Posts tagged "Child Abuse"


Pope Francis said that he felt “compelled to personally take on all the evil” perpetrated by some priests, because “you cannot interfere with children.”


A Kansas lawmaker made headlines last week for introducing a bill to explicitly permit spanking to the point of “redness or bruising” by parents, as well as teachers given permission by parents. The bill almost immediately died in committee, but not before attracting criticism,defense and outright mockery. The discussion was remarkable — not for what was said, but for what remained unaddressed.

Outside the media industry, corporal punishment in school is noncontroversial, as 80% of parents and 72% of Americans believe that it should not be permitted. The South has the highest level of support, a meager 35%. Despite this widespread public opposition, condemnation by pediatric and childcare experts and a growing international abolition movement, school spanking remains legal in 19 states.

This disconnect is relatively new. A 1977 Supreme Court ruling determined that while corporal punishment violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment,” the clause did not apply to students. Under the majority’s logic, criminals could not receive corporal punishment, but students could — even without their parent’s permission.

The ruling and shifting public opinion prompted state legislation. From 1977 to 1997, 24 states banned corporal punishment in schools. But the pace of change has slowed in recent decades. Since 1997, only five bans have passed. Sometime in the 2000s, legislation and public opinion became out of step.

The explanation may lie in who receives corporal punishment. The most recent Department of Education statistics show that around 216,000 students received corporal punishment in 2009, only a slight decrease from the prior study (223,000 in 2006). The number is high, but it’s far from evenly distributed.

Urban districts often have local bans, so that the majority of school spanking is carried out in rural areas. Disabled students are spanked at a disproportionately high level, despite research suggesting that those with mental handicaps are least capable of understanding why they are being punished. Minorities are also punished at a higher rate. In a particularly egregious example, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction found that while Native American students constituted only 2% of students, they received 35% of the state’s corporal punishment. Across all races, about 80% of those punished are boys. The number of non-disabled white women spanked in the United States in 2009 was considered statistically insignificant by the Department of Education.

The disproportionate effect of these policies on minority and disabled students in rural districts could help explain how school spanking remains in place despite majority opposition. More privileged students with more privileged parents (including the 10% with students in private school) are rarely effected and thus unlikely to give the issue much thought. Those most passionate about changing these policies may lack the political power to influence the legislative or media agenda.

Whatever the cause, school spanking remains lawful in 19 states over the opposition of 80% of American parents, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and many others. The next time corporal punishment in schools enters the news cycle, think of the issue not as a controversydebate or discussion, but a continuing and pernicious failure of American-style democracy.


A Democratic lawmaker in Kansas says that her bill allowing teachers, caregivers and parents to beat children to point of leaving bruises is about restoring parental rights, not abusing children.

State Rep. Gail Finney’s (D) bill expands current law, which allows spanking without leaving marks.

According to KCTV, the new legislation would permit teachers, caregivers and parents to strike children up to 10 times, and leave redness or even bruising.

McPherson Deputy County Attorney Britt Colle, who proposed the idea to Finney, told KCTV that the measure actually protected children by defining what parents were not allowed to do.

“This bill basically defines a spanking along with necessary reasonable physical restraint that goes with discipline, all of which has always been legal,” Colle explained. “This bill clarifies what parents can and cannot do. By defining what is legal, it also defines what is not.”

Colle said that the new rules would not allow children to be hit in the head or the body. Using a fist or a switch or a belt would also be against the rules.

But not everyone in Kansas thinks that turning back the clock on child beatings is a great idea.

“Twenty, 30 years ago, we didn’t sit in car seats, and we do now,” pediatric nurse practitioner and child care expert Amy Terreros pointed out. “So maybe they did spank or were spanked as a child, but now we have research that shows it is less effective than time out. It tends to lead to more aggressive behavior with a child.”

If the bill passes, Kansas will be one of the few states to expand spanking rights. Corporal punishment has been banned completely by 30 states.

Finney has vowed to reintroduce the bill next session if House Corrections Committee Chairman John Rubin refuses to bring it up this year.

Watch the video below from KCTV, broadcast Feb. 18, 2014.


(Cross-Posted from Daily Kos


The BBC will be plunged into a major crisis with the publication of a damning review, expected next month, that will reveal its staff turned a blind eye to the rape and sexual assault of up to 1,000 girls and boys byJimmy Savile in the corporation’s changing rooms and studios.

Dame Janet Smith, a former court of appeal judge, who previously led the inquiry into the murders by Dr Harold Shipman, will say in her report that the true number of victims of Savile’s sexual proclivities may never be known but that his behaviour had been recognised by BBC executives who took no action.

Smith’s investigations, which followed the Pollard inquiry into why the BBC shelved a Newsnight programme about Savile, will send shockwaves through the corporation.

A source close to the inquiry told the Observer: “The numbers are shocking. Many hundreds and potentially up to 1,000 people were victims of Savile when he was representing the corporation. The report will overshadow Pollard. It will go right to the heart of how Savile was able to get away with the most heinous of crimes under the very noses of BBC staff for more than 40 years.”

The sheer scale of victims’ testimonies being examined has delayed the publication of Smith’s report by a month.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac), which has been consulted by Smith’s inquiry, said: “In Savile’s lifetime I wouldn’t doubt [that 1,000 people had been abused by him on BBC property]. The other thing I have found extraordinary, and very sad, is the number of people I have spoken to connected to the BBC, and that is a lot of people, who said: ‘Oh yes, we all knew about him.’

"I was talking to someone at BBC Manchester in Salford who said ‘we knew about Stuart Hall. He had a room where he would take women and young people’. You think: ‘Oh my God, these people were offending almost in open sight and no one thought to intervene.’"

Liz Dux, a lawyer representing 74 of Savile’s victims, said Smith had been forensic in her examination of witnesses and her report was likely to cause serious concerns for those at the top of the organisation. She said: “Every single opportunity Savile took it. He never had a quiet day basically so these numbers wouldn’t at all surprise me.

"Dame Janet is very widely respected and I am confident she won’t leave any stones unturned. The clients who gave evidence said that they felt they were listened to very sensitively and sympathetically and were able to give their evidence in a lot of detail. This will not be a what-the-BBC-want sort of report."

A second report on the scale of Savile’s abuse within the NHS has also been delayed due to the number of places in which Savile committed crimes and it is not expected until June.

Smith has used a similar methodology to that employed during the Shipman inquiry, which found the GP had killed hundreds of patients, not just the 15 for which he received life sentences before taking his own life in his prison cell.

