The phrase, “Suffer the children to come unto me [=Jesus]” is from the King James Bible which was written in Elizabethan English. At that time the word “suffer” meant “allow.” Just “allow” children to “come to Jesus?” Seems a little tame compared with statements in the Hebrew Bible that taught parents to beat their children into submission, and stone disobedient ones, including anyone of any age who tempted others to follow “other gods.” After Christianity arose, further “allowances” were instituted such as dedicating oneʼs child to the parentʼs religion at birth, i.e., the Hebrews practiced circumcision, but the early Christian church soon chose infant baptism as an alternative. Children were thus “allowed” to come to Jesus. But what choice did they have?
Kids, You Canʼt Beat ʻEm, Unless Youʼre a Firm Believer In The Bible, Then Itʼs An Obligation
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
— Proverbs 19:18 (The Hebrew word for “chasten” means literally “chasten with blows.”)
The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
— Proverbs 20:30 (The Hebrew word translated “stripes” means “beating.”)
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the foolʼs back.
— Proverbs 26:3
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beats him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from Sheol.
— Proverbs 23:13-14
As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee (with blows).
— Deuteronomy 8:5
For whom the Lord loves he chasteneth, and scourges every son whom he receives.
— Hebrews 12:6 (The Greek word translated “chasteneth,” also means “beating.”)
And If Beatinʼ ʻEm Donʼt Work…
Rev. William Einwechter, vice-moderator of the Association of Free Reformed Churches, is convinced that we as a nation are in danger of suffering the penalty of Godʼs wrath unless we begin stoning to death “disobedient children” who are in their “middle teens or older.” The reverend cited Deuteronomy 21:18-21 as his keystone verse:
“If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”
He and his fellow Free Reformed Christians should not be chided for focusing on “disobedient children,” because they believe that blasphemers, witches, adulterers, and those who seek to convert people to religions other than Free Reformed Christianity, are all candidates for a good stoning.
— E.T.B. (citing Rev. William Einwechter, “Stoning Disobedient Children,” Chalcedon Report, Jan. 1998)
Other Ways Children May Suffer
A father and mother who chose prayer instead of medicine watched as their sick baby daughter died. They were sentenced to a year of weekends in jail and parenting classes. Julia, 11 months, died of bacterial meningitis in July 2001, suffering high fever, vomiting, and convulsions. The parents pleaded no contest to charges of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse. Richard and Angeles Weibe are members of the Church of God, Upland, Calif., which shuns medical care.
— Associated Press, Sept. 16, 2003
Rhiana Rose Schmidt, who was born on Aug. 17, died on Aug. 19, after being delivered breech-birth at home to parents who belong to the General Assembly Church of the Firstborn in Morgantown, Ind. The church eschews medical care. She died of puerperal sepsis, a general infection acquired at birth, which is treated with antibiotics. She had difficulty breathing from the onset and the family knew she was ill, but believed it wrong to rely on medicine over “Godʼs will.” An acquaintance of the family, Franklin College Professor David Carlson, recalled that the mother of the deceased child had been an exceptionally bright student in his religion classes. She had a strong religious faith but belonged to a sorority and did not fit the stereotype of a closed-minded fundamentalist, he said. “Maleta was one of the brightest students Iʼve had in my 25 years here, excellent writer, good thinker,” said Carlson, who attended the Schmidtsʼ wedding at the church near Morgantown. “I have not found her judgmental at all.” Hers is the third such death involving children from the same church. The previous two cases involved prematurely-born Aspen Daniel, who died at six days of dehydration and underdevelopment in November 1998, and, Bradley Hamm, 12, who died in February 1999 of an undetected heart attack. Indiana law provides a defense for parents providing “spiritual care.” No charges have been brought in any of these cases.
— Daily Journal (published in Johnson County, Indiana) Aug. 23-24, 2003
A Tennessee mother who let her daughter die of untreated bone cancer last fall was indicted on misdemeanor charges in April. Jessica Crank, 15, died on Sept. 15. Members of the New Life Ministries prayed over the girlʼs open casket for her resurrection. Jessica had a basketball-sized tumor on her shoulder. Mother Jacqueline Crank, 42, and Ariel Ben Sherma, 74, the church leader, each face a single count of child abuse and neglect.
— KnoxNews.com, April 17, 2003
Hans Missal, 51, was sentenced to 90 years in prison for attempting to set fire to his family. He admitted to dousing his Orlando home with gasoline. Missal also duct-taped the doors shut and ran a hose from the house to a car tailpipe while his wife, son and daughter slept before he attempted to set the structure on fire. Missal compared himself to the Bibleʼs Abraham, who was commanded by God to sacrifice his own son, and said he received a message from God to kill his entire family, Local 6 News reported. “God had a plan for my family, I had no idea what that plan was,” Missal said. “I trusted God and God was faithful to the end.” Missal said God stopped the sacrifice by waking up the family before he set the house on fire. “I know that God was putting me through a test,” Missal said. “He said, ‘Do you love your family?’ And absolutely, I love them more than anything in this world.” Missal understands why people may think he is mentally ill,” Local 6 reporter Mike DeForest said. “But he said it was all Godʼs plan for him to serve the next 90 years in prison.” He also said it was Godʼs plan for his wife and children to endure such mental anguish. “I know too many children who have easy lives and they suffer for that,” Missal said. “So, this was to make your kid stronger?” DeForest said. “It was not to make my kid stronger, but they will be stronger because of it,” Missal said. Missal is leading a Bible study group at jail. He will soon be transported to state prison, where he plans to spend time praying.
