Idaho Baptists Claim Jesus Told Them to Steal Children

A group of Idaho Baptists who are now in Haitian custody are claiming that Jesus told them it would be alright to grab a bunch of Haitian children and traffic them into the United States. Official authorization? Checking to see if the children were really orphans? Working to alleviate Haiti’s poverty instead of just stealing children to give them a “good” American life? Such questions are irrelevant when Jesus has given you direct orders.

Fox News has a creepily sympathetic article about this group, which repeatedly mentions how parents “want” to give up their kids to white Americans, so really, these Baptists who rounded up these non-orphan kids and put them on a bus with little explanation weren’t doing anything so wrong.

From the article:

The church group’s own mission statement said it planned to spend only hours in the devastated capital, quickly identifying children without immediate families and busing them to a rented hotel in the Dominican Republic without bothering to get permission from the Haitian government.

The idiocy, it burns…

“In this chaos the government is in right now, we were just trying to do the right thing,” the group’s spokeswoman, Laura Silsby, told the AP at Haiti’s judicial police headquarters, where she and others were taken after their arrest Friday night trying to cross the border into the Dominican Republic in a bus.

Silsby, 40, admitted she had not obtained the proper Haitian documents for the children, whose names were written on pink tape on their shirts.

Yes, she only had the children’s best interests in mind…

The children, ages 2 months to 12 years old, were taken to an orphanage run by Austrian-based SOS Children’s Villages, where spokesman George Willeit said they arrived “very hungry, very thirsty.”

A 2- to 3-month old baby was dehydrated and had to be hospitalized, he said. An orphanage worker held and caressed another, older baby, who was feverish and looked disoriented.

“One (8-year-old) girl was crying, and saying, ‘I am not an orphan. I still have my parents.’ And she thought she was going on a summer camp or a boarding school or something like that,” Willeit said.

Nice work, Central Valley Baptist Church and East Side Baptist Church members. Their pastor, Rev. Clint Henry, who remained in Idaho, has some interesting things to say about this kerfuffle. He asked his congregation to pray to God to “help them as they seek to resist the accusations of Satan and the lies that he would want them to believe and the fears that he would want to plant into their heart.” He also said that the plan to steal children in the wake of a disaster was hatched “because we believe that Christ has asked us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world, and that includes children.”

Who do these people think they are? Because they are white, Christian, and American citizens they can flaunt any law, any consideration of decency, any basic sense of morality? The arrogant assumption that their desire to acquire poor brown babies trumps the human rights of the children and families involved is sickening. Their shock that they would be prevented from perpetrating this egregious and cruel crime is vomit-worthy.

Laura Silsby, the ringleader, had the tone-deaf, entitled hubris to say that child trafficking “is exactly what we are trying to combat.” No, child trafficking is what you are doing. Laura Silsby is a would-be child-trafficker who simply got caught. How does she think she is doing anything different than other child traffickers? It doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation that she has set up a special little organization in Idaho: New Life Children’s Refuge. THIS IS WHY TRANSNATIONAL ADOPTION AGENCIES HAVE SUCH A BAD NAME.

So now the United Nations, Red Cross and Haitian government have to run around looking for the families of these children and bring them back to health instead of doing whatever totally inconsequential things that they were previously occupied with. Nice work Baptists.

Dear Fox News and Idaho Baptists,

It is not okay to take children from their families, cultures, and homes and bring them to America because the children happen to be poor and of color. A childhood in America is NOT categorically better than a childhood elsewhere. White middle-class American parents are NOT categorically superior to brown or black poor non-American parents. Ideas to the contrary are based on colonial and racist bias. Period. Stealing children because they are poor and non-white has been perpetrated by whites since the moment they arrived in the Americas. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is. IT IS ALWAYS WRONG. Anyone who actually wants to “help” poor children of color would support poor families of color. This would take the form of: boycotting all companies that exploit cheap labor in poor countries, resisting the IMF and World Bank, stop creating unequal and exploitative “free” trade agreements, stop exporting consumerism, stop meddling with their governments, give aid without strings attached, support efforts to improve health clinic and reproduction options, stop supporting the exportation of American-style patriarchy, fight against the pollution American companies create that devastates the environment and the health of people in other countries, and etc. There are dozens of concrete and meaningful ways to support Haiti and Haitian families. Child trafficking in the name of Jesus is not one of them.

The Czech

PS. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-adoption. There are many people who are transnational adoptees in my life, and they have helped to educate me on these issues. Transnational adoption is fraught with pitfalls whenever there are power inequalities between the countries in question, but I believe there is a right way to do it. The Idaho Baptist method is not the right way.

Perhaps the Central Valley and East Side Baptist Churches share some membership with Concerned Women for America. Penny Young Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, wrote a stunning article in the Washington Times recently. Here are just a few of her words:

Conservatives believe that government is a very limited solution to poverty. So what is our answer?

…It might mean a personal long-term commitment to a child or one of the estimated 377 orphanages in Haiti.

…The first and obvious goal should be to remove red tape both in the U.S. and in Haiti. Of course, the proper investigation to assure that the child or children are matched to a safe home is a must.

But here’s my fave quote:

In Haiti, the U.S. government should use some of its new leverage to ask Haitian officials to cut red tape in that country and follow the same example with immigration authorities here.

By “new leverage” could Nance possibly be referring to the recent US military occupation of Haiti? 100 points to Nance for most hilarious use of a euphemism for neo-colonialism!

But Nance’s response to disaster in Haiti doesn’t just include the siphoning of their children to middle-class Americans. Oh no. She is also adamant that “helping Haiti” include “federal tax incentives of up to $10,000” to the adoptive parents. I only wish I were joking. But if I understand her correctly, she wants the federal government to spend tens of thousands of dollars on middle-class Americans as a response to a disaster in Haiti?

Genius or idiocy, you decide. I do get the impression that Penny Young Nance and Laura Silsby are probably BFFs. Or at least, if they weren’t before, they are now.


5 thoughts on “Idaho Baptists Claim Jesus Told Them to Steal Children

  1. Pingback: Should these people be thanked, not condemned? « BBC World Have Your Say

  2. Yeah, there will be more forthcoming. I participated for a minute in that BBC program (World Have Your Say – WHYS, pretty catchy). Sometimes when I get pissed I sound, uh, shrill. /smirk/

    Many of the remarks and ‘guests’ on the program were condemning with the total lack of respect for international law, and the infusion of religion – Catholicism vs evangelical christian.

    I wanted to bring up the ‘color’ issue – white folks snapping up black kids for adoption, which I noticed as soon as it was mentioned.

    Either way it’s horribly exploitative.

  3. They’re actions are ridiculous. Just thinking of the practicality of their actions is overwhelming. How do you determine whose kids’ parents are dead? You actually have one kid saying that she’s not an orphan!!!

    Not to say that there aren’t any orphans, but if you really wanted to help them directly, couldn’t you set up camp there or something? Wouldn’t that be more productive than smuggling them?

    This sounds so ridiculous to me.

  4. I was surprised at how unconcerned and defensive many of the commenters on WHYS were regarding this incident. They were like, oh, well they were white and Christian and American, so whatever they were doing was ipso facto RIGHT.

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