Salon Magazine article on dominionist child abuse
dogemperor printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu May 25, 2006 at 12:43:51 PM EST
I have been writing a small series so far on one of the dirtier and less-well-known secrets of dominionism--that of religiously motivated child abuse within the dominionist community:

Death by "chastening rod"
Take action: stop sale of baby-beating books!
Another sad case of dominionist child abuse
A followup re the Pearls' dominionist child abuse
Kid beaten by minister for reporting abuse

It is a subject I have a particular interest in, largely because I myself am a survivor of religiously motivated child abuse; it's also an issue that is becoming of increasing concern by groups such as Stop The Rod (which includes excerpts from a number of "chastening manuals" aimed at the dominionist community, and which was originally founded by a Christian homeschooler mom who was gravely concerned about the promotion of these manuals in "Christian homeschool" support groups).

As it turns out, it's no longer survivors (like me) and concerned moms (like the person who runs Stop The Rod) who are speaking out.  Salon Magazine is now publishing an article on one of the more infamous offenders--Michael and Debi Pearl--and on religiously motivated child abuse in general.

The article starts out with the story of Meggan Judge, who was a former user of the Pearls' techniques until she had a case of post-partum depression--and realised the techniques were inherently abusive and dangerous.  

Much of the article covers some of the same ground that articles I have written--and other sources, such as the Raleigh-Durham

The article does give a few new frightening facts, though:

While the Pearls are not in direct competition with Christian media juggernauts such as Veggie Tales or "The Purpose-Driven Life," they are part of the booming religious publishing and products market, which hit $7.3 billion in 2005 -- a 28 percent increase since 2002, according to an April 2006 report by Packaged Facts, the publishing division of Among Christian books, the "Christian Living" subcategory, which includes parenting, is one of the most popular sub-segments; products for children are expanding as well. The Packaged Facts report, titled "The Religious Product Market in the U.S.," cites "the culture wars" as being one reason for this overall growth. "What has until recently frustrated evangelicals is their difficulty in translating political power into social and cultural clout," states the report. "In addressing and attempting to redress this problem, evangelicals are increasingly turning to publishing."

As for their position on corporal "chastisement," the Pearls are following in the footsteps of their forebears -- and are not out of step with most of their peers. "The tradition of 'breaking the child's will' using physical punishment is long-standing among evangelical, fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic Protestants," says retired Rutgers University historian Philip Greven, author of "Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Child Abuse." "It's associated with a very strong patriarchal authoritarian tradition," he adds, along with a belief in the literal truth of the Bible. Greven found calls to physically punish children in 17th and 18th century American Protestant texts; he was surprised, in the course of his research, to see that they'd persisted into the20th century and even today.

Of particular note--the original article links to a series of articles from Focus on the Family wherein the use of "switches" is advocated on small children that kids are forced to get themselves (thus becoming an active participant in their abuse), among other things.

The article also notes that it's not just the Pearls advocating this stuff, and that this stuff is all too screamingly common in the dominionist community:

Indeed, not sparing the rod is the norm among Christian parenting books. Ted Tripp's 1995 book "Shepherding a Child's Heart," which endorses judicial spanking, was recently at No. 37 on Christian Retailing magazine's list of bestsellers; the same magazine, last October, called  W Publishing "one of the first major Christian publishing houses to publish a book that is opposed to spanking children." (The book is "Grace-Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel.) And today, there are not only texts, but also products, such as "The Rod of Discipline" (see Proverbs 22:15 ) and a plastic "chastening instrument" said to "fit easily into purse or travel bag."

The article also notes that the Pearls have advocated the literal use of meter sticks and rulers as tools for beating children who have not yet celebrated their first birthday:
"Select your instrument according to the child's size," writes Pearl. "For the under one year old, a little, ten to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (stripped 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." Additional advice from their Web site: Switching with a length of quarter-inch plumbing supply line is a "real attention-getter."

The article also--notably--notes the use of scripture-twisting in justification of religiously motivated child abuse, a subject rarely touched upon.

It also notes that--of particularly interesting note--some of the most vociferous opposition of the Pearls and other hawkers of religiously motivated child abuse is coming from people who are homeschooling their kids (this is of note because dominionist "homeschool" associations promote these books heavily):

While supporters of child-training see the Paddock case as a tragic misuse and misrepresentation of Pearl principles, some of their opponents have taken it as a call to arms. Recent protest has perhaps been loudest and most organized among home-schoolers. "Most home-schoolers, secular and Christian, are familiar with the Pearls, and speaking out never made a difference. Now a child has died and public scrutiny is on the Pearls. Strike while the fire is hot," says a home-schooling Oregon mother of 16-year-old triplets who blogs under the name "Doc Smith." (She requested that her real name not be used because of the threatening comments she and others have received in response to their anti-Pearl posts.)

Following in the footsteps of a British blogger known as Carlotta -- who, pre-Paddock case, worked to draw attention to the association between the Old Schoolhouse Magazine, a popular Christian quarterly for home-schoolers, and the Pearls' ministry, one of its advertisers -- Doc launched a boycott of the magazine and its partner blog services, and Other bloggers picked up the banner. (One printed anti-Pearl T-shirts. ) As a result of such efforts, Doc estimates, at least 250 bloggers have left Rumors abound that the Old Schoolhouse's subscriptions have dropped since the boycott -- its current readership is around 100,000 -- but according to the magazine, business is booming. "Subscriptions are actually up," says Nancy Carter, marketing manager. "With bad P.R. I think you also get folks saying, 'Hey, we want to show you we support you.'"

Doc admits that this boycott is but a "small battle" in the fight against child abuse. Ideally, she'd like to see the Old Schoolhouse -- a major market source for an often-isolated community -- stop printing articles by the Pearls and advertising their wares. But she hopes at the very least to draw attention to the methods espoused by the Pearls -- and distinguish them from other branches of the home-schooling community. "When a secular person/parent whips a kid, they're doing it because they're ignorant or just a jerk. They don't say God gave them permission or commanded them to do it," she says. "Home-schoolers who beat their kids make all home-schoolers look like freaks."

One home-schooling/blogging mother went so far as to buy the plumbing hose and try it on herself. "What I did was take the small supposedly 'harmless' tube and LIGHTLY tap myself on the forearm with it," she reports. "Not only did it sting like an SOB but it also left welts on my arm for TWO hours afterwards."

The article also notes some interesting statistics, which are especially relevant as many of the same folks hawking books on how to beat your baby for God are also hawking books on how women should "submit to their husbands" and how "God hates divorce" even in the case of abusive spouses:
"The evidence is that any corporal punishment, on average, is harmful down the road," says leading family violence researcher Murray Straus, professor of sociology and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. Among other problems, it has the potential to threaten the parent-child bond, inhibit the development of conscience, lead to juvenile delinquency, and even partner violence, Straus says. (Some disagree, saying -- for example -- that children who grow up with an understanding or fear of "consequences" are less likely to get into trouble down the road.) "There are now three very good studies showing that the more someone was spanked as a child, the more likely they are to hit their partner as an adult," says Straus. (Some suspect that spanking at home, or paddling at school, may be particularly harmful to girls.)

The article also notes on how dominionists are coached in these books, and also coach each other, on how to hide the signs of baby-beating:
Her father goes farther. "Don't be so indiscreet as to spank your children in public -- including the church restroom," he writes on his Web site. But discretion, here, is more than just the better part of embarrassing your kid. "I get letters regularly telling of trouble with in-laws who threaten to report them to the authorities," he goes on. "Parents have called the Gestapo on their married children. Church friends who have noses longer than the pews on which they perch can cause a world of trouble. If you cannot get [your children] trained before going out in public, stay home and read our four books again. If the Federal or State agencies take me to court over advocating corporal chastisement, this will be part of my defense: 'He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. 13:24).'"

For similar reasons, the Home School Legal Defense Association recommends spanking only in private. (The HSLDA is a Christian organization, though it serves home-schoolers without regard to affiliation. It is dedicated to preserving the "fundamental right of parents to choose home educations, free of over-zealous government officials and intrusive laws.")

All in all, a very good article, and a good introduction for those who are wishing to research--or wishing to work against--religiously motivated child abuse in the dominionist community.

I wouldn't be surprised if the writer was reading your pieces - Salon has to be highly aware of Talk To Action : there's quite a profusion of connections between Talk To Action writers and Salon.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:01:02 AM EST
If so, I'm REALLY glad that this is getting out in the open.  This is an aspect of dominionism that very few people are aware of, and even the relative "moderates" in the field of dominionist "child training" (like Dobson, also head of one of the largest dominionist groups in the US) still advocate abusive forms of discipline--even to the point of advertising links to their website on major secular radio stations.

by dogemperor on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:38:16 AM EST
Yesterday : He listens a lot to Rush Limbaugh and watches the 700 Club, but he isn't very happy with George W. Bush these days. It was an interesting conversation. He and I agreed on a number of things including our oppostion to gambling casinos.

My brother and his wife started out listening, I believe, to James Dobson's advice on coporal punishment of children. Now, with their last two kids ( they have 4 ) I don't think they do that any more. If so only rarely. The latter two children seem a bit more lively and expressive, but the older two may be just going through a phase.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon May 29, 2006 at 01:06:00 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

The Sour Grapes Of Wrath: Tenn. County Politician Seeks To Stave Off God's Vengeance
It has become a cliché to say that you spotted an article online that was so strange you first assumed it was from The......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Catholic Right Star and the Porn Star -- Revised and Updated
An international network of some of the world’s most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Banned In Boston (And Elsewhere): The American Tragedy Of Censorship
When I was kid, the phrase "Banned in Boston" confused me. I thought of Boston as a liberal, cosmopolitan city. Surely they didn't censor......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bill Donohue Mum While Andrew Napolitano Calls Pope Francis "A False Prophet"
Catholic League president Bill Donohue goes after anyone he believes is engaging in anti-Catholic behavior, real or imagined. But as we have come to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Decade Of Disgrace: Marking Ten Years Of The `Values Voter Summit'
The annual Values Voter Summit (VVS), the nation's largest gathering of the Religious Right, begins today. The event, sponsored by the Family Research Council......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Looking Beyond the Francis Frenzy
Much has been and will be written about the Pope regarding his historic visit to the U.S.  But it will be important to try......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Barton Bounces Back: Religious Right Purveyor Of Ersatz History Still Going Strong
Three years ago, Religious Right phony historian David Barton published a ridiculous book called The Jefferson Lies that argued, in part, that Thomas Jefferson......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right
In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, "Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness." Donohue then went on to describe the......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Coercion In Kansas?: State Worker Claims She Was Fired For Non-Attendance At Christian Service
Let's say some people at a company want to get together during lunch hour and hold a Bible study. It's totally voluntary, and they......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Kim Davis and Southern Civil Disobedience
Kim Davis, the county official who refused to grant marriage licenses, fits the profile of a long line of civil disobedience from the South.......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
An Anti-Theocratic, Progressive Christian Leader
I recently posted a short excerpt here, from an interview I published with Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, the new General Minister and President of......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Litany Of Lies: FRC's Perkins Packs An Email With Copious Falsehoods
I realize that people may be tired of reading about the saga of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who is in jail......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Kim Davis is No Jack Kennedy
Kim Davis, the embattled Kentucky county clerk who sits in jail for defying a Federal Court order to issue marriage licenses to everyone who......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.