NLQ Question of the Week: Is Quiverfull Inherently Racist?

NLQ Question of the Week: Is Quiverfull Inherently Racist? March 17, 2016

QuestionoftheweekThis is a new series we have started running on Thursdays. Examining some of the questions involving long held Quiverfull theology and life.

Today’s question comes out of a discussion I recently had with a journalist about Quiverfull. She wanted to know if I thought it was geared more toward whites and not other races. Told her while there are some of other races that take part, such as Voddie Baucham, for the most part there does seem to be a tendency towards racism.

Examples: This little bit by Shalom Pearl Brand:

I heard a story last week where a girl was in Africa ministering. There were no other white people around. She was where God wanted her and do you know what? A man came there to minister as well, not knowing that she was there and they soon married. I heard another story not long ago where a young girl went to work in an orphanage in Mexico and was there for several years with no prospects of marriage. But a young man came to work there and they were soon married.

The implication seems to be that as soon as the young white ladies started serving in an area of black or brown people Mr. White Right happened by.

Colin and Nancy Campbell have also made some statements that seem to indicate that the main purpose of Quiverfull is to outbreed Muslims and other brown people. But the Campbells did adopt black children from Liberia, even if they’ve now disappeared most of those children.

Here’s a Nancy quote from NPR:

“I think, help! Imagine if we had had more of these children!” Campbell says, adding, “My greatest impact is through my children. The more children I have, the more ability I have to impact the world for God.”

“We look across the Islamic world and we see that they are outnumbering us in their family size, and they are in many places and many countries taking over those nations, without a jihad, just by multiplication,” Campbell says.

Colin from an Australian television show:

It’s a war against Islam, and the battle is being fought in the womb.

Pastor Colin Campbell: The Islamics are having 8.1 member families, average and every one of them when they reach the age of eighteen will have a vote. Already in good old England there are cities that are now becoming more Islamic than English.

Can you imagine England becoming an Islamic state?

Nancy Campbell as quoted in Catherine Joyce’s book Quiverfull

Nancy Campbell is far more explicit in speculating about the implications of the natalist theology she teaches.

When godly people stop having children, we are wasting the godly seed. So today, we are facing a very, very serious threat: the threat of Islam. They are outnumbering us seven to one. And there’s eight million Islamics here in America. When you think of Osama Bin Laden, he is one of fifty-three children. He has twenty-seven himself. So between him and his father, they’ve fathered eighty children. What about his fifty-two brothers and sisters? How many have they fathered? Say they’ve only fathered or mothered twenty each — less than him — but in the thousands when you think of their grandchildren, who would now be having children today.

When I talk to parents today and ask how many grandchildren they have, they tell me, “Oh, we have two! Isn’t it wonderful?” “Two?” Is that going to impact the world? Two? When you get someone like, say, Osama Bin Laden, for example, he’s just representative of so many Islamics, well, you see how they’re populating.

What do you think? Is racism one of the driving factors behind Quiverfull?


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Catherine

    Islamics? That’s pretty damn ignorant right there…the proper term is Muslims. Though I suspect many QF writers would have a conniption if they knew that white people can be Muslim too…

  • Catherine

    Also–let’s face it. Western society still has undertones of racism and white privilege. QF is just more blatant about it.

  • Mel

    The place that racism seems to leak out a bit more is in the QF families that are very into “The War Between the States” and “Patriot” balls that are clearly anti-bellum recreations. Here’s one anecdote from Raising Olives – which is pretty defunct now – about the Patriot’s Ball – also apparently defunct. This was the one I could remember, but several other folks have mentioned something like this even on their blogs.
    http://raisingolives.com/2011/02/not-me/

  • Allison the Great

    I think that racism comes with the Dominionism and Reconstructionism territory. From the way they talk about it, they seem to think that white Christian people are God’s chosen race and they have dominion over all the races. They believe that they should take dominion over everyone who is not like them. This appeals to people were already racist. Slavery is perfectly fine in Reconstructionism.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Yes. The post-Civil War founding fathers of the CPM were appalled by “negro” equality as well as a more egalitarian society in general where women openly advocated for suffrage and the prestige of being one of the landowning classes was falling in the wake of the industrial revolution. They liked a hierarchical society– with White Christian Males at the top of the pyramid.

    http://fiddlrts.blogspot.com/2013/02/patriarchy-christian-reconstructionsim.html

  • Nea

    “Two?” Is that going to impact the world? Two?

    How many Jesuses were there, Nancy? How many Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jrs? How many George Washingtons, Ben Franklins, Alexander Hamiltons?

    The world is rarely impacted by mere quantity.

  • persephone

    Black and brown Christian people are fine, but they’re just not quite up to the level of white people when it comes to holiness, intelligence, skills, management, etc., etc., etc. They’re a step above pets, but not, um, quite people.

    *having ick shivers*

    Absolutely disgusting. That is, though, the belief that Abraham Lincoln had, until he actually met Frederick Douglass and other black leaders. It’s standard issue, middle America, belief.

  • Nea

    Judging from her and her daughter’s own lives, because she will indoctrinate them 24/7/365 including beatings — and if that doesn’t work, she’ll literally get rid of anyone for whom the indoctrination doesn’t hold.

    Nancy Campbell has missing children. They found the ones her daughter threw away, but nobody seems to know if the ones Nancy “disappeared” are even still alive.

  • Saraquill

    QF is very much about “outbreeding the undesireables,” with a huge chunk of Mighty Whitey, White Man’s Burden and white savior mixed in for good measure. This explains adopting so many brown children from other countries, poorly thought out missionary trips and other “outreach” attempts.

  • Mary

    I see this in the comments all the time, but I haven’t read the story from any direct source. Do you have a link that gives more information about the missing children? To be clear, I’m not asking because I don’t believe it, but if it is true, I am concerned and want to know more.

  • Mary

    Like a lot of people, they mostly don’t have anything against the black people or people of other races that they’ve met personally. But even more than most Americans, they want to defend a deeply unfair status quo or wind the clock back to a more viciously racist “traditional” society. Not wanting social change is inherently racist, because society as it is, or as it was, is unjust to people of color.

    Basically they are trying as hard as they can to stand in the way of any changes in society that might cost them some of their status and security. It’s nothing personal. They just benefit from the structure of society the way it is, where you’re vastly more likely to be poor or disenfranchised or imprisoned if you’re black, and are scared that they will fall down the social ladder, if that structure changes. Like most white Americans (including me, though I try to resist those impulses), except they’re even more scared of social change than most of us.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    Actually the majority of Muslims are non-Arabic. I worked for years in Africa, and one of the largest groups in our area were non-Arabic Muslims. See Indonesia, as well. People of all races follow all religions. Islam is not a race, it is a religion.

  • Edie Moore McGee

    Or the fascination with the Titanic a la Jennie Chancey.

  • Abigail Smith

    If you have a quiverful but can’t take good care of them properly, what good is that?

    I have 6 and I love them all dearly, but 3 of them have special needs…I now know when to say enough is enough…I am already stretched to the limit with all the appointments and care and it wouldn’t be fair to my other children (or to me and my husband) to have more children…I see this clearly now, but I used to be “terrified” that “God would be mad at me” for not wanting “more blessings”…QF puts unreasonable burdens on people that just aren’t there in the bible….

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Right here in Mother Jones and it’s been talked about on NPR as well – http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/christian-evangelical-adoption-liberia

  • Mel

    That’s a good point. The CP leaders bring up the men on the Titanic like they were some form of amazing Godly men – but men survived on the lifeboats while women and children drown or died of hypothermia. Why don’t they mention that?

  • Mel

    I’m one of three living children. My brother David died when my mom was pregnant with my youngest brother. My parents had wanted to have 5 or more kids, but my sister and I were so shattered when my brother died that they had their hands full taking care of us, grieving and caring for my infant brother. Not having any more kids after Mike was born was hard for my parents, but needed for them and us to heal.

  • Abigail Smith

    I am so sorry, Mel, that your family had to go through that, but it sound like you had very wise and caring parents…
    Plus, laying down YOUR wants (as in your parents wanting to have more kids) IS actually Christlike behavior, IMO, rather than insisting you must have more kids than you can take care of….

  • Abigail Smith

    that came through Vision Forum and all their “Titanic Society” stuff…

  • Mary

    “ULTIMATELY, all but 3 of the Campbells’ and Allisons’ 10 adoptions ran into serious problems. They were purged for a time from Campbell’s website, prompting readers to gossip about the family’s “disappearing children.” In a 2009 video, Serene claimed that the missing adoptees were off at school. Campbell’s biography was amended to say she had adopted “some” Liberian children.”

    I’m still a bit confused. There are six children mentioned in the article, I think, all adopted by Serene… Isaiah, Alfred, CeCe, Kula, Cherish, and Engedi. Certainly some of those seem to be adoptions that ran into serious problems — they sent Isaiah back to Liberia by himself, and CeCe basically ran away but seems to be doing okay now? But Serene’s kids seem to be all accounted for.

    But the archive links for the Above Rubies website list four adopted by Nancy: “John, Psalmody, Sapphire and Mercy.”http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/community/archive/index.php/t-445174.html

    Then the revised version says… “Only Mercy is at home now.” http://web.archive.org/web/20100211025710/http://aboverubies.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=546&Itemid=400020

    So are John, Psalmody, and Sapphire the missing children? But they are not mentioned by name at all in the Mother Jones article? So are there any articles about them, or is it just the altered website that makes people suspicious? Did Kathryn Joyce investigate their fates and get stonewalled? The article mentions “The social-services worker who asked DCS to investigate the family.” Have the Campbell’s been investigated and cleared, or never investigated? If never investigated, why not? Are those three adults now? Are they “missing” in the sense that we random people on the internet don’t know their whereabouts, or “missing” in the sense that police don’t know their whereabouts?

  • Mary

    This looks like Mercy’s blog, with a picture of Psalmody’s new baby (new in 2012)… So she is presumably still in contact with the family (and is an adult now.)

    http://mercylorina.blogspot.com/2012/06/newest-baby-in-grandchildren-line.html?m=1

    And here’s a more recent version of the biography page from the Above Rubies website: http://aboverubies.org/index.php/home/about-the-campbell-family

    “John lives at home and has a job nearby. Psalmody lives in town and cares for her little boy, Anthony. And our youngest, Mercy is still living at home and works nearby.”

    The June 2007 issue of Above Rubies talks about the adoption of Sapphire, Psalmody, and John, and says they were all 16 at the time…So they’d be 25 now.

    If we take Nancy’s and Mercy’s word about John and Psalmody, that still leaves Sapphire unaccounted for…

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    There is a journalist that is looking into the issues of how many and where they all ended up. I know very little about any except those that Katherine Joyce mentioned in her book

  • Mary

    Well, it’s a serious allegation. I’d like to publicize it and try to get some legal action if it is for real, but I feel a responsibility to do some fact checking before I do that. Besides, it would help a lot to know their names and ages.

    And also I feel like it’s more respectful of them, if I’m going to talk about them, to use their names…

  • Mary

    I assume that the journalist mentioned on some of the discussion forums was Kathryn Joyce herself, that the “New York Times” article ended up actually being the Mother Jones article… and maybe the “missing” children were actually Isaiah and CeCe, whom Joyce was able to find, so they are no longer technically missing?

  • bekabot

    I heard a story last week where a girl was in Africa ministering. There were no other white people around. She was where God wanted her and do you know what? A man came there to minister as well, not knowing that she was there and they soon married. I heard another story not long ago where a young girl went to work in an orphanage in Mexico and was there for several years with no prospects of marriage. But a young man came to work there and they were soon married.

    I’m a person who didn’t grow up in the Quiverfull milieu, and when I read this passage for the first time, the first impression I got is that the Ministering Girl in the first story was black, because there was nothing there to tell me that she wasn’t. It’s only after doing a re-read that I realized that no, probably she was white. (“There were no other white people…”) The same thing goes for the second story: the only reason I didn’t think the Orphanage Girl was a Latina was because of the implication that she didn’t originally come from Mexico: “a young girl went to work in an orphanage in Mexico…” Why do I think this stuff is important? Well, because (to me) it hints that there’s a certain amount of coded dialect at play which is intended to (lightly) screen Quiverfull intramural communications from the surrounding culture. They aren’t meant to be penetrated at first glance. On the first read-through it was not immediately apparent to me what kind of story was being told, though after a second look I got a different idea. Since I don’t think the Quiverfull promoters are stupid, I’m inclined to suppose that’s by design.

  • Mary

    This site includes a bio of the Cambells from 2012 which claims they only adopted three children from West Africa, omitting Sapphire from the list. She would have been 21 at the time, I think. So it would seem she has been estranged from the family (and no longer regarded by them as part of it) for at least four years. But whether she was an adult or a minor when it happened matters quite a lot, and so does the question of whether she is currently in the US, or back in Liberia, and if the latter, how she got there. Isaiah was brought back by a caring friend (remarkably!) But what if Sapphire suffered the same fate, and no one looked for her? I find is surprising that Joyce doesn’t address the question (in the article or, as far as I can tell from Google books, in the book). It makes me wonder if maybe she did find Sapphire, but Sapphire asked not to be included?

