Posts Tagged “baptists in haiti”

The plot thickens concerning the Idaho Baptists who were caught in Haiti trying to sneak some children out of the country (about whom I’ve blogged several times already). First, we hear (from the New York Times) that their leader, Laura Silsby, is no stranger to law enforcement, not in Idaho anyway (WebCite cached article):

The leader of the group of Americans charged on Thursday with abducting children in Haiti is an Idaho businesswoman with a complicated financial history that involves complaints from employees over unpaid wages, state liens on a company bank account and lawsuits in small claims court.

The leader, Laura Silsby, defaulted last July on the mortgage on a house in an unfinished subdivision here in Meridian, a suburb of Boise, according to the Ada County Tax Assessor’s Office. Yet in November, Ms. Silsby registered a new nonprofit, the New Life Children’s Refuge, at the address of the house, which she bought in 2008 for $358,000. …

Ms. Silsby and her business, Personal Shopper, which provides shopping services for Internet customers, have faced multiple legal claims.

According to state records and officials, Personal Shopper has been named 14 times in complaints from employees over unpaid wages. Among the reasons cited by the employees for having not been paid were “no money for payroll” and “fully investor funded and investors have been hit hard by the economy.”

Employees won nine of the cases, forcing Personal Shopper to pay nearly $31,000 in wages and $4,000 in fines. The Idaho Department of Labor initially put liens on a company bank account to get the money.

Nevertheless, despite her questionable business history, Ms Silsby has some very loyal and very religious supporters:

Clint Henry, pastor of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, where five of the Americans charged in Haiti attend services, said Ms. Silsby had attended his church for about two years.

“You wouldn’t find any finer Christian people than these people,” Mr. Henry said in an interview earlier this week.

Uh, OK, pastor. Whatever you say.

In addition to this, it appears that Ms Silsby’s nine followers are no longer fans of hers, as the New York Times (again!) is reporting (WebCite cached article):

Divisions emerged within the group of 10 Americans jailed in Haiti on child abduction charges, with eight of them signing a note over the weekend saying that they had been misled by Laura Silsby, the leader of the group.

“Laura wants to control,” said the scribbled note handed to a producer for NBC News. “We believe lying. We’re afraid.”

The infighting came amid a shakeup in the legal representation of the Americans, who have been charged with trying to remove 33 Haitian children from the country without government permission. …

The note signed by the group, which is affiliated with a Baptist church in Twin Falls, Idaho, made clear that they were emotionally distraught and divided. “We fear for our lives here in Haiti,” said the letter, which was signed by everyone except Ms. Silsby and Charisa Coulter, Ms. Silsby’s former nanny and co-founder of the group.

“We only came as volunteers,” the note went on. “We had NOTHING to do with any documents and have been lied to.”

It’s too bad it took being jailed in Haiti before they figured out Ms Silsby is not to be trusted.

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Comments Comments Off on Yet Another Update On Baptists In Haiti

Things are looking stranger and stranger in the case of the Baptists who tried to take some children out of Haiti, about whom I’ve blogged a couple times. Not only were these not orphaned or abandoned children, it seems that, in some cases, the parents gave the children to them, in order to give them a free education. The New York Times reports on how the Baptists’ story grows increasingly disingenuous (WebCite cached article):

Guerlaine Antoine pushed aside a tub full of laundry, wiped her soapy hands on her T-shirt and rushed barefoot to bring out photos of the 8-year-old boy she entrusted to 10 American Baptists.

“Do you think I would give this child away?” she said, opening a grade school yearbook to show her son, Carl Ramirez Antoine, in cap and gown, at his kindergarten graduation. “He is my only treasure.” …

Kisnel and Florence Antoine said they sent two of their children with the Baptist missionaries because they had offered educational opportunities for the children in the Dominican Republic. Ketlaine Valmont said she had sent a son.

They showed school photos and academic awards to demonstrate that they had not selfishly sent their children away to lighten their load.

In a country where more than half of all children come from families too poor to keep them in school, the parents said that the Americans’ offer of an education seemed like a gift from heaven.

They also wanted to give opportunities for something better to their children. They said that the missionaries had promised they would be able to visit their children in the Dominican Republic, and that the children would be free to come home for visits.

At least these parents, then, were not giving up their child for adoption, just entrusting them to people who would educate them but still allow family visits. It’s clear, however, that the Baptists had planned to place these children for adoption:

The Americans said that the children had been orphaned in the earthquake, and that they had authorization from the Dominican government to bring the children into the country.

But it became clear on Tuesday that at least some of the children had not lost their parents in the earthquake.

So not only were these kids not orphaned or abandoned — and the Baptists knew this, because they had spoken with at least some of the parents — their claim of not planning to adopt them out, is also demonstrably untrue:

And while the Americans said they did not intend to offer the children for adoption, the Web site for their orphanage [WebCite cached version] makes clear that they intended to do so.

In addition to providing a swimming pool, soccer field and access to the beach for the children, the group, known as the New Life Children’s Refuge, said it also planned to “provide opportunities for adoption,” and “seaside villas for adopting parents to stay while fulfilling the requirement for 60-90 day visit.”

