Note: This church is independent and not affiliated with the Church of God congregations.
A fundamentalist pastor who for the past week has used the Bible to defend his parishioners' right to spank their children with sticks says it may be time to reconsider those teachings.
"We cannot compromise our beliefs, but recent incidents have caused us to review our Church teachings and practices relating to the parenting and discipline of our children," Henry Hildebrandt, pastor at the Church of God in Aylmer, Ont., said yesterday. "We will consider all options and alternatives in this regard short of betraying our religious convictions."
A week ago Wednesday, nearly 70 friends and neighbours watched as social workers forcibly dragged seven kicking and screaming children from their home. Officials with the Family and Children's Services of St. Thomas and Elgin were acting on an undisclosed tip that the children's parents, a German-speaking couple who used to live in a Mexican Mennonite community, might be spanking them with objects other than their hands.
At the time of the apprehension -- it required police reinforcements -- Mr. Hildebrandt slammed the children's aid society for what some called a "barbaric raid," saying corporal punishment is sanctioned by the Bible. Yesterday, reading from a statement, Mr. Hildebrandt appeared to condemn his previous stance.
He told a crowd gathered outside his church that another family has "left our community" after being contacted by the children's aid society, and it might be time to re-evaluate the Church's teachings.
Mr. Hildebrandt would not elaborate on his statement, not even to clarify whether the family simply left the Church or moved out of town. Officials with the children's aid society did not return phone calls yesterday.