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What Is The Quiverfull Movement?: A Religious Conviction or Creepy Cult and the Duggar's Recent Involvement

What Is The Quiverfull Movement?

The Quiverfull Movement is a controversial group of ultra-Conservative Christians that some argue border on cultist.

The central principle of the Quiverfull Movement is to have as many children as God will bless you with. At face value, this doesn't seem too radical, but many followers of this movement adhere to strange, extreme, and even abusive behaviors to keep their children and spouses in line.

It is not a denomination of Christianity, nor are their any organized churches under the name of Quiverfull. However, many practitioners of the Quiverfull Movement identify as Independent Baptist, like the Duggars from the hit TV show 19 Kids and Counting and later Counting On.

What Do Quiverfull Believe?

  • Biblical patriarchy: One of the most important concepts to Quiverfull practitioners is Biblical patriarchy. In this idea, a man runs as the head of the household, and his wife is under him. The children are dictated their duties by the mother. The husband is in charge of all things, making all the major decisions, and sometimes even planning out a daily schedule for his wife to follow.

Who Started The Quiverfull Movement?

There is no one established leader of the Quiverfull Movement.

Some theorize that this ultra-Orthodox acceptance of Christianity came as a response to the counter-culture movements of the 70's.

The Duggars and 19 Kids and Counting

The Quiverfull Movement came into mainstream America from TLC's hit reality show, 19 Kids and Counting. It followed the lives of the Duggar family and their many children.

The Duggars will not officially recognize themselves as being part of the Quiverfull movement (like most of it's proponents) and instead insist that they are just Bible-believing conservative Christians. They do, however publically affiliate themselves with organizations like Bill Gothard's Institute of Basic Life Principles.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,

offspring a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

are children 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 opponents in court.

— Psalm 127: 3-5

The secrecy and unyielding obedience to husbands and fathers can often leave women and girls in the Quiverfull Movement battered and abused.

The secrecy and unyielding obedience to husbands and fathers can often leave women and girls in the Quiverfull Movement battered and abused.

Common Quiverfull Practies

Exact rules may vary according to household, but there are many common practices.

  • Restricting clothing, especially for women and girls
  • Avoiding pop, rock, and rap, even if it the Christian versions
  • Large families and a religious refusal of birth control and other basic female healthcare
  • Corporal punishment, often going beyond standard spanking to whippings and out-and-out beatings
  • Homeschooling children, often with the mother as the sole educator and childcare provider
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Bill Gothard and The Institute of Basic Life Principles

Bill Gothard is a prominent Evangelical Christian author, instructor, and promoter of the Quiverfull movement. He founded the Institute of Basic Life Principles but quietly stepped down from his position in 2014 due to allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

Gothard offers seminars at several levels that span up to a week and focus primarily on his "Basic Life Principles" that establish the importance of authority and unabashed acceptance of God's will.

Some of his teachings include:

  • Promoting courtship over dating
  • Biblical patriarchy, or the idea that the man is the head of the household as ordained by God
  • Having a large family and not using birth control to show your acceptance to God's will
  • Restricting female clothing with patterns because they have "eyetraps" and are a temptation to men
Michael and Debi Pearl tell parents to continue spanking their children, even after they cry or show signs of physical pain.

Michael and Debi Pearl tell parents to continue spanking their children, even after they cry or show signs of physical pain.

How To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl

How to Train Up A Child is a common childcare manual utilized by those in the Quiverfull Movement. It is not an exaggeration to say that this book directly advocates child abuse. A few examples of these poor parenting techniques include:

  • Blanket training: Once a child is old enough to crawl, a parent is instructed to place a child on a small blanket or towel. Next, they entice the child to crawl off the blanket with toys, treats, and encouragement. If the child does crawl off the blanket, they are slapped or spanked. This is intended to teach the baby the importance of boundaries.
  • Corporal punishment: "For a child under one year old, a willowy branch or a 1ft (30cm) ruler is recommended. For older children, a larger branch or a belt." These implements are designed not only to inflict great pain, but also to stop bruises and welts from appearing on a child's skin.

The idea behind all these practices is simply to break the will of your child, to demand unquestionable obedience no matter the cost to their mental or physical health.

Works Cited

  • Lewis, Aidan. “Child 'Training' Book Triggers Backlash.” BBC News, BBC, 11 Dec. 2013,

© 2018 Dani Merrier


JC Scull on January 11, 2020:

Dani...Very good article. I enjoy reading about the craziness of religious cults and very conservative religious sects. They remind me why I believe in trees, animals, rivers, lakes and oceans. They make a lot more sense.

Thank you for sharing.

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