You know... lots of parents fuck up their kids with bad parenting skills. It's a thing that happens. I don't think there's a family in the world that doesn't have a degree of dysfunction, but the levels of dysfunction that are MANUFACTURED by this hideous religion are largely unnecessary in any context and they can do a lot of harm. A LOT of harm. I'm Spider...
...and tonight we are going to be discussing how Christian parents, in an extremely huge number of cases, elevate child abuse and family dysfunction to levels unknown. There's some rage-inducing shit in our near future for sure, but first... Love is love and that's that, the Satanic Temple strikes back AGAIN, and a rare high-note ending courtesy of our favorite batshit prophetess. It's CBB: Take THAT, and THAT edition...
Twenty-five years ago, a bi-partisan Congress passed the defense of Marriage Act. This was a huge victory for the Christian right. For those of you who don't know what this is, it was meant to solidify that a marriage was between one man and one woman ONLY. This 1994 Act was passed by just about everyj Republican in the House and they were joined by 118 Democrats. A Democratic president signed it into law.
However, this week there has been a reversal of those numbers, and it looks like Same sex marriage has become a wedge issue of the Republican party. When voting on the new “Respect for Marriage Act” which would protect same-sex marriage and overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, all the Democrats voted to support it, and in a surprising move, they were joined by 47 of their Republican colleagues.
This would seem to indicate that Even as Christian nationalism infects the highest echelons of politics, “traditional marriage” has become a lost cause for the Religious Right. It also happened in direct opposition to the specific part of the Republican party platform specifying the one-man one woman marriage.
Of course, this means that some of the Christian bigots are apoplectic with rage. Newt Gingrich will eventually release a statement on the sanctity of marriage after talking it over with his third wife. You gotta love the infighting.
Of course, we have to remember that most of congressional republicans still believe that same sex marriages should be invalid. But if it offends the religious right, lets consider that a hard-won victory.
A Kansas school district shows everyone how things should be done!
Most public schools have a dress code of some sort. The dress code for the Hayes Middle school looked perfectly normal until they got to this line: [do not wear] items of apparel that might be distracting, unsafe, offensive, revealing or suggestive. They give a brief list of what subjects should not be on clothing such as direct or indirect references to sex, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, profanity or Satanism.
That last item is what brought mother of three Mary Turner out to the Hayes Board of Education meeting.
“I raise my children according to the seven [tenets] of satanism, and while children of other faiths can wear clothing that declares their family’s religion,” she said, “my family’s faith is specifically called out and banned in the school handbook dress code.
“Your own non-discrimination policies state that you do not discriminate against students based on religion. Your own mission says every student in every classroom every day,” Turner said.
The Satanic Temple has been a federally recognized church for many years, Turner said.
“Banning Satanic students from wearing clothing that declares their faith while allowing students of all other faiths to wear similar clothing is an act of discrimination,” she said.
“I am here to ask that the school board remove satanism from their dress code policy and they no longer blacklist my family’s faith and the faith of other families here in Hays as distracting, unsafe or offensive,” Turner said.
Later in the meeting, the board discussed the issue and it became clear some of the members just hadn’t considered the implications of that statement. Another board member suggested a simpler statement that focused on “disruptive” clothing rather than listing out specific examples.
The end result of their discussion? The board agreed to have the administration rework the dress code. A modified version will be discussed at an upcoming retreat in two weeks just before the start of the new school year.
This is how these meetings should work. Amazingly, the board listened thoughtfully, discussed the matter, and decided that they would re-work the dress code. Stories like this make me feel like all hope is not lost.
And now, in Silly prophecies for silly people...
Hemant Mehta’s twitter: Christian “prophetess” kat kerr says we all have the option of driving in a star cruiser in heaven. They run on light and can be found next to your mansion. Also Christopher Reeve is in heaven teaching people how to fly in an amusement park in Heaven.
Promo – Next week: off (road tests) Two weeks: Twelve Step Programs
We are going to begin this conversation with a trigger warning for child abuse. Some of the things you're going to hear this time around are beyond awful and I just want to be clear on that point as we begin.
In 2008, Hana Williams was adopted from an orphanage in Ethiopia and brought to the United States where she died at the hands of her Bible-believing American parents. Their notion of Christian discipline required breaking her will, a remarkably common belief among conservative Evangelicals. To that end, they frequently beat her, shut her in a closet, and denied her meals. Ultimately, she was left outside where she died of hypothermia exacerbated by malnutrition. They were convicted of manslaughter this month.
