Lesbians, Satan, Hitler: Debi Pearl Responds To Criticism

I don’t know how I missed this short post on the No Greater Joy website a year ago, but I did. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised I missed it because I don’t read everything posted on the site, and for some reason Why Not To Train A Child only just picked it up today. Anyway, here you go:

A Call To Stand

By Debi Pearl

Hitler’s propagandists used one of Satan’s choice tools to pull off the biggest crime toward mankind in the history of the world. They used a lie. They taught that if you tell a lie and keep repeating it enough, people will eventually come to believe it. And when they believe—truly believe—it will turn them into activists who will bring it to pass.

It only takes one liar to start the evil stampede. Our first liar was a young lesbian newspaper reporter from the East Coast. She showed up at church one Sunday morning. Our grown children, as well as a few of their friends, took her out to eat afterward and freely answered every question, laughing at her ridiculous suppositions. It turns out it wasn’t funny.

We read what she wrote on the Web. We were amazed that she would so blatantly lie, attributing to us the evil done by a child murderer that we had never met and who had NEVER read anything we wrote. But the news never carried that piece of evidence, and our not having to take the stand in court only made the voice of lies cry louder. Years passed and during that time over 1500 children a year died at the hands of their drugged or otherwise non-homeschooling parents, yet no one mentioned our name. We never heard from the lesbian reporter again but occasionally read her lies on the lesbian homeschool blog sites. Eventually false “news” begets more of the same. Repeat a lie often enough and someone is bound to pick it up.

Some homeschooling lady on the West Coast was arrested for killing her adopted child. It was widely reported that someone thought that lady might have one of our books. It turns out, according to the police report, that the guilty lady didn’t actually have our book, but who needs truth to make sensational news? About that time, the TV reporters drove from New York to my garden to have a chat. After they saw Mike coming on his tractor, they informed me they were TV reporters making a video clip for a homosexual TV personality. Mike sat on the tractor and answered their questions, which, when aired, were mysteriously changed in the footage. Hitler’s propaganda machine suddenly found new life. From the lies of one young lesbian years earlier came this BIG lie. Repeat a lie often enough and even Christians will come to believe it and militantly take up the offense.

I would estimate that as many as 9 out of every 10 homeschooling families now believes that lie. Yesterday a doctor’s wife was visiting, and she said that fellow Christians angrily approached her for being friends of the Pearls. “That’s just it,” she tells them, “I know them, I know their kids and grandkids, I know thousands of people who have used their literature to help their children . . . including you, and you are telling ME what you heard Anderson Cooper say is the truth? I think you’re missing something here!”

Six million Jewish people lost their lives to Hitler’s great lies. Good people helped make it happen because they truly believed the lie. Today homeschoolers are giving away their rights as parents because they have believed a lie. Even misguided homeschool leaders are propagating lies in their writings. Satan’s end is to steal the hearts of your children, and his lies are working.

Will you seek truth and STAND? Will you encourage others to wake up before their parental rights are stripped from them by the power of bogus news reports? First one person tells a lie, then a few repeat it, and when lies are repeated often enough and well enough, they become as truth and laws are passed based on these lies. In the end, Satan, the father of all lies, will have your children. BUT we can drown the voices of lies if we speak and write the truth well enough and often enough. Will you STAND?

Debi appears to conflate the deaths of Lydia Schatz and Hanna Williams here. Both were adopted, both were homeschooled, both were on the West Coast, and both died at the hands of parents who owned, read, followed, and shared Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, To Train Up A Child. The CNN interview with Anderson Cooper in the summer of 2011 happened shortly before Hanna Williams’ death came to light, and focused on the death of Lydia Schatz, but the following winter Michael Pearl went on Anderson Cooper’s show and Hanna Williams’ death was also discussed. Debi’s response, above, was posted the following summer.

I’m trying to figure out just what is the most outrageous part of Debi’s response. Perhaps it is the bit where she lies about whether or not Carri Williams (or is she talking about Elizabeth Schatz?) had read To Train Up A Child (we know conclusively that both Carri Williams and Elizabeth Schatz both read it and consciously put it into practice.Perhaps it is the bit where she uses the fact that the reporter (who it was I do not know) and TV personality were gay and lesbian to discredit them. Perhaps it is the bit where she calls those who oppose her Nazis and likens herself to a Jewish Holocaust victim. Perhaps it is the bit where she suggests that criticism of her parenting methods will naturally result in the utter destruction of parental rights. Perhaps it is the bit where she tells readers that if the fact that children have died as a result of her teachings gets around and is believed “Satan, the father of all lies, will have your children.”