Her team sent letters to every member of BBC staff past and present asking whether they had witnessed criminal acts by Savile in order to piece together his pattern of behaviour and establish an understanding of the scale of his crimes.

In three known cases, one of which involved a BBC cameraman who has since died, Savile carried out his abuse with others connected to the corporation, the review has heard.

The report will, however, express frustration that some of those closest to Savile or culpable for allowing him to go unchallenged have refused to co-operate. His criminality peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, when he was middle-aged and at the height of his career at the corporation, but continued right up until the last filming of Top of the Pops in 2006 when at the age of 79 he groped a girl aged between 13 and 16. Smith’s review has been in contact with more than 1,000 witnesses and victims, including the 138 who are pursuing civil claims for compensation, but the scale of those affected by Savile’s crimes dwarfs the number who have so far come forward.

The Observer understands the BBC has provided more than £10,000 in funding, and the assistance of a business consultant, to Napac to allow it to increase its helpline services. Further money is expected to be made available when the review is published.

Lord Hall, the BBC’s director general, met the charity’s chief executive shortly before Christmas and asked for his support when the Smith report is launched.

Dux hopes the BBC will respond to Smith’s findings by offering further support to the victims, who are due to receive limited compensation through a scheme being agreed with the corporation, the NHS and the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust. Those raped by Savile are unlikely to receive more than £50,000 in compensation.

Dux, head of abuse cases at Slater & Gordon, said: “What I hope doesn’t happen is that the BBC goes into some sort of navel-gazing period. Rather than look internally, look at how they are behaving and accept some corporate responsibility, which is not what they have done so far.

"I have asked for counselling for my clients who have given statements but the BBC have done nothing; my clients have been left absolutely high and dry."

If the BBC really cared about these people then they would have contacted them as soon as they have given evidence and said: ‘We accept that you have gone through an awful ordeal and whatever the outcome of the report we have made facilities to let you go and see this counsellor.’”

She added: “Whether these cases are resolved by settlement scheme or by court the amount of damages the victims of the BBC will get is absolutely tiny compared to what they have spent on their own legal fees, the Pollard inquiry and their own staff. The damages for compensation in civil law for rape is rarely over £50,000 and that is something that is life-changing and hideous. They are actually getting an insulting amount”.

A spokesman for Smith’s review declined to comment.


LostProphets Former Frontman Singer/Rapist Sentenced To 29 Years In Prison For Multiple Rapes Including An Attempted Rape Of An Infant (Yes, You Read That Correctly), Claims That The Infant Rape Was “Mega Lolz” [TW: Graphic Descriptions of Rape and Sexual Assault, Rape, Sexual Assault, Child Sex Abuse, Child Sexual Assault, Child Rape, Child Abuse, Pedophilia]

Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins was sentenced today to serve 29 years behind bars and another six under “strict probation,” for, among other horrifying things, the attempted rape of a baby.

Watkins, 36, pleaded guilty last month to three counts of sexual assault involving children and six counts involving taking, making or possessing indecent images of children.

Watkins also admitted to the attempted rape of an 11-month-old baby boy, footage of which was shown in court.

Two unnamed female co-defendants, one of whom is the mother of the child Watkins assaulted, were also sentenced to 14 and 17 years.

"Those who have appeared in these courts over many years, see here a large number of horrific cases," said the Cardiff Crown Court judge during sentencing. “This case breaks new ground.”

Though he didn’t speak in court today, Watkins did have a prison phone conversation with a fan after pleading guilty on November 26, in which he denied being a pedophile.

"I’m going to put out a statement on the 18th just to say it was mega lolz," Watkins told the female fan. “I do not know what everybody is getting so freaked out about.”

According to the Guardian, “mega lolz” was a phrase commonly found on Lostprophets merchandise a few years ago.

"Today’s sentence does not mark the end of our investigations," said Detective Chief Inspector Peter Doyle.

The South Wales Police have joined forces with Interpol, German police, and the US’s Homeland Security to determine if Watkins had abused children in other countries as well.

[mug shot via BBC News]

RELATEDRock Star Pleads Guilty to Attempted Rape of a Baby [Same Trigger Warnings As Above Article]

Brutal offshore Christian reform school exposed in new documentary (via Raw Story )

“Kidnapped for Christ” is a new documentary that tells the story of teenagers sent to an evangelical Christian boarding school outside the U.S. where school personnel attempt to rid them of feelings of same sex attraction or other “ungodly”…


At 10 P.M.on a Sunday night in May, Lauren and John,* a young couple in the Washington, D.C., area, started an emergency 14-hour drive to the state where Lauren grew up in a strict fundamentalist household. Earlier that day, Lauren’s younger sister, Jennifer, who had recently graduated from homeschooling high school, had called her in tears: “I need you to get me out of this place.” The day, Jennifer said, had started with another fight with her parents, after she declined to sing hymns in church. Her slight speech impediment made her self-conscious about singing in public, but to her parents, her refusal to sing or recite scripture was more evidence that she wasn’t saved. It didn’t help that she was a vegan animal-rights enthusiast.

After the family returned home from church, Jennifer’s parents discovered that she had recently been posting about animal rights on Facebook, which they had forbidden. They took away Jennifer’s graduation presents and computer, she told Lauren. More disturbing, they said that if she didn’t eat meat for dinner she’d wake up to find one of the pets she babied gone. 

To most people, it would have sounded like overreaction to innocuous forms of teenage rebellion. But Lauren, who’d cut ties with her family the previous year, knew it was more. The sisters grew up, with two brothers, in a family that was almost completely isolated, they say, held captive by their mother’s extreme anxiety and explosive anger. “I was basically raised by someone with a mental disorder and told you have to obey her or God’s going to send you to hell,” Lauren says. “Her anxiety disorder meant that she had to control every little thing, and homeschooling and her religious beliefs gave her the justification for it.”

It hadn’t started that way. Her parents began homeschooling Lauren when she struggled to learn to read in the first grade. They were Christians, but not devout. Soon, though, the choice to homeschool morphed into rigid fundamentalism. The sisters were forbidden to wear clothes that might “shame” their father or brothers. Disobedience wasn’t just bad behavior but a sin against God. Both parents spanked the children with a belt. Her mother, Jennifer says, hit her for small things, like dawdling while trying on clothes.

The family’s isolation made it worse. The children couldn’t date—that was a given—but they also weren’t allowed to develop friendships. Between ages 10 and 12, Lauren says she only got to see friends once a week at Sunday school, increasing to twice a week in her teens when her parents let her participate in mock trial, a popular activity for Christian homeschoolers. Their parents wanted them naïve and sheltered, Lauren says: “18 going on 12.” 

