25 Nov 2010

For fundamentalist Christian group there is No Greater Joy than biblically beating kids into religious submission

CBS News Crimesider - March 1, 2010

Is Conservative Christian Group, No Greater Joy Ministries, Pushing Parents to Beat Kids to Death?

Paradise, Calif. (CBS/AP) Prosecutors say that earlier this month Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz of Paradise, Calif., beat their 7-year-old daughter to death with quarter-inch plastic tubing because she mispronounced a word. They say the girl's parents held her down and whipped her for hours causing massive tissue damage that resulted in her death.

"It was torture," says Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. The girl's sister was also allegedly beaten with tubing. She survived.

On February 26, 2006, 4-year-old Sean Paddock died in Raleigh, N.C. He had been beaten with plastic tubing as a punishment. When that didn't work, his mother Lynn wrapped him in blankets so tightly that he suffocated. She was found guilty of murder.

These two families don't seem to have come up with their notions of discipline on their own. Both say they were inspired by a Christian group with nonprofit tax status, No Greater Joy Ministries.

No Greater Joy Ministries takes the Bible's notion that "He that spareth his rod hateth his son" as an edict for child-raising, or, as the ministry's website phrases it, "child training" via "biblical chastisement."

The Ministry's website says that "Proper application of the rod is indispensable to communicating the divine principle of retributive justice," and that people who avoid using the rod might be "emotional coward[s]."

An e-mail to No Greater Joy Ministries by Crimesider was not returned.

Run by Michael Pearl, a pastor in Tennessee, and his wife Debi, the ministry's website boasts that the Pearls' first book on how to properly beat children, "To Train Up a Child," has over 450,000 copies in print.

The ministry's website is quick to point out that beatings should not be administered when parents are angry or to the extremes allegedly found in the Schatz case, but given these two deaths, perhaps No Greater Joy Ministries could take some time to dwell on another Bible verse: "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"

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1 comment:

  1. Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate

    By ERIK ECKHOLM, NYT November 7, 2011

    PLEASANTVILLE, Tenn. — After services at the Church at Cane Creek on a recent Sunday, a few dozen families held a potluck picnic and giggling children played pin the tail on the donkey.

    The white-bearded preacher, Michael Pearl, who delivered his sermon in stained work pants, and his wife, Debi, mixed warmly with the families drawn to their evangelical ministry, including some of their own grandchildren.

    The pastoral mood in the hills of Tennessee offered a stark contrast to the storm raging around the country over the Pearls’ teachings on child discipline, which advocate systematic use of “the rod” to teach toddlers to submit to authority. 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.”

    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. 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.”

    The furor in part reflects societal disagreements over corporal punishment, which conservative Christians say is called for in the Bible and which many Americans consider reasonable up to a point, even as many parents and pediatricians reject it. The issue flared recently when a video was posted online of a Texas judge whipping his daughter.

    Mr. Pearl, 66, and Mrs. Pearl, 60, say that blaming their book for extreme abuse by a few unstable parents is preposterous and that they explicitly counsel against acting in anger or causing a bruise. They say that their methods, properly used, yield peace and happy teenagers.
    “If you find a 12-step book in an alcoholic’s house, you wouldn’t blame the book,” Mr. Pearl said in an interview.

    But he acknowledged that the methods are not right for out-of-control or severely overburdened parents.

    In the latest case, Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., were home-schooling their six children when they adopted a girl and a boy, ages 11 and 7, from Ethiopia in 2008. The two were seen by their new parents as rebellious, according to friends.

    Late one night in May this year, the adopted girl, Hana, was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined. According to the sheriff’s report, the parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and had made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet and shower outside with a hose. And they often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs. The mother had praised the Pearls’ book and given a copy to a friend, the sheriff’s report said. Hana had been beaten the day of her death, the report said, with the 15-inch plastic tube recommended by Mr. Pearl.

    “It’s a good spanking instrument,” Mr. Pearl said in the interview. “It’s too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone.” ...

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