Motherhood , its like stealing – Anglicans

Perhaps that might be misrepresenting their case a little, but This report in the Age and other media,  released appropriately on Mother’s Day, gives the Anglican Synod’s position on the population debate.

They argue for less children, less immigration and state that not taking into account the needs of future life on Earth risks breaking the eighth commandment “Thou shalt not steal”

The report recommends doing away with the baby bonus, calling it irresponsible, but says that it should be replaced by improved support for parental leave. 

While I think that we need to be responsible and to have a debate about appropriate population levels, I find the reported comments rather strange.  I personally find it a bit of a stretch to call increased population stealing, but even if we accept the concept – why would immigration be defined as such?  Potential immigrants are people already on the earth, usually with less access to resources than they would have in Australia.  It is surely not stealing from anyone to allow them to migrate, more a case of sharing resources more equitably.

The argument for parental leave instead of the baby bonus is surely inconsistent.  Both measures are an incentive to breed.  But switching from the baby bonus to improved parental leave will disadvantage those parents who are not currently in work, single-income families and perhaps low income families.  This recommendation seems to be based on ideology not purely on a concern about population.

I tried to find the actual report or any reference to it on the official websites of the Anglican church in Australia but I could not.  The Google cache seems to indicate that it was once on their website, but it is no longer there.  As a father of five who goes to an Anglican church this issue is of some concern to me, and I find it strange that the report is not available to read.

As a counter argument to this, the Quiverfull movement, mainly in the US, advocates abandoning birth-control and having large families.  Their text is Psalm 127:3-5

 3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
       children a reward from him.

 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
       are sons born in one’s youth.

 5 Blessed is the man
       whose quiver is full of them.
       They will not be put to shame
       when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Some women who were once part of this movement have written about their experiences and of leaving this belief system in the excellent blog NoLongerQuivering

— wazza2


12 thoughts on “Motherhood , its like stealing – Anglicans

  1. This report is really interesting.
    I think the core message in it is to reduce domestic population growth by cutting incentives and reducing immigration from areas where large families are the norm.

    But what about population growth beyond the borders?

    Are they not trying a similar stunt like pumping water out of a single cabin in a sinking ship by 10 litres per second without doing anything about a huge hole in the ship’s hull?

    Effectively, what they (and different initiatives in other western countries) will achieve – if successful in their efforts – is an accelerated reduction of Caucasian population (which is already the part of global population with the lowest fertility rate) compared with other peoples who will most likely not heed any appeals for slowing down population growth.

    Such appeals bear – in my opinion – some suicidal tendencies, I have also read that some speak of “modern western self-hate”.

    I also think the whole topic has more social than faith-related or even theological relevance. The biblical texts like that one from Psalms are not promoting certain family sizes but aim to set right adult attitudes towards children, who often tend to see children as a nuisance or hindering their own pursuit of happiness.

  2. Tha’s interesting Gandalf. This is very interesting information coming from the Anglicans.

    There shall be another article coming up about the Anglican churches soon. I might talk to Lance about it.

  3. I think I saw an article on this in the paper recently.

    I agree with Gandalf that the view in that article doesn’t really address the world population issue. They might be concerned about the Australian population rather than world population, given that that’s been a newsworthy topic here lately.

    I agree also that its more of a social position than a faith-related position.

    Perhaps they are trying to further distinguish themselves from the Catholic church?

    Possibly some of them are just old fuddy duddies, annoyed by the number of mums with prams or small kids that are out and about in cafes and parks ruining the serenity these days, in our baby boom. This is just their way of trying to make the world suit them better in their old age.

    *Disclosure: I have contributed 2 children to the recent baby boom.

  4. There is a scriptural imperative to be good stewards of the earth, and assisting nations who need the help with contraception and good medical care is one way of helping with this, as is teaching people that they have the scriptural freedom to use contraception. Being a good steward of the earth means looking at all the ways that we can make a difference in keeping the environment healthy and good for future generations. There are some Christian groups who as part of their practice of their faith, take this very seriously. The Anglicans have not been as publically interested in this issue before that I’ve noticed, so its a bit wierd to hear them suddenly drawing that argument out of the cupboard now.

  5. Also… don’t people have enough judgement in their lives without having to worry about being condemned and disapproved of for getting pregnant again? Wouldn’t that be awful for a young(ish) family at church? And would an official position about less children make the environment for the kids less friendly and loving?

  6. although I said before that the whole topic is more society-related than anything else – I find it still troubling that western people are effectively (although no one would admit this openly) thinking of removing themselves from the face of the earth – stealing themselves away from the appointed stewardship – there is so much fuss about thinking about death and dwindling numbers (the words of the pope about the “culture of death” comes into my mind) this evening on a local German news channel they broadcasted a documentary about the earth after the age of men and how quickly all its remnants would be devoured and disappear.

    The priorities in our societies are not where they should be!

  7. this is of course silly, but came suddenly to my mind:

    “The age of men is over, the time of the orc has come”
    from “Return of the King”, Movie by Peter Jackson, 2003.

  8. Have fewer children? I’ll have to discuss this at our family gathering today – what do we do about the 16th grandchild on the way? Love it and welcome the 17th asap!

  9. A fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman is required to keep population stable apparently.
    Australia’s fertility rate in 2005-2010 was 1.78,
    UK is 1.66, Canada 1.58, EU 1.50, Italy 1.31, Russia 1.25 etc

    The fact is the west is committing suicide by refusing to reproduce.
    (Except perhaps the US at 2.05 all though even that is helped by recent immigrants greater fertility rate).

    Like the other western countries our population grows but it’s by immigration not reproduction of those born here. There are some high fertility rate countries out there though, they tend to be third world and more often than not Muslim, in the long run they will inherit the earth (or at least Europe).

    In any case browbeating your congregation for having too many or not enough children is outrageous, that’s a decision for each couple to make by themselves.

  10. we must also take into account that the low European figures ( and other figures as well) already include children of immigrants who don’t have citizenship of their host country.

    The really interesting stuff would be fertility rates per ethnic group or (for those who are interested) per religious group, but those figures will never be made public, it’s not politically correct.

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