Why the teaching of Michael Pearl … is grossly in error and dangerous

Why the teaching of Michael Pearl regarding child raising (and other things too) is grossly in error and dangerous by Mamame from Life on the Sound.

Schatz couple to stand trial in November

From the Paradise Post reposted here for permanence

By Elizabeth De Alwis

Posted: 06/26/2010 01:00:00 AM PDT

A Paradise couple will stand trial in November for allegedly murdering one adopted child and torturing another during a “biblical chastisement” session.

Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz are charged with an open count of murder for allegedly beating their 7-year-old adopted daughter, Lydia Schatz, to death with a quarter-inch plumbing supply line in February. They are also charged with torture for allegedly beating their 11-year-old adopted daughter in the same manner, causing whip-like marks and internal injuries including kidney damage which required hospitalization.

The couple appeared in court Thursday morning for further arraignment and the setting of their trial date. Both pleaded not guilty to all charges. They have been in custody at the Butte County Jail on $2 million bail each. Last month, they waived their preliminary hearing. The trial is expected to begin Nov. 1 and last for three weeks. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said having three attorneys – one prosecutor and two defense attorneys – often lengthens a trial. He said it may also take a week just to select a fair and impartial jury. If convicted, both defendants face two life terms in state prison.

Defense attorneys Dennis Latimer of Chico (representing Elizabeth Schatz) and Michael Harvey of Oroville (representing Kevin Schatz) are reportedly continuing their investigation of the case. They have also not ruled out the possibility of trying to move the trial to another county where there has been less publicity.

Ramsey said it appears the couple was influenced by a book found in the Schatz’s home, written by a fundamentalist religious group based in Tennessee, called No Greater Joy Ministries. It was founded by Michael and Debi Pearl. The Pearls and their organization encourage parents to use a “rod,” a quarter-inch plumbing supply line as a “chastisement” tool to train their children to be more obedient.

The Schatzes have six biological children. Both victims were adopted from an African orphanage along with an infant girl about three years ago. Ramsey said he plans to call the Schatz children as prosecution witnesses during the trial.

According to Ramsey, the autopsy result showed that Lydia died due to a rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle due to injuries to her muscle tissue. The scientific name for the cause of death is Rhabdomyolyis. In Lydia’s case, it was reportedly caused by blunt force trauma. The destruction of muscle leads to the release of damaged muscle cells in the bloodstream, which can harm the kidneys and other vital organs. Ramsey explained that the breakdown of the kidneys can cause an increase in potassium, which is associated with cardiac arrhythmia – a change in the rhythm of the heart, leading to cardiac arrest.

According to authorities, Lydia’s death occurred after hours of discipline for reportedly mispronouncing a word during a home school reading lesson. Her 11-year-old sister had reportedly had a similar discipline session the previous day. Police and emergency personnel arrived at the Crestwood Drive home Feb. 6 after the wife called 9-1-1 to report that her 7-year-old daughter had stopped breathing. They found Lydia in full cardiac arrest.

In addition to murder and torture involving great bodily injury, the Schatz’s face a misdemeanor count of child abuse involving their 10-year-old biological son.

The trial readiness conference is scheduled for Oct. 21, followed by the trial assignment hearing on Oct. 28. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.


Terry Vau Dell contributed to this report.

Trial date set in ‘chastisement’ death of girl

From the Chico Enterprise Record I am reposting this here for permanence

By TERRY VAU DELL-Staff Writer
Posted: 06/25/2010 12:12:20 AM PDT

OROVILLE — A Paradise couple are scheduled to stand trial in November on murder and torture charges involving two adopted children.

Kevin Schatz, 40, and his wife, Elizabeth Schatz, 42, pleaded not guilty in Butte County Superior Court on Thursday to the charges, which could carry two life terms in prison.

They are accused of causing the death of a 7-year-old adopted girl and serious injuries to her 11-year-old sister during separate “biblical chastisements” with a whip-like instrument in February at the family home.

The ridge parents remain in custody, with bail set at $2 million each, pending a jury trial estimated to last three weeks beginning Nov. 1.