— 2006 by Internet Broadcasting Systems and Local6.com, April 26, 2006
A mother charged with murder for cutting off her baby daughterʼs arms in what her lawyers portrayed as a religious frenzy was found not guilty by reason of insanity Friday by a judge. Dena Schlosser, 38, will be sent to a state mental hospital and held until she is no longer deemed a threat to herself or others. Police arrested Schlosser in 2004 after she told a 911 operator she had severed her babyʼs arms. Officers found the 10-month-old baby, Margaret, near death in her crib and Schlosser covered in blood, holding a knife and listening to a hymn… Last week it was disclosed that Schlosser had a brain tumor that defense attorneys said could have caused hallucinations… Among other things, psychiatrists said Schlosser suffered severe mood swings and religious hallucinations. One doctor said Schlosser told him she wanted to cut off her babyʼs arms and her own limbs and head and give them to God.
— Julia Glick, “Texas Mom Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity,” AP, via www.SFGate.com, USA, Apr. 7, 2006
Rusty Yates met traveling evangelist Michael Woroniecki, admired his message and introduced him to Andrea Yates, Rustyʼs wife… Itʼs widely believed that the itinerant preacher inadvertently supplied Andrea with the framework for her psychotic delusions. She told her doctors she believed Satan lived within her, her children were going to hell and she had to kill all five of them [which she did by drowning them one at a time in a bathtub filled with water] while they were young so God would accept them in heaven. Rusty, the leader and authority figure in the Yates household, is commonly blamed for other decisions—such as to home-school the children or live in a converted bus—that made life more difficult for Andrea. At times Rusty is bitter about the criticism he has received from near and far. He was a devoted nurse. He desperately wanted his wife to get well. Early on, he was ignorant about her mental health problems, but most Americans are slow to recognize the signs and symptoms. [Especially slow are those who believe you can get all the help you need from God alone, it just takes more faith.—E.T.B.]
— Claudie Feldman, “Pain, Work Relentless in Yates Case,” Houston Chronicle, USA, Jan. 25, 2004 www.chron.com To read more on the Andrea Yates case see, Are You There Alone? : The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates by Suzanne OʼMalley; Breaking Point (St. Martinʼs True Crime Library) by Suzy Spencer; or; “Women who kill their children: case study and conclusions concerning the differences in the fall from maternal grace by Khoua Her and Andrea Yates.” (Tenth … from: Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy) by Jayne Huckerby
Deanna LaJune Laney, 38, killed sons Joshua, 8, and Luke, 6, both found dead in the yard, large rocks atop their bodies. Deputies found her 14-month-old son, Aaron, alive in his crib, bleeding from a skull fracture and with a pillow over his face. Wearing bloodstained pajamas, their mother told the first deputy on the scene “I had to,” Investigators who interviewed her said she occasionally started singing spiritual hymns or muttering about God… What is known publicly about Laneyʼs case suggests that she might have had “something like bipolar disorder where people get very agitated, have religious delusions of God speaking to them, and they have some sort of mission or purpose or duty that they have to carry out and sometimes end up doing very horrible things,” Puryear told The Dallas Morning News…. At the church where Deanna Laney once ministered to youth, sang in the choir and spoke in tongues, worshippers Sunday prayed for her and her family a day after she was acquitted by reason of insanity of bludgeoning two of her young sons to death. Members of the Pentecostal First Assembly of God church turned to their faith to cope with killings, which Laney said God told her to commit.
— Associated Press, “Lawyer in Case of Slain Children May Use Defense Similar to Yates,” May 13, 2003 http://www.religionnewsblog.com, and, “Pastor Preaches of Healing at Church Attended by Mother Who Killed Young Sons,” Associated Press, USA, Apr. 5, 2004, Boston News & Herald
Iʼve worked with more born-again Christian abusers than any others. A lot of our child killers are evangelical born-again abusers.
Ray Wyre, head of the UK young sexual offenders clinic at Gracewell, Birmingham, England, in an interview with Men and Crime (Issue 13, Summer 1992)
The Christian Doctrine of “Infant Damnation”
Devout Christians contribute to the deaths of children whenever they waive medical assistance for the child and instead rely only on prayer in times of severe illness; or whenever a missionary drags their children along with them to a country filled with people violently hostile to their beliefs (or converts children there, who may then be disowned or beaten by their parents, or imprisoned). Devout Christians have also beaten young children (see examples below) in “tests of will” or while trying to “drive out a spirit of disobedience” or “exorcise a demon” from them (see the section on EXORCISMS). Some Christians believe in imposing psychological as well as physical pain on children (sometimes of a deadly sort), to get them to believe as they do, and out of fear of “eternal hellfire.” Which brings me to some even more bizarre cases of child abuse:
A small Danish (Protestant) sect went around killing as many newly baptized infants as they could discover, thereby preserving them from sin, from the miseries of this life, and from hell, and sending them infallibly to heaven. In the light of their beliefs they were acting rationally, but they did not secure Voltaireʼs approval: “These charitable persons omitted to consider that most fathers and mothers are sufficiently worldly to prefer having their sons and daughters with them than to see them slaughtered as a passport to Paradise.” — A. J. Ayer, Voltaire
“[T]he extermination of the Canaanite children [by the Hebrews as commanded by God and described in the book of Deuteronomy] was not only an act of mercy and love to the world at large; it was an act of love and mercy to the children themselves.”
— R. A. Torrey [one of the contributors to The Fundamentals, a series of tracts published in the 1920ʼs that helped popularize “fundamentalist” Christianity. Torry argued in the above case that slaughtering the children was an act of infinite mercy because it ensured them eternal paradise.]
