Sunday, January 25, 2009

Christian Fundamentalism and Domestic Violence: What Constitutes Abuse?

Elsewhere on this blog, I have dealt with the issue of Christian fundamentalism and domestic violence (see for example 1/15/09). In this post, I wish to clarify some types of abuse that might take place in the context of fundamentalism:

  1. The most obvious is physical abuse. As has been discussed in numerous postings on the blog, it is difficult to make a conclusive statistical connection between fundamentalism and domestic violence. However, there are numerous anecdotal cases of fundamentalist husbands hitting their spouses. Also, virtually all fundamentalist churches recommend spanking as a normal, frequent method of child discipline. Virtually all "fundamentalist experts" advise using an object to spank and spanking until profuse crying ensues. Recent research reported from Univ. of NC (Chapel Hill) has associated just such frequent spankings with cases of more abusive behavior.
  2. Another type of abuse is psychological. Here, the wife, for example, is put under constant pressure to submit to the husband. She is under constant scrutiny and always a candidate for criticism. She may be criticized for her style of clothes (too suggestive), her reading material (not religious enough), or talking to another man (hints of impropriety). The husband may go so far as to restrict her behavior or travel.
  3. A third type (but it may be part of number 2) is the spiritual. Here the woman is constantly reminded that she MUST submit to her husband because the Bible says that she must. If she fails to submit, she will be "out of God's will" and subject to God's punishment. This is beaten over her head on a regular basis-- at home, at church, and with co religionists.
All things considered, a fundamentalists home may not be a particularly happy one. There are many far reaching implications to the idea that a certain belief, notion, or person is infallibly correct and that is his opinion is beyond challenging.

To read the story of my abandonment of fundamentalism and why I find it intellectually and morally bankrupt, visit my book web site: and read a sample chapter of my book.

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