The wife’s attorney, Dennis Latimer of Chico, said outside of court Thursday they are continuing to investigate the case, but could not comment at this time on the specific allegations.

Latimer and the husband’s attorney, Michael Harvey of Oroville, indicate they have not ruled out the possibility of seeking to move the trial on a change of venue to another county where there has not been as much publicity.

District Attorney Mike Ramsey alleged Thursday the ridge couple were influenced by a book found in the Schatz’s home written by a fundamentalist Christian group based in Tennessee, espousing the use of a quarter-inch rubberized or plastic plumber supply line to “train” children to be more obedient to their parents and God.

Prosecutors have alleged that Lydia Schatz, 7, one of three children the couple had adopted from an orphanage in Africa three years ago, died from a breakdown of muscle tissue following a lengthy discipline session in the parents’ bedroom after mispronouncing a word during a home school reading lesson.

Butte County sheriff’s officers arrested the parents after the mother dialed 9-1-1 when the youngster stopped breathing on Feb. 5.

Her 11-year-old sister also allegedly sustained “whip-like” marks to her back, legs and buttocks during a similar parental chastisement the previous day.

She was hospitalized with kidney failure, and survived.

In addition to murder and torture involving great bodily injury, the Paradise couple face a misdemeanor count of child abuse involving one of their six biological children.

Schatz couple to be in court Thursday

The Paradise Post reports that the Schatzes are due in court this Thursday, June 24th.  I’ll be watching for updates to post.  To be alerted whenever I add to this site, please subscribe to my RSS feed.

More Thoughts Adoption

Someone on Facebook shared some very insightful comments I would like to share with you all:

There’s another element to this story that has not been addressed – and that is the fact that so many adoptive families are ill-equipped to deal with the realities of bringing home an older child, group of siblings, and/or children from overseas. I think that the Schatzes went into adoption believing they were “rescuing” children. They adopted THREE children at one time – one was 8yrs old, one was 4, and one was an infant. They were interviewed by a local news station before they left for Liberia, and the video showed them smiling and calmly talking about how they meant to open their home to a child in need. They had 6 children in the home already. Clearly this couple believed in the teachings of the Pearls and had used it with their 6 kids. They thought they were “in control.” There was no kid-behavior they couldn’t defeat with their methods. And since it worked so well with their 6 kids, surely it would work especially well with orphaned kids who they believed would look up to them as rescuers and godlike figures. They EXPECTED it. Adoption was supposed to make them feel even more powerful and noble. They expected gratitude and obedience, especially from their adopted children. What they didn’t count on was that their 8yr old arrived with emotional wounds from years in an orphanage, struggling with incomprehensible losses and grief in her short life, and anger at the people who thought they were “saving her.” No doubt her behavior was difficult to manage. No doubt the other kids – who were not used to defiance and expressions of anger – were overwhelmed by these newcomers and what they brought to their new lives. The Schatzes expected that ALL KIDS will comply, ALL KIDS should bow down to their parents, that the very real and deep issues arising from adoption loss should be no different from any other difficult “childlike behavior.” When it didn’t work out that way, for the first time they realized they are not in control. Rather than seeking help, they just lost it and beat up on defenseless children, believing that they could somehow punish away all the behaviors they found so intolerable. What they refused to consider was that they were witnessing years of pain and grief and anger that was only compounded by a new and maybe even more miserable life for these children. The problem comes up when parents think they are in control of every action that a child demonstrates. When they don’t ask for help. When they think that they are godlike figures and children are sub-human, deserving to be “trained” like mules and horses.

I responded:

I agree except for one point. They had these children for almost 4 years and were using the Pearl method the entire time. I don’t believe that they “lost it” and beat her up. I believe that they continued to chastise her more and more as she continued to get more and more defiant and eventually it became a death match. She refused to give in and they just kept on chastising her, sure that she would eventually give in. Pearl teaches that his system will work on EVERY child but that the parents must be 100% consistent. What neither Pearl nor the Schatzes realized was that not every child will give in and that with repeated switchings, the tissues will break down and kill the child. I could be wrong, but this is what I suspect. As there was a witness, I believe that the truth will come out in court.

