The Captive Missionaries

 Let no good deed go unpunished?  Or is it just another example of American arrogance?  pl

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29 Responses to The Captive Missionaries

  1. JohnH says:

    It’s what happens when the messianic savior mentality crosses the line into kidnapping.

  2. Ian says:

    The plan was to drive a bus to Port-au-Prince “and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages,” and return to the Dominican Republic…
    After the children were recovered from the missionaries,
    “they were brought back to Port-au-Prince and they have been taken by a shelter called the SOS Children Children’s Village. And some of the workers there say that some of the children have said that they are not orphans, that they still have family members here in Port-au-Prince.
    That is one reason why what the missionaries did should be considered a serious crime, even if we assume they had the best of intentions.

  3. confusedponderer says:

    Hard to say.
    I don’t know about Baptists per se, but I have the impression that for some of the evangelicals I have met, and even more so for missionaries, genuine and sincere enthusiasm for the word of God at times clouds otherwise better judgement.
    Think of sending solar powered audio bibles as aid to Haiti, not exactly the first thing that would come to my mind in that context.
    I find it conceivable that they indeed wanted the best for the children without overly concerning themselves with procedure – in such a misery there is time for action!
    Fools perhaps, but well meaning ones. That said, I am speculating.

  4. Religion can provide a convenient cover for a lot of “street hustles.” Do we recall the various “televangelists” who went to jail for various crimes?
    Well per the Haiti situation:
    “Laura Silsby, 40, is the subject of several lawsuits accusing her and her Boise-based company,, of failing to pay her employees. She also has a history of failing to pay debts, and the $358,000 house at which she founded her nonprofit religious group, New Life Children’s Refuge, was foreclosed upon in December, according to a report …”
    “Orphans” and baby snatching as a hustle? Crime? Trafficking in children?
    Seems some of the Haitian authorities see it that way.
    The UN views this as a global problem: ie trafficking in women and children. For example,
    “UPDATE: Launch of training manual to fight trafficking in children
    ILO, UNICEF and the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) launched the ‘Training manual to fight trafficking in children for labour, sexual and other forms of exploitation’ on 15 September 2009. It is one of few manuals on trafficking that specifically focuses on children, includes a focus on labour issues, and is geared towards training.”

  5. Patrick Lang says:

    The level of other worldly naivete on display is impressive. A lot of people in the US have a difficult time believing in the reality of foreigners, their countries or customs. Places like Haiti are all too often seen as “sets” on which the drama of our own lives are played out. I can’t imagine that these churchies are going to spend a lot of time in what is left of Haiti’s prison “system,” but the US Government is neatly trapped in a situation in which it does not want to use a lot of “muscle” and thus further damage the Haitian government in the eyes of its own people. pl

  6. Nancy K says:

    Looking at the picture of the missionaries, the thing I found disturbing was the few woman involved. Usually if you are going to transport small children, some of them infants, you would have more women involved, ok call me a sexist. The men shown were rather burly and rough looking.
    Maybe that’s how the Baptists look in Idaho.
    Perhaps their intentions were good however it was not their right to do this. I worked with Children and Family Services for years and when you put children, who do not belong to you in a truck and take them across the border to another country, that is kidnapping.

  7. linda says:

    also include the denials of the kidnappers for christ that there was no intention to offer these children for adoption — although their website says otherwise. and at thousands of dollars per child for the provided ‘adoption services’, (and the hinky financial status of the group) it would be remiss not to speculate… as peggy noonan might say…
    “A Web site for the group, the New Life Children’s Refuge, said the children would stay in a “loving Christian homelike environment” and be eligible for adoption through U.S. agencies.”

  8. Paul says:

    Arrogance. Bush introduced religion as a cheap way of getting votes. It has been non-stop proselythising since, and it will get worse with the likes of Palin and the Teabaggers.
    Religion should be a private matter as it was until a few years ago.
    The notion of American exceptionalism championed by the far right propels some religious organizations to believe they can trample on the sovereignty of any nation.
    Imagine Sarah Palin as Commander in Chief leading the battle with crucifix in hand.

