Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Child-Abusing Christian Parents.

Michael Pearl, No Greater Joy Ministries
BBC News - Child 'training' book triggers backlash

A child-raising book that advocates brutality including whipping with belts has sold hundreds of thousands of copies to evangelical Christians. So far, at least three children have died at the hands of parents who were influenced by the book, but that's not considered a reason to withdraw it or to tone down it's brutality by its authors, pastor Michael Pearl of Pleasantville, Tennessee and his wife, Debi.

The book, To Train Up A Child: Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, has sold more than 800,000 copies, almost exclusively to fundamentalist Christian families, many of which are homeschooling their unfortunate children to protect them from science and other undesirable information. The authors appear to have no qualifications in child psychology.

Unfortunately, their Christianity isn't seen by their customers as a reason to protect their children from brutalization.

For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.

To Train Up A Child - Michael & Debi Pearl

Use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay... If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered... Defeat him totally.

To Train Up A Child - Michael & Debi Pearl
The objective is to make the child surrender completely to their parent's will as a preparation for future, instant, unquestioning obedience.

In addition to the book, the Pearls have also produced videos and magazines detailing this brutal approach to parenting which Christians give as gifts to families on the birth of a baby. Sales have netted $1.5 million for tax year 2012-13.

Ritualized child brutality by Christians is of course nothing new. In 2002 a pastor of the House of Prayer, Georgia, USA, was jailed because Christian parents had been bringing their children to his church to be beaten "in the fellowship of the church" by members of the congregation. (Jerry Vines, Sermons.)

This 'loving' approach to child care is, of course, entirely consistent with the Bible; indeed, the title of the Pearl's hand-book of child abuse is taken from Proverbs 22.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

It also has echoes in Ignatius Loyola's sinister, "Give me the boy until he is 7 and I will give you the man".

This is not the only verse from Proverbs which advocates child abuse:

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.


Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.


Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.



He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.



The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.


Nor is this brutality confined to the Old Testament. The author of St Paul's letter to the Hebrews was just as keen on it.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.


Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.


Fortunately, none of these calls to brutalise children comes close to the grotesque verse in Psalms 137 which has been embarrassing Christians for centuries:

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.


No court, judge, police or child protection service has ever accused us of doing anything that was an endangerment to children. There's no way that a person who reads the book could be led to violence. That may not prevent violence if that's part of their nature, but it's not going to lead them to do something that's contrary to their own set of values.

Michael Pearl
This callous attitude towards children comes from a primitive belief in good and evil as actual entities manifesting as good and evil spirits controlled in their turn by good gods and bad gods. As such it pre-dates Christianity by many centuries but was prevalent in the culture which gave rise to Christianity some 18-1900 years ago and in which the bad gods had been subsumed into the mythical Satan. It was assumed that children were susceptible to evil spirits which caused childhood illnesses, deformities, blemishes and unruly, rebellious or disobedient behaviour. The approach was the same: drive out the evil; beat the Devil out them. It informed the Victorian approach to mental health too.

It simply seems never to have occurred to them, nor to those who still hold to these barbaric beliefs, that all it achieves is an amoral culture which assumes that problems can be solved by a resort to violence and that might is right. A culture in which there is a repeated cycle of brutalisation of children who then grow up to brutalise their children in turn. A culture in which respect and fear are synonymous and where he who carries the biggest stick rules the day.

[To Train Up a Child is] quite singular in its orientation toward punitiveness toward children in general but also infants. It preaches a number of very dangerous views, that could very easily result in physical child abuse if one follows what they advocate.

George Holden, Professor of Psychology,
Southern Methodist University, Dallas.
This is very close to a fundamentalist's relationship to their imaginary god, where right is defined as what the god will reward you for and bad is defined as what it will punish you for. The notion of empathising with other people and working out what the effects your actions will have on them seems to be unknown to them. What's in it for me? All that matters is what they get out of it.

And this gives us a clue as to why fundamentalist Christianity will so readily and easily cosy up to the brutal, selfish, sociopathic, or even psychopathic, political right. Might is right.

Thankfully, in most of the civilised world, people are turning away from this primitive cultural past with it's infantile belief in magic and magic spirits and reified human cultural constructs, and are trying to build a society based on decent Humanist principles in which all people of any age are regarded of worthy of respect regardless of the power they can command.

Keeping their children isolated by homeschooling is a desperate attempt by the die-hard child abusers to keep out the forces of progress and retain primitive barbarism in the confines of their own homes, close-knit fundamentalist communities and fire and brimstone fundamentalist Christian churches.

The advent of the Internet must terrify them and those who write books for them to blame.

It would be illegal in 34 countries, 23 of then in Europe, to follow the advice given in the Bible and repeated in this brutal book. This is a measure of how far our moral development has advanced since the Bible was written.

For more information as well as links to petitions to persuade booksellers to stop selling this child-abuse handbook, see Why Not Train A Child? by a blogger who blogs under the name Hermana Linda.

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1 comment :

  1. My Brother and I were both 'abused children'..... What we did, as adults was this....... We didn't speak to our parents for more than 15 years. No matter how much they needed us......

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