The reply:

Actually, that is what I suspect as well, though I probably didn’t state it clearly. As you say, the other children were witnesses and will (hopefully) speak out in time. My suspicion is that the Schatzes were firm believers that the Pearls’ methods were “the way of proper parenting” and simply believed it would always work – with every child. In every situation. And were surprised and at a loss when they found it did NOT work with their new adoptive children. My suspicion is that those children had never been beaten in their lives before and were outraged and far more defiant against the “trainings” than the Schatzes’ biological kids were. When I suspect that the parents “lost it,” I mean that I believe they just could not fathom what to do about being out of control with a child. They must have wondered: how could that happen when the Pearls’ promised their techniques would work on every child, when they were following all the marital and parenting rules set forth by the Pearls’ books? I think they just didn’t find in themselves the basic compassion and humility they needed to understand the situation and call for help. And I think that ultimately their “training sessions” just became more frantic and violent in their attempts to beat the children into that “submissive whimper” they were promised by the Pearls.

The Schatzes have a court date scheduled for June 24th, one week from today.

Counter Arguments 3

Pearl and his followers are insisting that the Schatzes were not following his teachings.  I have been thinking about writing a post which would analyze this, but I think it is best to wait until after the trial for such speculation.  Finding an impartial jury will be hard enough.  Anyway, I link to plenty of arguments which explain it very well already.

We do  need short responses to answer critics in our lives.  Here is an example of a counter argument which I just posted in response to Chuck, who left a comment at Awful Library Books saying:

Below is the link to both the District Attorney’s comments and the official statement from No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc regarding the Schatz case which was issued within a couple of days of learning of Lydia Schatz’s death. http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/answers/response-to-schatz-case It is obvious to anyone who cares to examine the facts that it is the rejection of the parenting philosophy espoused by the Pearls and No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc that contributed to this tragedy. Subsequent statements by the District Attorney and media reports continue to point out the fact that what the Schatz’s did was in complete contradiction to what the Pearls and NGJ teach. Those that ignore this reality do so only to perpetuate the lies to sensationalize this tragedy.

Here is my response:

It is not obvious to me at all.

First of all, all the DA did was quote Pearl that one should not cross the line.  That line is not defined anywhere in Pearl’s writings.

Secondly, that is not all of the DA’s comments. Here is a longer quote:

Thirdly, how does Pearl know that they were not following his advice?  He was not there.

My question is, could the Schatzes have thought they were obeying the Pearls’ teachings?  Could they have been calmly chastising her without knowing that they were actually breaking down her tissue?

Michael pearl teaches that his methods work on all children as long as you are 100% consistent.  He also teaches that you must spank the child until her defiance turns into a submissive whimper.  What if the submissive whimper never comes?  Could this kill her?  That is the real question.

Update Aug 18, 2011

Since the trial is over, I will work on giving a more precise answer.  For now, consider this:

In the recent video on CNN Pearl insists that their training method does not promote anger or abuse, but rather a calm, methodical and effective method of spanking a child into submission. What the Pearls and their followers fail to understand is that Lydia refused to or was unable to submit and they calmly and methodically spanked her for 7 hours until her tissues broke down.  You know how hitting meat makes it tender, right?  Well, if living flesh is hit long enough, even calmly and methodically, it gets tenderized.  The tissues break down and tiny particles of muscle tissue block the kidneys causing rhabdomyolosis. Please check that link for a more detailed explanation from Under Much Grace.  Rhabdomyolosis was the official cause of her death, by the way.

Update Sept 5, 2011: Here is the the answer as promised.

Notable Trials

Notable Trials has a post about the Schatz case:
Child’s death could mean life terms for ‘disciplinarian’ couple in Butte

book seller refuses to sell Pearl’s books

I just ran into the blog of a Christian book seller who has decided on his own not to have anything to do with Pearl’s books. Kudos to him!

