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Key to the survival and growth of a religion is therefore a high fertility rate amongst its members.

Your (and linca's) point re contraception is of course the case, but my point is that I think that the "purpose" of exhortation etc to large families was principally a rational response to high mortality rates at the time. ie the survival of its members is the first requirement of any religion...

It's use as a competitive strategy to "out-breed" other religions is IMHO ancillary to the main purpose.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:07:11 AM EST
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The need for high birthrates to ensure survival in societies with high death rates is universal and not  specifically a religious issue.  However its religious exhortation in pluralistic societies which no longer have high death rates is linked to religious competition (imho).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:32:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have mostly responded in another comment, but I also want to point out that high mortality and a need for group survival need not imply high birth rate. One could point out some South American Indians studied by Levi Strauss, who tended to have  low birth rate (a child every 3 years per woman) despite high mortality rates, as the cost of early childhood is too high in a nomadic environment.

Or the example of 17th century France, where the birth rate was spontaneously lowered as to avoid social instability caused by overpopulation, land overdivision, etc...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 09:21:40 AM EST
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