NLQ Open Comments: The Secular Quiverfull Movement

NLQ Open Comments: The Secular Quiverfull Movement November 13, 2010

by Vyckie

I just came across The Secular Quiver:

From the website:

“Secular Quiver” is a movement that uses the principles of differential reproductive success to opposite ends. We think it’s absurd that evangelical Christians are using the most basic principle of evolution when many don’t even believe in it. We encourage scientifically minded individuals to reproduce and use alternative methods of spreading irreligious memes.

•Start your childbearing earlier
•If you are gay or lesbian, consider the use of reproductive technologies such as IVF or artificial insemination
•Homeschool your children
•Blog about reverse quivering
•Adopt and foster

What do you think? Does it make any sense to try to counter fundamentalism by encouraging feminists to out-populate the Quiverfull women? Please share your thoughts below.

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  • Didi

    i dunno… i mean it makes sense to the same level that religious qf makes sense… the more kids you indoctrinate the more likely you will produce people who think the same as you.

    but this was more a side note – i met a lady a few days ago who is prego with number 6, homeschools, her kids are 9,8,6,4,almost 3, and due in Mar – and she isnt religious AT ALL! That was sooo weird to me! (awesome – ’cause i think kids and homeschooling are great, but i’d never met a non-religious person who did all of those things :))

  • Didi

    i am reading the website and feel like it must be a gag….

  • Mara

    I don’t know.

    I think the Patriarchy/Quiverfullers are doing a pretty good job populating the world with atheists, agnostics, and overall non-religious all by themselves.
    How many ex-quiverfullers, daughters of patriarchy have I met so far that have turned away from the faith?

    I’ve lost count.

    Seems to me the smart thing for the the irreligious to do is simple back off and give the quiverfullers enough rope to hang themselves. They are well on their way.

    Probably is a gag.

  • Becky

    I can’t imagine trying to talk someone into having a lot of kids. They would have to make that decision themselves. I don’t think most women are going to opt for a minimum of 6 kids just due to the cost and energy required. Certainly most aren’t going to do it just to try to “outpopulate” so-called fundamentalists.”

    It takes “a belief system outside of yourself”. Having children, and being a good mom is an extremely selfless act–you don’t get the time you want (usually) and probably need, unless you’ve got an unusually sensitive husband or plenty of money so you can hire help. For those who are having lots of kids because they believe it is “right”, then their belief system gives them stability/foundation.

    So, my answer is “no”, it won’t work.

  • arietty

    1. It’s a parody site.

    2. Reproducing to use your children to further your own agenda is a very bad reason to have children, regardless of what your agenda is.

  • nolongerquivering

    The site is a parody? In that case ~ LOL ~ it’s very funny!! 🙂

  • Julie

    I was just discussing this with my brother. When I told him Quiverfull was a movement to try to outpopulate Muslims, he said, “But it’s just so much more efficient to kill Muslims.” So as long as you’re joking, take it all the way.

  • Barbara

    Ouch. I hope it’s a joke! There are a lot of babies born on this Earth who have been abandoned by their parents, or their parents have died. Our Earth is more densely populated than ever. With all due respect to folks here who have “more than a couple of kids,” I think that couples trying to reach the Duggar record might be narcissists. Some people enjoy and CAN AFFORD the lifestyle of a big family. To them I ask, “Why not adopt?” I’d be a lot more impressed with the Duggars if they had stopped at child #5, let’s say, and had adopted or even fostered 15 more.

  • Barbara

    I know he’s your brother and all, but I find it creepy that he advocates the killing of any people from any religious, ethnic or racial group. Maybe he thinks that he’s being funny. There are just some things that aren’t funny, and mass extermination of one group of people has got to be at the top of the list.

    A lot of folks have major differences with Islam, but I’ve got to hope that most of them don’t want to slaughter them all. In addition, it’s just about impossible. Hitler really gave it all to exterminate every Jew and he failed, despite his genocidal policies. And there are far, far, far more Muslims than there are Jews.

    I know I’m being a self-righteous, humorless, far left-wing liberal, but it’s true that hate begats even more hate. I was reading an article about Glenn Beck’s blatantly anti-Jewish assault on billionaire George Soros. The nasty comments about Beck’s nastiness chalked it up to Beck’s Mormon faith. These critics also said that all Mormons hated Jews and that Mormonism should be done away with as a religion (once again, good luck with that).

    What a sad, sad, sad time to be alive with all of this hate!