Some (Catholic) Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants then immediately dash their brains out; by this means they secured that those infants went to heaven.
— Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?
One might compare with the above cases the Inquisitionʼs history of attempting to “save” a personʼs soul via torture and confession followed by execution. Moreover, according to towering Catholic theologians like Saint Augustine, an unbaptized infant was a “limb of Satan”:
Infants, When Unbaptized, are in the Power of the Devil… The Christian faith unfalteringly declares that they who are cleansed in the laver of regeneration (i.e., the baptismal font) are redeemed from the power of the devil, and that those who have not yet been redeemed by such regeneration are still captive in the power of the devil, even if they be infant children of the redeemed … From the power of the devil … infants are delivered when they are baptized; and whosoever denies this, is convicted by the truth of the Churchʼs very sacraments, which no heretical novelty in the Church of Christ is permitted to destroy or change, so long as the Divine Head rules and helps the entire body which He owns—small as well as great. It is true, then, and in no way false, that the devilʼs power is exorcised in infants, and that they renounce him by the hearts and mouths of those who bring them to baptism, being unable to do so by their own; in order that they may be delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of their Lord.- Saint Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book 1, Chapter 22
Some Catholic saints even experienced “spiritual visions” that depicted little children suffering in hell. Saint Fulgentius in the sixth century taught that “little children who have begun to live in their mother“s womb and have there died, or who, having just been born, have passed away from the world without the sacrament of holy baptism must be punished by the eternal torture of undying fire.”
Later, the church settled on a more merciful destination for unbaptized infants, “Limbo,” which was kind of like “Hell Lite.” But recently the Catholic Church has even abolished “Limbo,” and stated that unbaptized infants who die go directly to heaven. (Ironically, thatʼs the “heretical novelty” that Saint Augustine expelled so much hot air arguing against!)
Even as late as 1890, at least one approved Catholic work continued to depict young children suffering in hell, Rev. J. Furnissʼs, Tracts for Spiritual Reading, designed for First Communions, Retreats, Missions, etc. (New York: Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 1890). The Reverend wrote, “See the little child in this red hot oven. Hear the fire! It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in hell—despair, desperate and horrible.”
My daughter is five-years-old and, people say how inhumane, I let my daughter lay and cry herself to sleep for a week straight about the flames of Hell. See my daughter personally lay at night and say, “I donʼt want to go to Hell, I donʼt want to go to Hell,” and sheʼd be laying there crying. I could have run right in there and gave her the Gospel and she could have made a profession of salvation, but I let it get deeper into her memory. Know that I mean? That there is a Hell. And that will affect her whole life. Thatʼs why sheʼs an obedient child.
— Barry Weaver, street preacher, quoted in Jim Naughton, “The Devil & Duffy Strode: In Marion, North Carolina, a Boy Preacherʼs Hellfire Gospel Alarms a Quiet Community,” Liberty, Jan./Feb. 1989
Religious Prisons for Children
Joan Grise, 70 years old and suffering from cancer, is making a valiant effort to have her grandson freed from the clutches of a private religious prison operated in Arcadia, Louisiana by the New Bethany Baptist Church. The boyʼs father, a member of the authoritarian sect, decided that his son Matthew is “evil” and must literally have sin driven out of him. So, he turned the youngster over to the clutches of Rev. Mack W. Ford, who is notorious for his brutal style of corporal punishment.
Ford says that his treatment is designed “to reach the unwanted with the love of God,” but even the local Deputy Sheriff of Bievnville Parish, where Fordʼs compound is located, refers to the place as a “private jail.” It looks it too, surrounded by barbed-wire fencing and out of sight from observers. Sheriff Stewart told the Rocky Mountain News that Ford gets kids “down here and works the heck out of them and spanks the heck out of them and does what he wants to do…”
A 1984 report in the New York Times discussed a similar religious compound that Ford was operating in South Carolina. Along with the heavy regimen of corporal punishment and Bible —verse indoctrination, youngsters were divided into levels. At the bottom were boys described as “in bondage.” According to the newspaper reports, they were “marched into fields to work while tied together with rope,” and prohibited from even talking or laughing. Above them, the “bonded servants” enjoyed the privilege of conversation, but still were in forced labor. At the top were the “sojourners.” South Carolina authorities raided Fordʼs work camp, and the county prosecutor declared, “Most of the boys were brainwashed, just like Hitler did with kids.”
At his new compound in Louisiana “Ford repeatedly has rebuffed the attempts of state regulators to inspect the facility,” notes The News. “Even the state fire marshal is not allowed on site to assure the safety of the approximately 50 children housed there…”
A raid on his South Carolina compound produced evidence of children being struck with a “rod of correction,” and reports that children were confined in cells with ropes and handcuffs, and evidence of physical bruising.
— Conrad Goeringer, “Theistwatch Short Shots,” AANEWS (American Atheistsʼ News), Nov. 3, 1998
A police investigation into a Corpus Christi, Texas area Baptist group, the Peopleʼs Baptist Church, has uncovered allegations of child abuse… Eighteen-year-old Justin Simons told police that a church employee punched him in the chest, and punished him and another young boy by tying their wrists together and forcing them to run through the woods and even dig a 15-foot-deep pit. “When I tried to jump the pit, I fell and sprained both ankles.”
The Peopleʼs Baptist Church operates the Rebekah Home for Girls and the Anchor Home for Boys, and carries on a ministry founded by the late evangelist Lester Roloff. Practices at Roloffʼs various “homes” and other ministerial operations attracted concern in the past from media and authorities over charges involving abuse, beatings and other forms of “Bible based discipline” which the evangelist unabashedly espoused. Roloff defended his punitive child-control techniques, declaring, “Better a pink bottom than a black soul.” Then-Texas State Attorney General John Hill bluntly responded, “I donʼt mind pink bottoms. What I do object to is black, blue and bloody…”
— American Atheists, Inc. “Probe of Abuse Charges at ‘Bible Discipline’ Home Leads to Bush, Raises Questions of Faith-State Partnership” Web Posted 4/12/00
Survivor Testimonies from Former Attendees of Lester Roloffʼs Homes for Boys & Girls
For years I have tried to find someone who could relate to me. I was happy to find you and very upset at the same time. Yes we were in a cult. Yes we were cut off from the world, starved and abused, and so many other things. I am 38 years old. I was in Lester Roloffʼs Rebekah Home for Girls in 1984. The year is still a little unclear maybe 1985. No one need to ever send a child to a place like that. Those people took my soul, my dream, my mind. People to this day say why do you not “take up for yourself?” They call me a doormat. I was not a doormat in my teens, I was outspoken, I loved to have fun. Was it a bad thing? I never hurt anyone never used drugs or drink. My mother had her life, she didnʼt want to deal with me. So she locks me away. And I come back into the world a mental wreck. Bro. Cameron will face his Maker one day. As for the others, I would like to know where you were there. Did you have morning med call? I did. That was where we went to take our so-called vitamins. Mr. and Mrs. Barrett were the house parents and let me tell you they terrorized me. I just tried to play the game. That was the only way I knew I would get out alive. I canʼt clean a bathroom without the thought of that place. If we didnʼt wipe it down their way we were punished. How do we stop this going on again? Well I could go on and on as you know. Take care, be strong,
My name is Jim and I too was in the Rolloff Enterprises group homes. I was in the City of Refuge for boys in Frederick Okla. back in 1966, when kids had no rights at all. The consensus being we were the property of our parents or legal guardians and no one could tell you how to raise your kid, so if you wanted to beat them it was nobodyʼs business What Regina has said is not only the truth but barely scratches the surface of the abuse and forced labor I experienced while there. We were cut off from the outside world completely, we were not allowed to read anything but the Bible, and had to memorize versus of scripture. The only radio we were allowed was one hour a day to listen to brother Rolloffs sermon and attendance was mandatory, we were forced to attend church every night of the week. They had a church on the home and brother Harmon Oxford preached hell fire and brimstone every chance he could, which was every Monday, Tues, Thurs, Fri. and Sat., while on Wed. and Sun. we attended churches in town. We were not allowed to attend school for the first six months we were on the home as we had a school on the premises. It was never used but it was there and kept in working order in case anyone ever wanted to see it.
I was twelve years old at the time I was there. Twice a year we were loaded up and taken to McAllan Texas to first irrigate and then pick oranges in the groves Lester Rolloff owned. We were made to pick cotton at the home in Frederick Okla. Rolloff made a bundle off of us and we didnʼt get so much as a thank you. We would start in the fields at five in the morning and work till dark, more than once I had to soak my hands it the sink due to them bleeding from the cotton plants cutting them up, no they didnʼt give us gloves to wear. I have back problems to this day from being forced to carry tree stumps we were clearing from a field these stumps were bigger than I was and quite heavy, but if you were smart you didnʼt complain about it you just did it. I wasnʼt smart though, and I was constantly in trouble and received many a beating for it with a three foot long paddle with holes drilled through it.
One of the things I got beat for the most was having black friends at the high school when I was finally allowed to attend, according to their teachings blacks were beneath us and were cursed by God to serve whites, I will never forget when brother Harmon Oxford interviewed a boys parents form Georgia and accepted him over the phone when they arrived and Oxford found out he was black he tried to get out of accepting him to the boys home but couldnʼt do it so he told each of us we were to pick on him and abuse him so the kid would run away and Oxford could throw him off the home. When I refused I was beaten and was then fair game for the rest of the boys on the home.
Rolloff and the Oxfords made big money off of our forced labor and the fee to our parents to keep us there, all the while getting donations from all the churches in the area. We often had tours of the home for our benefactors, but the trouble makers like myself were locked up in a room and kept out of sight,I mean they didnʼt want them to see the bruises from the beatings we got or take the chance one of us would tell them what was really happening inside their home. My time there was a living hell and it ruined my life well into my thirties. It is my hope that Lester Rolloffʼs homes will be shut down for good. And you will all write your government officials and demand that these types of homes be regulated by what ever state they are in. If you know of anyone who was on City of Refuge for Boys when it was in Frederick, Oklahoma, I would like to hear from them: firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDENDA: On November 2, 1982, Roloff, along with a female staff member and a ladies singing trio from the home for adult women, were killed when their plane crashed near Normangee, Texas on their way to a preaching and singing service they were scheduled to conduct.
Bethel Boysʼ Academy
[A private Christian military academy that practices abuse & torture]
This past summer of 2003 my husband and I placed our son at Bethel Boys Academy in Lucedale, Mississippi. It is owned and run by Herman Fountain and his son John Fountain. My son was only there for a few days when I had changed my mind and returned to Miss. to claim him. During those few days he was beaten, tortured and deprived of food, sleep, water and bathroom privileges. He was covered head to toe in bruises. We took our son to the Attorney Generalʼs office in Jackson, MS. They sent an investigator to get my sonʼs deposition and also to try and take pictures of the bruises.
