The teachings of a controversial Christian pastor who encourages child spanking has been linked to fatal child abuse cases drawing widespread criticism, 7News reports.
Tennessee Pastor Michael Pearl's book To Train up a Child advises parents to discipline their children using physical force,
"If you have to sit on him to spank him do not hestitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered." Pearl writes in the book which also recommends parents to start spanking at the tender age of one.
Pearl also has strong opinions on parents who refuse to hit their kids as a rearing method, "A parent because of their own personal feelings refuses to employ spanking, then they're emotional cowards."
The book has reportedly sold 700,000 copies worldwide and is also available to Australia.
Prosecutors in the US have linked the teachings to several fatal child abuse cases in the court system, they claim each set of parents owned the Pearl's book.
Parents Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz are accused of repeatedly beating their adopted daughter for hours using a hollow plumbing tube, reportedly as recommended by Pearl.
"He has a first amendment right to write awful things. Was he legally responsible? No. Was he morally responsible? Absolutely." Mike Pastor, a prosecutor in the case told 7News.
According to reports more than 9000 people have signed a petition asking Amazon to stop selling the book.
Author Pastor Pearl says his teachings are misunderstood, and that he is misunderstood.
"My book clearly teaches that you're not supposed to spank a child to the point of leaving a mark on them. You're not to continue to spank a child if it's not working." Pearl says.