To be honest, I’m simply glad to know that the Pearls are finally facing criticism from within the Christian homeschooling world. I would very much like to believe that 9 out of 10 homeschooling families believe that the Pearls’ methods are dangerous. Given that these deaths have not shaken my own homeschooling parents’ faith in the Pearls’ methods, though, I suspect that is a bit of an exaggeration. What I would believe, though, is that 9 out of 10 Christian homeschooling families have at the very least heard rumors of the two girls’ deaths, and that’s at least something.  

I mean, at the very least, the Pearls have stopped laughing.


Addendum: After writing this post, I came upon the following review on Amazon:

I first read Michael Pearl’s book To Train Up A Child back in 1999. As a new wife and mom, I was very eager to do things right. We attended their child training seminar in the late 90s, I read their marriage/parenting books, watched their videos and read their newsletter for 10 years.

We had a collection of 1/4″ plastic plumbing supply lines in varying sizes-shorter ones for the glove box of each vehicle, and longer ones for each room in the house. The supply lines served as our “rod of discipline,” as Michael Pearl suggests. We were frequently complimented on our well-behaved children (behavior modification does work) and I was a big fan of No Greater Joy…until the spring of 2010 when I learned about Lydia Schatz. I knew the Pearls did not advocate child abuse, and in fact speak against it, so I began looking into this issue on the internet.

The Pearls do recommend using plastic plumbing supply line as a spanking instrument, exactly the same instrument used to spank Lydia to death. And the district attorney in the case stated that there is a direct connection between Michael Pearl’s book and Lydia’s death. Yes, the Schatzes are certainly responsible for their own actions. But it is possible that someone with no discernment could overdo the Pearls’ advice to spank until the child is broken. Michael Pearl himself warns that the battle of wills can sometimes take awhile. But what if the child never gives that submissive whimper? When exactly are you supposed to stop before it crosses the line into abuse? TTUAC never clarifies this. For example (this is from the version of TTUAC that was found in the Schatz home)

“If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, wait a moment, lecture again, and again spank him until it’s obvious he’s totally broken.”(TTUAC, p59)

“Switch him 8-10 times on his bare legs or bottom. While waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If his crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If his crying is still defiant, protesting, and other than a response to pain, spank him again. If this is the first time he’s come up against someone tougher than he is, it may take awhile…if you stop before he is voluntarily submissive, you have confirmed to him the value and effectiveness of a screaming protest!” (TTUAC p80)

“If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally…A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child has surrendered.” (TTUAC p46)

Lydia Schatz died from rhabdomyolysis, damage to the muscle tissue usually caused by trauma such as a car accident. She was, quite literally, spanked to death. According to the Contra Costa Times the Schatz’ attorney, Michael Harvey, said in regard to rhabdomyolysis, “most know it’s inappropriate to shake a baby, but few had heard of the medical condition that could be caused by Schatzes’ disciplinary method.”

Were we abusive during our “Pearl years”? No. But my heart aches to remember how I used to parent my children, thinking I had their best interests at heart. Anything less than first time obedience was disciplined for as disobedience (I’m glad God doesn’t treat me this way!) We expected behavior out of our children that, realistically, they were too immature to give. We used the rod as our first (and pretty much only) form of discipline. I rarely gave my babies pacifiers because Michael Pearl teaches that this is rewarding self-indulgence and leads to intemperance/overeating later in life. I stuffed down my motherly instincts when it came to training and discipline-I didn’t want to be that weak, emotional mother that Michael Pearl describes as loving herself more than her children. For the sake of my children’s souls I had to be tough and unrelenting, “a cold rock of justice,” to put it in Michael Pearl’s words.

In His mercy, God has drastically changed my perspective on parenting. Studying how God parents His children has been key for me. It was also incredible helpful to read Grace-Based Parenting. Also, I’ve written about the Pearls on my blog,(…)createdtobehis.com

Please avoid the heartache I’ve been through and stay far, far away from any and all books and materials put out by Michael and Debi Pearl and their ministry, No Greater Joy!

I think this review is evidence that Debi Pearl is worried with good reason.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.