Ladies and gentleman, May I have your attention please? Put down the birth control. You heard me. Put it down and walk away.
I don’t like to be harsh, but the hour is late. The citizens of many countries belong on the endangered species because they are dying out. Never before in the history of the world have so many countries lost so many people without disease or war to blame. This loss is by choice and it’s downright suicidal.
I am not telling you to have more children if you do not want them. I am telling you to want them. Couples have come to think that there is some cosmic balance that limits families to two children. Of course there are families who want to have children but can’t and those that can’t have more. This article is not addressed to them. Nor do I (or I hope anyone) give dirty looks to small families assuming they are not doing their part. It is between them and God. Even when people express shock at learning I have ten and proceed to either categorize me as a “special person” or announce the reasons why they don’t want more, I don’t judge them. Alas, I was once in the group that thought family planning was all about the planet, money and freedom. These are the main reasons people choose not to be open to new life.
Money. Portfolio or another soul? I get that this is between you and God. Do you? It’s not between you and the banker. Children cost money. How much depends on your perspective and spending habits. For the record, my kids get jobs to buy their own cars and get themselves through college. We might wear brand names if we stumble unto them at rummage sales or on sale, but really, we don’t care about labels. So, my kids cost less then some.
For thousands of years children were considered treasures and investments for the future—including eternity. Poor families tended to have large families because their children represented help and security. But in the last few decades it’s all about money. Nowadays, children are treated like siphons on the ledger sheet. Spending money on children leaves less for parents. For many couples, there’s a level of comfort and financial security they refuse to dip below. Pity.
Population control. Now, this reason has become a real hoot. We were lied to and bullied senseless. People were made to feel guilty for even having children at all.
During the sixties and seventies, people were told we would run out of food and natural resources. The opposite occurred. We still pay farmers not to farm. Our technological advances has provided for abundant food production. As for the natural resources, they are there, but in many countries, there are just not enough people to get to them.
The lies have been revamped as global warming—oh wait-make that “climate change” now that we have many months where average temperatures are below normal. Climate has always fluctuated but now anti-people groups blame humans for the change and change is not good according to them. The solution: stop making new people.
Climate change actually even reared its head in the seventies with the bestseller in 1976, The cooling: Has the New Ice Age Already Begun? Can We Survive? I’m all for taking care of our planet. It’s a gift from God and I absolutely hate pollution. But radical environmentalists like to throw birth control at every problem. In reality, we need humans to fix the problems.
Are we running out of space? Yeah, right. Get out of the city and take a trip across the country. Entire books have been written debating both sides of the overpopulation debate so I’m not going to cover this in depth. Ironically, the latest and most troubling news is actually the exact opposite of what we were warned about--- there are not enough people. It’s as if we went to sleep to one scenario and woke up to another.
Freedom People often count 18 years from the birthday of their youngest to figure out when they will be “free” again. Or, they just don’t have children and openly admit they are too selfish to do so. In such a case, may God have mercy on them.
The Numbers Tell the Story
In Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia, the only thing we are running out of is people. There are not enough babies. We are witnessing the self-extermination of entire nations.
According to the United Nations Population Division discussing the 2007 populations changes in Eastern and Central Europe: “The expected global upheaval is without parallel in human history.” Germany’s population is down 10.3 %, Poland down 20.5%, the Russian Federation down 24.3%, and Bulgaria dropped 35.2%. The only population increase in Western Europe will be due to the large migration from Africa and Asia. There are pockets of growth here and there, but this is due to Muslim populations. For instance the districts in Russia there are exceptions to the dying trends—the high abortion, high HIV infection, low birthrate, high alcoholism and other social ills. Twelve of the eighty-nine Russian federal regions showing substantial population growth are Islamic regions. Islam is growing rapidly in a country where the native population is in the death throes. This is a country awash in natural resources except the most important one—people. It possesses a resource-rich eastern hinterland that it cannot get to without people. It is also the land of nuclear weapons and know-how. The future possibilities are frightening.
The number you need for merely maintaining a population is 2.1 babies per woman. Seventeen European nations are now at the “lowest-low”, 1.3 births per woman. This is the rate, which, according to demographers, no human society has ever recovered. In theory, countries at the lowest-low” are falling fast, halving every thirty-five years or so. In reality this will likely happen much faster. Imagine the social upheaval as an aging population grows increasingly dependant on youth to support all the government services they need (certainly not enough children to take in parents). It’s likely that many young people will head for the hills, or at least another continent where their entire livelihood will not be sucked up into government social security. It also seems inevitable that Euthanasia will become ever more popular and aggressive. With more old people to support and less young people to do it, the pressure will be to reduce the burden.
Why are so many countries, more educated, more peaceful, wealthier and healthier than at any other time in history, failing to create the next generation?
On June 24, 2008 in Moscow, His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia spoke to the Bishop’s Council of the Russian Orthodox Church on the population decline. He attributed Russia's demographic crisis to the pitiable status of family and marriage and the low level standards of morality and spirituality. His Holiness claimed that any attempts to overcome the crisis by economic means only, without a spiritual component, are “doomed to failure since the sources of the crisis are not in purses, but in the souls of people.” He said it is not accidental that believers have more children than non-believers in identical economic conditions.
“Demographic problems do not arise in poor countries that have kept their religious traditions,” he observed. “Thus Russia should be looking for a way out of the demographic crisis in a spiritual and moral transformation of the person and society.” (1)
In a sermon at a Neocatechumenate meeting in Jerusalem on March 27, 2008, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna issued an attack against birth control, blaming it for Europe’s declining birth rate. He blamed his predecessors for lacking the courage to speak out after the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reiterated the constant teaching of the Church on birth control.
