Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child Not Relevant In Child Abuse Case

Sometimes I read a report on something depressing, like the needless death of a child, and the way people approach the badness pisses me off even more.

A couple accused of starving their adopted 13-year-old Ethiopian-born daughter and locking her outside in the cold, where she died from exposure, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to homicide and child abuse charges.

That’s some pretty sick behavior.  What could have convinced them it was a good idea?

The parents kept the family isolated from non-relatives, home-schooled the children and followed strict religious principles described in the Christian parenting book titled “To Train Up a Child,” investigators said.

The behavior advocated in that book has already resulted in the death of another child.

The authors of this book have no formal training in child psychology whatsoever, but they believe they have an ancient book containing the will of the wisest being in existence.  As such, they believe they are privy to the keys to greater wisdom than the combined percipience of all the world’s child psychologists.  This is a perfectly stupid idea.  Unfortunately, there are parents in the world who think they’re right.  The couple who just locked their daughter outside until she died from hypothermia were such a couple.

That’s pretty infuriating.  Now, here’s why the handling of this situation makes me see red.

Although investigators found the Washington state couple adhered to a harsh child-rearing regimen prescribed by a controversial Christian parenting book, the prosecutor said Thursday that religion was not relevant to the criminal case.

Religion was not relevant?  Let’s take a gander at some of the Amazon reviews of this book.

This book is in line with biblical teachings.

Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”

Proverbs 29:15, “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”

Some people in our politically correct society may not appreciate the concept of loving, corporal punishment, but even these people should be able to clearly see the difference between abuse or torture and careful correction of a child.

This book, which conflates beatings with ‘careful correction of a child’, is in line with biblical teachings.  I agree with this review: everybody should be able to see the difference between torture and good parenting.  Deference to the bible, unfortunately, has prevented this person and those like them from doing so.

Or how about this gem from Lisa?

Anyone can take information out of its orginial context and make sound as appalling as many negative reviews do on this page. Before you bash this book or the Pearls, please have the intelligence enough to read it first with an objective mind. Yes, spanking and beating children out of rage and for the purpose of relieving the parents anger and frustration is abusive

Beating your children to relieve rage is unacceptable because beating children for any reason is unacceptable, you monster!  Lisa wasn’t done delivering the undiluted perspicacity of the creator…

This is a wonderful book for the parent who wants to understand God’s word on dicipline and also the foundation that needs to be laid for that dicipline to be effective. This is also a wonderful book about establishing a strong and loving family unit that will grow children into productive members of society.

The message here is that if you love your children you’ll beat them. I recall reading a piece a while back that these parents could really get behind.

I’m trying to imagine how the parents who just killed their daughter through heavy doses of biblical, child-rearing love reacted to this…

A Skagit County Superior Court judge reduced their bail from $500,000 to $150,000 each on Thursday, and barred them from contact with their eight remaining children, who were placed into foster care in July, or with each other.

Don’t take our children officer!  Look at these bruises!  Can’t you see how much we loved them?

It is no mystery why every single positive comment on this treatise of abuse cites the reviewer’s steadfast compliance to the bible as a reason to support this insanity.  And for some reason, we are to conclude that religion was irrelevant in this case?  What of their son’s description of how they treated his sister?

According to court documents, their 16-year-old son told investigators that Hana “was kept in a locked closet and the only light switch was on the outside of the closet. He stated that his mother would take her out every other day to walk and exercise. They played the Bible on tape and Christian music for her while she was locked in the closet.”

And still we hear…

But Prosecutor Rich Weyrich insisted that issues of faith were not a factor in the case against the couple. “Religion’s not an element we have to probe. We have to prove that the children were assaulted, tortured and died,” he told Reuters on Thurday.

News flash Rich, children can be assaulted, tortured, and killed because of faith.  It has happened in the past and it happened here.  Unless we start molding a world where irrationality is frowned upon (even when it flies under the banner of religion) it will happen again.  You might be willing to give it a pass, but I am not.  The reasoning of these parents is so transparently backwards, but that’s all irrelevant once an obedient Christian gets sold that it’s the will of god.  The antidote is not a different brand of unflinching submission to scripture.  The remedy for this madness is the application of just an iota of human reason, which has both the happy effect of destroying all religious/Christian beliefs and of allowing us to effectively go after what we want in life (like well-behaved and still-living children) without being slowed by erroneous beliefs.

I’ll conclude this post with one final Amazon review of To Train Up A Child.

The pearls did not invent the notion of “spare the rod spoil the child.” If you want to call someone evil for starting that, maybe you should call God evil and see how far that gets you! Then again, maybe the people who have bad things to say about the Pearls methods already curse God.

If that god exists, you’re damn right I curse him.  I curse him because he is undeniably evil.  I curse him and oppose him with all the abilities in my arsenal.

But that god doesn’t exist.  No gods exist, so that leaves me with only people to call evil.  Parents who beat their children are evil.  Lazy thinking and irrationality are evil, for they are mother to this kind of behavior.  People who lend endorsement to irrationality by imbibing it in sub-lethal doses are failing their duty as a human being.  We can point to the effects of the poison and all we hear from other believers is, “I swallowed it and I didn’t die!”   This perpetuates the problem, and I hold all people who believe in faith accountable for that.

Thanks to Steven for the link.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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