Earlier Regier article had same message -- He acknowledges sole authorship
By Carol Marbin Miller
(Florida) Miami Herald, August 23, 2002

Florida's new child welfare chief, who denied last week writing a controversial 1989 essay that condoned spanking even if it produces bruises or welts, wrote another article for a magazine that encouraged the use of ''manly'' discipline, and quoted from the Bible: ``Smite him with the rod.''

The article, which bears Jerry Regier's name alone, appeared in the July-August 1988 issue of Pastoral Renewal, a religious magazine no longer published. The article is titled ``The Not-So-Disposable Family.''

The 1989 essay raised a firestorm of controversy last week after Regier was named by Gov. Jeb Bush to head the Department of Children & Families. Regier denied having written the essay, ''The Christian World View of the Family,'' published by an evangelical Christian group, and said his name was on it only because he co-chaired a committee that put the essay together.

Regier, a former Oklahoma cabinet secretary, acknowledged Thursday that he did write the 1988 article, which espouses some views similar to the ones in the World View essay.

The article argued for a restoration of family values based on ''biblical norms,'' and listed principles intended to establish ``clear roles for fathers and mothers.''

In the article, Regier says that husbands must have authority over their wives, who should not work outside the home unless it is financially necessary. 'Scripture is clear in stating that women are to be `helpmates' to their husbands, that they are to bear and nurture children, that they are to be 'workers at home.' ''

''Most men have been so intimidated by theories on child-rearing that they discipline tentatively and often only as a last resort,'' Regier wrote in the article. ``The Bible is not at all uncertain about the value of discipline: `Although you smite him with the rod, he will not die. Smite him with the rod . . . save the soul.''

In 1989, the Coalition on Revival published ''The Christian World View of the Family,'' which bears the names of Regier and a University of South Carolina professor named George Rekers. The essay condones ''biblical spanking'' that can cause bruises or welts, and also affirms that women should not work outside the home.

A day after The Herald disclosed key segments of the essay, Regier issued a statement through the governor's office denying he had co-authored the piece. Regier also said he did not agree with several statements in it, including the one about spankings that leave marks.

On Thursday, Regier said his writings on child discipline were intended to encourage parents to take a more active role in building character in their children. Regier stands by his statements that discipline is important to child-rearing, but denies ever condoning the use of physical punishment that can lead to injury.

''The Scriptures talk about disciplining children, and my wife and I certainly disciplined our children,'' Regier said. ``Many people certainly discipline their children, and they do that effectively and within healthy families.''

In his interview with The Herald Thursday, Regier said it was important to distinguish between a ''theological'' discussion of issues and a public policy discussion. He denied ever attempting to implement, for example, a law or public policy meant to discourage women from working.

But last March, he told the Family Outreach Conference at Brigham Young University's Provo campus: ``One of my passions, for the last 21 years, has been to bring God's voice, in a sense, to public policy.''

The 1988 article offers specific public policy suggestions for many of his concerns. At one point, lamenting teen sexual activity, Regier wrote: ``School-based health clinics are ineffective at curbing teen pregnancy rates and therefore should not be started or funded by tax or private monies.''

Katie Muniz, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush, reiterated Thursday that Bush did not see Regier as out-of-step with mainstream Floridians.

''Mr. Regier, and we, would never apologize for him being a conservative,'' Muniz said. ``Unquestionably, he is a man of deep religious faith.''

Muniz also defended Regier's stance on discipline.

''Corporal punishment is permissible in the state of Florida,'' she said. ``There may be certain parents, or certain individuals in the child care community, who oppose corporal punishment. But there are just as many on the other side who support it.''

Florida law does, indeed, allow parents to use corporal punishment on their children.

However, physical punishment is strongly discouraged by policy, said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, who presides over cases involving abused, neglected or abandoned children.

''When I send families to parenting classes -- and many of these parenting classes are scientifically tested and replicated -- we tell them they should not use any form of physical punishment to discipline their children,'' Cohen said. ``They should try to change behavior through other means.''

Parents routinely are brought into the state's child welfare system, Cohen said, for leaving bruises or welts on their children. Such injuries generally result from the use of belts, hangers or other ''implements'' far more likely to leave marks than the palm of a hand.

In the 1988 article, Regier also declared that sex outside heterosexual marriage is a sin, and said that, according to research, children reared without a father are more likely to experience ''psychosexual development problems'' such as homosexuality.

''Both girls and boys from mother-dominant homes were more likely to indicate that they disliked the opposite sex,'' Regier wrote, summarizing the findings of a 1961 study. ``They were also more likely to be disliked by the opposite sex.''

He also wrote: ``Sex outside the confines of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage is strongly condemned in Scripture. The Bible describes fornication, adultery and homosexuality as sin. . .''

At one point in the article, Regier likens the biblical restrictions on sexuality to modern-day traffic laws: ''If there were no laws, no stop signs, no traffic lights or parking restrictions, chaos on the streets and in our cities would result,'' he wrote. ``If there are no stop signs related to sex, cultural chaos results.''

Herald staff writer Alfonso Chardy contributed to this report.

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