  • china girl

    Barbara, Couldn’t have said it better myself! If I could ask the Duggars one question it would be,”If your hearts are big enough to love 19 children, then why haven’t you considered adopting?”

  • Becky

    One family I know fostered and adopted “special needs” kids. They were special!

  • denelian

    i sorta have to HOPE it’s a parody site! a sad, sad side effect of “Quiver” [well, in the fundy religious sense, it’s a main POINT, but in a non-religious sense it’s not, it’s a sad side effect] is that, unless one is VERY wealthy, ONE of the adults is going to have to GIVE UP everything that they’d worked for… now, don’t get me wrong – there ARE people who want to be PARENTS more than they want to be a CEO or a diplomat or a teacher or a mechanic or a… but most people, even most MOTHERS, want something else. in addition to. in a “traditional” family, “Mom” may lose a few working years to young children, but almost ALWAYS go back to work once they’ve reached school age.

    and gods know, MOST men WON’T be the SAHP. i know one. he’s AWESOME. his kids are now both in full-time school. he can’t get a job – everyone thinks VERY poorly of him, for staying at home for the past 9 years [his partner – neither he nor she believe in “marriage”, or at least, government signing paper-work marriage] while his partner worked, even though this was the PLAN, because she made more, and her insurance covered “non-married partners”. seriously, i’ve sent him to a lawyer friend of mine, bcuz it’s a SOLID sex-discrimination suit at at LEAST 2 places where he applied. [one place SENT HIM A LETTER stating “we do not feel that you are a long-time asset, as your work history has proven you will put your children over your job. if your partner has another child, you’ll quit to be a full-time caregiver. we cannot support this; you are not a woman and that is not your job.” how STUPID can a corporation GET? it fills me with an unholy glee 😀 ]

    this is, purportedly, a “breed your own feminists and liberals” – a goal in DIRECT OPPOSITION to feminism! to homeschool, one must STAY HOME. i grant that many women, many feminists, *DO* stay home. that’s the point – they CHOOSE. any “movement”, to a degree, takes away that choice. [or applies so much peer-pressure it’s absurd].

    i HOPE it’s a Poe!

    [just to clarify: if a woman – or a man! – decides they WANT to be a SAHP, more power to them! it’s a *BIG* job, homeschooling. it’s a *HUGE* job, having multiple children! I, in NO way, think that people SHOULDN’T decide to be full-time caregivers; i wouldn’t do it and i don’t *understand* why anyone else would, but i fully admit i’m a weird anomoly. i mean, pregnancy TOTALLY squicks me out, and babies are just as bad! I DO NOT LIKE BABIES! once they can talk, children are great – if i ever decide to adopt, *SO* getting at LEAST a 4 year old! but i *DO* understand that OTHERS actually LIKE babies and don’t mind being pregnant, or at least aren’t totally grossed out. and if they want to be SAHP, i say “give them medals because they’ll DEFINATELY deserve them!]

  • “this is, purportedly, a “breed your own feminists and liberals” – a goal in DIRECT OPPOSITION to feminism! … i grant that many women, many feminists, *DO* stay home. that’s the point – they CHOOSE ”

    In the article on feminism, see: ,
    we do advocate choice, and we do admit that following SQ may hurt feminism. But we also argue that not SQ-ing would hurt feminism more. If you want to argue that secular quivering hurts feminism, then you have to argue that it hurts more than it helps. You have failed to do that here.

    “any “movement”, to a degree, takes away that choice. [or applies so much peer-pressure it’s absurd].”

    That’s an interesting point, and I definitely agree with it. The problem is that it doesn’t work against secular quivering per se, because there’s absolutely no peer pressure to do it. In fact, the peer pressure is very much in the opposite direction. My own mother has been discouraging child-rearing and encouraging me to use my Ivy League education and have a “real” career, which I am entirely uninterested in. If your argument is that any movement that advocates a particular choice hurts feminism, then feminism hurts feminism, because some branches of feminism absolutely discourage child rearing as a main occupation for women.

  • You’ll note that on our website, and in fact the very part of it that is quoted in this post, we advocate adoption and fostering.

  • Happy Heathen

    I’m pretty sure that the “opposite” of Quiverfull would be child-free families, or families with all adopted children.

    And having spent a lot of time talking to child-free folks, some of them cite the Quiverfull movement as a secondary reason for not procreating.

