A NEW TWIST TO SMACKING DEBATE: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM


In the Dutch newspapers a story was covered about Christian Preacher Gertjan Goldschmeding. Goldschmeding, who adheres to a literal translation of the Bible quotes the Old Testament where it says “spare the rod and spoil the child.”

Goldschmeding and his wife, who have three children, were arrested in March on child abuse charges and released after questioning. ‘They told me I can no longer teach using that passage from the Bible. But it is not a doctrine I made up,’ he told Dutch newspaper The Telegraaf.

Goldschmid defended his teachings on the basis of his right to “freedom of religion.” It is noted here that in the Netherlands, “freedom of religion” is recognized human right which is incorporated in the Dutch constitution. This may well prove to be an interesting angle for the New Zealand jurisdiction as well. I could also see how such an argument could be expanded into a cultural debate.

DVDs of the preacher’s sermons have been confiscated.

A survey of parents in the Hague, Netherlands last year found 50% think giving a child aged one to five a ‘light slap’ is an acceptable form of punishment. Like New Zealand, the Dutch law in principle forbids the use of a correctional smack. The discretionary powers of the police to investigate and of the public prosecutor to prosecute however are well more embedded in the Dutch legal system.

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