A commenter on this post told me I was biased against the Duggars and their faith.
Why, yes, yes I am! I'm unashamedly so.
You see, while I do my best to keep an open mind about others' beliefs and try to learn more about Islam, Judaism, various Christian denominations, Buddhism, Hinduism, and so on, there are certain people I steadfastly disagree with.
No...not just disagree. That's too weak. One can disagree without fighting or being angry, and these certain people just make me so enraged that I wish I could slap them with a Bible and tell them to read history and commentary and to LOOK AT THE CONTEXT.
It's not just a disagreement on interpretation. There's disagreement, and there's bad theology. No, wait, with these people it's not just bad theology. It's abusive theology.
Is it really fine to beat and spank children within an inch of their life (and to death) in order to cast the devil out and instill because some pastors with too much power and charisma and ego say so?
I have a feeling that none of these people have ever cracked open a book on child development and child psychology.
Babies cry because they need to be with their mommy. They see themselves as one with mom. They are hungry. They don't know how to regulate their emotions yet, and need to be comforted. They are not crying because they want to spite their parents, unlike what some think. Seriously, babies are incapable of advanced thoughts about trying to figure out how most to piss off parents. They're self-absorbed by nature. They need love. Not abuse.
Yet some think that they need to break their babies' wills by spanking them whenever they cry.
The devil isn't making three-year-olds so defiant. It's a psychological stage that children go through in order to start differentiating themselves from their parents. They're trying to figure out their boundaries by pushing on them, by saying NO. And yet some people beat their children with one of those flexible plumbing lines until they're crying, and past that.
Michael and Debi Pearl recommend beating them until you get to that "broken will" stage where they finally give up and will become completely obedient. Or, a "wounded, submissive whimper” in other words.
Young children are trying to learn how they fit in the world, and how pieces fit together. They ask questions. Lots of questions that can be very deep. But because in some of these Christian "denominations" (read: cult), questions are utterly discouraged. Children must accept things blindly and trust completely in adults and obey unquestioningly. If not, they are beaten or threatened with the eternal fires of hell.
That's right. Threatening kids with the eternal fires of hell falls into psychological abuse. A) they are still developing and B) many kids aren't mature enough to understand the theological aspects of hell and sin. Instead, they're expected to be perfect little adults under the pain of hell and damnation. This sets up for many anxiety and guilt-ridden kids.
This focus on an authoritarian hierarchy and blind obedience also makes it far to easy for children to fall prey to abusers, because they won't know how to say no to their pastor if he wants a "special" relationship with the child. They don't know how to establish boundaries to protect their self.
They are taught not to question God or God's spokespeople on earth. So how can they question the pastor if he says that God said it was okay for them to touch each other in a special way?
Because of the way the system is set up, nobody can question it. To question your husband is to disobey God. To question your parents is to disobey God. So how can they question the pastor if he says that God said it was okay for them to touch each other in a special way? Or when Daddy spanks them so hard that they run a fever and can't sit down for days?
Heaven forbid, if if the child tries to tell someone within the church, the child will be shamed for having brought such abuses upon themselves. It must be kept quiet at all costs, to people in these groups, because it would ruin the special image they have as the chosen people of God.
It's set up to be controlling and psychologically abusive. All of these fundamentalist groups and churches, including but not exclusively, Vision Forum, ATI, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Great Commission, and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist network of churches show most of the signs of psychological abuse. I'm not going to go through each one of these, but the effects are pretty clear, judging from the plethora of websites, blogs, and posts from children who've grown up in this system and finally left.
I am wholly, utterly, unashamedly biased against these "beliefs". I am biased against any beliefs that perpetuate and encourage child abuse. And I will speak up against it, like I did in my post about the Duggars, who do ascribe to one such dangerous religious group, the Advanced Training Institute, that encourages such behavior.
I don't care if you're Catholic or Baptist. I'm perfectly fine whether you follow the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) or praise G_d on the Sabbath. If your "thing" is having no religion at all, I completely understand that.
But as soon as any of you turn fundamentalist and start abusing children in the name of God, you do not deserve to live.
These are just a few good books (and one good article) that I recommend if you wish to understand more about cults and religious abuse. I'm always accepting more recommendations, so please feel free to comment and let me know.