Beating Children for Jesus ?

by Doug Schiffer

According to ABC News Reverend Arthur Allen and five members of his congregation of the "House of Prayer" were arrested on March 21st.  Their alleged crime was the recent beating of 2 children during church services of Rev Allen's Atlanta based church. Police said that the children were held in the air while being beaten by sticks, switches and a belt.  Investigator C. Dean of the Atlanta police said that the welts on one boy's body were shaped like a belt buckle. It is alleged that the beatings were at the urging and direction of Rev. Allen. To justify his actions, Rev Allen made the following comments, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

"We believe in corporal punishment for unruly children . If something is reported in here, the parent saying they cannot handle the child, then I suggest they give the child a whipping."

Church members, being questioned by reporters from CNN, would reply by simply saying "Jesus is Lord", as if uttering this religious mantra somehow excused the whole affair.  Allen himself was convicted in 1993 of beating a 16 year old church member, according to an online Journal-Constitution article.

    Many will criticize Rev. Allen for his actions, claiming that he must not be following the teachings of the Christian faith or the Bible.  The interesting thing is that the Christian Bible does, time and again, endorse beatings and whippings to punish children.  It seems to me that Rev. Allen sees nothing wrong with pounding children, because he reads it in the Bible that beating children is acceptable.  In this, Rev. Allen is correct.  The Christian Bible does say that beating children is God's Will.  For just 5 examples, read the following verses:

Proverbs 13:24
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Proverbs 22:15
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 23:13
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
(the author of Proverbs was mistaken - children can and have been beaten to death with rods)
Ecclesiasticus 22:6
Lecturing your children can sometimes be as out of place as singing to people in morning, but a whipping is a wise choice of discipline at any time.
Ecclesiasticus 30:11
Don't give him [your son] freedom while he is young, and don't overlook what he does wrong.  Whip him while he is still a child, and make him respect your authority.
the Holy Bible

The truly sad thing about beating as a method is that it is a known failure.  Unruly children are not a modern phenomena.  John Dillinger, notorious bank robber of the depression era, was beaten regularly by his stern, god-fearing, Bible believing father.  This didn't prevent John from raping a girl at age 13, or robbing numerous banks, or killing cops during his subsequent criminal career. Beatings simply teach kids that it's Ok to use violence to subdue those less powerful than you.

"The last resort is to whip our children," church member Jimmy Barnett said. "Somebody's got to stop them. There's enough killing in these schools. There's enough parent abuse, and it's because the parent did not correct that child when it was young."
from the ABC News online article

Jimmy Barnett is wrong and someone who is completely familiar with the Bible would know differently.  Whipping children is not the parental punishment of last resort in the Bible.  That dubious honor goes to the punishment of stoning your children to death.  If Rev. Allen and Jimmy Barnett believed completely in the Christian Bible as a guide to child rearing, they would take to heart the following passages:

Exodus 21:15 (supposedly spoken by God to Moses)
And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
Exodus 21:17 (supposedly spoken by God to Moses)
And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 20:9 (supposedly spoken by God to Moses)
For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21(supposedly spoken by God to Moses)
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Matthew 15:4-7 (Jesus himself speaking)
For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
the Holy Bible

The last passage should squelch any Christian who says that the beating and child killing are confined to the Old Testament.  Matthew 15 makes it perfectly clear that the will of God/Jesus is that children be executed for certain offenses, just like it says in Exodus, Leviticus & Deuteronomy

One parent, James Smith, told Carlisle that the beatings were so common he had lost count of how many he had seen.
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution online article

It seems to me that the only real crime Rev. Allen commited was taking the Bible too seriously. Such a position is widely advocated by our society.  Indeed, the Bible is commonly called "the Good Book". The President is even sworn into office with his hand on one.  One has to wonder why, when it contains such obscene ideas as murdering children for their own good.  Like burning villages in Vietnam to save them, this policy is nothing less than criminally insane.

Reverend Allen's church is a "faith based" institution.  Their actions, like the actions of Afghanistan's Taliban, show that "faith" can lead us seriously astray. We would do well to question religious faith, and to ask ourselves: Does it really take us where we want to go?  Asking serious questions is what freethought and FUNY are all about.

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You can find out more about what's really in the bible by going to ReasonWorks, and checking out their fine "Bible Stories Your Parents Never Taught You" on audio tapes.