The consequences of your denial will be with you for a lifetime and will be passed down to the next generations. Break your Silence on Abuse! – Patty Rase Hopson
Consider this headline: “Is Conservative Christian Group, No Greater Joy Ministries, Pushing Parents to Beat Kids to Death?”
Here’s how the article begins:
“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.”
The CBS News article describes the death of a four year old who lived not far from Dee and me. We remember this local news story very well, and it was and still is heartwrenching!
“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.”
What was it that influenced these parents to take such harsh measures to “discipline” their kids? Here is what a Raleigh news outlet reported about Sean Paddock’s adopted mother:
“Lynn Paddock said she and her husband decided to use discipline techniques espoused by the Rev. Michael Pearl, an evangelical minister from Tennessee who publishes books and articles on rearing submissive children. She said swatting children with flexible plastic rods was preferred to spanking because it was less demeaning. ‘We liked Michael Pearl's (system) because it was quick (and) it didn't demean the child and bring their self-esteem down,’ she said.”
As the CBS News article (referenced above) states:
“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]."
No Greater Joy Ministries is a non-profit organization headed by Michael Pearl and his wife Debi. Michael Pearl is a pastor in Tennessee. The Pearl’s website claims that their book “To Train Up a Child” has over 450,000 copies in print. We decided to take a look at the book over at Amazon.com, and discovered that there are far more negative reviews of the Pearl’s book than positive ones.
What follows is a One-Star review of To Train Up A Child that is featured on Amazon. The reviewer includes a number of specific references to page numbers, which we believe are helpful in understanding the book’s instruction. Link here.
“As a Christian Mother I Was DISGUSTED, April 10, 2010
As a Christian mother myself, I cannot even begin to communicate my level of disgust with this book. I forced myself to read this cover to cover as a part of my university studies in child psychology and I was in literal tears on more than one occasion. This may be the single most disgusting piece of misguided twisting of Christian values I have ever read. Here I thought "Becoming Babywise" was bad, but this one is FAR worse. This kind of child abuse is never acceptable and I'm a bit shocked that Amazon would continue to carry this book. Any book that advocates hitting a 4 month old in ANY context, let alone with a foreign object, should be labeled what it is – a child abuse manual.
Some "highlights" from the book include:
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).
2) 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.
3) 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."
4) 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."
5) On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.
6) 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."
7) On p.47 they recommend their various whips, including "a belt or larger tree branch" to hit children.
8) 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."
9) 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 ignorance of modern psychology.’”
While I have not yet read To Train Up A Child, I plan to order a used copy and will follow up with my own book review. I believe it is important to understand first hand what is being taught by so-called experts. The Pearls have written several other books which they sell through their ministry, including No Greater Joy. Again, there are more negative reviews than positive ones at Amazon.
One could argue that the two innocent children mentioned in this post died at the hands of parents who took the Pearls' “discipline methods” to an extreme; however, they were using punishment techniques they learned from the Pearls.
In case you’re wondering how Michael Pearl responds to his critics, here is EXACTLY how he responded:
‘It has come to may attention that a vocal few are decrying our sensible application of the Biblical rod in training up our children. I laugh at my caustic critics…’
Laughter instead of tears… That single statement reveals the heart condition of Michael Pearl. For those in our reading audience who agree with the Pearls child rearing techniques, we want to ask this question:
If you corrected your dog in a public setting using the Pearls' recommended method of discipline, what do think that would happen? No doubt you know the answer. And as for parents who use this particular form of “child/infant training”, we believe Child Protective Services would be VERY interested in chatting with them…
Tune in tomorrow when we will wrap up our investigation into the Pearl’s “ministry” and share a few choice words with those who follow their abusive methods. We will postpone our Mark Driscoll post for a few days.
Lydia's Corner: Deuteronomy 18:1-20:20 Luke 9:28-50 Psalm 73:1-28 Proverbs 12:10