17 May 2002

Corporal punishment in schools 'not given credence by the Bible'

Kathleen Wood, Education Officer of the Methodist Church, has today made the following statement:

"The Methodist Church stands firmly against the corporal punishment of children in any circumstances. Our understanding of the demand for Christians to respect every human individual, and our concept of nurturing the young, makes any kind of physical punishment of children abhorrent.

"The view expressed by a very small minority of those calling themselves Christian, that the Bible gives credence to their claim for the right to inflict such punishment on children, is, to us, offensive. We cannot subscribe to any interpretation of Scripture that makes such a claim.

"It is particularly distressing that the current action in the High Court by the promoters of a number of small independent schools should be identified as a 'Christian' action and linked to the ongoing debate about Faith Schools. In recent months the Methodist Church has allocated considerable time and energy to correcting the misconceptions and allaying the fears of those calling for the banning of such schools. Considerable progress has been made in encouraging those outside the churches and other faith communities to see Faith Schools as a valued and valuable alternative choice for parents seeking a broad education for their child, and as making a positive and significant contribution to the promotion of racial and religious harmony.

"In neither the independent nor the state sector do Faith Schools (or any schools) have the right to administer corporal punishment at present. The Methodist Church supports this position unreservedly, and trusts that this High Court case will reinforce the current interpretation of the law. Methodists must be vigorous in resisting the impression, quite understandably being given in the national media, that the petitioners in this case represent anything other than an extreme minority position."

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