Death by "chastening rod"
I had the very unfortunate experience this morning of reading, via the following news article
, of a death directly attributed to childrearing methods promoted by dominionist child-rearing authors Michael and Debbie Pearl--who operate a website called No Greater Joy
and who have published several books.
These books and online guides are nothing more or less than a guide to religiously motivated child abuse--as even the state of Tennessee and numerous child welfare agencies have testified.
And the Pearls, sadly, are by no means alone at promoting this. In fact, in the more hardline dominionist community--the same ones promoting "deliverance ministry"--it's all too common.
The article sadly reports:
A few years ago, Lynn Paddock sought Christian advice on how to discipline her growing brood of adopted children.
Paddock -- a Johnston County mother accused of murdering Sean, her 4-year-old adopted son, and beating two other adopted children -- surfed the Internet, said her attorney, Michael Reece. She found literature by an evangelical minister and his wife who recommended using plumbing supply lines to spank misbehaving children.
Paddock ordered Michael and Debi Pearl's books and started spanking her adopted children as suggested. After Sean, the youngest of Paddock's six adopted children, died last month, his older sister and brother told investigators about Paddock's spankings.
Sean's 9-year-old brother was beaten so badly he limped, a prosecutor said. Bruises marred Sean's backside, too, doctors found.
Sean died after being wrapped so tightly in blankets he suffocated. That, too, was a form of punishment, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.
The Pearls' advice from their Web site: A swift whack with the plastic tubing would sting but not bruise. Give 10 licks at a time, more if the child resists. Be careful about using it in front of others -- even at church; nosy neighbors might call social workers. Save hands for nurturing, not disciplining. Heed the warning, taken from Proverbs in the Old Testament, that sparing the rod will spoil the child.
Just how bad is the Pearls' childrearing advice? The article gets into detail:
Paddock seems to have carefully followed the Pearls' teachings. Investigators found 2-foot lengths of plumbing supply line in several rooms of her remote farmhouse.
The Pearls offer shopping advice on their Web site, www.nogreaterjoy.org: "You can buy them for under $1.00 at Home Depot or any hardware store. They come cheaper by the dozen and can be widely distributed in every room and vehicle. Just the high profile of their accessibility will keep the kids in line."
For those interested, here's a picture (courtesy of Home Depot's website) of the PVC supply line in question they advocate beating kids with:
I have done research on religiously-motivated child abuse, and one of the true examples of "Talk To Action" is Stop The Rod which was founded by Christian parenting groups who were gravely concerned about the techniques promoted by the Pearls.
As I have documented in a thread on Dark Christianity as well as on Talk 2 Action and will now document here, "highlights" from the Pearls include:
Examples from the Pearls (which also have published a series of baby-beating manuals popular in the dominionist community and which are often included with the sale of chastening rods and similar "Biblical chastening devices"; they operate a website, No Greater Joy (also the title of one of their manuals on baby-beating the dominionist way) that promotes the same advise online; the Pearls are under investigation by the state of Tennessee for child abuse based on the material in their books):
woman is told to stay with abusive husband because "God hates divorce"
assertive women are accused of having a "Jezebel spirit" (in dominionist groups into "spiritual warfare" there are even exorcisms in attempts to drive "Jezebel spirits" out of women who are seen as being too "uppity" and not "staying in their place")
woman is literally told it is her HUSBAND'S decision, not HERS, whether or not she is to practice birth control and how many children she is to have
In some of the links at stoptherod.net noted above, it's detailed how the Pearls have advocated beating infants as young as eight months old with "chastening rods" for playing with their food and advocate pinching infants as young as four months.
more on tyrant babies! (Did these people watch too much "Family Guy" or something?) Yes, this is very sadly a TYPICAL attitude))
techniques practiced in dominionist households to break will of kids (who are termed "Twinkie twerps" by the Pearls)
the Pearls (who, incidentially, are under investigation by the State of Tennessee for child abuse--in part because of material from the books) actually try to defend their child abuse manuals
advocates being extremely strict from birth; also claims kids being bullied somehow deserved it
yet more fantasies of babies plotting to take over the household from "parental rule"
advocating using a "chastening rod" on a seven-month-old child who will not get to sleep (it's on page two)
advocates beating of children with "chastening rods" made from PVC plumbing pipe for thumbsucking
claims that people who have criticised the Pearls for their extreme methods of childrearing are literally demon-possessed (sadly, a common form of "dead agenting"/"character assassination" in the dominionist community and one reason why it is at times next to impossible to debate dominionists heavily into "spiritual warfare")
Putting some of the quotes from these articles puts them in light. To give some examples when someone on the Dark Christianity thread asked how much more extreme than merely beating with a length of PVC pipe can be:
Try using one of those PVC "chastening rods" on a seven-month-old BABY just because it won't get to sleep:
If the child has been mistrained, or if you have failed to provide a good prelude to sleep, and the child rises up to fight and resist, you should evaluate your whole procedure so as to improve your pre-sleep ritual for tomorrow night. But for the moment, you must constrain the child to obey authority and remain lying down. As a last resort, you may have to prove the power of your word by enforcing it with one or two stinging licks (applied with a small flexible switch) to the child's leg that says to the child, "There is no reward for getting up; Mama means business; she is not going to give over to my demands; the path to greatest pleasure is to go to sleep; there is no alternative; my parents always get their way; what can I say? Good night."
