(Book Review) Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment
A few weeks after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the satirical newspaper, The Onion, ran a story entitled, “God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule” (2001, Sept. 26). In the article, God holds a press conference during which he tells the world, "‘I don't care how holy somebody claims to be. If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again.’" The serious message behind this very satirical article is that anyone who would use religion to justify harming or killing someone has clearly misunderstood one of God’s most basic rules. Yet, according to Janet Heimlich in her 2011 book, Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment, religion has been, and continues to be, used to justify the physical, sexual, emotional abuse and medical neglect of children. The purpose of Breaking Their Will is to “expose child abuse and neglect enabled by certain kinds of religious belief. By raising awareness of this issue, the book aims to initiate a discussion about religious child maltreatment in hopes of someday eradicating it” (Heimlich, 2011, p. 19). Although eradication of any social problem is unlikely, the clear and thoughtful writing, compelling case studies, and presentation of empirical evidence for the role of religion in child maltreatment will convince even the most skeptical reader that this is a problem that deserves greater consideration.
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