“Deeply Religious” Parents Whip Child to Death February 19, 2010

“Deeply Religious” Parents Whip Child to Death

It’s another case of religious parents killing their kids, but this time, it’s not because they denied them medical care.

No, in this case, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz just whipped their 7-year-old child Lydia to death.

Police found a 15″ length of rubber tubing in the Schatz’s home which the children say was used to discipline them; sometimes for “hours” at a time. According to the district attorney, Lydia and Zariah sustained deep bruising and multiple “whip-like” marks on their back, buttocks and legs. This, Ramsey said, is believed to have resulted in significant muscle tissue breakdown that impaired their kidneys and possibly other vital organs.

What horrible thing did Lydia do that invoked this tragedy?

[County District Attorney Mike] Ramsey said the evidence suggests the girl who died was being disciplined “for hours” last Friday in the parent’s bedroom for mispronouncing a word during a home-school reading lesson.

Lydia’s 11-year-old sister Zariah is the lucky one.

She was only “tortured” and remains in critical condition.

The Schatz’s neighbors described them as “deeply religious” — as if that were a good thing.

When all the faith-healing parents killed their children, they had defenders who said they supported the family for leaving the care of the child to God.

I’d love to know how any Christian could defend this couple.

Interestingly enough, nowhere in this article is the Schatz’s religion mentioned. That seems like a very glaring omission to me.

(via LA Atheism Examiner)

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  • I’m sure that this tragedy will be rationalized by religious people that the parents, even though deeply religious, were of the wrong religion, wrong denomination, or wrong interpretation within a particular denomination.

  • Jim H

    Interestingly enough, nowhere in this article is the Schatz’s religion mentioned. That seems like a very glaring omission to me.

    Yes, it’s interesting…but I submit that it’s not that important. One kind of woo-woo or another, what’s the difference?

  • Ron in Houston

    I don’t like atheists calling all religious folks “delusional.” In my mind it trivializes real mental illnesses.

    The point is that a lot of mentally ill people turn to religion. I’d say the folks in this article have some serious pathologies.

    I do often wonder when I hear the phrase “deeply religious” what’s going on. The “deeply” part implies a certain level of compulsion. Maybe we can start saying the crack addict is “deeply” into crack.

  • Gavrilo

    That’s a tragic story for sure, but I’m not sure it’s pertinent in this case to bring the parents religion forward. This kind of mistreatment is unfortunately not unique, and not necessarily linked to religion.

    Talking about it in this setting reminds me of when christians point out that Hitler was an atheist – even if he was, nothing says that he acted as he did because of his atheism.

    We should be the ones who know our logic, so don’t fall for the post hoc ergo propter hoc 😉

  • The religious link is supposedly some connection between the parents and a “Biblical discipline” website that suggests the use of the rubber hose. See: http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci_14388171

    On the other hand, it’s continuing evidence, should it be needed, that religion does not make you good, which is what we’ve been saying all along.

    This case makes me sick.

  • Siobhan in Vermont

    I think the failure to mention which faith they belong to is simply due to the typical mindset of Americans that there is only ONE religion, christianity, rather than any conscious (or unconscious) effort on the part of the reporter to cover anything that might make christianity look bad. In their mind, there’s no -need- to mention what religion because the default religion is christianity.

    I’m willing to bet if these people weren’t christians, the headline would be LOUDLY proclaiming exactly what faith they DID belong to, though.

  • beckster

    The story and the comments indicate people knew they were beating their kids with a rubber hose and no one did anything or reported them? WTF?

  • Siobhan in Vermont


    According to the Wikipedia article, that looks at things Hitler actually said and wrote (as opposed to hearsay attributed to him but unsupported), he was more of a theist like the founding fathers in the US, than specifically a christian, though he often appealed to christian teachings in some warped way in his public statements. Those are usually considered propaganda.


  • JulietEcho

    For once, I don’t have a problem linking the actions of these parents to religion. Many people who are just plain mentally ill use religious “voices” and motives but could easily have latched on to something else, like a conspiracy theory.

    No so with parents like these.

    There’s a wide tradition (and many books written on the subject, the most famous by James Dobson) on how to spank your children to teach them submission – and that it’s not enough to spank them until they cry, you have to keep going until they obey your commands immediately. I’ve been reading about this particular case, and there’s a book involved called “To Train Up a Child” (Google “No Greater Joy” to read some horrific testimonials on their website from thrilled parents who beat their children into submission thanks to the advice in the book.

