At What Point Is Faith Really Child Abuse?

At What Point Is Faith Really Child Abuse? April 7, 2013

by Calulu

Trigger Warning!

Yesterday I saw a very disturbing video that was filmed last weekend, on Easter Day, in front of a United Methodist Church in North Carolina. The church is letting from it’s Easter services while a young boy stands with a sign that reads like something out of Westboro Baptist and yells at the church goers that they are all going to hell unless they stop playing Christian and actually accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Some of the congregants emerge and ignore the boy, some smile at him, several approach him and ask for a hug. He refuses any overtures of friendliness from the Methodists and continues his accusations and hectoring of the crowd.

It takes a strong stomach to watch this and not be triggered.

My heart was breaking for this child after watching to the end. His father, one Brian Cranford, is the one filming this and whenever the boy starts to flag in his harassment of the Methodists dear old Dad encourages him to keep it up. It’s all a performance, perhaps the boy believes in what he’s doing but perhaps not, perhaps it’s all about trying to please the father. Then Daddy posts this video of him pushing his son to hate on others at YouTube with the sobriquet “Church Promotes Sin! On Easter Sunday!”

To see a child used in this way by a parent isn’t uncommon in the world of fundamentalism or quiverfull. But mostly when you see a parent pushing a child to do something that is really an adult role it’s more along the lines of doing the housework or caring for younger siblings, helping out with homeschooling, or holding a sign board at a protest standing next to a parent. Not alone in front of a crowd condemning them and speaking fire and brimstone on these strangers that the child has absolutely no way of knowing what their faith walk is.

For me it seems like a new and more disgusting form of child abuse. The child has moments in the video when he is clearly uncomfortable regardless of what Biblical brainwashing his father has done.  I shudder when watching that video and have a sneaking suspicion that this poor boy will one day by lying on a psychiatrist’s couch and recounting this day as traumatizing.

So who is his father, the one that’s parading his son around as Westboro lite? Brian Cranford has his own YouTube page with lots of other videos of him and his cohorts behaving badly in the name of Jesus Christ. As far as I can determine Brian and pals are not affiliated with official church but more a home church, what I’ve always snarkily termed “The Church of the Holy Basement” after watching others fall out with organized churches and form their own with their own rules.

Take a good look at Brian Cranford’s ministry site – Bible Brian – with it’s charming photo of him and his son on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana walking in front of The Hustler club. To me that’s another objectionable point towards how you raise a child. I’m from New Orleans but have never taken any of my kids near Bourbon Street until they were legal age to go into a bar. Why would you expose your child to the worst of modern society on purpose?

On YouTube Brian Cranford is linked to another Christian with very questionable views that don’t really line up well with the words of Jesus – Coach Dave Dabenmire of News With I didn’t watch this video because I was already triggered enough from the first one. But Vyckie did, she passed on some of what Cranford and Dabenmire were saying that was so completely wrong in every sense of the word wrong.

Scares me that people like this are raising kids and putting them at emotional risk for their own ego.

One last thing, I was in a United Methodist Church on Easter Sunday. Do you know what the sermon series that the Methodists are preaching on in this time? Relationships. How to have better relationships with each other, with God, your kids and the world. Walking in peace with others. Being slow to anger. I want to know what Brian Cranford finds so objectionable about peace and better relationships? Oh, that’s right, he considers others to be used for his self aggrandizement.

Comments open below

 Read everything by Calulu!

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Seeking The Light and The Burqa Experience

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Phatchick

    Somebody needs to call CPS on this dad. Taking a kid down on Bourbon Street in New Orleans?!? That is NOT a safe environment for a child, hell, there are certain times of the year it’s not particularly safe for adults. I’m reminded of a few years ago when a certain RRR group in Milwaukee decided to put kids on the front lines of abortion protests, with the possibility of them getting arrested. The kids all said they wanted to be there but IMNSHO, part of being a parent is NOT deliberately putting your kid in harm’s way. That level of callousness makes me shudder.

  • Persephone

    This is why RTS is a real, ongoing, even growing disease. I shudder to think of all the children forced to watch The Passion of the Christ. I wonder how many of them are now stealthy, or not so stealthy, fans of torture porn.

  • Nea

    I saw a teenaged girl as part of an anti-abortion protest on a wet, cold day, soaked to the skin and begging to go home. Her parent told her that her suffering was not as important as the innocent babies they had to save. I wondered how making that poor kid suffer and possibly get sick was going to save anyone, and still can’t figure out how “pro life” it is to treat their own kid that way.

  • This stuff is truly horrible, but it’s not faith. Faith, in and of itself, is not child abuse. It’s what people do with misguided species of faith that’s abusive. This title is both unfortunate and misleading.

  • Mary, you can substitute the words “Religion”, “Cult Behavior” or “Harmful Theology”, pick a word or phrase. I used ‘faith’ because that is how Bible Brian was using it on his, erm, “interesting” website.

  • BabyRaptor

    Yeah…Right…Only “misguided” faith is ever bad? And let me guess…Yours is the one version that isn’t misguided, so whatever you do we can’t say anything negative about it?

  • The_L

    Faith can lead people to do good things, or evil things. These people honestly believe that their god wants them to be cruel to others. This man honestly believes that it is good for his son to have him stand up there with a hateful sign, saying hateful things to strangers.

    Any religion can be abused as a way to hurt people. Christianity is no exception. These abhorrent people have as much faith in Jesus as any other Christian–they just use that faith as a reason to do things the rest of us recognize as cruel and barbaric.

  • The_L

    I want to give that poor little boy a hug. It’s clear he doesn’t want to do this–I was as hardcore fundie as he was as a kid, and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing something like that for hours.

    I’ve reported his father to YouTube for hate speech against the LGBTQ community. I know it’ll give him an excuse to cry persecution, but I can’t stomach that channel being used to spread hate in the name of Love anymore.

  • madame

    I haven’t watched the movie yet. I can’t hear torture, let alone watch it. I mean.. the scene where Westley is tortured in The Princes’ Bride is bad enough!
    I think it’s abusive to have children watch that movie. It’s too awful.

  • madame

    I agree, Mary.
    The L, very true.
    The Bible is a very dangerous book in the hands of some people.

  • Oh, heavens no. Critique away. 🙂 But yes, I will maintain that faith (this doesn’t necessarily mean christianity- let’s go with the dictionary def. of faith) is amoral and does not, of itself, become child abuse. The specific doctrines (like breaking a child’s will, making your kids suffer for your causes,etc. can absolutely be bad, bad, and worse. But any dictionary will distinguish between that and faith.

  • Oh, heavens no. Critique away. 🙂 But yes, I will maintain that faith (this doesn’t necessarily mean christianity- let’s go with the dictionary def. of faith) is amoral and does not, of itself, become child abuse. The specific doctrines (like breaking a child’s will, making your kids suffer for your causes,etc.) can absolutely be bad, bad, and worse. But any dictionary will distinguish between that and faith.

  • I’d either substitute a more accurate word/phrase, or put the faith in quotes so we know you’re talking about the weird, icky guy’s misused word, and not the concept we know as faith. 🙂

  • Persephone

    I’ve never watched it and never plan to watch it.

  • Persephone

    The definition of faith:
    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
    2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
    3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
    4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
    5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

    This is part of this man’s faith. You may have your own definition, but this is faith, and the title is correct.