Tonight on AC360: Ungodly Discipline
August 3rd, 2012
07:25 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Ungodly Discipline

Some parents, school administrators, and church leaders across the country believe it’s necessary to physically discipline children in their care. CNN’s Gary Tuchman spoke with those who do it because, they say, they’re acting in the name of God.

The AC360° investigation began when parents of 7-year-old Lydia Shatz pleaded guilty, and were sent to prison, after their young adopted daughter was beaten to death. They claim they were following teachings in a book by Michael Pearl. Pearl co-authored “To Train Up a Child” with his wife as a guide for parents on raising their children in accordance with the Bible.

Tuchman spoke with the Pearls who explain their method of spanking, and say they’re not to blame for Lydia’s untimely death. To demonstrate the technique and force that’s used, Mr. Pearl hits Tuchman during the interview.

Also in the program, former students of a religious boarding school in Montana accuse the pastor and school leaders of abuse, including choking. The owner of Pinehaven Christian Children’s Ranch, Bob Larsson, says his mission is to impart a love for God to the students. The state government has no oversight of religious institutions, which you’ll learn more about in tonight’s report.

And an unlikely sight in Oakland, California has made headlines in recent years: Children begging strangers for money. The students attend St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church School, and they ask for donations because the Reverend in charge of the school wants them to raise funds. The questionable practice is only part of the story; one mother is alleging abuse.

Join us tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET for “Ungodly Discipline,” and let us know what you think in a comment or on Twitter @AC360 and @AndersonCooper.

Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Ungodly Discipline
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Jennifer

    Non-violent Christians (and people of other religions) want us to respect their holy books and their myths. But when someone uses the same holy books and myths to do awful things, they quickly distance themselves. Tim, I don't hate the Christian faith, but I am certain that "faith" in myths and fairy tails is a laughable concept. You can hold your beliefs and I can laugh at them. You hold an opinion that fairy tails are true. I hold an opinion that your opinion is stupid. That isn't a hate crime. Get over your feeling of false victimization.

    August 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  2. Ginny

    After listening to this story I was very concerned about the man that stated he was forced to drink large amounts of water. My now adult autistic son used to drink large amounts of water. At the time I was concerned about him drinking large amounts of chlorinated water. I didn't realize that the sheer volume of water was an issue until he had a grand mal seizure and ended up in the CCU. Water intoxication is a potentially lethal medical condition . Most likely the only thing that saved the man in your story was the fact that he did vomit the excess water .. it probably saved his life.

    August 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  3. Maryanne

    What struck me was that no one listens to the child.
    The Attorney General of
    Pennsylvania made a Hugh statement at the conclusion of Sandusky trial guaranteeing that children will be listened to in Pennsylvania.
    Where are these adult officers of the court when the innocents are not protected?
    Again, Pennsylvania has made the first step in prosecuting Church officials in the abuse case in the Catholic Church in Philadelphia.
    Where are the officers of the court? If they are not doing their jobs then it is time to elect new officers before one more child is injured.

    August 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  4. J.Miller

    Thank you AC360 for covering abuses at residential treatment centers.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  5. Marsha Lovell

    I used to take my kids to Fairheaven. My son has issues. One saturday i wsnt there and they asked my teenager were i was and she said the hospital. He said what the Nut house. i used to g othere bck in the 80's. i dont know why it changed. i wouldnt take my kids bck there again.

    August 4, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  6. bettie underwood

    You think this is bad, Arlington County, Va, is taking children from good families, if they lose their jobs or housing, and putting the children in foster care, won't give them back to the parents. send the children 200 miles away and have them diagnosed with depression so they can put the child in a locked treatment center/church owned and operated by Frank McAfee, of Ga. ( Hallmark YouthCare Center, Richmond, Va.) and kids being committed without parents knowing about it.
    cutting off ALL communication with family members. and getting 90 day "Autherorization, Medical Necessity" from Medicaid. and all done before any court hearing. 84 children in Center, very few are allowed any family communication. Arlington Co. no longer wants to pay for foster care so they put normal children in Treatment Centers in Va. and others state so Medicaid will Pay for they foster care... and as long as Hallmark, says it's Medical Necessity the child can be keep they.

