The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Quiverfull of Pride

And so Kay’s seven deadly sins parade winds down with the final sin – pride.

I didn’t know what I was going to write about here, until this morning, when I saw this, or for a more concise bit on the exact thing that I'm thinking of, go here. Go ahead, click on of the links. You know you want to, and, frankly, the rest of this entry won’t make any sense if you don’t.

Okay, fine, I'll explain where I'm going to those who have a phobia of links. The links go to an article and a blog entry about the "quiverfull" movement (AKA the patriarchy movement - their own term, not one that they've been labeled with). This movement holds that it is the responsibility of a Christian woman to have as many children as she possibly can, regardless of the impacts to her health (and she is to have essentially no life outside of the home), and that it is the responsibility of a Christian man to get his wife pregnant as often as possible. The basic idea being that they will grow in population, outnumber the "infidels", and be able to enforce their will on the rest of the population. It's sort of like a very slow-moving version of a James Bond villain.

Lest you think that I am being overly alarmist, I will point out that I am not worried that these people will succeed, I feel relatively certain that they won't, and while their numbers are growing at the moment, movements like this have never really succeeded in the long-term and tend to burn themselves out. I also am not exaggerating their aims, they are very open about their plans for world domination (though they call it other things, like "taking the world for Christ" or "remaking the world in a Christian image", but lets call a spade a spade, and let's call plans for world domination plans for world domination, shall we).

Katherine Joyce has studied the quivefull movement, and written articles and a book on them. From one of her articles linked above comes the following quote:

Among yet more extreme believers, such as the pro-patriarchy homeschooling ministry Vision Forum, some movement leaders urge followers to develop a "200-year plan," to chart out generations of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for centuries to come, along with tasks they want those descendents to fulfill to glorify the family name. "If the Christian Church had not listened to the humanistic lies of the enemy and limited their families," writes Vision Forum founder Doug Phillips in an introduction to the movement book Be Fruitful and Multiply, "the army of God would be more powerful in this hour. The enemy's camp would be trembling."

It's absurd, on one hand, to believe that two hundred years' worth of heirs will follow an ancestor's goals so closely, but it's also a logical extension of the "demography is destiny" argument that Quiverfull relies upon: that through the sheer number of their offspring they will be able to enact their will upon the culture around them.

...and I can't think of a better example of sinful pride, or as it should more accurately be called, hubris, than this. Not only do these people suffer from the grandiose notion that they will reform the world in their image (it's too bad that they are pretty strongly anti-science, as they would make GREAT B-movie mad scientists with that attitude), but they expect that their decendants, long after they're gone, will continue on with their plan as they conceive it now.

Certainly, pushing for believers to reproduce beyond all sanity is not unique to this particular sect - it's a feature of many religions. However, this particular super-villianous twist is something truly odd. The fact that this particular "deadly sin" is so strongly displayed by a group so determined to make the world fit their definition of "holy" is an amazing irony.


Raven said...

So many scary people from all faiths... all of whom think they speak for God. I agree this group is unlikely to succeed in world domination. I have to admit to having the wicked hope that the second or third generations pretty quickly kick Dad in the butt and tell him to leave Mom (and them) alone. How mean am I?

Great example of pride.

Kay said...

Yes, I agree… great example.

The whole idea of “Our way is the not only the right way but the ONLY right way is one of the ideas in many religions… and since it is so very prideful and well, lets face it, alienating, it is one of the things that I despise about many organized religions as a whole.

Evan Davis said...

"continue on with their plan as they conceive it now." - I winced.

This plan has been in effect in Islam for over 1000 years. They breed faster than most religious groups, they number well over 20% of the earth's population and they still don't control politics. They have enough trouble getting respect let alone getting goverments to do their will.

Anthroslug said...

To be fair Evan, it's not unique to Islam, encouraging reproduction as a way of gaining social or political power is something that many religions have done over the years - including your own through the 19th century. Also, I am suspicious of the claim that they have a higher birth rate than other religious groups - the most over-populated countries in the world are not even primarily monotheistic.

Anthroslug said...

Also, with the exception of groups such as this Quiverfull movement and a few other religious organizations, it's the relative wealth, education, and health care of societies that is most tightly correlated to birth rates (the higher the wealth and better the education and medical care, the lower birth rates tend to be, with some of the best off and most highly-educated countries actually experiencing negative population growth).

Evan Davis said...

The highest birth rates in the world are muslim dominated countries (I like to peruse the CIA World Factbook for fun). Half of the top 20 breeding countries are muslim (the other half being christian). Since Muslim dominated countries currently tend to have a low life expectancy it is hard to speculate on the overcrowding issue.

Oh, and to clarify: The encouragement of having children has always been important to the LDS Church. Not for world domination, we don't want the world. Children are one of the best sources of happiness. I know what you are thinking, but no, MLTs are not quite good enough.

Anthroslug said...

Mulsim countries - both in the Middle East and Africa - are also among the poorest in the world, which still corresponds with the argument regarding wealth and education.

As for children being the greatest (or even a good) source of happiness, research shows otherwise. Check it out.Many social organizations, including religious ones, encourage members to have many children. In some cases, it is openly for the purpose of increasing the size of the flock, in others there are other reasons given, and yet the encouragement of having children (and the insistence that it is the greatest form of happiness, rather the finding what the individual might see as giving them happiness) should make anyone who is looking at this suspicious. PErhaps these groups really are concerned primarily with the happiness of their members rather than expanding the roles, but as there are many routes to happiness and this is somehow the recurrent one...well...I'm not buying it.