I wasn't blind. I saw cultic tendencies in my ex's family from the start. In hindsight, I now very clearly see that it went far beyond tendency. They truly were/are a cult. In my opinion, the vast majority of patriocentric/patriarchal/quiverfull families are each independent cults all their own, connected on the larger scale by the core doctrines and resulting aberrant practices promoted by the leaders of the movement - creating one pretty substantial mothership of a cult that breaks down into autonomous family unit cults adhering to the principles of the mothership.
Many of the sites I've linked to in recent articles are pretty clearly cultic. The authors of those sites would probably argue that up and down, but I believe their protests are futile. I don't know of any better way to measure the patriocentric/patriarchal/quiverfull family phenomenon than by the cult warning guidelines of some prominent researchers. I can measure my former future in-laws from first-hand knowledge, and can do a reasonable guesstimate on the movement, and the true-blue families within it, based on available information.
First, we'll use "Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader" courtesy of Rick Ross...
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
Do I really need to comment on this one? Does this one not apply to the very CORE and FOUNDATION of all things patriarchal and quiverfull?
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
This one will get you branded "rebellious".
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
I can't really apply this one fairly, other than to say that my ex's family was pretty strange about their money. However, I don't know that this one applies to the individual families in the movement as a whole. Probably applies to the money grubbers at the top of the food chain, though.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
Feminism! Individuality! Decaying western society! Government! Public Schools! Television! Hollywood! Rock music! Processed food! Doctors! Lukewarm Christians! Did I mention feminism? This is a movement NURTURED on paranoia with a persecution complex that's the stuff of legend.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
Inclusion in a patrio/QF family cult comes with a father's unquestionable authority determining when, how, and with whom you may leave. And then, preferably to, as a son, start your own family cult, or as a daughter, join your new husband's family cult. Anything else is seen as outright rebellion and ultimately evil. Most former QF daughters (and possibly sons, too) lose relationship with their family if they leave on their own terms. My ex would have. They threatened her, repeatedly, with as much. There's no gray area about it.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
Happens all the time with former P/QFers. It's amazing how eerily similar, almost identical, most of the stories are from family to family.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
I guess it's a fairly new enough phenomenon that much of the mainstream media hasn't really focused in on those at the forefront of the movement yet. There's some disturbing information popping up here and there, mainly from cult research groups and ex-members, and I'd say the future holds considerably more scrutiny, given families like the Duggars putting P/QF in the spotlight.
8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".
I'll say. My ex's prayer journal, and that of likely innumerable QDs, read like a novel of self-condemnation, never feeling she'd done enough to merit God's grace or favor. ALL performance-based. Every single thing about the movement is performance-based. My ex always treated her faith by looking at what she could do to be a Christian - instead of focusing on what Christ DID.
9. The group/leader is always right.
Should I laugh or cry?
10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
This certainly spoke for my former future in-laws. They might associate with other segments of the Christian community, even attend mainstream churches, but when a bit of pressure was applied, they closed ranks, bunkered down, closed themselves off, and any and everyone who didn't totally go along with the family, P/QF dogma, was considered the enemy and expendable. Protection of the system of authority was absolutely paramount, because anything other than the system was ultimately "of the flesh". I'd say this is true of most P/QF families.
That's 9 out of 10 that fit like a glove, far and away all the evidence I need to recognize my ex's family as the cult it is/was, and to recognize the P/QF movement as the cultic movement it is.
Not enough evidence for you? Try the following list of 10 from the Cult Awareness and Information Library...
1. Their leader/s may claim a special, exclusive ministry, revelation or position of authority given by God.
2. They believe they are the only true church and take a critical stance regarding the Christian church while at the same time praising and exalting their own group, leader/s and work.
3. They use intimidation or psychological manipulation to keep members loyal to their ranks.
4. Members will be expected to give substantial financial support to the group.
5. There will be great emphasis on loyalty to the group and its teachings.
6. There will be total control over almost all aspects of the private lives of members. This control can be direct through communal living, or constant and repetitious teaching on "how to be a true Christian" or "being obedient to leadership". Members will look to their leaders for guidance in everything they do.
7. Bible-based cults may proclaim they have no clergy/laity distinction and no paid ministry class — that they are all equal.
8. Any dissent or questioning of the group's teachings is discouraged. Criticism in any form is seen as rebellion. There will be an emphasis on authority, unquestioning obedience and submission. This is vigilantly maintained.
9. Members are required to demonstrate their loyalty to the group in some way. This could be in the form of "dobbing" on fellow members (including family) under the guise of looking out for their "spiritual welfare". They may be required to deliberately lie (heavenly deception) or give up their lives by refusing some form of medical treatment.
10. Attempts to leave or reveal embarrassing facts about the group may be met with threats. Some may have taken oaths of loyalty that involve their lives or have signed a "covenant" and feel threatened by this.
Still not enough? Try this list, also from the Cult Awareness and Information Library...
1. Abuse Of Individuality: They adopt a "groupness" mentality. They are not permitted to think for themselves apart from the group and only accept what they are told.
2. Abuse Of Intimacy: Relationships with friends, relatives, spouses, children, parents etc are broken or seriously hampered.
3. Abuse Of Finances: Pressure to give all you can to the group. In non-communal groups, members usually live at the lower socio-economic strata, not because of a lower income level, but because they are always giving money to the group for some reason.
4. "Us Versus Them" Mentality: Isolation from the community in general. Anyone and everything outside the group is seen as "of the devil" or "unenlightened" etc. Their enemies now include former friends; the Christian church; governments; education systems; the media — the world in general. Those who are involved with these in any way see such involvement as a "means to an end".
5. Abuse Of Time And Energy: The group controls and uses almost all the members time and energy in group activities. They are usually in a constant state of mental and physical exhaustion.
6. Abuse Of Free Will: They must unquestioning submit to the groups teachings and directions and their own free will is broken. Their "will" actually becomes the groups "will" without their realizing it. This is done either by coercive methods including low protein diets and lack of sleep, or over a period of time through intimidation. Both methods make heavy use of "guilt".
Also interesting is a measurement by this criteria, courtesy of the late Margaret Singer.
They wear their own uniforms, featuring as much in the way of denim and frump as possible, they all seem to have the same hobbies, wants, and desires, the men wear their hair short and parted down the side, the women grow hair so long that usually the only way to style it is to affix it in a Glory Bun or a PhD (pentecostal hairdo), they speak their own language, place an extraordinary emphasis and focus on breeding, and live in what amounts to a quietly militant cultural anarchy. This is all in addition to nearly perfectly fitting the lists above.
None, NONE, of the characteristics listed above applied to my family, so it's not exactly like I'm nitpicking at normative. It's more like shooting fish in a barrel.
Patriarchal/Quiverfull families are individual cults in the matrix of a larger cult. It's a shame that so many well-meaning people are on a course to waste their lives, and are conned into offering up their children on the altar of a pagan god.
Galations 3:1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?