Again, you are reminded that this was in reply to a letter complaining that a SEVEN MONTH OLD BABY was waking up at night.
Or how about whacking two-year-old and four-year-old kids with one of these PVC pipe "chastening rods" for sucking their thumbs or picking their noses:
Please give me a description of the switch or rod of which you so often speak. I wish you could send me one so I could see it.
The rod we speak of is a plumbing supply line that can be bought at any hardware store or large department store. It is a slim, flexible, plastic tubing that supplies water to sinks, and toilets. Ask for "¼ inch supply line." They cost less than one dollar. I always give myself one swat before I swat the child to remind myself how much force to exert. It stings the skin without bruising or damaging tissue. It's a real attention-getter. Michael demonstrates its use in our new Seminar videos.
Or, how about yanking baby's hair to discourage hair-pulling
A child left to himself in a crib or a room is being trained. All child-initiated events that have consequences, be they pleasant or unpleasant, are training. If a child stumbles into an experience and finds the consequences pleasurable, he is trained to repeat it. If the consequences are unpleasant, then he seeks to avoid it. If an infant sticks his finger in his eye, the pain will discourage him from repeating that on himself, but he may try it on you. That is unless you should make his unwelcomed advances unpleasant for him. The first time an infant pulls your hair, if you pull his, he will never be a hair-puller. One taste of a plastic toy communicates that it is not made to eat. These experiences are physical, and are easy to understand, but what about soul training?
It gets worse. According to the Pearls, kids who surreptitiously steal cookies from the cookie jar (or Twinkies)--whom are termed "Twinkie Twerps"--need a good whacking with a 2-foot length of 1/4" PVC pipe
What if he should continue to scream and protest when you give the Twinkie to the other children? Lead him to the place where the "magic wand" is kept and give him respect for the "Powers that be."
What if he should continue to steal sweets and make demands? Simply tell him that his actions have led you to see that his addiction must be broken, so you will not buy anything sweet for one month--and stick to it. The worst thing you could do is to make an exception or to give-over after a week or two.
If that's not enough, the Pearls literally advocate yanking the hair of tiny four-month-old babies for being a bit rough in nursing
even as they attempt to defend
the very manuals that have gotten them prosecuted for child abuse (yes, the Pearls have been investigated by the State of Tennessee for child abuse, as will be noted below):
For example, if a 3 month-old nursing baby bites, don't spank. She does not know she did bad. Just gently pull a hair on her head. She will startle back in momentary discomfort and immediately start nursing again. The tiny bit of discomfort makes the baby relate the biting down with the gentle pulling of the hair. You have not made her obey, you have only conditioned her to respond differently. That is training.
(The same article also refers to "popping the leg" of a thirteen-week-old infant not being quite so effective--the fact that it's mentioned at ALL is disturbing. This was in regards, incidentially, to a letter from a concerned reader who had noted that kids raised strictly by the Pearls' methods had literally lost "the spark of life". Very similar things have been reported by people who've been tortured or severely abused.)
And if that's still not enough, if you ain't with 'em, you're with Da Debbil Hisself and even encourage frank harassment and "spiritual warfare" against their critics:
For the last year or so, we have had a group of about eight "damsels" working overtime trying to disrupt our ministry.
Acts 16:16-18 - And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
For the last year or so, we have had a group of about eight "damsels" working overtime trying to disrupt our ministry. When we advertise for a Seminar, they call the church where we are scheduled to be and warn them that their tax-exempt status could be in jeopardy, or that we are being watched by the authorities. One pastor, believing their lies, almost canceled a seminar 24 hours before it was to take place. We explained the situation, so he let it go on, but he stayed home so he could not be implicated. Recently, when we held a seminar in Chattanooga, Tennessee, being warned by these damsels, the Department of Human Services of Tennessee sent a "spy" to observe. We welcomed him readily. We have nothing to hide. A few weeks later, the head detective for the state of Tennessee dropped by our place to visit. We knew we did not have to talk to him, but again, having nothing to hide, Michael answered all his questions for about an hour, gave him our booklet "Biblical Chastisement," our DVD set, The Joy of Training, and several of our books. Biblical Chastisement was written for just this purpose--a defense of Biblical child training. He talked to Deb for about an hour and also spent time with our office staff. He then called and spoke with one of our grown, married children. So the nice detective left, having come to the conclusion that the ladies who were reporting us did not KNOW us. He was satisfied that everything we do and teach is within the law. Since he left, I have honestly been expecting him to invite us to teach foster parents how to train the State's children. We welcome cooperation with them. They need direction desperately. So, we would like to thank the "damsels" for helping to give us a clean bill of "child-training" health. We are now officially investigated and approved, however unnecessary it was. Thank you, damsels.
