Butte County (California) District Attorney Mike Ramsey confirmed last Thursday that he is exploring a possible connection to a Web site that endorses "biblical discipline" to the murder of a seven year old girl. Kevin Schatz, 46, and his wife, Elizabeth Schatz, 42, were arraigned in Butte County Superior Court and could face two life terms in prison if convicted. The Schatzes were arrested Saturday morning, February 6, 2010 after their adopted daughter, Lydia, age 7, stopped breathing. She was subsequently pronounced dead. Her 11-year-old sister, Zariah Schatz, remains in critical condition at a Sacramento children's hospital, though she is showing some signs of recovery. The two were adopted at the same time with an infant girl, now 3, from the same African orphanage about three years ago.
Salon is reporting that the Schatzes followed closely the popular, child "training" practices of Michael and Debi Pearl. The teachings of the Pearls and their Tennessee-based No Greater Joy ministry, which brought in $1.8 million last year in sales of books, DVDs and the like, are widely known across many conservative Christian churches and home-schooling communities. The Pearls advocate a specific program of even-tempered "chastisement" designed to bring about total obedience -- even by infants -- to their sovereign parents. Their website proclaims "A length of quarter-inch plumbing supply line is a real attention-getter."
It is with such an instrument that sisters Lydia and Zariah were punished. The Pearls cannot be ultimately blamed for the death of Lydia, but there is a growing concern among Christian groups that the mindless following of Old Covenant discipline principles taught by the Pearls, based upon a Jewish covenantal system that ultimately called for the death of continuously rebellious children, is misleading many Christian parents.
For more information on this tragic murder one may read the following sites:
Tragedy in a Homeschooling Family
The Course of Our Lives
I Speak of the Unspeakable
A Terrible Event
When Parenting Kills
Does the End Justify the Means?
When Parenting Kills: An Update
Hold Them Down, Defeat Them Totally