tv America Tonight Al Jazeera February 7, 2016 12:30am-1:01am EST
you can keep up-to-date with all the news on our website. there it is on your screen. the address, of course, aljazeera.com ♪ ♪ >> more than 1 city million americans -- 170 million americans identify themselves as christian and they belong to more than 200 denominations. good evening i'm maintain's adam may. many different interpretations of the bible including a growing fundamentalist movement known as quiverful. big families for god and many families say quiverful has
helped them to find happiness but others have quit quiverful, saying it is a system with abuse. we begin with one of the most prominent voices in quiverful. >> children is the fruit of the world the womb is his reward and you know what can't even read it because my bible is so well worn. >> very tattered there you have read this verse so long. >> yes. >> nancy campbell has been quivering for years. the mother of ten children, six biological and four adopted. to explain the christian lifestyle called quiverful she turns to psalm 127 in her well read bible. >> as arrows in the hand of a mighty man so are children of the youth. then it goes on to say, happy is the man who has his quiver
liking it to the war when they went out with they're bows and arrows, blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them. they shall not be ashamed. because they will have children who they have raised to be mighty young men and women of god, and speak truth and justice and wisdom. now, isn't that a great blessing for the nation? >> who are the enemies now? is there an enemy that we should discuss? >> i think anything that is against the ways of god really are enemies, of course yes, we have enemies if we start talking about international enemies, we do have enemies today. >> campbell invited "america tonight" to her ministry, based in her large rural tennessee home about an hour outside of nashville. from her basement headquarters,
campbell publishes above rubies, a glossy quarterly magazine with a worldwide circulation of over 160,000. billing itself as full of godly wisdom for mother and wife. it promotes christian pro creation, urging women to birth as many babies as got grand . >> now, not -- grants. >> now not many people believe this today but god is the one who created us. psalm 127, blessed is the fruit of the womb. well, a lot of women don't like to hear that word, womb. today. >> why? >> well, they're being brainwashed. they're being brainwashed that they've got to get out in their career and can't stay home looking after some children. and of course, that goes back to the womb. because how do children come?
they come through the womb. and so sadly, there are many, many women today who are cutting off the function of their womb. and yet, this is who they are. who god created them to be. >> what would you say to a feminist who would say, you've been brainwashed by taking in overly literal interpretation of the bible? >> i wouldn't be ashamed of owning up to that. because i'd like to ask anyone: where can you show me truth, apart there this book? usually people who will argue against it have not lived in it. they don't really know what god says. so this is where i get my truth and i'm not ashamed to say it. embrace your motherhood. >> when campbell talks an international
congregation of believers listen. she is a star speaker all over the world and tens of thousands follow her on social media. >> i think how blessed and how rich we are because every one of these children are so aplaysing. >> campbell's own flock continues to grow and now includes 42 grandchildren. but her philosophy is, more than just a celebration of motherhood. the campbell clan is leading a movement. she describes as a necessary fight against the rise of non-christian religions. >> christians have their head in the sand. they are just as deceived along with the you know the worldly people who don't even believe in god. >> are you concerned about the future of christianity? >> no. because i know the end. ha ha ha ha ha. but what was the first words that god said to mankind? he first blessed them then he
said be fruitful, multiply. fill the earth, subdue and take dominion. so the peoples who do have children, and raise more children, they are going to gradually outpopulate and therefore, more likely begin to subdue and take dominion. >> and are you concerned that the birth rate in muslim families is much higher right now than the birth rate in christian families? >> yes, that's specifically so, yes. you? >> it is a concern, if they became more radical. but we pray for the muslim people, that they will come to faith in christ. >> but you're praying for conversion? >> well, yes because that's where their blessing before
everyone not just them. we pray for jews and the islamics, all these countries in the world, every country is being prayed for no amelia earhart who they are. no matter who they are. >> on this day, they are joined by their grandson zadoch. he is also concerned about global religious conflicts. >> people that are dying because i.s.i.s. is killing them, and you know, north korea prison camps and china and it's the family of jesus christ. and that's totally the foundation of why we would even have big families. >> you bring up i.s.i.s. and north korea, i'm just curious. can the world coexist if we're all different religions in a peaceful way?
