Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz had 8 children, three of which were adopted. The Schatz’s beat and tortured one of them in the name of religion for seven hours until they killed her. They also beat another so severely that some of her wounds could not be shown in the video due to their horrible graphic nature. She survived because she was brought to a hospital in time by law enforcement.
These folks are devout Christians who read a book called “To Train Up a Child”, written by Michael & Debi Pearl of Tennessee. Pearl is a farmer and a practicing evangelical preacher of his own “No Greater Joy Ministries”. Their book essentially tells parents that spanking children with implements such as belts, switches, wooden spoons, plastic plumbing water supply lines, etc., is “God’s gift” and that the bible directs that “God” wants parents to spank their children to inflict pain, teaching children through the primitive and largely discredited practice of painful negative reinforcement. They further claim that the bible specifies all of this by stating “Spare the rod and spoil the child!”
Of course, this phrase is actually not contained in any scripture. Yet, because such heinous practices such as child abuse in the name of religion and/or one’s deity require only faith and blind belief in the the words of whomever taught them, the folks who read the Pearls’ book and adopted such practices have no use such “interfering” facts.
Perhaps the scariest part of all of this is that religion-based child and/or human abuse, whether physical, psychological and/or sexual, probably occurs thousands of times every day in the USA alone. Philosophies people might have been taught as a child can become faith-based established practices when they, themselves, become adults and parents. Despite education and laws, there doesn’t seem to be a very effective way to stop this sort of thing from happening here.
Yet, as utterly repulsive as religious child and/or human abuse is in the USA, it is only a drop in the bucket when one considers the rest of the fundamentalist religious/ritualistic world. For example, Female genital mutilation is practiced in Africa and to a lesser extent in some parts of Asia. Though sometimes linked to religious faith and other times linked to cultural ritualism, it is always linked to a fundamentalist belief of some sort. In some Islamic countries, a woman can be raped without fear of punishment by the perpetrator if she is out without her family or husband, and women are routinely denied rights to education and their only destinies because of fundamentalist religious and/or cultural ritualism passed from generation to generation.
Ironically, much of the criticism against the people who follow such practices elsewhere comes from the very fundamentalist US Christians that believe that every word in the Christian bible is the literal truth, (even if some of those words aren’t actually IN the bible), and thus, all non-Christian bibles are false.
Though most believe they are beyond this fundamentalist reach, at least two GOP candidates for US president, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry seem to share certain stated religious views that seem awfully close to those fundamentalist religious philosophies which also see beating a child as the work of “God”. Bachmann’s views on “curing” gays is one example; Perry’s view that the constitutional right of freedom of religion only applies to Christians, and that prayer is an operational tool of government is another example. Those are some that are already public; others may yet be revealed as these folks gain more political confidence.
There is always the hope, however, that enough voters will have enough common sense to stop any fundamentalist from gaining enough power to implement their fundamentalist agendas.
Stopping the much less visible fundamentalist religious fanatic is much more difficult. But at least there’s hope with one long-term plan to stop the child/human abuses committed in the name of religion: effective and valid universal education. Unfortunately, public education is a deficit-reduction target of the right-wing conservatives; they want to cut its funding and allow vouchers for private religious schooling or home-schooling by none-professionals, where those teaching could quite possibly be religious fundamentalist wingnuts such as the Schatz’s.
Short-term, though, there’s only tool the rest of us can rely on to stop what happened to those little girls in northern California: The investigative press reporting that exposed the story to the public in the first place. There are those (mostly conservatives) who have nothing good to say about the US and international press. But in this case, the press deserves acknowledgement for quite possibly saving the lives of other innocent children.
We, the PEOPLE!! says THANK YOU, CNN, for your work on this story.