In recent years, most popular culture discussions of the Christian Quiverfull movement center on the charming Duggar family of TLC reality fame. The Duggars—parents of eighteen children with another on the way—are seen by many as a wholesome—if quirky—example of a healthy family with astoundingly polite and well-behaved children. It is nearly impossible to have a discussion with a well-meaning Quiverfull-illiterate without hearing that familiar refrain: “They just seem like such nice people!”
It’s not uncommon to find secular people who find themselves drawn to the Quiverfull lifestyle based on what they perceive as such a healthy—and happy—home life on television. I decided to write this series in order to disabuse readers of the notion that this there is anything remotely harmless about the seemingly apolitical politics of this movement. It is in fact a dangerous—and alarmingly effective—political force. The unsavory political entanglements of the extreme Christian Right are too often downplayed on reality programs that popularize the lifestyle.
The overwhelming majority of Quiverfull families—who comprise a miniscule percentage of the American population—are followers of an extremist brand of right-wing politics called Christian Dominionism. Motivated by such writers as RJ Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer, they want to establish a militant Christian theocracy in the United States. Not only that, but they have imperialistic designs on the rest of the world.In this era of Christian Right ascendancy, there are at least three names that those of us who remain committed to transparent democratic processes should know: RJ Rushdoony (intellectual father of Christian Dominionism), Bill Gothard (Quiverfull’s figurehead for stealth political organizing), and Erik Prince (CEO of Xe—formerly Blackwater—and the first Christian Dominionist to amass a private army capable of successfully overthrowing a government). The rest of the posts in this series will show what each of these men is about and shed light on this often dismissed—but increasingly powerful—fringe minority. It appears as though TLC will continue to romanticize the Quiverfull lifestyle for the foreseeable future, and it’s up to those of us who know better to shed a brighter light on its politics.
Biography: NLQ forum member, “km” is a graduate student and activist who knew lots of Quiverfull families while growing up in the American South. Having flirted with the movement as a young adolescent, she is now a little bit obsessed with unrooting its stranglehold on the American political system and keeping what remains of church/state separation intact.
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NLQ recommended reading:
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce