People have asked two very good very good questions related to this--"Why aren't the promoters in prison yet?" and "How does this relate to dominionism?"
There are many reasons--the dominionist "parallel economy" is increasingly a large reason why, as is the reluctance to prosecute by CPS agencies--and even a few cases of quisling CPS agencies who see nothing wrong with this sort of abuse. Also--as incredulous as it may seem--in many cases, the promotion and even execution of this madness is legal--including the giving away of tools designed for abuse.
The "How does this relate to dominionism?" section
The relationship to dominionism is multifold. Among other things:
a) Some of the same folks promoting this are the very same groups promoting political dominionism--including some of its leaders.
b) A disturbing number of dominionist "parallel economy" institutions exist in part to protect religiously motivated child abusers.
Two leaders known for political dominionism and religiously motivated child abuse in particular are Bill Gothard and James Dobson.
Dobson in particular is head of Focus on the Family--one of the largest, at this point probably the largest, dominionist group in the United States if not the world. Dobson's empire includes a programs from his network being broadcast on practically every major dominionist "parallel economy" radio network of note; it also includes a book, media, and electioneering empire worth over $140 million dollars (according to their last form 990).
And yes, Focus on the Family very much engages in electioneering for dominionist candidates. In essence, they now hold the position that the Christian Coalition held in the dominionist community back in the 80s; much like the Christian Coalition, they've had their tax-exempt status threatened at least once as a result. (That threat led to the formation of the Family Research Council, now a separate organisation.)
FotF's primary electioneering has been through Focus On The Family Action: CitizenLink; FotF Action is a 501(c)4 that was spun off as an explicit electioneering arm of Focus on the Family (to try to save their 501(c)3 status when Federal investigators came sniffing around a second time). In violation of regs for both 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 groups, FotF Action CitizenLink regularly promotes electioneering for specific bills in Congress that are friendly towards dominionism. (I have multiple specific examples in the note on FotF's worth.)
FotF also promotes some rather explicit political content in its radio programming, which is often the primary source of radio news for dominionist families.
Bill Gothard's role in promotion of dominionism is not as obvious--but is definitely very much in play, if more insidiously. As has been noted previously, Gothard is heavily promoted in Assemblies circles, as recounted by an ex-Assemblies pastor who was literally driven out of his own congregation:
I was finally pulled out by a lovely woman who had heard that Jimmy Swaggert, at that time (early 1980's), was calling the UPC a cult. This woman got me involved in an AG Church in Bellevue, NE. From there I went to college and became a minister in the AG.
My first church was quite an experience. I was an associate working with 2 other associates and a workaholic senior pastor. One by one, the associates quit. I was the last to quit, being new and uninvolved with what was going on and absorbed in my own ministry with inner city children.
I didn't pay too much attention to what was happening until one day, my wife and I had had enough of the demands of trying to build this pastor's vision of having a 5000 member church. The 80 plus hour weeks almost flung us into divorce court. I resigned and was immediately called into a meeting with the elders.
The meeting was rough and during the meeting, I was accused of not coming under the umbrella of authority of the senior pastor (Bill Gothard teaching). One of the elders was a Gothard worshipper. This elder accused me of practicing witchcraft - he deduced that since I used illusions to illustrate Bible stories to the kids that I must be doing witchcraft because "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft".
The senior sat up in his chair and pointed his finger at me and said, "Do you realize that if you resign, God will curse you?" I almost fell off my chair! He suggested that if we left without his "blessing" then my wife could bleed to death! (My wife has a bleeding disorder.) We ended up leaving, but not without an all-church meeting. Everyone was invited to learn what was going on. I was made out to be the bad person - being rebellious and as this was going on during the time that Swaggert and Baker were national news; I was likened to the status of them.
This is particularly notable due to the Assemblies' status as the inventors of modern political dominionism.
Gothard, as previously noted, has been heavy into the "faith based initiatives" thing--infamously being responsible for running a highly abusive "Bible boot camp" in Indianapolis and more recently promoting dominionist "character education" courses in public schools.
Gothard's http://www.gentlespirit.com/gs6n10/HSH2.pdf">program for homeschoolers is especially explicit in its promotion of dominionism, as detailed in a history of the hijacking of home education by dominionists (again, of note, by a group friendly to the interest of legitimate home education).
Two other groups--HSLDA and ACPeds--also linked to protecting and sheltering the parties responsible for religiously motivated child abuse are also heavy promoters of dominionist causes themselves. (I have noted HSLDA's involvement in particular below; they are, among other things, closely connected with the LaHayes of Coalition on Revival, Concerned Women for America, CNP, and "Left Behind" infamy.)
The "Why the hell aren't they in jail?" section
People have asked a very good question in regards to the entire issue of dominionist child abuse, both in the home and in "Bible boot camp" type facilities:
Why the hell are these smegheads not in jail yet?
The sad thing is, there are some signifigant roadblocks even in regards to prosecution of regular child abuse cases (including a general assumption on the part of the court that the parents and parties the parents place in loco parentis usually know what is best for the kid and a pressure to not break up families).
There are, even more sadly, a plethora of issues that exist very specifically in regards to the type of "Bible-based" child abuse promoted in dominionist groups that complicate even finding out about abuse, much less prosecuting it:
a) Kids subject to "Bible-based" child abuse are, increasingly, being isolated from practically all mandatory reporters who are likely to actually report abuse.