    Here’s an excerpt from the website:

    As a rule, do not use your hand. Hands are for loving and helping. If an adult swings his or her hand fast enough to cause pain to the surface of the skin, there is a danger of damaging bones and joints. The most painful nerves are just under the surface of the skin. A swift swat with a light, flexible instrument will sting without bruising or causing internal damage. Many people are using a section of ¼ inch plumber’s supply line as a spanking instrument. It will fit in your purse or hang around you neck.

    And remember, they aren’t advocating *one* smack – they repeatedly emphasize that children need to be beaten until they cry and then over and over again until they stop the behavior. Dobson even wrote:

    [If children cry for longer than five minutes,] “the child is merely complaining…I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears.

  • Emily

    “I’d love to know how any Christian could defend this couple.”

    The article does say that some two dozen people showed up to support the parents at their hearing, so it’s likely that some of them have found a way. I’d really like to know what goes through the mind of one of those people.

    I’d be interested to see what defense they use or what their lawyers say to try to mitigate this situation. If they try to use their “deeply religious” convictions as an excuse, then it is absolutely appropriate to “bring their religion forward”. It could very well be that their religion is why their child is dead, and they shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice because of it. Sick things like this shouldn’t happen, and there shouldn’t be any excuse.

  • Kat

    I bet they follow the Pearls. The tubimg sounds like a dead giveway.

  • Hugh Kramer

    Interestingly enough, nowhere in this article is the Schatz’s religion mentioned. That seems like a very glaring omission to me.”

    The Schatz’s had a total of 9 children (6 of their own and 3 adopted), all of whom were home-schooled. That made them sound like a “quiverful” family to me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down anything related to that or what sect they belonged to. Hopefully that information will come out during the coverage of the trial.

  • Derek

    I’ve said before that I’m not easily offended. These “parents” have managed to do so significantly. In other words, I’m seriously pissed off at the moment.

    As for tying this occurrence to religion, yes I do think you could do that. But it would be foolish to say that all religion is responsible, or even that their own religion was the sole reason for what happened. To come to these conclusions would be a remarkably poor use of logic.

    My parents believed in a whuppin’ from time to time, and believe me, I earned it when I got it. But, they sure as spit didn’t beat me to death. There is definitely a difference in the way it my folks handled it…and the reasons for it as well. The scum in question apparently beat their children for “hours at a time”…that’s not correction or even punishment, that’s abuse pure and simple. There is no excuse for this tragedy.

    Oh, and these websites mentioned are equally moronic…There’s a reason I don’t carry Dobson in my store.

    My regular silly sign off just doesn’t seem appropriate on this post, so I’ll just say “Later”.

  • Angie

    I hope these sadistic abusers are not given a lighter sentence or in any way excused because of their religious convictions. Torture is torture, even in the name of religion.

  • @ Ron–I work with people with severe mental illness, and I still think the only difference between a schizophrenia-inspired paranoid delusion and the beliefs of a religious person is the number of people who have that particular delusion. But that’s just me.

    Chilling story.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    “I’d love to know how any Christian could defend this couple.”

    Last time I checked, the majority of Christians are opposed to child abuse.

    This is a tragic situation, and I hope that the law comes down as hard as possible on these child murderers.

  • Rick M

    @ Hugh
    Reading through the comments section there was a post from someone who claimed to know these people. She said they were followers of Michael and Debi Pearl who run the No Greater Joy ministry (irony meter maxed out). I have never heard of them before but a quick look at their web site – nogreaterjoy.org – reveals them to be experts at correct Christian child training. To give you a flavor of their advice, Debi writes in an article, Unbinding Foolishness, written last year, “If your five-year-old spills a bag of nuts out on the car seat when she could have sealed the bag shut, let your rebuke be accompanied by a couple swift swats with the rod of your choice.

    Here’s a few quotes from one of Michael Pearls article In Defense of Biblical Chastisement;

    The following article is designed to be used as a resource in defending your faith on Biblical child training. If the Federal or State agencies take me to court over advocating corporal chastisement, this will be part of my defense.“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. 13:24).”

    Spanking is still too widely practiced for the police to intrude into homes without cause, seeking out offenders. But those opposed to spanking are fully in the propaganda stage, trying to swing opinion to their side. By publishing stories of parents going to jail, they have driven believers underground. We are compelled to defend traditional Biblical practices.

