Quiverfull

From NBC:

“AUSTIN, Texas — Parents seeking to adopt children in Texas could soon be rejected by *state-funded* or private agencies with religious objections to them being Jewish, Muslim, gay, single, or interfaith couples, under a proposal in the Republican-controlled Legislature. [Emphasis mine.] Five other states have passed similar laws protecting faith-based adoption organizations that refuse to place children with gay parents or other households on religious grounds — but Texas’ rule would extend to state-funded agencies. Only South Dakota’s is similarly sweeping.”

Does this need comment? I read it to James, and he said, “That is NOT gonna pass Constitutional muster.” The thing is that South Dakota seems already to have achieved such a measure. And I can tell you firsthand that the Dakotas go along just fine, as Constitutional cesspits. 

But let’s say that the courts do their job, and get in the way of this sort of state-funded adoption ban. That would be excellent—just as Trump’s impeachment would be excellent. But as with the Trump-less Trumpites, the movement would only persist. And the adoption agenda would follow this arithmetic: Removing (at least cheap) birth control and stopping all abortions + restricting adoptions to “Christian” families = an increasing supply of “Christian” soldiers. There’s a name for this sort of philosophy. It’s called the Quiverfull movement. 

In its purest form, the Quiverfull doctrine focuses mostly on parents who are Christian already, where the women are supposed to “relinquish control of the womb to God,” and have as many babies as possible. (Apparently this surrender is very liberating to the mother. Of course it is.) That focus aside, however, I can see how the Quiverfull doctrine can slide easily into the “you have ‘em, we’ll raise ‘em” strategy. As the name suggests, the Quiverfull philosophy hinges on the idea of warfare. In some early instances, Amish or Orthodox Jewish versions of the movement have embraced the fact that small-group longevity depends on growing a population. But when we unpack this stance in relation to the nation’s already-conservative midsection, we can come up with something like this: 

As with any extremist doctrine these days, the idea of warfare has metastasized from the goal of survival to one of conquest. I’ve come across a few books on the Quiverfull movement. Some of them have titles such as Family UNplanning; A Mom Just Like You; and (my favorite) The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality. Of the ten titles I’ve seen, however, three of them went like this: Arrows in His Hand; The Family: God’s Weapon for Victory; and Birthing God’s Mighty Warriors. Rachel Scott is the author of that last one, and Fox News covered her on a 2007 spot that was called “When Birthing Children is a Religious Experience.” In this segment, Scott mentioned an encounter with a “warrior angel” who espoused the Quiverfull philosophy. Bottom line is the Quiverfull movement has entered at least the Fox-viewing mainstream, and it has the aroma of what may anti-Islam folks would call a jihad.

Now back in the day, a Roman patriarch had the option to disown his infant. The family laid the baby on the ground. If the father picked it up, the infant was saved. If the father stepped over the child, the baby was left to die of exposure. The mother had no legal say about any of this. Early Christians grew their numbers, in part, because they rescued the abandoned children. I would bet my favorite French press that the Quiverfull movement makes mention of this fact. But let’s be very clear: The Dakota-Texas laws are not a rescue. They are an imprisonment. By forcing more children into adoption agencies and then minimizing those who may become their parents, the laws will add more children to a system where already 428,000 kids languish in American foster care. No quiver can hold that many—especially not when women freed of womb-angst are having lots of babies of their own. 

And I’d like to mention one final thing: Conquering armies have captured children and raised them before. In fact, the ancient Romans were very good at this. But after a while, something started to happen. The abducted children grew up. And they became not only aware of their origin but also of their numbers. They realized that if they wanted to, they could organize a revolt. And that, dearies, is one of the reasons why the conquering empire fell.

(Originally posted May 13, 2017)

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