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Missing: The “Right” Babies

Europe is failing to produce enough babies–the “right” babies–to replace its old and dying. It’s “the baby bust,” “the birth dearth” : modern euphemisms for old-fashioned race panic as low fertility among white “Western” couples coincides with an increasingly visible immigrant population across Europe.

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Quiverfull: More Children For God’s Army

Kathryn Joyce is working on a book about conservative Christian women's movements, to be published by Beacon Press.

Between 1985 and 1990, three books were published by small, independent Christian presses that would come to have a profound impact on Christian Right thinking on family planning, feminism and birth control. Charles Provan's The Bible and Birth Control, Mary Pride's The Way Home: Away from Feminism and Back to Reality, and Rick and Jan Hess's A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ. Together, these three books laid a comprehensive framework for the pro-natalist, anti-birth control movement today known as Quiverfull, wherein believers eschew all forms of birth control, natural and hormonal, and argue that Christian families should leave the number of children they have entirely in the hands of God.

In the Nov. 27th issue of The Nation, I profiled a group of Quiverfull believers who had broods of 8, 11, 13 and 14 children, and who spoke of their decision to have such large families as a form of spiritual warfare. That much is reflected in their name, taken from Psalm 127: "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." Quiverfull mothers think of their children as no mere movement, but as an army they're building for God.

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