Wholesale Child Abuse

2 March, 2010

When I was young I lived for a time at Grand Canyon.  Right on the rim.  I went to Grand Canyon Elementary School from early in my first grade year to early in my sixth year.  And I saw my first example of child abuse.

Of course, I had no idea that  it was child abuse.  I just knew that one of my pals (well, he was a good friend at that point (I lost him as a friend because of religion)), a devout evangelical Christian (no idea what particular brand (though he was a strict Biblical literalist)), often came to school with black eyes, a split lip, a bruised cheek, on one occasion a broken arm. 

This was before the days of mandatory reporting of child abuse by teachers.  When I asked him about the injuries, his reply was some variation of, “I disobeyed authority.”  Not in so many words, but he was taught that he was to his father as his father is to god.  Disobeying his father, disagreeing with his father, even failing to agree quickly enough with his father, garnered a beating.

His father was, apparently, a firm believer in Proverbs 23: 13-14:  “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. If you beat him with the rod you will save his soul from Sheol.”

In ’78 we moved back east to Maryland smack dab in the middle of the proberbial Bible Belt (of course I had no idea that the belt existed).   And I saw child abuse again (still had no name to put to the phenomena, but I knew it when I saw it). 

A boy kicked out of his home because he brought home a book.  Dad had no problem with books as long as it was the One True Book — that omnibus of torture and mayhem.  When junior brought home a bit of fiction (James Bond, Jr., double-oh-three-and-a-half), this was  too much and, at the age of 13, he was out.  Eventually his dad let him move back in, though he did have his arm in a cast for about 2 months after that.

A girl who came to school with bruises on her arms and legs (fingertip bruising was visible during gym class).  Her father was an elder in one of the more conservative churches in the area.  Even talking to a boy deserved punishment.  She married at 15 or 16 to a much older man and we never say her again.

This was years ago.  Decades in the past.  Last century to be exact.  Surely we have come further.  And in some ways we have.  Teachers are required to report suspected child abuse.  Today, the three kids I mention above (there were more, many more, that I knew) would have had contact with social services and, hopefully, the abuse ended.

Of course, there are still groups  — ministers, preachers, even child psychologists — who are still of the opinion that that children will only flourish if punished, physically or otherwise, for any wrongdoing.  One example is No Greater Joy (from Salon):

 The teachings of the [Michael and Debbie} Pearl and their Tennessee-based  No Greater Joy ministry, which brought in $1.8 million last year in sales of books, DVDs and the like, are widely known and normalized across many conservative Christian churches and home-schooling communities. Perhaps the most popular of several ultra-conservative Christian figures to carry forward this centuries-old strain of Christian thought, the Pearls advocate a specific program of even-tempered, non-injurious corporal punishment, or “chastisement,” designed to bring about total obedience — even by infants — to their sovereign parents. . . . .  By no means do the Pearls advocate suffocation with blankets; they are emphatically against “abuse.” But they do not spare the rod. From their Web site: A length of quarter-inch plumbing supply line is a “real attention-getter.”

Yes, they advocate beating children with hoses.  Never mind that during the trials after World War II that was considered a war crime.  The rod of punishment (literally a rod) is considered a requirement for good parenting (from No Greater Joy Ministries):

If you fail to gain the child’s heart through proper training and chastisement, his self-will may carry him into acts or motives that are evil. When a child has chosen the path of corruption, like anger that results in hurting someone, he has grieved his conscience and is in a psychological state of estrangement from all authority, from God, and from his higher impulses to be good. His guilt will isolate him from the social order and put him beyond the pale of reason and rebuke. It will be the jumping off point into total rebellion. You may see this occur in a child as young as three or four, but more likely in older children.

