Summary provided by: thoughtful
Michael and Debi Pearl run a ministry called No Greater Joy. Their beliefs seem to be their own brand of Christianity, and their life is one of rigid gender roles and extreme suspicion of The World (basically, anyone outside of their own group). They are KJV only. Women and girls wear skirts, but do not cover their heads.
The faÃ§ade they present is that of down-home country folk, valuing the disappearing arts of living off the land. However, they make extensive use of the Internet, including Youtube videos and a website: NoGreaterJoy.com.
No Greater Joy (NJG) turns out new materials several times a year, lists over 300 products on the website, and is estimated to bring in 1.5-1.7 million dollars yearly, in contributions and sales. NGJ is registered as a 501©(3) non-profit organization, and the Pearls claim that all money goes back into the ministry.
They urge men to stay at home, as well as women, fully approving only of home businesses. The Pearls warn that "authority figures" (government, media, mainstream churches, medicine, education) are to be rejected and reviled, then set themselves up as the experts to be believed on any subject. As part of this paranoia, they seem to want children to think that pedophiles lurk around every corner.
They decry pornography, but Michael's writing often comes off as salacious, including his descriptions of children being whipped, observations of his own daughter's weddings, and his glee at reminding everyone around him that he and Debi are still sexually active.
They are perhaps best-known for their book To Train Up a Child (TTUAC), which appears to have been mostly written by Michael, with a few sections credited to Debi.
TTUAC encourages parents to apply pain in "training" children, starting in infancy, using various objects. It was found in the homes of Sean Paddock, Lydia Schatz, and Hana Williams, children who died due to abuse from their parents that critics feel could easily have resulted from following Pearl's advice to the letter.
The Pearls adamantly deny that they are advising hitting â€“ for some reason, "hitting" is a horrible word, while spanking, whipping, belting, switching and chastisement are all Pearl-approved. They insist that their way is the only path to keep children from the fires of Hell.
These whippings are to be administered with a calm, cool manner, and much of their advice involves baiting children into making mistakes that will give parents an excuse to whip them.
The Pearls feel that only home-schooling is appropriate, and that the same parents who are tricking children into getting whipped should be warm, loving and totally involved with them before and after. In other words, for a child in the Pearls' world, the only source of shelter, love, comfort, food, entertainment and education is also an unpredictable source of pain.
The entire text of To Train Up a Child can be read here for free (this is maintained by someone who is not a Pearl supporter, so please don't send her hate mail!):
In more detail
Michael and Debi Pearl were both raised in Memphis, Tennessee. The Pearls have been married since 1971, and have 5 children and 19 grandchildren.
Michael graduated from Mid-South Bible College in Memphis (now Victory University). He worked with Union Mission in Memphis for 25 years. They moved to rural Tennessee where they held Bible studies in local homes, and in prison.
Their children are:
Rebekah Anast â€“ her partner is Gabe Anast, a web designer who decided to stop working altogether, and just run a now-defunct website, 7XSunday.. They have six children, Joseph Courage, Ryshoni Joy, Hannah Sunshine, Elijah Music, Chaiyah Eve and Alitsia Rin, and live, generally in abject poverty, in New Mexico.
They were sued by the Zuni Tribe, Navajo Nation, over water rights.
Rebekah had a blog, Dreaming Awake, on which she detailed bizarre and paranoid dreams that she felt were prophetic. She has written a book called The DaVinci Road. It is unclear what Gabe Anast is doing with his time.
Gabriel Pearl â€“ his partner is Lori, and they are the parents of Jocelyn, Laife and Joshua Gabriel. The NGJ site describes him as a builder, and someone who employs and teaches many men, but is not clear about what he actually does. He does appear to own a business called "That BBQ Man."
Nathan Pearl â€“ his partner is Zephyr, and they have four children. They own Cane Creek Coffee, but appear to be taking a break from that business, when last checked. He seems to be working for his parents a great deal: nogreaterjoy.org/author/nathan-pearl/
Shalom Brand â€“ her partner is Justin Brand, who is described on NGJ as an auto mechanic and metal artist â€“ they also appear to do a lot of work for the Pearls. In fact, when Justin had a sudden urge to pack up and move, the Pearls were miraculously moved to offer him and Shalom more work, so he would at least be wandering for them:
Their children are Gracie, Laila Truth, Parker Ford and Roland.
Shoshanna Easling ~ her partner is James Easling, who is described on NGJ as an inventor and builder. They are the owners of The Bulk Herb Store, Shoshanna Gardens, and Well Tell Me. Their children are Jeremiah James and Penelope Jane.
NGJ Youtube channel:
Bekah and Gabe's Youtube channel:
Debi's best-known work is Created to Be His Helpmeet â€“ an excerpt can be read here:
Debi's works also include books intended to teach children about "stranger danger" â€“
Don't miss the coloring pages!
Mike may have been the illustrator for these, going by this video:
Michael is a champion knife-thrower â€“ apparently, there is no dress code for the sport:
Amazon reviews of TTUAC -- whenever the controversy flares up, Mike sends followers there to write positive reviews â€“ many of the positive reviewers have no other review history on Amazon, and are very vague about what they like within the book â€“ only detractors seem compelled to post actual excerpts. Feel free to add your thoughts, if you've read the book:
Wikipedia on Michael Pearl:
Full list of products from NGJ:
Sites critical of the Pearls:
Anderson Cooper videos:
The Pearls on various subjects that have been discussed on FJ:
The NGJ article in which Michael recommends using flexible plumbing supply line to whip children:
Sitting still in church:
The Pearls advise others that social security numbers are not needed (pg. 12, after lots of discipline and herb talk):
NGJ post in which Pearl says adopted children from Liberia were "well-versed in all the dark arts of eroticism and ghastly perversion":
Pearl claiming his children will be successful, and the bosses of those who are not raised by his methods:
Why their children are not legally married, and a creep-tastic description of one of their weddings:
The Angry Child:
Michael Pearl is as nasty about animals as he is about children:
The â€œFruit of Child Trainingâ€ Webinar that the Pearls did:
A book of Debi's, that was illustrated by Michael â€“ the cover may give some insight into why he changed his major from art to religion:
A search of Shoshanna's Well Tell Me forum for references to TTUAC, that includes a post from Rebekah Anast about the Pearls having no particular opinion about birth control:
And, just because, a pic of the Pearls as a young couple, in matching bathing suits:
Other snarkees who recommend or defend the Pearls:
tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2013/11/weekend-links-winners-cool-stuff/ (Lori went to bat for the Pearls in the comments â€“ Ken joins in, too!)
Duggars recommending Pearl materials:
The Rodrigues family (this link has some pictures of the NGJ warehouse and large house Michael has been building):
David and Tim Bayly:
Sarah at Hearts Desire:
Tabby, of plaintorahkeeper â€“ she took her blog post down, but here is the FJ thread about it:
Tait and Lauren Zimmerman:
Brenda at The Family Revised:
The Pearls on other snarkees:
Michael on patriarchy, Vision Form and Bill Gothard:
Debi on the Bill Gothard scandal:
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