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Fundamentalism

“Smoke and mirrors”?


I don’t know about you, but I’m still reeling from all of the information surrounding Hana Williams. It took me a few hours before I could even begin writing my post on her, and I cried before going to sleep that night.

My heart broke for Hana and Immanuel.

I have three young children, and I don’t always respond in the best way to them. But I cannot imagine, even on my worst day, treating my children the way those children were treated. I know many of you can’t either. However, there are some people who will either refuse to hear of this tragedy or champion the “need for Biblical discipline” issue.

Here are a couple articles I came across today on Sharper Iron, a Christian fundamentalist website. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that on October 4 and 5, of this week, these posts were republished: “When Father Doesn’t Know Best, Part 1 and 2. The first part deals with a  mother who was sentenced to five years probation and a fine after she plead guilty to the felony charge of injury to a child. The second part deals more with discipline and the Bible.

My thoughts on “When Father Doesn’t Know Best Part 1”:

* The mother, Rosalina Gonzales, spanked her almost-two-year-old daughter. People have varied opinions on spanking. For a child this age, re-direction can often be used instead of a spanking.

* According to My Fox Phoenix, this spanking left red marks that the child’s grandmother noticed at some point afterward and was concerned enough to take her to a hospital to be looked at. Perhaps it was a hand-print or evidence that an instrument was used. Either way, if considerable force was used to leave red marks, imagine what this same force could do to a one year-old’s spine.

* The thrust of the article was a statement Judge Jose Longoria made: “You don’t spank children today. In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don’t spank children. You understand?” The issue was not what the mother did, but what the judge said. Here’s what the author writes:

In the case of Ms. Gonzalez, Judge Longoria, by his statement at least, determined that spanking was not only unreasonable—it was impermissible. What makes this situation more lamentable than it already would have been is the reality that there will be no appeal, because Ms. Gonzalez arrived at an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty. What at first glance would appear to be a seemingly (relatively) minor case, in fact, has become one of great magnitude and it was in effect settled outside of the courtroom. A precedent was set with no forthcoming challenge.

While we cannot predict just how influential this case will be in Texas or anywhere else, it certainly does not make parenting easier for those who believe—as I do—that spanking is an important part of the biblical parental mandate. Further, the outcome of Ms. Gonzalez’ case along with Judge Longoria’s statement is emblematic of a not so subtle societal trend of elevating our own ethical standards above those of our Heavenly Father.

When you get past the wordiness, you might see that they believe spanking is mandated by God and anyone who challenges that is challenging their rights to spank their kids, I mean, “God’s standards” (sarcasm inserted here).

Not surprisingly, Sharper Iron found supporting articles from sources sympathetic to its views. Fox News gave basic information about the case, the judge’s quote, and added this:

Rosalina Gonzales had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of injury to a child for what prosecutors had described as a “pretty simple, straightforward spanking case.” They noted she didn’t use a belt or leave any bruises, just some red marks.

Comments were closed after that article.

The article from My Fox Phoenix seemed unbiased, but nearly all of the people who commented seemed to think the judge was out of line and that this incident would result in more children becoming criminals.

Huffington Post also did an article on this story, even mentioning that courts are getting tougher when it comes to spanking. However, it also told of two other cases that ended with the adult spending time in jail. Rosalina Gonzalez avoided jail “after reaching an agreement with prosecutors.”

Sharper Iron has posted articles in the past about discipline.However, the timing of it struck me, not to mention the fact that this particular story came out in June 2011. Now, granted, the timing of these articles might not be intentional, but if it is, it would be a “smoke and mirrors” tactic, designed to divert people’s attention away from “extreme” situations and remind their readers of the importance of “proper, Biblical discipline.”

As far as “When Father Doesn’t Know Best, Part 2,” well, that’s a whole ‘nother post!

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