Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 2, 2010 11:51AM

The trouble with Baptists in Haiti

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When the story of 10 Americans being held in Haiti for illegally trying to take 33 children across the Dominican border was first reported and quotes from the group's incarcerated spokesperson, Laura Silsby began to come out, I really couldn't believe what I was hearing.  My first thought was:  what a bunch of stupid morons.  
 
Silsby, 40, of Boise, Idaho told the AP that she hadn't been following news reports (of the biggest natural disaster in recent western hemispheric history) and didn't think she needed Haitian permission to take them — the children ranging from 2 months to 12 years — out of the country.
 
Ms. Silsby, right, detained in Haiti 
 
First of all, what person would think that taking anyone's children, anywhere without permission would ever be okay?   Secondly, Haiti halted new international adoptions after the earthquake, obviously foreseeing the problems with children separated from their parents after the disaster.  
 
One would think, prior to boarding a plane in Idaho, the group would have considered this and thought: Haiti halted adoptions, we are bussing kids out of the country without the Haitian Government's permission, maybe this isn't a good idea? 
 
1 + 1 = 2.
 
Giving the group and Ms. Silsby the benefit of the doubt, I thought they must just be simple folk living in an Idaho vacuum, no television, Blackberries, radio or internet.  Maybe they lacked some common sense.  Naturally that must be the case.
 
However, I am quite sure that Ms. Silsby has a Blackberry, a television and bucket-loads of common sense.   She is the founder and CEO of PersonalShopper.com, and was named 2006 International Businesswoman of the Year.    
 
silsby  
Silsby - 2006 International Businesswoman of the Year   
 
Her e-commerce website has been touted by Dr. Phil, Joan Lunden and yes, even Tony Danza.  
 
She is not the insular bumpkin her I didn't know we needed documentation comments suggest. 
 
"God wanted us to come here to help children, we are convinced of that," Laura Silsby said Monday from her jail cell: "Our hearts were in the right place." 
 
Ms. Silsby continues with her comments to the AP2, saying the group only had the best intentions and paid no money for the children, and that child trafficking"is exactly what we are trying to combat." 
 
I don't get the impression that this group of Americans were trying to sell children - more will come out in the investigative wash.  However, what they did was just as bad. They assume, incorrectly, that their religion is right and applicable to all people everywhere around the world.  That they, because of their beliefs, can come into a country and take people's children because their "hearts were in the right place."
 
The Reverend Clint Henry of the Central Valley Baptist Church - one of the churches involved in this operation,  told the AP, "One of the reasons that our church wanted to help is because we believe that Christ has asked us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world, and that includes children."
 
After the 10 Americans were taken into custody, Rev. Henry went on to lead his congregation back in Idaho in prayer for the detainees:  "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 in their heart." (AP via Yahoo News)
 
Pat Robertson, another Baptist, also referenced Satan's work in Haiti in his idiotic claim that the earthquake was a result of their pact with "the Devil".
 
Aside from the obviously arrogant assumptions that the members of this mission made, and Haiti's delicate history with child trafficking, the parading of deities and demons throughout Haiti's landscape by Christian Americans is troubling to say the very least.  
 
This belief that one's mission is sound based on the direction of a Supreme Being is potentially counter productive to the efforts of legitimate children's aid agencies.
 
In a press release regarding the alleged trafficking of the 33 children, Save the Children  Child Protection expert Karen Flanagan said, "The instinct to swoop in and rescue children may be a natural impulse, but it cannot be the solution for the tens of thousands of children left vulnerable by the Haiti earthquake."  Save the Children is working to uncover, along with the Haitian Government and the UN,  and gather information surrounding this incident.  

 

 Sources, further reading 

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Stories like this just make me want to pull my hair out. Only problem is, they're so common, I'd be bald in a week...

Ugh

Ugh

Ugh....
Christians are required to put Christ before worldly concerns. It's one of the tragic flaws in their quite superstitious belief system.

Non-theists must find compassionate concordance always with the "faithful". But we must always remember: they are obligated to make us believe. and the majority of them take literally that it is better to gain the soul and lose the world.

