Making babies for Jesus: BBC highlights the lunacy of the Quiverfull evangelical movement
THIS evening, the BBC World Service will broadcast The Womb as a Weapon, an examination of the spread in the UK of a dotty and dangerous trend that insists that good Christians mums should produce babies as fast as their bodies will allow.
Christians in the Quiverfull movement believe in giving up all forms of contraception and accepting as many children as God gives, both as a sign of obedience to God and in a bid to ensure the future of the faith.
Quiverfull ideology also advocates a return to “traditional” roles in the home, where women are wife and mother first of all. They are their husband’s “helpmeet”, designed to support him as head of the household and primary breadwinner.
The programme features one woman who tested her faith in Quiverfull to the limit – Vyckie Garrison, a mother of seven. Once a cornerstone of the Quiverfull movement in the US, she left in 2008. Her No Longer Quivering is described as a “place for women escaping and recovering from spiritual abuse”.
Garrison suffers from a rare bone condition that made pregnancy dangerous. Her husband had a vasectomy after baby number three. But after reading several Quiverfull authors, her ideas and the vasectomy were reversed.
Garrison continued to get pregnant against all medical advice, almost dying with the birth of her last – and seventh – child. But for a true believer, dying in childbirth is supposedly a noble act, she says.
I really believed that I wouldn’t die unless God willed that I die, and if he did then I would accept that, because obviously he’s the smart one, and has the big picture and knows the whole plan.
The programme appears to omit the tragic case of Andrea Yates.
Yates , A Texas mum suffering from a severe untreated psychosis and post partum depression, was drawn into the Quiverfull movement at the insistence of her husband Rusty, who in turn was under the spell of a fire and brimstone preacher named Michael Woroniecki. In 2001 Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children in a bathtub, and to this day remains in a mental hospital.
Woroniecki, according to this report, was a sharp-witted, sharp-tongued, self-proclaimed “prophet” who preached a simple message about following Jesus but who was so belligerent in public about sinners going to hell (which included most people) that he was often in trouble. He even left Michigan, to avoid prosecution.
He denounced Catholicism, the religion with which Andrea had grown up, and stressed the sinful state of her soul.
He also preached austerity, and his ideas were probably instrumental in the way the Yateses decided to live. As Andrea had one child after another, she took on the task of home-schooling them with Christian-only texts and trying to do what the Woroniecki and his wife, Rachel, told her.
In one letter to Yates, Woroniecki said:
You are evil. You are wicked. You are a daughter of Eve, who is a wicked witch. The window of opportunity for us to minister to you is closing. You have to repent now!
Later, Yates stated she had considered killing the children for two years, adding that they [Woroniecki and her husband] thought she was not a good mother and claimed her sons were developing improperly. She told her psychiatrist:
It was the seventh deadly sin. My children weren’t righteous. They stumbled because I was evil. The way I was raising them, they could never be saved. They were doomed to perish in the fires of hell.
She also told her psychiatrist that Satan influenced her children and made them more disobedient.
Hat tip: Agent Cormac