When Having Kids is a Religious Experience

Followers of the Quiverfull movement oppose contraception and family planning.

ByABC News
January 3, 2007, 1:47 PM

Jan. 3, 2007— -- In the Carpenter family's nicely decorated living room outside Nashville, Tenn., the "Nightline" team stared at a couch that couldn't possibly fit another human being.

The eight kids squished together began shouting out their names, "PEYTON! COLE! OWEN!"

Ken and Devon Carpenter are the parents of eight kids, aged 1 to 15. It might sound like a sitcom or a remake of "Eight is Enough." But this isn't a sitcom. This a movement.

The Carpenter family is part of the "Quiverfull Movement." The name comes from the Bible -- Psalm 127/128:

"Children are a heritage from the Lord / children a reward from him/ like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man /whose quiver is full of them."

What does that mean? Quiverfull followers believe that all forms of contraception, all forms of birth control and any form of family planning goes against God's plan.

"As I understand, and to the extent that we are involved in it, it is just a matter of, it's a mind-set that says we will take as many children -- happily -- as God blesses us with," Ken Carpenter said.

It isn't simply about having as many kids as possible, though.

"It's not a contest," he said. "For us, it's about having as many as the Lord gives us, and being happy with that. If the Lord gives us more, great. If we are done at eight, that's fine. Whatever He gives us. "

Quiverfull is largely an American phenomenon, beginning with the release of the book "A Full Quiver" in 1989.

There is no official organization, but in 1995, the Web site quiverfull.com went online with just 12 subscribers -- now there are more than 2,600. There are probably several thousand Quiverfull enthusiasts all over the United States right now -- and the movement is believed to be growing.

There are certainly a lot of question about the practice. Is it dangerous for a woman's body to keep having children, one after the other?