DA: Deadly Child Abuse Case Linked To "Biblical Chastisement"

Date: 2010-02-12
Source: khsltv.com

Reported by: Owen Clark

Authorities now believe that murder suspects Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were followers of a extremist Christian group that advocates hitting children.

"It's the old spare the rod, spoil the child type of proverb or whatever you want to call it, that would justify corporal punishment," said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

After speaking with the Schatz' other children investigators were led to No Greater Joy Ministries, a Tennessee based faith group that espouses spanking as a necessary part of "training" one's child.

The Ministries' web site details how hard and on which part of the body a child should be hit. It also describes a 1/4 inch plumber's supply line as an ideal "spanking instrument".

The Schatz are accused of using that exact type of supply line to beat their two adopted children so severely that one died and the other remains in intensive care.

"They did espouses the philosophy that they were to use this particular 1/4 inch plumbing supply line for their discipline or as they call it biblical chastisement," said Ramsey.

Investigators say the Shatz practiced a similar form of corporal punishment on their six biological children and were training their oldest daughter in the proper way to deliver spankings.

Ramsey is quick to point out that followers of No Greater Joy do not advocate spanking to the point of serious injury.

"Even the Tennessee pastor that espouse hitting children right from infancy says that you must watch that you don't cross the line. Clearly this is a situation where the line was crossed from discipline... to beating... to murder," said Ramsey.

The Schatz are facing murder and torture charges, they are scheduled to enter a plea February 25th.


Michael and Debi Pearl

No Greater Joy Ministeries, as mentioned in this article, is run by , who were also a source of inspiration to Lynn Paddock, who used the same type of supply line to beat her children. Her adopted son Sean was suffocated when wrapped tightly in blankets.

Child beaters, wife beaters

Oh christ, Michael and Debi Pearl. Same old right wing christian nut job males-first Biblical literalists, trying to force their bigot lifestyle on children via the strap. They make it very easy for parody sites like Billy Bob Neck to exist and thrive.

"Traditional family values" kills, regardless of the so-called "tradition". And so do the people who adhere to them.

Good catch.

Note on terminology (differences)

I didn't catch if those children were homeschooled and would be interested in knowing how/where they were schooled and in what living situation.

Just 2 points to consider, but I think they're good to remember:

1) Jesus may have pointed out that some chastisement and discipline comes from love and wisdom, but no where in the New Testament is he said to have taught people it's okay to beat their kids.

2) Children in a family can be a wonderful thing. Children in a family can be a terrible thing. Atheists make good parents. Christians make good parents. Atheists make bad parents and kill their kids. 'Christians' make bad parents and kill their kids. Etc. My point is: saying that " "traditional family values" kills" is an overbroad statement that paints with too broad of a brush because "traditional family values" itself is an overbroad phrase. What EXACTLY does it mean? That's the thing. It can mean different things to different people. For example, my own values are in some ways "traditional" and in some ways "not traditional."

Yes, the right-wing did unfortunately highjack some terminology for their own purposes - terminology and concepts that they don't own. They also did a relatively successful marketing job (in the eyes of many people) of 'branding' themselves this way. But of course, unlike what they would have people think, a person can have appropriate values for a family without being right wing. Of course a person can have values that are pretty 'traditional' regarding families without being sexist, chauvinistic, harsh, anti-gay, etc. They can also have some values that are 'traditional' without having other 'traditional' values. The ones they adhere to can also be adhered to because they make sense and are wise as opposed to adhering to all 'traditional' values just because they are traditions. Adhering to anything just because it is a tradition of course can sometimes be a bad idea.

Last, but not least, someone else can label another person as having 'traditional family values' when that person himself or herself wouldn't describe themselves with that terminology. Who's to say exactly what that term is supposed to mean? So this is a caution about labelling as murderers or potential murderers all people with values that could be called 'family values.' For one thing, as someone who is not a right-winger, etc, I don't accept that they own that phrase and that only THEIR way of seeing things can be called 'family values.' If I say that my values could be called relatively 'traditional' and 'family,' that does not mean I am anything like those people who are referenced here regarding beating children with plumbers piping' (or whatever that stuff was).

Yes, they were homeschooled

Thanks but no thanks on the missive on "traditional family values"; what happened to these girls -- and yes they were homeschooled -- is one logical end of the "traditional family values" lifestyle.

Repression, violence, misogyny, homo-hate, and beating the crap out of children and wives are others. If the rightwing hijacked the phrase (which it did not, they made it up out of whole cloth), it's because other wings continue to allow it.

Traditional family values are garbage. Garbage belongs in the trash.


Thanks so much Marion_Cullen for the answer on the homeschooling question. As far as the phrase in question goes, I think the problem is with the word 'traditional.' How far back, exactly, does a 'history' of a civilization's norms and accepted (or allowed) behavior have to go before it is considered to be a 'tradition?' I don't know. Not sure I care all that much. I just hate child abuse. That's what I know for sure.

Maybe the right wing would have people believe something's not a 'tradition' if it's newer than, oh, say 300 years old. There were plenty of families going back for generations that I know of that would almost certainly be considered 'traditional' and did not have ANY violence in them - either towards women, children, or pets - and did not have misogyny. But I wouldn't be surprised at the homo-hate. Honest-to-goodness, a lot of people actually, sincerely did not even know such a thing existed. It was so not talked about and not seen for most people. In that environment, whenever people who were straight DID find out about it and know of it, I'm sure that most of the time it unfortunately became what you so aptly refer to as homo-hate. As I said, there were plenty of families without hatred of women (misogyny), but I do DEFINITELY know that society-wide there was generally not enough respect for the intellect of women and the human- and civil-rights of women. And it is not healthy for a society when there is too much of a power imbalance the way that there was between women and men.

