Content Note: Child Abuse, Spanking
I’ve followed Stuff Fundies Like for years now. It’s been a great resource in my journey away from fundamentalism, helping me realize how harmful some of the stuff I’d been raised to see as normal really was. I’m far enough removed from that culture that I usually laugh at the entries, and laugh at myself for having once been so strongly a part of fundamental Baptist culture.
But a recent post brought me to tears. I couldn’t even laugh at the absurdity of it, because I know people believe these absurd teachings.
The post can be found here. It contains a video of a sermon by fundamentalist preacher Phil Kidd. Kidd spends the sermon talking about the need for parents to get more serious about “disciplining” their children. By “disciplining” them, he means beating them until they are numb. Spanking them “until the fire alarms go off.”
This sounds extreme and some of you may be wondering, “Why bother responding to this? That preacher is obviously ridiculous.”
My answer is, because this is the kind of teachings I grew up hearing from my churches. These are teachings that I have been hurt by, deeply. They are teachings that I have seen others hurt by. This isn’t fringe for me. This is my history, and in some ways, because I still have so much family in fundamentalist circles that are preaching the SAME things, it’s my present.
In high school, I attended an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Church run by a pastor that people described as “lovable, down-to-earth, friendly, funny.” But there was nothing funny or down-to-earth about the way he encouraged child abuse from the pulpit.
He would talk about “whoping” or “beating” his children and would encourage congregants to do the same. He would fondly recall his grandmother telling him to go grab a tree branch from the back yard when he was a child, which she would then hit him with when he misbehaved. His gleeful–truly gleeful, always accompanied with laughter and jokes–depictions of beating children reminded me so much of Phil Kidd’s rant.
It effects people. Real people.
I remember being a kid and not wanting to “tell on” other kids who bullied me or were mean to me, because I knew how their parents would respond. They would pull their child into the other room, say, “I’m doing this because I love you” and then spank them so hard you could literally hear it in the next room. No matter how mean they were to me, I could never handle putting them through that.
The way these parents responded was seen as a good thing.
I remember being afraid of my dad. How he could instill fear in me just by making a noise and a hand motion–that of him cracking his belt like a whip. Phil Kidd and the pastor I grew up with mock adults who are bitter toward their parents or who need therapy later in life for this, but fuck them. I am bitter. I am hurt. I still remember the times my dad hit me and called it love, and I still struggle to forgive him and have a good relationship with him.
I know parents who I really believe would never even think about hurting their children if it weren’t for the church telling them they must, or they hate their children. Parents who, when they do spank their children, cry more than the child does because they hate what they are doing. But they think they have to because of people like Phil Kidd and my old pastor. I don’t absolve these adults of responsibility. Their feelings on the matter are irrelevant and they are abusing their children regardless. But I also put blame pastors like the one I grew up with for helping to create these “reluctant” abusers. I hate them for it, and I will not apologize for that.
I hate them for hurting children.
I hate them for hurting me.
I hate them for the tension in my family that I don’t know will ever go away.
I hate them for all the families they wounded, all of the children that they broke.
I have some words (courtesy of the Bible and T.F. Charlton–who once used this passage on Twitter in context of child abusers at SGM) for Phil Kidd, for my former pastor, and for anyone in authority in the church who continues to promote child abuse:
If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Pastors who promote child abuse and call it love, you are doing the work of evil. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven–a kingdom that Jesus said is centered around little children–is at hand.