We received the following letter at peaceful parenting recently and found it important enough to share with other readers (author's name kept intact with his permission). Please be wise when electing to follow any given parenting 'method' that goes against natural, normal, gentle, instinctual, primal parenting of your little ones. Anything or anyone who advocates for the use of force, violence, harshness, or to ignore, hit, chastise, or not meet the needs of your babies or older children - even if they are lacing their advice with Bible verses - is likely steering parents in a very unhealthy and harmful direction.
Dear peaceful parenting,
My wife and I read your blog daily - we are both abuse survivors, and I am a recovering abuser. We are practicing attachment parenting with our toddler and I am working to mend the scars I caused with my two older children from my previous marriage. It has been a long and difficult road but we are all doing our best to stay committed to breaking the cycle of hurt.
Recently a really terrible thing happened close to our town. A couple who was following some fundamentalist "Biblical parenting" approach from a website beat one of their adopted children to death and left the second one in critical condition. The article that appeared in our local paper is below.
The "Biblical parenting" website this couple was referring to is No Greater Joy Ministries. We read some of the articles there and were appalled at how extreme and cruel their "parenting" advice was. My wife and I both were raised in conservative Christian families, and my family members were fundamental Baptists. However, even we were still both shocked to discover that such deliberately cruel and self-righteously abusive people even exist in the world -- let alone have the influence to indirectly cause the torture and murder of children.
The testimonies that fill the pages of the No Greater Joy site are tragic and extremely upsetting. They unapologetically support breaking the spirit and will of children from birth. They advocate for infant toilet training. They recommend spanking with objects such as a belt, stick, or piece of hose (which was used in the murder near our town), etc. It's truly unbelievable.
They have a huge "ministry" and are apparently influential amongst fundamentalist parents. I do not know what can be done, other than spreading the word about the fact that this abuse is being promoted as "Biblical," and we thought that the peaceful parenting site might be a good place to send the message out.
Thank you for being such a positive inspiration and source of hope. You are appreciated more than you know.
The following is the local news story printed in The Enterprise Record.
DA links fundamentalist "training" to Paradise girl's death
by Terry Vau Dell
A fundamentalist religious philosophy that espouses corporal punishment to "train" children to be more obedient to their parents and God is now being investigated in connection with the death of a young Paradise girl and serious injuries to her sister.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey confirmed Thursday that other children in the home who have been interviewed told investigators "this philosophy was espoused by their parents."
Ramsey said he is also exploring a possible connection to a Web site that endorses "biblical discipline" using the same rubber or plastic tube alleged to have been used to whip the two young ridge girls by their adoptive parents.
In court Thursday, a judge granted a two-week postponement before the children's parents, Kevin Schatz, 46, and Elizabeth Schatz, 42, enter a plea to murder and torture charges that could carry two life terms in prison.
The delay will allow the mother to retain legal counsel as her husband did earlier.
The father's attorney, Michael Harvey, declined to comment regarding the specific allegations against the couple until he has a chance to review the evidence.
"All I can say is the family is shocked; they are grieving the loss of their daughter and (ask) that people of faith will pray for everybody involved," the defense attorney stated outside of court Thursday.
The Schatzes were arrested Saturday morning after their adopted daughter, Lydia, age 7, stopped breathing. She was subsequently pronounced dead.
Her 11-year-old sister, Zariah Schatz, remains in critical condition at a Sacramento children's hospital, though she is showing some signs of recovery. The two were adopted at the same time with an infant girl, now 3, from the same African orphanage about three years ago,
Prosecutors allege the two victims were subjected to "hours" of corporal punishment by their parents on successive days last Thursday and Friday with a quarter-inch-wide length of rubber or plastic tubing, which police reportedly recovered from the parents' bedroom.
Police allege that the younger girl was being disciplined for mis-pronouncing a word during a home-school reading lesson the day before she died.
The two young girls reportedly sustained deep bruising and multiple "whip-like" marks on their back, buttocks and legs, which authorities believe resulted in significant muscle tissue breakdown that impaired their kidneys and possibly other vital organs, said Ramsey.
He said investigators are researching a possible connection to an Internet Web site set up by "fundamentalist Christian people" that recommends use of the same whip-like implement "as an appropriate tool for biblical chastisement ... to train a child from infancy to make them a happier child and more obedient to God because they are obedient to the will of their parents," said Ramsey.
The district attorney said some of the Schatzes' six biological children, who were removed from the family home for their protection following the parents' arrest, have made statements suggesting the ridge couple shared this philosophy.
The other children in the home said the same rubber or plastic tube was used on all of them "as a standard method of discipline, but certainly not to the extent of these two girls," Ramsey added.
He said it's not clear at this point whether the Schatzes ever visited the Web site in question, which Ramsey stressed "does not endorse hurting or beating a child," nor is connected to any specific church.
From the research he has done, the district attorney pointed out that "even within the fundamentalist Christian community," parental use of corporal punishment "is subject to a great deal of debate."
The ridge couple remain held on $2 million bail pending entry of plea in two weeks to the murder and torture charges.
Two other writers' takes on No Greater Joy Ministries here:
Bring Back the Boycott!
Disciplining to Death
Related peaceful parenting Articles:
How Spanking Changed My Life
Dr. Sears on "Growing Kids God's Way"
Sleep Training and Cry-It-Out Research
Gentle Christian Mothers Site
Gentle Christian Mothers [Facebook]