If you have trained properly, this may never happen to your child, but if it does come to this, you are not helpless. The soul of your child needs to be punished. He feels the need to suffer for his misdeeds. What I am telling you is well understood by the most reprobate of modern psychiatrists and psychologists. They call it a “guilt complex.” Children and adults in this state of mind often do harm to themselves. Their anger is turned inward because they hate the bad person they know themselves to be. Their soul is crying out for justice to be done to the self. They don’t know what is happening, and they will not voluntarily seek punishment, but their soul needs judgment. When your child is in the first throes of this debilitating condition, be kind enough to punish him. Care enough and love enough to pay the emotional sacrifice to give him ten to fifteen licks that will satisfy his need to experience payback.

If you do not see the wisdom in what I have said, and you reject these concepts, you are not fit to be a parent. I pity your children. They will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience that mine do. (emphasis added)

By the standards of No Greater Joy Ministries, the parents of Lydia Schatz, a 7-year-old girl beaten to death with a 1/4 inch plumbing supply line, are fit parents.  From Salon:

Her parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz of Paradise, Calif., who reportedly called 911 to report that she was not breathing, stand charged with her murder. They are expected to enter a plea on Thursday. According to the authorities, forceful and numerous whippings, apparently with plumbing line, may have caused tissue breakdown so massive that Lydia’s vital organs could no longer function. The Schatzes also face torture and abuse charges for significant injuries sustained by Lydia’s also-adopted sister Zariah, 11, who was hospitalized in critical condition, as well as for extensive bruising on a 10-year-old biological son. (The Schatzes have six biological children and three adopted from Liberia.) Though the remaining children showed no visible signs of abuse, they told police they’d been “disciplined” with the tubing as well. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told Salon that the Schatzes had explicitly described to police their adherence to the Pearls’ philosophy, which, as one of many horrified anti-Pearl bloggers within the conservative Christian community observes — recalling precisely what prompted the Schatzes’ call to 911 — includes the admonition that a proper spanking leaves a child “without breath to complain.”

The book, “To Train Up A Child,” has sold 1.4 million copies.  Copies have been given free to soldiers with families.  Telling true believers that their god wants them to beat their child is scary.  Telling millions (books, website, and over-zealous preachers) to do it, wholesale, is even worse.

There may be a glimmer of hope in this horrific case.  Many in the evangelical community are speaking out against this abuse:

“My wife and I are Christians and the Pearl system is one of the most anti-Christian systems I’ve ever heard of,” says Mathers. “Part of what unnerves me is how many Christians I’ve encountered in the past week who either follow the Pearl system or step around it, saying, ‘They may be a little extreme, but there’s some good principles in there.’ It scares me that there are people walking around with such things being acceptable in their heads. It scares me that people who call themselves Christians are willing to be so mean and merciless, or at the very least, that they feel OK condoning people like that.” (Mathers is also not alone in believing that — long hermeneutical story short — the Pearls’ entire ministry is based on flawed, even heretical, theology.)

Just a glimmer of hope.  Until Christians stop viewing themselves as Christians first this shit will continue.  They will be ‘mean and merciless.’  When, and more important, if, they begin to see themselves and their children as human beings first and Christians second, abuse will continue because some authoritarian figure tell them it is the ‘Christian Thing To Do.’ 

Is it truly progress if, during my life, we have advanced from retail child abuse to wholesale child abuse?

I found this through Pandagon which shows that the ministry’s program for child abuse is virtually identical to the cycle of abuse.



  1. People who espouse “Biblical chastisement” in all its forms make me sick. It’s child abuse, plain and simple. It’s not “discipline” nor is it “religious freedom” as some try to bill it. If an adult engaged in any of those behaviors toward another adult they’d be prosecuted, and rightly so. Why we allow adults to do it to children who have no way to defend or protect themselves I can’t fathom.

  2. Buffy: We allow adults to do it to children because most adults do not view children as human beings. They are pets to be trained.

  3. There are abusers in almost every group of theory followers, be it religion or horse training or playing the bagpipes. Give it a name and people will use it as a shield for selfish actions. Hitler was a Darwin follower and it spilled over to eugenics, but we have not thrown out the theory of evolution because of his self gratifying actions. People will be people and they hide behind theories to promote their own agenda.

