Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


Hitting Kids IS NOT A Religious Act, No Matter what Anybody Says

posted by Brad Hirschfield

If you don’t know the names, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, Lydia Schatz, Michael Pearl, or the book, To Train Up A Child, you should.  These are the names of two parents convicted, respectively, of murder and manslaughter in the case of their 7 year-old daughter, and the self-proclaimed minister/author of a book which teaches the biblical foundation and moral virtue of hitting kids. We need to know their names because they are part of real problem – the problem of sacralizing child abuse, of beating children as a religious act.

Hitting kids is bad enough, but when people hide behind scripture to justify it, it is especially grotesque – it scars the children, and it scars the tradition which justifies it.  Tragically, this is going on, it must be stopped, and it is precisely those of us for whom the Bible is a sacred and life-centering text that must take the lead in stopping it.

As is always the case, it is those closest to a tradition that should bear the greatest responsibility for it when it is being abused.  We cannot simply distance ourselves from “those crazy people”, because “those crazy people” are using the same books we hold dear to commit atrocities, so who better than those who turn to (some of) the same books, to take on the responsibility of addressing the abuses committed in their name?

The notion of hitting children should simply be repugnant to people, and the scientific evidence against the practice is overwhelming.  Kids who are hit, fare no better, and often fare far worse than children who are not.  Of course for some biblical literalists that argument will not suffice.

The literalists will quote chapter and verse beginning with Proverbs 13:24, One who spares the rod, hates his child.  (The commonly heard, “spare the rod, spoil the child”, by the way, does not actually appear anywhere in the Bible – it’s an expression based on this verse.)  But, as I often wonder with such approaches to the Bible, why are such literalists not stoning those who they deem to be Sabbath violators as is demanded by Exodus 31:15, for example?  The answer, of course, is that they don’t want to kill people for violating the Sabbath, but for whatever reason, actually want to hit kids and delight in finding a biblical “justification” for it.

Prosecutors in the case against the Schatz’s could not make an additional case for legal liability against Michael Pearl, whose book was among those found on the Schatz’s shelves and which appears to have served as an inspiration to them in “understanding” the religious value of corporal punishment.  Frustrating as that may be, that is probably as it should be given the importance of freedom of expression and the chilling effect upon it were it possible to hold Pearl legally culpable for the death of Lydia Schatz.

Legal liability and moral responsibility however, are two different matters and there is no doubt that Pearl bears a measure of the latter whether he realizes it or not.  Of course, the real challenge is not to Michael Pearl, it is to the rest of us, especially those who own Pearl’s book, believe, or teach, that hitting kids is a religious act.  This is no longer a phenomenon about which any of us can plead ignorance, and we all bear a measure of moral responsibility for every slap and punch.

There is no way to bring Lydia Schatz back, or to undo the damage to her still living siblings, or any of the other children who are beaten in the name of God.  We can however do everything in our power to put a stop to the practice.  For the sake of these kids and for the sake of the traditions we hold dear, that is what we must do.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
Marta

posted August 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm


I volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, and one family escaped from religiously-motivated abuse. This made it that much further for the mum to escape, and it adds a level of pain to the normal situation because they have to fight against the feeling that God allowed this to happen, indeed did it. I recognize that “discipline” may not be quite as bad because at least the parent thinks s/he is being loving, but the abandoned or violated by God aspect must still be there. How awful for the children involved.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Windows and Doors. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Truths You Can Use Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 1:28:03pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Apple's "Jew or Not Jew" App -- Should It Be Legal?
An Apple application that let users guess which French politicians or celebrities are Jewish was pulled from France's App Store. but its American equivalent is still available. French activist groups said the "Jew or Not Jew?" app violated bans on compiling information on people's religion and rev

posted 1:18:48am Sep. 18, 2011 | read full post »

Is God A Christian?
R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often confuse God’s religious identity with their own, leading t

posted 11:59:56am Sep. 12, 2011 | read full post »

Remembering 9/11 - Part One
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brings up many emotions and presents some very real challenges, among them how to remember the past without being imprisoned by it.  This video, filmed at St. Paul's, the church closest to the World Trade Center site, is a wonderful example of rising to that challen

posted 2:40:58pm Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days
Below is a copy of the Statement I got from the White House, and while I appreciate the words, I can't help but also ask, "Is this the best we can do?"  United States Mission to the United Nations Office of Press and Public Diplomacy 799 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 (212) 41

posted 9:04:17am Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.