I think I shouldn't have said they hijacked the phrase. What I really mean is that they hijacked the individual words and decided they all have to be stuck together in that one phrase. I personally don't care if they want the word 'traditional' - they can have that word if they want it. I don't put much stock in following tradition just because it's tradition. But they can't have the words 'family' and 'values' because those words belong to whoever wants and needs 'em.

For the sake of children, what I very much support that SOME people might apply the t f v label to (not me) is actually not something we'd have to go back to even the 1960s to find. What I'm referring to is stopping the entertainment industry's encroachment since the 1980's into people's homes with ever-further blurring lines between what is age-appropriate for children and what is age-appropriate to adults. Combined with what has been termed 'the pornographication of America' in roughly the same time-frame, it's not a good recipe for the health,well-being, and safety of children. One example of the inexcusable garbage that the entertainment industry thinks is fine for families is the tv show 'Two and a Half Men.' I once tuned in just to time how long it would take for them to make a joke that is totally inappropriate for a show with a child as a regular cast member. All it took was FOURTEEN SECONDS and there was Charlie Sheen (in all his wife-beating, excellent role-model glory) joking about BESTIALITY.

Take care. Keep up the child-protection. We need EVERYONE we can get. I've got a headache because I've been up for going on 48 hours with no sleep. That's because I came across a couple of questions by teenagers online that were cries for help. I never came across that kind of thing before then all of a sudden teenagers seeking advice on serious subjects. I struggled mightily typing out and composing my answers to help them only to find there's a relatively short time limit to posting answers and the questions were closed to answers when I went to post them. There were some other people that answered them at least and did a halfway decent job of it. But...the question I'm most concerned about was a suicidal 15 year old who I think is probably in England. I could not believe the cruelty of one person who posted a comment telling this precious kid to go ahead. So I reported that commenter to the website as an illegal life-threatener because I think it's got to be reckless endangerment to say something like that to a self-described suicidal minor. I wish I had the know-how to track down someone's location through the computer. I lost a close teenaged loved-one once to that horrible tragedy. I so feel helpless not knowing for sure what country this kid's in much less what city. My heart is pulling for that young man in England if that is where he is. I feel there's nothing I can do right now but pray for him, then catch up on my sleep and try to find out tomorrow if there's a way to know his location. He seems to have given his first and last names: Jason Odonel. It's at the Answers.Yahoo.com site. He used the word 'mates' instead of 'friends' or 'buddies' so that's a clue to his location. They say that in Australia, right? Do they also say it in England?


How far back, exactly, does a 'history' of a civilization's norms and accepted (or allowed) behavior have to go before it is considered to be a 'tradition?

That's an interesting question, and one that I have asked myself many times, and for myself I have come to the conclusion that the answer is: one or two generations at most.

Many traditions are not old at all, we just think they are old, because we don't know, or have forgotten when that tradition started. As long as our parents and grand parents are part of the tradition, people seem to conclude that tradition comes from times immemorial.

When we look at the film Braveheart for example, we are led to believe that in 13th century Scotland men wore kilts and each clan has its own tartan. In reality both tartans and kilts are English inventions of the 18th and 19th century.

Some traditions have relatively old roots, but are modern in their current incarnation. Santa Claus for example didn't start living on the North Pole until 1866, while many other aspects of Santa Claus were invented in the 20th century.

Most American traditions have even more recent roots. The term "American dream" was coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931, while the phrase "the American way of life" is a cold war invention, just like the national motto "In God we trust", and the modern notion of American patriotism.

The same can be said about "family values", a term that was actually popularized only 20 years ago by Dan Quale in a response to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Of course the sentiments behind the term itself are somewhat older, but the phrase is startlingly recent.

The sentiments behind "family values" can easily be traced back to the post World War II era, with the coinage of the "nuclear family". The nuclear family is not necessarily a modern invention, throughout the ages people have lived both in extended and in nuclear family constructs, but the ideology of the nuclear family as the corner stone of society dates back to the late 1940's.

This ideology was mostly a response to the return of soldiers from the battle fields in Europe and Asia. During WWII, the war industry was largely run by women, but after WWII both demand dropped and supply of labour grew (due to the return of soldiers). In response to that. women were incouraged/forced to focus entirely on domestic service, while men were supposed to go out and work, a division of labour not necessarily common before WWII. The financial viability of home ownership further contributed to the ideology of the nuclear family as promoted through the notion of "family values".

By itself, I have not necessarily a problem with the living arrangements as seen in the nuclear family. I do have an issue with the ideology that the nuclear family is the one and only solution. Like any other ideology it is a forced construct. For some people the construct will fit like a glove, for others it's like trying to fit square pegs in round holes.

The notion of tradition itself is largely romantic, and more often than not relates to a longing for a past that never existed. It is not without reason that Dan Quale is the one who popularized the term "family values". Being born in 1947, Dan Quale has no way of really knowing the realities of the late 1940's and early 1950's. He was a child back then, so his longing for "family values", can easily be seen as a romantic desire to go back to the days of his youth.


Niels: Thank you so much for the history! I love knowing about history. For one thing, it's important to understand the progression of significant things when we can. When we understand history's important lessons and meanings then we have more of a chance to not repeat the mistakes of the past. (By the way, before the movie Braveheart was made I had read about Robert the Bruce and some of his own history in fighting for Scottish independence. Then when the movie came out I was very interested in learning what parts of the movie were history and what parts were just hollywood.)


In case anyone is interested, I've published the following about the Pearls and similar methods:


Mercer, J. (2007) Destructive trends in alternative infant mental health approaches. Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 5(2), 44-58.

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