Michael Pearl Responds

I have posted about the beating death of the little Liberian girl Lydia Schatz at the hands of her adoptive parents, and the beating-unto-intensive care of her Liberian older sister Zariah.  [Chico Enterprise-Record Feb 10: Paradise Parents Face Murder, Torture Charges,

The parents whipped their children used 1/4 inch plumbing supply line — an odd choice, the DA thought, until he discovered that this is recommended by parenting materials put out by a Tennessee couple, Michael and Debi Pearl, and that the Schatzes owned their materials.   [Chico Enterprise-Record Feb12 DA Links Fundamentalist “Training” to Paradise Girl’s Death]

So, as I indicated in the title of this post, Michael Pearl has responded to critics.

Don’t give up half-way through, read it to the end.

Michael Pearl Laughs At Critics

His closing zinger:

Even my chickens are laughing . . . well, actually it more like cackling, because they just laid another organic egg for my breakfast and they know that it was that same piece of ¼ inch plastic supply line that trained the dogs not to eat chicken….

I’m not kidding.  That’s an apparently genuine response posted on the ministry’s blog.

Fortunately this response is proving not to be acceptable to some people who previously liked the Pearls’ material or were at least comfortable with it in a “to each his own” sort of way.

Example:  The Pearls:  Sadly, It Has Come to This
Example:  Forum post, Well-Trained Mind Forum
Example: Forum post #39, Well-Trained Mind Forum
Example: Forum post #40, Well-Trained Mind Forum
Example: Forum post #86, Well-Trained Mind Forum
Example: Forum post #96, Well-Trained Mind Forum

If you are just now finding out about this horrible story, here’s some links:

My earlier posts about this:

When Parenting Kills – What Can We Do?
When Parenting Kills – Update
When Parenting Kills – A Challenge to Men
More Christians Speaking Out Against the Pearls’ Teachings

Tulipgirl:  Who Is Speaking Out Against Abuse?
Tulipgirl:  Hold em Down, Defeat Totally
Randy Greenwald: Hermeneutics, Life and Death
RosCommon Acres: The Pearls, Abuse and a False Gospel
Beauty for Ashes:  In Which I Discuss the Unthinkable

One of these days when I can stand it, perhaps I will put quotes from their material up here for readers to see and judge for themselves.  In the meantime, let me again hasten to say, this is not an issue of anti-spankers coming unglued and using a case of abuse to illustrate their cause.   No indeed.  What the Pearls advocate is far, far beyond the normal territory inhabited by parents who spank their children.

About katiekind

Enjoying the second half of life. I have three sons who are the apples of my eye and a wonderful husband of 35 years--those are the important things. Long ago, out of the blue, I became a Christian. It was something I never planned on, but what joy it has been. I do website development and I like to read and garden and paint and I love beauty and truth.
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16 Responses to Michael Pearl Responds

  1. Pingback: TulipGirl » Blog Archive » Who Is Speaking Out Against Abuse?

  2. relizabeth says:

    Thanks for continuing to speak so wisely and graciously about this difficult subject.

  3. I am horrified and deeply grieved by the atrocious conduct and heretical teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl. I can only pray that no more children will be hurt at the hands of this horrific twisting of scripture and blatant taking of the Lord’s name in vain. I hope that Christians will speak out against this outrage and boycott the Pearl’s materials, websites and teachings. I hope that any homeschool association or homeschool convention that has scheduled No Greater Joy ministries will cancel their contract. All of us can play a role in squashing this horrific proliferation of child abuse. I will be communicating with the hundreds of thousands of folks affiliated with Learning By Grace, Inc. so that they are informed of the issues and ways in which they can help prevent more abuse. Thank you for providing this forum to speak out against this horror.

    Mimi Rothschild
    Co-Founder, Learning By Grace, Inc.

