Episode 119: Quivering (part 2) with guest Vyckie Garrison

Ex-quiverful mom and activist, Vyckie Garrison, joins us in the studio to talk about the aftermath of her decision to leave her husband and religious community and to share what she is doing to help women like her to escape abusive patriarchal households. Also on this episode we take a critical look at Bill O’Reilly’s new book Killing Jesus. We also explore the new atheist mega-church “The Sunday Assembly” and debate just how closely secular communities should emulate religious congregations. Finally we examine and critique a research report which creates a taxonomy of non-believers to be used by researchers studying “the nones”.

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  1. patterndrafter says

    Hi guys, I wanted to finally take a moment to say thank you for this podcast. I have no idea how much time and effort go into such a thing – but I imagine it to be a great amount. I have been a long time listener, and have felt real benefits from your work. As a woman raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, I feel religion and its practitioners have caused me great harm, and I’m somewhat sensitive to regularly being treated as an inferior human because I have feelings and a vagina. You have never once taken the social issues I hold dear, and minimized or ignored them. My road to peace of mind has been long and winding, and I now am trying to recover from a pretty serious addiction. I feel like listening to this podcast affords me perspective and the freedom to work towards becoming the best version of myself as I do this recovery thing. I feel I’m equipped to take the 12 step God crap and tweak it in a humanist way so I can stay sober and stay true to myself. Thank you again for your efforts, your perspectives, and for always helping this lady in bumfuck Montana feel less isolated. Best regards, Jen

  2. says

    I put this up as a blog post over on my site (http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-quiverfull-movement-and-skeptical.html), but I wanted to mirror it here.

    The series with Vyckie is really compelling because her story is so painful, but because things seem to have worked out well in the end for her and her children.

    In her interview in this episode when she started talking about “spiritual abuse” it struck me as being related to a counter-apologetic argument – the idea that skeptical theism leads to moral paralysis (http://www.bowdoin.edu/faculty/s/ssehon/pdf/sehon-skeptical-theism.pdf).

    This seems to be a very real instantiation of that argument playing out in real life, much to the detriment of Vyckie and other women like her in the Quiverfull movement.

    For those that don’t know Skeptical Theism is the idea that humans have such a large chasm of knowledge between themselves and the mind of an infinite god that they should expect to know what reasons god has to permit evils to obtain some greater good.

    The argument is that such a view would lead to moral paralysis because on this view, we don’t know whether or not any given evil that we seemingly come across is being used by god to fulfill a greater good. So if we were to come across an instance of evil (like say a mugging), we wouldn’t know whether or not to intervene or otherwise act on our moral intuitions because the mugging may be part of gods greater plan.

    This relates directly to Vyckie’s account of “spiritual abuse” where she internalizes the problems with her marriage and the problems with her children that came about as a result of following what she thought was “god’s plan” for the family. When she speaks about recognizing opportunities to object to or escape the Quiverful doctrine she wouldn’t do so, because she would think “what if god needs me here to intervene in the life of my husband/child/etc.”

    It seems to be a terrible real life instantiation of the epistemic problems that would plague someone who took the skeptical theist answer to the problem of evil seriously and consistently. I think this is significant because the kinds of problems that pop up in the Quiverfull movement would probably be acknowledged as problems by more progressive or moderate Evangelical Christians. The issue for them is they would then have to deal with the epistemic problem that arises from the skeptical theism view that the people in the Quiverfull movement take so seriously.

    I’d even start to wonder if people in the Quiverfull movement go to such extreme lengths because they take the epistemic issues brought up by their views on the bible so seriously.

  3. Roma Hicks says

    The study of atheistic belief I found horrible and would only be submitted by a 2nd year student at the worse case. The category descriptions sound like a horoscope.

  4. BradC says

    Please fix your iTunes feed!!

    I’m going to repeat this comment on every episode until its fixed….

    (Something is wrong with the date formatting in the feed, all episodes show up with a date of 12/31/2000, so they don’t sort properly, and they don’t recognize when new episodes appear. It is a huge hairy pain to have to go back to the store and search for your podcast all over again to download the latest episode, and kind of defeats the purpose of subscribing to the feed.)

    I really enjoyed the interview, and I’m glad you were able to follow up her talk from last episode.

    Also, great analysis of that non-belief survey. Pretty presumptuous of them to actually define a category of non-believers that none of their actual interview subjects fell into.