  9. More on illegal trafficking in children. Note USG supports fight against this illegal activity.
    “Washington (CNN) — The United States has committed an additional million dollars to fight child trafficking in Haiti in the wake of last month’s earthquake, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
    Word of the action came as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chaired the Obama administration’s first meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
    Clinton, speaking in the meeting, called trafficking in people “one of the most important human rights issues we deal with.” Yearly meetings of the task force were mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, passed 10 years ago.
    Before the earthquake, the United States provided $500,000 for programs to protect children in Haiti from trafficking. The additional million is being shifted from other programs, officials said.
    or missionaries?
    In a briefing at the State Department, Ambassador Louis CdeBaca of the department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons told reporters that traffickers take advantage of vulnerabilities resulting from race, class, migratory status and displacement from natural disasters.
    On Haiti, he said, “we are hearing anecdotal evidence from UNICEF” about trafficking of children but there are no firm figures on it….”
    IMO conviction of Americans engaged in such despicable and illegal activity would send a strong signal and perhaps help to reduce such crimes.
    Toussaint L’Ouverture:

  10. Patrick Lang says:

    So far as I know, evangelical protestants like Palin do not reverence “crucifixes.” A crucifix has the figure of the crucified Christ attached to the cross. pl

  11. Paul says:

    Col. Lang
    OK, make that “bible in hand”.

  12. lina says:

    “Let no good deed go unpunished? Or is it just another example of American arrogance?” pl
    A bit of both.

  13. Bobby Murray says:

    Just a thought – could this be a kidnapping be a matter of converting Catholics to Protestants?

  14. Watcher says:

    This story had stink written all over it when it hit the news earlier this week. Apparently the ringleader has had some legal troubles back in Idaho with not paying her employees back at her home business. What better way to deflect attention than by rescuing a couple hundred Haitian kids.

  15. BillWade,NH says:

    Take away religion and you have a female gang leader stealing 33 kids.

  16. optimax says:

    The missionaries could have built camps in Haiti, provided health care, food and water, without separating the children from their parents. Instead they get the Haitian parents to sign a release form for their children to take them to an orphanage. This shows the parents were desperate and the missionaries were more concerned with saving the children’s souls by getting them into a christian environment than just providing relief. Hispaniola is still a victim of christian zeal. There are christian missionaries doing good in Haiti, just not Laura Silsby’s group.

  17. optimax says:

    Molly Hightower graduated from the college down the street and worked at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. I don’t remember her but people who did know her talked about her in ways that prove the following article isn’t hyperbole. She was a volunteer at a Catholic run orphanage in Haiti and died in the earthquake. She was 22.
    Please read the survivor’s statement.

  18. Patrick Lang says:

    That is a possibility. pl

  19. So far as I know, evangelical protestants like Palin do not reverence “crucifixes.”
    True. It has to do with the theological views of the denominations. Evangelical protestants I knew had serious qualms with the crucifix since it is a symbol of a flawed theology in their eyes.
    I don’t remember the nitty-gritty details and am too lazy to relearn them.

  20. Patrick Lang says:

    It has to do with Catholic and perhaps Orthodox focus on the suffering of Christ. pl

  21. HoxtonPony says:

    The very same thing happened in Chad at the height of the Darfur crisis.
    Members of an obscure French charity were arrested after trying to ship out 100 “orphans” they gathered in refugee camps. Most of the kids turned out to have parents.
    These guys were not bible bashers but left-wing idealsists who were convinced they were “saving” these children.
    Catastrophes always attract ghouls and do-gooders, often rolled into one. Not so long after the tsunami in Thailand, the place was crawling with them. Have you heard about Jesus?

  22. Mark Logan says:

    My own views might be biased by my own recent experience with an acquaintance falling under the sway of some charismatic Kansas preachers recently, but…
    Arrogance or naive along with a good dose of miss used faith?
    The sort of miss use that Jim Wallis says Bush was a victim of
    -“for absolute certainty”.
    Her record as a business person shows a good bit of evidence of it, and so do her actions in organizing a rescue for orphans. “Everything will work out, just keep praying.” To Haitian authorities, it no doubt looks much more sinister. I would not be this charitable towards her if the project had not begun
    some months before.

  23. JohnH says:

    Converting Catholic to Protestant is probably not the point. More likely, it’s converting devil worshipers into Christian fundamentalists. With a dose of profit for good measure.
    It would have been better for do gooders to make a contribution, financial or personal, to some of the well established Christian missions already working in Haiti.