You know the segments in my "dominionism's parallel economy" series on dominionist medical associations and especially dominionist alternatives to mainstream mental health groups? You know how increasingly there is a heavy, heavy push for dominionist parents to pull their kids out of the public and even private school systems in favour of dominionist correspondence-schooling promoted as "Christian homeschools"?
Those aspects of the dominionist "parallel economy" take on a very, very frightening aspect in that schools, mental health professionals, and pediatricians are often the three main groups of "mandatory reporters" (outside of the church) that a kid in a dominionist household is ever likely to see in their childhood...and all three are being very systematically shut out, with "parallel economy" alternatives explicitly promoted in dominionist circles as ways to avoid prosecution for child abuse.
We've already seen (to a frightening degree this week) how "Bible boot camps" and other dominionist "parallel economy" alternatives to mental health facilities are extremely abusive in practice (some responders actually compared the conditions to Abu Ghraib); pediatricians in dominionist circles aren't much better. From the post on dominionist "parallel economy" alternatives to the legit American Academy of Pediatrics:
And here, we get to focus in detail on the first of the dominionist "parallel economy" medical groups--the American College of Pediatricians.
(T)heir positions on things are...shall we say...more than a bit skewed towards dominionist positions that most legit doctors would probably find a bit horrifying.
Among other fun statements:
. . .
2) ACPeds has literally lobbied the UN to exempt almost all physical punishment from the UN's working groups on child violence. This is not surprising, seeing as:
3) ACPeds actively promotes the works of James Dobson, a leading promoter of religiously motivated child abuse. They also have used info from Family Research Council to promote the idea of Bible-based baby-beating.
(Seriously, it is very hard to overstate how bad this is. Physicians are mandatory reporters for child abuse, and are often the first (and increasingly only) persons outside of closed communities to see signs of abuse. There is a very real risk that ACPeds docs will not report religiously motivated child abuse (not seeing it as abusive); already, dominionist groups are referring parents explicitly to ACPeds pediatricians as a method of avoiding reports of religiously motivated child abuse, and seeing as it is almost impossible otherwise for kids in abusive dominionist households to report abuse without being subject to retaliatory abuse by other mandatory reporters such as pastors--there is a very real risk that these kids will in fact not have abuse reported at all (with potentially very serious or even fatal consequences--religiously motivated child abuse is one of the horrible, dark secrets of dominionism today.)
Sadly, it's not just pediatricians (which are, I'm afraid, probably the last reliable "mandatory reporter" most dominionists' kids come in contact with).
Dominionist "homeschooling" groups as well as dominionist private schools actively advertise that they not only practice religiously motivated beatings themselves but that parents wishing to use even fairly extreme methods of religiously motivated child abuse can do so with near impunity. In fact, many of the most egregrious offenders in regards to promotion of "Bible-based" child abuse (including the Pearls, the Ezzos, and Tedd Tripp's literature) are promoted primarily in dominionist "homeschool" support groups.
In fact, dominionist homeschooling associations actively will coach their members on how to handle visits from child welfare agencies if a concerned neighbour tips off CPS:
Scenario 2: In which the agent encounters a prepared parent, aware of his rights.
[It is 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and a knock comes at the door. WISE opens the door and finds an agent from Child Welfare Services on the doorstep.]
WISE: Can I help you?
ORWELL: Yes, are you Mr./Mrs. Wise? I work with the local social services agency. There's been an allegation made that you've been abusing and neglecting your children....
WISE: Wait a minute. Do you have a business card? We don't just talk to anybody. We want to know who you are, and that, in fact, you work there. Do you have a card, sir?
ORWELL: Uh, yes, just a minute....but, I want you to understand that this is a very important matter. As you can see, I'm from the Department of Social Services.....
WISE: Hmmmm. [Reads name on card.] How long have you been working there?
ORWELL: I ask the questions here. You've been turned in for abusing and neglecting your children.
WISE: Well, what are the allegations specifically?
ORWELL: I'm not in a position to share those with you until I have met with each of your children privately for questioning. After I've talked with them, then I'll tell you.
WISE: Well, I appreciate your interest, and I too, want to get to the bottom of this. I assure you, nothing is going on. There's nothing that we're hiding here. However, I can't even proceed until I know of what I'm being accused.
ORWELL: As I said, I am not going to tell you the allegations until I meet with your children. If you're not willing to cooperate, I'll have to get a police officer. If necessary, we'll obtain a search warrant or court order, and we'll come back and talk to each one of your children privately. It would be much easier though if you cooperated with us here and now, so that we could avoid the unpleasantness of bringing in the police. What's it going to be?
WISE: Well, you obviously have to do what you need to do, and I'm not in a position to stop you. However, you'd be making a major mistake, and I'd hate to see you get in trouble over something like this. As I said I am more than happy to work this out. We'd be glad to meet with you. But I do need to talk to my attorney first. We could possibly set up a mutually convenient time when we could meet to resolve this. But right now, I can't let you into my home. I don't even know what the accusations are!
ORWELL: Good day, then, I'll be back.
WISE: I've got your card here, and I'll call you as soon as I have contacted my attorney.
[After the social worker leaves, the prepared parent calls HSLDA and gets counsel for the next meeting with the social worker. The prepared parent is able to do this because he joined HSLDA as a member in advance! The HSLDA attorney will generally call the social worker on behalf of the member family. He will find out the allegations and try to resolve the situation. If he can't resolve it over telephone, he will set the parameters for a meeting. This meeting is never held in the home, but rather in a designated place away from the home. The HSLDA attorney prepares the parent on what to say at the meeting and recommends bringing a witness or a tape recorder.]
