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Jen Grond/the Gauntlet

Fighting a different kind of holy war

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A new form of child soldier is emerging in the United States. Raised by fundamentalist Christian families who identify themselves as "Quiverfull," these children are enlisted at birth in God's latest army, one that seeks to counteract and eliminate society's supposed decay.

The Quiverfull movement, still relatively small but with the potential for exponential growth, is based on Psalm 127:3-4:

"Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."

Quiverfull women, in adherence, accept as many children as God gives them. Rearing numerous progeny is regarded as a demonstration of their radical faith and obedience, as well as a means to advance God's kingdom -- winning the country for Christ by producing more children than their adversaries. Quiverfull women, who consider contraception one of Satan's evils, commonly give birth to families of more than 10 and many rely on unassisted childbirth, complying with the overarching Quiverfull mentality that God, not medical professionals, will deliver offspring to them safely.

The Quiverfull movement encourages a patriarchal household, where the husband assumes the role of leader and provider. Women are simply treated as God's vessel for his warriors, regardless of the health effects. Women, who may suffer physically and mentally due to childbirth, are told that they are sacrificing themselves for God's work, and thus forced to continue conceiving.

The Quiverfull movement is inherently dangerous to women; however, its doctrine not only undermines the significant advances of feminism, but also demonstrates the terrifying ability of adults to exploit the innocence of children. Children of these families are far removed from society, as their parents abide by their devotion to "home-birth, home-church and home-school." They do not come to accept their Christian beliefs based on personal reflection, they are utterly indoctrinated. No child, whether from a religious or secular family, should be used as a tool by their parents. Children are not objects, but unique and sentient beings whose naivety and innocence upon entering this world should not be abused. One of the major reasons that child soldiers are used in violent wars the world over is because they can be easily manipulated. The forms of bribery for these children include food, toys or guns; Quiverfull families bribe their children with the promise they are fighting for God and therefore are loved by Him. Both exploit a child's inability to think critically.

It should be the responsibility of adults to teach youth to see the bigger picture -- to question, to think for themselves, to be reflective -- but Quiverfull families do not encourage their children to pursue knowledge. Instead, they are subjected to being a unit in God's army -- unquestioningly obedient and unforgivably vulnerable.

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