A Christian think-tank has challenged the idea that corporal punishment is a biblical doctrine. Forty schools attempting to change legislation which bans smacking at school told an appeal court this week that such punishment with parental consent formed part of a religious doctrine protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. Speaking at the Appeal Court yesterday Paul Diamond representing the school group is reported to have told Lords Justices Buxton and Rix and Lady Justice Arden that corporal punishment was a doctrine advocated in the Bible and was therefore part of the ethos of evangelical schools. However his contention has been challenged by a leading biblical scholar and member of the theological think-tank Ekklesia who said he cannot think of a single New Testament passage that would support the idea of such punishment. "There are however," he added, "a number of passages that challenge it". Dr Lloyd Pietersen a lecturer in the New Testament at the University of Gloucestershire cites the example of texts attributed to St. Paul to argue his case and pointed out that such thinking is not confined to the gospels. "In Ephesians 6:4 (a passage specifically dealing with parents and child discipline) the writer remarkably fails to mention corporal punishment - unlike many Graeco-Roman and Hellenistic Jewish writers of the same time. This is despite the fact that the advice given in that passage is actually similar to that of Menander, the classical Greek playwright, who stated: 'a father who is always threatening does not receive much reverence' and 'one should correct a child not by hurting but by persuading'." The schools, lead by the Christian Fellowship School in Liverpool, are at the appeal courts in the hope of overturning a High Court decision last year, which rejected their challenge to legislation banning smacking. The schools claimed the law did not apply to them as independents. The appeal continues.
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