Sitting on the couch with Michael Pearl

Now that the show has aired for most of the country, I'm going to share more of my experience. First, to answer today's most frequently asked questions along with some of my own:

1. I do not know if the show will run in its entirety online. I am only seeing partial clips--all of Pearl talking--on Anderson's website.

2. Was a 'talking-points' memo sent out by the Pearls' "ministry"? Because all of the negative comments about the show from Pearl supporters sound suspiciously similar; ie. "Pearl wasn't given enough time to explain his views!" What's going on, here? Pearl has had like 15 YEARS to explain his view through his books, newsletters and website. Sure, the producers had to edit things for time--but I can tell you that when I was sitting there during the taping? Pearl had more air-time than ANYONE else.

3. I'm not interested in debating pro-Pearl supporters here on my blog. At this point, I'm simply being asked the same questions repeatedly--which means people aren't reading what I've already written. In fact, today someone actually told me I would "KNOW" the Pearls don't advocate abusive methods if I'd read their books. *sigh* Really? Really? I guess it doesn't count that I've underlined, highlighted and made NOTES in their books. Dude.

And anyway, there are other places on the Internet for debating about the Pearls. This blog is not one of those places. This blog is a safe place for those who have been hurt. Just because you raised your kids using the Pearl's methods and everyone "turned out great!" doesn't really mean anything to me. Lots of kids turn out great IN SPITE of being abusively spanked. So, the anecdotal evidence of pro-Pearl supporters means very little, honestly.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: until we can morally justify the spanking of infants, it is intellectually dishonest to claim Pearl's teachings are harmless.

Moving on to my experience of the show:

When the producers told me I'd be sitting on the couch with Michael Pearl, I almost had a panic attack. Please understand that this man has sown so much fear, sorrow and intimidation into the lives of myself and so many others that the very thought of sitting next to him frightened me.

And yet, as I stood there waiting to take the stage, I was filled with a deep awareness One Scripture I often repeat to myself is: Be not afraid. For me, this means living and acting from a place of wholeheartedness and compassion. It means standing for truth with humility and an open heart--even in the face of your greatest fear.

As I walked to the stage, I wondered if Michael Pearl would want to shake my hand. I decided to shake his hand mainly because I wanted to be gracious.

However, I did not allow Michael Pearl to ask me personal questions. You can see in the clip that I did not answer his question about spanking a child who runs into the street. That was intentional. I know fundamentalists very well and one of their main tactics is to trap their detractors by asking baiting, personal questions. I did not come on the show to debate Michael Pearl. I came to share my story and speak for hurting children.

During a commercial break, Michael Pearl tried to ask me a personal question. I ignored him. After the show, he tried to talk to me in the hallway--he actually asked me about my relationship with my parents! I turned away and told one of the producers standing next to me that I wasn't willing to engage in a personal conversation.

Here's the thing: I know how to be gracious and remain composed. But I also have boundaries. And my boundary that day was to refuse a personal, buddy-buddy conversation with Michael Pearl. I was there to defend children, not answer personal questions about my family life.

On the stage, it took every last ounce of strength for me to remain calm, focused and gracious. I did not want to become angry---although nothing makes me angrier than the abuse of children!--because I knew that by becoming angry I would give the Pearl supporters reason to write me off and discredit me.

And let's be very clear, here. Pearl supporters ARE trying to discredit me. Apparently, because I learned these teachings in a cultish, controlling church--well, THAT'S why I perceive these teachings as abusive.

I'm sorry. Even in the healthiest church, these teachings would be considered abusive.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: until we can morally justify the spanking of infants, it is intellectually dishonest to claim Pearl's teachings are harmless.

What was most striking to me about Michael Pearl--although I guess it's not surprising--was his cold, callous demeanor. How could he sit there without showing one tiny flicker of remorse or sadness--even while listening to the 911 call of Hana's mother?

I could tell Michael Pearl was dismissing me and not listening.  At one point he did this "pfft" scoffing noise (maybe it was edited out?), shook his head, said "no" to me, reached for his books and refused to make eye contact with me any further.

To me, this is the true tragedy of the Pearl ministry. There is no acknowledgment of moral responsibility. There is only stubborn, prideful defensiveness and a kind of cruel heartlessness.

Instead of listening to those of us who have been directly damaged by these harmful, graceless teachings--we are dismissed, we are ignored, we are discredited, we are called "emotional" and "illogical." We are shamed into silence.

But I refuse to dwell on that because the good news is that others ARE listening!

We ARE being heard!

The outpouring of love and support I have received has humbling. I just want to thank all of you. For years--YEARS--I believed nobody would listen. Nobody would hear. Nobody would care.

That has all changed.

Be not afraid. LOVE never fails.