Preacher's Spanking Book Linked to 3 Child Deaths
Tenn. minister Michael Pearl urges using a switch on babies
By Mary Papenfuss, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2011 12:50 AM CST
Preacher Michael Pearl is coming under fire for his book encouraging corporal punishment for children as young as 6 months old.   (NGJMinistries)

(Newser) – The deaths of three children have been linked to parents who reportedly own a popular but controversial spanking book by a Tennessee preacher. The book, To Train Up a Child, by Michael Pearl of the No Greater Joy Ministry, promotes using a switch on babies as young as 6 months and plumbing tubing on older children to keep them in line—much like "stubborn mules" are disciplined. Some 700,000 parents, many of them home-schoolers, have purchased the self-published tome, including parents who are either currently serving prison time or have been charged in the abuse and beating deaths of three young children in the last 5 years, reports the New York Times. Pearl says it's unfair to blame his book for the actions of unstable parents, but physicians and law enforcement authorities have expressed concerns about the book's role in child abuse.

“My fear is that this book, while perhaps well intended, could easily be misinterpreted and could lead to what I consider significant abuse," a pediatrician who examined one of the dead children told the Times. The book threatens to escalate violence against children because it advises that “if you don’t get results, the only thing to do is to punish harder and harder," says a woman who runs a Christian-based blog opposed to corporal punishment. Parents worried about the book have organized to pressure outlets like to stop selling it. One of the Pearls' five children, now 28, recalls having a "wonderful" childhood, even though her dad says she was spanked some 50 times as a toddler. Click for more from the Times' piece.

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Showing 3 of 38 comments
Nov 8, 2011 9:50 PM CST
and the Militaries "Army of One" commercials along with Battlefield and Modern Combat games linked to over a million Iraqi/Afghan deaths
Nov 8, 2011 3:42 AM CST
Yesterday the good "Christians" were burning witches at the stake, taking slaves, physically chastising their errant wives, inventing and implementing the most depraved torture devices history has ever seen....... Today the good "Christians" are teaching everyone the godly way to beat their children. They're very specific, too. I think Jesus would want his good name back.
Nov 8, 2011 3:42 AM CST
"If we really want a peaceful and compassionate world, we need to build communities of trust where all children are respected, where home and school are safe places to be and where discipline is taught by example." Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, 2006. See "The much-touted 'biblical argument' in support of corporal punishment is founded upon proof-texting a few isolated passages from Proverbs. Using the same method of selective scripture reading, one could also cite the Bible as an authority for the practice of slavery, adultery, polygamy, incest, suppression of women, executing people who eat pork, and infanticide. The brutal and vindictive practice of corporal punishment cannot be reconciled with the major New Testament themes that teach love and forgiveness and a respect for the sacredness and dignity of children, and which overwhelmingly reject violence and retribution as a means of solving human problems. Would Jesus ever hit a child? NEVER!" The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Clergy (Retired), Hamilton, Indiana. Personal communication, 2006. Ten Reasons I Can't Spank A Catholic Counselor's Critical Examination of Corporal Punishment By Gregory K. Popcak, MSW, LCSW "I have always been an advocate for the total abolition of corporal punishment and I believe the connection with pornography that is so oriented has its roots in our tradition of beating children." Gordon Moyes, D. D., Pastor, Uniting Church, Superintendent of the Wesley Central Mission, Sydney, Australia. Excerpt from personal communication, 1980. "I have never accepted the principle of 'spare the rod and spoil the child.'I am satisfied that such punishment in most instances does more damage than good. I recently read a biography of George H. Brimhall, who at one time served as president of Brigham Young University. Concerning him, someone said that he reared “his boys with a rod, but it [was] a fishing rod” (Raymond Brimhall Holbrook and Esther Hamilton Holbrook, The Tall Pine Tree: The Life and Work of George H. Brimhall, n.p., 1988, p. 62). That says it all." Gordon B. Hinckley, President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, October 1994 General Conference. United Methodist Church: UMC General Conference, May 3, 2004, takes a stand against corporal punishment in all settings. Click on the following links: Rita Swan, introduced both resolutions, describes strategy Parenting In Jesus' Footsteps Arms of Love: A grace based explanation of Biblical child rearing: Nurturing God's Way Churches Network for Nonviolence Christian website about attachment parenting: It is worthwhile to read the articles of Herbert Ratner, M.D., a public health physician, former Consulter to the Pontifical Institute on the Family, and editor of Child and Family Quarterly. He was also an advisor to the La Leche League at the time of its formation. Back issues of Child and Family Quarterly are available from Child and Family, P.O. Box 508, Oak Park, IL 60303 Matthew 19:8 Just because something is a long-standing tradition, doesn't mean it was ever right to begin with.