The damsels are apparently on a campaign to load up web sites that sell our materials with bad (sometimes vulgar) reviews. Feel free to crowd out their bad reviews with your positive ones. Since there are only 8 of them, and 150,000 of you, it should be quite easy for the Saints of God to disrupt the "ministry" of these ungentle damsels. They must not have much of a love life or family life, because they spend so much time bashing us.
Also, someone has (perhaps these same damsels) started messing with our website. It adds extra work for us, just trying to pull down orders and e-mails. Someone has sent messages in our name wanting credit information. We NEVER ask for credit information from you, so please, NEVER give out information thinking we have asked you for it. One man contacted us, complaining of the nasty e-mail we sent him. We did no such thing! If it was nasty, it certainly didn't come from us!
So, we really feel a kindred spirit with Paul and Silas, which is very encouraging. We ask that you do remember to pray for us and to stand in prayer against the forces of darkness that would hinder our ministry. We are just two old folks, and we need an army of young, strong families standing with us in prayer, including their active participation in combating these grievous damsels and any other tools of Satan he may use.
You might be interested in reading the rest of the story in Acts. The possessed damsel was in the hire of someone, and when she lost her devils, that employer took legal action against Paul and Silas. These men of God ended up in jail. God caused an earthquake, setting them free, and when the jailer saw the power of God he and all his family were saved. As I said, pray for us. Mike likes to go to prison every week to preach, but neither of us wants to live there, although Mike would enjoy the excitement of an earthquake (not me, I'm a sissy).
Yes, you're reading this right. Not only are they making themselves out to be martyrs, not only have they called people who have (legitimately) called the authorities complaining of child abuse being promoted by the Pearls, but they are actively encouraging dominionists to harass people who criticise them
Even more frighteningly--the children aren't the only ones to suffer (turning the admonition of Christ on its head)--women, too, must suffer.
One of the more frightening examples is where the Pearls literally tell a woman not to leave their abusive husband and even claim she's being abused because she's not submitting enough:
The Scripture makes it very clear how God feels about divorce, He hates it. It is an Old Testament passage, but God has not changed his mind. He still hates divorce. It is not His will, it wasn't so from the beginning, and it is not so today. There have been occasions, both in Scripture and in our ministry, where a man was so vile that God has killed him. A woman can come to God asking Him to deliver her from a man if he will not repent, but a woman should be sure she has obeyed God in her relationship to her husband, before she asks such a thing.
God has given us several promises concerning marriage to unbelievers. I Peter 3:1-6 tells us how to win our unbelieving husband, and in 1Cor. 7:14 God promises that our children will be holy if we stay with our unbelieving spouse and honor God in our relationship with him. That is a promise from God. These Scriptures give us the "how to" on our end and the expected results. I have seen God keep His word. I have also seen many who would expect God to keep His word when they did not obey their end of the "how to."
(Note the lovely bit of scripture-twisting. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is essentially used in the dominionist justification of "submit to your husbands as they submit to God":
1: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2: While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3: Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4: But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5: For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
Notably, the rest of the chapter--also containing an admonition for husbands to support their wives and the church community to support each other--is not included.
1 Corinthians 7:14 is similarly abused:
14: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
Very interestingly, this is part of a series of verses which have been interpreted as a condemnation of divorce. The full context is actually recommending people not marry at all, because it might distract them from being missionaries!)
Later, they subtly suggest she pray for her husband to die as a method of escape:
You say your husband is just "too vile," that it would "take a miracle" or him "dying and being born all over again." Yes, now you are beginning to understand. God has a miraculous plan to make it possible. You are part of that plan. Every day, minute by minute, as you respond to the living God in obedience and thanksgiving, you make that plan unfold. "That, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives." He has given you the power to overcome the reactions (lust) of the flesh and to see that plan become a reality in your life. Will you?
