Awareness of the sad subject of religiously motivated child abuse within the dominionist community--in a series I began writing on her and which is now being reported on by the likes of Salon Magazine--is now going international...unfortunately due to Americans exporting the problem of religiously motivated child abuse worldwide.
The Guardian Unlimited, a British newspaper which has reported on dominionism in past, has an article in regards to religiously motivated child abuse that brings a unique perspective.
The article starts out with descriptions of British canings in schools, a practice which was eventually ruled illegal and abusive within the UK:
Pretty much all I remember from my prep school are the beatings: that lonely wait outside the headmaster's study; the cane, the slipper, the table tennis bat. I remember my underpants filled with blood. I remember seething with frustration when they beat my brother. My mother had asked me to look after him. But there was nothing I could do as he was led towards the study in his little tartan dressing gown.
That was 30 years ago, but in time measured out by the psyche it was yesterday. Thank God such things are now illegal. But there remain those determined to turn back the clock. "We are told that in England it is a crime to spank children," writes Debbi Pearl from No Greater Joy Ministries, following a row that has erupted over the distribution of their literature in the UK. "Therefore Christians are not able to openly obey God in regard to biblical chastisement. They are in danger of having the state steal their children."
The "row" in question involves promotion of the Pearl's books in a British homeschool association--specifically through a magazine targeting dominionist correspondence-schoolers in the UK called "The Old Schoolhouse" (the publishers of "The Old Schoolhouse", of note, are actually based in the United States--another example of dominionism being exported to other countries). The group has promoted the Pearls in their literature, and is even going on tour in the UK to promote the Pearls. And the article linked above includes a description of the Pearls whacking an 11-month-old child they were babysitting:
"As I was writing this I was interrupted by a child screaming. Deb is baby-sitting an eleven-month-old little boy. I let him scream for about five minutes, as I wrote the last lines of the above paragraph, and then I left my office and went to investigate. Deb was doing business on the phone--talking to a missionary, long distance. The child was clawing at the back door, trying to get it open so he could go outside.
I picked up a switch and walked over to where he was conducting his scream-in. In a calm but firm voice I said, "No, stop crying." I didn't expect him to respond, but I wanted to establish the rules. When he failed to respond, I switched him twice on the only exposed skin--about three inches between his sock and pants leg. Again he did what I expected, what he does when his mother swats him--scream in defiance. But I have seen her swat him, and it never even gets his attention, other than a signal to scream louder. But when I switched his bare skin, he looked shocked and started to rub it. He continued to cry in protest, so I gave him two more licks on the bare leg.
This time, he was convinced that I meant business. I know that he understood the issue, because he crawled past me, away from the door. Again I commanded him to stop crying, brandishing the switch. He stopped crying immediately, continuing to rub his leg while staring at me."
The "row" is in fact a boycott of Old Schoolhouse Magazine and its associated websites by homeschooling parents who feel promotion of the cruel tactics of the Pearls is in fact wrong and even Un-Christian.
The Guardian article continues, noting that the Pearls recommend the whacking of infants under the age of 1 year with 1/8" diameter switches:
Chastening begins early. "For the under-one-year-old, a little, 10- to 12-inch long, willowy branch (stripped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient," writes Michael Pearl. With older children he advises: "After a short explanation about bad attitudes and the need to love, patiently and calmly apply the rod to his backside. Somehow, after eight or 10 licks, the poison is transformed into gushing love and contentment. The world becomes a beautiful place. A brand-new child emerges. It makes an adult stare at the rod in wonder, trying to see what magic is contained therein."
Needless to say, the author is completely and utterly shocked:
It's incredible to me that books such as this are readily available on Amazon; it is little short of incitement to child abuse. What makes the whole thing doubly sick is that it's done in the name of God. Apparently, the "proper application of the rod is essential to the Christian world-view". Note "essential". Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise. For, as evangelicals, the Pearls believe that salvation only comes through punishment and pain. God punishes his Son with crucifixion so that humanity might not have to face the Father's anger. This image of God the father, for whom violence is an expression of tough love, is lodged deep in the evangelical imagination. And it twists a religion of forgiveness and compassion into something dark and cruel.
It's terrifying how deep this teaching penetrates into a philosophy of child rearing. Just as divine anger is deemed to be provoked by the original sin of human disobedience, the beating of children is seen as punishment for rebellion. According to Ted Tripp, in his monstrous bestseller Shepherding a Child's Heart, even babies who struggle while having their nappy changed are deemed to be rebellious and need punishment.
It is extremely gratifying to see more attention--even on an international level--being brought to the "dark secret" of religiously motivated child abuse in the dominionist community.
Unfortunately...the Pearls, even with the recent tragedy bringing new awareness, aren't the only ones promoting--or exporting--what amounts to "Bible-based" baby beating.
They aren't even the richest or most well known.
That would be the one we focus on tomorrow--James Dobson, head of the $140 million Focus on the Family publishing empire and dominionist lobbying group, and whom (as we shall see tomorrow) uses his own history of being abused as a child as an example of how to raise children...perpetuating his own multigenerational history of child abuse across countless generations.