[It is now another day, and the social worker meets with the prepared parent to follow up.]
WISE: Well, it's good to see you again. I understand now that you can let us know what the allegations are.
ORWELL: All right. We received a telephone call from a person who was "concerned because the children were all thin. This person thought that the removal of food was probably a form of child discipline and was under the impression that this discipline may have been a practice of your religion - some "born-again" ideology, or something. The caller cited that the parents give a lot of money to the church and spend little money on groceries, and the caller also mentioned that the mother home schools her children." [This comment is in quotation marks because it came from an actual case.] Are these allegations true?
WISE: They are not true --except for the fact that we are homeschooling our children and we are born again. Do you know what born again means?
ORWELL: Uh....no, but...
WISE: Let me explain. You see, in John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus he must be "born-again" in order to enter the kingdom of God. Since the wages of sin is death, we all need a Savior. Do you know where you are going when you die?
ORWELL: Look, are your children healthy?
WISE: You bet!!
ORWELL: Do they eat enough food?
WISE: Yes. We believe children are a gift of the Lord, and as a result, we have to take care of them, giving them the best possible. Part of that is how we feed them - we make sure they have plenty of nutritious food to eat.
ORWELL: Do you ever deprive them of food as part of your religion, or part of your born-again beliefs, or part of your child discipline, or any of that?
WISE: No, we don't. We can, as our attorney has probably told you, offer you references from individuals in the community who would vouch for the good care we give our children.
ORWELL: Now you realize that we are going to have to have your children meet with our physicians so that they can evaluate whether or not the children have been properly fed.
WISE: I've talked to our attorney about that also, and we have already had our children go to see our personal family physician, and he is putting his report in writing for you. Our children have a clean bill of health.
ORWELL: That report does not remove the need for me to personally interview your children.
WISE: Well, I think we went over this before, but our position is that we cannot take that risk. Besides, we've already provided this other information so that you can really close this file because you're going to have references from individuals, the doctor's report, and our own assurance that everything is fine. The reason we don't want you to talk to our children, frankly, is because we don't trust the system. We're aware of statistics that show that 60% of children that are removed from home by the social welfare system shouldn't have been upon later review. We just can't take that risk because sometimes those children are put into foster homes where they are abused. So it has noting to do with hiding anything, it's just that we care so much for our children that we can't take the risk. We don't know you.
ORWELL: Everyone else cooperates, Mr./Mrs. Wise. If you have nothing to hide, then why are you hiding so hard?
WISE: As I said, we'd be more than happy to cooperate if you could guarantee that you would find this "unfounded." But since you can't, and we don't know how you're going to interpret this, and the studies show that many, many families' statements are misinterpreted, how can we take that risk? Would you take that risk with your children?
ORWELL: [Hesitates in knowing how to respond.]
WISE: Please understand, we appreciate your great interest in our family. We know you're just doing your job, and sometimes that can put a person between a rock and a hard place. But we've got certain rights that we talked to out attorney about. We have the right of privacy which comes under the Fourth Amendment which protects us from state officials coming into our home at will, and we're standing on that right. Are you familiar with the Fourth Amendment?
ORWELL: Uh...we did not learn about the Fourth Amendment in Social Workers School. However, I am familiar with the Second Amendment....do you have any guns in your house?
WISE: That's really irrelevant. I'll take the Fifth on that one.
ORWELL: Let's talk about your homeschooling. I have to see your curriculum and facilities. I need to verify that you have enough light for these children to read. For all I know, you're ruining their eyesight by reading to them on a couch or something.
WISE: Well, I've talked to my attorney again about this, and we are legal. We're legally home schooling, and in this state, we're allowed to home school. We've followed the necessary requirements under the law. If you have a problem with this, you need to let the school district know because it's not really in your jurisdiction. Meanwhile, our attorney would be glad to send you a letter verifying the legality of home schooling.
ORWELL: Just because you're legal doesn't mean you're not neglecting your children.
WISE: If you have a problem with our educational program, you'll need to contact the local superintendent. We're on file. I can assure you that we're educating our children. It's part of our religious beliefs. We must teach our children to the best of our ability so that they can become productive citizens. Our philosophy is to provide them the best quality education that we possibly can.
ORWELL: Look, I have specific charges against you: You're starving your children, you're giving all your money away, your neglecting their education, and you're not willing to cooperate with me.
WISE: As I stated, we are going to provide you evidence so that you can find the allegations "unfounded." We're going to provide a statement from our doctor and various references. You have our word on it, and we're known in the community. Besides, we base our decisions in our family on the Scriptures, where we are clearly instructed that "if you harm one of these little ones, it's better a millstone be tied around your neck and be thrown in the deepest part of the ocean." That's a responsibility we take seriously in raising our little ones - that God would hold us accountable - in fact, we would be sinning before Him if we harmed them in any way in discipline, or withholding food as we've been accused of...we would never do those things.
ORWELL: Mr./Mrs. Wise, look, I can tell that you're sincere. I don't know....I'm really concerned about this situation. I wish you would cooperate with us instead of making our jobs so difficult.
WISE: Let me assure you. We care for our children, too, and we appreciate your care. And I believe that you will find this can all be resolved and you can put on file that it is "unfounded." In fact, we'd like something in writing, describing your finding. By tomorrow we should be able to get that statement from our doctor, so we just ask that you hold off any further decision until you can look at this. And if there's still a problem, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
ORWELL: It's obvious that you're not willing to do anything more than you've done. So I'll look at your doctor's report...I just want to say, for the record, that this kind of attitude is what makes it so hard for us to protect children. While you may be very sincere, there are real kids out there who are getting hurt. Your way of dealing with this matter ties us up with lawyers and reports when we should be resolving serious crisis. Good day, Mr./Mrs. Wise.