Even in the case where physical abuse is occuring or (Gods forbid) sexual abuse of their children, they recommend that dominionist women "stand by their man":
If you or your children have been hit (other than the children being spanked) so as to leave discernable marks two hours later, and you genuinely fear that he will repeat his battering, you can take legal steps without divorcing your husband. In a moment when he is not angry, calmly inform him that the next time he physically assaults you or the kids, you are going to call the law and have him arrested. You must first resolve in your heart that you are willing to prosecute him and see him go to jail. I visit prisons every week. It is a great place to mull over the consequences of one’s deeds. And I have never met a prisoner that turned down a visit from anyone. Think about it, lady; it is a great time for writing love letters and sharing a three-minute romantic phone call once a week. Guys who get out of prison run straight home to their ladies and treat them wonderfully—for a while anyway.
If your abusing husband fully understands that you have the power of the law behind you, he will learn to keep his hands in his pockets. I am not suggesting you do this to be vindictive or to get even with him. It must be done in humility and love. If your husbands knows that you are the weaker vessel, desperately seeking your survival and that of the kids, and that you are not trying to punish him, but that you are going to stand by and continue to love him, that you are going to wait for him to get out of prison and then try to start over again, it may move his heart to fear if not to repentance. You say, he cannot help himself. Does he help himself when his peers—other men his own size—make him angry? Does he fly out of control and start hitting his boss or his employees? No? Then he has self-control when he must. The law can make it a must, which will allow you to continue with him and demonstrate your womanhood and win him to yourself and then to your God.
But if your husband has sexually molested the children, you should approach him with it. If he is truly repentant (not just exposed) and is willing to seek counseling, you may feel comfortable giving him an opportunity to prove himself, as long as you know the children are safe. If there is any thought that they are not safe, or if he is not repentant and willing to seek help, then go to the law and have him arrested. Stick by him, but testify against him in court. Have him do about 10 to 20 years, and by the time he gets out, you will have raised the kids, and you can be waiting for him with open arms of forgiveness and restitution. Will this glorify God? Forever. You ask, "What if he doesn’t repent even then?" Then you will be rewarded in heaven equal to the martyrs, and God will have something to rub in the Devil’s face. God hates divorce—always, forever, regardless, without exception.
Even worse--and which shows very clearly the direction dominionists would love to place women--the Pearls literally tell a woman that her husband, not herself, has ultimate control over whether she may or may not have children
The Bible clearly teaches that your husband is your head. He has the rule over you. You are to submit to him, obey him, honor him, and never usurp authority over him. I fear you have not submitted, not obeyed, and not honored. You got your “conviction” someplace other than the Bible. The Bible does not state that it is sin to use natural means to space your children, but it does state it is sin not to obey your husband. He should have the final say in birth control, unless he would employ a method that would abort a fertilized egg. It is your duty to trust God to direct your man.
Instead of your children being a blessing, they are an unwanted burden. To your husband they have become a symbol of your dishonor to him. You suffer, your children don’t have a daddy, and not much of a mother, and your marriage is failing. Go to your husband and tell him you are sorry, and humbly ask him to help you learn to honor him. When he sees your broken submission and willingness to honor his will, he will stop being so angry and, hopefully, begin to take more interest in the children.
(Ironically, this is to a woman who didn't want
to go on the pill because she believed the dominionist line about the pill being an abortifacient!)
There's still more. This time we go to their actual baby-beating manuals (that are referenced in the newspaper article). Courtesy of Stop The Rod (who has probably done the best job documenting the abuse promoted by the Pearls) there's some interesting quotes.
First, with the book "No Greater Joy" (of which some stuff has been excerpted directly from the Pearls' website), here's a lovely list of quotes:
"My two-year-old will not stay in bed when I put him down. It seems like I am whipping him too much. No matter how many times I whip him he still gets up." This is their recommendation: "If your spankings are too light to gain his respect, an increase in the intensity might be more persuasive." p.6 "If he gets up, when his feet hit the floor, spring into the room with your little switch and pop him on the bare leg one or two times." "Never allow him to get his way." p.7
If a child screams or cries "Just ignore him. Don't be moved by it. Don't pick him up." If the child says he is hurt give him "a terrible tasting herbal potion." p.9
On p.19 Michael Pearl jokes about a "tot" getting "half a dozen little spankings a day."
Michael Pearl praises parents who for a year kept their young son from medical treatment and who "was so sick that when he finally got to a doctor, the doctor expressed amazement that he was still alive." p.20
To the question "Should a mature ten-year-old be allowed to switch a two-year-old if the mother is unavailable?" Michael Pearl says sure!: "Ten-year-olds ought to be mature enough to discipline a smaller child. In our house, there was no difference between the parents and the older children in enforcing the rule of law over the younger children." p.24-25
When a 3 year old screams the Pearls recommend: "without saying a word go straight to the switch. Spank her where she stands." "Never threaten, and never show mercy. One squeak of a scream gets a switching." p.26 The Pearls apparently have never read the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus says "Blessed are the merciful!"
