Tag Archives: women and religion

Escape from the Quiverfull movement.


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.)


An (UN)arranged marriage.


A few weeks ago, I was struck by this interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday with Fraidy Reiss, a woman whose religion and culture dictated when and whom she should wed. At 19 and an abusive man who later, when Reiss was reaching out for help, elders in her community would defend as simply having “a little bit of a temper.”

After leaving her husband and the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, she founded a non-profit organization to help other women escape arranged marriages. Because guess what? Women being manipulated in the name of God, their heritage, family pride, or some twisted take on tradition happens in America way more often than we care to realize.

It is hard to determine just how many arranged marriages occur in the United States each year but what we do know is that most states lack the legislation to protect women when they go wrong.

Reiss was partnered with her husband by a professional matchmaker, a common occurrence in the Orthodox Jewish community. “It never occurred to me that I was doing anything other than what I had always dreamed of doing,” she says. But, merely one week into married existence, Reiss discovered that life with this stranger was not headed towards wedded bliss. After her family and multiple rabbis refused to assist the young bride, she looked else where…

From the accompanying NPR article:

After a particularly violent episode, Reiss says, she went to the police to get a temporary restraining order, a first for a woman in her community. That was a mistake, she says.

“I realized too late that one of the gravest sins in the Orthodox Jewish community is ratting out your fellow Jew to secular authorities,” she says. The rabbis sent an attorney from the community to Reiss’ house to drive with her to family court and tell the judge she wanted to drop the restraining order.

After getting a degree and a job, Reiss was finally able to take her 2 children and leave the marriage. She was promptly declared dead by the rest of her family and shunned.

However, Reiss would go on to found Unchained At Last, a non-profit organization which helps women like her escape forced or arranged marriages–offering free legal counsel, social services and a mentor program. For many of these women, this way of life is the only one they know and they have no one to help them. Conversely, Unchained At Last envisions a world where women are free to choose when, whom and whether they marry.

If you’d like to listen to the NPR interview with Fraidy Reiss CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to check out the fantastic organization, Unchained At Last CLICK HERE.

And if this story strikes you, as it did me, I strongly encourage you to make a donation HERE.