    In a section titled The rod purges the soul of guilt,

    Properly applied, with instruction, it will absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid. The rod meets a psychological need in the child’s soul. “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly (Prov. 20:30).” \“Inward parts of the belly” is a description of the physical sensations associated with guilt. Stripes on the back are said to be to the soul what the healing blood flow is to a wound.

    I wonder if Michael Pearl will step forward in these peoples defense?

  • Rick M

    See this article exposing Michael Pearl, of No Greater Joy, connection to this incident.

    Apparently he recommends using this particular plumbing supply line and suggests these instruments are “cheaper by the dozen at Home Depot.”

  • Betsy

    In my family, those who admit to being diagnosed with mental illnesses that happen to be genetic also happen to be non-religious. This leads to the conclusion by religious family members that we need Jesus – in other words, lots of weeping and praying over our lost condition. How about we just leave mental illness out of our religion bashing? It’s insulting to the mentally ill who are actually trying to understand our illness and get better.

  • mkb

    I’ve said it before, and unintentionally insulted one of your readers, but this is why I have a major problem with homeschooling. It is not that I think that homeschoolers are any less loving than other parents or any more likely to be abusers — it is that those parents who are abusers and homeschool are less likely to be identified and stopped because their kids have fewer opportunities to be observed and protected by other adults.

  • Derek

    I have never heard of them before but a quick look at their web site – nogreaterjoy.org – reveals them to be experts at correct Christian child training.

    “I have never heard of them before but a quick look at their web site – nogreaterjoy.org – reveals them to be self-proclaimed experts at what they perceive to be correct Christian child training.”

    I hope you don’t mind me altering your statement just a little. I’d never heard of them before either, but they certainly don’t speak for me or most of the Christians I know.


  • Miko

    Let’s change the article a little bit. All of the details stay the same, except now the anonymous neighbor says that they’re atheists instead of saying that they’re deeply religious. Would you then complain that the article isn’t delving deeply enough into their religious beliefs or lack thereof?

    Could there be a religious connection in this event? Yes, definitely. But it’s by no means certain that religion had anything to do with it, especially when you only have the word of an unnamed neighbor that they were religious at all. Sadly, people seem perfectly capable of finding reasons to hurt their children which have nothing to do with religion. I’d rather focus on what we (as individuals and as a society) can do to make this less likely to happen again.


    That sounds more like a rationalization for why you don’t support homeschooling than the reason why you don’t support homeschooling. Consider the fact that many children are abused by people other than parents, yet your solution to preventing abuse is to have them around more potential abusers. Is the greater possibility of detecting abuse offset by the greater possibility of abuse occurring in the first place? Without looking at the numbers, I have no idea. But I’d be willing to bet that you wouldn’t start advocating homeschooling even if we were to crunch the numbers and see that they’re against your position here.

  • Hugh Kramer

    Thanks, Rick M. I didn’t see anyone in this comment section who said they knew the Schatz’s but I’ll try and follow up the lead. Might get a good story out of it.

  • Rick M

    @ Derek

    OK, I understand your wish to paint a bright line between yourself and these folks. I hope that the good Christians in the USofA will publicly denounce organizations like No Greater Joy with more vehemence than they generally hurl at gay marriage advocates. At the very least I expect to hear that Christian adoption agencies will deny parents who follow this type of child rearing. We’ll see.

    I have to say this incident makes me wonder about those Christians trying to illegally shuttle children out of Haiti.

  • Philbert

    @Miko – you are playing the same as people who claim there is no connection between Islam and 9/11. Yes, non-religious people can be child abusers too. The fault of religion is not that it invented child abuse, but that it provides a framework for rationalizing and even encouraging it. There aren’t atheist websites claiming that you must beat your children.

  • I am appalled at this, that this is allowed to happen, and that these actions are allowed to be advocated by a religious group!

    @Siobhan: You are absolutely right, they HAVE to be Christian, if they weren’t it would totally be the headline!

    The worst part of this is that those little girls were adopted, meaning they could have wound up with a loving caring family. One where the couple couldn’t have children of their own and would have spoiled them rotten. Instead of being given to a family that has too many children already and intends them serious physical harm.

    Home-schooling should be moderated by home visits, by some kind of social worker trained to recognise symptoms of abuse like this. That is the only way home-schooling can continue without events like this happening again and again..

  • Nor Atheist dogma that suggests beating children either. But there is the Bible that says it, and Christians do indeed follow the Bible. If they’re unhappy with such verses they should start a new religion with a new book.

  • This breaks my heart. That poor girl. Goddammit.

