Parents Irate as New School Administrator Advocates Spanking in a Church Sermon

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

Silas Coellner preaches spanking and is now in hot water with school system

Silas Coellner says you should start spanking your kids as soon as they're crawling. Credit: John Wilcox, Boston Herald

Oh, children start off all sweet and innocent.

Then they start moving under their own steam, and that's when they come up with some pretty original sins.

"There's something about when they reach that crawling stage, I have found, in my experience, when you can suddenly see that heart of defiance, of rebellion for the first time," Massachusetts pastor Silas Coellner said in a sermon earlier this year. "That's when you begin."

Begin what? Why, spanking them, of course. The father of three sees nothing wrong with making a crawling baby act like an angel by spanking the devil out of him.

Other people see plenty wrong with it, however.

Coellner, who is a math teacher as well as a pastor, has been hired to be the assistant principal at Old Rochester Regional Junior High School in Mattapoisett, Mass. -- about an hour south of Boston -- where his duties will include student discipline.

The Boston Herald reports many parents are upset because Coellner has gone on record in his role outside the school as a pastor saying it's "critical" to start spanking children as soon as they can crawl.

However, Coellner insists he won't "apply the board of education to the seat of learning" to other people's children.

"I'm not (spanking) other people's kids. It's all prescribed. You don't wing it. I'm not doing it alone and I'm not doing it privately," Coellner tells the Herald.

He admits he spanks his own children -- ages 6, 8 and 10. However, he tells the Herald, he does it out of love.

"It's about teachable moments," he tells the newspaper. "I never, ever, ever want to harm a child."

Coellner delivered his sermon on spanking Feb. 14, the Herald reports, where he called the practice a "a totally taboo, politically incorrect thing in our society -- something they are trying to make totally illegal."

But, he added, "there is a place for appropriate pain that parents apply, cause, inflict on their children."

Coellner was speaking to approximately 100 parishioners at Calvary Chapel Cape Cod (a nondenominational church 33 miles west of Mattapoisett).

"If you don't discipline them, then you hate them," he said in the sermon.

The sermon was podcast on the church's website for the past six months, but Coellner tells the Herald he took it down when reporters started asking questions. He says he doesn't want to be "dragged into a political debate."

The school's principal, Kevin Brogioli, tells the Herald he's heard the sermon and doesn't anticipate problems at the school.

"Silas has been an excellent teacher and I foresee him being an excellent administrator as well," Brogioli tells the newspaper.

Anti-spanking crusader Kathleen Wolf, a psychiatric nurse from Arlington who failed in 2007 to make Massachusetts the only state in the nation to ban corporal punishment in the home, tells the Herald she finds the sermon troubling.

"What an example of depth of ignorance," she tells the newspaper. "The concern is that someone in this kind of position gives a very strong, explicit message in public."

Related: Researcher Says a Little Spanking Is Good for Kids

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.