Fundamentalist Book a Factor in Child Deaths. How Many Child Beatings Don't Make the News? Take action.
By SEAN FAIRCLOTH - RDFRS
Added: Mon, 07 Nov 2011 15:50:21 UTC - An RDFRS Original
There is a recent story about another death of a child, inspired in part apparently by Michael Pearl's book, To Train up a Child: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/11/07/us/20111107_PUNISH.html?ref=us
Pearl's "quarter inch plumbing supply line" has been an instrument of death, but how many other horrible beatings (short of death) never make the news?
Michael Pearl is a best-selling author, his books widely influential among many fundamentalist Christians. Though widely known in those circles, Pearl is not as widely known as James Dobson of "Focus on the Family" -- who holds similarly scary views on physical punishment of children. I write about both these men in my book Attack of the Theocrats, How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What We Can Do About It
There should be one legal standard in schools for corporal punishment. However, over a million children go to religious school in America, and an additional huge number are home schooled by fundamentalists. These children are often isolated from general society -- and the eyes of those with a legal obligation (or inclination) to report abuse.
The influence of the likes of Dobson and Pearl are strong. Religious schools very often have wider legal latitude to engage in physical punishment of children. What goes on in homes and schools where the Dobson-Pearl influence runs strong? The deaths may make the news, but how many beatings don't make the news?
Here's a petition regarding Pearl's book that readers might consider. http://news.change.org/stories/amazon-petition-the-story-so-far-latest-news-and-five-good-reasons-to-sign
Also, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy had wisely called for equal laws affecting corporal punishment. Regardless of our views on corporal punishment, we can all agree that religion is deserving of no separate legal standard in this regard. Last year I initiated a proposal from secularists to support equal treatment under the law regarding corporal punishment of children.
There are millions of responsible religious parents, and many responsible religious schools, but the influence of Dobson and Pearl is dangerous and widespread. Children who attend a fundamentalist school or who are similarly home-schooled are not "fundamentalist children". They are human beings deserving of human rights and the same societal protections as any other child. This compassionate conviction embodies the moral values of humanists, agnostics, and atheists. We have a moral obligation to spread the word about this injustice to these vulnerable (and often isolated) children.
Sean Faircloth, is the Director of Strategy and Policy RDFRS U,S.. He is author of the upcoming book Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What We Can Do About It. Advance copies are available in the RDFRS store in the link above. Faircloth served ten years in the Maine legislature. In his final term he was elected Majority Whip by his caucus colleagues. At the Secular Coalition for America Faircloth devised and led the Secular Decade strategic plan. Faircloth speaks widely on separation of church and state, the Constitution, and secular strategy.
Faircloth served as opening speaker for Richard Dawkins Fall 2011 tour of the United States, and he will do so again in spring 2012.
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