Child Abuse and Sacrifice in the Name of God
(This is a transcript of Al Stefanelli’s “Voice Of Reason” segment on my American Heathen® Internet Radio Show)
“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones” - Psalm 137:9
I’ve written and commented extensively over the years about Child Abuse. When we hear those words, many images come to mind. Most of the time we think of decidedly irreligious motivations. However, those of us who are well-informed are all too familiar with the widely accepted ideologies and doctrines of Christianity that often justify the abuse, neglect and even the death of children.
This abuse is all too common in our society, and will continue to be practiced as long as religion is part of our social construct. So many individuals have been duped into believing that Christian morality is the pinnacle characteristic of goodness, and rearing a child according to biblical standards will result in an upstanding and trustworthy adult. I reason this to be untrue. In fact, the physical abuse of children is so common within Christianity that it is not even considered criminal. In many cases, it is condoned as a perfectly acceptable form of discipline.
The problem is that there exists no amount of twisting and bending that can cover up the fact that Christianity demands that a parent beat their children into submission. Not all Christian parents are guilty of this form of child abuse, but if they are not, then they are guilty of being poor Christians, because corporal punishment is Scriptural. The bible is regarded by many believers as the inerrant word of god, suitable for teaching and reproof, and scripture justifies child abuse via the following bible verses:
Prov 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently).”
Prov 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”
Prov 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Prov 23:13: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”
Prov 23:14: “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Shoel).”
Prov 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”
Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, one of the most influential personalities in Christian circles and widely regarded as an expert on child rearing, recommends spanking children as early as 18 months of age. Many Christian parents hold that the physical abuse of their children is the only effective method of discipline and routinely reject non-violent techniques. The problem is only exacerbated as many schools, even public ones, still “paddle” students.
To make matters worse, the paddling is usually carried out by the school principal. This is a trifecta of terror. When a child is abused at home, in school and the abuse is supported by the church, there is absolutely no refuge available to them. Many times, the time the child grows into adults who abuse their own children because hitting children teaches them to become hitters themselves. Many children are assaulted with switches, paddles, bats, bike chains, open hands, closed fists, axe handles, canes and whatever else is handily available.
A well-known evangelical website states:
“A thin dowel rod most closely matches the ‘rod’ of discipline being referred to in the Bible for children. A dowel rod can be purchased at any home improvement store. We prefer the 1/4″ diameter for our medium aged children and a slightly thinner one for the younger ones”
While reprehensible to anyone who has an ounce of compassion and a rudimentary understanding of child psychology, this type of abuse pales in comparison to the parents who allow their children to die in the name of god via the reprehensible practice of relying on faith healing.
Faith Healing Kills
According to an article in the Journal of Pediatrics which examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing, it has been concluded that 81% of these children who died under the care of faith healers would have likely survived if they had received regular medical care. Faith healing does not work. It kills children. Allowing a child to die while waiting for a non-existent god to reach down from the sky and heal them through magic while there exists a method of healing through medical science is the utmost form of negligence. The only thing that faith healers accomplish is making a lot of money.
I have been widely criticized by the religious community for holding to the fact that there is often a thin line between corporal punishment and child sacrifice. However, religion sometimes masks psychotic behavior and in the cases of religiously motivated parental inflicted homicide, the signs that would otherwise be observed as early warning indicators of a potential problem are not apparent until it is too late.
It is well-known that unchecked mental illness is degenerative and often develops into a spider-web of other, more severe forms of insanity, which is why psychiatrists prescribe anti-psychotic drugs to their patients. People hear voices in their heads telling them to do bad things all the time. Paranoid Schizophrenia is a very real mental illness that, left unchecked, can result in some very unfortunate consequences.
Allowing an individual that is suffering from the delusion of religious belief along with psychosis to be responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of a child is like giving a pyromaniac matches and dynamite and expecting favorable results. Religion is the catalyst for so much violence, destruction and outright horrific behavior in the human race. It is bad enough when we read about adults being killed or their lives destroyed by religion, but when a child is beaten, neglected or murdered due to religious belief, it is beyond horrific. It is unconscionable.