Quoting Quiverfull: Not Responsible For the Death of Hana?

Quoting Quiverfull: Not Responsible For the Death of Hana? August 8, 2013

While the trial of Carri and Larry Williams is still ongoing here is the official statement Michael Pearl gave several years ago disavowing any link between his book “To Train Up a Child” and the death of Hana Williams. What do you think?

by Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy ministries and author of “To Train Up a Child”

We share in the sadness over the tragic death of Hana Williams. What her parents allegedly did is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of No Greater Joy Ministries (NGJ) and what is taught in the book, To Train Up a Child (see quotes below). We are grieved by Hanna’s death as well as the nearly 1,700 other children that die in this country every year as the result of neglect or abuse. This is part of the motivation of NGJ to provide materials that are helping parents to raise healthy and happy children.

Here are quotes from the book that actually warn against abuse.

“Train up-not beat up. Train up-not discipline up.” “A child needs more than ‘obedience training’, but without first training him, discipline is insufficient” page 4

“Disciplinary actions can easily become excessive and oppressive if you set aside the tool of training and depend on discipline alone to do the training.” Page 9

“Parent, have you trained yourself not to discipline immediately but to wait until your irritation builds into anger? If so, then you have allowed anger to become your inducement to discipline.” Page 25

“Parent, if you are having problems with your children, you can be assured that you are not alone. Your children are also having problems with you. You are going to have to make adjustments in your own life if you are going to help them with their problems.” “… the responsibility for making a significant change is completely yours.” Page 32

“There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children.” page 50
“The rod should never be a vent for parents’ anger. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, it is inevitable that such behavior by the parent will assuredly create problems.” page 51

These quotes and the rest of the book are about turning the hearts of parents to the children and the hearts of children to the parents.

If, as alleged, Hanna’s parents owned a copy of the book, it is obvious from these quotes and their actions, that they either have not read it or totally ignored its contents. The book repeatedly warns parents against abuse and emphasizes the parents’ responsibility to love and properly care for their children, which includes training them for success. There are thousands upon thousands of parents (the book has sold over 660,000 copies) who have and are properly applying the philosophy in the book with the joyous results of happy, productive, well-adjusted children in loving successful families.

The alleged presence of the book makes it no more responsible for Hanna’s death than the presence of a weight loss book in the home of an overweight person is responsible for their obesity. Its presence is actually recognition that there was a problem and obtaining the book was an effort to solve it. Unfortunately, if Hanna’s parents own a copy they chose to ignore (or twist) the contents of the book that could have corrected their poor parenting and prevented the abuse and her death.

It is our desire to redouble our efforts to help families and to prevent future tragedies.

Michael Pearl, President
No Greater Joy Ministries

Comments open below


QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

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


"I have mainly been watching NBC and the local news, and whatever shows up on ..."

Covid 19 More Ministry Responses and ..."
"You know that if they're NOT just some cyborgbotz, that FOX is off the hook ..."

Covid 19 More Ministry Responses and ..."
"She had a wonderful, fierce protectiveness of people and hatred of evil, while simultaneously killing ..."

Open Thread – COVID 19 Stupidity ..."
"I absolutely loved John Oliver's take on the OAN network. They are cretins2 I have ..."

Covid 19 More Ministry Responses and ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • itsdanilove

    “If doing this thing we recommend has negative consequences, you did it wrong!” Funny how it always works out that way.

  • texcee

    Well, it looked good on paper…

  • Trollface McGee

    Ah I see. The failure of these parents is they didn’t train their children enough along with the abuse. You clearly need training and abuse to make a “healthy” child. And look, all these people bought the book and have yet to murder anyone (some have, we’ll just ignore those).
    Also, avoid anger, because there’s no such thing as violent psychopaths who are happy to commit acts of brutality with no anger involved (though that eerily sounds like the Pearls).
    If you want to prevent tragedies, don’t publish a book that suggest means of “discipline” for children that international organisations unequivocally consider to be torture.

  • bekabot

    Well, it looked good on paper…

    I don’t feel comfortable contributing to this thread, because I’m not a Christian, let alone an Evangelical. (So, moderators, dump away.) But my feeling about this case and about similar cases is that what tends to happen is that these self-appointed heads of the Protestant church, because they cannot physically micromanage every aspect of the lives of their followers (due to the constraints of time and space) end up (perforce) trusting to the judgement of the very people (i.e. their followers) whom they have carefully trained to have no judgement to speak of. So that when Michael and Debbie Pearl write a book which says, in essence: “You can whip your children into compliance or into a good simulation thereof; in fact that’s what you should do” they don’t necessarily mean “And if it doesn’t work you’ll just have to keep whipping and whipping with no alternative in sight, and if the kid ultimately dies, well, that’s just the price of doing business”.* They trust their followers, as they would trust themselves, to know when to stop, or when something isn’t working, or when enough is enough. But they can’t say so, because they, like all other quacks, have to pretend to be in possession of an infallible remedy, since that’s what brings in the marks and the bucks. Nevertheless that’s the unstated premise on which they count: under ordinary circumstances base biology will save their system because under ordinary circumstances parents won’t clobber and starve their children past the literal point of no return. But sometimes this assurance gives way because the believers in the system have been trained, and have trained themselves, to be believers before they are anything else (such as parents or citizens or even living animals). And system-vendors like the Pearls are left holding the bag — as they should be: since it was they who designated themselves as the brains of the operation, it’s with them that the responsibility for its failures properly lies.

    *You can tell about this from Michael Pearl’s occasional refusals of “final” authority regarding his family. He refrains from doing things which might get him into trouble. For example, he hasn’t picked his daughters’ husbands out for them, probably because, as a smart man, he’s realized that such a course of action has its downside. That so many evangelical males have greeted this decision on his part with a chorus of “You betraaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyed us” shows that in the Evangelical world there’s a difference in awareness between those who write out the prescription and those who swallow the medicine. (IMO.)

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    You don’t have to believe in anything more than your own self to post here. No worries. The only ones that get the moderator spank/ban are the Duggar-groupies that show up and start telling people they’re going to hell for not worshiping the Duggars.

  • texcee

    Great response, Bekabot. This was an intelligent and honest comment and you’ve hit it right on the head!

  • Saraquill

    “…emphasizes the parents’ responsibility to love and properly care for their children…” This coming from the man who kicked his toddler into a swimming pool

  • rovinrockhound

    Good insight. The Pearls seem comparable to “natural cancer cure” quacks that push their wares and then blame the victim when they, of course, fail. It starts small (juicing!), but when that doesn’t work things keep escalating (coffee enemas, too!) until someone dies and then the quacks say that it was not the “cures” that killed the person – it was because they just didn’t believe in it enough (it was not the Pearls’ method of torturing kids into submission that killed Hana – the parents just didn’t do it right).

    These people are murderers.

  • Bryony

    He couldn’t even be bothered to spell her name correctly. For some reason, that pisses me off more than anything else.

  • Independent Thinker

    “Never reward delayed obedience by reversing the sentence. And, unless all else fails, don’t drag him to the place of cleansing. Part of his training is to come submissively. However, if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.” Page 46 from the book To Train Up A Child. Anytime someone uses the phrase “Defeat him totally” in the context of hitting, striking or beating someone I agree the goal is torture followed by hopeful submission.

  • Kristen Rosser

    Brrrr. In what part of Christianity is beating equated with “cleansing”? Because the last I heard, the foundational, basic idea was that nothing can cleanse us but Christ. I don’t know what these child-training teachings are, but they’re not Christian by any generally accepted definition of that word.