Mixed with the control was a lack of academic supervision. Lauren says she didn’t have a teacher after she was 11; her parents handed her textbooks at the start of a semester and checked her work a few months later. She graded herself, she says, and rarely wrote papers. Nevertheless, Lauren was offered a full-ride scholarship to Patrick Henry College in Virginia, which was founded in 2000 as a destination for fundamentalist homeschoolers. At first her parents refused to let her matriculate, insisting that she spend another year with the family. During that year, Lauren got her first job, but her parents limited the number of hours she could work. 

Even conservative Patrick Henry felt like a bright new reality. While much about the college confirmed the worldview Lauren grew up in, small freedoms like going out for an unplanned coffee came as a revelation. She describes it as “a sudden sense of being able to say yes to things, when your entire life is no.” 

Family ties began to fray after she met John, a fellow student who’d had a more positive homeschooling experience growing up; he took her swing dancing and taught her how to order at Starbucks, and they fell in love. Her parents tried to break the couple up—at one point even asking the college to expel Lauren or take away her scholarship for disobeying them. Their efforts backfired; soon after her graduation, Lauren married John and entered law school.

For Jennifer, matters grew worse in the six years after Lauren left home. She rarely went out on her own except to walk the dog or attend a co-op class taught by other homeschooling parents. When she would ask to go to a friend’s house, she says, her mother would begin to cry; after a while, Jennifer stopped asking. She never had a key to the house. Tensions escalated after she went vegan. Animal-rights activists were communists and terrorists, her parents told her, and the Bible said she should eat meat. 

By the time Jennifer made her call in May, Lauren and John had discussed that she might eventually have to come live with them. Jennifer wasn’t often able to phone her older sister, because their parents closely monitored cell use. But Jennifer kept a secret e-mail account, which she used to write to Lauren. After the fight that Sunday, she hid her phone as her parents were confiscating her computer, then sneaked an SOS call. Lauren phoned around their hometown, trying to find family friends to take in Jennifer and her pets. She asked the family pastor to check on her sister. But the friends seemed scared to intervene, and the pastor refused, saying he didn’t believe Lauren because she was estranged from her parents. So the couple started driving, switching off through the night, to meet Jennifer after her co-op class the next day. “I wasn’t even sure she still had the resolve to go through with it,” Lauren says, “but we thought, even if she doesn’t want to leave, she still needs to know that her big sister is going to drive 14 hours for her if it gets to that point.” 

Jennifer was ready, though. The plan was to gather her things while their mother was out shopping and their father was at work. Instead, their mother pulled into the driveway while the sisters were loading Jennifer’s dog into the car. As their mother lunged for Jennifer, Lauren says she tried to stop her by grabbing her in a bear hug. Her mother wrestled free, slapped Lauren hard in the face, screaming that she was trying to kidnap Jennifer and destroy the family. She pulled the dog away from the girls so hard that Jennifer feared he would choke. Lauren called the police, and her mother summoned her father home.

“I was so scared I had a hard time breathing,” Jennifer says. Her father told police that John had brainwashed Lauren and that Jennifer had “the mind of a 12-year-old” and was too immature to be trusted. Because she was an adult, however, the police allowed her to leave—but only with some clothes and toiletries, which she piled into trash bags as her father trailed her through the house, yelling. The rest of Jennifer’s stuff-—her computer and her pets—had to be left behind, since she had no proof of ownership to show the officers.

On the long ride back, Lauren and Jennifer were stunned by what they’d done. They tried to think about pragmatics: What now? How would they handle college applications without parental involvement or get Jennifer insured or find her a job? Lauren called extended family members, trying to stay ahead of the story their parents would tell. She and Jennifer didn’t want to lose everybody. “I was on the phone for hours,” she says, trying to explain to relatives who hadn’t witnessed the family’s abusive dynamics and had a hard time believing her—especially after years of hearing how Lauren had been corrupted by her husband and turned her back on her family.

“Children in these situations are taught that if you talk badly about your parents, that’s a sin, and you’re going to hell,” Lauren says. “So when they finally get the courage and determination to say something, no one believes them, because they didn’t say anything all those years. You end up having to find an entirely new support network of people who actually believe you.”

In Washington, that new support network immediately kicked in. Through an informal group of young women who broke away from fundamentalist families, Lauren had become friends with Hännah Ettinger, who writes “Wine & Marble,” a blog about transitioning out of fundamentalist culture. When Lauren told her the story of Jennifer’s rescue, Ettinger posted a brief account. She asked readers to chip in to defray Jennifer’s costs of starting over: buying a computer, acquiring normal clothes, applying for community college. Within the first day, the blog’s readers donated almost $500. Then a new website, run by another former homeschooler, linked to Ettinger’s appeal, and within a few days, close to $11,000 had been donated. 

It was a surprise, but it was hardly a fluke. Jennifer’s rescue coincided with the emergence of a coalition of young former fundamentalists who are coming out publicly, telling their stories, and challenging the Christian homeschooling movement. The website that linked to Jennifer’s story wasHomeschoolers Anonymous, launched in March by two homeschool graduates, Ryan Stollar and Nicholas Ducote. Their goal was to show what goes on behind closed doors in some Christian homeschooling families—to share, as one blogger puts it, “the stories we were never allowed to talk about as children.” 

As of October, Homeschoolers Anonymous had published nearly 200 personal accounts and attracted more than 600,000 page views. For those outside the homeschooling movement, and for many inside it, the stories are revelatory and often shocking. The milder ones detail the haphazard education received from parents who, with little state oversight, prioritize obedience and religious training over learning. Some focus on women living under strict patriarchal regimes. Others chronicle appalling abuse that lasted for years.

They want to show what goes on behind closed doors in some Christian homeschooling families, to share “the stories we were never allowed to talk about as children.”

Growing up in California and Oregon, Stollar wasn’t abused, but he met many other homeschoolers who were. His parents led state homeschooling associations and started a debate club in San Jose. The emphasis on debate in fundamentalist homeschooling was the brainchild of Michael Farris, the founder of Patrick Henry College, and his daughter Christy Shipe. Farris believed debate competitions would create a new generation of culture warriors with the skills to “engage the culture for Christ.” “You teach the kids what to think, you keep them isolated from everyone else, you give them the right answers, and you keep them pure,” Stollar explains. “And now you train them how to argue and speak publicly, so they can go out to do what they’re supposed to do”—spread the faith and promote God’s patriarchy.


