Beating Children In The Name Of God
Last week Care2′s Paul Canning wrote about a law passed by the Michigan Senate that would allow bullying if it were “religiously or morally motivated.”
In another indication of the rise of legitimized child abuse, last Monday the New York Times published a story about child deaths in homes that have embraced the teachings of To Train Up a Child, a book by Christian preacher Michael Pearl that advocates using a switch on children as young as six months old.
Raising Children Like Training Stubborn Mules?
The methods, seen as common sense by some grateful parents and as horrific by others, are modeled, Mr. Pearl is fond of saying, on “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules.”
From The New York Times:
Debate over the Pearls’ teachings, first seen on Christian Web sites, gained new intensity after the death of a third child, all allegedly at the hands of parents who kept the Pearls’ book, “To Train Up a Child,” in their homes. On Sept. 29, the parents were charged with homicide by abuse.
More than 670,000 copies of the Pearls’ self-published book are in circulation, and it is especially popular among Christian home-schoolers, who praise it in their magazines and on their Web sites.
Switch Use At 6 Months
The Pearls provide instructions on using a switch from as early as six months to discourage misbehavior and describe how to make use of implements for hitting on the arms, legs or back, including a quarter-inch flexible plumbing line that, Mr. Pearl notes, “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.”
To Train Up a Child takes the “spanking vs. no spanking” debate to a whole new level as it advises parents to whip their unruly, rebellious, short-skirt-wearing six-month-old babies with a wooden spoon, spatula, or this flexible tubing, their favorite. The Pearls like the tubing because it doesn’t leave bruises.
If your child responds to your spanking/switching/hosing with anger rather than the appropriate fear and submission, the Pearls offer a simple solution to your problem: spank him again. If that makes him angrier, just keep spanking.
Spanking In The Name Of Jesus
All of this in the name of Jesus. And all of it eerily similar to the preachings of James Dobson, founder of the “Focus on the Family” religious empire and radio program.
In 1977, Dobson wrote a book called Dare To Discipline, whose purpose was, essentially, to get parents to beat their children.
In his book Dobson glorified a sadomasochistic/spiritual ritual of “discipline.” He said he wanted to stop a “liberal” trend in America that was moving away from the godly thrashing of infants. He wanted to help “restore” America to God and the good old days of child hitting. This fit in well with the notion of God as retribution-in-chief that evangelicals endorse.
A Terrifying Trend
This is a terrifying trend. Perhaps with the prosecution of the parents who on September 29 were charged with homicide by abuse after the death of their child, the cruel logic behind this discipline will be brought to light.
I hope so. As someone who was brought up in the Church of England, I have to question how these child disciplinarians can be called “religious.”
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