I believe that he also wrote the following blog: When Child Discipline Goes Too Far. Bravo!

Edited to add:  “Bene Diction Blogs On” has blogged about this:
A curious bookseller and the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl

Next hearing date set

Here is an article with a bit more info.  The Schatz couple waived the preliminary hearing on May 25 and “They will be back in court June 24 for further arraignment and the setting of their trial date.”

Also, if you have a hunger to read any mention of or reference to the Pearls, check out today’s post on Scita > Scienda.

trial date?

Not much news today.  The trial date will be set in June.

Here is a good synopsis.  Some of the links are dead, but most of the text is contained therein.

Pre-trial hearing date tomorrow

This article from the Costa Times has been archived but it has been copied on various pages throughout the web.  Here is one.


OROVILLE — A preliminary hearing has been set for May 25 to determine if there is enough evidence to try a Paradise couple for the alleged murder and torture of two adopted children.

On Thursday, prosecutors said they intend to call one or more Paradise police officers but no family members to testify during the estimated two-hour pretrial hearing for Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz.

A Challenge

I generally do not link to non-Christian arguments for the reason that they are rarely of any use to us. They will rarely convince a Christian and I have yet to see a non-Christian which needs convincing.

I am linking to the article below because what I see here is a challenge to Christians to speak out against this teaching. We have been doing just that and I am saddened to see that she has been forced to close her article to comments. I can only image what kind of response she received to cause her to take such a drastic step within 24 hours. I am hoping that she will find this site, as well as TulipGirl’s list of those who are speaking out and the follow up here.

I am also linking to this because I do track mentions of this issue in the Mainstream media.

Child Death by a Thousand Cuts in California by Jean Mercer of Psychology Today

This has also been posted at ChildMyths.

Sermon – Beating a Child to Death

Ellen from GCM shared this link to a podcast by Kevin Swanson (who advocates spanking,) called, Beating a Child to Death
She says,

this critique of the Pearls is a great message for a conservative homeschooling advocate to be putting out there. He does not explicitly name the Pearls or NGJ, but he explains the Schatz case and gives a clear denunciation of the Pearls’ teachings and methods.

Pretrial Hearing Date

Pretrial Hearing Date Set in Beating Death in The Contra Costa Times

The Art of Spanking

Another Reaction to the Schatz story.  I want to make one point:  Lydia’s sister was not just sent to the hospital with massive bruising, her kidneys were also starting to shut down.  In other words, she was beat within an inch of her life and thanks to God, they were able to save her life.

The Art of Spanking by Aaron D. Wolf from Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

For the Children’s Sake (TV)

This news story was just featured on a local (to the Schatz family) CBS station.

TulipGirl has added the video to her blog in an entry called, Investigating: Why’s Behind Child Abuse.
I believe this means that I no longer have to worry about KHSL taking it down.  Thank you, TulipGirl!

Note: you may have to click on the Part 1 tumbnail, I always do.

The Schatz Story part 2

If you are not familiar with the Schatz Story or want more info, please look here.

News Stories

Note:  Many old news stories which have been removed by their papers can be found here and here.

Couple plead not guilty to killing their 7-year old daugher from the Paradise Post March 18, 2010 Summerized by Religion News Blog

Paradise couple plead not guilty to killing their 7 year old daughter KHSL TV Channel 12 March 19, 2010

Investigating: Why’s Behind Child Abuse KHSL’s News Investigation of Child Abuse video on TulipGirl’s Blog


Lydia’s Birthday, Autopsy Released by TulipGirl

Pleading “Not Guilty” to Murder, Torture, Cruelty by TulipGirl

Michael & Debi Pearl, & Questions of Ministry Credentialing by Pastor Jack from New Covenant Living

A Community’s Agony Over the Schatzes by Pastor Matthew Raley from Tritone Life

Love Never Fails blog asks us to consider if Attachment Disorder could have had anything to do with Lydia Schatz’ death.

A warning for Canadian parents from Desperately Seeking Suzin:  Pearl’s teachings are against the law.

Earlier reactions here.