Here is some crazy teaching about violence from Michael Pearl: If a child hits, bites, kicks or shoves he should get "a thorough spanking. Children must be taught that violence is never an acceptable alternative in personal conflicts." ??? p.27
When a 4 year old screams "Turn and walk away. If she were to scream again, turn back and give her a spanking." p.30
On p. 33 "A mother describes her dilemma: `I get so frustrated with the children. No matter how many times I tell them or spank them, they just do the same thing again. We just go around and around.'" Michael Pearl recommends "meeting every transgression with a swift penalty." "They will obey."
On p. 34 Michael Pearl relates the story of a mother hitting her 11 month old who doesn't want to eat any more "spinach-squash-mush" and pushes it away. The mother "picked up her little enforcer (whip), which was lying on the table, and swatted the child's hand." When the baby tries again to push the unwanted food away she "received another spat." Michael Pearl says about this scenario: "I loved it. It was beautiful." (p. 35) And then on p. 36 he says "I must encourage those of you with small children, train up your children now. Don't want until they are one year old to start training. Rebellion and self-will should be broken in the six-month-old when it first appears. Take this young mother's example and think of ways you can train your child. (smiley face)"
On p. 46 a mother is described as ignoring her crying 3 month old, until the baby "became cheerful." The story ends with Michael Pearl's comment about a teenage girl visiting this mother and baby: "Maybe when this young girl becomes a mother she will have the wisdom to begin training her newborns and not wait until they are three months old."
On p. 47 a 9 month old is left crying, sitting alone and ignored. Pearl recommends coming by to pat her on the head every 10 minutes. This is cruel and neglectful, and dangerous.
On p. 72 Michael Pearl says "switches and rods make many things mighty inconvenient (for the child). (smiley face)"
On p. 85 Michael Pearl recommends giving a little girl who won't get into her car seat "five licks with a stinging switch." If the girl still doesn't get in the seat "repeat the switching." If the little girl continues to refuse to get in the seat he says to take the seat into the house and strap the girl in it for "two or three hours."
On p. 96: when one of the Pearls' children tattled on another child Debi Pearl "spanked both of them regardless of who did the tattling."
The Pearls also have a second book out, "To Train Up A Child" (a reference to the Biblical injunction to "train up a child in the way he should go, so that he may never stray from the path of righteousness"). The full text of the book is available at the following link
(in case anyone wants to read the whole vomitous thing) but again Stop the Rod gives its selection of the worst of the Pearls
1) The Pearls recommend whipping infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe whipping their own 4 month old daughter (p.9). They recommend whipping the bare skin of "every child" (p.2) for "Christians and non-Christians" (p.5) and for "every transgression" (p.1). Parents who don't whip their babies into complete submission are portrayed as indifferent, lazy, careless and neglectful (p.19) and are "creating a Nazi" (p.45).
- On p.60 they recommend whipping babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them "to get up." On p.61 they recommend whipping a 12 month old girl for crying. On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
- On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with. On p.56 Debi Pearl hits a 2 year old so hard "a karate chop like wheeze came from somewhere deep inside."
- On p.44 they say not to let the child's crying while being hit to "cause you to lighten up on the intensity or duration of the spanking." On p.59 they recommend whipping a 3 year old until he is "totally broken."
- On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.
- On p.46 the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being whipped, whip them anyway. And "if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher." "Defeat him totally." On p.80 they recommend giving a child having a tantrum "a swift forceful spanking." On the same page they say to whip small children on their bare skin until they stop screaming. "Don't be bullied. Give him more of the same." They say to continue whipping until their crying turns into a "wounded, submissive whimper."
- On p.47 they recommend their various whips, including "a belt or larger tree branch" to hit children.
- The Pearls recommend pulling a nursing infant's hair (p.7), and describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). They recommend ignoring an infant's bumped head when he falls to the floor, and ignoring skinned knees (p.86). They also say "if your child is roughed-up by peers, rejoice." (p.81) And on p.103 the Pearls say if children lose their shoes, "let them go without until they (the children) can make the money to buy more."
- The Pearls claim their "training" methods are Godly, yet they have no religious training or credentials They never mention Jesus' injunctions to forgive "seventy times seven" and be merciful, and they decry the "extraordinary ingnorance of modern psychology."
Frighteningly, the Pearls' guides--and "chastening devices" as documented on Stop The Rod--are promoted in dominionist "homeschool" programs and church groups, as documented in the original news article:
Gena Suarez, publisher of a magazine for home-schooling parents that publishes advertisements for the Pearls' books, said their teachings are often inappropriately used to defend child abuse.
