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Protestant Fundamentalism And Attitudes Toward Corporal Punishment Of Children

Harold G. Grasmick, Robert J. Bursik, M'lou Kimpel

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The present research demonstrates what others have suspected: Protestant fWldamentalism is closely linked to favorable attitudes toward corporal punishment of children in the home and the school. The relationship persists with controls for socioeconomic and demographic variables. Three explanations of the greater support for corporal punishment among people affiliated with fundamentalist denominations are tested. Greater personal religiosity and adherence to a punitive image of God account for very little of the relationship. Instead, the emphasis on biblical literalness among fundamentalists appears to be a major source of their advocacy of corporal punishment. Given the potential political effectiveness of fundamentalist churches, the policy implications of these findings present a difficult challenge for those who have called for the prohibition of corporal pWlishment of children as a crucial step toward reducing the level of violence in our society.