Of course she knew. get 'em young, make 'em ours: the Formula that works. it smacks of predation because it is. holy predation, sanctioned by the magic eye in the sky.
Wow. I love your investigating of the woman and her background. It gets curiouser and curiouser. She's very enterprising.

By the way, a very scholarly man of the cloth debunks the "pact with the devil" crap in a three part series article posted here:

Note: Google it because I can't post the link for some reason. I've lost my comment twice already.

God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti

He concludes:
"Although profoundly tolerant in matters of religion and faith, the Haitian people in general have always been pro-God, and open to the ideals of peace, prosperity, and freedom shared by humanity. The next time you come across the baseless and ridiculous idea that Satan himself, the greatest and most famous slave owner of the entire universe, somehow helped the Haitian revolutionary army defeat Napoleon’s forces, please do yourself a big favor: Just don’t believe it."
As a non-fundamentalist, non-fanatical, progressive liberal who happens to believe in J.C., I will not excuse or defend these "Christian" actions... but please don't think everyone who labels themselves as a follower of Christ is like this. We're not.

...and I'm with you on the triple "ugh".
I have no sympathy for them at all. The foundation of their "rescue mission" is their religion. Apparently, that lies above all else including common sense and the Haitian government. Sure, their intention may have been noble, but if that was really the case, why not go the proper route? Weird.
I am glad that you wrote about her background. I don't know what to think about these people either. Can you be that stupid? Normally if someone pretended to be that dumb, I would be wary of a con, but I never get that feeling when they are interviewed. They were supposedly in touch with a Haitian minister there who told them how they could get the kids, and no one ever interviews him. Could he have conned them? It just seems crazy!
@DeliaBlack-- Consider this, maybe the Haitian minister might say the wrong thing. I got the impression from CNN's coverage that they were very sympathetic with the Missionaries.
I'm trying to cut down on my comments. SWMBC is monitoring my activity.

But this just sucks; it reeks. This is racism and imperialism, and evangelical aggression, and, oh, hell.

I wish there were a hell. People who steal children, regardless of the rationale, surely would belong there.
The thing I hate most about religion today is the arrogance.
You know, there's a fascinating intersection between this and yesterday's piece by blueintexas about her bitterness toward biological parents. Under certain circumstances, I think most of us are prone to believe that we'd be better parents than the one(s) a child currently has. Laura Silsby is badly misguided, but the impulse is not all that rare.
I had heard about this and, like you and many others, assumed she was a hick from the Poconos. Thanks for outing her. It just shows that she new exactly what she was doing.

If she really wants to help, she can stay there and help rebuild for a while. Show a little Christian love.

Thanks for this.
@highlonesome: I noticed that, too. Difference being that blueintx is aware of this perspective -- and in fact, questioning it. The Personalshopper jokers are just being pigheaded.

I can't help but wonder what they thought would happen when they got to the U.S.?
Oh and go check out Laurie Morrow's blog about actually helping Haitian orphans -- in Haiti. http://open.salon.com/blog/laurie_bogart_morrow/2010/02/02/it_is_done_the_rescue_and_relocation_of_a_haitian_orphanage
Between "rescuers" like these, child slavers, and poverty, Haiti's children don't stand much of a chance. I listened to a CBC documentary last night. Slavery is well established in Haiti. Before the earthquake, you could buy a child as a domestic and sex slave for $50 US. I bet the price is much lower now as desperate parents and criminals react to the latest crisis.
This story smelled funny when I first heard it. Now it just stinks. Hard pressed to believe anything positive in their actions.
Good reporting A. Thank you.
@emma peel-- That is called child labor. Restaveks children are not "slaves" has CNN would want the world to believe. Their condition is a consequence and a means of survival and is only temporary. Practically every year CNN does the requisite hatchet job on Haiti and sends someone down to "expose" the world's first successful slave rebellion nation as the hub of slavery. It is shameful.

I wonder why CNN never does an expose on the very young children working in the sweatshops in Haiti that produce all the baseballs in the National Baseball League at $3 per day? That's just $3 dollars total, no overtime mind you. They could use most of it in buying lunch (which is not provided) and transportation to work--that how upwardly mobile the "slave-labor" in these sweatshops are.
@emma peel -- Sex slavery and any other kind of slavery is illegal in Haiti, just as it is in Canada and the USA, yet in those two countries the crime exists also.
wow.