>> it has existed not peacefully no. because man is not peaceful. i'm not peaceful and neither are you. but that's what god did, he came to reconcile those of us who are not peaceful. >> how did you reconcile big families? >> i understand my parents made a big family to found and make a picture of what god's earth looks like. god was a father to us, i'm going to be a father to those. >> the campbells welcome into their home and ministry young men and women from across america who want to immerse themselves in the movement. they help the family raise money by sewing aprons and packing tee shirts to sell on the website. on top of books and articles, promoting quiverful and home schooling, we sauce literate around the office claiming that
islam is not a religion of peace and warning of a holy war coming to america. >> i have nothing against islamic people. but the thing is, it depends whether america wants to stay america, or be an islamic america. >> canned we have multiple -- can't we have multiple religious in this country? >> well, we do at this present stage. it would depend which became the most dominant. and that happens through multiplying. >> up next, a devout follower of quiverful calls it quits. quits.
building big families in the name of jesus. many say their quivering expressed happiness in their marriage and elation surrounded by a dozen oh or even more children. but what happens if your beliefs put you in millio medical dange? we continue with one family that quit quiverful and took the most dramatic spiritual turn. >> our house felt like you know some kind of prison where nobody was allowed to be actual humans, be people. >> vicky garrison is a well-known some might say controversial name in the quiverful world. the former desurround christian and follower of nancy campbell is now an outspoken opponent of the lifestyle she once faithfully lived. >> you sent your daughter to live with the campbells you were such a believer. >> uh-huh. >> why?
>> because i thought it was an opportunity for my daughter to serve the lord and to serve this whole ideal, i thought that nancy campbell was doing god's work that she was an encouragement to women that she was you know promoting true biblical family values. >> how do you look back at that now? there? >> that is one of reply big regrets of quiverful is that i have god so central in my mind, that i was willing thought only to martyr myself but then to make martyrs of my children also. >> after the birth of her third child vicky and her then husband who is blind decided their family was complete. she says running a household with a physically challenged spouse while also suffering from a painful bone can been herself was overwhelming but then she was exposed to quiverful and her life took a turn.
>> but then we got into the home schooling. i read nancy campbell's books and i started getting this idea that god designed women to give birth, to bare children and that god -- bear children and that god loves big families, he wants me to truss him in that trust him in that area. >> vicky's husband had his vasectomy erred. reversed. vicky gave birth to four more children. >> i gave the notion that god is all knowing he has the perfect plan for life. if that does involve dying he has his reasons for that. >> did you begin to question quiverful? >> it took me while. it was a very oppressive lifestyle.
come and eat, andrew and lydia. >> we talked with many of vicky's children 23-year-old shasay, says growing up in a quiverful family ruined her life. >> you think it's good for the time but you can't shelter them forever, once their world does hit them it's really bad for a while. and it does police with mess with you to get in the real world. very scary. and freaky. for someone who is social for so long. >> until a few years ago, vicky owned a christian newspaper, that published from her home in nebraska. when she turned against quiverful it was front page in the local newspaper. eventually she and her husband divorced and in 2009 she launched a blog called no longer quivering, what she describes as
a gathering place for women escaping and healing. >> you called it spiritual abuse. >> the reason i call it spiritual abuse is because people have likeness they desire to connect with their creator or the universe. these leaders they hone in on that and they exploit that feeling. >> what do you think leaders like nancy campbell are really trying to sell? >> i think she's sincere. i don't think she's trying to scam. i think that so many of the leaders in quiverful, they really buy it, themselves, first. >> is there a political motivation? >> it is very much a dominionist movement. that verse, psalm 127 where it says blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them, comparing children to arrows in god's army having all these
children these arrows in your quiver in order to increase your political power. it is very much this idea that you're going to take back america for god and the way you're going to do that is to spite out-populating the enemy. the whole purpose is to burr's exoang burr's burr'sexoangsburr'sexoangburr's. that is really the goal of quiverful. >> what is the danger of it, though? >> it's soul-crushing for individuals. you are not allowed to have feelings, the one approved feeling is joy. the joy of the lord. and that is j-o-y, jesus first, others second, yourself last.
when we set up no longer quivering, we left out the u in quivering. the tag line is there is no you in quivering. you are no longer allowed to consider yourself. what does god want? that is all that matters. >> now, a few years after quitting quiverful, the garrison family sees faith completely different. religion? do you see your christian, atheist, are you still thinking about it? >> i'm ago no agnostic (bleep). >> what does agnostic marine to you? >> you don't believe in any god or god. >> do you believe beyond a shadow of the doubt that you have made the right choice? >> do i not. >> are you concerned you are inviting the devil into your house? >> if i did invite devil into my
life, i'd like party, rum and coke time. i can relax, it's so freeing. >> are you still christian? >> you know what, i'm actually atheist of the year. >> by whom? >> i was at the american 8th atheist convention. a year ago, we were nebraska christian council. >> now you are atheist of the year. >> right, always the extremist right? >> is there a middle ground in quiverful and what about the roles of men and women? up next meet the flanders family, 12 children and counting. >> the nation's first primary, and a critical next step on the road to the white house. >> republicans, democrats...
welcome back to this "america tonight" special report. critics of quiverful tend to focus on the phrase building an airm of god. army of god. we found many families living the lifestyle aren't motivated by that. they're doing it simply because they love children. they really love kids. and some quiverful families are blending right in with more typical american families. >> the quiverful movement are you part of it? >> ha ha ha that's not really a label that would i pick for myself but the bible talks about children may a blessing and happy is the man who has his quiverful, so yes we're part of that. >> how does your religion influence this decision for you to have a large family? >> oh i think pretty heavily. the bible talks about children being a blessing and we've just taken it at its word and agree fully.
