Guest / Limited Access /
Thou Shalt Not Abuse: Reconsidering Spanking
Image: Veer

Dead children have a way of shocking the conscience and making us angry. Especially a dead child like Hana Grace-Rose Williams, a 13-year-old adopted from Ethiopia by Washington State parents.

Police found Hana's body starved and naked, wrapped in a sheet in her adoptive parents' backyard. They had denied her food for days, locked her in a closet, forced her to sleep in a barn, and required her to use a Porta-Potty instead of the inside toilet. She'd been repeatedly struck with a 15-inch plastic tube before she died.

Or a dead child like Lydia Schatz, a 7-year-old Liberian girl whose adoptive parents held her down for hours, beating her to death with a similar plastic tube for mispronouncing a word. Or a dead child like Sean Paddock, a 4-year-old who suffocated because his adoptive parents wrapped him too tightly in a blanket as punishment. After his death, Sean's siblings told police about their own beatings with one of those plastic tubes—a plumbing supply line.

A common theme among these deaths, besides the plastic tube, is the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl, authors of To Train Up a Child and founders of No Greater Joy Ministries. For years, their self-published book has flown quietly under the radar, selling more than 670,000 copies. According to a local district attorney, it was the Pearls' advice to use the plastic tube as a spanking instrument that gave license to Lydia Schatz's parents to beat their child.

When children die horrifically, we want to punish someone. And it has been a short trip from blaming the violence of the parents, to blaming the Pearls (who explicitly teach against the level of punishment these parents exhibited), to blaming the conservative Christian ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only As USCIRF Faces Possible Closure, Funding Divides Religious Freedom Experts
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is preparing to shut down.
RecommendedMissionary Donn Ketcham Abused 18 Children. Here’s Why He Wasn’t Stopped.
Missionary Donn Ketcham Abused 18 Children. Here’s Why He Wasn’t Stopped.
(UPDATED) After Bangladesh MKs speak out, ABWE releases final report on past problems and future protections.
TrendingNicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.
Editor's PickLetters with the Mosque Next Door
Letters with the Mosque Next Door
How a budding friendship between a pastor and an imam brought a community together.
Christianity Today
Thou Shalt Not Abuse: Reconsidering Spanking
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.