    • Darwin didn’t have followers. Science doesn’t involve followers. Magic does. Assuming you have ever read a newspaper (a generous assumption, as the “Hitler was a Darwin follower” claim hardly implies a reading list inclusing of anything more informative than a Jack Chick tracts), a statistically significant sample size readily presents itself that the overwhelming majority of abuse cases involve parents who claim to be very religious.

      The fact that a simple majority of Christians are not child abusers is not as important as the fact that the overwhelming majority of abusers are Christians (in this country).

      • inclusing of


    • Hitler was a Darwin follower and it spilled over to eugenics.

      I think you’re a bit confused. Hitler listed Martin Luther, not Darwin, as one of his heroes, and the Nazi plan closely mirrored Luther’s seven-point plan for the Jews. Hitler, like Luther, believed he was doing God’s will.

  4. This stuff is scary and sickening. People abuse kids for all sorts of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with religion. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that religion has often both motivated and justified child abuse.

  5. I don’t know if there are any statistics identifying child-abusers by their religion. But, since I think that most fundamentalists are troglodytes, it wouldn’t surprise me to find a high incidence of child-beating among ultra-orthodox theists.

    Still, I’m not convinced that religion motivates people to abuse their children. Yeah, I do think that some people use biblical nonsense to justify their natural inclination toward beating their kids. But this is one form of evil that I wouldn’t necessarily attribute to their god-belief.

    Michael and Debbie Pearl, and the Schantzes, and probably thousands of others like them, are sadists who prey on the helpless. When the Schantzes are found guilty of murder, they should be publicly whipped. I don’t believe in the death penalty, so I can’t say “until they die,” but the whippings ought to be repeated for as long as they manage to stay alive — leaving them “without breath to complain.”

  6. Camdenstables: Using the term “followers of Darwin” sort of outs you as a fundie. No biologists, geneticists, palaeontologists, or any other scientist refer to themselves as “followers of Darwin.” That is a term used by those attempting to denigrate the theory of evolution by portraying it as a religion. Think about that for a moment. You are putting down the theory of evolution by claiming it is a religion in order to reinforce your own belief in the teachings of a religion. That’s what we call ironic.

    Desertscope: She does have a point, though. Some atheists have abused children. However, none of us are abusing children because someone is telling us that the magic skydaddy wants us to based on millenium-old myths. Your takedown on “followers of Darwin” is excellent.

    Chappie: If someone is prone to abuse, thinking that god(s) approves will, without doubt, make it worse. And even more sickening.

    Larry: Again, I agree that religion does not motivate people. But (as I said above), if you think god(s) wants you to beat the child until they have no breath to complain, it just makes the unthinkable thinkable.

    And I have to agree that with you on the death penalty. It does not deter crime, it is economically and racially discriminatory, and,damnit, there are certain crimes for which I am all for it which is why I’m glad that I don’t have to make that decision as I would be way too emotional about it.

    • Using the three words “follower of Darwin” as well the words in the remainder of my post has not attacked Darwin or evolution. Its focus is the actions of Hitler. It points out that no matter what theory there is, people will use it to promote their own agenda. As well, even though one person took his beliefs to the level that he chose, society has not denounced all the ideas he enlarged on , whether they were expounded by Darwin , the Bible, or Dr Suess. Taking the post in any other way and replying as above, does not support true debate.

      A follower of fire could be a pyromaniac, an arsonist, someone keeping his family warm, or someone making supper. The science of the fire is not the issue.

      The science of evolution does not, by itself cause a problem, but those who choose to use it purely, or tainted, to promote their own agenda, certainly can.

      Science exists whether we believe in it or not, and existed before anyone “discovered” it. If there were no followers of science we should perhaps all still be in caves eating raw food.

      • The science of evolution does not, by itself cause a problem, but those who choose to use it purely, or tainted, to promote their own agenda, certainly can.

        I know what you mean… I’m always tainting the science of gravity to promote my own agenda by dropping things on purpose.