I, too, assumed (I mean, Idaho, yagetit? Guess that shows how narrow-minded I am) that they were these pushy hick christians who didn't know better.

slap my face.

It will be interesting to see what kind of "justice" is effectuated. The Haitian gov't seems to want them tried on American soil. I'd Love for them to get the right judge. Yes, in Idaho.
Excellent post, as ever. I too thought these were well-meaning naive people when I first heard about this story but your piece puts them in another light. Such arrogance. Something very fishy here.
oh, and they better hope for State court. I only say this because it occured to me, because of jurisdictional issues, that the only place they should be tried is in Federal court. And the Feds have mandatory minimums for things such as this....
The arrogance and hutzpah of the Right wing Americans is frightening.
The good news is that they were caught and hopefully, will learn a lesson from their experience. I'm convinced they will learn nothing and decide that 'Satan' influenced their capture and their inability to take children back and indoctrinate them. Remember a film called 'Jesus Camp'. They seem like participants in this kind of teaching. The extremes they will go to, to find followers makes one sick. I can't understand why we go to Afganistan to look for terrorists these people are more terrifying and they are in the good old USA.
Thanks all for the thoughtful, and insightful comments.

studman: tragically, my man, they are far too common...

greg: therein lies the problem, agree 100%

stellaa: there is a problem here and it reeks of Christian Exceptionalism

zen: thank you for your comments and also for posting your piece on this story as well!

kimberly: i do believe there are good Christian folk out there - thank you for making sure we do remember that in the cesspool of a-holes there are good ones.

I will have to check out BlueInTexas post. Thank you for the ref.

ConnieM: let's see what happens next...Haiti is pissed and I am sure there will be stateside repercussions - I hope.

Right wing America - watch out for these people, they are here and a lot more active in a lot more avenues than most people think.

Thanks again one and all...xx A
I said I wouldn't visit your blog again after the nasty PM you sent me, but I don't have a clue what you are talking about regarding a CNN report. I listened to a documentary on CBC radio last night, which is Canada's national public broadcaster, which originated with the BBC, which is the UK's national broadcaster. Do you honestly believe that I am unaware of child labour in Haiti and elsewhere? You seem predisposed to mis-read anything I post and attack me personally. I can't stop you from doing that. But I WILL NOT let you mis-represent me.

I am disgusted by the exploitation of children that goes on in Haiti and the rest of the world and I don't care who is doing it. Please, calm down.
Sorry, my comment was addressed to The Zen Haitian.
In the 1980s-90s I spent eight years in the U.S. Foreign Service as a Consular Officer (the Foreign Service "infantry"). I have visited distinguished Americans in some of the most colorful jails and prisons in the world. Sadly, the Haiti story is mild in comparison with some of the other mind-boggling, breath-taking, jaw-dropping insanity perpetrated on the world by our fellow citizens. One can't even imagine.
The thing I hate most about religion today is the lunacy.
God Save the Children..... from some of your dumber followers!

A natural disaster is not a declaration of open season on people who are trying to regroup and get back on their feet after a natural catastrophe. Atheists with shovels and medicine are of a lot more practical help to Haiti and the Haitians than religious predators, right now.

Melisa
I'm glad they were caught and arrested. I was pretty sure [after Katrina] that something like this (child theft) would happen. I'm glad they got arrested (read exposed).

Thanks for doing the research of that woman's background. That helps dispel the notion that she was simply a stupid woman trying to be helpful.

But the real question is what has happened/is happening to the children already "adopted" and removed from Haiti?
I'm glad they were caught and arrested. I was pretty sure [after Katrina] that something like this (child theft) would happen. I'm glad they got arrested (read exposed).

Thanks for doing the research of that woman's background. That helps dispel the notion that she was simply a stupid woman trying to be helpful.