Within the next month another 16 boys would be removed from that torture chamber. All with stories of abuse, beatings for no reasons, torture including electrical shock, and being locked in a foot locker for the whole day. Forced exercise for hours straight with no breaks and no water. The Attorney Generalʼs office had 13 of those boys testify before a judge asking to close the place down. Mike Moore publicly announced his intention to do just that in all the newspapers down in MS. We were all to appear in court on August 26th, 2003 to testify and show proof of the abuse the boys suffered at the hands of the Fountains and their evil Drill Instructors. Two days before court Mike Moore, the Attorney General made yet another deal with Bethel Boys Academy to allow them to remain open. I guess his political agenda (possibly running for U.S. Senator) was more important to him than saving all those abused childrenʼs lives. The new decree with Bethel admits guilt right and left. It basically says they will no longer use electrical shock on the children. They will give them water to drink. I couldnʼt believe that the State of MS. knows about this abuse as this particular home has been in the news every year since they opened. The State even shut them down before only to have them reopen a few years later to continue with the abuse. We treat our P.O.W.ʼs better than that. These are innocent children. Herman and John Fountain love to blast their mouths in the paper that this is a last resort school. Only the bad children come there. My son wasnʼt bad, just getting off the right path. He wasnʼt in trouble with the law, never has been. My son was in there with children who thought Bethel was a private Christian Military Academy. They donʼt advertise as a teen boot camp where your child can be abused and tortured for a whopping $25,000 a year. The Fountains are liars and child abusers. The State of Miss. and Mike Moore are weak and too concerned about their own political agenda to do that right thing—which is to stop legalized child abuse.
— By Anonymous Hero, Mar 28th, 2005
Eight people were indicted in the death of 12-year-old Alex Harris, of Haughton, who died of dehydration and trauma to the head following a punishment run at Hope Youth Ranch, a Christian-based nonprofit juvenile facility. He reportedly was denied water during the run and was dropped on the ground when an older boy picked him up after Harris had collapsed… Doug Pierrelee said at one point during Harrisʼ punishment, the eight employees locked themselves in an air-conditioned truck to keep Harris from getting inside. “These eight people missed the opportunity to save a 12-year-old child who was begging for his life.”
—Vickie Welborn, “Eight Booked Over Boyʼs Death at Minden Area Youth Ranch: Grand Jury Indicts Seven Employees, One Ex-Employee on Negligent Homicide Charge,” Shreveport Times, May 23, 2006
Julia Scheeres is the author of Jesus Land: A Memoir, published in both the U.S. and Britain. http://www.juliascheeres.com/
Julia writes, “I was born in Lafayette, Indiana. My grade school was Lafayette Christian and my church Lafayette Christian Reformed. The memoir I wrote is about my close relationship with my adopted brother David. It covers our Calvinist upbringing in Indiana and our stint at a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic as teens. The ‘program’ practiced at that Christian reform school made me lose my faith. The abuse I witnessed in the name of God made me resent organized religion and especially Christian fundamentalists. Of course I pretended to believe in God to get out of there quicker—you must conform to their religious ideology to graduate. The Christian reform school to which I was sent, Escuela Caribe, is a miserable place founded on the concept that all students who are sent down there are ‘bad kids’ who need to be punished. It doesnʼt take into consideration that many children come from homes where they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused, or that some students have documented mental health problems. NHYMʼs one-size-fits-all program is a simplistic approach to complicated issues. But itʼs also convenient dumping ground for wealthy evangelicals who donʼt want to deal with their troublesome teens. The image of the teacher punching my little brother in the stomach, and my helplessness at not being able to defend or comfort him, will haunt me forever. It reminds me why itʼs important to expose the truth about NHYM, and possibly spare other children from similar abuse.”
Stories of Other Alumni from the Above Christian Institution
Escuela Caribeʼ is but one of hundreds of such camps operating both in the U.S. and abroad under the auspices of American organizations. My fiancé is another survivor of Escuela Caribeʼ, and I can tell you that the abuse described by Ms. Scheeres, who was a “high-leveler,” is even worse for those like my fiancéʼ, who was a “zero-leveler.” Any publicity of the abuse perpetrated by Mr. Redwine and New Horizons Youth Ministries is welcome as another chip away at the edifice of abuse built by these horrendous people, and a step closer to outlawing these type of horrific institutions. Again, thank you for your attention to this issue.
— Robert Allen Wilbur, “Stop Institutionalized Child Abuse,”
The Sisters of Evil
Forty years ago at a Catholic orphanage in Dublin run by the “Sisters of Mercy” the children were regularly, ritually beaten with the legs of chairs; in some cases eight-year-old children were whipped with rosary beads. Infants strapped to potties were beaten if they did not give quick results. Children who misbehaved—or were “bold”—were trussed up like chickens and hung upside down on high oak doors, so that every time the door opened their heads would bump on the floor… Those who wet their beds were made to carry the stained sheet around all day. Some who threw up the foul food were force-fed and made to eat the vomit…
For hours after school, each child was obliged to turn out 60 rosary beads a day. Working with sharp wire, pliers and beads, they were not allowed to stop, even when the wire bit into their bleeding fingers…
Christine Howe was persuaded to let the sisters take care of her baby temporarily when she had to go to the hospital and her husband was working in England. Four days later her husband received a telegram telling of the childʼs death “from acute dysentery,” and also saying he had no need to return, the convent would take care of the funeral arrangements. The husband insisted on seeing the child prior to burial and discovered bandages on the childʼs legs; removing them, he found deep holes in the inside of both knees, the kind of wound that could be caused by a hot poker. The nuns admitted it had been an “accidental death” but refused to discuss the details with the parents… Reports of abuse are still coming in from other orphanages in southern Ireland.