“But those bishops,” said Cardinal Schonborn, were "frightened of the press and of being misunderstood by the faithful". Blame lay not only with the bishops responsible at the time - none of who is still alive - but with all bishops for the fact that Europe is "about to die out". (2)
In the Unites States, Christianity is a bigger part of everyday life than post-Christian Europe. Prayer, church membership and participation is higher. Also encouraging is that America still is willing to share it’s future with children. Although our birthrate was declining for many years and generally falls in around the 2.1 replacement, the United States reported a rise by 3.1% between 2005 and 2006 reaching almost 4.3 million births. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, that is the largest single-year increase in the number of births since 1989.
An Associated Press examination of global data also shows that the United States has a higher fertility rate than every country in continental Europe, as well as Australia, Canada and Japan. Fertility levels in those countries have been lower than the U.S. rate for several years, although some are on the rise, most notably in France. "Americans like children. We are the only people who respond to prosperity by saying, `Let's have another kid,"' said Nan Marie Astone, associate professor of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University. (3)
Yes, this is somewhat encouraging. Statistics show we pray more and have more children than Europeans. But really, our tendency to teeter at replacement is not a position of strength. Let’s go back to Europe—the mother country for many of us—to see what is accompanying the decline in native births.
Europe’s increasing social welfare programs depend on a growing population. Unable to generate such an increase on their own, they depend increasingly on immigration. And the majority of immigration is from Islamic cultures that are becoming increasingly more radical. Immigrant Muslim populations are not acclimating to the European culture. Europe gets older and its faith grows ever more feeble while Muslim populations within Europe increase due the need for immigration to support the aging population. Muslim religious fervor is strong and they have large families, thus their population is increasing on both ends. Christianity fades while Islam increases. Already, much of Europe is catering to Sharia law. In Brussels, ten of the eighteen members of the ruling Socialist Party Caucus are Muslim. “That’s to say, the capital city of the European Union already has a Muslim-majority governing party.” The introduction of Sharia bonds make London the world capital of Islamic banking. In country after country, civil laws, schools and cultural norms accompany Sharia sensibilities. (4)
According to Mark Steyn in his book, America Alone, he contends that the growing, youthful populations of Europe will ultimately take over. “What’s the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What is the most popular baby boys name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmo, Sweden? Mohammed. What country today has half its population under the age of fifteen? Spain and Germany have 14 percent the United Kingdom 18 percent, the United States 21 percent—and Saudi Arabia has 39 percent, Pakistan 40 percent, and Yemen 47 percent. Little Yemen, like little Britain two hundred years ago, will send it’s surplus youth around the world—one way or another.” (5)
If you look at in terms of birthrate, consider these birthrate numbers from Islamic countries: Niger is 7.46; Mali, 7.42, Somalia, 6.76; Afghanistan, 6.69; Yemen, 6.58. Yes, we can change the world, and we are; by disappearing. The future belongs to those willing to create the next generation. Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America and Europe. And throughout the world, Muslims are becoming more radical and aggressive in their faith.
By now, some readers have branded me racist for comparing the dwindling populations with the growing populations given who’s who in the scenario. Well, don’t even go there. I have two boys from Kenya, as dark as they come, who call me Mom. Besides, Muslims are not of a single skin color or culture. Am I phobic of non-Catholic religions? Don’t go there either. The books in the Amazing Grace series that I co-authored included stories from people of other faiths. God’s grace is for everyone. This is not a war of who has not most people; it is spiritual warfare. We are losing because we aren’t living our faith.
In 2008, the Vatican announced that Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world's largest religion. "For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4% of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2%. (6)
The growth is attributed to both aggressive conversion tactics and large families. While millions of Westerners have bought into the secular one-or two-child mentality, Islamic societies are rapidly increasing in numbers. If current trends continue, Europe will make up just 7.5 percent of the world’s people by 2050, compared to 22 percent in 1950. At the same time, the countries with the most youthful populations will all be Muslim: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Iraq. Worldwide trends indicate that by 2050, Muslims will comprise 30 percent of the world’s population, with Christians making up 25 percent. (7)
If anyone walks away from this article thinking that I’m sounding an alarm based on them versus us, they would be misinformed. This is really about us. What has happened to us? Why are we dying out or just teetering on existence?
I contend it’s all based on a people that have become worldlier and less religious. God matters less and the world more. Religion has taken a back seat to Wall Street. Selfishness precludes parenthood, and people are hugging trees instead of babies.
If the statistics alone convince you to have more children, then, again, you are not hearing me clearly. If our homes and hearts are not open to more children, then we need to go back and open them. We do this by putting God at the center. Whatever stands in the way of openness to life, needs to be pushed aside. Souls, life, God, eternity….these are of the greatest value. The rest will fade away, just as it should. For it is the world that should be fading away and not us.
- (1) “Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II: Demographic Crisis Can Only be Overcome by Morality not Money”, Translated by Andrey Bystrov, July 8, 2008, LifeSiteNews.com
- (2) “Cardinal Schonborn lambasts the failure of bishops to condemn contraception”, CatholicActionUK.com, November 6, 2008
- (3) More U.S. babies born, fertility rate up, defying low-birth trend in Europe, Mike Stobbe - Associated Press, Tuesday, January 15, 2008
- (4) Steyn, Mark, America Alone, Regnery Publishing, Inc. xii
- (5) Ibid pp 6-7
- (6) “Vatican: Muslims now outnumber Catholics, USA TODAY, 4/2/2008)
- (7) (Ali, Daniel and Spencer Robert, Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics, Ascension Press, 2003)
Copyright 2011 Patti Maguire Armstrong
About the Author
Patti Maguire Armstrong is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.