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    But are not Catholics un-Christian in the eyes of many evangelicals?
    I find that amusing since the evangelicals are schismatic heretics, but… pl

  25. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Nancy K.
    You provide very much needed and much appreciated intuitive insights from a woman’s point of view. Your observation perhaps is proof positive that you analyzed the situation from the standpoint of the welfare of the children first. What is best for the children. In other words, you looked at it with a mother’s eye. I just don’t see how it is otherwise, and I respect you for doing so.
    If true, then like you, I guess that makes me sexist. Oh Lord…
    Just out of curiosity, what do you think about the film GI Jane? Do you believe Demi Moore unwittingly endorsed Freud’s view of women?
    What about Julius Epstein’s portrayal of sexual politics, both hetero and homosexual, in Cross of Iron?
    And, when all is said and done, do you think Epstein’s film is more pro-child and pro woman than GI Jane or less? Was Sgt. Steiner’s dream sequence pro child and pro woman or sexist?
    And in your opinion, which film more accurately portrays the horror of war? If it is Cross of Iron, then what does that say about GI Jane?
    Again, I ask you these questions completely out of respect. Your observation was unique and opened my eyes a bit becuase I started to look at the situation in a way I would not have otherwise.

  26. Jackie says:

    What are “bible bashers”? I’ve heard of bible thumpers, but your terminology is throwing me. As for “left wing idealist”, I’m a leftie and I wouldn’t go to Haiti or any other country to kidnap children. Let alone talk to them about Jesus.
    I was brought up Catholic and I consider it a good enough religion to not go looking to be reborn by evangelicals.

  27. linda says:

    on the other end of the spectrum, the nyt has a nifty video piece up of volunteer pilots — primarily from the u.s. — flying their planes filled with medical/food supplies to isolated communities that aren’t yet being served by the ngo community.

  28. Medicine Man says:

    It is hard to say what the intentions of these evangelicals was, without more evidence, facts, etc.
    My gut impression is that their motives weren’t a Bush/Palin thing or a right-wing/evangelical thing, just an ignorance/self-interest thing. It is easy to imagine that the principles assumed that of-course the children would be better off with their ministry rather than their own parents, etc…
    The caveat to all this naval gazing over the topic is that most spectators are probably just as subject to haloing their own views over the event as the participants themselves were. I’m going to read up more on this event as more news comes out.

  29. It will be interesting to see how the court in Haiti moves forward in this case. As I pointed out earlier, what is called “Human Trafficking” (women, children, etc.) is illegal and it is a global problem.
    News reports have said that the authorities in the Dominican Republic made clear to the group’s leader that the group did not have the proper documents and authorizations. The authorities in Haiti, and many Haitians, seem to suspect kidnapping/human trafficking.
    A separate issue is the nature of the “missionaries'” religious beliefs. Apparently they are affiliated with a Baptist Church of some kind. Is this particular church in Idaho identified with the broader Fundamentalist movement? With which Baptist organizations is it affiliated? Is it a “Dispensationalist” church?
    As I have explained in my book “Dark Crusade: Christian Zionism and US Foreign Policy” (London: IB Tauris, 2008) the 19th Century British Dispensationalist cult is at the center of US Fundamentalism and has been for over a century.
    I would point out that their “bible” is NOT a traditional one as used in mainstream/mainline Protestant churches or in the Roman Catholic Church or in Eastern rites.
    The “Dispensationalist” bible used in the US was created by a fellow named Scofield. Scofield essentialy plagiarized the bizarre biblical interpretations of John Nelson Darby,a defrocked Brit preacher, and created his own edition filled with footnotes “interpreting” the bible. Curiously, Oxford University Press has been printing it since the early 1900s.
    Traditional churches in Western, and in Eastern Christianity, consider the peculiar and bizarre doctrines of the Dispensationalists to be in the nature of heresy. Meanwhile the Dispensationalist-Armageddonist cult flourishes in the US with pockets in the UK, Canada, Australia and etc.
    If the Idaho church is along this line, then the observation in this thread about attempting to convert the children from Catholicism may have some validity.
    The Dispensationalist/Fundamentalist subculture in the US amounts to perhaps 25-30 million Americans if not more as Hagee etal claim…

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