I'm tired of writing about Michael & Debi Pearl. I would really like to keep writing about sparkly, happy things. But sometimes we don't get to choose our activism. Sometimes, it chooses us. And I have an obligation to write about the the abusive "child-training" practices taught by Michael & Debi Pearl until there is a massive, national outcry from prominent Christian pastors renouncing and rejecting the Pearl's books and teachings.
But please know that writing about this exacts a psychological toll on my soul and spirit. It was hard enough to be raised by similar methods. Speaking out against them is like revisiting the darkness. It physically hurts me.
But I won't stop until the Pearls are stopped.
Until that time, I am grateful for the New York Times running a piece on Michael & Debi Pearl. It's too late for Sean, Lydia and Hana. But perhaps the greater exposure will rescue other children.
Today I want to answer a question I am asked repeatedly. It goes something like this: "Don't you think it's unfair to blame the Pearls for these children's deaths? Sure, I don't agree with everything the Pearls say but it's not their fault that these children were beaten by abusive parents."
There is a difference between blaming the Pearls and holding them accountable. I am interested in holding the Pearls accountable. And let's be very clear: excusing the Pearls is precisely why more parents buy their books, invite them to speak and listen to Michael preach. It's also why children continue to die from "Biblical" child-training.
Here's why: saying the Pearl's are not responsible in any way is like saying: "Well, most children survive a non-lethal dose of poison. It's not the poison-maker's fault that some parents give an overdose of poison and kill their children."
The Pearls instruct parents to spank six month old babies. That is a poisonous teaching and until you can justify the spanking of infants, why would you defend anything they teach?
If the Pearls can get it wrong on something as basic as spanking infants--a practice which MOST Christian parents would agree is wrong and abusive--why do we keep excusing the Pearls from their complicity in promoting child abuse?
Furthermore, the Pearls are promoting these teachings in the name of God. How does that not horribly offend all Christians?
Yes, blame falls squarely on the abusive, out-of-control parent. But those who promote, preach and teach abusive discipline methods are also responsible. At the very least, there should be a massive outcry among conservative Christians against the Pearls books and "ministry."
And where is that outcry? According to the Pearls, their books are still selling well. If Christians were actually standing up against the Pearls, they would be out of business by now. Instead, their "ministry" grows.
This is only made worse by the silent complicity of Christian parents who would never raise their children according to these methods but say things like: "I read the book and although I wouldn't raise my kids that way, I don't think the Pearls condone abuse."
The Pearls don't condone abuse? But the very methods they teach are inherently abusive. So, if you've chosen a gentler approach to parenting why WOULDN'T you speak out against clearly abusive methods?
To use a recent analogy, Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted in the death of Michael Jackson. Why? Because Murray gave harmful medication to MJ that resulted in his death. Did Dr. Murray kill Michael Jackson directly? No. But he DID give MJ a harmful substance. As a doctor, he should have known better. And now he is being held accountable.
Likewise, Michael Pearl is a pastor. And he is giving parents harmful methods to use on their children. Did Michael Pearl kill Sean, Lydia and Hana directly? No. But as a pastor, he should have known better. Will we hold him accountable?
I've heard it said that evil flourishes when good people do nothing. I would also say that bad Christian teachers flourish when good Christian people refuse to hold them accountable.
As for me, I refuse to stand idly by watching parents feed their children poison. I will call out the parents. I will call out the poison-maker.
And I won't stop talking about it until the Pearls are stopped.
How you can help: tweet this post (you can use this shortened link: bit.ly/vnQLKB) tweet the hashtag #NoMoreDeadKids & #StopNoGreaterJoy, share this post on FB, email it to friends and family. The more we spread the word, the less chance children will die. Don't stop until the Pearls are stopped.