Who Is Speaking Out Against Abuse?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

I know many people have been vocal in the past. Yet I believe a renewed effort–even warning against specific teachings and teachers–is warranted.

This outcry has already started, as observed by Lynn Harris in Salon:

It’s one thing for those of us outside the fundamentalist Christian/Christian home-schooling world to point fingers at the Pearls and voice outrage at their methods. What really matters, and what stands to have actual impact, is the outrage inside the Pearls’ world. And right now, more than ever, an anti-Pearl movement within the conservative Christian community is rising up in heated, if sometimes whispered, fury. Some say — even pray — that Lydia Schatz’s death will bring Michael and Debi Pearl exactly the kind of attention they deserve.

Already many homeschool parents and leaders are speaking out, especially raising red flags about the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries.


In a modest effort to track those who are speaking out, would you please share in this thread those you have heard in your churches, homeschool groups, in person, and online homeschool groups?


Those who are issuing warnings:

World Magazine Commentary: To Brainwash a Parent
Evangelical, conservative news magazine

Timberdoodle Co.: Discipline and Murder
Homeschool supply company

Bradenton SHARE: Support Homeschool Activities Reaching Everyone
Detailed e-mail to all members and friends

Home Education Magazine: Bring Back the Boycott
Homeschool magazine since 1984

Matthew Raley, Tritone Life: Is Michael Pearl Responsible For a Girl’s Death?
Senior pastor of the Evangelical Free Church in Orland, CA

Karen Campbell, ThatMom: Child Abuse in the Name of Jesus
Update on Lydia Schatz and Why It Is Not About Spanking
Pearls and Authoritarian Parenting
An Open Letter to my Brothers and Sisters in Christ Who Serve in Leadership to Homeschooling Families
Homeschool mom, grandmother, conference speaker, podcaster

Karen Ehman: Box Bashing
Homeschool mom, author, speaker

Rob Shearer: Tragedy in a Homeschooling Family
Homeschool father of 11 children, church elder, Director of the Francis Schaeffer Study Center, co-founder of Greenleaf Press homeschool materials publisher

Randy Greenwald: Hermeneutics, Life, and Death
Pastor, homeschool father of six

Samuel Martin
Religious Scholar

Barbara Curtis, MommyLife: Lydia Schatz: shame on Mike and Debi Pearl!
Michael Pearl Laughs at His Critics, No Apology for Dead Children
Growing Outrage at Michael Pearl and his Response to Child’s Death
Cult Characteristics and the Pearls
Mom of 12 (bio, adopted and special needs), grandma of 10, author and Montessori teacher

Carol, Parenting Freedom: Murder by Discipline
Murdering Children into Submission
Homeschool mom, researcher

Angel, Rutledge6: Tragic Death of Lydia Schatz
Author of “Liberian Adoption: Preparing for Your Child’s Homecoming”

Megan, SortaCrunchy: When Extremists are Taken to the Extreme
Mom, author, editor-in-chief of Simple Kids

Elizabeth Esther: How Many More Children Must Die?
Mother, Writer, grew up in abusive fundamentalist church

Kathy, Quiet Garden: When Parenting Kills – What Can We Do?
Christian Ethics in Parenting
When Parenting Kills – Update
When Parenting Kills – A Challenge to Men
More Christians Speaking Out Against the Pearls
Michael Pearl Responds
Homeschool veteran, mentor, website designer

Benediction: Michael and Debi Pearl Linked to Another Child Abuse Death
Canadian, Christian, broadcast journalist

API Speaks: Parent Support is Prevention
Attachment Parenting International official blog

Anne, Muse Mama: Bring Back the Boycott
Fighting the Pearls’ Teachings
The Value of Gentle Mothering
The Pearls are Wrong
Giving Up on To Train Up A Child
Homeschool mom, nurse, tried and rejected the Pearls’ teachings

Karen Braun, Spunky Homeschool: Senseless Deception
Homeschool mom of 6, freelance writer, homeschool advocate

Wade Burleson, When Child Training Leaves to Abuse and Murder: Pearls of Wisdom for Concerned Parents
Baptist pastor, Oklahoma

Anne, Birth in Ukraine
Missionary, Homeschool mom, birth educator

Arni, I Think I Believe: Why I Will Never Spank My Daughter
Father, theology student, musician

Paul Mathers: In Which I Talk About the Terrible Event
Quoted in Salon, knows the Schatz family

Laurie, Beauty for Ashes: In Which I Speak the Unspeakable
Knows the Schatz family

Sparrow’s Nest Academy: I’m Burning All the Books by the Pearls
Homeschool mom of seven

Debra, Random Thoughts: Another Death Attributed to the Pearls
Homeschool mom of four

Aaron, Must Follow: Christians Unite Against Child Abuse

Judy, Wanna Walk Along: Even a Child Can Recognize Injustice
Popular, Pervasive, Controversial
Abhorrence Hits Me
Grandmother, Christian

Lisa, HomeSpun Life: Fundamental Discipline
Time to Speak Up, Even if it is Hard
Homeschool mom, former Pearl supporter

Smith Soup: From Another Mamma with a Heart for Liberia

Christian, Mom to 14 adopted and bio- children

Betsy, Just Another Clay Pot: Christian Brainwashing?
The World’s Most Dangerous People
Homeschool mom

Virginia, Come, Weary Moms: Child Discipline or Child Abuse?
Adding Your Voices about Child Abuse
Mother of ten, publisher of Hope Chest Home School News

Dana, Roscommon Acres: The Pearls, Abuse, and a False Gospel
In Defense of the Pearls: Some Thoughts
Homeschool mom of five

Hillary, Quivering Daughters: How Many More Little Girls Need to Die?
Author of “Quivering Daughters | When Jesus Weeps ~ True Stories of Women, Authoritarianism, and the Fundamentalist Life”

The Journey: This is the Reason Why, In Jesus Name

WaterLilly: Spanking in Anger Isn’t the Problem
WaterLilly: Michael Pearl Laughs at Critics

Myrrh, Savouring Grace: Calling All Christian Families and Those Who Minister to Them

Hippie Housewife: Disciplined to Death

MamaChesire: Without Breath to Complain

MiaZagora’s Homeschool Minutes: Michael and Debi Pearl Books and Child Abuse

Vyckie, No Longer Qivering: No Greater Joy Ministries and Child Abuse
No Laughing Matter: Michael Pearl & His Chicken Mock Critics

Luci: Hold Fast

GCM Statement: It is Time to Speak Out Against the Teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl

Dr. Momma, Peaceful Parenting:
No Greater Joy Ministries “Biblical” Parenting Couple Beats Child to Death

Monica, Attachment Mama: Why Parenting Support is So Critical

Linda, Parent at the Helm: Speaking Up

Jessica, Everyday Rebel: Woman, Uncensored

Jay Allen, The Zero Boss: Michael and Debi Pearl’s “Expert” Parenting Advice is Killing Children

Therese, Keeping Along Joyfully: Christian Homeschoolers, Please Read

Eight is NOT Enough: An Open Letter

Kimberly, Raising Olives: The Pearls and Your Child’s Heart

No Greater Joy Children
New website analyzing NGJ teachings

Speaking out in the Local Community:

1. Local Homeschool Group: Intense warning to parents about the Pearl’s parenting materials

2. Greenville Church: Women’s group leader issuing warning about Pearl’s parenting materials

3. Women’s Bible study, discussion of this issue

4. Lindsey, Lutheran – Missouri Synod, homeschooling mom, speaking out online.

5. Sarah, Christian, supervisor for a local mental health agency in Arizaon, discussing with staff, recognizing similar language in parents and foster parents, devising best ways to address it.

6. A Virginia homeschool group removing all links to the Pearls / NGJ from their website.

7. Lots of emails and irl discussions. . .

Please list in the comments or email me with examples you are experiencing of homeschool parents, leaders, and pastors speaking out in your local communities or online.


This post is in progress. It will continue to be updated, although I know it isn’t possible to have a completely comprehensive list. If I’ve left you off, let me know!

37 thoughts on “Who Is Speaking Out Against Abuse?

  1. My name is Lindsey Gruen and I am a homeschooling mother to 4 children. I am also a Christian (Lutheran-Missouri Synod). I am firmly against the Pearls, their theology, and child “training” materials. I am speaking out online in forums regarding their use.

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  4. What a list. You’re quite the ‘movement leader.’ :)

    I might have asked you this question before (I can’t remember). Do you have any posts on Shepherding a Child’s Heart? The little that I’ve read of that book also gives me the willies, but there’s not so much online about them as there is about the Pearls or the Ezzos. I’m in need of gathering some info on his book because it’s going to be used at my church. (sigh)

  5. Thanks for creating and maintaining this list. It’s a great resource. The administrators of Gentle Christian Mothers have issued a public statement that appears at the top of the message board. Anyone may read it. It’s titled “It is Time to Speak Out Against the Teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl”.

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  8. TulipGirl,

    I just wanted to publicly thank you for what doing what we spoke about in private email. I will be informing Debbie on the change (if she does not already know).

    It means a lot. Really, thank you.


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  10. KEEP UP YOUR WORK!! I am not a Christian, not a homeschooler, not even a parent. But I care deeply for children, especially those who who can’t be raised in their biological families. Many are placed in excellent, loving Christian homes. The Pearls have inflamed people’s worst fears about adoption, Christians, and homeschooling. Your work reminds of the true spirit of the teaching of Jesus Christ. To you, He is the son of God, to me a very wise philosopher. Regardless of who is right, it would be a better world if we all lived by his teaching and you are showing us how, Bless you and thank you for your tireless advocacy for children and against the teaching of the Pearls. Why does Amazon still carry their books??

  11. Happy to report this morning that the Peoria Area Christian Educators group has removed To Train Up a Child from their resource list!

  12. i had a friend who once told me about the pearl method that using it is about finding balance. she claimed that the problems with using the pearl method only came from parents who took their word verbatim & didn’t find wiggle room or change things to make them work in their own families.

    my argument is, if this is how the pearl program is to be used (with a mix of some basic common sense), then why don’t the pearls make this claim? why don’t the pearls insist that they are NOT the end-all, be-all?

    and further, i believe that anyone who claims to be the end-all, be-all of any christian belief is a hoax – that title clearly belongs to the word.

    so thank you for raising awareness about the dangers of whole-heartedly following any teaching that is not God’s.

  13. I want to mention something regarding biblical bible quotes.
    The Old Testament’s statement that if “you beat them with a rod, they will not die. Proverbs 23:13 is wrong.
    Countless children have died. Jesus went against many of the Old Testament teachings.That is a fact.
    A PBS speaker on family dysfunction pointed out that King Soloman wrote the quotes that support physically assaulting children.
    King Soloman and his son heavily taxed their kingdom and was otherwise brutal.Was that based on God’s teachings?son he was ousted. Who have him the right to have power over the people?
    Here is a quote by Rehoboam.
    “Whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, so shall I add tenfold thereto. Whereas my father chastised (tortured) you with whips, so shall I chastise you with scorpions. For my littlest finger is thicker than my father’s loins; and your backs, which bent like reeds at my father’s touch, shall break like straws at my own touch.”
    So, people are following the teachings of brutal leaders not God or Jesus.

    I have a petition to ban the physical assault of children:

  14. There’s also a moderated group with the goal of stopping the practice onYahoo
    The site here wont let me post the yahoo group for some reason so just put in yahoo first before the rest of the address below.


  15. Another link for you, TulipGirl:


    The horror is beginning to sink in.

    Also, a woman who was abused in a different situation (Hephzibah House) has contacted the Sheriff’s office in Centerville, TN, to alert them to the fact that Pearl has admitted (in his arrogant post) to abusing his DOGS. Of course, the rest of his spewage is also under scrutiny there as well, but she gives phone numbers and email addresses for the relevant authorities in Paradise, CA and in the county where the Pearls live.

    Here is her Facebook note on the matter:


    There are several Facebook groups that have sprung up in response to this (and, yes, NGJ has a facebook of its own). Cathy has joined most of them. If you want links, I’ll be happy to provide them.