— Peter Lennon, “The Sisters of Evil,” The Guardian Weekly, March 31, 1996—a discussion of the documentary, Dear Daughter by Louis Lentin, along with the deluge of corroborating reports that came in after the film was first aired on British TV.
Lucille Poulin says she prayed to God before hitting small children with a thick wooden rod—and the Almighty would tell her how many strokes to administer. The 78-year-old former Roman Catholic nun alternated between evangelical zeal and stern lectures on disciplining children as she testified in her own defense at the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island trial where she faces five charges of assaulting children at a rural PEI commune. Ms. Poulin said she did not want to use the rod to discipline the nine children she cared for and taught on the PEI commune. But she said she is a prophet and talks to God and receives messages from the Almighty regularly. And she said God told her she had to obey the words of the Scriptures about using a rod to correct the behaviour of children to save their souls from hell. “It isnʼt easy, but God said to do it,” Poulin said, noting that she administered the rod to the five children named in the charges on more than two dozen occasions from October, 1999, to July, 2001.
— TGM, Oct. 1, 2002
The founder of a fundamentalist Christian community near Petersburg, Virginia, was convicted of manslaughter, along with the parents of a 2-year-old boy, after the boy died in 1982 as a result of two hours of paddling that she said was necessary to win a “test of wills” with the child.
— News of the Weird, “Weird Clergy”
Eleven-Year-Old Nearly Beaten to Death for Misbehaving in Bible Class
Austin, Texas—Twenty-three-year-old Joshua Thompson, pastor of the Spanish-language congregation at “independent fundamental” Capitol City Baptist church, and his twin brother and assistant at the church, Caleb Thompson, were convicted in the beating of a Bible student. They used an inch-thick tree branch to beat Louie Guerrero, an 11-year-old boy, for “goofing off” during Bible class because he was not taking preparations for a Scripture recital competition seriously. “The indication that we have is that (the boy) had been accused of cheating in memorizing Bible verses.” Court records allege the beating was to physically “break” the boy for lying. As punishment, Pastor Thompson took the boy from the church school to Calebʼs home, snapped a branch off a tree, and beat the boy as Caleb held him face down on a bed. They turned up the radio to cover the childʼs cries. (The boy told his family the beating lasted about 90 minutes, and he was allowed to take a break in the restroom during the beating. At one point, the boy said, he was told to pick up the pieces of the tree branch that broke during the beating. He said the beating resumed after one of the brothers got a new stick.) Contra the boyʼs testimony, Pastor Thomson said “the beating lasted about 10 minutes.” The boy and a doctor who treated him said he was hit at least 100 times. Jurors saw graphic photos of the boyʼs back with red and purple bruises and blood spots from scrapes or puncture wounds.
Pastor Thompson and his brother took the boy home, where they met Louieʼs mother and stepfather and told them we have a “big problem.” The pastor told the boyʼs stepfather that he was unable to “break” the boy, and that the stepfather should “beat Louie for two more hours” to fix it. “Do it!” Thompson said three times, according to court papers. The pastor added that he would not allow their son to return to church because his bad example might affect the other children.
After the pastor and his brother left, Louieʼs mother and stepfather discovered bruises and small cuts from his neck to his buttocks as a result of the beating. More bruising was found on his arms and the right side of his head. Police said the boyʼs back was a giant swath of red peppered with cuts and blood spots.
The pastor said the boyʼs parents had given him permission to punish the boy and that he didnʼt intend to inflict serious injuries. The boyʼs parents deny telling the pastor that he could hit their child. The boy was admitted to intensive care at Brackenridge Childrenʼs Hospital. Broken blood vessels had caused his kidneys to fail. A nurse told investigators that he needed a blood transfusion to live. The boy spent five days in intensive care after the beating.
The boy told police that in the past he had been spanked or forced to maintain a push-up position for an extended period, and that he has seen other children physically disciplined. Other members of the church have called Bobby Taylor, the boyʼs attorney, alleging abuses, and he advised them to call the police. Detective Douglas Havens of the child abuse unit said the boy reported seeing a church member spank another child at the church but that the child was not injured. “The indication of the family is that many church members approve of this kind of thing or at least have accepted the religious philosophy behind it.” Havens added that the boyʼs family indicated harsh and severe discipline is often used in the Spanish-speaking segment of the church. Havens said the victim told police he had never before been hit with “the rod” as church members referred to the stick.
Pastor Thompson reportedly testified that at the time of the beating he thought he was doing the right thing, but that since the July 3 incident he has realized that his actions were “totally, totally, totally, totally, totally wrong.”
“When I lay my head on my pillow at night, I try to forgive myself,” Caleb Thompson said.
— SOURCES: “Texas Boy Nearly Beaten To Death by Pastor,” July 9, 2002 (Reuters); The Houston Chronicle, “Accused Pastor, Brother Surrender, Austin Police Probe Possibility Other Youths Abused in Church,” July 10, 2002; The Dallas Morning News, Newspaper, “Pastor, Brother Face Charges in Boys Beating,” July 10, 2002; Fox News, “Pastor, Brother Charged With Beating Boy For Cheating In Bible Studies,” July 10, 2002; AustinChronicle.com, Dec. 12, 2003: Politics: Naked City; Jim Vertuno, “Brothers Guilty in Beating at Bible Study” Associated Press/Dec. 10, 2003
Comments on the Texas Boyʼs Beating, by a Baptist who Recently Rejected “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist” Churches
Perhaps some do not believe the “allegations?” So, why did little Louie need a blood transfusion, why was he bleeding in his urine, why kidney failure? Just “allegations” no doubt. Rev. Hank Thompson has been talking like he would be shocked if his twin sons had acted brutally. But the Thompson twins learned about discipline from experience and from listening to Papa preach on it.