The timing was propitious. For several years, mothers and daughters who had escaped from Quiverfull families had blogged about their experiences and organized to help others get out on sites like No Longer Quivering. “Survivor” blogs written by former fundamentalists were also proliferating online. The bloggers doubtless inspired one another, but an additional factor was at work: Children from the first great wave of Christian homeschooling, in the 1980s and 1990s, were coming of age, and many were questioning the way they were raised.

Homeschooling leaders had dubbed them the “Joshua Generation.” Just as Joshua completed Moses’s mission by slaughtering the inhabitants of the Promised Land, “GenJ” would carry the fundamentalist banner forward and redeem America as a Christian nation. But now, instead, the children were revolting.


Homeschooling didn’t begin as a fundamentalist movement. In the 1960s, liberal author and educator John Holt advocated a child-directed form of learning that became “unschooling”—homeschooling without a fixed curriculum. The concept was picked up in the 1970s by education researcher Raymond Moore, a Seventh-Day Adventist, who argued that schooling children too early—before fourth grade—was developmentally harmful. Moore’s message came at a time when many conservative Christians were looking for alternatives to public schools. 

Moore’s work reached a massive audience when Focus on the Family founder and Christian parenting icon James Dobson invited him onto his radio show for the first time in 1982. Dobson would become the most persuasive champion of homeschooling, encouraging followers to withdraw their children from public schools to escape a “godless and immoral curriculum.” For conservative Christian parents, endorsements didn’t come any stronger than that.

Over the next two decades, homeschooling boomed. Today, perhaps as many as two million children are homeschooled. (An accurate count is difficult to conduct, because many homeschoolers are not required to register with their states.) Homeschooling families come from varied backgrounds—there are secular liberals as well as Christians, along with an increasing number of Muslims and African Americans—but researchers estimate that between two-thirds and three-fourths are fundamentalists.

Among Moore and Dobson’s listeners during that landmark broadcast was a pair of young lawyers, Michael Farris and Michael Smith, who the following year would found the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). With Moore’s imprimatur and Dobson’s backing, Farris and Smith started out defending homeschooling families at a time when the practice was effectively illegal in 30 states. As Christians withdrew their children from public school, often without requesting permission, truancy charges resulted. The HSLDA used them as test cases, challenging school districts and state laws in court while lobbying state legislators to establish a legal right to homeschool. By 1993, just ten years after the association’s founding, homeschooling was legal in all 50 states.

What many lawmakers and parents failed to recognize were the extremist roots of fundamentalist homeschooling. The movement’s other patriarch was R.J. Rushdoony, founder of the radical theology of Christian Reconstructionism, which aims to turn the United States into an Old Testament theocracy, complete with stonings for children who strike their parents. Rushdoony, who argued that democracy was “heresy” and Southern slavery was “benevolent,” was too extreme for most conservative Christians, but he inspired a generation of religious-right leaders including Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. He also provided expert testimony in early cases brought by the HSLDA. Rushdoony saw homeschooling as not just providing the biblical model for education but also a way to bleed the secular state dry.

With support from national leaders, Christian homeschoolers established state-level groups across the country and took over the infrastructure of the movement. Today, when parents indicate an interest in homeschooling, they find themselves on the mailing lists of fundamentalist catalogs. When they go to state homeschooling conventions to browse curriculum options, they hear keynote speeches about biblical gender roles and creationism and find that textbooks are sold alongside ideological manifestos on modest dressing, proper Christian “courtship,” and the concept of “stay-at-home daughters” who forsake college to remain with their families until marriage.

HSLDA is now one of the most powerful Christian-right groups in the country, with nearly 85,000 dues-paying members who send annual checks of $120. The group publicizes a steady stream of stories about persecuted homeschoolers and distributes tip sheets about what to do if social workers come knocking. Thanks to the group’s lawsuits and lobbying, though, that doesn’t happen often. Homeschooling now exists in a virtual legal void; parents have near-total authority over what their children learn and how they are disciplined. Not only are parents in 26 states not required to have their children tested but in 11 states, they don’t have to inform local schools when they’re withdrawing them. The states that require testing and registration often offer religious exemptions.

The emphasis on discipline has given rise to a cottage industry promoting harsh parenting techniques as godly. Books like To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl promise that parents can snuff out rebellious behavior with a spanking regimen that starts when infants are a few months old. The Pearls claim to have sold nearly 700,000 copies of their book, most through bulk orders from church and homeschooling groups. The combination of those disciplinary techniques with unregulated homeschooling has spawned a growing number of horror stories now being circulated by the ex-homeschoolers—including that of Calista Springer, a 16-year-old in Michigan who died in a house fire while tied to her bed after her parents removed her from public school, or Hana Williams, an Ethiopian adoptee whose Washington state parents were convicted in September of killing her with starvation and abuse in a Pearl-style system. Materials from HSLDA were found in the home of Williams’s parents. 

h/t: Kathryn Joyce at AlterNet, via The American Prospect

(via Daily Kos: AFA Radio host Bryan Fischer supports allowing corporal punishment in schools)

Ahh. AFA Radio host Bryan Fischer is on a roll of stupidity, and on today’s edition of Focal Point, he strongly defended spanking as an “effective discipline method for children,” when reputableresearch on this subject shows it’s the exact opposite.

He also trotted out the lie that the lack of corporal punishment in schools (even in the 19 states that still permit this practice) is causing the quality of education to drop and behavior problems to rise.

Right Wing Watch:

Bryan Fischer spent a large portion of his radio program today hailing the effectiveness of spanking as a biblically-approved form of discipline and cackling as he recounted how he and his wife used a wooden spoon to spank their own children on their bare bottoms because “the bottom is just designed by God for that.”

Eventually, Fischer got around to calling for the use of corporal punishment in public schools, saying failure to allow teachers to physically discipline children is why there are so many behavioral problems in school and why children today are getting such a poor education.

A Texas woman is facing prison time for punishing her son using an electrical cord after she caught him having sex with another male. According to CBS-DFW, “Erica Moore of Forest Hill says she was laying in bed one night when she decided to walk-around her house to check on her kids. She found the door to her 15-year-old son’s bedroom shut. When she opened it, she got quite a surprise to see her son wasn’t alone — her teenage male cousin was in the room with him.”
According to Moore, “My cousin at the time he was 18. My son he was 15 and I had walked in the room on [my cousin] giving oral sex to my son and I started whooping my son, and I’m the one who got in trouble as a result of me whooping him. When I walked in I saw my son, it was just disgusting to me, the way he was looking and my cousin was looking, and my cousin immediately ran out the door. And I’m just like what the!? You know, is you serious? So that was my reaction because it disgusted me.”
“I actually caught this going on in my house so how was I supposed to react to it? I supposed to just let it go? No! We was taught to discipline our kids and we whoop our kids,” she said.
Apparently, to some Texas parents, being gay isn’t okay according to Christianity (but beating your child with an electrical cord until he’s bleeding and requires emergency room care is).