    My husband has had to do service calls in the homes of these quiverful cavemen and he reports that these poor kids display a sullen, broken spirit. He comes back home feeling so sorry for them.

  • Ron in Houston

    @Beth – Oh come on now – the level of functioning if nothing else is vastly different – Besides I’m pretty sure that the DSM-IV says that a “commonly held religious belief” is not a delusion.

    I’d also venture to say that “God wants me to beat my kid with a rubber hose” is not a commonly held religious belief.

  • Polly

    Eye for an eye.
    By their own ideology they ought to be beaten to death with a rubber hose.
    I volunteer my services.

  • Beating your children in the name of Jesus

    There’s a book by Richard Fugate (What the Bible says about Child Training) that advocates using dowel rods (as the biblical rod) to discipline children with. The book even prescribes different sizes and lengths for different ages of children. It gives these rods cute names like, The Tot Rod and The Equalizer.

  • I agree with betsy. Let’s leave mental illness out of religion bashing. Some people with a mental illness live productive lives because they learn to manage it. There’s lots of freethinkers that have mental illnesses (managed or not). I am one of them.

    Religion and mental illness in my family were only correlations. One was not caused by the other. I can say that confidently.

  • Alise

    While religion absolutely played a role in the beating death of this poor child, I would be hesitant to use this as an indictment against religion, the same way that I would be disinclined to use an alcohol related death as an indictment against serving or consuming alcohol. That said, I agree 100% with what Rick said about Christians using their bully pulpit to condemn this kind of cruelty to children than to use it to stop gay marriage.

  • Derek, you run a Christian bookstore and you’ve never heard of Debi and Michael Pearl? I’m a lifelong atheist, and I’ve heard of them. Granted, I do a lot of reading about the religious right and the Quiverfull movement, but their names have come up many, many times.

    This is not the first time that their methods of punishment have been connected to a child’s death.

    Sean Paddock: Dead at Age 4

    Child Abuse on the Religious Right: The Pearls

    Spare the Quarter-Inch Plumbing Supply Line, Spoil the Child

    I must confess this last one makes me physically ill. For more sickening reading:

    Bold Christian Living: Chastening Children

    For those of you who find the Duggars inoffensive, please be aware that this is exactly the type of thing that we don’t see on their television show. Vague references to “training” and “correction” absolutely imply this type of corporal punishment. In their book, the Duggars list How to Raise Happy and Obedient Children as one of their resources. The Duggars also practice “blanket training,” which they detail in their book.

  • JulietEcho

    I feel like all these statements are obvious:

    – This case doesn’t mean that all Christians are child-torturers. (I also don’t think that anyone has claimed that).

    – This case has clear links to religious motivations/teachings and there is plenty of literature that demonstrates some Christians use the Bible to justify striking their children.

    – It’s not useful (or accurate) to categorize all these people as “mentally ill” and it makes no sense to insist that they’d have found a way to justify beating their kids without the instructions they were following.

  • Fentwin

    Beating children for mispronouncing a word should not be considered torture……

    its enhanced education.

  • My take on this is that religion acts to amplifies a person’s conviction that their predispositions are correct (and “God given”). If a person has a predisposition to corporal punishment and can find a passage or two in the bible condoning corporal punishment, then there is the possibility that the person can elevate their predisposition to a point of absolute certainty that it is the right thing to do. This positive feedback system can at times become dangerous (and deadly). This may be one such case.

    Of course, other religious people might spin a positive feedback cycle the other way and not harm a fly.

  • Alise

    @Jeff — My husband has totally co-opted Bill Cosby’s line about cocaine intensifying your personality for religion. It seems to hold up pretty well.

  • beckster

    I have been reading through all these books and websites mentioned by others and I think I’m going to be pysically ill.

  • Jeff Dale

    Of course, other religious people might spin a positive feedback cycle the other way and not harm a fly.

    But a person raised with effective secular socialization and not suffering from severe mental illness will generally do at least as well on this point as the same person raised to believe that not harming people is based on divine authority. Research has demonstrated that authority-based morality is less effective.

    If a person has a predisposition to corporal punishment and can find a passage or two in the bible condoning corporal punishment, then there is the possibility that the person can elevate their predisposition to a point of absolute certainty that it is the right thing to do.

    Or to put it another way, a parent who otherwise would’ve learned to manage his/her anger and sympathize with the child will instead have his/her emotional development stunted in these areas because of following biblical injunction.

  • Jeff Dale

    Nor Atheist dogma that suggests beating children either. But there is the Bible that says it, and Christians do indeed follow the Bible. If they’re unhappy with such verses they should start a new religion with a new book.

