The Quiverfull movement came to prominence with the televised introduction of the Duggars and the reality show about their huge family. Quiverfull Christians emerged in the 1980s as an evangelical response to the rise of feminism and the use of birth control. The name comes from a Biblical psalm:
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
For Quiverfull subscribers, every child they have is another arrow in their quiver. By having lots of kids, they believe they are fulfilling God’s command.
But what you won’t see on television are all the Quiverfull horror stories that exist. The Duggars had their own scandal when it turned out their eldest son had molested his sisters, but other abuse within Quiverfull abounds. The strange beliefs of the conservative movement is just another installment of stringent parameters to which religious movements subscribe: Catholics, the FLDS, and Hasidic Jews all have their own.
But large families are perhaps the least harmful aspect of the Quiverfull movement: it's the adjacent ideology and darkly subversive repression fueling the movement that is so alarming. Here are some of the most disturbing rules and rituals promoted by Quiverfull believers.
- Photo: The Handmaid's Tale / Hulu
Women Can't Have Their Own Bank Accounts Or Email Addresses Without Their Husbands' Permission
Quiverfull women are severely isolated, which isn’t helped by the practices of homeschooling and homesteading. But it gets worse than that. According to an ex-member, wives are not allowed to have their own bank accounts, or even their own email address unless their husband says they can. And not all husbands say yes, meaning they have complete financial control over their wives, a form of abuse. Women aren’t even supposed to leave the house without the patriarch’s permission.
One ex-member compared it to The Handmaid’s Tale, but for some people in the world today it is all too real.
They Think AIDS Is A Punishment From God
There are few things worse to a Quiverfull member than homosexuality. Gay marriage is blamed for ruining the traditional family. They see LGBTQIA people as a crime against God and according to this sect they deserve any bad thing that comes their way, even if it is one of the most horrible diseases known to man.
They see the fact that we haven’t been able to cure AIDS as the result of being a “debauched nation.” They were thrilled during the 1980s when President Reagan refused to do anything about the AIDS epidemic, because they saw it as the price gay people paid for being immoral.
- Photo: Quiverfull Documentary / YouTube
Daughters Are Basically Unpaid Servants
Being a wife in a Quiverfull marriage doesn’t sound very fun, but it is almost as bad being a daughter in one. You have to submit to all the men in your family and you are basically looked at as unpaid labor. On ex-member talked about how it was her job to do the dishes for her whole family for ten years. She also was the one who got up at night and assisted her mom with feeding any new babies, because obviously her father needed his beauty sleep.
Other former members talk about the stay-at-home daughter movement. This encourages girls to be available all the time for childcare, cooking, and cleaning needs, and most crucially it discourages them from going to college. Education isn’t valued since they are expected to get married and not hold down a paying job. But it is also so they can be available to help with the younger kids even once they reach an age where they might normally be expected to move out.
- Photo: Jennifer Flanders / YouTube
Many Believe They Prove They Are Saved By Speaking In Tongues
One of the more innocent but just as strange things that fundamentalist Christians like Quiverfull practitioners do is speak in tongues. Called a “charismatic gift” from God, believers think they are able to speak a different earthly language, or, more importantly, the language of the angels. They believe that by speaking in tongues, they are showing God has blessed them and they are one of the saved ones.
They base this idea on a few Bible verses, including Mark 16:17, which says “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues." No pressure on anyone who can’t exactly get the hang of blurting out random syllables.