    August 4, 2012 at 6:40 am |
  7. Tash

    I am currently watching this news on CNN, I don't know if I can stand to watch 'til the end. It really makes me sick to my stomach, these people are taking full advantage of very vulnerable kids who can't defend themselves... in the name of God?!?!?!?! Some of these kids came from broken homes, poverty, etc. And teachers/staff are suppose to guide and teach them with patience and love. To show them they can make a difference in life. These so-called "churches" or "Christian Schools" are suppose to be a safe place for them. And these kids got sodomized, raped, sexually abused, hit. One of them even said "I don't know what love is... I don't know how to love someone".
    When Gary interviewed and questioned the leaders, all they can do is deny deny deny... It's so easy to just deny the allegations. The worse thing is that there seems to be no repercussion on their disgusting acts. I hate to pry on religion, but it happens waayyyy too often, where people are doing these sickening behaviour in the name of God. And they get away with it! This makes me so mad:/

    August 4, 2012 at 2:12 am |
  8. Iman Ife

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I live not far from the Oakland, Ca. church featured in this story, and there has always been a lot of rumor and speculation surrounding the practicases of this "school." Please continue to investigate them and the "Pastor" that heads this organization. This is a struggling community of working class people working hard to uplift the children and overcome the tragedies that keep so many Americans impoverished. THANK YOU!

    August 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  9. Sophie

    After hearing your story about Cassie, I hope that your reporting will bring about a change. what a terrible situation. the government officials, lawmakers and all authorities in that state should be ashamed. How can we help get Cassie out immediately?? I can't imagine how her mother feels knowing that her daughter is not safe.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  10. Lisa in Louisville

    It never ceases to amaze me what people do in the name of religion.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  11. Cary Stewart

    This is just the tip of the iceberg for Fairhaven. This is school promotes racism. Although its hard to say racism when its gear at just one race. separism? Basically, every nationality can mix as long as it doesn't do it with African-American. I was told by an Indian that it was ok for him to marry a white woman, but it was against Gods rule for a black man to date inter-racially. This is the college and academy rules. As I was getting closer to dating a Mexican, she was told to break up with me or she would be expelled. The school has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  12. Matthew Besson

    After hearing about the girl named Cassie in your latest program I should hope that if anything, ANYTHING happens to this girl that heads will roll and that Anderson Cooper 360 would bring down the full force of it's influence on Pinehaven.

    August 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  13. johnnymarrs

    I was abused at a Christian run orphanage/school as a child. Does being tied to a bed as a nine year , be considered as abuse. Being whipped with Hot Wheel race car tracks , be considered as discipline. Having your brother adopted out of the same school as a baby, and leaving five other children of the same family?
    Seems the very people sworn to protect and support you, gives the right to outright, beat the Devil out of you, or try.

    August 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Tim

      That is very sad to hear, and I am sorry for you.
      However this happens in every faith and walk of life.
      Not just Christian ones.
      Singling out just the Christian faith makes it one of hate towards Christians.
      Something both CNN and Anderson Cooper has been doing a lot lately.
      He does not report on Muslim faith, or Jewish faith and their schools etc..
      That makes these reports hate crimes towards Christians.
      Plain and Simple.

      August 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
      • johnnymarrs

        I am not againist other Religions and wanted to differentiate (sp) between the other religions.

        I wanted some news agency to cover the story, and investigate the accusations againist them past/present.

        But someone, somewhere will someday listen to a former abuse/ molested student.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
      • Tash

        Tim, whether he reports on "Muslim faith, or Jewish faith and their schools etc.." doesn't make it less of a focus point. It is easy to play the discrimination card when situations like these are brought to light. No matter if you are a Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist, religion should not play a part in whether an establishment with certain values/beliefs is investigated. By saying they are being discriminatory towards Christians you are shifting the focus away from the true issue which is a child should never be exposed to/experience such heinous crime. I'm sure that unfortunately similar things could happen in other religious organizations, however the seed of the problem is mankind using religion and manipulating it in ways to suit their own agendas. When you said AC360 "seems" to report on Christian establishments is solely due to the fact that you're in a country where Christianity is the majority religion.

        August 4, 2012 at 2:55 am |