      • Ann:
        Apparently you know next to nothing about Darwin, and not much more about Hitler.

        Eugenics was not an idea propounded by Darwin, or even in Darwin’s lifetime. So eugenicists were most definitely not “followers of Darwin.”

        Hitler’s eugenics didn’t conform to even the looniest level of bad science, because he was not interested in selecting for the hardiest genes, but merely for the “right” genes. That’s kind of an anti-evolutionary stance.

        So, using your logic, Hitler was an anti-Darwinian. Perhaps similar to you and your Creationist friends.

        As to your dim-witted response: What the hell do you mean by “a follower of fire”? That’s about the stupidest analogy I’ve ever seen.

      • The Bible is not excluded as one of the possible catalysts of Hitler’s actions. Tainted evolutionary science can be used by evolutionists or creationists-the post does not choose sides. There is nothing in these posts to suggest the author is “for Darwin” or “for creation”.
        To follow- to watch someone or something closely; to go as directed by something;to be or develop in accordance with something;to engage in activity

      • Ann: The fascists burned Origin of the Species. They did not burn the Bible. Hitler’s racist ideology was all about returning the German race to a mythical purity. A purity which never existed. A purity which he and his followers attempted to create through artificial selection — breeding humans the way humans breed dogs or horses.

        Science did not exist before it was discovered. Science is a process. Science is a specific way of looking at the natural world through observation and experimentation, a process of hypotheosis, experiment, refined hypotheosis, refined experiment, etc. The natural world existed before we, as humans, had a way of measuring and observing it. Science did not.

        Ildi: So you suffer from dropsy?

        Larry: Your first paragraph — and you sound surprised?

        Ann: When you refer to followers of Darwin it creates religious imagery. If that was not your intention you should use different phrasing.

  7. If the expression of the original author is to better the world by imparting information and ideas so as to promote the enlightenment of the offenders and thus prevent further harm and offer aid to the the innocent, then posts that use language to equate lack of knowledge with lack of intelligence, and express the desire to mete out punishment on those whose crimes are deemed by them to be worthy of wrath, surely narrow the gap between the perpetrators and the protectors.
    If we truly wish to correct the wrongs of this world, civil debate is necessary, and abolishment of those we consider evil replaced with the return to good. Bringing someone into knowledge and correct practice through nurturing and genuine concern for that person makes us part of the solution.

  8. My wife and i have found To Train Up A Child a most useful book. Admittedly the Schatzies went to far which shows a misunderstanding of Scripture and the Love of God on there part, but children are willful. They are disobedient. They are connivng. The are manipulative. If it is not nipped in the bud at a young age tehy grow up to become ciriminals or liberals or atheist bloggers 🙂

    I have not used the plumbing hose as my Wife told me that ws too much, but a belt, paddle, even a hand will cotrrect the child and put them on the path to obedeince, removing the manipulation and conniving from their person. They learn to not be willful but to obey. In this way when they become adults they will be obedient to God and to our Inspired Laws in America.

    • Beating is so much easier than reasoning.

      • How do you reason with a child? THey have no mind yet. They cannot think yet. Thaey cannot reason yet. They must be put on the correct path to Belief or they will be lost. If it is done right and done well it doesn’t need ot be done very often. My son is learning.

      • A corrective physical discipline is not a beeting. It is a teeching tool.

    • I have not used the plumbing hose as my Wife told me that ws too much

      If it was ever in doubt before, you have just proven that you’re one sick fuck.

    • Please explain why a rubber hose would be “too much” but a plank of wood is ideal for “putting then on the path to obedience”…personally a rubber hose sounds better than a 2×4…

      Also, what kind of a lesson does the beating teach? To not do bad things for fear of reprisal? What a lesson…

      • Where did I say I used a 2 by 4′? Stop lying. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Or did your atheist upbringing neglect not telling lies?

        A beating defeats the willfulness and disobedience nad opens the childs mind to the obedidience one myst render to God. It works. ANd ist is far less then the tormetns of hell facing an unrepentnent sinner who denies and hates God.

