No Greater Joy Ministries is being examined by the Butte County District Attorney’s Office in relation to the death of a 7-year-old Paradise girl and extensive injuries to her sister.
Ridge parents Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz are charged with murder and torture following the death of 7-year-old Lydia Schatz and the hospitalization of 11-year-old Zariah Schatz.
Both girls were allegedly whipped by the their adoptive parents with a quarter-inch plumbing supply line – the instrument suggested by Michael and Debi Pearl, founders of No Greater Joy Ministries and authors of the controversial religious parenting book “How to Train Up a Child.”
“We do not teach ‘corporal punishment’ nor ‘hitting’ children,” Michael Pearl, CEO of No Greater Joy Minstries, wrote in an emailed statement to The Post. “We teach parents how to train their children, which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument to hold the child’s attention on admonition.”
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey confirmed to The Post earlier this week that the Internet Web site, www.nogreaterjoy.org is the site in question, though investigators are not yet saying this is the source the Schatz couple followed.
He also stressed that this Web site does not endorse beating children, and it is not connected to a specific church. However, Ramsey said this is the only source they have found that recommends using this particular plumbing supply line and suggests these instruments are “cheaper by the dozen at Home Depot.”
Prosecutors say the parents subjected the two girls to hours of corporal punishment with a plumbing supply line on Thursday and Friday leading up to Lydia’s death and the Schatzes’ arrest last Saturday. The plumbing supply line was recovered in the parents’ bedroom.
Pearl says 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,” he stated.
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’ brusied 10-year-old son, none of the other children showed signs of abuse. It was a lengthy article in Salon Magazine that led investigators to No Greater Joy Ministries, Ramsey said. The title of the article is ‘Spare the quarter-inch plumbing supply line, spoil the child.”
The article, written in 2006 by Lynn Harris, explores the Pearls’ methods. Though the Pearls were well-known in fundamentalist religious circles, they became more widely known when their methods were implicated in the death of a 4-year-old boy in North Carolina, as well as the alleged abuse of his two siblings. The mother, Lynn Paddock, reportedly followed the Pearls’ disciplinary methods. Her son’s death was caused by suffocation when she wrapped him tightly in blankets. The Pearls do not advocate restraining with blankets anywhere in their teachings, however, the boy and two of his five siblings had welts caused by a “rod” recommended by the Pearls – a quarter-inch plumbing supply line.
We do not teach “corporal punishment” nor “hitting” children. We teach parents how to train their children, which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument to hold the child’s attention on admonition. Over 1,000,000 parents have applied these Biblical principles with joyful results.
The courts have never charged NGJ Ministries with teaching abuse; quite the contrary.
In a former case where a woman owned one copy of To Train Up A Child, the prosecuting attorney used that very book as testimony against her out of control methods.
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.
Those of us who deal with substance abuse, psychological impairment, and family issues, try to make positive changes in every person, but sometimes our best efforts are too little or too late.
But for the sake of our precious children, we must double our efforts and move forward.
Michael Pearl, CEO
No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc