by Cindy Kunsman cross posted from her blog Redeeming Dinah
All images by Cindy Kunsman from Redeeming Dinah and used with permission
This series of posts results includes excerpts from information shared with a journalist in August of 2015 who had questions about the Quiverfull Movement
as it related to the Duggar Family
With so much freedom and opportunities, why are women attracted to a cult that offers such a restricted way of life?
I see two factors at work in that question. Firstly, no one ever willingly joins a cult. People believe that they have found a system of belief that empowers them to be better people and offers them the opportunity to be part of something virtuous that is greater than themselves. High demand groups never give full disclosure about the “high demand” elements of their systems of living, but rather showcase the pleasantries and show new potential recruits great love and acceptance (from which the term “love bombing” arose). Prospectives are courted, much like a someone would court a desirable mate to woo them, gaining their love and trust.
Biderman’s Chart of Coercion
helps to define cultic influence and thought reform and makes special note of the process of gradual change that manipulators use to gain undue influence over healthy, capable individuals. I see this element of ideological change at work within QF/P in a notable way, because the changes in lifestyle happen subtly and gradually. If they were obvious few if anyone would comply, but because of the insidious and covert nature of the process of change, they usually go unnoticed.
By the time a parent does begin to question the nature of some of the things required of them to be accepted within their communities of followers, they are so heavily invested emotionally, financially, and functionally, that they no longer see the demands as restrictive. Their perspective has already shifted to conform to that of the group that they become insensitive to the drastic changes that they have come to know as a mere series of insignificant ones. And if the do feel twinges of discomfort that arise from the restrictions, the other inherent pressures of the system make their doubts seem all the more insignificant.
I also note another appeal to which women fall prey within many Evangelical churches, not just within those that are expressly QF/P. Many women become dissatisfied with their husbands and desire to see them become “more godly men” who are more interested in religion in general. It is not true for all, but I know that many women saw the QF/P system as a way of creating the studious and compassionate kinsman redeemer husband that they romanticized, hoping life would turn into a modern Victorian novel.
I know many men who went along with their wives initially because of their pleading, and after some experience in the movement in concert with the social pressure of their church peers, they realized that men had quite an advantage which gave them little cause to recant. I see it as something of a Faustian bargain that many wives hope will make their lives easier and their marriages better, only to realize a far less promising outcome. I’ve heard some women who have left the movement liken this to the unexpected twist at the end of the 2004 remake of the film, The Stepford Wives
~ Cynthia Kunsman
The view of Quiverfull from my vantage
Cindy is a member of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network.
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman is a nurse (BSN), naturopath (ND) and seminary graduate (MMin) with a wide variety of training and over 20 years of clinical experience. She has used her training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a lecturer and liaison to professional scientific and medical groups, in both academic and traditional clinical healthcare settings. She also completed additional studies in the field of thought reform, hypnotherapy for pain management, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is often associated with cultic group involvement. Her nursing experience ranges from intensive care, the training of critical care nurses, hospice care, case management and quality management, though she currently limits her practice to forensic medical record review and evaluation. Most of her current professional efforts concern the study of manipulative and coercive evangelical Christian groups and the recovery process from both thought reform and PTSD.
She blogs at Under Much Grace and Redeeming Dinah.