Christopher Corbett

  • How Christian parents are being backed into the corner


What if the government ordered you to sin?

That is precisely what millions of Christians are facing in battles with local child protective agencies charged with preventing child abuse -- agencies which seem to have expanded their original mission of restraining clear-cut brutality and enlarged it to reengineering the parent-child relationship. In fact, the scope of the power-grab is worldwide.

Consider the case of Canadian Joe Clearly. As reported in the Canadian Christian journal Quit You Like Men, in January 1995, Cleary, of Ontario, had disciplined his 5-year old son Gavin by spanking him with a belt. Gavin was fully clothed, but his squirming left a single mark above the belt line which was seen by his swimming instructor, who reported it to the authorities. The next day, Joe Cleary was "arrested without warning, handcuffed in front of his boss and co-workers, and charged with assault with a weapon."

After suffering two days and a night in jail Cleary pleaded not guilty. Cleary’s doctor testified that he and his wife, who have six children, are model parents -- in fact, they were described as exemplary. Undaunted, the Children’s Aid Society is now pressuring the Clearys to sign an agreement not to practice corporal punishment upon any of their children.

At the bail hearing Joe and his wife Perri (who was nursing their ten-day old infant) were castigated by the prosecutor for their biblical family arrangement. Perri was described as a "slave" and an "underling."

THE CHINO CASE Could a case like the Cleary’s ever happen in the United States? Investigative reporter Brenda Scott, author of Out of Control: Who’s Watching Our Child Protective Agencies (Huntington House, 1994) writes, "By the child abuse industry’s own figures, over one million people are falsely accused of child abuse each year in this country." Many of these cases, she writes, involve Christian parents who practice corporal punishment.

Consider the case of Valerie Chino, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mrs. Chino works at a private Christian school where both her sons attend. When the two boys got into a fight on the playground, Mrs. Chino broke it up. One son, Earl, who is quite a bit larger than his diminutive mother, suddenly launched into a fit of rage, screaming at Valerie that he did not have to obey her. In response, Earl got what most people would call a well-deserved slap. Not hard, and just once.

Earl, however, was apparently not ignorant of the children’s rights sentiment in American culture. He called police and accused his mother of battery. Now Valerie is being treated like a criminal for doing what most people would say a responsible parent should: restoring family order and exercising firm, loving discipline on a rebellious brat. She was arrested by the police, booked, photographed and fingerprinted. She may have to pay a stiff fine; she could conceivably go to jail. Even if Chino is acquitted, what signal does this send to any parent who hears the news? When, they may justly wonder, will a an overzealous teacher, neighbor, family member, or even child report them?

GOD VS. GOVERNMENT Overreaction on the part of law-enforcement agents would be an isolated problem except for one thing. The bureaucrats’ inflated sense of mission is now backed by an overarching ideology.

Many powerful people are advocating the expansion of "children’s rights," including Hillary Clinton and the National Education Association. The NEA officially opposes corporal punishment by parents. This is echoed in codes such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, currently being considered by the Senate. And as this movement begins to connect with local and state child protective agencies, a major assault could be coming on what liberals see as "backwards" Christian parenting.

With regard to their children, God clearly requires parents to "bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). He also commands children to "obey your parents in the Lord" (Ephesians 6:1). God’s command to parents also means disciplining children -- physically if need be. Proverbs 13:24 states, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Of course, the Bible speaks against abuse or "exasperating" children; but loving physical discipline is exhorted.

This could drive Christian parents like the Clearys and Valerie Chino into making some excruciating choices.

Should Joe and Perri Cleary obey God, refuse to sign the state’s agreement, and possibly go to jail and have their six children taken away -- or will they agree to commit sin by pledging to refrain from corporal punishment even when the Bible says spanking is necessary to mold his child’s character?

Should Valerie Chino submit to an agreement that she not spank her rebellious boys, even knowing that by signing she would violate God’s commands?

Many under-informed Christians ask, "Why should the church be involved in social issues?" The children’s rights controversy is a good answer to give them.

What You Can Do

1. Warn your Senators about the U.N. Convention (Treaty) on the Rights of the Child. Point of View recently mailed over 14,000 petitions from listeners to their Senators, asking them to refuse to accept President Clinton’s recommendation that they ratify this treaty. It would submit the United States to U.N. laws against a parent’s authority to spank children, restrict children’s entertainment, make children attend church, and restrict children’s association or sexuality.

Several years ago England signed it --today the U.N. is using it to pressure Parliament to outlaw spanking in the home.

2. Ask your Senators and Congressman to co-sponsor the Parental Rights Acts. This bill would restore the rights of parents to discipline their children according to their moral and religious tenets, including spanking.

3. Educate yourself, your church, and your friends. Order the book Out of Control: Who’s Watching Our Child Protection Agencies by Brenda Scott, and get a tape of Marlin’s recent interview with her. Call the Freedom Club Line at 1-800-227-1444.

The Source of this Article

This article is adapted from The Freedom Club Report, a monthly newsletter published for supporters of Point of View Radio Talk Show.

Point of View Radio Talk Show uses the powerful tool of live, daily, national talk radio to defend a Biblical Christian worldview and to proclaim Christian solutions for the problems of America. Point of View---and its parent ministry, International Christian Media (ICM)---aims to restore the greatness of Christian thought and values to every area of American life using cutting-edge communication formats, including satellite talk radio, publications, audio tapes, and computer networking.

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