Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why I Burned My Newsboys CDs

When I first saw that the Newsboys, a Christian band that has been around for over half my life, had tweeted in support of corporal punishment, I was bemused.  Without even getting into the fact that they didn't even use a real translation, but a paraphrase that gets that verse all wrong, why on earth would they feel a need to tweet about corporal punishment of children?  What's next, a catchy song about spanking?

Then I looked at their Facebook page, and saw that they had liked Chanel Campbell.  That rang a bell with some bits and pieces I had heard before I knew enough about Campbells to put it all together.  Turns out that maybe the spanking thing isn't as bizarre as I had originally thought.  Chanel, who sang back up on one of the Newsboys' recent CDs, is the granddaughter* of Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies, and the band is partially owned by Wes Campbell, Nancy's son.  I seem to remember the Campbell sisters Serene and Pearl opening for the Newsboys or at least being marketed as having a connection back before Serene's marriage, but I am fuzzy and don't have links to prove it.  However, from Nancy's about page, it sounds as if the whole family is pretty closely connected to the band.

Above Rubies is one of the key outreaches to women by the whole extreme patriarchy/Quiverfull/stay at home daughters movement.  If you are familiar with the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl, Vision Forum, Doug Phillips and the rest of that ilk, you know that they have some innocuous stuff that just looks like "old fashioned family values" on the surface, promoted far and wide by many Christian homeschoolers.  The Campbells and Pearls even reach out to the neo-hippy/crunchy crowd with many of their practices, including natural remedies/alternative health views and elimination communication.  I am not going to get into their whole stay at home daughters thing which sounds creepily incestuous when you start reading how they equate husbands and fathers, or their extreme views on wifely submission and abuse, but they merit investigation.

However, their view of corporal punishment goes far beyond a couple of swats on a padded diaper to keep a child from touching an electric outlet.  This article by Kathryn Joyce contains many incredibly disturbing things about the Campbell family, including this graphic description of "discipline" of their adopted children/grandchildren:
"Discipline included being hit with rubber hosing or something resembling a riding crop if the children disrespected Serene, rejected her meals, or failed to fill the reservoir. For other infractions, they were made to sleep on the porch without blankets. Engedi, the toddler, was disciplined for her attachment to CeCe. To encourage her bond with Serene, the Allisons would place the child on the floor between them and CeCe and call her. If Engedi went to CeCe instead, the children recalled, the Allisons would spank her until she wet herself."

The rubber hosing sounds exactly like the plumbing line that the Pearls recommend, which has resulted in the deaths of at least three adopted children, most recently Hana Williams.  This article from Why Not Train a Child mentions some of the other parallels.

I am trying very hard not to think too much about that paragraph, or the rest of the article, because I have already been sick this week and the idea of a terrified toddler being hit until she wets herself makes me want to puke.  Yet, I think we owe it to these children to consider what we are supporting when we purchase CDs or concert tickets.  My own little toddler was singing along to one of their songs in the van last week.  I imagine her sweet face, streaked with tears, cringing from plumbing line, and I can't even... There really aren't adequate words.

I keep hearing that people like the Pearls and the Campbells are fringe, that they don't represent mainstream Christianity, and I want so much to believe it.  But look at people like the Duggars, who are fully steeped in this (yes, the ones from all the kids and counting shows.  Yes, I know that Michelle sounds sweet and doesn't yell and the kids look happy).  Look at the popularity of author Lori Wick.  Look at how widely accepted the Newsboys and some of Wes Campbell's other artists are.  Now that I know, I can't enjoy them as wholesome entertainment.

When I was a teenager, my family followed Gothard, another one of the quiverfull/patriocentrist leaders who also promotes dangerous corporal punishment and the Pearls, although he condemns all forms of Christian rock.  Gothard advocated burning CDs of Christian rock music as repentance and to break any spiritual ick connected to it.  I've rejected most of what he teaches, but the irony appeals to me.  It might be the only enjoyment that is left for me in them.

*I originally was under the misapprehension that Chanel was Nancy's daughter.  Thanks to a couple of alert commenters who caught that mistake.

The title was misleading, since I haven't burned them yet.  I wonder if it is close enough to the 4th to do a bonfire?


Sarah {Firmly Planted} said...

Wow, truly upsetting. Thanks for sharing, Dulce.

Susan Miller said...

Sad to hear this about them. I haven't listened to them in years, but I grew up listening to them.

Pearl in Oyster (Pio) said...

