A pastor in the United Kingdom was arrested after being accused of persuading congregants to undress before he spanked them in the church office.
Three people have come forward accusing Howard Curtis, former pastor of Coulsdon Christian Fellowship in Croydon, of assault, the Daily Mail reports. The 70-year-old allegedly committed the assaults between 2006 and 2009.
Curtis, who was arrested in July, is out on bail, but is currently not permitted to attend the church alone or have contact with children without supervision.
"I have not done anything wrong, but it seems you are guilty as soon as you are accused," Curtis said outside his home, according to the Daily Mail. "I believe these allegations were maliciously made. I don't even know exactly what I have been accused of. I am having to wait while the police investigate."
The allegations against Curtis are believed to be connected to the Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) movement, the publication reports. Couples who practice CDD assert that a husband, as the head of his home, can spank his wife as a form of discipline.
One CDD website says the practice is not a "magic pill," but claims it is "one method which many couples round the world feel is quite effective in strengthening their marriages, and improving the quality of their relationship."
Curtis said he had "heard of" CDD but would not say whether he participated in it, the Daily Mail reports. Congregants at Couldson Christian Fellowship declined to talk about the practice with the publication, though they did say Curtis is no longer a part of the church.
The Faith Trust Institute is a multi-faith organization working to put an end to sexual and domestic violence. The group's founder, Marie Fortune, said in a blog post earlier this year that the basis for CDD begins with Ephesians 5:22, which tells wives to be "subject" to their husbands. But, she added, those who practice CDD ignore the preceding verse, which says, "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ."
"At the risk of stating the obvious, CDD is a pathetic attempt to baptize domestic violence with a typical religious excuse," wrote Fortune.