Reactions to the Schatz Tragedy

March 3, 2010 – Responses to Pearl’s Laughter:

Michael Pearl laughs at his critics, no apolgies for dead children from Barbara @ Mommy Life blog who also asks us to look at Cult characteristics and the Pearls.  Note: This blog has been removed so I am linking to it in the Internet Archives.

The Pearls: Sadly, it has come to this… from The Cappuccino Life Note: This blog has been removed so I am linking to it in the Internet Archives.

michael pearl’s response by Thatmom  Note: there are some very interesting comments in this one

I do not want to write this post from It’s Complicated

In response to the Defense of  Pearl:

In defense of the Pearls…some thoughts from Roscommon Acres A response to a blog defending Pearl

First Reactions:

Heartbroken. Angry. Again. By TulipGirl

This made me cry today… By Rebecca

Beauty for Ashes: in which I discuss the unthinkable Laurie M., who is a friend of the Schatz family, describes  her heartbreak  from what happened to her dear Lydia and her horror at  discovering the Pearls’ teachings.

Speaking Out

I Would Be Remiss… By Clara

Box Bashing by Karen Ehman

Parenting in the Name of God from Scita Scienda

To brainwash a parent From WORLDmag.com

On the death of Lydia Schatz, 8 from Happy As Kings

I am burning all books by the Pearls… and i encourage you to, too! by Sparrow’s Nest Academy Note: This blog has been removed so I am linking to it in the Internet Archives.

Tragedy in a homeschooling family by Rob Shearer, Director of the Francis Schaeffer Study Center

Why do you spank your child? by Miss Roxie

Cause of death from I Must Follow If I can…

And odd thankful Thursday from The Upward Call

Lydia Schatz from Joyful Breath

More Christians Speaking out against the Pearls’ Teachings By Katiekind

Tragic Death of Lydia Schatz From Rutledge6

Michael and Debi Pearls teaching linked to another child abuse death from Bene Diction Blogs On

Even a Child Can Recognize Injustice from Wanna Walk Along?  Things your grandmother should have told you.

Michael and Debi Pearl – sample wisdom by Barbara Curtis @ Mommy Life

First Reactions

As soon as the news broke that Lydia Schatz’s death was linked to Pearl’s teachings, blogs started being written.  Here are the first reactions to the news:

Heartbroken. Angry. Again. By TulipGirl

This made me cry today… By Rebecca

Liberian orphan news that no one wants to hear from Smith Soup

Beauty for Ashes: in which I discuss the unthinkable Laurie M., who is a friend of the Schatz family, describes  her heartbreak  from what happened to her dear Lydia and her horror at  discovering the Pearls’ teachings.

The Schatz Story in the News part 1

Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz are now being charged with torture and murder after following Pearl’s training advice.  Here are some news stories:

Note:  Many news stories removed from their paper’s websites can be found elsewhere.  I’ll try to keep the links updated.  Many can be found at the first 2 links.

Religion News Blog’s news page on No Greater Joy Ministries

and Pound Pup Legacy’s Michael and Debi Pearl’s tag.

Paradise parents face murder, torture charges Feb 10, 2010

Ridge parents arraigned on murder Feb 11, 2010

DA links fundamentalist “training” to Paradise girl’s death Feb 12, 2010

Ramsey examines ministry connected to girl’s death – Paradise Post Feb 18, 2010

A fine line between abuse and discipline Feb 18, 2010

Godly discipline turned deadly by Lynn Harris from Salon Feb 22, 2010

Child’s death leads Christians to speak out against Michael and Debi Pearl from Examiner Feb 25, 2010

Questions about ministry grow from Paradise Post Feb 26, 2010

Is Conservative Christian Group, No Greater Joy Ministries, Pushing Parents to Beat Kids to Death? from CBS News Crimesider

3/13 Faith Matters: There is no such thing as perfect obedience From Bradenton.com Mar 13, 2010

Michael Pearl writes that he is laughing at his critics after child’s death from Examiner.com

Further updates at Schatz News Part 2

Religion News Blog’s news page on No Greater Joy Ministries