    While it is fair to say that most Xians don’t endorse these strains of extreme corporal punishment, it is also fair to point out that those Xians still tend to regard the bible as holy and unalterable. I would not want to be associated with an organization that lent legitimacy to child abuse. If God is good, why would he want his people to have a bible that not only didn’t unambiguously denounce child abuse, but actually allowed people to interpret it as sanctioning child abuse?

    I hope that the good Christians in the USofA will publicly denounce organizations like No Greater Joy with more vehemence than they generally hurl at gay marriage advocates.

    To be fair, there are a lot of Xians who both denounce extreme corporal punishment and endorse gay marriage. But it is interesting to note the sizable segment of Xian population who do stand in this middle ground of opposing both gay marriage and extreme corporal punishment but are more vocal about the former. It’s like they have enough of a natural (secular) conscience to recognize and deplore child abuse when they see it, but not enough of a conscience to understand and empathize with gays who want to marry. In other words, they follow divine authority until the point at which it seems appalling to them, but they fail (or refuse) to connect the one case with the other and admit that they’re following their own conscience, not divine authority.

  • Some people are just damaged. I don’t know if religion is what damaged these parents but it must have been a factor.

  • grazatt

    Even worse all those kids in that family are probably damaged too. Without help they may grow up to do the same things

  • Claudia

    Seriously, check out http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/ (preferably not on a full stomach=.

    The “testimonials” make me want to cry and scream at the same time. One man writes in at how he beat a 2 year old girl with his belt for opening the door too often. When the baby girl started crying he ordered her to stop, and then beat her when she didn’t. Then he carried on beating this baby until she got quiet. The whole sickening tale is told with the sort of tone usually reserved to teaching a child to ride a bicycle. And there are dozens of these horrible tales of parents proudly proclaiming how they physically abuse their children, how to avoid leaving visible marks, how to hide evidence from social services etc.

    Some Muslim families beat or even kill their daughters in the name of their religion, and these folks torture their kids. But no, being “deeply religious” should be a defense…

  • lunamoth

    This story was on No Longer Quivering, as well: http://nolongerquivering.com/2010/02/19/disciplining-to-death-no-greater-joy-ministries-and-child-abuse/

    I really liked what the author had to say at the end.

    ” It is not simply a story of parents who “went too far.” It’s a story about how warped teachings about parent-child relationships, discipline, and authority hurt children and destroy their lives. These teachings must be examined and exposed for what they are: normalized child abuse. I escaped—but will others be so lucky? “

  • ckitching

    “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” – Blaise Pascal

    Anyone else as disturbed as I am about the constant references to making your children “submissive”? That’s a term well beyond respect or even obedience. It implies complete dependence on an authority figure, and I can’t imagine that would ever be healthy.

  • Staceyjw

    Here is another sick example of religious murder of a child, from last week:

    2yr old boy starved to death for not saying Amen at breakfast.


    (You have to scroll down to get to the story)

  • Staceyjw

    Quiverfull is dangerous for women and children, and is part of the biblical patriarchy movement that advocates beating kids into submission.Wosre, submitting is not enough,the kids have to be JOYFUL too! As does the wife, no matter what her husband demands, outside of “sin”.

    Here is another example of abuse, from another “deeply religious” (likely quiverfull) family:

    14yr old locked in closet, starved and veaten with rods for 2 months


  • Angie

    I agree — Quiverfull is a very misogynist, regressive movement, and I urge everyone to read Kathryn Joyce’s QUIVERFULL: INSIDE THE CHRISTIAN PATRIARCHY MOVEMENT to learn more about it.

  • muggle

    Thanks to all who did on their comments and links (which I can’t bear to read at the moment with my six year old grandson playing Lightning McQueen on the playstation across the room from me but will later after bracing myself) and the books, etc.

    I grew up with this spare the rod and spoil the child mentality. I’ve known this torture long before these books were published. My mother (how she would have relished these movements) wore slip on shoes — so she could slip them off quickly and start hitting us with them whenever we pissed her off. Of course, we’d start crying because it hurt then she’d hit us for crying and she’d say she wasn’t going to stop until we stopped crying. I was in such pain, I couldn’t stop crying. I’d reach the point where I thought I was going to die, usually shortly before her arm gave out. She eventually stop hitting but only because her arm was in pain from swinging so fast and so hard. I could easily have been one of these news stories if she had more endurance and stamina.