But the real question is what has happened/is happening to the children already "adopted" and removed from Haiti?
I just heard a report on NPR saying over 2000 kids per year were smuggled outof the country by trafficers before the earthquake. I'm sure trafficers are taking advantage of the chaos and lack of governmental oversight caused by current conditions. Of course, the government may be updet that they didn't get their kickbacks. It's a sad situation. If nothing else, these Americans showed incredible hubris.
Seems the perfect fit for: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I don't believe the NPR news, firstly i gives me updates much later than the actual incident or news date, secondly i heard 33 children smuggled not 2000, again NPR proved wrong itself here.
presentation folder
@emma peel-- And so you've evidence that the BBC is guilty of the same offense? I don't doubt it, their intellectual dishonesty about Haiti has been called into question also:

"The first TV reports played a critical role, giving the impression of widespread criminal mayhem. Matt Frei, the BBC reporter despatched from Washington, seemed on the point of hyperventilating as he brayed about the “violence” and need for “security”. In spite of the demonstrable dignity of the earthquake victims, and evidence of citizens’ groups toiling unaided to rescue people, and even a US general’s assessment that the violence in Haiti was considerably less than before the earthquake, Frei claimed that “looting is the only industry” and 'the dignity of Haiti’s past is long forgotten'."
From - The Kidnapping of Haiti by John Pilger
While Silsby may not be entirely naive, it appears the others in the group are following blindly and suggesting that because they were so sure God led them to Haiti to save the children that he would trump any laws the Haitian government might enforce. I wonder what they think about their interpretation of God's leading now.

I am very concerned that these children that were almost taken to Dominican Republic were not actually orphans but children given away by desperate parents enticed by a colorful brochure.
Pat Robertson is *not* Baptist. He is charismatic. This is significant because charismatics are likely to pray for healing by trying to cast out the "demon of sickness", but Baptists will probably pray for the doctor to have wisdom. In other words, Baptists are much more likely to blame the Haitian earthquake on bad geography than on evil curses. As for the Baptists in this story, if they were really trying to get away with something they knew was wrong, why did they try to cross the border in the middle of the day, with cameras all around? Silsby is not naive, but in her rush to save the Haitian orphans, and with communications in that area not being ideal, she may very well not have been paying attention to all the news. This was a group of well-intentioned, overly hasty do-gooders, not evil or conniving.
Can you see cult? And God forgive me, can you say cunt? Who the fuck does this woman (and her kind) think she is? Infallibility isn't just a delusion of the Pope.
What Julie Tarp said.
Great report, rated.
@tewjr
Pat Robertson
AKA Marion Gordon Robertson
Born: 22-Mar-1930
Birthplace: Lexington, VA
Gender: Male
Religion: Baptist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion, Talk Show Host
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The 700 Club

Mince words all you like, but Pat's a Baptist, and if you are, too, you'll just have to deal with. That doesn't make you or ant other Baptist an idiot like he is, that would constitute guilt by association and make me guilty of the same sort of evil Robertson and his ilk are guilty of -- painting whole groups of people with the same broad brush.

However, I've been a member of a number of Baptists Churches whose members DO think and act like Robertson. You can't change that sad fact with a euphemism -- a rose by any name would smell as sweet, and a pile of shit smells like a pile of shit even if you call it a pile of rose petals -- or Pat Robertson.
I have not read all of the comments and someone may have already pointed this out, but it is worth mentioning that Cabarete, DR and surroundings have its own share of troublesome issues involving sex tourism, young children, and the such. I'm not sure it's the ideal location to "rescue" children to...
lets not come down too hard on the church-child-rescuers... after they get out of jail, & the kids are returned, and everyone calms down after freaking out & hyperventilating, maybe they can discuss ways they can legitimately help that are recognized as legal & helpful etc.... possibly without taking the kids out of the country.... they seem a little crazy, but seem to have positive intentions, and have acted on them, something that a lot of americans cant measure up to...
Cut aaaallllll the way to the chase- this woman is a sheep shearer, how do you think she got to the top of her businesswoman status? Religion is the best spot to park your Amway truck on the planet. But, to insist the ranting of 2nd Century Greek jews forced into [Turkey] and pissed at Rome passed off as gospel is a justification- well, reminds us that writers romance- that Haitian re-ligion got its own reformation when the channeling of its ancient heros was romanticized, that today, a "new" religion grows quickly in Viet Nam, romanticizing Chaing Kai-Shek's heroics in Indo-China, and, not so distant in time from modern Voo-Doo's birth, Mormon James Smith's golden plates and glasses visitation in scenic rural New York state -- ... -- a pattern emerges, of thinly veiled attempts at control and indoctrination ... -- ... an ancient pattern.