"[The Pearls] are talking about something that would fit in a purse," Suarez said. "The only way you can kill a child with that is by shoving it down his throat."
Even more disturbingly, some "faith based" social services groups funded with your tax dollars have been promoting the Pearls' methods:
Christian evangelicals who, like the Pearls, teach the importance of corporal punishment have loyal followers. The results are tangible, said Dot Ehlers, executive director of a Smithfield nonprofit who teaches parenting skills to mothers and fathers referred to them by the Johnston County Department of Social Services. She said about a quarter of the 60 parents she instructs each week say their faith defends and encourages corporal punishment.
The Pearls' techniques helped Sandy Hicks, a mother in Texas who said she was desperate to restore peace in her home.
"Some people would rather spend an hour reasoning with a defiant 5-year-old instead of requiring the kid to behave and giving him a swat if he doesn't," said Hicks, who said she has used a peach-tree switch to spank her four children. "Some people are just queasy about swatting their kids."
If the Pearls were the only ones promoting these childrearing methods, this would be one thing. Sadly, they aren't.
James Dobson--and it should be noted that Dobson is on the liberal end of things when it comes to Dominionist Discipline--has used the beating of a Dachsund to show how children's wills should be broken in his book "The Strong-Willed Child":
"Please don't misunderstand me. Siggie is a member of our family and we love him dearly. And despite his anarchistic nature, I have finally taught him to obey a few simple commands. However, we had some classic battles before he reluctantly yielded to my authority.
"The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn't realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as Captain.
"At eleven o'clock that night, I told Siggie to go get into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room. For six years I had given him that order at the end of each day, and for six years Siggie had obeyed.
"On this occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater. . . "
. . .
"When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie's way of saying. "Get lost!"
"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me 'reason' with Mr. Freud."
. . .
"What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!"
After describing thrashing the family dog, he notes this in the context of childrearing:
"But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD -- ONLY MORE SO."
. . .
"[I]t is possible to create a fussy, demanding baby by rushing to pick him up every time he utters a whimper or sigh. Infants are fully capable of learning to manipulate their parents through a process called reinforcement, whereby any behavior that produces a pleasant result will tend to recur. Thus, a healthy baby can keep his mother hopping around his nursery twelve hours a day (or night) by simply forcing air past his sandpaper larynx."
Also, like the Pearls, he emphasizes that parents risk the damnation of their kids if they do not literally beat the hell out of them:
"Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of 'original sin' which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster."
Keep in mind that Dobson is actually considered liberal
for a dominionist "Dr. Spock". Most are far worse.
More typical, sadly, is a book by Tedd Tripp called "Shepherding a Child's Heart". Tripp has written several books on dominionist childrearing and--in a trend mirrored by that of the Pearls' books--is promoted on sites catering to dominionist "homeschool" programs. A Google search shows the level of promotion of Tripp in the dominionist community; Stop The Rod has begun documenting the promotion of abuse.
Quotes from Tripp's book are telling:
1) Parents are "God's agents"
p.xviii "You exercise authority as God's agent. You must require obedience of your children because they are called by God to obey and honor you. Parents should be `benevolent despots'".
p.34 "It is sobering to realize that you correct your child by God's command. You stand before him as God's agent to show him his sin. The parent must be aware of the fact that he is God's representative to the child."
p.139 "Obedience is not simply an issue between the parent and the child. It is an issue between the child and God in which the parent is God's agent."
2) Parents should have total control
p.xx "You need to direct not simply the behavior of your children, but the attitudes of their hearts. You need to show them not just the `what' of their sin and failure, but the `why.'"
p.23 "You want to control the flow of events so that it is never chaotic, but rather a well-structured home." "I am interested in helping parents engage in hand-to-hand combat on the world's smallest battlefield, the child's heart."
p.133 From birth to age 4, "The most important lesson for the child to learn in this period is that HE IS AN INDIVIDUAL UNDER AUTHORITY."
p.134 "Acquaint your children with authority and submission when they are infants. This training starts the day you bring them home from the hospital."
p.135 "It is imperative that children learn to honor and obey. The disobedient child has moved outside the place of covenant blessing."
p.138 "Obedience means more than a child doing what he is told. It means doing what he is told---
p.139 "When your directives are met by a discourse about why what you have asked is not fair, your children are not obeying. When you are met with excuses or explanations, they are not obeying. When they refuse to respond at once, they are not obeying. When you say to your child, "Dear, I want you to go to bed now," there is only one appropriate response. It is not, "I'll go after I finish coloring this page." There is only one obedient response. It is to go to bed without delay. If you accept any other response, you are training your children to disobey. You must challenge disobedience and persevere until the lessons of submission are learned. Victory does not come to the faint of heart. Never allow your children to disobey without dealing with them."