RedState creator and newly minted Fixed Noise “Contributor” Erick Erickson goes even further down the hole of asshattery.

The offense: On twitter, he defended the employee who spanked an 8-year old child at least 25+ times over throwing a cookie at her at a Dollar General Store in Wrightsville, Georgia.

Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) defends a Dollar General employee spanking an 8-year old child.

WXIA (11Alive), Atlanta’s NBC affiliate:

WRIGHTSVILLE, Ga. — A Dollar General employee arrested in Wrightsville last week for hitting a child with a belt has now been charged with aggravated assault. The charges were upgraded from simple battery because store video showed the woman hitting the 8 year old at least 25 times.

"It was more or less a beating than a spanking the way she was hitting him," said Logan Ivey’s father Jody. "I don’t know how to explain it, and I don’t want to think about it."

Eight-year-old Logan said it was very painful.

"I felt like I had five needles sticking in me; it really hurt, I was screaming ‘Momma,’" he said. "And I was crying real bad because she had actually hurt me…when she stopped whipping me my pants were actually a little bit warm."

Wrightsville Police Chief Paul Sterling said Logan Ivey was running around in the store and got into a confrontation with 39-year-old store clerk Emilia Graciela Bell. Bell told investigators the boy threw a cookie at her and that’s when she removed her belt, chased the boy down and spanked him behind the counter.

Media Matters

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson wrote that a Dollar General employee deserves “a medal” for reportedly responding to an eight-year-old child who threw a cookie at her by hitting the child with her belt dozens of times.

Erickson has a long history of using his Twitter feed to engage in inflammatory commentary.

(cross-posted from Daily Kos)


Tiny Horrors: A Chilling Reminder of How Cruel Assimilation Was—And Is

For such small objects, the child’s handcuffs are surprisingly heavy when cradled in the palms of one’s hand. Although now rusted from years of disuse, they still convey the horror of their brutal purpose, which was to restrain Native children who were being brought to boarding schools. “I felt the weight of their metal on my heart,” said Jessica Lackey of the Cherokee tribe as she described holding the handcuffs for the first time.

(via liberal-focus)

The sermon was called “The Polished Shaft,” and in the many times that Jack Schaap, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, had delivered it, it was the kind of showstopper that made him a rock star to his flock. (Or would have, had Schaap not habitually railed against the evils of rock music.)

As with most of his sermons at the northwest Indiana megachurch—the 14th largest in the country and the biggest Independent Baptist house of worship in the nation—the message struck as bluntly as a pounded nail: Submit to God’s plan for your life or be snapped like a twig and flung away (as Schaap would demonstrate by cracking a stick over his head, tossing it aside, and barking, “Next!”).

When you do submit, be prepared to endure excruciating pain. God will hold a metaphorical knife to your throat (as Schaap would illustrate by holding a steel blade against a twig the way an assailant might press on a jugular). Only then, he would growl, will you become a “polished shaft”: one suitable for God’s bow.

At this point, the sermon’s climax, Schaap would heave up a high-powered crossbow and fire an arrow into a red X painted on a fake rock a few feet from his pulpit.

The effect was powerful, and it inevitably produced the desired result: swarms of male teenagers trance-walking their way to Schaap (pronounced “Skop”), ready to commit their lives to becoming pastors. And, equally important, to attend the church-owned Hyles-Anderson College a couple of miles away, one of First Baptist’s biggest coffer fillers.

But in July 2010, an hour into the “Polished Shaft” sermon—in a church packed with thousands of teenagers there for a youth conference—Schaap went further. He lifted a stick in his left hand and a silver cloth in his right. He moved the bottom of the stick near his groin and angled it away from himself. Head thrown back, eyes squeezed shut, mouth gaping, he began rubbing the shaft rapidly with the cloth, up and down, up and down. “Ohh! Oh! Ohhhh! Oh! Oh, God, that hurts!” he shrieked.

Then, his voice dropping to a guttural whisper, he said, “Oh, oh, God. Thanks for what you’re making me.”

Schaap continued to rub the stick—up and down, up and down—and converse with God, sometimes angrily, sometimes ecstatically, for more than a minute. What he was doing was unmistakable: simulating masturbation, in front of thousands of children, in the middle of a church service. A row of white-coated high-ranking churchmen seated behind Schaap watched in silence. At the end, as usual, young men streamed up to the stage.

To the hundreds of people who posted comments under a YouTube video of the event, the lack of reaction is as shocking as Schaap’s sermon itself. But to the congregation of First Baptist, it was all in a day’s preaching.

The true believers of the ultrafundamentalist Independent Baptist movement were accustomed to Schaap’s style. If he wasn’t scolding his flock for not living up to God’s demands (tithing, volunteering, “soul winning”), he was delivering R-rated sermons that, for example, likened the Lord’s Supper to having sex with Jesus Christ. “He would just repeatedly talk about sex and repeatedly talk about women, how they were dressed and body parts … in graphic detail,” recalls Tom Brennan, who attended the church for six years and is now an Independent Baptist pastor at Maplewood Bible Baptist Church in Chicago.

Unfortunately, it went well beyond talk. Last September, Schaap, 54, a married father of two, pleaded guilty to taking a 16-year-old girl he was counseling at First Baptist across state lines to have sex. Denied bond, he awaits sentencing in the Porter County Jail; the minimum term is ten years.

But Schaap is not simply one of those rogue evangelists who thunders against the evils of forbidden sex while indulging in it himself. According to dozens of current and former church members, religion experts, and historians interviewed by Chicago—plus a review of thousands of pages of court documents—he is part of what some call a deeply embedded culture of misogyny and sexual and physical abuse at one of the nation’s largest churches. Multiple websites tracking the First Baptist Church of Hammond have identified more than a dozen men with ties to the church—many of whom graduated from its college, Hyles-Anderson, or its annual Pastors’ Schools—who fanned out around the country, preaching at their own churches and racking up a string of arrests and civil lawsuits, including physical abuse of minors, sexual molestation, and rape.