AUWE
And ain't no religion worse than that Voodoo called Reaganomics, you remember, the one that said all you blue-collar white folks can be as rich as CEO's and Wall Street Wizards if you just let us get rid of all those baby-making ghetto women with their welfare Cadillacs and let corporations run the country. Hal-lay-loo-yah for good o' Uncle Ronnie and astrology!!
I'm sure the woman learned everything she knows about voodoo from Hollywood. That's kind of like learning the purpose of a chainsaw from Freddy Kruger. I'm sure she didn't ask the children what religion their parents practice. There are a lot of Baptists in Haiti.

It doesn't matter what her intentions were. She trafficked children.

When I lived in Haiti, there were some restaveks who were basically nieces and nephews of their host family who did some chores for a chance to go to a better school. And there were some who were expected to work all day and never saw the inside of a school. However, they were children and the host family couldn't hold them if they chose to leave. Until they were teens or adults, most of them had no where else to go. Life for street children was nasty, brutal and short.
They wouldn't have thought they could just take white children. Remember when the British stole the aboriginal children of Australia? Their hearts were in the right place, too.

They have no hearts at all, if you ask me. I've never seen a bigger bunch of compassionless, nonempathetic self-righteous delusional egoists in my whole life. There was an earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed all property, all sense of past and future.People lay dead everywhere, mass graves are being dug, the living stumble around hopelessly looking for loved ones who beat the odds. And these people come in and TAKE LIVING CHILDREN AWAY, SO THAT THEIR PARENTS WILL THINK THEY ARE DEAD. Because that's what happened folks - these kids were NOT all orphans. Many were reunited with parents today. These *Christians*, parents themselves, were more than happy to let these parents BELIEVE THEIR CHILDREN TO BE DEAD.

I hope they all stay in Haitian jail for two years. Stupid fucking zealots.
This article sounds less like an appeal for the safety of children and more about Christian bashing.

If you have ever been to a devastated country on any type of humanitarian mission then you would know how lawless and desperate the conditions can be. Haiti is hell on earth right now. To even imagine that the Haiti government has any control or leadership to stop children from being taken is beyond comprehension. These people were not sneaking out. They were an easy target and I would bet that 100's if not 1000's have been kidnapped or abducted by bad guys already.

It sounds like you would rather see them adhere to some failed bureaucratic process and see these babies die or worse get abducted and sold into slavery than miraculously saved by these fine people. When in your life did you trade compassion for edict?

The right thing to do here is support these fine compassionate people and these children and spend your efforts on those who are really hurting these children.

You couldn't be more wrong. "Beware when people call evil good and good evil"
Save us the self-righteous, sanctimonious, religious bleating, Philos, the Religious Right has brought this upon itself by aligning itself with the Masters of Greed and with the absolute evil idiocy of blaming the victims, whether it be 9-11, Katrina or Haiti.

Your defense of the Great White Dopes is on a par with that of John Q Adams, who "justified" whites stealing Indian land because they weren't putting it to its "best use".

Your kind of "salvation" got Indians marched off to whatever hellhole no white man wanted. Read it and weep -- tho I'm sure there'll be no tears from you for godless savages then or now:

