Yesterday, I read an excerpt from Vyckie Garrison’s remarks to American Atheists about her escape from the oppressive confines of the Quiverfull movement. Much like reality TV’s Duggar family, Garrison belonged to a devout Christian family, their values informed by literalist interpretations of scripture.
The Quiverfull movement is comprised of fundamentalist families who aim to live the biblical model of marriage and child bearing/rearing. The Bible dictates that children are blessings–“As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them.” Quiverfull couples leave family planning in the Lord’s hands and women willingly remain pregnant, nursing or both for the majority of their adult lives.
As Garrison explains:
“Probably the most recognizable and influential Quiverfull family in America is reality TV’s Duggar Family of “Way Too Many and Counting” fame. But unlike fundamentalist Mormons who tend to congregate in just a few places in Utah, Arizona, Texas, etc., you will find Quiverfull families in nearly all types of churches in every community. This is because Quiverfull is not a denomination, with a creed to sign and a church to join. And it’s not technically a cult in the strict sense of having one central leader … instead, Quiverfull is a mindset (a very powerful head trip) in which each family becomes a cult unto itself with Daddy enshrined as the supreme Patriarch.”
“So this was about political domination. The whole point of having a quiver full of babies is to … out-populate the “enemy,” … that would be all of you; and to shoot those many arrows “straight into the heart of the enemy.” And by that, we meant that our children would grow up to be leaders in all the major institutions of our society. This was our plan for taking back America for God. So the children were like arrows (which is the ammunition) in God’s holy war.”
Garrison goes on to share how, while she initially did not have the language to identify her lifestyle as abusive, her exposure to a “Power and Control Wheel” helped her identify the ways in which she had been manipulated, exploited, mistreated and enslaved. Her story is a compelling one. The parallels between a Quiverfull family unit and a patriarchal cult ring true. Certainly the manipulation and isolation are present but also the over-arching use of militaristic rhetoric as expression of the group’s mission–a very common and powerful tactic in many modern cults.
I worry about women in entrapment similar to Garrison’s (and their children, too). I’m glad she is raising her voice.
You can watch her full speech below. She also blogs at No Longer Quivering.
(top photo via here.)