It is a culture, past and present members say, enabled by cover-ups and cultlike control. For example, after Schaap’s conviction, many church members blamed his victim as a temptress. “We were taught to not question and to take the ‘man of God’s’ [Schaap’s] word over everything,” says Julie Silvestrone Busby, a former First Baptist member who now hosts a Christian radio show in Iowa. She left the church after alleging that Schaap behaved inappropriately during marriage counseling sessions in 2004 through 2009.

First Baptist Church’s longtime lawyer, David Gibbs, declined a request for comment on this story. The spokesman for the church, Eddie Wilson, did not return numerous calls requesting an interview. Schaap did not respond to an interview request made through Porter County Jail.

In the beginning—1959, in this case—Jack Hyles arrived at the First Baptist Church of Hammond as a skinny, charismatic Bible thumper with a Southern-fried drawl and a couple of cheap suits. No one could have imagined he would grow into the larger-than-life figure whom critics would dub the Godfather and others would consider the Chosen One.

Born in the tiny Dallas suburb of Italy, Hyles often preached about his alcoholic father, his devoted and deeply conservative Christian mother, and the curse of growing up poor. After serving in the army in World War II, he married his sweetheart, Beverly Slaughter. The fire-and-brimstone words of his mother burning in his head, Hyles then enrolled at East Texas Baptist College in Marshall, Texas, where he became a student pastor. After graduation, he set out to spread his particular brand of harsh theology.

In a show of modesty that would be almost unthinkable in later years, Hyles acknowledged that he didn’t immediately set bushes to burning. After his first sermon in 1947, “Elijah blushed and Heaven’s flag flew at half mast for three days,” he lamented in a 1975 Timemagazine article.

Whatever awkwardness he may have had soon gave way to his extraordinary oratorical gifts. By the time he took charge of the 44-member Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, in 1952, he was a full-fledged, fire-breathing, stem-winding spellbinder, blessed with a booming preacher’s voice, a savant’s recall of the Bible, and a charisma that could almost magically levitate people from their seats to surrender their lives to the Savior.

Hyles eventually abandoned the church’s Southern Baptist theology, saying it was too liberal. He began calling himself an Independent Baptist—untethered to any dogma or ritual he didn’t cotton to, unaccountable to any ruling body or person beyond himself.

The approach resonated deeply with rural Texans longing for a return to old-time religion. Within a couple of years, his flock had swelled to 4,000, earning Hyles a far-reaching reputation. When the long-serving pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond stepped down, Hyles got the call.

Founded in 1887, sleepy First Baptist had a mostly well-to-do congregation, many of whom commuted to jobs in Chicago. Hyles made driving out these “northern liberals” his first priority.

Accordingly, he ditched the church’s denominational affiliation with the mainline American Baptist Convention, freeing him to transplant the authoritarian, hellfire-and-damnation theology he had honed in Texas.

A seemingly endless list of rules—both written and unwritten—grew and multiplied. Men were to wear jackets and ties and close-cropped hair. Women were to wear skirts that covered the knee. Trisha LaCroix, who attended Hyles-Anderson College, says that she was disowned by her parents—First Baptist members both—in part for daring to wear pants. Rock music was out, of course, as was any music with a syncopated beat. “Even Southern gospel music was sick and sinful and of the devil,” says Busby.

The Bible was to be interpreted literally and by Hyles alone. According to his reading, men ruled absolutely. “The belief was that women needed to be in complete and total submission to their husbands and to male leadership,” says a former member who requested that she not be named. (She left the church in 2010 after her husband, a prominent member of the congregation, was caught having sexual relationships with underage girls.)

If a man did “stumble”—having an affair, say, or visiting prostitutes or abusing children—the question wasn’t how he could have but rather what the woman, or the child, did to drive him to such sin, some former church members say. “They have a system where abusers and pedophiles can flourish, because you can’t challenge the men,” opines one. “You have to submit 100 percent of the time, and whenever anything goes wrong in a marriage, it’s because the woman didn’t do enough.”

Hyles, meanwhile, exerted extreme control over every aspect of his flock’s lives—control that members say they welcomed because they believed it was divinely inspired. “I used to joke that people would not rearrange their living room furniture without help from Brother Hyles,” says Jerry Kaifetz, a former teacher at First Baptist’s Pastors’ School who left the church around 1990.

Virtually no one would marry without Hyles’s blessing, several former church members say. He soon took it upon himself to arrange marriages. According to Kaifetz, “When a guy like Hyles says, ‘This is God’s will for your life,’ you just say, ‘Well, I guess it is.’ ”

One area in which Hyles—a father of four—exerted particular control was child rearing. In this, his views were severe unto merciless. Using biblical passages as justification, Hyles preached that spanking was more than tolerable; it was a sacred duty. In his 1979 book How to Rear Infants, he wrote: “The parent who spanks his child keeps him from going to hell.”

Spanking “should be deliberate and last at least ten or fifteen minutes,” he continued. The blows “should be painful and should last … until the child is crying, not tears of anger but tears of a broken will.” They should “leave stripes” if need be. The age at which such punishment should begin? Infancy.

Several people who grew up at First Baptist recall that parents took the instruction to heart. “Beatings would last endlessly, it seemed,” says Mary Jo McGuire, 45, a corporate trainer in Colorado whose father was a deacon in the church. As a seven-year-old, she “used to count the lashes as a way to cope through the searing pain.” McGuire’s younger sister, Sherri Munger, told me she once received more than 300 lashes from a thick leather belt. When authorities were called, McGuire says, Hyles told the girls’ parents how to avoid arrest.

While reshaping the morals of his followers, Hyles also set about empire building, Independent Baptist–style. His strategy: Send a fleet of buses into some of the roughest neighborhoods in Chicago and northern Indiana, pack them with the poor and underprivileged, and drive them to First Baptist to experience the Gospel according to Hyles. (The “bus ministry” still operates today.)

To critics, this effort appeared to be more about boosting the church’s attendance numbers than about saving souls. But it was wildly effective, says Kaifetz, in part because Hyles made “soul winning” a key criterion for moving up the church ladder or—if you were a man—for being awarded a coveted staff job. The stick was displeasing God, a message hammered home virtually every Sunday. “It’s a continuous guilt trip,” says McGuire.

The level of devotion—and control—sometimes strayed into the absurd. Female students at Hyles-Anderson, Busby recalls, underwent sporadic “pajama inspections.” If the tops and bottoms didn’t match, says Busby, dorm supervisors would sometimes “make us strip right there and put on an approved set.”

