Rachel Johnson

Atheist Blogger- the godlessvagina / Podcaster the pink atheist

Spare The Rod 2; The Doctrine Of Abuse In The Name Of God


I was in first grade the first time I came face to face with an electric paddle. One that was about to be used on another student. Being still new to the class, and feeling awkward I asked the teacher what it was, and why she was plugging it in. The teacher angrily explained to me that her intent was to paddle the chubby boy in the seat next to me, for not listening. I am sure I had been spanked before then, but I had never seen such a device. It was made to heat up, so that the beating was more intense and hot on the skin. It was almost recess. I felt the impending harm to the child and was afraid for him. When recess came I hesitated, part of me did not want to leave the seat, and go out. The teacher was waiting for all of us to exit so the boy could be spanked. When I walked out the door,my heart broke and I walked the playground with my head down. I felt horrible for that boy. I wondered if he would cry, and how bad it would hurt. I felt worse because, though he had not listened, I didn’t feel then that this was just.

Now some years later I feel the same pangs of pain when I think of the beatings I took, and the ones millions of small children are busy taking. From a judge who beat his daughter with a belt on her legs, and was never punished for it, to parents who are religious and use it as a vital part of their doctrine, somewhere there is a child in the shadows sobbing. I remember the feel of welts on my butt after my mother beat me with a 2×4. I remember how ashamed of the beating I was, and how I hated her for it. I know the pains that these kids suffer. My father on the other hand only spanked me lightly one time, and after that could never muster the heartlessness to repeat it. His words were enough to deal with me. So why do millions of parents treat their kids like a rag doll, beating them as if they lack sense or feeling? Well that falls back to the bible and the doctrine of spare the rod, spoil the child.

Many of the more popular religious leaders teach to beat children. They go as far as to tell parents to “punch the gay” out of their child if it is a boy, and “tell her to get in the house and dress like a lady” for girls. But that is not the extent of it. Many of the religious leaders believe in this doctrine of fear, and bodily harm. Ones like James Dobson teach how to beat your kids, including how hard and with what.

“Pain is a marvelous purifier. Spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely.”

This type of beating can lead to bodily harm, and has. In fact with directions like this one could injure a child while waiting for the right pitch and words of the child to note the submitting of their will, and breaking of their spirit. While failing to note the  breaking of their self esteem, and the harm to their rational and inquisitive mind. While the child may fear to do the behavior another time they will also live with the life long scars of the manner their parents can be brutal. It also hinders them from further inquiry into life, learning early they are subject to do as they are told without ever questioning. This is not a manner of treating a human being. It is no wonder Guantanamo exists with this rational on dealing with tiny defenseless human beings.

Another religious offender is Michael Pearl who has sold over 1.8 million copies of his books on child beating, which directs parents to get  “A length of quarter-inch plumbing supply line is a real attention-getter.” It did get some attention when a little girl around  7 years old was beaten to death. While the parents are punished for the beating of this girl, where is the real justice. Since when should we allow the young of our nation to be subject to these cruel acts. Michael even recommends this punishment for children as young as 18 months. Imagine a parent feeling the need to use plastic plumbing pipe on their child at that age. Before a child can form memories and have a comprehension of what they have done they are exposed to brutal form of punishment which can damage skin and cause emotional damage.

It is shocking to know how many adults feel the need to resort to violence against their child in the name of correcting them. There is no excuse for this behavior. No child actually benefits from abuse. No mind is more clear after a beating, and no person learns to trust someone who would hit them. I know this from experience. While it may seem that it is the only resort for children who are out of control, does getting out of control and beating a child sound like rational behavior? Many try to justify this by saying their was nothing else that can be done. This stems from a society charged with putting women and children last in needs. Especially small children who seem burdensome when there is not enough time in the day, and they are full of growing curiosity. Still anyone who knows that physical violence is bad for adults should be able to clearly see how it would be more damaging for a small child who lacks full perception of the world around them.

More than that is the idea religious leaders get away with teaching people to beat their kids, and use physical violence on them. Not only do they get a pass in the name of religion, but they get fame and fortune from doing so. If this had been a book about how to properly beat your wife when she is out of line, would it have sold as well? Sure the two may not sound the same, but violence is violence. Just because you change the term for it does not mean it is less violent. Just because you hit instead of punch does not mean it is less violent. People like these need to be jailed for inciting violence against children. No person, grown or  juvenile should have to face that. Just because it has been used as a form of brutal teaching for thousands of years does not give it a pass and those using it to oppress minds should held at the highest accountability. There should be no pass given to religion for the horrors they impose upon children.

Quotes taken from:

Faircloth, Sean (2011-09-13). Attack of the Theocrats!: How the Religious Right Harms Us All—and What We Can Do About It (p. 63). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

Author: Rachel Johnson

I am a writer about atheist issues. Separation of the church and state. Women and their right to choose, and sex. I talk about all of the "taboos" of modern life as well as evolution and science.

2 thoughts on “Spare The Rod 2; The Doctrine Of Abuse In The Name Of God

  1. Child abuse is wrong, no matter one’s religion or lack thereof. It’s sad when people use anything as a catalyst to abuse their child. Certainly though, I don’t believe the bible or God meant for us to beat our kids senseless or until we’ve engaged in abuse of them. It’s really unfortunate when someone misunderstands or misinterprets the bible in this manner and engages in illegal and horrific behavior.

  2. To the Warrioress. The bible really does say spare the rod spoil the child. In Proverbs 13:24. And there is no other way to interpret that except beat your child.
    To Rachel. I have also been beaten many times as a young child and I thoroughly disagree with it. There are many non-violent ways to discipline a child to let them know what they are doing is wrong.
    Also, the point you brought up in the last paragraph about selling a book on how to beat women. The sad truth is that it would probably still sell quite well in the 21st century.

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