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Church of God Aylmer


News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals


Seizure of Children Ruled Constitutional
Ontario Court Judge Eleanor Schnall has ruled, without comment, that the Child and Family Services of St. Thomas and Elgin County did not violate the constitutional rights of a couple in the Church of God sect in Alymer, Ontario, whose children it seized in 2001. Agency workers had determined that the parents were abusing their children by spanking them with a belt, clothes hangar, and the metal end of a fly swatter. The church says that using the “rod” is sanctioned by the Bible. The children were released from custody in foster homes after only three weeks, but the parents have been living under supervision, prohibited from spanking discipline and required to allow social workers to inspect their children. The national debate over corporal punishment continues. (National Post, 10/12/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Spanking Probe Widens in Canada
A second family in the Church of God congregation of Pastor Henry Hildebrand, in Aylmer, Ontario, is being investigated by the local Children’s Aid Society for spanking discipline of children. The probe is a response to the appearance of a church mother on CBC TV; she said that a strap is used only as a last resort, and that her children know that the discipline, endorsed by the Bible, she believes, is given with love. [csr 1.3 2002]

Last year, seven children from the group were taken into custody and put in foster care for three weeks, a move that their parents, who are now being prosecuted, say was traumatic for their offspring. The parents are just now being prosecuted. Two families in the congregation fled the county after being investigated. (CBC News, Internet, 7/12/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

The Ideology of Child Spanking
CBC reporter Amanda Singroy recently interviewed the Braun family, members of the Church of God, a Mennonite sect in Aylmer, Ontario, about how their religious views sanction, even demand, corporal punishment of their children. (A year ago, the Children’s Aid Society removed seven children of the group from their homes because their parents hit them with belts and sticks.)[csr 1.3 2002]

Agatha Braun says of her neighbors, whose children had been taken by authorities (and later returned): “They’re living what they’re teaching. . . In other churches where we were, they were reading the Bible but they didn’t live it. . . We are down to earth, we want to go to Heaven, we have to have a life according to the Bible. If not, then you would not go to Heaven. That’s why it is important to us.”[csr 1.3 2002]

Mrs. Braun’s pastor, Henry Hildebrandt, said: “We feel that if we give up the rod, we are giving up a strong Bible principle . . . it says ‘he that spareth the rod hateth his son.’ And why would the word rod be there if it wasn’t meant to be the rod? Why doesn’t it say ‘use the hand?’ ”[csr 1.3 2002]

“It’s very hard for me,” says Agatha Braun. “I’ve told the children and I’ve sometimes cried with the children when I did it and told them it hurts me a lot more than it does the children.”[csr 1.3 2002]

One of the Braun children, Henry, says: “Spanking isn’t something they do often. It just happens once in awhile. There’s other forms of punishment or discipline.” His brother Dedrick adds: “First they talk and they tell us why they’re spanking us and that’s when we’re taught why we’re getting spanked. [csr 1.3 2002]

A third brother, Isaac, says that after the corporal punishment their parents tell them that “they still love us the same much as they did before they did it. And they were just doing it to remind us not to do it again. His mother adds: “After we spank them, they come to us and they hug us and kiss us. They just, they just love it when we’re done because we talk to them and we explain to them why we do it.”[csr 1.3 2002]

Pastor Hildebrandt says that what these parents do, and the way that they do it, cannot be considered child abuse. A child custody hearing will determine whether authorities should continue to monitor a family in his congregation, while more than 50 parents in the church have signed up as members of the local Children’s Aid society in the hope of influencing the agency’s future policy. Hildebrandt calls for a review of current law and suggests that it might be “narrowed down” to leave “room for Christian people to live according to what the Bible teaches. If not, then we have to label Canada as a country that does not have religious freedom.” (Amanda Singroy, CBC News [broadcast], Internet, 7/4/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Church of God Aylmer - Supplemental News