    And, yes, she’d scream spare the rod and spoil the child. Couldn’t turn to Dad whose attitude on his 8 children was “children should be seen and not heard” and if you disturbed him with your prescence, you were as likely as not to get the belt. We learned to take Dad literally at his word that he didn’t want to be disturbed by the sounds of our voices — or laughter or playing. Didn’t stop us but we’d try to be out of his earshot doing it. If we screwed up as kids are bound to and he’d come out in a rage yanking off his belt, we’d scatter and woe to the slowest child (invariably the youngest) who he laid his hands on.

    I was born in 1958 and, hence, grew up in the ’60’s when they were only beginning to pay attention to the problem of child abuse. I think it mostly wasn’t until the ’70’s that most laws protecting children from beatings were enacted. But I’m sure I didn’t know if there were any or not. In that environment, your parents’ word is law. Not God, theirs. Of course, I certainly believed it was God’s law too.

    With all due respect to more enlightened theists, to claim this has nothing to do with religion is horsepucky. My mother certainly justified it with religion. When we got big enough to defend ourselves, all 8 of us knocked her on her butt at one point in our life. That is when the phsyical abuse (mostly) ended. (She once slapped me so she could send my sister back to a mental hospital when she leapt to my defense. No, I still haven’t forgiven her for this and never will.) However, then the tune changed from spare the child to thou shalt not suffer a witch to live when we pissed her off. I spent my teen years worrying about her deciding I was a witch. It was a death threat, in my book. Plain and simple. Push me so far but if you cross a line, I will kill you. I only pushed her so far.

    I broke the cycle of abuse. My daughter and my grandson go unbeatened. But it pains me to admit this but I sincerely believe that would not have occured if I had not lost my religion. Yes, I decided when I was 7, I was never going to make a child of mine feel that way but I sincerely believe I only succeeded because I no longer believed the buybull. If I believed in it, I would have considered things like not sparing the rod a direct order from god and would have felt compelled to use corporal punishment when my child seemed like a hellion (she was about the best behaved child you could hope for just because she is by nature very mild tempered but even the best behaved child has their moments). I also would have felt it necessary if she expressed any doubt even rebelliously because I would have felt I had to save her from hellfire. I am very glad I lost religion and kept that promise I made as a child to my daughter and my grandson.

    So are there Christians who would never comprehend such abuse of children? Of course and I hope to hell the majority of them don’t. But I would certainly say that there are some who do because they’re Christian, because they feel to not do so is literally condemning their child to hell by not teaching them the fear of god.

    As far as mental illness goes, yes and no. I agree with the ones above who say don’t link mental illness with Christianity but I also agree it can feed the illness. I’m convinced, though never diaganosed, my mother was definitely mentally ill. I have two schizophrenic sisters and my daughter battles mental illness. She has learned to mange it but we have no religious aversions to pshyciatry and medicine.

    Her father, my ex-husband, though never diagnosed was definitely mentally ill. He took his life in the end so he had at least issues with depression which is what she struggles with. I watched through four years of marriage, drugs exacerbate that mental illness though I was not at that time educated on it. Wish I had been more educated.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say religion causes mental illness (though I think some things it causes might, such as child abuse) but it certainly exacerbates it where it lives. There are certainly many sane, sound people of faith just as there are people who drink and use drugs recreationally who are too. But these things do aid and abet mental illness. I don’t drink because I know myself too well. I wouldn’t want to be about drink like I am chocolate. Plenty can drink without that problem but I wish more who could not recognized it as I do and abstained but, of course, that’s not usually the case. I think the same is true of religion. Many handle it fine but many do not. And if someone is mentally ill and not managing their illness, well, they’re just not going to.

    The sad thing is the lasting effects of childhood abuse. I’ve had to explain to my grandson just as I did his mother before him that hands in my face scare me because I was hit a lot as a child so don’t do it which makes my heart hurt because children naturally carress and play at the face all the time and it makes them sad but I am so frightened by hands in my face that it was necessary to explain to them not to. I’ll never be able to trust as fully as other people do. I’ll never not be totally unafraid of being hurt. And, physically, well many of my health problems, both recent ones that I’m rather young for and lifelong afflictions, stem from being beaten and underfed as a child. Nothing I can do about that but deal with it. I’m only glad that there is something in me that does.

    Well, at least, functionally. 🙂

  • Karl Nordgren

    Seems a bit silly to me to associate the two. Both religious parents and non-religious parents have been known to beat their children to death. Religion has a base to condemn something as immoral. Atheists in general say that morality is not universal but subjective. So if that is the case then it could have been completely moral from the parents perspective based on a common atheist view of subjective morality.