>> jennifer and doug flanders met in college, married soon after and now have 12 children. >> jonathan is 27, bethany is 26, david is 23, samuel is 22, joseph is 16, rachel is 12, gabriel is seven he'll be eight in a week and abigail is our youngest she's five. >> the flanders invited us along in their family vacation, in gatlinburg tennessee. where we caught a glimpse in the day of the lie of a quiverful family. >> why was it important to you, why this yearning to have a house full of kids? >> that is something i think that god put in my heart. i couldn't imagine anything else i could do with my life that
would be as rewarding as raising kids. >> you have a college degree in mathematics. >> i do. >> how do you put that to use? >> i got married and multiplied. >> ha ha ha. >> we home school so i teach them everything from accounting to calculus. >> there's no question the flanders children are worldly. the teenagers help raise the younger ones. meanwhile, jennifer and doug happily maintain a traditional role of the sexes. rooted in their biblical beliefs. >> how does this work with you and doug, how doe do the roles ? >> when we first met, it was very important to me that we're on the same page. i as a christian, the husband was to be a leader and the wife was to respect and split to that. >> does that mean he's the boss
if you are submissive? >> yeah, i don't really like that term either but he -- because that sounds so domineering and that is not my husband. he's very gracious, and he takes into consideration what i think about things. you know. >> i'm going to have the black bean veggie burger. >> but in decisions that have to be played that we don't see eye to eye in, it just means that he gets that final vote. he gets to pick. >> thank you for all these sweet kids here and all the good things you're doing in their life. >> what feedback do you get from people at times -- >> that word very often it has such bad connotations but if you look at how our society works, everybody submits. if you see the red lights behind you you're going to pull over. that's submitting. >> that term submission, is one cornerstone of the quiverful philosophy. doug and jennifer says the word is misinterpreted. >> what's the toughest part?
>> sometimes i guess the financial side of it is strenuous, you know. we've been low income, high income, you know sometimes the high income doesn't seem like a lot of income but we have eight in college or graduate school. literally eight -- >> we had some in braces earlier this year. >> while doug flanders is a hands-on dad he's also an anesthesiologist back home in tyler, texas. he says he works an average of over 60 hours a week to support his large family. >> who has the harder job? >> oh she does by far no question. i basically go to work do my thing, deposit the check in the bank account. >> we have them off at one two three four five -- >> she's the one that's home schooling them and planning our vacations and the list goes on and on. my list is this short and her list is this long thing.
>> you talk about the beliefs of having a lot of kids, the woman should be more subser vent to subservient to the plan. how do you think of that? >> if you are in a loving relationship like we are where each person is not taking something from the other but rather each person is giving something to the other, then it just makes perfect sense. >> like nancy campbell, the godmother of quiverful jennifer sanders runs flanders runs a family focused website. large christian families likes hers. >> what do you say about the way you live with tease kids, they are going to say oh my god lady it's not 100 years ago. what do you say to those people? do you feel judged? >> sometimes by the feminists
who happen to write me. feminism talks a lot about choice. but yet they don't always want people to make informed choices. we had lots of comments on how that was setting women back to be kind to your husband and comfort o considerate of him. they don't want anything about my life but they say i'm brainwashed because i want children and love my husband and content to be at home. i'm not brainwashed, i chose it. >> unashamed of who they are and fiercely committed to their beliefs, the flanders enjoy a lifestyle that comes with having a quiverful of children. and even with 14, there's always room for one more. >> one of many crazy things we do. this is awesome. >> are you done? >> i would love to think that we're not done. but we haven't had a baby in
five years. god opens and closes the womb and he hasn't opened minute for five years so -- >> what are you going to do when you don't have the kids to cuddle anymore? >> i actually keep an empty nest list of things that have intrigued me that i don't have time to do. i think i'll put it on the empty nest list because i'm going to need something to distract me whether the kids are gone. >> what makes you emotional about this? >> probably because i'm 50 and i don't have a baby. isn't that crazy? i know. >> that's "america tonight." be slur to tell us what you think at aljazeera.com/americatonight. you can also talk to us on twitter and facebook and be sure to come back we'll we'll have more of "america tonight" right here tomorrow. >> even though we're in here, we're still human.