p.142 "You must provide examples of submission for your children. Dads can do this through biblical authority over their wives, and Moms through biblical submission to their husbands."
p.145 "Don't waste time trying to sugarcoat submission to make it palatable. Obeying when you see the sense in it is not submission; it is agreement. Submission necessarily means doing what you do not wish to do. It is never easy or painless."
p.151 "Your children must understand that when you speak for the first time, you have spoken for the last time."
p.155 A parent poses the question "What if my child says, `But I didn't hear you'?" And Tripp's answer is "One of our children seemed to have much trouble with `hearing.' We sat down with this child and had this conversation: `You are having trouble hearing. I think, therefore, that you better start to develop the ability to pick my voice out of the other noise in your world. When you hear my voice, you should perk up your ears. From now on, if you fail to obey because you `did not hear', I will spank you for failing to listen to my voice.' We only had one spanking for failure to hear. After that the hearing problem cleared up."
3) Children are sinful, idolatrous and "fools"
p.6 "Your concern is to unmask your child's sin, helping him to understand how it reflects a heart that has strayed."
p.21 "Even a child in the womb and coming from the womb is wayward and sinful. One of the justifications for spanking children is that `Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him' (Proverbs 22:15). The point of the proverb is that something is wrong in the heart of the child that requires correction."
p.24 "Since it is the Godward orientation of your child's heart that determines his response to life, you may never conclude that his problems are simply a lack of maturity. Selfishness is not outgrown. Rebellion against authority is not outgrown. These things are not outgrown because they are not reflective of immaturity but of the idolatry of your child's heart."
p.54 Children "need to understand subtleties of the malignancy of their own hearts. They need to know the dangers of trusting in themselves."
p.67 Children must have their "character flaws" addressed, and understand the "deceitfulness" of their hearts.
p.105 "The child is a sinner. There are things within the heart of the sweetest little baby that, allowed to blossom and grow to fruition, will bring about eventual destruction. The rod functions in this context. It is addressed to needs within the child. These needs cannot be met by mere talk. Proverbs 22:15 says, `Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.' God says there is something wrong in the child's heart. Folly or foolishness is bound up in his heart. This folly must be removed, for it places the child at risk."
p.106 "The fool's life is run by his desires and fears. This is what you hear from your young children. The most common phrases in the vocabulary of a 3-year-old are, `I want...' or `I don't want....' The fool lives out of the immediacy of his lusts, cravings, expectations, hopes and fears." "Watch a baby struggle against wearing a hat in the winter. Even this baby who cannot articulate or even conceptualize what he is doing shows a determination not to be ruled from without. This foolishness is bound up within his heart. Allowed to take root and grow for 14 or 15 years, it will produce a rebellious teenager who will not allow anyone to rule him. The spanking process drives foolishness from the heart of a child. Confrontation with the immediate and undeniably tactile sensation of a spanking renders an implacable child sweet."
p.143 "Show (children) how they are inclined to disobey and turn irrationally from what is good for them."
p.174 "Children need to be convicted that they have defected from God and are covenant-breakers. You must deal with the child in a deep way that enables him to see the implications of his behavior and to indict himself."
p.177 "You cannot, with integrity, tell your child that if he tries hard enough, if he is good enough, if he really wants it, he can be what God has called him to be. He can't."
4) Don't encourage children's self-worth
p.51 "When I ask parents why they put their children in these dance classes, they explain that it has helped their child's sense of self-worth. Are there any passages (in the Bible) that make the development of self-worth a biblically mandated goal? Are we not encouraging pride that comes from the capacity to perform?"
5) Parents don't protect children when they are abused
p.16 "Your children are responsible for the way they respond to your parenting."
p.53 Regarding schoolyard bullies: "You should instruct your children to entrust themselves to God in the face of unfair treatment, to face injustice without retaliation, and see the needs of those around them."
p. 58 "Faced with being kind to one who abuses you, there is nowhere to go but to God, who alone can enable a person to respond in love. When your child's heart desires revenge, when she must love an enemy, when her faith demands she leave room for God's justice--there is no place to go but to the cross." "Getting help from Christ was powerfully illustrated in the life of our daughter. As a ninth grader she seemed to get on the wrong side of her Spanish teacher. Through four years of high school she struggled with feeling angry over being sinned against. We spent many hours talking about how to respond. We discussed the impossibility of her loving this lady apart from God's grace. We encouraged her to find hope, strength, consolation and comfort in Christ."
6) Using "the rod"
p.31 "I recall many conversations that went like this:
Father: You didn't obey Daddy, did you?
Father: Do you remember what God says Daddy must do if you disobey?
Child: Spank me?