    I condemn the acts of these parents completely and fully. I don’t defend the actions of these two at all. Because I believe that God the creator wants for his children to be happy and non of that is related to happiness.

  • karen

    Why mention Christianity in relation to this sad family when no religion is mentioned? Jesus Christ is the antithesis of whipping children to death. He said it would be better for someone to have a millstone around his neck and thrown into the sea than to stumble one of His little ones. Get real. This family is pathological, not Christian, and no christian would defend the actions of these twisted parents.

  • lunamoth

    Oh, muggle. (((((hug)))) 🙁

    Karen, Christianity—more appropriately, fundamentalist Christianity–is mentioned, because the ideas came from a Christian minister who runs a ministry called, No Greater Joy. When I was a Christian, I would have said exactly what you said, “these people aren’t truly Christians; no one could defend them.” Maybe that’s true, too. But, I think largely, it doesn’t matter. They identified as Christian and they admitted to following Michael Pearl and NGJ. Pearl’s ideas have been implicated in the deaths of children before. We *HAVE* to address the ideas, if we are going to save children.It’s not just about one pathological family, it’s about the ideas that breed pathology. And Michael Pearl’s got a lot of ideas like that.

  • muggle

    Thank you, lunamoth, but I’m one of the lucky ones. I not only survived but I survived to function as a whole adult. Didn’t become an alcoholic or a drug addict or a criminal. I am definitely one of the lucky ones.

    I didn’t post my story for pity. I don’t think I need any given how well I’ve overcome it. I post to speak truth to the lie that seems to be running above that Christianity had nothing to do with it.

    Certain brands of Christianity wouldn’t and would roundly condemn it (though why don’t I see them doing so publicly) but there are the ones who embrace and encourage it and, indeed, condemn parents who don’t raise their children this way.

    And, too, as I said those brands of Christianity exacerbate any existing mental illness much the same as drugs and alcohol can. The fact that there are social drinkers and recreational drug users who are not addicted, who maintain some degree of control of themselves doesn’t make it untrue that addicts exist and that there are those who get violent when they drink who aren’t otherwise so.

  • Jeff Dale

    Atheists in general say that morality is not universal but subjective. So if that is the case then it could have been completely moral from the parents perspective based on a common atheist view of subjective morality.

    I can’t let this pass unremarked.

    I don’t see how any sane atheist could have a subjective view of morality in which inflicting life-threatening punishments on a child was considered “completely moral.”

    Only two things can give someone that kind of view: insanity, or extreme religious teachings.

    Atheist moral views are naturalistic. That means they arise naturally from what seems to do the most good and/or the least harm. All sane humans have a natural sense of right and wrong that we use to weigh goods and harms. We may have different estimations of those weights, but none of us values doing wrong for its own sake or fails to value doing good. If we do wrong or fail to do good, we know it. None of us could fail to understand that savagely beating a child is wrong. None of us would do it unless we were insane or religiously motivated.

    Morality is not “subjective,” but it admits of imprecision, which is not the same thing. In other words, there are complex cases with no clear right or wrong answer in which the relative weights of the factors can turn the decision one way or the other, but there are non-relative underlying moral truths. For example, we all agree that killing is generally wrong, so that it takes exceptional circumstances (like self-defense with no alternative short of killing) to justify it. We also all agree that children should be protected, though we differ in the details, like how old a child should be before we let them ride their bike across town on their own.

    This is objectivist morality, the view that moral truths arise from nature independent of our opinions, and it is our job as moral thinkers to align our opinions with those moral truths as closely as we can. I’d hazard a guess that most atheists hold something like this kind of view. The contrast is the religious kind of absolutist view, in which the rules are said to be given to us by a posited supernatural being. But this kind of view ultimately reduces to subjective morality. Nobody actually knows what their supposed supernatural being wants, so the followers are subject to the interpretation of whomever happens to be leading the flock, or they just follow their own interpretation, or take cues from the local culture. And of course, you’re then obliged to accept other people’s various and contradictory opinions that arise from their religions. Thus the religious view is ultimately subjective: it relies entirely on opinions, and is therefore relativist. How ironic that some religious people claim it is the atheists who are moral relativists, when it is the religious people themselves who are moral relativists!

