Gregory and Melanie Magazu have three kids, including a newborn, but they really want to adopt more. They feel that if they’re able to provide a home for foster children, it’s something they have to do. And I admire any couple willing to open up their homes like that.
The problem is that their Christian faith requires them to hit their children.
When a social worker came to observe their home life and interview them, the spanking issue came up:
“As soon as we got to the spanking question,” Greg says, “it was like ‘Oh. You spank your children? Well, you need to stop doing that.’ And when we said we weren’t going to stop doing that they said ‘No kids for you.’”
Indeed, the Magazu’s were rejected as foster parents because they believe the bible encourages spanking as a loving form of measured punishment — never in anger — always beginning with a chat about the reason and ending with a hug.
I’ll never understand parents who think hitting their kids — out of “love” — is useful. Haven’t we heard enough horror stories from the “Train up a Child” crowd?
The Magazus compromised and said they wouldn’t spank their foster kids — just their biological ones — but the Department of Children and Families still rejected them. A lot of these foster kids come from abusive homes, they said, and even being around abuse wouldn’t be in their best interest. Makes perfect sense.
Spanking is legal in Massachusetts — but many have frowned upon it in recent decades amid studies that have asserted it does more harm than good.
One study by the American Psychological Association asserted links to aggressive and anti-social behavior in children, along with low self-esteem.
“We have not seen any of the negative things studies claim can happen when you spank your kids,” says Greg.
Breaking news right there: Parents who spank their kids see no downside to it!
Even if you put aside the spanking for a second, it’s also disturbing that these parents, despite hearing what’s best for the foster children, refuse to change their ways to accommodate those kids’ needs. That’s a bad omen.
But it didn’t stop the Magazus from suing the State a few years ago, calling this a form of religious discrimination. On Thursday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments from both sides.
“The Hebrew and Christian scriptures tell us whoever spares the rod hates his son, but whoever loves him is diligent to discipline him,” said the couple’s attorney, David Bodanza. “DCF is saying that Christians and Jews need not apply.”
That’s ridiculous. This has nothing to do with religious discrimination. It doesn’t matter that the inspiration to hit their kids comes from the Bible. An atheist couple who spanked their kids would have also been denied foster children — and rightfully so. (Keep in mind that plenty of Christian parents don’t take the “spare the rod, spoil the child” idea literally. Many interpret it differently.)
The state may not be able to stop parents from spanking their own kids, but they can make sure foster kids are in homes where abuse, whether it’s faith-based or not, isn’t tolerated.
“Just deciding, well, because you spank, that’s it, you’re out, just automatically disqualifies a lot of families that could be fully appropriate to help with this huge burden we have here in Massachusetts,” Gregory Magazu said.
Yes, it disqualifies a lot of families who have no business raising foster children.
I don’t care if they think their hearts are in the right place.
Their hands aren’t.