An extreme Christian cult known as the Quiverfull movement, with ties to the Duggar family, is crying Christian persecution after facing criticism over a scheduled retreat designed to marry off teens.
The retreat was originally scheduled to take place this summer in Wichita, Kansas, according to Christian Today. Titled the “Get Them Married” retreat, it was slated to be run by Vaughn Ohlman, an adherent of the Quiverfull movement. As a branch of fundamental Christianity that advocates large families, it is often associated with the Duggars.
However, the Quiverfull retreat was cancelled after being covered by Raw Story, which led to a public outcry of horror over the premise behind the Christian fundamentalist retreat.
“For around $1200 per family, Quiverfull parents will spend three days ‘networking’ with similarly-delusional zealots who believe men are to be in charge, wives are to be submissive baby-makers, and children are to be sheltered, isolated, indoctrinated, and pushed toward early, prolific marriages for Jesus.”
After the story was published, the Salvation Army, the organization from which the Quiverfull group rented space, denied the Christian fundamentalists permission.
In a statement, the Salvation Army said that the Quiverfull group had sought permission to use the space but that no contract had been signed and that the organization is dedicated to the safety of children.
“The Salvation Army has denied a request by the Let Them Marry organization to conduct its event at Camp Hiawatha. Our decision is based upon our long-standing concern for the welfare of children. At The Salvation Army, we work every single day to provide a safe, caring place for children, many of whom have been left vulnerable due to the actions of adults. We remain steadfastly focused on our mission of advocating for and protecting children.”
Once denied permission to hold the retreat, Ohlman and the Quiverfull cult began to cry persecution, believing that people’s horror over the idea of marrying off children has more to do with Christian religion rather than the idea that children are neither physically or mentally prepared for marriage. It was also the girls’ lack of choice that enraged many, as Ohlman himself wrote that “there is no decision to be made once the betrothal is final. There is no approval required or veto allowed.”
Once the Quiverfull retreat was cancelled, Ohlman took to his blog to express his own disgust at the “left wing” media and “anti-Christian” sites that expressed disgust over the idea of children marrying.
“Well our main blog and my daughter-in-law’s blog have been picked up by Raw Story, Free Jinger, and a dozen or so more left wing and anti-Christian sites. Words cannot describe how much we appreciate their well thought out, pleasantly written, Biblical commentary on our various posts. They are especially impressed with our proposed ‘Get Them Married’ retreat idea.”
Ohlman then tries to claim that arranged marriage forced upon children, as advocated by the Quiverfull movement, is preferable to what else is offered.
“The government schools and other organizations charged with managing the sexual lives of our children seem to believe that our children should learn all about the joys of anal sex at five years old, and by twelve should be getting condoms out of vending machines, rolling in the sack with their partner of choice, and then (when the condoms fail) going out and murdering their children at taxpayer expense without even bothering to inform their parents.”
Ohlman’s blog has since become protected, but he did make previous claims that the Bible “provides many reasons for marriage, and most if not all of them demonstrate that marriage typically ought to happen in the youth (as in, before the age of 20).” But, Ohlman claims that he and his fundamentalist Christian cult does have limits — the children must be over the age of 11. They also have to have breasts.
“1) The ‘youth’ ready for marriage has breasts. A woman who is to be married is one who has breasts; breasts which signal her readiness for marriage, and breasts who promise enjoyment for her husband. (We believe that ‘breasts’ here stand as a symbol for all forms of full secondary sexual characteristics.)”
“2) The ‘youth’ ready for marriage is ready to bear children. Unlike modern society Scripture sees the woman as a bearer, nurser, and raiser of children. The ‘young woman’ is the woman whose body is physically ready for these things, physically mature enough to handle them without damage.”
Furthermore, Ohlman explained that in the Bible, young women were not consulted in the choosing of a husband and that today, a lack of consent is a sign of disobedience.
“[…] A lack of consent of the individual concerned is a choice of disobedience, a breach of a vow and of a relationship. God has designed the marriage relationship (in particular that of the virgin daughter marrying the virgin son) to be a relationship initiated by the parents, in particular the fathers, of the young couple. This is the example that God uses constantly in Scripture, and even where an example strays from this, these principles are still kept in focus.”
With ideas like that, the planned retreat caused such a public outcry.