The pajama-clad young women would gather in the chapel to wait for Hyles. When he entered, “we would all stand on the pew and sing, ‘We love you, Preacher. Oh yes, we doooo. We don’t love anyone as much as you!’ Then he would call us ‘Poopsy-Woopsy’ and give us pizza and money.”

To go off campus to buy pantyhose—required wear for women—“we needed a special pass,” Busby says, “and had to have three chaperones. Yet they would drop us off in rough neighborhoods for eight hours on our own to go soul winning.”

Hyles kept close watch over the college’s curriculum to make sure it met his standards and was suitable for export to churches across the country. “He would write the Sunday lessons, and he would teach the teachers what he wanted them to say on the Wednesday night before the church service,” says a former member.

For the benefit of any doubters, Hyles demonstrated his power in the middle of a sermon one Sunday. “Notice the bones and the skull there,” he said as he raised a cup into which he told the congregation he was going to pour poison. “Now if I walked up to you tonight and I said to you, ‘I’ve got something I want you to drink …’ In fact”—he turned to Johnny Colsten, one of the men on the stage with him—“I’d like for you, if you don’t mind, to drink this.”

Colsten, currently an associate pastor at First Baptist, did not hesitate. If Hyles wanted him to drink, he would.

Hyles beamed.

The bombshell exploded with apocalyptic force in May 1989. The Biblical Evangelist, a magazine devoted to “historic evangelical fundamentalism,” published a series of articles accusing Hyles of a years-long romantic affair with his secretary, Jennie Nischik, who happened to be the wife of a church deacon, Victor Nischik. The articles also alleged financial improprieties, accusing Hyles of using church money to lavish tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts on Jennie, including a car, clothes, and home remodeling.

Sermons on the scandal rang out from pulpits across the country. Local papers, from the Hammond Timesto the Chicago Tribune, featured the story, as did the tabloid TV news show A Current Affair. It was irresistible: The great Jack Hyles, the man of God, whose schools had dating rules so strict that you could earn a demerit by accidentally touching the end of a pencil held by someone of the opposite sex, was committing adultery.

Hyles thunderously denied the charges and denounced his accuser, Victor Nischik. He organized media boycotts and wrote letters savaging the local papers for reprinting “filth.” Hundreds in his flock rose to his defense. “You all are a bunch of low-down, rotten, filthy, stinking, scummy, garbage-dump stench type of characters,” the Tribune quoted one of them, Noel Shriovanth, as saying. “I wish God would … burn your building,” penned another, Kristen Conner.

Voyle Glover, an attorney and longtime church member, was not among the defenders. Disillusioned, he wrote Fundamental Seduction: The Jack Hyles Case. The 1990 book details the affair and many other misdeeds, including a “Watergate-like coverup” of affairs and sexual abuse at First Baptist.

The wrath of Hyles and his supporters again rained down. “I was called the Antichrist and worse,” Glover says. “I was threatened with physical harm, death threats.” His office was broken into. Excrement was left on his doorstep.

Some of the abuse that Glover described in his book—as many others would later allege—was perpetrated by Hyles’s son.

In the early 1980s, David Hyles, then in his 20s, was the youth pastor at First Baptist. Whispers began that he was having an affair with the daughter of a high-level administrator at Hyles-Anderson College. Backed into a corner by a he-goes-or-I-go ultimatum from the administrator, sources say, Hyles arranged for his son to take over as pastor at his old church, Miller Road Baptist in Texas.

The new pastor was soon kicked out after allegations that he had more than a dozen affairs with churchwomen, many of them married. His wife, Paula, divorced him. He returned to the Chicago area, to Bolingbrook, moving in with a woman named Brenda Stevens.

In 1985, Stevens’s 15-month-old son, Brent, was found lifeless in his crib. The autopsy revealed trauma and numerous broken bones in various stages of healing. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigated, but the cause of death could not be determined. At a grand jury inquest, David Hyles exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Stevens didn’t show. The case remains unsolved; Paul Ciolino, a former DCFS investigator now in private practice, says he is still pursuing leads.

Scandal followed the younger Hyles. He was chased from a job running the Sunday school at a church in Pinellas Park, Florida, over allegations of more affairs. But not before a child he fathered with Stevens died under odd circumstances. According to news reports, in March 1999 Stevens (by this time Hyles’s wife) told police that she mistakenly ran over the five-year-old, Jack David, who had rolled out the door of her car. She was never charged with a crime, nor was Hyles.

(Hyles did not respond to an interview request. According to a blog called Fallen in Grace, written by someone identifying himself as David Hyles: “I have no intention of defending myself… You [sic] diatribes on your filthy forums serve Satan’s purpose well.”)

As soon as one First Baptist–related scandal died down, another seemed to surface. In June 1991, a Sunday school teacher accused A. V. Ballenger, a 57-year-old deacon who had spent two decades in the church, of fondling a seven-year-old girl. Despite two eyewitness accounts, Ballenger denied the charge, was released on bond, and returned to the church. At Hyles’s prompting, the congregation gave him a standing ovation.

Ballenger’s March 1993 trial “was just inundated with people from that church” who supported him, recalls the prosecutor, Clarence Murray, now a Superior Court judge in Lake County, Indiana. At Ballenger’s sentencing hearing—delayed three years by appeals, during which time he resumed working in the bus ministry—two women testified that Ballenger also molested them when they were young. He got five years in prison.

The cases continued (see map, “How the ‘Gospel’ Spread”). In 1997, the parents of a mentally disabled 12-year-old sued First Baptist over what they alleged was a months-long pattern of rape and torture of their daughter. Among the accusations was a systematic culture of cover-up: “[Jack Hyles] negligently and carelessly has fostered … a system of secrecy in the church directing that matters of criminal violations not be reported to judicial authority for whom he openly preaches scorn, but to the church itself, meaning Jack Hyles.” The case was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Another egregious case was working its way through the courts around the same time. In 1998, Joseph D. Combs, a former Bible teacher at Hyles-Anderson who had become a pastor in Tennessee, and his wife, Evangeline, were convicted on multiple charges of aggravated abuse, assault, and kidnapping of their adopted 11-year-old daughter. The girl told authorities that her father used biblical references to justify beating, torturing, and sexually abusing her. In 2000, Joseph was sentenced to 114 years in prison; Evangeline got 65.

Then there’s Chester Mulligan, a pastor who was ordained in Hammond by Hyles. Four years ago, he pleaded guilty to felony stalking of a 14-year-old girl while pastor of Central Baptist Church in East Chicago. He was sentenced to a year of probation. That experience didn’t cause Mulligan to rethink his career choice, however. His current job: pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Miami.

