Bible Verse Used to Reject Ban on Physical Punishment for Disabled Students

Oklahoma’s House of Representatives failed to pass a bill on March 14th that prohibits corporal punishment against students with disabilities.

Republican state representative John Talley introduced and sponsored the bill. The legislation, titled House Bill 1028, would bar schools from using corporal punishment to discipline students with disabilities. The bill defined corporal punishment as “the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline."

When Talley spoke with KOKH-TV, a Fox News-affiliated station in Oklahoma, he explained why he wanted to introduce the proposal.

"I'm passionate about kids. My whole life, I've worked with kids," Talley told KOKH-TV. "But my wife retired as a special ed teacher, district administrator, and principal of an alternative school. So she's seen a lot of students be misused, mistreated through her work with special needs students."

The bill did not seek to ban corporal punishment for all students entirely, nor did it provide provisions for parents on how to discipline their children.

"I just think a special needs student does not need to deal with that pain because I think they would be wondering, why is this happening to me?" Talley added.

While some Republicans supported the ban, many other Republicans strongly opposed it. The final vote for the bill garnered 45 votes in support of the measure and 43 votes against it.

Even though there was a slight lead in favor of votes in favor of the bill, they were not enough to reach the 51 votes needed to pass the bill. Republicans cast all 43 votes against the measure.

Talley filed a notice to reconsider after the bill failed to pass, which could let the proposal be brought back to the House of Representatives.

Many Republicans who voted against the bill used the Bible to justify opposing the ban. In a video shared by The Recount on Twitter, Republican state representative Jim Olsen was heard quoting the Bible as he voted to reject the bill.

"The rod and reproof give wisdom. But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame," Olsen said, quoting Proverbs 29:15.

The issue of corporal punishment in the Bible is often debated among Christians. Many religious conservatives use verses in the Proverbs to justify corporal punishment, and the Old Testament strongly recommends corporal punishment. For instance, Proverbs 13:24 states, "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Another verse from the book of Proverbs, Proverbs 23:13, says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.

Many states in the US, including Oklahoma, still allow corporal punishment in schools. Although the state’s department of education has a regulation prohibiting teachers from punishing children with disabilities, the state is yet to pass a law banning the practice.

In response, Miguel Cardona, President Biden’s Secretary of Education, sent a letter to governors and education officials nationwide, saying, “It’s unacceptable that corporal punishment remains legally permissible in at least 23 states. Our children urgently need their schools to raise the bar for supporting their mental health and wellbeing.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Republicans have opposed a bill introduced and sponsored by another Republican. In February this year, Wyoming Republicans voted to oppose a bill that would place a minimum age for marriage in the state, which another Republican proposed.

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