AYLMER, Ont. -- The Church of God will go to court to defend its right to spank, strap and strike children, its pastor vowed yesterday.
"If we give this right up, we are basically giving our children up to becoming wayward," said Rev. Henry Hildebrandt. "I think (court) is where this is going."
Even as a caravan of supporters from the U.S. made its way north today for a rally, the parents of the seven children seized by social workers admitted they made mistakes -- but stopped short of saying they wouldn't use force again.
The children have been placed in foster care until their parents appear in court next week in St. Thomas in an effort to regain custody.
CAS 'KNEW ALL KIDS'
Church congregants from as far away as Wisconsin, will rally at a Children's Aid Society hearing Monday, Hildebrandt promised.
Neighbours said the CAS had been to the kids' house several times before.
"There was some talk on the street about that. The CAS knew all the kids by name," said one who didn't want to be identified.
Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada says parents and guardians are "justified in using force" as long as it "doesn't exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances."
That law was challenged by child advocates and upheld by Ontario Superior Court.
To the Aylmer Church of God, spanking means an open hand slap or the use of a switch or belt or strap.
Hildebrandt said the church prefers parents use something like a switch, only as a last resort and only after cooling down. A hand leaves marks and can do more damage than a belt, he said.
'NEVER IN THE HEAD'
"Never in the head. Never a slap in a face, or in the ear. I believe the only places is to be spanked is in the bum," he said.
Hildebrandt said the church must protect its belief that "it takes more than a slap on the butt to obey. There has to be pain. There will be a pain."