An Evangelical movement that leaves family planning to God

Swanson family. Barbara Bradley Hagerty/NPRThe United States birth rate is rising and Evangelical families in the Quiverfull movement (named after a verse of Psalm 127) are playing their part in the trend -- to the alarm of the greens, no doubt. A few weeks after the New York Times looked at the subject of large families, National Public Radio has run a feature on the movement, which comprises about 10,000 families, mainly in the Midwest and South of the United States.

NPR interviewed some families in Michigan. Kelly Swanson and husband Jeff say they didn’t want any children when they first married, but then began to notice that the Bible gave special value to big families. Now they have seven children and would like more. They are leaving it up to God to decide how many they can handle. The average family at their church has 8.5 kids, which compares with a national total fertility rate of 2.2 children per woman. (In 1976, 20 per cent of American women had five or more children, but by 2006 that figure had fallen to 4 per cent.)

Misty and Seth Huckstead, both 31, have six children and another on the way. When they were 23, already with four children, Seth had a vasectomy, but they then came to realise that sterilisation was an affront to God and he had the procedure reversed. “Family has always been the foundation of church and society,” they say. “It’s God’s design; it’s beautiful.”

Nancy Campbell, a leader of Quiverfull and author of Be fruitful and Multiply, sees her six children as allowing her to “impact the world for God.” She says if believers don’t start reproducing in large numbers, biblical Christianity will lose its voice -- while the Islamic world is strengthening its voice, simply by “multiplication”.

Outsider Kathryn Joyce, who has also written about the movement -- although from a critical point of view -- says its people have ambitions to take over the Congress and talk of reclaiming “sinful cities like San Francisco” and being “able to wage very effective massive boycotts against companies that are going against God’s will”. ~ NPR, March 25



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