    • Matthew, you’re a sick freak, an animal, an abuser, and your pigwhore wife is the same.

      Die and rot in hell, you freaking monster.

  9. […] Wholesale Child Abuse « (((Billy))) The Atheist […]

  10. How do you reason with a child? THey have no mind yet. They cannot think yet. Thaey cannot reason yet. They must be put on the correct path to Belief or they will be lost. If it is done right and done well it doesn’t need ot be done very often. My son is learning.

    This is one of the scarier things I’ve read in a while. I keep thinking about that poor boy. Toddlers already have reasoning skills. When do you think a child gets a ‘mind?’ How can your son be learning if you believe that he cannot reason yet and cannot think yet? You’re just trying to break his will; he’s learning that you get your way through violence. This is how the cycle of physical abuse continues.

    A beating defeats the willfulness and disobedience nad opens the childs mind to the obedidience one myst render to God. It works. ANd ist is far less then the tormetns of hell facing an unrepentnent sinner who denies and hates God.

    Well, the beatings you received as a child seemed to have caused some brain damage…

  11. “Where did I say I used a 2 by 4′?”

    -“I have not used the plumbing hose as my Wife told me that ws too much, but a belt, paddle, even a hand will cotrrect the child and put them on the path to obedeince”

    –Sorry if I have misrepresented your position. What are the dimensions of the paddle you use? I googled “paddle dimensions” and what do you know, first link! Do you use something like the 1/2″ X 3″ “Mister Dude”? Too brutal? Getting too close to the damage a rubber hose would do? How about the “Sweet Spot”? At only 3/8″ thick, 3 and 3/4″ wide and 14″ long, that baby is sure to knock just the right amount of sense into those willful little beasts!

  12. I have used a ping pong paddle which is padded. I also have a thin wide paddle which is quite flexible and leaves no mark.

    When I was younger I strayed away from God. I became angry at God and became an atheist. I embraced that false religion even attending seances and solstice worships. I did not recieve the correction I needed to keep me on the path of Righteousness. I will not ALLOW my children anyo f them, to make the mistake I made. They will be brought through correction to the Love of God.

    Perhaps if your willfulness was corrected at a young age you would not be as angry with God as you are?

  13. Why are you picking on Matthew? He is showing the way that he raises his children so that they will not stray from the wordhip of God and the Love of God. I agree that if you had been properlyc orrected as a child you would not have started hating God or being mad at God. All children muyst be brought throught correction to the Love of God.

    Why pick on Matthew? This is a democracy and the Christian view is the majority?

  14. Jam:
    Why are you spamming (((Billy’s))) blog?

    • I smell sockpuppet.

  15. I am supporting a persecuted Christian. Just as you support the God haters and so called ahteists.

  16. Ildi: You are correct. Same IP address. I wasn’t familiar with the term sockpuppet until today. Thank you.

  17. I and my husband are adoptive parents. We have two sons, adopted from the foster care system. If we did ANYTHING even remotely close to what these ‘parents’ have been doing, not only would our children have been taken from our home, but we would be on trial for criminal abuse, among other things.

    Yet people like Matthew _approve_ of such parents, and _disapprove_ of my husband and me adopting children.

  18. Jam:
    What, pray tell, is an ahteist?

  19. Jam/Matthew:
    What, pray tell, is an ahteist?

  20. When the Schantzes are found guilty of murder, they should be publicly whipped.

    Agreed – and the Pearls along with them. And if we could include Matthew and his wife, I wouldn’t object at all.

    I don’t believe in the death penalty, so I can’t say “until they die,” but the whippings ought to be repeated for as long as they manage to stay alive — leaving them “without breath to complain.”

    I used to be against the death penalty, but I’ve come to favor it in cases of child abuse.

  21. Robert: Thanks for stopping by. And if they did get arrested, they would, most likely, claim persecution.

    Chappie: I doubt that he/they have a clue.

    Jeff: I get mixed emotions about the death penalty when it involves crimes against children.

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