An eleven-year-old boy lied about learning his Bible verses so he could meet the requirements in a Bible memory contest. That is wrong, and Louie should have been disciplined for that from his daddy only. The admonition to chasten a child in the Bible is to fathers, not to the High Priest or the local church pastor. Louieʼs daddy would know how to punish Louie, and if Rev. Thompson twin sons did not like Louieʼs behavior that much, they could just ask the parents to take him out of the program.
There is a great lust for corporal punishment these days. One very potent factor is the recent book, Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. The authorsʼ teaching is all about their wonderful children and how utterly successful they were as parents. The reader is encouraged to beat a child of a couple of months old until they cry and then until they stop crying. If little Louie did not cry, that would explain why he “needed” to be beat for one and a half hours. This is the notion being promoted in Baptist jackboot churches these days. (By the way, about 99% of these baby beaters believe that one should rely upon the King James Bible alone, all other translations being lies, or, “of the Devil.”)
There is a temperament of violence and rage in almost every Independent Fundamental Baptist, a sort of devilish mood cultured in their churches that is infectious. Bible Institutes and Bible Colleges also add to the mood. It is a mood of siege and defensiveness. Most Fundamental Baptist preachers talk regularly about Satan resisting them and their work. I believe this is all too often a clever cover story for their deficiencies and sins.
The fat overweight preacher will try to account to his lethargic slow belly and lack of punctuality as interference by Satan. The fornicating preacher will produce devils in women who are always tempting him. It is never his fault. The porn loving preacher will claim he is checking up on Satanʼs turf when he is visiting a peep show. The bar hopper will say he was at the bar to rescue some church member who called him from the bar and asked for deliverance. On and on—Satan gets a lot more credit than he deserves for the mess these preachers make of their own lives and the church they rule.
According to my own observations Fundamental Baptist preachers do not admit guilt, even when caught. Witness the asinine preaching of Jack Hyles when he was caught using his church secretary as a concubine. He preached his way out of a corner with sermons on restoring fallen preachers, but he never admitted his sin.
— Death of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, David Rice
A Scene from the Childhood of Radio Preacher & Politician Rev. James Dobson, Author of Dare To Discipline
Myrtle Dobson [Jamesʼs mother] was an amiable and social woman, but she didnʼt hesitate to whack her son [James] with a shoe or belt when she felt it was required. Consequently, [James] Dobson writes, he learned at an early age to stay out of striking distance when he back-talked to his mother. One day he made the mistake of mouthing off when she was only four feet away and heard a 16-pound girdle whistling through the air. “The intended blow caught me across the chest, followed by a multitude of straps and buckles wrapping themselves around my midsection.”
— AMERICA, July 17, 2006
The leader of a conservative Christian group in Wisconsin instructed 50 parents for 2 1/2 hours at an Eau Claire meeting on how to spank children: “You spank them right here on the gluteus maximus, which God made for that purpose,” insisted Marvin Munyon, demonstrating how to use a paddle and switch.
— Associated Press, Asbury Park Press, Sept. 25, 2000
Spanked for Christ
Although Iʼm “against” spanking, it was such an integral part of my upbringing that Iʼve internalized a huge part of the pro-spanking agenda. I feared spanking for almost everything. My parents often glowed from compliments on how well-behaved we were, yet we kids agreed that we only behaved in public because we were terrified of catching hell in private.
The rules for spankings changed with nearly every Bill Gothard seminar or other religious gathering my father/parents attended. Theyʼd come home and announce that their three-stroke limit was unbiblical, that the proper way to spank was until the child *STOPPED* crying in demonstration of a surrendered spirit. Maybe that worked for meek kids, but I had strong lungs. Another time they learned that nightmares were a childʼs way of punishing her/him-self, so when one of us screamed out at night, Dad would bring the paddle in and “free” us from guilt so we could go back to sleep. Waking up to the sound of a sibling being spanked is traumatic in its own right. Ah, and our father made many wooden paddles in his shop… with a handle cut in and a leather loop for hanging convenience. Our mom inscribed Bible verses on the surface and helped stain and shellac the little numbers. They gave a bunch of them away as presents, but we had plenty left for ourselves.
Yet I remain conflicted about spanking. I *know* itʼs not a good idea, but any other way of raising kids is still foreign to me. A few years ago I read Irwin Hymanʼs book, The Case Against Spanking/Discipline Without Hitting, and was astounded that someone actually thought a spanking-free childhood would be okay, even preferable. After reading it I had a discussion with my youngest brother, who was often spanked quite severely, yet who says itʼs the only way to raise “Godly kids.” Little parrot. “Mom and Dad spanked me so they could get their loving boy back.” Iʼm 18 years older than he is, but not much further ahead of him in coming out of this mess. I still expect to be hit randomly without grounds.
The better—and safer—my personal situation gets, the more I remember bizarre things like my fatherʼs consideration of stoning as an appropriate punishment for my rebellious nature, and his friend who spanked a three-month-old because he “saw rebellion in his sonʼs eyes”. Oh, and forced fastings to bring us into contact with the Holy Spirit, but thatʼs another topic. I still have a lot of nightmares, many of trying to escape from my father when heʼs coming after me to punish me.