Jack Hyles wouldn’t live to see Mulligan’s conviction. In 2001, he died of complications from heart surgery at age 74. There was no question who would succeed him: Hyles had been grooming his son-in-law Jack Schaap ever since his own son’s prospects had plummeted.

While Schaap was from a more prosperous family, in all important ways he was a virtual Hyles clone. And, says Kaifetz, “he got a hero’s welcome. When he walked out on the stage of those chapel services, you’ve never seen anything more over-the-top expressive—thousands waving the Bible in the air, screaming, shouting, whistling.”

In the beginning, Schaap’s preaching was standard Hyles: emotional denunciations of the flock for not doing enough to please God. Though the sermons “weren’t nearly as sexual in the beginning,” says Schaap’s former editor, “he was seductive. He charmed people in order to get them to do what he wanted them to do.”

As Schaap consolidated his grip on the congregation, says former church member Linda Gensaw, “he became more brazen—graphic sexual sermons to the point that I didn’t want to take my children.”

Tom Brennan, the Independent Baptist pastor in Chicago and former First Baptist member, agrees. “He was beyond the bounds of what was appropriate,” says Brennan. “His preaching had gotten so—I hesitate to use the word ‘pornographic.’ It was so vulgar sometimes that it was just a grief to my spirit.”

Challenging Schaap, Busby says, was not an option: “He had absolute power. He could destroy you.”

In fact, he nearly destroyed Busby’s marriage. After she and her husband hit a rocky patch, they turned to Schaap for counseling. At first, Busby says, “it really seemed like he wanted to help us.” But soon Schaap was requesting numerous sessions with Busby alone. “When he would counsel me,” she says, “he would be asking me these shocking questions about sex. I mean, absolutely, purely shocking. I would literally vomit before some of our meetings it got so bad.”

When the couple eventually left the church, Schaap turned on her, Busby says. “He got up in front of a staff meeting—in front of the whole staff—and shared all kinds of confidential stuff that never should have been shared. He told people to shun me.”

Leaving First Baptist was in Busby’s opinion like leaving a cult. “I’ve never been able to say the c-word—and anyone from the church who reads this will take great offense—but that’s what it was like.”

Busby is far from the only person to compare First Baptist to a cult. So does every expert and religion blogger tracking the church—and virtually every one of the dozens of victims and former church members—with whom I spoke. Including Linda Murphrey, Hyles’s daughter. “I believe First Baptist Church gradually evolved into a cult that was in complete idolatry of my father and, after his death, complete idolatry of Jack Schaap,” she says.

What makes a church a cult? I asked Rick Ross, whose nonprofit institute maintains an online archive of data on cults and controversial movements. (He says he is not familiar with the details of First Baptist.) Ross points to a landmark 1981 Harvard study on cult formation, which suggests that all cults, destructive or not, share three elements: an

absolute authoritarian leader who defines the group; a “thought program” that includes “control of the environment, control of information, and people subordinating themselves and their feelings to the demands of the leader”; and a lack of accountability for the head of the group.

Another common characteristic of cults, Ross says, is that they use shame and some sort of exploitation—financial, spiritual, or sexual—to exercise control. Members of a Bible-based group, for example, are made to believe that “it’s a sin of pride for you to think for yourself,” he says. “It’s your ego or a demon or Satan’s influence that causes you to doubt the edicts of the leadership.”

Walking into federal court last September for a hearing about his alleged sexual misdeeds with a minor, Jack Schaap smiled and looked relaxed. Wearing a gray blazer, a red patterned tie, and dark pants, clutching a Bible in his left hand, he stopped in front of the TV cameras and planted a long kiss on his wife, Cindy, 52.

Before the judge, if Schaap wasn’t exactly defiant, he was far from submissive. He said that he didn’t know he had broken “man’s law” but knew he had violated “God’s law.” With that, he entered a guilty plea—and was immediately escorted to Porter County Jail to await sentencing.

Back at First Baptist, prayers for “Brother Schaap” have been asked for and received. (Similar concern has yet to be expressed for his victim.) One of Schaap’s adult children, Kenneth, has mounted a letter-writing campaign to the judge.

Eddie Lapina, a Hyles-trained church fixture, is acting as interim pastor while a committee searches for Schaap’s replacement. Among his moves: announcing in October that fully a quarter of the church’s staff had been laid off.


Many seem to think that Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks placed him on the fringe of the Republican Party. In reality, he’s spent most of his career there.

It’s now widely known that Akin teamed up with Paul Ryan in 2011 to try to narrow the definition of rape – i.e. “forcible rape.” This is no anomaly. Early in his career as a state legislator, Akin even tried to narrow the definition of child abuse.

Back in May of 1991, the Missouri House debated a bill to “outlaw rape and sexual abuse in marriage.” “Rape is rape,” said Rep. Jo Ann Karll shortly before the bill was overwhelmingly passed. “Missouri is finally moving into the 20th century,” said Colleen Coble, executive director of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

But not everyone was celebrating. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on 5/1/91 that Akin voted for the bill but “questioned whether a marital rape law might be misused ‘in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband.’”

Just about any law can be abused, and lawmakers must always be cognizant of this. But Akin seems to be preoccupied with the potential for abuse of the law whenever it relates to the government preventing abuse in the household.

Akin and his supporters believe that the husband is head of the household, and they’re loathe to regulate what he can and cannot do to his wife and children. In fact, prominent Akin supporter Phyllis Schlafly denies the very possibility of marital rape: “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape.”

And so in March of 1992, Akin fought for a narrower definition of child abuse. The Missouri House was considering a bill to create a “statewide child abuse review board” and tighten the standard for proving child abuse from “reason to suspect” to “credible evidence.”

The bill’s sponsor said the definition change was necessary to ensure that “all cases of child abuse can be covered.” Akin, however, was suspicious. He argued that the bill “needed a more restrictive definition of abuse” because of the potential for abuse of the child abuse law. 

This is how Akin’s mind works. You need to worry about vengeful soon-to-be ex-wives claiming rape to get back at their husbands. You need to make sure that non-forcibly rapedwomen aren’t getting government-funded medical care. And you can’t let neighbors harass one another by falsely claiming child abuse to the overbearing nanny state enforcers who will take kids away for having a scraped knee.

Akin’s efforts earned him a rebuke from the Post-Dispatch editorial board, which singled him as an alarmist who supports an “excessively restrictive child-mistreatment law” and resorts to “extreme and unlikely examples to bolster his case.” It seems like they had him pegged way back then.

h/t: Josh Glasstetter at RWW