In carrying out their obsession with child obedience, Hana’s adoptive parents drew tips from Tennessee preacher Michael Pearl, whose spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child book, To Train Up a Child, has been found now in three homes of Christian parents who killed their adopted children. The title comes from a stanza in the book of Proverbs: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. [Salon.com]
Lydia Schatz, adopted from Liberia, was seven when she succumbed to liver failure after being whipped with plastic tubing for several straight hours, interspersed with prayer breaks by her parents. Her parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, said Lydia was being disciplined for mispronouncing a word. Lydia’s sister Zariah, 11, also adopted, was hospitalized with similar injuries but ultimately recovered. [HisInvisibleChildren.org]
A Johnston County woman has been convicted of first-degree murder in the suffocation death of her adopted son and sentenced to life in prison without parole. A jury convicted 47-year-old Lynn Paddock today after deliberating for three hours following a three-week trial. Paddock also was convicted of child abuse. Prosecutors said the woman wrapped 4-year-old Sean Paddock in blankets so tightly that he couldn't breathe, and also hit him with plastic pipes. He died in February 2006. He was the youngest of six adopted children, some of whom testified about abuse from their mother. Paddock showed no emotion as she was sentenced and didn't speak as she was led away by sheriff's deputies. [Journalnow.com (Winston Salem Journal website)]
What do all these things have in common? The same book was found in the homes of each of the victims. A book called Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl and what you find in this book is hideous. Now, before I get into anyof this, I do want to mention that the things these people suggest are way out on the fringes. The problem is that their books and videos are very popular and far too many people have fallen into their trap. These things happen every day in Christian homes because, like with anything else, evngelicals have a strong tendency to take things that other Christians say at face value and never bother to question the right or wrong in it. All anyone has to say is that their messaging comes from God and the sheep are all over it. So... with the trigger warning well in effect, let's look at some of the insanity these people recommend...
These exerpts were compiled in an article on Patheos.com and I'll quoting the article directly and adding my commentary along the way.
And here are a few direct quotes, courtesy of the National Post. And, yes, they are a conservative publication but they were nice enough to compile these quotes so we won't worry about their commentary on them. We'll just offer our own.
Now, to be fair, the Pearls' opinions and methods are thought of as extreme even by evangelical parents who are equally crazy and obsessive about their roles as parents, but in different ways. There was a petition with 9,000 signatures asking Amazon to remove To Train Up a Child from their site.
And let's talk for a few minutes about a little thing called bodily autonomy. Bodily autonomy is defined by the United Nations as, “the power and agency a person has over their body and future, without violence or coercion.” What that means is that all people—including children—have a right to live free from physical acts, such as touch, to which they do not consent. Does this include not scooping up or pulling the arm of a child who is about to walk out into traffic? No. Does it mean that parents don't have the right or privilege of hitting their children? Absolutely. I had thought for a while about doing an entire episode on corporal punishment because A LOT of Evangelicals believe in it and implement it but I do think that the atrocities we've already conveyed should serve as warning enough about it in any context.
And let me be abundantly clear: most instances of corporal punishment are way more about the parent than the child. Any way you want to look at it, corporal punishment is a manifestation of the parent's frustration with not being obeyed or with behaviors that are common to children. One major infraction of which many Christian parents are guilty is expecting their kids to be little adults. That's not how it works. I agree with things like letting tantrums play out and not giving in, but there are limits. When my son pitched a fit because I wouldn't buy him a Roly Poly Olie toy when he was two, I ignored it and left the store. That was appropriate. Denying him a lollipop from the barber and confining him to his room for hours because he screamed his way through a haircut was not.
There are many things about my son's childhood that will haunt me until the day I die, but my son is still in my life and seems to want to be there. And if your parenting style is anything like that, take this advice and run with it: make “I'm sorry” part of your parental vocabulary starting right now. Today. When my son brought up the incident at the barber shop years later, I broke down in tears in the middle of Six Flags. I begged for his forgiveness for that and lots of other things I'd done first and foremost because I was angry, but also because I felt justified by examples I'd seen from other parents, most of them evangelicals.
And I'm guilty of holding my son down when he didn't want to take a nap. And I'm guilty of using corporal punishment. And none of it had the first thing to do with Michael and Debi Pearl. It had to do with me being taught by example (both from my own mother and by the conservative Christians in my life growing up) that those remedies for disobedience were valid. They are not. Let me say it again: you don't have the right to hit your kid and violent remedies for disobedience are NEVER valid or acceptable.
Oh, and “I love you” better be part of your parental vocabulary, too... and you'd better be qualifying it with loving behaviors and apologies for when your words and your actions don't line up in that regard.
Now, we're going to turn the volume down on the atrocity just a little and demonstrate some other ways that evangelical parenting can do damage.
1. The indoctrination starts at birth
2. Insane over-protection
Christian parents often expect their kids to behave like little adults while also going out of their way to make sure they know not only that they are children, but whose children they are. First and foremost they're God's children, and the parents are their guardians on earth. And they are shielded from any and all things that could cause potential harm. That doesn't just include things like not ,running out in front of cars, but also things like not learning those heathen concepts like evolution and other legit branches of science. I'll get into a few more specific examples in a minute.
3. Being authoritarian
And we are going to stop on this one for a few minutes because it's a very popular parenting style among Christian parents. I'm taking a lot of these bullet points from an article on verywellmind.com
This is the most controlling style of parenting there is. I'm the adult, you're the child and YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME.
Rather than valuing self-control and teaching children to manage their own behaviors, the authoritarian parent focuses on adherence to authority. Instead of rewarding positive behavior, the authoritarian parent only provides feedback in the form of punishments for misbehavior.
Authoritarian parents lay out a lot of rules. They micromanage, they keep a lot of tabs. If school is out at 2:00 and they aren't home at 2:15, they've got some 'splainin' to do. They also enforce a lot of unwritten rules that they simply expect children to follow as a matter of common sense. Here's the problem – if you don't lay out your expectations in black and white, how can you ever expect anyone, in any relationship, to satisfy them?
There is also little warmth or nurturing in authoritarian parenting. Authoritarian parents can be very cold, aloof, and harsh. They criticize to a much greater degree than they praise, if they ever show praise or approval at all. Our kids get way further in life when they know we are proud of them than they ever will if they are only ever told when we are disappointed in them.
Authoritarian parents often offer little to no explanation for punishments. They are quick to spank and slow to redirect or explain why certain behaviors are unacceptable.
Authoritarian parents are very “my way or the highway.” They don't give children choices or options. There is no negotiation and “because I'm your father and I say so” is supposed to be reason enough to comply.
Authoritarian parents are often impatient with misbehavior. They expect their children to simply know better than to engage in undesirable behaviors and that is ridiculous. It was also me. “You whould know better...” OK... HOW?
Authoritarian parents don't typically trust their children to make good choices, so... they make those choices for them. This involves a number of things further down on this list. Authoritarian parents rarely provide their children with opportunities to demonstrate an ability to make good choices and they refuse to let their kids make mistakes. “Rather than letting kids make decisions on their own and face natural consequences for those choices, authoritarian parents hover over their kids in order to ensure that they don't make mistakes.”
Unwilling to Negotiate
Authoritarian parents take a very black and white approach to everything. They don't believe in gray areas and they don't leave room for compromise or negotiation. Their kids don't get to have a voice when it comes to rules or decisions that affect them directly.
Want to see a good example of how this plays out? Just watch Dead Poets Society and observe the parent/son dynamic between Neil Perry and his father.
Authoritarian parents are highly critical and use shaming to cow their children into compliance. For my mother it was “what's the matter with you??” And I heard it a lot. She wasn't the definition of authoritarian but she had this particular game mastered, as did my grandmother. As a parent, for me, it was “My god you just never learn, do you?” and “You know this makes me angry and you just do it anyway. Why?” Some other popular ones include:
"How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?"
"Why can't you do anything right?"
“I'm out of patience with you.”
The article goes on to explain that authoritarian parenting is often not something that parents engage in intentionally. Upbringing, unexplored mental illness, and childhood trauma can all trigger authoritarian behaviors. I was not what I would consider to be an authoritarian parent, but I had certain authoritarian traits that governed my decisions as a parent. Much of it came from my mother, as I mentioned, but I have clear memories of other Christian parents and conversations with certain youth group friends that just got stuck in my brain and came out as a parent. I vividly remember my girlfriend's father using the term “tight reins” to describe the way he and his wife approached their parenting style with her. And since I mentioned that, let's talk about how this kind of parenting affects children.
They have a fearful or overly personality
They associate obedience and success with love (and the lack of love with personal failure)
They conform easily, but also experience depression and anxiety over their denial of the opportunity to develop autonomy
They can display more aggressive behavior toward others
They display fewer prosocial behaviors (they can be very antisocial, judgmental, and jealous of anyone who doesn't have the perceived levels of self-discipline that they possess. They are resentful when they witness their friends having more healthy relationships with their parents than they do with theirs.
They have less social competence and display difficulty dealing with a variety of social situations in a healthy way.
They often have lower self-esteem than many of their peers
They have more issues with things like hyperactivity and conduct, particularly in school
They struggle with self-control because they haven't been taught to make choices and decisions on their own
While developmental experts agree that rules and boundaries are important for children, most believe that authoritarian parenting is too punitive and lacks the warmth, unconditional love, and nurturing that children also need.
4. Never talking about sex in any positive or healthy context
Most Christian kids are clueless about their own bodies and their own urges and when they awaken sexually it is drilled into them that the impulses they have are dangerous and need to be kept under wraps. The problem with this is that there are plenty of people out there – both boys and girls – who will hop on the chance to take advantage of that cluelessness and... educate them. And there are few things in life that are more dangerous to a young person than not being educated about sex and having a negative view of their own sexuality.
5. Discounting secular concepts in their education, like science – especially science
Many Christian parents do their level best to run interference on aything secular or humanist their kids learn in school, putting strong emphasis on Biblical counter-arguments that have no basis in truth or fact. This is the kind of thing that leads to things like COVID denial and refusing to take a vaccine.
5. Discouraging dating and other social activities
Again, let's attack their sexuality instead of teaching them how to make good choices and equipping them to deal with various eventualities.
6. Forbidding any and all interactions with pop culture
No movies, no secular music, no books that don't say Holy Bible on them or have author names like Peretti, Lawhead, or Ellwood.
7. Not allowing children and adolescents their own voice in disputes
We're the parents here, we are responsible for you, we speak for God in all matters of your upbringing and you WILL obey us. This is particularly true of Christian dads. “I'm the priest and head of this household and you WILL listen to me.”
8. Corporal punishment
Since we already spent a traumatizing amount of time on this, I'll just add this one detail: evangelical parents are more likely than any other people group in America to embrace and implement corporal punishment on their kids and we've already seen what the outcome of THAT can be.
9. Refusing to treat mental illness
Christian parents are among the LAST people to seek competent counseling for their kids, even in instances where a child is raped, assaulted, bullied, and more. They may go to a Christian counselor but more often than not they do nothing. Prayer and intercession will do the trick.
10. Expecting unwavering obedience
And this ties in with authoritarian parenting but not all parents who take this position are authoritarian. Many just look at this as a Biblical mandate. Children need to obey their parents and the Biblical consequences for not can be dire. No, I don't know of any Christian parent who has stoned their child for disobedience, but I know of plenty, myself included, who take an unhealthy stance on this when dealing with their kids. I was this kind of parent and it did my kid no good.
11. Homeschooling as a means of not having to deal with or navigate social pressures
Many Evangelical parents homeschool their kids to dodge things like learning practical science, secular themes in social studies, and more on the academic front, but they also use it as a means of ensuring that their kids don't succumb to social pressures, especially at the middle and high school levels.
My own thoughts (why I was a bad parent) [ad lib]
So to bring this conversation full circle, I want to speak to the adults in the audience who have endured some or all of what we've been talking about. Again, I'm speaking to adults. I'm not trying to sow subversion among the young against their parents.
You are not required to love your abusive parents. And let's make no mistake about it: everything we talked about tonight equates to child abuse. If you suffer from various mental illnesses and traumas that have followed you into adulthood, you don't have to love your parents in spite of that. If you still do and you feel good about it, great. But they don't get your love simply for sharing DNA with you or not aborting you. They don't deserve your love for bringing you up in the first place. That isn't an act of benevolence, it's a matter of law. If they failed in their role as your legal guardians, the state could easily take you away from them. The fact that they raised you doesn't obligate you to love them or even respect them.
You are not required to forgive your parents for any of the ways they fucked you up, especially if they have never apologized.
You have the right to feel good about ditching their crazy ideals as an adult and living according to your own moral code.
If you have been abandoned by your parents for stepping away from the things they taught you as a child, this is not your fault. It also speaks volumes about how much of what they did in raising you had to do with them, not you. They love themselves and their invisible sky daddy WAY more than they do you if they're willing to cut you out of their lives. Sorry to be so blunt, but, again, DNA doesn't make love happen and it doesn't make it necessary.
Now, if you're a former Christian parent and you've been listening to all of this thinking, “guilty... guilty... guilty...” don't worry. You are in good company. I know that evangelical thinking had a major influence on how I did things and I made very few good choices as a parent to a young child. Do yourself a favor, if you haven't already: admit your mistakes to your kids. Ask for forgiveness. Don't make excuses, just apologize. They'll appreciate it way more than Jesus would.
And, just a helpful hint: a sincere apology NEVER includes the word “but...” The reasons why should be understood by all parties involved.
And if you are an ex-evangelical who is currently about the business of raising children, assess your words. Assess your actions. Assess your emotions and ask yourself if how you're doing things or handling specific situations is smart, practical, and appropriate. You'll make mistakes based solely on the fact that those thoughts are still in there. Step back, think about your choices and actions, and when you make bad choices, apologize. When you make good ones, make sure you give yourself credit.
And however any of this applies to you, keep in mind that things that happened happened and you can't change them. Things your parents did are done and you can't change them. Things you did as a Christian parent are done and you can't undo them. If you're dealing with the trauma you experienced or the trauma you inflicted in productive ways, you are on the right path. We can't change the things we did or experienced in the past, but we can make sure that we steer our futures in directions that lead us into better places. And if you're doing that or are willing to try, congratulations. You're taking yet another crucial step toward getting and staying unbound.