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/christian-devotions/2012/09/18/christian-devotions-speak-up-with-nancy-campbell

  • Mary

    Okay, just to correct myself, on re-reading the article it would seem CeCe didn’t run away so much as get “rehomed” like Kula and Alfred (and CeCe’s new family were the ones who rescued Isaiah.)

    But now it seems she doesn’t call herself CeCe? (A new name her “adoptive family” assigned her at the age of 13?) Because that fundraising post you mentioned a few weeks ago here at NLQ was for an adopted daughter of Serene called “Selah,” which is not one of the names Joyce mentions… but Joyce says CeCe has a husband from Liberia named Samuel, and a baby named Sammy, and so, according to the fundraising article, does “Selah.” I wonder if “Sapphire” might have also changed her name (declined to keep the new one she was assigned at 16!) which would make it very hard to find any information about her online.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2016/02/quoting-quiverfull-nancy-campbells-liberian-adoption-update/

    https://www.gofundme.com/5wks7rvm

    Also I see I didn’t read the Mother Jones article closely enough as to what became of the child services investigation…

    “It turned out the Allisons had neglected to complete the stateside adoption process, thus jeopardizing the legal residency of some of the children— as Kula discovered during her 2011 readoption by Pam Epperly, a longtime Tennessee foster mother. “Kula made disclosures that disturbed our court staff as well as the judge,” a representative from a Tennessee children’s service provider told me. The rep alerted the Department of Children’s Services, which opened two cases on the Allisons but closed one of them after the remaining children did not disclose any abuse. Several months later, with the other case still pending, the Allisons left the state. Unable to track them down, DCS ended its investigation.”

    But no DCS case is mentioned for Nancy’s children. So maybe never investigated? Her adoptees were 16, so DCS would have had only two years to look into it in their cases.

  • Mary

    Trying to figure out what happened to Sapphire…

    The possibilities are 1) shipped back to Liberia like Isaiah. Seems unlikely to me… they seemed to think Isaiah was a sex offender and were desperate to get rid of him. I think they would be less likely to dump a girl on the street with no place to go, like that. 2) Deported back to Liberia at some point because the Campbells never finalized the adoption/immigration paperwork. Unfortunately possible. 3) Voluntarily returned to Liberia. Quite possible, if she had other family or connections still living there. 4) Rehomed in the US. Highly plausible, since this is what happened to Kula, Alfred, CeCe, and eventually also Isaiah. 5) Left home voluntarily, either as a minor or after turning 18 (less than two years after her adoption) likely changing her name (or changing it *back*) and cutting off contact with the Campbells. This actually seems most likely of all, given the statements Nancy is quoted as making in that discussion thread…

    http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/community/archive/index.php/t-445174.html

    “The kids that are no longer in the home are not there because they didn’t want to be, not because the family didn’t want them”

    “She said that because of the war and all their birth certificates were wrong and that they basically adopted adults who didn’t want to be in families but rather just wanted their independence”

    And then there is this claim by one of the contributors to the forum…

    “Well, since I wasn’t sworn to secrecy by a journalist, I will share that my friend P who is very close to Nancy and runs the AR retreats for this region once got a phone call from one of the Liberian girls who was out of the Campbell home. She contacted P because she was contacting everyone with contact info in the AR magazines, attempting to counter what Nancy was saying about her. She made it plain to P that she was abandoned by the family because she wanted more out of life than watching kids, cooking, and cleaning. She wanted to come to America to get her education and make something of herself, and that’s not what AR is about :shrug. They want women in the home, having babies. So they shipped her off to another home and basically wrote her off, and then told people that she was ‘rebellious’ and off the rails behaviorally.
    P, being a good little AR Bunny :shifty didn’t really believe any of it :-/. ”

    I guess “shipped her off to another home” still implies a kind of rehoming arrangement, and this could well be a description od CeCe/Selah (since there doesn’t seem to be that big of a distinction between the Allison and Campbell homes)… But this somehow seems more voluntary than what Joyce reported happened to the Allison kids? Maybe? And maybe it’s about Sapphire?

    Hopefully the reason Sapphire is hard to locate via internet is because she made good her escape, no longer has anything to do with the Campbells, didn’t want to be quoted in the story, and is getting the education and brighter future she deserves. But I do wish I knew for sure.

  • texassa

    The idea that idealistic, uneducated and unskilled (white) youth can go into poor brown communities and “help” or “save” them is outrageous in itself. Those kids would be better off spending their flight money on simply supporting aid in those communities rather than going on instagram-worthy vacations (“mission trips”) to serve their own interests.