Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones – God (Psalm 137:9)
When we hear the words “Child Abuse,” many images come to mind. The Catholic church notwithstanding, most of the time when we hear these words we think of decidedly irreligious motivations. Scenes from popular television programs and public service advertisements play in our head that involve a drunk parent beating on their kids or a depressed parent holing up in a room neglecting their children with terrible results. 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 remains prevalent in our societies and will continue to be practiced as long as religion is part of our social construct because 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.
We know different, though. We understand that religious belief is a memetic virus of the mind and the natural progression of many mental illnesses often results in a bad outcome. Christianity can be classified as delusional because it teaches many things to be factual that have been proven false. Willful ignorance, being one of the primary symptoms of delusion, causes the believer to maintain acceptance of proven falsehoods regardless of widely available evidence to the contrary.
The physical abuse of children is so common within Christianity that it is not even considered criminal, and 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.”
Many Christians believe that it is preferable to start physically abusing children at a young age. 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 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 primary and secondary schools still “paddle” school children. To make matters worse, the paddling is usually carried out by the school principal. When a child is abused at home, in school and supported by the church, there is absolutely no refuge available to them. Most of the time the child grows into an adult 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”
This form of child abuse, while reprehensible to anyone who has an ounce of compassion and a rudimentary understanding of child psychology, 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. Innocent lives are being lost due to mentally ill parents who believe that divine intervention will result in spontaneous recoveries. The delusion of religious belief continues to sway the gullible mind into believing that god will heal. Faith healing has left a long trail of headstones with very few years between the dates of birth and death. 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. They are allowed to continue their practice because they hide behind a twisted interpretation of the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom that does not prevent them from spreading their snake oil around like the horseshit fertilizer it is.
The 1944 case of Prince v. Massachusetts that states “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death” only allows the prosecution of the guilty party after the fact, after a child has died, and only if the death can be proven to have been preventable, which is subject to long and expensive trials that usually end up with out of court settlements and little or no prison time for the faith healer. Even with the horrific rate of failure thousands of the deluded masses of believers continue to flock to them because they are convinced that god will heal them because, according to the bible, he will, as is evidenced by this scriptre:
Exodus 15:26: And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.”
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 because religious people are expected to be somewhat eccentric and to use eclectic parenting styles that are socially acceptable to a point. This means that in the cases of religiously motivated parentally 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, and funeral arrangements are being made for a child.
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. In many cases, abusive and/or homicidal parents were themselves victims of abuse at the hands of extremely fundamental religious parents. As I stated earlier, many times the abused become abusers and their mental illness is acquired through “nurture.” Given a different set of parents, they might have grown into normal and mentally healthy adults. On the other hand, the insanity may be due to “nature,” as they may have been born with a chemical imbalance and exhibited psychotic behavior early in life, which carried over into adulthood. Either way, the parent who murders their child in the name of god is obviously insane, and has probably been so for a very long time, and religion has become the catalyst for their homicidal acts.
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, results in very bad things. 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. It is my opinion that parents who are suffering from Schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis should be monitored with extreme measures if they are also suffering from the delusion of religious belief and the very first sign of any kind of abuse toward their children should result in the privilege of parenthood being stripped from them until they are cured of both mental illnesses.
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.