  16. Whoops. I meant to include this in my above quote. On my blog, I am trying to speak out against the Pearls also. Because the Pearls claim that their methods are biblical some people might feel that it is THE Christian way to parent. With so many voices raised against them, perhaps some people will understand that their methods are not biblical at all.

  17. oh A- this saddens my heart. my sister in law, whom i believe i directed your way in the years i was more active online, emailed me, asking if i’d heard about this and that the link to my blog was back up in circulation so i’m stopping by.
    I need to share a story that tells me how awesome God has been with our family regarding the Pearls. When I was fervently following them, we lived in Seattle, and a friend of a friend, who i didn’t know came to ladies prayer group. afterward we were talking about different parenting books, and she mentioned TTUAC. I eagerly recommended it, even though she seemed unsure. it was hard, but it worked. at least that’s what I told her. i never saw her again. years pass, we move a few times and end up back in Alaska. a few summers ago I’m at the park with a few other moms and this woman and i keep looking at each other. finally she asks if we know each other. we try to come up with ways we could know each other, and we eventually land on seattle. then it clicks-i ask her if she was friends with so-and-so and yes! IT WAS HER! The one person in my life I’ve always regretted recommending this book to and couldn’t apologize to, or share my change of heart. God dropped her on my picnic blanket, thousands of miles from where I met her, down the street from my house. I told her the whole story and she just laughs and says she took a few things from it threw out the rest [how i wish i had]. i’ve run unto her a few times, and i’m sure she thinks i’m kinda crazy, but i don’t care! what a gift- God is so good!

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  21. to the person who asked about shepherding a child’s heart.
    It made me physically sick. detailed instructions not only on how to beat a child, but how to do it covertly and explicit instructions as to how not to get caught for child abuse while you are about it.
    the author should be in prison.
    sorry, not helpful, but you did ask!

  22. Keep this list going…I am HORRIFIED and truly feel it is important ESPECIALLY in christian circles to get the word out about the dangers if these terrible methods…they ARE SO NOT based on the Bible…just someone’s misinterpretation!!!

  23. I wrote this on my blog, “Now, Through a Glass Darkly” http://thenface2face.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/whose-heart-failure/

    I am haunted by Lydia. She died some weeks ago because she did not pronounce a word correctly as she was reading a Frog and Toad storybook. She died because she was beaten until she went into heart failure. She died after her adoptive parents took turns holding her down while the other beat her with a 1/4 inch plumber’s supply line, for hours. She died because her parents believed sincerely in the Operant Conditioning methods taught them by Michael Pearl, who in his book, “To Train Up a Child”, tells parents they must spank until the child submits or they have lost that child’s heart forever. She died because her parents, exactly the kind of godly salt-of-the-earth sorts of people that I have sat next to in Homeschooling conventions, relied for wisdom in a terrible situation upon the teachings of men rather than the Holy Spirit of God–or even upon their God-given common sense. Lydia died because horrible ideas have horrible consequences.

    I am haunted by this story. I grieve for her and her parents and her eight siblings now in foster care. I grieve because in their spectacular case all my sins are remembered. I grieve because when my life fell apart because of a false idea of the Father that bred unhealthy parenting, I had a dear friend whose prayerful, gentle mothering example became my better model. For many years this wonderful woman has sought to adopt two little girls from Liberia–and that was their country of origin, both Lydia and her other sibling Zahria, who nearly died of renal failure from a similar beating. My friend and I have prayed together for years for the children she longed to hold in her arms and protect from the harm she could only imagine from a distance. I thought I could exorcise Lydia’s ghost if I learned as much as I could about her case, and as I read I grieved and remembered my own struggles with a recalcitrant child and the rod of reproof.

    Michael Pearl is not grieving. On his Facebook page, callously, he laughs. One can learn a lot about a leader as he responds to a crisis or to his critics. Now, with nearly two million in sales filling him with smug self-satisfaction, Michael Pearl is laughing in response to this tragedy…”

    Read more at http://thenface2face.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/whose-heart-failure/

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