Here's the excerpt from the book. I have marked in bold the text that I find most shocking.
He who spares the rod
Our Kingdom Hall was an older model - it did not originally come equipped with a Spanking Room. Spankings took place in the women's bathroom.
This was a bone of contention for some of the parents. If their child misbehaved, they'd have to miss a good portion of the meeting what with the spanking, waiting for the tears to stop, taking the time to make the child presentable again, etc. Not to mention the lines; because the women's room was only big enough to hold a handful of people and "disruptions" were a regular event, there was inevitably a line of impatient moms and terrified, weepy children in the hallway outside waiting their turn.
I can vouch for the fact that waiting to be beaten breeds its own unique brand of terror.
There were complaints about this, of course, and some parents argued that it was more important for them to atend the meeting than to discipline their child. Well, that raised a ruckus. The elder settled it by informing the congregation in no uncertain terms that the doctrines of the Watchtower Society were clear and scripturally supported. According to Proverbs 13:24 (New World Translation) the parent who spares the rod "is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline". If you didn't et that, here's a more straightforward translation from the NIV Bible: "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him". This is such a potent idea that there's even a song about it in Jehovah's Witness songbooks.
If a child was not paying attention or was disrupting a meeting in any way, the elder annouced that the child must be removed from the Hall and beaten thoroughly as the scripture clearly indicated (Proverbs 13 also says "The unfaithful have a craving for violence", but oddly that verse seldom gets quoted).
"It's not right", the elder told the group, "for one parent to be selfish about missing part of the meeting that they allow their child to disturb the entire congregation". He then refined on the point by telling everyone that the practice of dragging children aout of the Hall by their hair had to stop. Their screams were too loud and disrupted the meeting. Hair pulling was henceforth outlawed as a means of child extraction.
Clearly something had to be done about the situation and, about a year after Mom became a Jehovah's witness, it was. As I said, this was an older Kingdom Hall and it was scheduled for renovation. During the remodeling of the facility, a new room was added right next to the women's bathroom. I didn't notice it until an elder brought it up at a Friday morning book study (the one Mom snuck us to during the summer months while Dad was at work).
"You may have noticed that our Kingdom Hall has been updated with a new Spanking Room next door to the women's bathroom", the elder announced. "It's been especially designed with an audio system so that mothers using it will miss the minimum amount of meeting time while they're disciplining their children".
There were murmurs of approval and a round of applause. The elder went on to describe the features of the room. There were comfy chairs and couches where the mothers could relax while their children recuperated from the spanking ("settled down" may be the term he used). There was a coffee table with a selection of The Watchtower and Awake! magazines.
He then opened the meeting for discussion. The leadership wanted to hear from the moms about what else they would like the room stocked with.
"What", he asked, "do you find is the most effective tool to hit your child with?"
The women came up with a list that, while lacking in creativity, was pretty comprehensive: hands, belts, rolled-up newspapers or magazines, wooden spoons, paddle boards, traditional hickory or willow switches, and good, stout hairbrushes.
One woman shared with the group that he found it difficult to hit her child hard enough to be effective with any of the aforementioned implements.
"That's easy", offered another mom. "Just pull his pants down first".
Other mothers chimed in too, offering their support for the idea that all spankings in the Kingdom Hall should be done "bare-bottom" in order to have the desired effect.
The woman with the "problem child" only grew more upset. "I do spank him bare-bottomed", she fretted, "and I've tried a belt and a wooden spoon and even a paddle but I can't seem to hurt my son enough to get my message across".
I thought she was probably getting her message across pretty well if the volume of her son's screams was any indication.
"Well, for heaven's sake, Jane", said one of the more experienced moms, "just get one of the brothers to spank him for you".
Even as ripples of dissent and agreement riffled through the group, the elder on stage took charge once more. "I'm sorry, but that's not acceptable", he said firmly. "You cannot take a brother's time away from a meeting to discipline your child. That's your responsibility, and you can't pawn it off on someone else".
Stunned and horrified at the direction this discussion was going, I turned to look at my own mom. She was taking notes!