  • denelian


    i do not agree that women “must” do one or the other – *IF* a woman WANTS to devote her life to having a dozen+ kids, go her –

    the thing that i would argue, the “way” this movement is “causing more harm” is sort of twisty.

    how many damned places do women have to be told that their *main worth* is child-bearing? THAT’S how it does harm – instead of being a refuge from the relentless inundation of “women must breed! they must OUT-breed X group! if we don’t breed, Y and Z *WILL* happen! lower birth rates! look at Europe! American women are BAD MOMMYS bcuz they have jobs that take them away 40 hours a week! REAL American women BREED AMERICANS” and on and on and on…

    and on some more.

    who’s america’s “favorite mom”? last i checked [been awhile, i don’t watch TV] it was “Everybody Loves Raymond”‘s wife – SAHM and housekeeper – highly educated, sure… languishing at home, because her husband, her in-laws and SOCIETY *expect* her to do that. “just until the kids are in school”. “just until the kids can stay home alone” “just until the kids are in college” – and then, it’s been 20 or more years, and she has to – literally! – start over!!!

    i really, *REALLY* do think women should be able to choose. but, like so many OTHER places, we don’t REALLY have the room.
    here’s the best damned example i can give. I’m 33 years old. i have a disease that makes pregnancy FATAL. if i survived 5 months of pregnancy, it would be a LITERAL miracle. further, I’m *VERY* disabled – i can’t DRESS MYSELF, or bath myself.
    STRANGERS wonder “where are [my] children?” i’ve been accosted – often! – in the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., about my lack of children. complete and total strangers ask where my kids are, then tell me i’m selfish and evil for not having any – if i get to the point where i tell them i CAN’T, these total strangers then DEMAND that i adopt.

    i have been told to quit school and be a mother. i have been told to quit working and be a mother. i have been told to just somehow *stop* being too disabled to do it, and BE A MOTHER.

    i have NEGATIVE interest in being a mother!!!!! if i DARE to say that… it’s ugly. it’s REALLY ugly. the only SAFE place i’ve ever known to really admit that i hate babies has been in feminist places.
    except now those are going, too.

    you see?

  • africaturtle

    I live in france where the QF movement is essentially non-existant. (side-note, the “secularQF site” actually talks about the retirement riots in France in an article and states that France pays women to have babies because of demographic issues. This is not entirely true. Each child in the family receives a monthly stipend which i compare to the tax-breaks US families get for the number of dependants in the household, it’s part of the socialized system, and allows for a better quality of life for “average” families, but is not enough to justify having a baby just to “earn” money!)

    It is funny to me though that as i searched for support in breastfeeding and cloth diapering and organic farming/natural living (all themes that seem to run through the homeschooling/QF movement in the US) I found the support i was looking for in a totally SECULAR sub-culture that exists here of those who just want a “natural” way of living. They are the few that homeschool and have developed “support groups” they also question the use of birthcontrol but from a naturalists pespective, not at all religious duty (nor even philisophically in competition with another group) and so “defend” the right to go against the flow and have a large family if it’s what you want. THey are also very anti-spanking…. questioning societal “norms” and encouraging homebirths, herbal remedies, etc. SO….there are not just fundamentalists that choose this route. I find this study of human behavior very interresting….

  • shadowspring

    I think Mara had a great point. The one thing that human beings really hate is being dominated and controlled. Religious QF is handily adding to the atheist population precisely because human beings are autonomous free-thinkers. You might THINK you can raise your children to share your values and grow up to be exactly what you envision they will be, but it won’t turn out that way! :p

    Having large families? If you love being a parent go for it, either by biology or adoption, it’s your life. Live it well.

    Having a large family so you can ensure that more people in the world will believe what you believe, like what you like, choose what you choose? Bad idea. No matter what it is you believe, it’s just a bad idea all around. Not fair at all to the children, who will quickly get the message that mommy/daddy’s agenda is the real baby around here, and the actual children in the family are merely a means to an end. Not nice at all.

  • anniec

    Of course, it’s a joke…. love the fanmail page:

  • mmmKay

    The silliest part about this website (yes, I know it’s a joke) is that it acknowledges the quiverfull movement as a threat. There aren’t a lot of quiverfull families in the world, and even if they multiply 5x more than the average family, that doesn’t mean the world will be populated with God’s Warriors. Kids and whole families can– and do– break away from the cult.

    My husband and I hope to have a lot of kids, if all goes well. We’re also atheists, so I guess we’d eventually fit the bill for being reverse-quiverfulls (quiverempty?). However, I won’t force my beliefs on my kids. I know how hard I worked to be comfortable with my atheism (very very very religious family!), I don’t want my kids to work that hard to be comfortable with their potential theism.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    “how many damned places do women have to be told that their *main worth* is child-bearing? THAT’S how it does harm – instead of being a refuge from the relentless inundation of “women must breed! they must OUT-breed X group!”


