Monday, February 12, 2007

Sixteen Isn't Enough

Most of us have heard of the old TV show, "Eight is Enough". But for the Duggar family, sixteen isn't enough. Children, that is.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, a fundamentalist Christian couple from Arkansas, have sixteen children. That's right, SIXTEEN. They are proponents of the "Quiverfull" philosophy, which is anti-birth control and who deny the truth of global overpopulation, and who take the view that it's up to God how many children each family has.

And Michelle (who should be renamed Myrtle, as in Fertile), is pregnant yet again with the couple's 17th child, due in July 2007. The thought of this boggles my mind -- just the thought of having sex with her as being akin to throwing a hot dog down a hall makes me shudder.

Though the family has stated they are debt-free, which I cannot fault, and though they ultimately have the right to have as many children as they can support, I still have a lot of problems with anyone having this many children in modern times. We are no longer an agrarian society and no longer need all those hands to work the fields

I can't imagine the children are having a much of a childhood. The older children have had what should be their only carefree time in their lives taken from them by having to help raise their younger siblings. And, to me as an almost-only child with two siblings more than a decade my senior, the idea of never having a moment's privacy is not a appealing one. The Duggar home, by necessity, is run like an army barracks. I'm sure it's a rare thing for any of the children individually to ever get one-on-one time with either of their parents.

I also think of all the children languishing in orphanages and foster homes who are waiting, sometimes fruitlessly, to be adopted. If the Duggars have so much love to give to children, why not adopt several of these children? Why is it so important that they have to "make their own".

And there are more possible implications that concern me. The children are home schooled with very little contact with the outside world or with other children. Home schooling is not necessarily a bad thing, but most homeschoolers have ample opportunities for interacting with traditionally schooled children.

Jim Bob has served in Arkansas House of Representatives and has unsuccessfully run for both the Arkansas and United States Senates.

The pattern of having abnormally large families, coupled with homeschooling and socially isolating the children is a growing one among extreme, reactionary fundamentalists. Couple this with groups such as the Christian Exodus group I wrote about recently, and Christian Dominion groups whose avowed goal is to change our form of government to a theocracy from the ground up starting with election to local government. It would seem that these people are trying to breed their way into a majority in this country so that they will eventually achieve their goals by sheer numbers.

Paranoid? Perhaps. But I think mainstream Americans, both liberals and conservatives, would do well to keep a close eye on this phenomenon.


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