  • Cristina Santos

    This is one of the motives that I runned away from religion. I was mistreated. In my case wasn’t only ignorance from mentally poor people, but also ‘couse the bible says that children have to obey and respect their parents, but there isn’t a word about the parents caring about their children. I’ve heard/read about punishement for children, but care, respect, love ? No, no, no.

  • Isabel DAngelo

    I believe that is exactly what is wrong with this world.
    Children of ignorant parents raising children.
    Sorry, by I have to be radical now. I believe, I deeply believe that life is neglected by everybody, everywhere.
    The human life should have a little more value.
    There are people who don’t have money to feed themselves, but they have 4, 5, 8 kids, all starving and they call it love. They use to say, god wanted it or god sent it to me ( it ), so now I have to raise it.
    So they put their kids to adoption, and the children are adopted by nice people like this couple or a third world woman, raised to go to church, to take care of a sad, poor home, had kids and realized that it is not what she wanted from life, but life ( their parents, church ) hadn’t prepared her to be anything else, so she’ll have to live this way… frustrated, angry and ready to use any excuse to make their kids
    know that they are a burden and not a joy and she had to have them… they can’t use condoms.
    I believe that is time for people start to use reason and stop making babies just becouse it is what people expect from them. If you don’t have a child who will take care of you when you get old ?
    Every time I hear that question I give the same answer: When I get old enough to not be able to take care of myself, I’ll go to a retirement home or I’ll finish myself, the last thing I want is to burden someone with my problems, specially a dear one, as a child of mine would be, if had any.
    The world ( the whole world ) live under laws and habits that didn’t work out for our grandparents and parents, didn’t work out for us and will never work out for our children.
    I feel that people should have evolved enough to value life a little more, by now. Give birth and abandon or treat a child as a bag of trash was not and will never be a sign of love.
    I believe that people, specially those ones with fundamental religion as basis of their education, should have to apply to be allowed to have kids. (naturally or adoption)
    I don’t care about the human rights of those mental ill “parents”, I care about the physical and mental health of those who had the bad lucky of been born to live with them.
    BTW, the third world woman of the example above, is the woman who gave me birth… I’ve never called her mother, I will not start it now.
    I rather been aborted then been raised by that… woman.
    Yes… for the psycologists on duty… I’ve been so traumatized by my childhood that having kids, is something I’ve never even considered.
    I have that feeling that if one day, a child of mine hate me the way I hate that woman, I rather turn into smoke and disapear.
    (believe me… I tried therapy, I believe it didn’t work out well )

  • muggle

    Isabel, though I have a child, I hear your pain. I wish my mother had aborted me rather than have me to half beat to death.

    She left it in God’s hands. End result, 8 kids in 10 years for 2 people who weren’t capable of loving and caring for even 1.

    And thanks for mentioning the starvation thing. Part of my weight problem today is having been starved as a child. When you grow up scrabbling for every scrap of food often fighting seven siblings for the last scrap, all because your parents had more children than they could afford, it’s hard to tell yourself, no, that’s too much. I shouldn’t eat that much. You had the eat as much as you can get a hold of inured into your psyche as a child.

    I once had a Jewish friend who had four grandparents that were all concentration camp survivors. She told me they had the same issues with food. Terrible what starvation can do to you.

    And you have a point about children of ignorant parents. I broke the cycle of abuse but it took one hell of a lot of determination and conscious effort and leaving religion.

    My siblings — both those who left religion and those who didn’t — didn’t fare as well. And neither did the children of those who had children. (Only half of us did.)

    I have gotten so angry at abortion protesters shouting what if your mother had aborted you that I have yelled back I wish she had. And I meant it.

    In short, I think I will be recuperating from beating beat in the name of God all my life.

  • JJ

    At least the Schatz’s will get what’s coming to them. I would imagine their live expectencies in prison will be somewhere between 0 and yesterday. Michael Pearl and his wife are insane & should be committed to criminally insane institutions. (And beaten ever day if they resist.)

  • Truth

    I have come across numerous biblical citations that liken Michael Pearl’s teachings to that of the anti-christ because they steal up children’s souls with violent dominance before they have a choice or are aware, right from infancy they are dominated into submission with pain. Remember, the anti-christ fools people into worshipping him as God. Michael Pearl tries to give people the illusion that they can control completely like God and they can be God-like and “sit as God.” Once his obedient souless minions are in place and fully obedient to him he can denounce the religion that got him power, just like the Bible predicts.

  • Mcrfan343

    I’m Christian and I say this was utterlessly dispicable. It’s one thing to spank a child, it’s another to beat a child for one simple mistake.

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