    The QF/P ideology may be toxic but I just can’t support any movement that teaches women that their greatest weapons against it are their reproductive organs and not their brains. So I’m a brood mare for feminism instead of a brood mare for Jesus. So what? I’m still a brood mare.

    Again, if a woman decides that her biggest dream is to be a mother to many children, more power to her. But there’s an opportunity cost for making that choice and it’s not one that most women are not willing to pay, nor should they feel like they have to. Having as many kids as QF moms do means giving up a lot of other things. If that’s worth it to a woman, fine, but it isn’t worth it to me. If I wanted to have as many kids as Michelle Duggar, I’d pretty much have to get cracking right now! (I’m 24.) But I don’t want to. That’s not where I am in my life right now and I have other goals. Does that make me not as “good” a feminist because I’m not doing my part to win the demographic war? I don’t think so. There are other ways to spread feminism. I work at a youth program with teenage girls and I do my best to set an example as a strong, independent, feminist woman for them. I teach them about feminism. I talk about the importance of political involvement and activism, and of voting for politicians that support pro-woman policies. I encourage them to advocate for their own needs in relationships with boys. And they hear me. I think I’m doing plenty to put more feminists on this earth without enlisting my uterus.

    And I think doing it that way is the far better way. Because QF families don’t just have lots of kids, they also do their best to seal them in an ideological vacuum where they have no exposure to any other way of thinking or any real choices. That’s just plain wrong to me, I would never want to raise any children I ever have that way, no matter how much I believe in my ideals. People need to be part of the larger world so they can see it for themselves and make their own choices about how they want to live and what they want to believe. Of course I’d want my kids to end up feminist like me, but not because I raised them to be perfect little automatons. Treating other human beings as weapons in your personal battle is just wrong, no matter how righteous the battle.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    “Not fair at all to the children, who will quickly get the message that mommy/daddy’s agenda is the real baby around here, and the actual children in the family are merely a means to an end. Not nice at all.”

    Well said!

  • I suspect we simply live in different cultures. For instance, I have never seen this “Raymond” show, although I have heard of it. I’m sorry for your experiences, but I can assure you that no secular quiverers are responsible for it. I certainly have personally never made comments like that to anyone; I would never presume to.

  • I understand there might be a variety of reasons for the policy in France, but most of the news coverage of it refers to demographic reasons as being a major aspect of it. If that is incorrect I would love to see evidence of it, so I could update the website. Regardless of the purpose of the policy however, changing demographics ARE the reason that France is being forced to change its pension plans.

    As for the secular “natural” fetishists, I agree that they are equally as irrational as Christians. They annoy me too.

  • Emily

    I think it’s definitely satire.

  • The world’s population is still growing too fast. I think that a focus on zero population growth will be better for all of us (no more than one offspring per parent), combined with non-coercive awareness and education for kids all over the world who are growing up thinking that more is better with regard to baby-making. Folks who want a lot of kids should look at how many are waiting for adoption.

  • Missjrenee

    “So I’m a brood mare for feminism instead of a brood mare for Jesus. So what? I’m still a brood mare.”

    EXACTLY!! Thank you for putting it so well. I think feminism is about choice, so if a woman wants to be a SAHM and make babies and cookies, go ahead. But not being a secular QF isn’t going to hurt feminism.

    Feminism, patriarchy, religion–these are all ideas. Whether children are born with religious or secular parents doesn’t determine that they will believe as their parents do. Some do, some don’t. People are individuals and if they have brains they will eventually be themselves, whatever that is. So, in my opinion, breeding in the hopes of reproducing ideas is an inefficient pursuit, whether it’s religious or secular ideas you’re trying to encourage. It’s also incredibly unfair to the child(ren) to prescribe a belief system for them before they are even born.

    Feminism must be fought for in the arena of ideas, just like anything else. The same amount of people will be born either way. Their upbringing doesn’t necessarily make them a certain way. It’s the privilege to explore and consider and CHOOSE beliefs as an adult that will determine someone’s values.

  • Missjrenee

    I need to add as well that since feminism (and all other isms) are ideas, they can be taught and explained to adopted children just as well as biological children.

    Adoption provides a home for a child who needs it and is more Eco-friendly than creating a new life in an already strained world. I’m not saying that having your own biological children is wrong, but why isn’t adoption more promoted in Qf/SQ?

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