Ugh... Their music is so catchy but I can't think of it the same way again. :(

That story about the adopted toddler is revolting.

Korrine Britton said...

In the past, I did some horrible things to my sweet kids in the name of 'godly discipline,' but even I can't imagine the level of violence required to make a child wet herself. That is sick, twisted, and the polar opposite of godly, loving, or even discipline. Actions like those described above are abuse, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. The quiverful movement has been unbelievably damaging to women and families. I can't believe it's so popular in 2013. Its a sad export of American evangelicalism. Have you burned them yet?!

Lana said...

Wow, I had no idea there was a connection between them. For one, I was told that Newsboys was devils music when I was being homeschooled, so I never would have guessed there was a connection between the Campbells and Newsboys. Craazy. Dampens my spirit, for sure.

IsrvChrist said...

I caution you on discounting an entire ministry, based on a friendship or viewpoint on a certain subject etc... Are you saying they aren't used by God? Are those that(thought they) were saved through their outreach, not truly saved?

It's your choice not to support them because of their connections, but don't discount an entire ministry.

I don't think any of us have every Biblical fact 100% right. After all we are all humans in need of a Savior.

Anonymous said...

Dulce de leche,

I can understand people's horror of corporate punishment given the awful excuses made (under the banner of "Christianity") in order to abuse children (which is really just pent up anger). I understand why so many cringe when the word spanking is used, but honestly, God never intended it to be about abuse. Under the whole counsel of Scripture we read that the use of the rod must first be measured by love and a healthy awareness of God being present when the "rod" is in use. Therefore, it is quite unfair to label all parents that believe the Bible does indeed support the use of the rod, as abusive. There are many, many God-fearing families who use the rod in a loving, consistent manner. These children are usually quite a delight to be around as opposed to a child that is constantly being re-directed or distracted in order to abate a tantrum or danger. The latter child has not truly learned obedience, but methods of distracting and avoiding the issue of the heart.

It's pretty radical to label all parents who believe in spanking as abusive, just as unfair as it would be to label you as someone who does not take God at His word (in the many verses of Proverbs that speak of the use of the rod).

dulce de leche said...

Thank you all so much for your comments! I apologize for the delay in responding to them--I was traveling out of the country and had trouble getting into my account.

IsrvChrist, any look at the church at any point in history shows that Christians all make mistakes (myself included). I didn't call for a boycott or anything like that because I know that many people have found good in their music. However, I cannot enjoy it as entertainment or support it financially in good conscience.

Anonymous, are you honestly trying to say that the descriptions of hitting a toddler until she soils herself or the other things in the article are not abusive? Because if so, your definition of abuse must fall just short of death, and I would encourage you to read about Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz who did indeed die from that kind of abuse.

God never intended spanking, period. If you look at the Proverbs verses, there is no mention of the parents' anger in using the rod. If you interpret them as spanking, there is no line where it crosses into abuse (you can beat him with the rod and he will not die), there is no mention of anger or any other emotion, and no "right way" to spank. The truth is that all of the caveats that most Christians want to give are not based in Scripture, but actually in domestic discipline (erotic spankings between adults). In Hebrew, it becomes clear that those verses do not discuss spanking at all. They *do* refer to discipline and guidance.

As for the results in children, research disagrees with you, but I grant that many children do learn to shut off emotions that are inconvenient to adults. That might make it easier for adults to be around them, but it is much healthier for the children to actually learn appropriate ways to express their emotions.

I would encourage you to look at the Hebrew understanding of obedience. It is someone who has listened, heard with their heart, and then chosen to obey. It is the children who are spanked who learn to distract/avoid their parents rather than dealing with their heart. You can force a child to comply outwardly by making them afraid of the pain and humiliation of a spanking, but that does not change the heart. I believe that the only way to change a heart is through Christ, who taught us to treat others as we would rather be treated, and said that whatever we do to the smallest of these we do to Him.

I would encourage you to dig deeper, to study to show yourself approved as to what the Bible really teaches regarding spanking. An excellent study is the free ebook, Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy by conservative Bible scholar, Samuel Martin. You can download it for free at Sam is a dedicated brother in Christ who holds God's Word in the deepest reverence, and it is because of his background in Hebrew that he began this book.

Spanking is a continuum of violence. Some may be much more damaging than others, but any spanking is still an attempt to use pain and fear to change a child's behavior. There are better ways to discipline.

Anonymous said...

Dulce de Leche,

In my comment I said nothing about supporting hitting a toddler until she soiled herself.