  4. Pingback: Those Who Don’t Agree « change

  5. Pingback: TulipGirl » Blog Archive » Speaking Out, Updated. . .

  6. Rick says:

    I think it is very interesting that people are attacking the Pearls over some parents who went off the deep-end. Why don’t we attack Advil when someone tries to commit suicide with pain medication? Why don’t we sue Budweiser for the idiot who got drunk and killed a family while driving drunk? It is absurd to blame the Pearls, who by the way are pulling their teaching from God’s Word, for what people do with their books. I don’t expect people to agree with God’s methods because to non-Christians they seem foolish. I understand that the death of any child at the hands of anyone is horrible. Yet, find in the Pearl’s book where they tell you to beat your child mercilessly. Oh yeah, it doesn’t say that.. Are antibiotics effective to fight infection if taken correctly? Yes. Do you take the whole bottle at once? No. That would be idiotic. Same thing with spanking your child. If you use it biblically and correctly does it work? Yes. If you abuse your power as a parent and beat your kid in anger does it work? Absolutely not. I would think if you are smart enough to be able to read a book, you would be smart enough not to blame your angry murder on it.

    • J. Fifield says:

      Well said Rick.

    • Catherine Simpson says:

      I have never taken a hand to my child as a form of behaviour guidance. He is 7 years old and his teacher at school constantly tells me he is such a nice boy and numerous parents and friends comment on his good behaviour. This can be achieved without ever hitting your child. If you are hitting your child or children you need to take a good look at what you are trying to achieve. Hitting works to cause fear in children so they do the right thing because they fear punishment. What we are looking for in early childhood education is to teach children to do the right thing as an intrinsic value. If people don’t speed because they might get caught and punished then they might speed if they think they will not get caught. This could cause serious injury or death as a result of that choice. If they learn not to speed because it is dangerous then they are less likely to speed because they understand the dangers of that choice. Do you understand the difference? Mummy and Daddy won’t always be there to direct their behaviour so they need to understand the right way to behave and how to make responsible choices on their own. Fear of punishment is never a good reason because lots of people unfortunately don’t get caught for wrong choices so they keep making them. That’s not what we’re looking for is it?

  7. Johanne says:

    Who said that the Pearls teaching i biblically? Where do you have that idea from?

  8. Sarah says:

    If you read more of the Pearl’s materials you will soon learn that you have totally misunderstood their point of view. The material spends FAR more time talking about how to establish a loving, fun relationship with your children than how to spank them. Their books and articles clearly and repeatedly teach NEVER spanking in anger or because of the parents own frustration.

    It is always best to learn the facts before you condeme or accuse someone and that would require the time and effort of actually reading a significant selection of the material they publish, not just a few sound bites from the internet.It would appear that you pasted the quote here in an effort to give the impression that Mr. Pearl found the girls death unimportant or even worse amusing. Read in context with his entire comment it is obvious the ONLY thing he found amusing was how outrageously his teaching has been twisted and distorted into sounding as if he would condone something so evil and unforgivable.

  9. katiekind says:

    Thanks for your comment, Sarah. Unfortunately we disagree.

    It sounds like you wonder whether I am familiar with the Pearls’ material, and I assure you that I have read their book To Train Up a Child. I have a copy of it here by my desk, in fact. I found it incredibly appalling. Even worse are several of the articles they publish in No Greater Joy (published collections of back issues of which I also own and have read).

    Some of the Pearls’ advice is similar to other good parenting advice. But it is not the similarities that are the problem — it is where they differ that is of grave concern.

    Naturally the Pearls do not want parents abusing their children or “training” them in anger. Who would? But their methods nevertheless amount to excess and abuse — even ritual abuse — when carried out to the extent described. (For an example of what I mean by ritual abuse, see Debi Pearl’s description of whipping her six year old child who had lied to her — to break him of this fault, she told him she would whip him daily at noon for a week–and she did.)

