Protestants taking Renaissance Philosophy to an Abusive Extreme

It really does strike me how modern- day protestant beliefs have taken ideologies existing the Renaissance to an abusive extreme. One such idea is that every baby is born evil, and must be trained away from such evil.

“Because we are inclined from birth to enjoy evil, the self restraint needed to obtain eternal salvation must be developed carefully. Fathers must be especially diligent in teaching children to know and then freely choose good. In the early years, children behave well out of fear or because teachers and parents forbid their doing bad things, but then they outgrow such restraints” – “How to Do it”

It really does strike me how modern- day protestant beliefs have taken ideologies existing the Renaissance to an abusive extreme. One such idea is that every baby is born evil, and must be trained away from such evil.

The twisted, abusive child-raising philosophy of protestant fundamentalist Michael Pearl has garnered media attention for his child-raising ideology, which has in several instances led to death of children. Pearl’s philosophy, which emphasises “training children before the need for discipline arises”, advocates “taking a switch to every transgression”. This method is advocated at an early age – as early as two or three months old, because,  “Training does not necessarily require that the trainee be capable of reason; even mice and rats can be trained to respond to stimuli. In his book “To Train up a Child”, Pearl writes,

“One of our girls who developed mobility early had a fascination with crawling up the stairs. At four months she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good, we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.”

In Pearl’s book, he advocates using switches on infants and beating older children with plumbing tubes and belts. These punishments stem from the belief that children, “go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies (Psalm 58:3).” The idea taught and believed in the Renaissance that all children are born into sin. While the Renaissance seemed to advocate teaching the child through example of the parents,  Pearl takes discipline to a (disturbing/disgusting/horrifying) extreme:

“And, unless all else fails, don’t drag him to the place of cleansing. Part of his training is to come submissively. However, if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.” – Pearl

Several child’s death have been linked to the execution of Pearl’s philosophy.  Lydia Schatz died after being spanked for several hours, while Hana Williams died from being left in the cold overnight – a form of punishment suggested in Pearl’s philosophy.

Finally there is this video (WARNING:THIS VIDEO SHOWS GRAPHIC ABUSE), of a Texas “judge” who, following Pearl’s ideology, cruelly whip and beat his daughter for using the internet. WARNING:  I couldn’t watch the whole thing, I was so upset almost to tears.

Families in the Renaissance did believe children were born naturally evil, but it appears that modern religious fundamentalists such as Pearl are following this belief to an abusive extreme.

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