(Disturbingly, this is from a dominionist "homeschooler" group focusing on the needs of special-ed kids. One of the things that is emphasized in that entire screed is that the CPS workers are not allowed to contact the kids at any time lest they get any info that may reveal signs of abuse.)
In regards to the "HSLDA" mentioned above--that would be a dominionist group known as the Home School Legal Defense Association. (We will focus in a future segment on how they are in fact a dominionist group masquerading as a homeschooling defense organisation--suffice it to say that they've supported explicitly dominionist causes in past and have deliberately tried to lock inclusive homeschoolers (that include non-dominionist homeschoolers like "unschoolers") out of state recognition as a legit form of home education. Homeschooling Is Legal (a site set up by a legit, inclusive home educator's association who details the explicit dominionist agenda of HSLDA) has much more info.)
And as it turns out, HSLDA is one of the very groups seeking to gut the present protections that kids have under the law (and make it next to impossible for CPS agencies to investigate religiously motivated child abuse). In fact, much of its recruiting is via the use of scare tactics to literally frighten home educators into joining by using fear of CPS visits:
Words That Strike Terror:
* "A truant officer is at the door. He pushes his way in. He will not leave until he can take your children to the public school..."
* "A police officer is at your door with an arrest warrant to take your six year-old child..."
* "The local public school official insists that your home school arrangement is not legal and threatens you with criminal charges..."
* "More and more frequently, home schoolers are turned in on child abuse hotlines to social services agencies."
These scenarios were presented on the first page of the Dealing With Social Services Contacts section of the fall 1999 HSLDA Support Group Seminar workbook, below the heading, "The Social Worker at Your Door."
The Seminar workbook also contained two lengthy fear-inducing skits titled "How to Handle Visits from Social Service Agents," by HSLDA attorney Christopher J. Klicka. According to the document, these skits have been performed at homeschooling conventions since 1993. The characters' names are "Orwell" the Child Welfare Services worker, "Innocent" the hapless homeschooling parent, and "Eager-to-Please," a homeschooled child.
The skit begins with "Innocent" opening the door to "Orwell's" knock, and learning that the Welfare agency has received a report that the "children are being abused or neglected."
By page 4, "Orwell" tells "Innocent" that the Welfare worker must view the children stripped, "so I can see if they have any bruises."
Portraying these scenes incites the kind of fear that propels homeschoolers to buy what they perceive as legal protection: membership in an oganization such as HSLDA. Frightening sketches invoke visions of authorities run amok whisking our children away, but even HSLDA admits that homeschoolers are highly unlikely to face such predicaments.
(Part of that skit is included above.)
I had noted above HSLDA promotes some pretty explicitly dominionist causes. Among dominionist causes HSLDA has officially lobbied for are DOMA laws and amendments including on a federal level; various laws restricting "partial birth" abortions (which were rare to begin with); pushing for John Ashcroft's nomination (Ashcroft is probably the most explicitly dominionist Attorney-General we have ever had and has very, very extensive connections to the Assemblies of God); fighting the ratification of a UN convention on chemical weapons; and even stumping for a Constitution Party candidate:
The Case of Michael New
In 1995, HSLDA was criticized for representing 22 year old, home schooled Texan Michael New who refused to wear "a UN insignia on his sleeve and wear a UN blue baseball cap". (Cliff Kincaid, "Patriotic GI Gets Taste of Clinton 'Justice'," Human Events Magazine, Vol. 52, Issue 4, February 2, 1996, page 1.) Michael New was found guilty of failure to obey a lawful order and dishonorably discharged. ("Michael New Convicted" Home School Court Report, Vol. 12, No.1, page 21.) He is appealing his discharge and his defense team includes lead counsel Ronald Ray, David S. Sullivan, attorneys Henry L. Hamilton, Michael Farris, and Herb Titus. Michael Farris continues to use HSLDA's address and phone number as his own on Mr. New's court filings. (Institute for Media Education Distribution, First Principles Press, P.O. Box 1136, Crestwood, KY 40014; 1-800-837-0544; fax; 502.241.1552.)
While Michael New does not fit the description of a homeschool family whose homeschool is challenged by authorities, the political implications of Michael Farris choosing to represent him are difficult to ignore. In 1996, Michael New nominated Howard Phillips for President at the U.S. Taxpayers Party convention in San Diego, California. Phillips then named Herb Titus, another of Michael New's attorneys, as his Vice Presidential running mate. ("Taxpayers Party Picks Howard Phillips Again", Human Events Magazine, Vol. 51, Issue 33, 8/30/96, page 7.) Herb Titus is a strict dominionist (or reconstructionist) fired by Pat Robertson in 1993 from his post as dean of Regent University's School of Law. (Alan Foege, op. cit., page 176.) Michael New's father, Daniel, is the Chairman of the U.S. Taxpayers party in Texas and former primary candidate for U. S. Congress.
In 1995 HSLDF gave the Michael New Defense Fund a $1,000 contribution. (Home School Legal Defense Foundation, Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, individuals or organizations receiving money as a grant or contribution 1995.) In 1996 the Michael New Defense Fund received $9,607 in contributions from HSLDF. (Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Internal Revenue Service, HSLDF, 1996.)
In 1996, Daniel New ran for the U.S. Congress in the 8th district of Texas, but was defeated in the Republican primary. Howard Phillips was a contributor and a recipient of campaign disbursements in Mr. New's bid for office through his T. C. Concepts organization. (Report of Receipts and Disbursements, Daniel New, Texas Ethics Commission, Disclosure Filings Division, P.O. Box 12070, Austin, TX 78711-2070.)
Kentucky Attorney Ronald Ray has set up a legal defense fund for Mr. New that solicits homeschoolers (and other conservative groups) for donations. (Michael New's Petition Denied, Home School Court Report, Vol., 12, No. 4 page 4.) HSLDA has also participated in soliciting funds for Mr. New's defense through their Court Report publication.
On March 12, 1997 the New Action Fund of Conroe, TX issued a press release announcing that "the U. S. Court of Appeals has denied the Department of Defense's request to throw S.P.C. Michael New's case out with a 'summary affirmation' and has granted New a full hearing. Michael Farris is head of the Home School Legal Defense Association, and is New's lead attorney in the civilian courts." ("New Appeal Granted", press release, New Action Fund, Conroe TX, March 10, 1997. For more information contact (540) 338-1835 or Daniel New (409) 539-1917.)
(I've written rather extensively on the Constitution Party--formerly known as the US Taxpayer's Party--here. Suffice it to say that the Constitution Party is as close as one gets to an official Christian Reconstructionist political party in the US.)
As it turns out, HSLDA's leader is also a major player in dominionist circles, specifically as a member of the Council for National Policy (reportedly HSLDA pays his membership dues). HSLDA itself supports a whole plethora of causes totally unrelated to home education including truly tinfoil-hatter claims in regards to United States Census surveys and sections on how to opt out of immunisation requirements; they also offer info on how to make sure homeschooled kids still get their SSI checks. (In fact, if people want to know what HSLDA has lobbied Congress on in past, they have a convenient page for that too.)
There is probably a good reason why HSLDA caters to the "Left Behind" fandom--HSLDA founder Michael Farris has very, very close links with Tim and Beverly LaHaye who are central to the modern wave of dominionism and may have in fact been formative in some of the earliest political dominionist groups.
Another site aimed at dominionists (the page is from a dominionist group called "Child Protection Reform" which wishes to utterly gut child protection laws) also gives explicit coaching to "homeschool" kids to hide signs of religiously motivated child abuse and also advises people to pick dominionist "parallel economy" counselors who are likely to approve of religiously motivated child abuse:
Step 2: Be careful in your application of physical discipline
* Regardless of what's right, of your own past experiences, of anything you believe – understand the system, in the words of one counselor we've contacted, "clearly hates spanking. The system wants spanking eliminated from the face of the Earth." In using physical discipline, you are indeed in the mainstream. You are also at odds with the governing elite. They're convinced they know best. They will get you if they can. They won't be sorry.
* Don't spank in public. A classic is the "grocery store parking lot spanking". Some busybody Boomer is sure to get your license plates. And the cops, lacking serious bad guys to chase, will be waiting for you at home.
* Don't spank in ways that leave bruises. The system treats a welt on the posterior with the same seriousness as a cigarette burn, a broken bone, or a severe beating. State laws provide NO distinction between a single mark from legitimate discipline, and devastating injuries from willful, sustained torture.
Step 3: Protect yourself
* If, Heaven forbid, you do bruise your child – do NOT allow him/her to attend school the next day. Services to Children and Families (SCF) indoctrinates teachers to turn OFF the brain and get ON the phone to report "any" suspected child abuse. As mandatory reporters, teachers are told they are at serious risk of prosecution for not reporting. That is not true. However, most teachers believe it is true; they will act accordingly.
* If you spank, strongly consider taking your kids out of public schools. Statistics verify what we've been told by SCF caseworkers: most reports of child abuse come from public school teachers. Further, a recent study of Oregon SCF indicated the agency regularly questions and removes children from public schools without parental permission or notification. If you choose to homeschool, spend the $100 to join the Home School Legal Defense Association. They have a website: www.hslda.org
* Be an active member of a community of faith. Your local church or synagogue is a family of faith who will come to your aid in your time of need. They are the second part of your support network. Through prayer and physical support, fellow Christians will prevent far greater damage to your family.
. . .
Step 4: Respond to the attack
. . .
* Comply fully with any ordered counseling. If the idea of being at the mercy of some bearded, Marxist counselor makes you wretch, realize you have a choice of counselors. Pick a good one. Fully attending all counseling doubles the chance your child will be returned to you, according to Oregon 1995 stats.
Lest anyone doubt the site's agenda:
Isn't a bruise from
discipline, clearly abuse?
Most system professionals say, "yes.". They are mistaken.
Consider the following:
* Balanced, thorough studies show spanking in loving homes has not been shown to cause
long-term emotional damage, and that charges of spanking as abuse are junk science. Visit an excellent site for more information.
* System professionals also say it's okay for a mother to hire a man to crush her newborn's skull, then suck out its brains (conduct a late-term abortion). If society is going to place any stock in what system professionals think, shouldn't it at least demand a little consistency?
* The "bruise as abuse" position lacks historical standing. Only since the late 1960's has a hard spanking been defined as a crime. Hundreds of generations of bright, happy adults have grown up with some variant of "spare the rod, spoil the child". This includes the much-respected WWII generation, and may even include your own. Was spanking then so wrong?&
* None of the world's major religions say so; Like it or not, God pretty clearly says a bruise given during legitimate punishment is okay. After all, He gave His own Son to the cross.
Consider the Doctrine of Competing Harms: SCF intervention doesn't start with a nice
grandmotherly social worker asking if she can help. It most often begins with sudden,
forcible removal by law enforcement, which nearly always causes serious, lasting
psychological trauma to parent and child alike.
Finally, in America, spanking is legal. More than half of all parents spank. Numerous polls reveal most adults believe spanking is sometimes necessary. We need to acknowledge no parent comes with a calibrated arm.
(Let's review: apparently the existence of third-trimester abortions (and the "partial birth" abortion of which they speak is actually illegal now in the US) and the crucifixion of Christ make religiously motivated child abuse OK; one is in fact Biblically mandated to use abusive forms of discipline; things like broken bones can be dismissed as "not everyone has a calibrated arm"; and discredited studies from the Family Research Council (a dominionist group) are used as well as a UK study promoting the return of caning in public schools. Of note, the FRC is a sister-org of Focus on the Family (and originally started out as FotF's electioneering wing); needless to say, they are quite a bit in support of religiously motivated child abuse.)
Ministers are certainly not a safe bet in regard to mandatory reporters (which they are in 25 states)--not only do dominionist ministers typically not report abuse, quite often they are the very promoters of religiously motivated child abuse (Michael Pearl, among others, is a pastor of a small church) and all too often ministers of dominionist churches target kids for abuse themselves for reporting:
The pastor of an Elgin church has been charged with battery after it was alleged that he repeatedly used a piece of wood to discipline a 12-year-old girl.
Police said the girl's mother took her to the pastor because she doubted the girl's claim that she was being sexually abused by another man.
. . .
Elgin police said Thursday they believe the girl's original allegations are true. On Wednesday they charged Daryl Bujak, 30, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, with misdemeanor battery. He was released after posting $500 bail. He has a June 16 court appearance in the Elgin branch of Kane County Circuit Court, said police Lt. Mike Turner.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "It's a sad case for this girl."
. . .
Bujak's church, at 385 Silver St. in Elgin, describes itself as a fundamentalist and independent Baptist congregation.
Elgin police said the girl's parents took her to the church after she alleged she was being sexually abused.
Bujak told the parents that she was lying and privately disciplined the girl on Wednesday evenings between March and May of 2005. The girl, now 13, was struck with a 3-foot strip of wood molding, causing welts and bruises on her legs and buttocks, according to police and the girl's mother.
"He took her in the ladies room, across from his office," the mother said in an interview Thursday. "I was downstairs in the Fellowship Hall." Afterward, the mother said, "Her face was red, and I could see that she'd been crying.
In other words...increasingly, kids in families that practice religiously motivated child abuse may not have anyone--save for the neighbours--that they can even safely report things to in the first place. And especially if the moms promote "tomato staking" and families live in heavily dominionist towns--kids may not even have that option.
b) There is a considerable bias against reporting religiously motivated child abuse.
Among other things, one of the legitimate fears is that First Amendment lawsuits will be filed against CPS agencies who remove kids from homes on the basis of allegations of religiously motivated child abuse. As noted previously, HSLDA is especially notable in filing lawsuits against child welfare agencies; there are also explicit dominionist "parallel economy" alternatives to civil rights groups (like the American Center for Law and Justice and Alliance Defense Fund) which are all too willing to take cases of this type in the courts.
Partly because these cases very rapidly are promoted for their "martyr status" value (both in dominionist publications produced by CWFA, AFA, and FotF CitizenLink and on shows like Bill O'Reilly's as evidence of "the war against Christianity"), many CFS agencies are understandably very reluctant to make themselves targets.
c) There is a considerable bias against adolescent reporting of abuse.
Too often, people who make their initial reports of child abuse in adolescence are seen as malingerers by CPS agencies--it's assumed the kid is going through an "I hate my parents" phase rather than the kid being in a situation for the first time that they have access to a mandatory reporter who may take them seriously.
As a result, kids who report abuse as teens are often directed to very inappropriate forms of "resolution" like family therapy (which is not likely to be effective in the case of religiously motivated child abuse) rather than getting the kid out of a potentially dangerous situation.
In the case of "Bible-based boot camps" and "degaying facilities", this is often sufficiently serious of a problem that kids have to literally run away from home for their own protection (thus putting them in danger related to living on the streets) or--increasingly--file for legal emancipation as the only way to protect themselves from an environment that can be potentially lethal.
d) CPS agencies are often not aware of religiously motivated child abuse.
In particular, they are not in general aware that there is a definite "adolescent reporting" bias (because most of these kids do not in general realise they grew up in an abusive household); they are not in general aware that family therapy is wildly inappropriate; and they are not in general aware that even things like parenting classes and conventional therapy are likely to be rejected by the parents (due to the parents feeling they literally have a biblical mandate to abuse their kids).
In general, this parallels a general lack of understanding in society of specific issues relating to coercive religious groups in general. (Of note, even researchers into coercive religious groups have not in general paid much attention to the issue of multigenerational walkaways until recently, and there is much research in progress. One of the things being found out is that there are often comorbid conditions causing complex PTSD (religiously motivated child abuse and the initial cultic environment) and one of the biggies that survivors deal with is in fact resocialisation issues.)
e) In some areas--sadly--police and CPS agencies may be sympathetic to abusers.
in many areas of the country, parties investigating religiously-motivated abuse may themselves be sympathisers and dominionists (this is not uncommon in the midwest US, where they may see this as merely "tough love" discipline and in some cases people have been recommended to send their children to coercive "boot camp" facilities like Love In Action or the WWASPS facilities).
One of the most blatant examples is the DPS chief in Missouri--this is the head of the agencies who would be doing initial investigation of most child abuse. (Of note, Missouri also has some of the most lax laws in the US in regards to "Bible-based boot camps"--they are almost totally unregulated.)
Not only that, but in areas with large dominionist influence the existing laws on the books either have large enough loopholes to sail the HMS Queen Mary II through or are extremely laxly enforced. An example is the following list of Tennessee Department for Youth and Families intake records where it was specified in section D(1)(b) that "developmentally-appropriate, discipline-related marks and bruises on the buttocks or legs" of children over 5 should not be regarded as evidence of abuse. (The same agency also eventually ruled that the Love In Action/Refuge facility had "insufficient evidence" of abuse; it was eventually the state medical licensure board that got them shut down for operation of a mental health facility without a license.)
Another document, this from the state of Colorado, states that whacking adolescents with the metal buckle of a belt used in flogging is permissible.
f) Dominionists are actively working to gut existing laws and prevent new laws from being passed.
An example of a website run by dominionist groups working to gut existing laws in the US is Family Rights Association; we've mentioned the role of HSLDA and Child Protection Reform in attempts to gut laws. Many of the major dominionist groups--notably Focus on the Family and Family Research Council--have also explicitly lobbied to remove the very few protections kids have.
Dominionist interference with child protection laws isn't just limited to the US. The United States and Somalia are the two solitary countries that have not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Somalia has the valid excuse that the country (outside of Somaliland and Puntland) has been in a state of anarchy since 1992.
The US does not have that excuse. The sad truth is that the reason the US hasn't signed on yet is because dominionists object to a section stating children have the right to grow up without being subjected to abuse--and this might slam the doors on the "Bible-based" baby-beating industry:
"States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and education measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programs to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement."
Needless to say, dominionist groups do not like this. So far, they have been successful at keeping the US as the only nation with a functioning government in the world to not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
One of the big opponents has been, not surprisingly, none other than the same HSLDA that promotes dominionist home-education as a way to avoid CPS investigations:
If ratified by the U.S. Senate, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child would undermine families by granting to children a list of radical "rights" which would be primarily enforced against the parents. These new "fundamental" rights would include "the right to privacy," "the right to freedom of thought and association," and the right to "freedom of expression." Such presumptions subvert the authority of parents to exercise important responsibilities toward their children. Under the UN Convention, parental responsibility exists only in so far as parents are willing to further the independent choices of the child.
. . .
Severe Limitations Placed on the Parents' Right to Train Their Children
Under Article 13, any attempts to prevent their children from interacting with material parents deem unacceptable is forbidden. Children are vested with a " freedom of expression" right, which is virtually absolute. No allowance is made for parental guidance. Section 1 declares a child's right to "seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice."
In Article 14, children are guaranteed " freedom of thought, conscience and religion." Children have a legal right to object to all religious training. Alternatively, children may assert their right against parental objection to participate in the occult.
Article 15 declares "the right of the child to freedom of association." Parents could be prevented from forbidding their child to associate with people deemed to be objectionable companions. Under Article 15, children could claim a "fundamental" right to join gangs, cults, and racist organizations over parental objection.
The Convention Would Entrench the Right of Teenagers to Abort Their Babies
Under Article 16, the "right to privacy" is granted to children. This UN sanctioned "privacy" would seemingly establish as the child's right to obtain an abortion without parental notice, the right to purchase and use contraceptives, and the right to pornography in the home.
New Bureaucracies Would Be Created to Monitor Families
Article 19 mandates the creation of an intensive bureaucracy for the purpose of "identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment, and follow-up" of parents who, in violation of the child's rights, treat their children negligently.
To insure State and U.N. control over their development, Article 7 requires all children must be immediately registered at birth.
A Prohibition On Corporal Punishment
Articles 3, 19, 37 require all ratifying countries to protect children from "degrading punishment" and "physical violence" which includes corporal punishment. The U.N. Committee of Ten (pursuant to Article 44) must oversee the implementation of the treaty. Over the last several years, the Committee published reports criticizing several countries (including Canada and Great Britain) for allowing corporal punishment to continue.
(HSLDA seems to fail to realise that registration of children is already mandatory at birth in the US--states require the issuance of birth certificates. Many dominionist families do not register their kids for Social Security cards (so as to avoid "the number of the beast"); there is a push in some circles for home births; I've not yet heard of a push to not have a kid issued a birth certificate, but I honestly would not be surprised to find this out either.)
This is sadly not an uncommon sentiment; at least one page aiming UN conspiracy theory at the "Left Behind" reader crowd (who largely think the UN is satanic anyways) has promoted similar folderol.
g) Tools of abuse are as close as the local hardware store and are even available for free online.
I had joked in my last post in regards to "Bible-based" child abuse as to whether Lowe's or Home Depot would have to start registries for buying plumbing equipment (similar to those used to track purchases of Sudafed).
The sad truth is, pretty much that is all that is needed--if that much (in suburban areas, it's not uncommon to make kids pull their own "switches" from trees and bushes--or for parents to make their own "chastening rods" from felled branches).
Much of the reason that the site Stop The Rod exists is because the founder of the site (a "Christian homeschooler" mother, though apparently not a dominionist homeschooler) was horrified to see marketing of various "chastening devices" in "Christian" homeschooling circles. (Very often these would be sold with Tedd Tripp's or Richard Fugate's material as instructions for use.)
The sad thing is, parents don't even have to pay for this stuff--a site calling itself Spare Rods actually gives away large paddles as "chastening devices" complete with "appointment slips" and instructions for use. (Lest one doubt these types of paddles are dangerous, a five-year-old kid was recently killed by being beaten to death by a paddle.)
As of right now, promotion and sale (and giveaways) of these devices is all too legal.
h) Compared to other forms of child abuse, there is a high risk for persons committing religiously motivated child abuse to target multiple kids and to fail to comply with instructions in CPS hearings due to specific circumstances that do not exist in "conventional" child abuse.
One thing that makes religiously motivated child abuse especially difficult to treat is that, in many cases, the system of abuse is in fact tied into a larger "culture of abuse" that mandates that children be subjected to abusive forms of discipline as a literal divine mandate. These same churches also often teach that civil authority may be disobeyed if it comes in conflict with "God's commandments".
In other words, even if CPS does successfully manage to contact the kid, does manage to get a hearing, and does manage to get a consent decree with parents--the parents are very likely to keep on doing what they will when CPS isn't looking, because they very much believe that if they do not knock the hell out of their kids their children will be utterly ruined and doomed both in the physical and spiritual realms. It's often taught that kids will not only become criminals and "wastrels" if not beaten, but that they will become non-dominionists and even actively on the side of the devil--an even worse fate, as far as dominionists are concerned.
In fact, part of why dominionist groups so insistently promote abusive forms of discipline and are among the most likely to sue CPS agencies if a prosecution ensues is that they literally believe--very sincerely--that CPS is in fact endangering their kid (to both become a statistic in either the criminal or rehab systems and--worse yet--to burn in Hell, be "left behind", etc.). In their minds, to risk their kid's exposure to Outside risks the ultimate annihilation of their kids in both body and spirit.
Ironically, this makes it even more important to get the kids out of those situations.
And things you can do to help
I am not one for dumping this metric tonne of horridly depressing stuff on DailyKos for no good reason
Among other things, I think you guys and gals can actually help out. :3
So I am providing a little bit of homework for you all. :3 Here's a list of action items:
1) Contact your congresscritters and ask them to support laws banning sale of "chastening rods". Rep. Ed Markey has a bit of example legislation that needs cosponsors that would essentially ban the sale of "chastening rods" and similar devices used for religiously motivated child abuse under consumer product safety regs. Stop The Rod, a group working to spread awareness of religiously motivated child abuse (and, equally, the fact that most Christians do not support this being done in their names), has a handy form to automatically contact your legislator about this.
2) Ask your congresscritters to reintroduce--and vote for--an HR 1738-type bill regulating the "Bible-based boot camp" industry. HR 1738 (introduced by Rep. George Miller (CA) in 2005, so it may well need reintroduction) is also a bill that would essentially shut down the more abusive "Bible-based boot camps"--among other things, it prohibits sending US national kids to offshore facilities and requires states set up regulation of "behaviour modification" facilities and children's homes (with mandatory inspection, including federal funding). You can also contact your congresscritter in regards to reintroducing HR 1738 at ISAC's website.
3) On a state level, contact your state reps to pass state level versions of HR 1738 and Markey's bill; also work with state General Assembly folks to get rid of the wide "religious exemption" loopholes in regards to child protection laws.
1) Inform and educate your state and county child protective services agencies about religiously motivated child abuse--including the special circumstances that are involved with abusive methods of discipline promoted in dominionist groups.
2) Support advocacy groups working to inform and protect kids. Advocacy groups that really deserve your time include ISAC, Children's Safe Passage Foundation, http://www.teenadvocatesusa.homestead.com/">Teen Advocates USA, Project NoSpank (which is a general anti-corporal-punishment group, but which is involved in a great deal of awareness activity in regards to religiously motivated child abuse), Stop The Rod, and others.
3) Warn folks about abusive childrearing practices. Among other things, reviews warning about the content of books promoting religiously motivated child abuse can be given at Amazon (and in fact Stop The Rod provides links to review forms for practically all of the books it has reviewed); another tactic is (if you know anyone who is using these forms of abuse) is to steer them to alternative methods of discipline like "Grace-Based Discipline" (a non-abusive form of discipline increasingly promoted in "Christian Mommy" circles as an alternative to religiously motivated child abuse). Stop the Rod in particular has a good resource list for people who know "soft dominionists" who might be amenable to gentler forms of "Christian parenting".
4) Support groups fighting dominionism in general. As much of this is tied into the theological bases for dominionism (especially Gothard's obsession with "authority"), it helps to make people aware that this is a parenting practice primarily promoted in dominionist churches. I have a good list of blogs on the right hand side of folks who work against dominionism, but two good groups in particular are Talk to Action and Committee to Defend the Constitution. Some of the older-guard religious freedom groups like Americans United, People for the American Way, and The Interfaith Alliance can always use help too; more focused groups like Texas Freedom Network, Southern Poverty Law Center (recently threatened by a Klan group with being bombed because of the stellar job it's doing in shutting down hate groups) and Jews On First are also good groups to support in the general fight.
5) In the immortal words of Anthrax and Public Enemy--"Bring the noise". Inform folks about this yourself. If you're a survivor, write about your experiences. If you're a parent who formerly used these methods and abandoned them, write about it. If you're an EMT or a social services worker or someone on the front lines who's seen the tragic consequences, write about it. Notify the media. Mirror posts others have done. Make such a huge goddamned stink that it can't be ignored.
Tomorrow, we begin a special focus on the "Bible-based baby beating" promoters most recently linked to the death of a child--Michael and Debbie Pearl.