"...moralists who have questioned the right of Europeans to intrude upon the possessions of the aborigines in any case and under any limitations whatsoever. But have they maturely considered the whole subject? The Indian right of possession itself stands, with regard to the greatest part of the country, upon a questionable foundation. Their cultivated fields, their constructed habitations, a space of ample sufficiency for their subsistence, and whatever they had annexed to themselves by personal labor, was undoubtedly by the law of nature theirs. But what is the right of the huntsman to the forest of a thousand miles over which he has accidentally ranged in quest of prey? Shall the liberal bounties of Providence to the race of man be monopolized by one of ten thousand for whom they were created? Shall the exuberant bosom of the common mother, amply adequate to the nourishment of millions, be claimed exclusively by a few hundreds of her offspring? Shall the lordly savage not only disdain the virtues and enjoyments of civilization himself, but shall he control the civilization of a world? Shall he forbid the wilderness to blossom like the rose? Shall he forbid the oaks of the forest to fall before the ax of industry and rise again transformed into the habitations of ease and elegance? Shall he doom an immense region of the globe to perpetual desolation, and to hear the howlings of the tiger and the wolf silence forever the voice of human gladness? Shall the fields and the valleys which a beneficent God has framed to teem with the life of innumerable multitudes be condemned to everlasting barrenness? Shall the mighty rivers, poured out by the hands of nature as channels of communication between numerous nations, roll their waters in sullen silence and eternal solitude to the deep? Have hundreds of commodious harbors, a thousand leagues of coast, and a boundless ocean been spread in the front of this land, and shall every purpose of utility to which they could apply be prohibited by the tenant of the woods? No, generous philanthropists! Heaven has not been thus inconsistent in the works of its hands. Heaven has not thus placed at irreconcilable strife its moral laws with its physical creation."

The latter-day believers in that mindset consider "best use" blowing off the tops of mountains here in Appalachia to extract coal and bull-dozing the waste into rivers and right next to schools. If you and your friends want to help, come here and make coal companies do right by people who've been taken advantage of for two centuries or more -- just like the Haitians.
You brought to the fore a cool-headed take on a hot topic--that takes a lot of skill and research; thanks for that. Also, thank you for your kind words of my own blog regarding our mission to evacuate orphans from Port-au-Prince to a highly rated orphange IN Haiti. When my "team" and I undertook our quest, our first priority was to determine the legal peripherals in which we had to operate--bringing supplies over the border, etc., for which we acquired permits from both sides, Haiti and the D.R. We were always aware that the transport of children across the border would have to require a great deal of legality--indeed, it was a remote, long-term deal--and to be quite factual, Haitian people and Dominicans are very different--in culture, in language--and despite the fact they share an island, they differ greatly and indeed, some are not generally fond of one another. There was never any question but that we had to find a viable solution for the children in their own homeland; indeed, there was never any question that at this particular time it was purely the only solution. Border crossings were closing, refuges were wading across the river from Haiti into D.R. to seek refuge without being caught...it is and will for a long time continue to be chaotic. It is just a shame that the press focuses on this group of Baptists instead of the many people, other than my own team, that have respected the law and achieved a productive end within its perameters. How swell that salon.com posted our two blogs as Editors Choices just four apart from one another. I've gone on and on, sorry...but foremost, thanks again for your kind words of support for my blog--and I very much appreciate your blog--and your kindness.
The idea that Haitian government officials are somehow MORE corrupt then US government officials is the unfounded by the facts, racists and the sort of narrative that allows these traffickers to operate in Haiti, hiding behind their white skin and Christian do-gooder cloak. The same cloak that’s brought Black & Brown people on this planet death, destruction and domination for over 500 years. Evil looks soooo ordinary except to those they terrorize. Ours is a different narrative.
Tom, a little bitter are we? Me thinks thou doest protest too much. Are you really saying what I think you are saying? That the right blaming radical Islam for 911 was wrong? You might want to rethink that one. It was your pal Ward Churchill who blamed those 3000 dastardly “Little Eichmann” victims for that one. How you connect those dots is a huge f _ _ _ ing stretch my silly friend. But I love the passion.

Nice…”self-righteous, sanctimonious, religious bleating”. & “aligning itself with the Masters of Greed and with the absolute evil idiocy of blaming the victims”. ‘Great White Dopes” I am honored.

Let’s get one thing straight. It’s not those benevolent atheists that are out there feeding the poor. It’s not the gay rights groups rushing to help. It’s not the environmentalists who have donated their time and livelihood to serve the needs of a starving nation. The vast majority of civilian Americans who are not only helping dig out, bury, heal, clothe, house and feed Haiti, but who were also there in the first place when the quake happened, were people of faith. Yes, all those benevolent left wing activists can do is self loath the system that affords them the finest quality of life in history, dig up the misfortunes of past mistakes, and complain that it’s that mindset that is the worlds problem.

Tom Cordle………You are a bitter fool. We should just round up all of those people of faith and do the world a favor once and for all…huh?