Sorry to spew so much personal history here…I have a feeling that others besides P.& R. have experience with this stuff and understand the Biblical twist on narcissistic parenting. I havenʼt yet found a therapist who can do more than stare at me with mouth gaping if I talk about this stuff. One was so helpful as to remark, “Wow, your family is really f*cked up.”
— Naomi@email@example.com (Mar. 25, 2001)
The Rev. Mr. Munger has suddenly become a revivalist. According to the papers he is sought in every direction. His popularity seems to rest on the fact that he brutally beat a twelve-year-old girl because she did not say her prayers to suit him. Muscular Christianity is what the ignorant people want.
— Robert Ingersoll
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. A six-year-old boy has been suspended from a Christian school in Illinois after his mother refused to spank him. Thatʼs according to the mother. Michelle Fallaw-Gabrielson says her son had been piling up disciplinary notes for such offenses as talking out of turn, chewing gum, and bringing toys to school. She says she knew he was a disciplinary problem, but she never anticipated what occurred on Wednesday. She says when she arrived at Schaumburg Christian School to pick the boy up, an assistant administrator ordered her to spank him. When she refused, the official said her son was suspended. The next day, the mother withdrew the first-grader from the school.
— Associated Press, 2005
Join the “Religion-Related Child Abuse” Book-of-the-Month Club!
Just check the appropriate box, and weʼll rush you our featured selection, Philip Grevenʼs Spare the Child, that cites American Protestant authors who continue to promote violence against children. Next month weʼll send you Alice Millerʼs For Your Own Good, which traces the roots of physical violence towards children in the western world to the influence of Christianity. To illustrate her point she includes many biographical accounts, including a look at the Christian training that Adolf Hitler received during childhood. And in the months ahead you can look forward to receiving Annie Laurie Gaylorʼs Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children that documents cases of child abuse by the clergy. And Mary Raftery and Eoin OʼSullivanʼs Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Irelandʼs Industrial Schools, a story of incredible cruelties perpetrated by minions of state and church. Train Up the Child: How Children Get Hurt in Churches by Louise Anne Owens. And James A. Haughtʼs Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness, and, Holy Hatred: Religious Conflicts of the ʻ90s, which include some frightful accounts of religion-related child abuse. Donʼt delay! Sign up today!
The serial killing cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer, had fundamentalist Christian parents.
And blasphemous “shock rock” star, Marilyn Manson, composer of the “AntiChrist Superstar” CD, was forced to attend a fundamentalist Christian school in his youth.
Some devout parents would sooner risk the loss of their childʼs love in order to retain what they imagine to be “Godʼs.” For instance, a televised report (on Dateline or 20/20) in 1996 told how some “Christian counseling centers” boasted in their brochures they could “treat homosexuality.” Children and adolescents who had been “treated” at such “counseling centers” told reporters they had been locked up, held down, and screamed at to “induce shame” and to “teach them how they should feel about what they were doing to their parents and God.” Worse forms of abuse also took place. Some children and teenagers were detained for weeks, months, even years. At least one young girl sued her parents after she escaped from the “counseling center.”
Daughter Tells What Happened When Her Christian Mother Found Out She was Gay
I was 24 years old when my mother, through a series of mishaps, found out I was gay. My mother came over to where I worked, screaming, and told me I was “dead” to the family. She called me “sick,” “crazy” and “of the devil.” She said that I would never see my family again. For more than five years after that day, I heard nothing from my family. No birthday cards, no invitations to Christmas or Thanksgiving events. It wasnʼt just the loss of my immediate family that was difficult, but the loss of my extended family as well. Since my mother refused to be in the same room with me, it forced my aunts and uncles to choose sides. I have not been to a family reunion in more than a decade. When my partner, Trisha, and I decided to have a child, we were not unlike most couples making this decision…The only thing unusual about our pregnancy was the critical necessity of a lawyer. Given my motherʼs abject hostility toward gay and lesbian people, in the process of my pregnancy we had to spend thousands of dollars protecting ourselves from her potential interference. In spite of the fact that she has never, in more than a decade, visited me, and has written numerous articles comparing me to pedophiles and people who have sex with animals, according to the law, my mother has more rights to our child than Trisha.
— Sadieʼs Lesbian Daughter Speaks Out
Like all creeds that claim the total allegiance of the individual—like communism, for example, in our own day—early Christianity was a powerful divisive force. Every town and every house, says Eusebius, is divided by a civil war waged between Christians and idolaters. Justin tells of a Christian wife who was denounced by her pagan husband; Tertullian speaks of cases where wives have been repudiated or sons disinherited for turning Christian; in Perpetuaʼs account of her relations with her father we see how a family could be torn asunder by religious differences. For such situations the blame was naturally laid on the Christian missionaries. Celsus has an illuminating passage, too long to quote, about Christians who get hold of pagan children, encourage them to disobey their fathers and schoolmasters, and lure them into Christian coventicles; often they work on the womenfolk as well. Origen does not deny that this happens; and Jerome later paints an equally unfavorable picture of fanatical monks who worm themselves into the homes of the aristocracy and exploit the guilt-feelings of women. Christianity, like communism, was a domestic trouble- maker.
— E. R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian In An Age of Anxiety (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1970), p.115-116.
To the contention by [the pagan philosopher] Celsus that Christians took children away from their parents… Origin [the Christian apologist] could only respond that Christians did not lure children away from better things or incite them to worse things. This was a lame argument, one that could hardly have appeased a pagan who cherished family life and worked hard to give his children a good education and a place in society. In this case, Origenʼs near admission of guilt may only have confirmed many suspicions held by pagans that Christianity was by and large a disruptive force.
— Stephen Benko, Pagan Rome and the Early Christians (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1984), p.157.