Friday, September 14, 2007

who has the fullest quiver?

Chuck Colson on the fertility of Christians vs. non-Christians in America
(hat tip: Linda Christiansen)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, social scientist Arthur Brooks notes that if you pick 100 adults out of the population who attend their houses of worship nearly every week, they would have 223 children among them. But among 100 people who attend religious services less than once a year—or never—you would find 158 kids. That's a 41 percent fertility gap between religious and secular people.

Even worse—if you are a secularist—religious people who identify themselves as politically "conservative" or "very conservative" are having, on average, an astonishing 78 percent more kids than secular liberals, Brooks writes.

This is significant, because kids tend to grow up to worship the way their parents do. In a generation or two, we are going to have a bumper crop of conservative citizens. Candidates who appeal to Christians will win more elections simply because of demographics.

This is not the first time in history we have seen the demographic power of the Church. Take, for example, ancient Rome.

In his book The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark describes ways in which religious belief affected population growth and decline. Pagans believed in abortion; Christians forbade it. Christianity also prohibited infanticide. But as for pagans, Stark told Touchstone magazine: "We've unearthed sewers clogged with the bones of newborn girls." So, "Christians didn't have the enormous shortage of women that plagued the rest of the empire."

And pagan husbands engaged in adultery, polygamy, and divorce, but Christianity forbade these things. So, Christian marriages tended to be more loving, more faithful, and more open to children.

We see parallels today between the modern West and ancient Rome. The low pagan fertility rate meant that Rome needed to import workers—and soldiers—from the farthest reaches of the empire and beyond. Rome lost its social cohesion. So, Rome fell. The Christian Church survived because believers had been multiplying.

As Psalm 127:3-5a says:
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

This also reminds me of the data which indicate that pro-lifers have twice as many kids as pro-choicers. In addition to holding to justice and (scientific, religious, and common sense) truth on the abortion issue-- and figuring that the culture will eventually figure it out-- we can imagine that the proportion of pro-lifers will continue to increase.


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