be very quiet and still (something very hard for lil monkey me) so I never got that sense of community or spirituality or something while for example my cousin who a year and some bigger than me was so into it he wanted to be a priest (right now I think he is an atheist ‘though). It’s very difficult to me to relate and perhaps that’s why stories about fundamentalism, something so fdar apart from my reality, attract me…

  • AnotherOne

    It is interesting how so many of us who have left Christian fundamentalism/homeschooling/patriarchy/quiverfull are among the oldest siblings in our family. I think part of it has to do with the timing of the movement–it’s only in the last decade that the first wave of conservative religious homeschoolers are coming of age as adults. But as part of a family who started homeschooling in the early 80s, I know quite a few families whose homeschooled children are all adults by now, and anecdotally speaking the older siblings are more likely to have left the movement and Christianity than the younger siblings. Libby Ann and others, what do you make of that? Is that your experience too?

    It’s kind of scary to me, because in the experiences of families that I’ve known, including my own, it’s like the parents get better at manipulating, controlling, and sheltering their kids as they go along. They lose a couple of the older siblings to the world, and this makes them more and more controlling. For example, my older sibling and I went to college, but after we “rebelled,” my parents decided higher education wasn’t such a good idea, so my younger siblings haven’t gone to college. Also, as the family shrinks with older children leaving home, parents have more energy to focus their manipulation and controlling techniques on the children left behind.

    Financially, and in terms of my mother’s mental health, having lots of kids was disastrous for my family. Even so, I often find myself thanking God or gods or fucked-up fate for the fact that my parents had a lot of children. Tons of kids meant that the crazy was spread out, and for that, I’m grateful. Now the crazy is concentrated on the few siblings that remain at home (as young adults), and I think they’re much the worse for it.

    • http://ginambakkun.blogspot.com Gina

      That’s a really interesting question, and I’d love to hear Libby’s response to it.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I really have no idea, to be honest. I do think the idea that families would “crack down” on younger siblings or perhaps move away from ideas like college make sense, but I was one of the older ones in my community so it’s really hard to tell. And honestly, I’m the only one in the community in which I grew up that actually completely left those beliefs.

      • http://foodrant.wordpress.com Hannah

        I’ve wondered about this as well. Do you think there are more older daughters than older sons? Could it also be because of the responsibilities older daughters typically have and the amount of work they often do, that maybe makes them more likely to leave?

  • http://incongruouscircumspection.blogspot.com Incngruous Circumspection

    Yep. I’m the dead middle of 7. That makes me the fourth oldest and the fourth youngest. I must say, I felt the fourth youngest, a hell of a lot more than I ever felt the fourth oldest.

    • AnotherOne

      What made you feel more in the younger half than the older half? What have your other siblings’ responses been to your upbringing? (If you don’t mind me asking).

  • http://incongruouscircumspection.blogspot.com Incongruous Circumspection

    Weird…my name is misspelled in the comment above. Doh!

  • Georgia Stanton

    I’m absolutely not coming from a position of authority or experience in any of this, but just as a devoted older sibling, it seems possible-
    In families in this circumstance (large, fairly authority-based…), the older ones can wind up in charge of the younger and play a part in raising them, right? Could there be a connection there, that the older sibling will feel inclined to ask questions not only about what they are taught, but about what they are expected to teach? Especially now that I’m older, when I find myself in a position of authority and influence over people, especially ones I deeply care about, I am extremely hesitant to pass on any values or opinions without knowing for certain that they come from a logical standpoint – I don’t want to make hurtful mistakes, or relay any kind of information that I can’t verify or understand for myself first. Especially if something I learn has the capacity to make somebody I love feel bad, I want to be sure before I think of passing it on. Being in a position of relative power could make older siblings want to question things more, to know that they’re using that power responsibly. They can have some kind of hand in shaping their younger siblings’ childhood too.
    There are other reasons too, of course, but I don’t know if they would necessarily apply here. For instance, as an eldest sibling, I was my parents’ first experience of raising a child. If they were going to make mistakes or change techniques, it would be with me, so I could see little differences in their parenting and it made me more able to see my parents as human and not necessarily always right.
    Just some thoughts.

  • http://christiancompletely.blogspot.com/ Skarlet

    I come from a conservative christian / quiverfull backround myself, so I thought it would be awesome to go through and answer all of these questions for myself.

    Anyway, I’m Skarlet, I’m 23 and I’m married, and do not currently have any children. I’m finishing up my last two classes in order to graduate with my Bachelor of Psychology degree, and I’m also working full time. I’m a Christian and studying theology is favorite pasttime of mine. Politically, I am most in line with the Libertarian party. Since I got married (5 months ago), I’ve been living two states away from my immediate family, and I have to admit that I really miss them.