The reason these Haitian families were willing to trust these strangers with their children, is because a local minister vouched for them:

They trusted the Americans, they said, because they arrived with the recommendation of a Baptist minister, Philippe Murphy, who runs an orphanage in the area. A woman who answered the door at Mr. Murphy’s house said he had gone to Miami. But she also said that he did not know anything about the Americans.

It’s interesting, don’t you think, that a person as pivotal in all of this as the Rev Murphy, is somehow not to be found? Hmm.

It’s clear, at any rate, that this Baptist organization has told more than one lie to more than one person. This places them squarely among my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

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Comments Comments Off on Another Update: More On The Baptists In Haiti

Things are looking worse for the Baptist group based in Idaho which tried to abscond with some Haitian refugee children. The BBC now reports that not all the children’s parents are “missing” (WebCite cached article):

Haiti ‘orphans’ found with Americans may have parents

The Americans said the youngsters had all lost their parents in the quake.

But George Willeit, a spokesman in Port-au-Prince for SOS Children’s Villages, which is now looking after the children, says at least one of them, a little girl, said her parents were alive.

The children also apparently hadn’t been cared for very well, while the Baptists were trying to shuffle them out of Haiti:

Mr Willeit said many of the children had been found to be in poor health, hungry and dehydrated.

One of the smallest — just two or three months old — was so dehydrated she had to be taken to hospital, he added.

Haitian officials appear not to be taking this situation lightly:

“This is an abduction, not an adoption,” Haitian Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin told AFP news agency.

The Baptist group is still in denial over this, claiming to have done nothing wrong:

The leader of the Idaho-based group, Laura Silsby, said the arrests were the result of a mistake.

“Our understanding was that we were told by a number of people, including Dominican authorities, that we would be able to bring the children across,” she said.

“The mistake we made is that we didn’t understand there was additional paperwork required.”

But as the BBC explains, it wasn’t even as simple as having missed a little bit of “additional paperwork”:

But the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, in Port-au-Prince, says the regulations are very clear — each case of child adoption must be approved by the government.

Even before the earthquake, he adds, child-smuggling was a massive problem in Haiti, with thousands of children disappearing each year.

Rules to prevent child-smuggling predated the earthquake, then, so anyone attempting to remove children from Haiti has no excuse for not knowing that government permission was required. As for their claim that the Dominican Republic approved their operation … I wasn’t aware that the D.R.’s government had any authority to decide whether Haitian children could leave their country. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see where that authority exists. Maybe the Baptists are aware of some rule to this effect, that I never heard of.

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Comments Comments Off on Update On Baptist ‘Rescue’ Of Haitian Children

We all know that Christians are commanded to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), and as a rule, they generally feel compelled to convert as many people as possible to their own form of their religion. Abandoned and orphaned children in post-earthquake Haiti must have seemed like “easy pickings” to an Idaho Baptist church, so it looks like they went there and scooped some of them up. They’re now, understandably, in a heap of trouble because they tried it. The (UK) Guardian reports on this missionary venture (WebCite cached article):

American church group held after trying to take children out of Haiti

A group of 10 American Baptists were being held in Port-au-Prince today after trying to take 33 children out of Haiti.

The church group, most of them from Idaho, allegedly lacked the proper documents when they were arrested on Friday night in a bus along with children aged from two months to 12 years who had survived the earthquake.

The group said they were setting up an orphanage across the border in the Dominican Republic.

Their motives, they insist, were nothing but pure:

“In this chaos the government is in right now we were just trying to do the right thing,” the group’s spokeswoman, Laura Silsby, said at the judicial police headquarters in Port-au-Prince, where the Americans were being held pending a hearing tomorrow before a judge.

The Baptists’ Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission was described as an effort to save abandoned, traumatised children. They wanted to take 100 children by bus to a 45-room hotel at Cabarete, a beach resort in the Dominican Republic, that they were converting into an orphanage, Silsby told the AP.

The problem is that this sort of thing is kinda illegal at the moment, in Haiti, and for very good reason:

However, the Americans – the first known to be taken into custody since the 12 January quake – are now in the middle of a political firestorm in Haiti, where government leaders have suspended adoptions amid fears that parentless or lost children are more vulnerable than ever to child trafficking. …

Haiti has imposed new controls on adoptions since the earthquake, which left thousands of children parentless or separated from their families. The government now requires the prime minister Max Bellerive to personally authorise the departure of any child as a way to prevent child trafficking.

The Baptist church group insists they aren’t up to no good, though, and points out that they had “inside help”:

Silsby said the group, including members from Texas and Kansas, only had the best of intentions and paid no money for the children, whom she said they obtained from the Haitian pastor Jean Sanbil, of the Sharing Jesus Ministries.

As the Guardian goes on to say, these Baptists were ignorant of this rule, and in fact, had never bothered even trying to get any kind of clearance from the Haitian government:

Silsby said they had documents from the Dominican government, but did not seek any paperwork from the Haitian authorities before taking the children to the border.

Here, we call that “breaking the law for Jesus.” Not that it would be a new phenomenon, there are always religious folk who think their metaphysical beliefs entitle them to break laws. It’s one thing to believe one is supposed to “make disciples of all nations”; it’s quite another to just round up children whose parents are missing and just haul them away to raise them into the Baptist faith.

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics forum and Anti-Bible forum (both on Delphi Forums).

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Comments Comments Off on Carrying Proselytizing A Bit Too Far