If you look in Scripture you will note God does not give any specifics in regards to using time-out, distractions, re-directing, allowing a child to chose their own way over a parent's obedience.

I really could care less about the studies the "world" has conducted regarding healthy spanking (not abusive). Their approach is always psychological, stemming from the belief that children are completely innocent and inherantly good. Therefore, we must never cross their will or they will end up hating us. Dr. Spock ended up admitting that his way to permissive parenting had lent itself to many of the generations selfish and spoiled kids. The Bible teaches that we are all born in sin and infact are all sinners. It says that we are foolish and have all gone our own way.

If spanking or any other form of discipline is administered in anger or coldness, I do believe it will set the child's heart against his parents and God. But if spanking (only since we are debating this very issue) is used in a calm, gentle approach, it actually does cause our children to be a delight. My kids do not walk around sour because of a spanking, they bounce away, knowing their disobedience has been dealt with and we can move on. I don't have to constantly wager with them or bargain for the sake of peace.

I'd be interested to know what all the better ways are to discipline given the very explict explaination Proverbs gives us for why using the rod is effective. Unless you do not believe the use of the rod is literal, then you can throw out the rest of the rod veres, because it simply does not make sense to read these verses in the context of mere redirecting or sitting down for a chat. I know there are other verses in the BIble that would support reproof, but the rod verses are specifically for the use of the rod.

Again, you completely miss the point that spanking a child on the bum in a very controlled and loving environment is VASTLY opposed to hitting them until they wet their pants.

As for when you cross the line.....if one is a believer, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will immediately bring conviction if the line has been crossed (too many swats, done out of anger, personal offense, irritation, etc....) That is why Biblical discipline (use of the rod) is vastly different than a non-believer using it without any convictions by the Spirit of God.

Rachel said...

Proverbs is literal?

23:3 ~ put a knife to your throat if you’re hungry
23:16 ~ my kidneys will rejoice when thy lips speak right things
23:23 ~ buy the truth, sell it not
23:27 ~ a whore is a deep ditch, a strange woman is a narrow pit

That should ALL be taken literally?

IsrvChrist said...

"IsrvChrist, any look at the church at any point in history shows that Christians all make mistakes (myself included). I didn't call for a boycott or anything like that because I know that many people have found good in their music. However, I cannot enjoy it as entertainment or support it financially in good conscience."

I think it would be wrong of you if you did support something you didn't believe in, or were convicted against. As Christians we need to seek Christ leading alone.

Anonymous said...

Chanel is Wes' daughter, FYI. And Wes owns part of the Newsboys, not all. Just some fact checking for you.

Anonymous said...

my parents used spanking to discipline me... They did it lovingly, not anger and all I can say is.... It works! I was never hit (that's not what discipline is about; it's training not to hurt), but the Bible says to train a child in the way that he should go... I now have my own dog and training her to just pee and poo in the write places can drive one crazy, but now she understands when she has done wrong (she still messes up and hides when she has done wrong ) But she is being trained! I hear the voice of God ( through my conscience )when I do right or wrong, because of training. I have heard too many parents just threaten to take away things etc, but look how their kids turn out a few years later!! Undisciplened and unspiritual... I have publicly ( and many times ) thanked my parents for disciplining me! It works.... God knew what he was doing when he commanded it.... Wow! that's cool that He knows what He is doing.... He's like... God!!! haha!!

Anonymous said...

Chanel's mother is NOT Nancy Campbell. Chanel has nothing to do with above rubies or any insane thing her grandmother Nancy is affiliated with. Please get your facts straight dude.

dulce de leche said...

Thank you for clarifying, and I apologize for my mistake. I also want to be clear that AFAIK, neither Wes Campbell or Chanel have personally endorsed corporal punishment. I also understand that individuals can make very different choices from their families of origin. However, the tweet from the Newsboys combined with the familial connections there are enough to make me very uncomfortable. I would love to hear that they do not advocate corporal punishment!

Christie said...

I have subscribed to above rubies for years and in truth I have never heard of the pearls philosophy being endorsed.

Now perhaps I just didn't catch it. If she is really disciplining the children in that manner it is wrong.

What I have gotten out of above rubies has been a love of families and a love of children, I have seen gentle methods recommended again and again. It has never even occurred to me in any of their stuff I have heard/read that they would endorse such harsh methods. In fact as I remember it seemed very attachment parenting style stuff to me (babywearing, extended nursing, co-sleeping).

I am not saying you are wrong, just saying to be certain of who you are getting your information from.