  10. Dawn says:

    I would not consider what Debie did to be ritual abuse. She even said that it is not something she would recommend, but it was something that she did once and it worked. Even her son who was on the receiving end of that punishment said that when he remembered back to that punishment he decided if lying was that bad, he wasn’t going to do it anymore. (this was from one of their dvd’s) So, he was not scarred by the memory, it was a learning experience that never had to be repeated. How is that ritual? Rituals are things that are repeated time and again.
    Perhaps you should read up on all the people who have used their materials in a godly fashion and have great families to prove that it works. Perhaps you should talk to some of the children and see how happy they are and their close relashionships that they have to their parents. You can’t take the few wackos who abuse their children because they read their materials and expect that is the norm.
    Remember that you will one day be held accountable for what you say about others.

  11. katiekind says:

    Dawn, the ritual part was the meeting at high noon every day for a week, for a whipping. The six year old was incapable of even knowing when the week was over. It was one of the most pitiful things I’d ever read. The fact that the child this was done to defends it is not surprising, but also doesn’t make it a wise or proper discipline.

  12. Dawn says:

    Well my 4 & 6 year olds both know how long a week is. Perhaps you don’t realize how intelligent children can be, even the young ones. Obviously her son did not find it a tramatic experience, but rather a learning experience. It seems that you are judging others motives based on your personal feelings rather than reality. We can’t let our emotions prevent us from properly training out children. It’s not like we love having to discipline our children, but we must train them the way the bible instructs us to.

  13. katiekind says:

    Dawn, whoa, Nelly! :-)

    You need not impute to me a lack of knowledge of how smart young children can be.

    It was Debi Pearl who related that her 6 year old did not know when his week of high-noon whippings was up.

    She wrote:

    “He was so young that he couldn’t keep up with the number of days that had passed, and so on the eighth day when he brought me the switch, he looked at me and said, “Mama, I hate lying. Lying must be really bad for me to get 10 licks every day. I hate lying. I’m not gonna lie any more. Here’s your switch.”

    The point is that Debi’s child could not even realize when his daily punishments would end. Not that it makes a big difference–it is still an approach to spanking that amounts to ritual abuse. But the fact that he didn’t know when his time was up adds to the pitifulness of the dread he must have felt, and clearly illustrates another reason her punishment was waaaay over-the-top.

    I’m all for biblical parenting, but the Bible never said anywhere that a 6 year old who tells lies has to be whipped with a switch, 10 times every day at noon for a week. Debi Pearl came up with that on her own.

    The fact that you defend this extreme leaves us little to discuss, I fear. However, this is one example of why the Pearls teachings are viewed as being extreme and appalling by normal Christians.

    Many of the Pearls’ critics believe in parenting children biblically, and take that vocation seriously. I hope you’ll read some of the articles written by pastors to try and better understand this point of view.

    Here’s one by Pastor Randy Greenwald.

    More are linked here:

  14. Jimmie says:

    “He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24) and “Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)

    Pretty self explanatory. In the human race there are people who take this to a degree of obsession and these are also the followers that misunderstand the teachings of the Bible and cause harm to children and their fellow man. I am thankful that we are not judged based on others actions. That doesn’t mean that I am looking forward to the day that I will be judged on my foolishness though ;) Didn’t Freud make some profound breakthroughs within the psychological realm? Didn’t he also make some mistakes? It’s like when someone says something and the person that hears it takes it to perversion. To which the person that said it says “no, get your mind out of the gutter.” I think that Pearl’s book can be a great tool; however, it depends upon the person receiving the tool and how they feel they should use it. If you give someone a hammer to build a house, it is not your fault if they decide to use the hammer in other ways. The same happens with the Bible. The same instruction is given to many yet is understood differently.

    On another note, you comment that, by the Pearl’s own admission, the child was to young to know when the punishment had ended and still brought the switch to be used against him on the eighth day.
    Looking at this in a different light, if he was too young to know when a week had passed, what makes you think he would be old enough or wise enough to grasp some of the “intellectual” methods described above? I personally believe that spankings are a necessity because a child cannot understand on wisdom alone, why they are to do the right thing. Doesn’t the Bible teach us that our inherent desire is of evil and doesn’t Paul say speak of his flesh still calling him to what is wrong?

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