Michael and Debi Pearls teaching linked to another child abuse death

Her name was Lydia. She was seven years old. She’s dead because her parents took Michael and Debi Pearl’s No Greater Joy Ministries teachings too far Lydia was disciplined to death. She had deep bruising and scars from beatings on her back, buttocks and legs, injuries which cause organ failure. That is no surprise to anyone who has read and followed Michael and Debi Pearl. Lydia was ‘trained’ for hours for mispronouncing a word during a home-school reading lesson.

Her 11 year old sister Zariah was in intensive care week and was released into foster last week .

The other Schatz children interviewed and have reportedly made statements to investigators about the disciplinary philosophy to which their parents adhered. Lydia and Zariah were one of three children adopted from Liberia three years ago. The Schatz have five other children.

The other children told investigators the same instrument was used on all of them, but Ramsey said it was not to the extent of the two girls and except for the Schatz’ bruised 10-year-old son, none of the other children showed signs of abuse.

The Schatz’s have been charged with murder, torture and misdemeanor cruelty.

Police in Paradise California say they found the pipe in the home and have tied it in with other evidence leading to No Greater Joy Ministries run by Michael and Debi Peal in Tennessee. One of the other children taken into care was also injured.

He violently disagrees he teaches religiously motivated child abuse, he says he teaches parents to train their children “which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument.” To Debi and Michael Pearl it’s just a biblical principle. 2 foot length of PVC pipe for children over 1 years of age. Children under one year of age get ‘trained’ with a branch, paddle or ruler.

And yes, Michael Pearl is quick to blame Lydia and Zariah and parents with predisposition to abusive habits.

Likewise Ramsey, the prosecutor in the Schatz case, is quick to point out that “No Greater Joy” does not advocate spanking to the point of serious injury. If indeed these parents were abusive, and that has not yet been proven by the courts, it is regretful that our teachings were not able to turn them from their predisposition to abusive habits.

After all his lucrative ‘ministry’ is under scrutiny again. Lydia is not the first child to die at the hands of parents who actually think the Pearls give wisdom. 4 year old Sean was killed by his mother in 2006 after she swallowed the Pearls teaching.

Michael and Debi Pearl whose book do acknowledge that discipline turns to abuse when the “child is broken in spirit, cowed and subdued …”

Debi Pearl has bragged about hitting other peoples children. Control, power, inappropriate boundaries, biblical justification. They bear moral responsibility, I doubt the law can touch No Greater Joy Ministries or shut down the profits from this pathology.

Allthings2all has taken a look at Michael and Debi Pearls theology. There isn’t much biblical about what the Pearls spout. You can’t also read about ‘training’ that the Pearls advocate at Talk2Action.

The law will deal with the Schatz’s. No law will bring Lydia back, heal her sister, or their siblings or shut the Pearls operation down.

And wives, if your husband beats you the Pearls tell you you can’t leave. You have to submit.
The teachings go against every state and provincial law and they run a million dollar operation.
The Pearls materials are popular among fundamentalist home schoolers.
The Schatz’s home schooled and rarely left their home.
Disciplining to Death from No Longer Quivering
Since Sean’s death To Train a Child has been pulled from Barnes and Noble.
Religion News Blog has information on the Pearl compound, church, earnings and employees.

I’ve written about the Michael and Debi Pearl previously.

Update:  Hana Williams death and the trial of her parents, Larry and Carri Williams is getting a lot of attention in the US. CNN’s Anderson Cooper covers the Pearls.

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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68 Responses to Michael and Debi Pearls teaching linked to another child abuse death

  1. Marina says:

    Perhaps the bible does not say ‘spare the rod…’, but it does say

    Pr 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
    Pr 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
    Pr 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
    Pr 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
    Pr 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

    Given that “the rod” of correction is not metaphorical, sounds to me like god sanctions corporal punishment, ie. beatings. God, the punishing parent, resorts to violence time after time after time to bring correction to his children. It really is the grandiose theme of the bible – obey me or suffer my wrath.

    Oh the Pearls got it bang on if their teacher was the bible.

    “If they violate My statutes And do not keep My commandments, Then I will punish their transgression with the rod And their iniquity with stripes.” -Psalm 89:31-21

    “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men…” –2Sam 7:14

    Quit trying to soften the harsh reality of the “good” book. Realize that Christianity was in the seat of European power for centuries after it’s inception and children suffered abuse at the hands of their parents. If god did not sanction physical beatings in his word, why were child floggings regarded as a socially approved violence necessary in training up children for so long by the church?

  2. Bill says:

    This preacher belongs to the baptist Church? Perhaps the Methodist? Can someone please tell me the name of the church. Tx!

  3. Bene Diction says:

    Bill: Hee runs a church service on his property (about 30 – 60 people, mostly family) and a bio says graduated with a BS from Crichton College. (now Victory College)

    Pearl says he graduated from Mid-South Bible College which turned into Crichton College which turned into Victory College.
    It appears he is non-denominational and independent.

  4. Cathy Furlotte says:

    This whole issue of “disciplining” as a form of God’s teaching, is such a crock of shit. My God is not a vengeful God, my God is loving and forgiving. If that is what these people believe, they have a big surprise waiting for them in the Kingdom of Heaven, if in fact they ever get there.
    You can’t tell me that these parents don’t like to take the responsibility of raising their children out of their hands and into the so-called hands of God. That way, they don’t have to assume the consequences of these brutal beatings on their children upon themselves.
    There are so many sheep in this world, they would rather follow blindly than
    take the blame for their actions.

  5. Tim Thibault says:

    Cathy, did you not read Marina’s post? What part of it don’t you understand?

  6. Rachel says:

    you are forgetting the whole point of the new testament and the coming of jesus… so we dont have to live by the old testament laws. every single verse that marina posted is in the old testament, not the “new” testament. jesus was sent by God as his son to reform the church. learn your scripture and never, ever hurt a child.

  7. Dan says:

    Rachel, you are sadly misinformed. Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    Learn YOUR scripture. That vile collection of peasant superstition certainly isn’t mine.

  8. Marina says:

    “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2Timothy 3:16, 17

    ALL Scripture Rachel. Besides, before the Catholic Church compiled what you now refer to as the “holy bible”, the only scripture early Christians had WAS old testament.

    And despite what you may “believe”, it is no thanks to your god or your bible that child abuse is considered morally reprehensible today. The basic premise of the new testament is the quintessential child abuse/neglect/abandonment paradigm – Father sacrifices son for the good of the imperfect world (which he created imperfect in the first place). What are the writers of the nt trying to tell us? That we can use our children as instruments to bring about change for good, ie “the kingdom of god”, no matter how detrimental to the child? Or is it just okay for “god” to do that?

    But of course not! Anyone who thinks that is crazy. But why is it that we don’t treat children as property anymore? (Or at least in Canada) The bible hasn’t changed. What has changed?

    What has changed is that we are learning and discovering more about our universe today than in any time in history. The fact that child abuse is morally reprehensible today is because we as an intelligent race have evolved in our thinking from superstition to reason. From religion to logic. In fact we are thinking rather than simply believing. Having clawed our way out of the dark ages of myth and fantasy, science and knowledge have dispelled the fear religion has enslaved us in, we are able to see more clearly how the physical properties of matter and energy of our universe work together, bringing a greater dependance on knowledge and understanding and lesser dependance on a man-contrived divine being running the whole show.

    Had our predecessors not possessed an innate determination to overcome the bonds of religious superstition, we would likely be carrying on as in days of yore, regarding the mistreatment of our children a normal and even expected practice of parents who love their god and who “love” their children.

    “I know God would never ask a mother to give up her child for the world…again.” – Marge Simpson

  9. Nina Brooks says:

    Scripture? Give me a friggen break! This is flat out abuse..god willing or not! You don’t hit your children at all, let alone with pvc piping, or a belt or any other object! the comment that the reporter made at the end, he says that “the bible says you shouldn’t spare the rod, but it doesn’t say that you should bloody your child you shouldn’t humilate your child”…what do you think having your child bend over a bed, bare bottomed does? Beating your child takes away dignity, by the way of humilation. For far too long we have accepted and written off abuse as a way to “correct” behavior. It is time that people learn that sparing the rod and using better more empathic means of behavior correction allows you to raise a child that cares about himself and others without the painful memories of how the people that were suppose to love and protect him the most, humiliated him and harmed him.

  10. Terri L. Prince says:

    We have horrid evil living amongst us!! People who strike children!! Did May and Joseph spank Jesus?? Did they hit him with rods, sticks, rulers, straps, “gramma’s paddle” that was and maybe is still sold in stores; or their bare hands when he left home without telling where he was going? NO! THEY DID NOT!!

    This crap they call discipline of children by this Pearl creep that I heard about on Anderson Cooper’s show is the worst crime on earth!! Imagine trying to use the Bible to excuse the worse brtuality on earth!!

  11. Tim Thibault says:

    Yes, but look on the bright side, the Canadian Government (The Harper Government) appears to be well on their way to sanctioning it…


  12. Marina says:

    “Imagine trying to use the Bible to excuse the worse brtuality on earth!!”

    Not hard to imagine. Again, the bible – god’s word – clearly encourages the use of physical violence to correct and punish a rebellious/disobedient child. But because the bible is no longer revered as ultimate truth, child abuse is no longer deemed an acceptable practice. There is obviously a direct correlation between the two.

  13. brano says:


    You really need to get some basic biblical education!

    Your piffle is killing me!

  14. Chasity says:

    The pearls need to be in jjail charged with murder for every child that has died from the implimentation of thier “teachings”. These people are sick annd cruel. I cannnnot stand idly by while a child is being abused. This needs to stop and all the books should be burned.

  15. Tim says:

    Brano, STFU!!!

    You have no f’ing clue just how educated some people are and when they prove to be just slightly more educated than you, you end up being such a dick. Please do us all a favor and only comment when you have something intelligent to add to the conversation and stop insulting others when you can’t comment. You’ve chosen to enter a battle of intelligence, education and reason, only to prove yourself completely unarmed!

  16. Bene Diction says:

    Brano and Tim:

    That’s enough.
    I’m going to have to get hold of the tech company to close of this comment section
    It’s one thing to disagree, it’s another to tear each other apart.

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