That Child Beating Case in Indy: More ‘Religion’ Coverage that Marginalizes Religion

Barb Wire

You know those pseudo-fruit drinks like Tang and Country Time – you know, tasting vaguely like orangeade and lemonade without the actual fruit? Well, mainstream media came close to that “ideal” in coverage of a woman who gave religious reasons for beating her son.

The stories, like this one in USA Today, have Kin Park Thaing quote Scripture to defend her taking a coat hanger to her child’s back, arm and thigh. Nothing on what her church or pastor might say about it:

INDIANAPOLIS (USA Today) An Indiana mother who beat her 7-year-old son with a coat hanger is citing the state’s religious freedom law as a defense against felony child abuse charges, saying her choice of discipline comes straight from her evangelical Christian beliefs.

The Indianapolis woman quoted biblical Scripture in court documents. She said that a parent who “spares the rod, spoils the child,” and: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”

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This despite the fact that the article originated with the Indy Star, a local newspaper.

We’ll leave aside another fact, that “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not in the Bible; it’s actually a digest of several verses by 17th century poet Samuel Butler – something a religion news specialist likely would have caught. Let’s look instead at the gaping holes in the coverage.

There is no denying the brutality of the mother’s attack:

The alleged abuse occurred Feb. 3, according to court documents, when 30-year-old Kin Park Thaing said she stopped her son from dangerous behavior that would have seriously harmed his 3-year-old sister. Thaing, documents say, hit both children with a plastic coat hanger before telling them to pray for forgiveness…

Read full article at GetReligion.org

 

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Jim Davis
Jim Davis writes for GetReligion.org, scrutinizing religion coverage in mainstream media. He also runs the Faith and Values page on Facebook, and freelances as a writer and photographer with The Florida Catholic newspaper. He worked for more than three decades as the religion editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, covering national as well as local events and issues. His other projects have included copy editing and writing for a Christian web designer, editing educational white papers for the University of Florida, and publicizing Jewish studies at Florida International University.

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