Thursday, 19 May 2011

Some 'Christian' home educators in America and their strange beliefs

Although I am probably preaching to the converted here, I want to say a few words about the practice of some 'Christian' American home educators of beating their children. There have been a number of cases in recent years of such people killing their children who, oddly enough, often seem to have been adopted. Somebody gave a link to a piece about one notorious family involved in this sort of child abuse. It may be found here;

As somebody who raised his own child according to Biblical precepts, a number of things strike me about this business. The first is the inherent implausibility of Jesus saying, 'Let the little children come unto me' and then whipping them with a length of plastic tubing! Another point which springs out at one is that these idiots don't really seem to know the Bible at all. One only has to read what this supposed minister says:

' Heed the warning, taken from Proverbs in the Old Testament, that sparing the rod will spoil the child'

I dare say that any real Christian will be well aware that one will not find the advice to 'spare the rod and spoil the child' either in the Book of Proverbs or anywhere else in the Bible! It was of course said by Samuel Butler, a seventeenth century author. Of course there are passages in the Bible which seem to condone the beating of children, but then again Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 goes even further than this. It says:

'If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die'

How cool is that? I can have my kid executed if he is cheeky to me or gets pissed too often! Do these fundamentalists really want to introduce the death penalty for naughty children as well as corporal punishment? After all, it is there in the Bible. Idiots. These people depend upon a false dichotomy in their appeals for others to be cruel to their children. They say, correctly, that lack of discipline in childhood is a bad thing and then go on to claim that either you are in favour of children running riot and doing as they please or you accept the need to whip them regularly. This is such an illogical assertion that one can hardly take it seriously. It is perfectly possible to raise a well disciplined child without beating him. Or, to forestall an objection from some readers, without using shame, ridicule or verbal abuse either. If I had been unable to bring up my children without hitting them, then I do not think that I would have been much of a parent.

What I really loathe about these people is that their hitting of children is not done in a moment of temper, but is planned well in advance. Many parents strike their children because they lose patience with them or are feeling stressed. This is understandable and I would be the last to condemn such a parent. To decide ahead of time though to do this and to go to a shop and buy the things necessary to whip a child is absolutely inhuman and bears no relation at all to the teachings of Jesus or anything which we know about his character.


  1. Great to see a post about the Pearls and their "child-training" madness!

    It would be terrible if, just as the Pearls are being driven out of the mainstream of the US christian-right homeschooling movement (where they had been tolerated for years by people who didn't really know what they were up to), they were to gain followers in the UK!

  2. Here are some good links from conservative Christians in the US who oppose the Pearls:

    Why Not Train a Child - a Clearinghouse for CHristian Arguments against the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl -

    An article with a good links list -

    Christians Against the Pearls on Facebook -

    Statement from Gentle Christian Mothers on Facebook

  3. As you say you are probably preaching to the converted to the majority in the UK, but it's an interesting subject all the same. The level of subjugation necessary for this type of 'training' to stick once the child is grown and away from the parents is scary. Far better for a child to develop moral sense and empathy through discussion, good role modelling and empathic treatment of them by their parents and other care givers. Much kinder and far more effective both from the point of view of society and individual happiness.