Father: That's right. I must spank you. If I don't, then I would be disobeying God. You and I would both be wrong. That would not be good for you or for me, would it?
Child: No. (A reluctant reply)"
p.36 "The child learns to receive correction, not because parents are always right, but because God says the rod of correction imparts wisdom."
p.74 "A biblical approach to children involves two elements that you weave together. One element is rich, full communication. The other is the rod. `Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.' Proverbs 13-14."
p.104 Tripp describes spanking his son while guests are over: "Nick, a friend from church, and his girlfriend, Angela, were visiting for a Sunday afternoon. During our meal, one of our sons was disobedient. I took him to a private room upstairs to discipline him. "What's he going to do with him?" Angela inquired. "Probably spank him," my wife responded matter-of-factly. At that moment my son's cry could be heard upstairs. Angela went running from the house in a state of great agitation."
p.110 "The rod is a rescue mission. The child who needs a spanking has become distanced from his parents through disobedience. The spanking is designed to rescue the child from continuing in his foolishness. If he continues, his doom is certain. Thus, the parent, driven by love for the child, must use the rod." "Failure to obey Mom or Dad is failure to obey God. This is the issue. The child has failed to obey God."
p.112 "I know of nothing harder than spanking my children. It is difficult to hold your own child over your knee and purposefully inflict pain on him. Who benefits if you do not spank your child? You do. You are delivered from the agony of inflicting pain on one who is precious to you."
p.114 "I have witnessed spankings administered through a double layer of diapers to a child who never stopped moving long enough to know he had been spanked. The spanking was ineffective because the parents never made the rod felt."
p.115 "The rod returns the child to the place of blessing. Left to himself, he would continue to live a lust-driven life. He would continue to seek comfort in being a slave to his desires and fears. The rod of correction returns him to the place of submission to parents in which God has promised blessing."
p.149 "The `when' of spanking is so simple that parents miss it. If your child has not obeyed, he needs to be spanked."
p.151 Tripp describes the whipping procedure: take the child to a private place (so nobody can stop the abuse), make the child confess, tell the child "how many swats he will receive", put the child over your lap (as Tripp says, to "put the spanking in the context of your physical relationship" (!!)), pull the child's diapers or "drawers" down and whip them. Then pull the child up and show affection.
p.152 If the child is angry about being whipped, then "the discipline session is not over" and Tripp says to whip them some more until they are "sweet".
p.153 "Because you are dealing with young children, there is a heavy emphasis on the undeniably tactile experience of spanking."
p.154 "When your child is old enough to resist your directives, he is old enough to be disciplined. Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling against a diaper change or stiffening out his body when you want him to sit on your lap. When our oldest child was approximately 8 months old, we were confronted with parenting our first mobile child. We had a bookshelf constructed of boards and bricks. Fearing the shelf would fall on him, Margy told him not to pull himself up by the shelf. After moving him away from the shelf, she left the room. As she peeked in on him, she observed him surveying the room. Not seeing her, he headed back toward the forbidden bookshelf. Here was a young child, not yet able to walk or to talk, looking to see if the coast was clear so he could disobey. Obviously, he was old enough to be disciplined." (He's not old enough to even understand English! - my comment)
7) Hide the whippings from others
p.114 Tripp answers the concern of a parent: "I'm afraid of being arrested for child abuse." This is his answer: "There is validity to this concern. You must be careful to avoid unnecessary exposure to being reported by someone who does not approve of spanking. Spanking should be done in the privacy of the home."
There are others promoting similar works--Stop The Rod links to the poignant letter
from a survivor of similar tactics promoted by Roy Lessin (author of a large number of dominionist child-spanking manuals
, some of which have promoted the use of "chastening rods".
One particular group of "spare the rod" dominionists--the Ezzos--are so infamous that entire entire websites have sprung up to warn against their tactics. (The Ezzos promote a book called "Babywise" in secular circles and "Growing Kid's God's Way" in dominionist circles; the only differences between the two are that Biblical scripture-twisting has been largely stripped from the secular version, whilst the original verses justifying things like extremely strict scheduling of infant feedings and punitive spanking of tiny infants are in the dominionist versions. This is actually a similar pattern to those that occur in many dominionist groups setting up "bait and switch" evangelism, like the "Character First!" campaigns which have been written about here.)
Gentle Christian Mothers is another site which, much like Stop The Rod, is set up by largely Christian, largely homeschooling parents who are gravely concerned about dominionist child abuse manuals.
One of the grave concerns these groups have had was that someone was eventually going to be killed by these manuals.
Sadly, they have been proven all too correct.
Death by "chastening rod" | 29 comments (29 topical, 1 hidden)
Death by "chastening rod" | 29 comments (29 topical, 1 hidden)