  5. Stamen says

    You guys do an excellent podcast. I listen and re-listen. Vickie Garrison was enlightening but horrifying. I have just finished reading ‘I fired God’ by Jocelyn Zichterman. She has a similar story to tell. She was also Independent Fundamentalist Baptist. She calls them a cult and she is correct. They harbour a lot of sickness. The Westburo Church (god hates fags) are IFB. So is Jack Schaap -in jail for child abuse. There was an article out a while back jack-schaap-isolated-incident-or-the-one-that-got-caught/ that exposed a culture of sexual and physical abuse across these churches.
    In a situation where one group has almost no power and another is able to act almost with impunity, abuse seems almost inevitable. Both women describe how their husbands became more aggressive within that community. From now on I will assume that abuse always goes on in these isolated religious cults until I know otherwise. And that includes you too, Mormons

  6. CSB says

    @BradC: The only possible cause I can see from examining the Feedburner XML is that the tag is missing the day of the week. (Kind of a stupid cause if so, but that’s Apple for you.)

  7. CSB says

    And just to clarify: I have no affiliation with Freethought Blogs, Feedburner, or the Reasonable Doubts podcast. I’m just a guy with way too much time on his hands.

  8. says

    I think having someone come on and discuss qualitative research methodology would be really interesting! I’d like to hear more about it’s place in research. I think it could be a valuable piece to the promotion of critical thinking and skepticism you all have been so good about promoting.

  9. Michael Savoia says

    I love your podcast: intelligence, reason and humor all wrapped up in an easy-to-digest package. Yum.
    Strange perhaps, but I’m not a huge fan of atheist organizations, where the identifying characteristic of the members is that, well, they are atheists. :-)
    I’m an atheist.
    But it’s just that it does seem a bit like creating an organization for people who, say, don’t speak Chinese.
    If the one point in common is that we don’t have any beliefs in any supernatural beings, then that’s about as far as it goes.
    Now, an organization for people who have left religion for atheism, for example, sure they would have a lot in common I would imagine.
    But just for the feature of being an atheist – I don’t feel kinship merely on that alone, any more than with the local grocer who, like me, coincidentally also does not speak Chinese :-)
    And an atheist megachurch??? Dear god no!:::::::)

  10. Ben says

    I’ve had first-hand experience with one of these “quiver full” families. My high school sweetheart whom I dated for nearly 7 years was not only the oldest daughter in the family but also the step-daughter of the patriarch of the family. I listened to years as she complained about how her mother basically made her the second mom of the family. When we first began dating, at the age of 13, the patriarch decided it would be best to bring me into the family rather then risk losing their second-mother to rebellion. I even decided that I loved her so much that I was going to convert to Christianity. At the time I had recently become agnostic, being burned by the lack of any intervention in a life that was plagued with strife and a selfish, step-dad collecting, drug-abusing mother who herself was a fake Christian (She only acted the part around other Christians).

    I really tried to give myself over to the Christian religion, becoming baptized. Her parents actually liked me and allowed me to visit and date their daughter. However, as the mother had more and more children the burden on my ex-high school sweetheart became overwhelming. Vicki mentions in part 2, the interview, that the patriarch becomes emotionally attached to the second mother, or eldest daughter. I often listened to her cry over the phone to a house filled with chaos and also lent her my shoulder to cry on as she claimed that the patriarch had began, and had showed, inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature but cleverly disguised it as “playing around”.

    I am married now to another woman that I love very much and we have our own child. Sadly, after 6 years with my high school girl friend, we decided to escape to the air force together. We both ended up with much better lives because of it but the months leading up to our shipping out date she became distant. I still love her and don’t think I’ll ever forgive “God” or her family because I still feel like I should have ended up with her sometimes. I feel like she began to see me as part of that whole way of life and her way of dealing or rebelling was to change so completely that she no longer saw us as compatible. It’s sad, she was robbed of her teenage years altogether and made to raise her siblings while her mother struggled to make sense of what and what not was the TRUE word of God. Her mother constantly searched for a church that fit her quiver-full lifestyle but no church was ever enough. All of her children were homeschooled and I believe they actually started home church as well. The children were not allowed to interact with anything that was not of God.

    I am still bitter and sore from the break up, even 8 years later so I don’t have much contact with her. I know she got married to an older man (It makes sense to me after hearing this podcast that she would seek someone who would act as the dominant influence in her life) and has a child. One of the last things she told me was that he had cheated on her and that she wasn’t sure if she was ever going to be “okay”. This is serious business and it ruins lives.

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