Laurie, Yours is the voice of reason. So often in these times of chaos, we, on both sides of the political spectrum, look for opportunities to pile on when we see a misstep by the opposition. Your relatively neutral stance regarding the Baptists is commendable. Your explanation of the hellish conditions that were undoubtedly the motivation for their mistake, helps explain the need that undoubtedly motivated their actions. I am convinced that the current desperate & future hopeless social conditions for those children is what drove them to action, however reckless. I think if I was presented with the same problem, I would say to hell with the broken and corrupt Haitian bureaucracy too.

Somehow, in the OS world, that’s ok when it’s a left wing activist, but not ok to save children. God bless you and you work.

Do you take donations? In situations like this, I like to put my money where my mouth is. Post your groups fund raising portal for all of us OS'ers....It would be great if there were a Paypal account.

Hey all you OS'ers, step up. Kind words are nice for Laurie, but wouldn't it be great if a spontaneous and random act of group solidarity for something we all actually agree on could make a real difference in a few lives?
I should have known to look here 1st. Here is the link to Laurie's contact info.

http://open.salon.com/blog/laurie_bogart_morrow/2010/02/01/contact_information_reevacuation_of_orphans_in_haiti
From Huffington Post:

The campaign is called Non-Believers Giving Aid (http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net/) and is set up through PayPal. Richard Dawkins has generously offered to cover all the PayPal fees (up to $10,000) and the Skeptics Society got things started off with a bang with a $1000 donation. Within minutes of it's launch on Saturday morning, tens of thousands of dollars started pouring in as members of the other participating groups (Sam Harris' The Reason Project, The James Randi Educational Foundation, Atheist United, Atheist Alliance International, and many others) jumped in without hesitation. (All monies go to Doctors without Borders and the International Red Cross--you choose.)

Just an FYI
Highly rated.

Stellaa, as is her wont, views this piracy through her Muslim prism.

The kidnappers were wrong because, most charitably, they were motivated by religious zealotry. It had nothing to do with being American.

Religious zealotry is something that Stellaa should know all about. Muslim religious zealotry is what has put the globe in the tailspin it's been in for the last two decades.
"And ain't no religion worse than that Voodoo called Reaganomics, "

I've heard of going off-topic out of partisan derangement, but TC, you really establish a low water mark with this one.
Not intending to make money off children? I take it you haven't read her business plan for the New Life Children's Refuge. Silsby had a detailed plan to open a beach side hotel/ophanage, where American parents could basically vacation and personal shop for Haitian "orphans", like it was the SPCA.

Except that the children she scooped up weren't orphans according to a spokesperson from SOS Village where they are currently being kept while they locate their parents. These children were taken through a door to door, "hey do you have any children you want to dump" campaign.

I've been the Cabarete (the town where she already had her first "Children's Refuge") several times. She would have had to start this plan before the earthquake, because nobody rents a 45 room hotel in a thriving resort town at the last minute. And she had detailed plans for the resort/orphanage she was going to build.

This has NOTHING to do with Baptists or Christians. It's about woman with a real estate deal and a detailed plan to traffic children.
"Was the group arrested for trying to take orphans out of the country reprehensible or just stupid? "

Yes, and yes.

Mix some arrogant, racist, and evil in there, too.
~
Juliet - Thank you for your comments. I have only a copy of the public records on the incorporation of New Life. If you could link to additional information, I think we can all use it. More will come out in the following days, I am sure that her tax liens will be brought up as well as any other holdings or dealings. I would argue that in addition to the reason's you cite, this is about religion, whether Ms. Silsby is a true believer or not. Any time a person cloaks themselves in the almighty and their church to lead people to marginalize, terrorize, abduct, etc., Christianity, or whatever religion, is a problem.
Sure would be nice if these ten got sentenced to a few decades in a Haitian prison. That might make me give a little more than a vanishingly-close-to-zero chance that there might be a god.
What Sandra said.

And I don't think this is Christian bashing. It's stupid-Christians-who-think-they're-better-than-everybody-else bashing. There are a lot of them, so it can be confusing.
Right on Skeptic. Do you know what is rich? Silsbhy's husband complaining that the communications coming out of earthquake-devastated Port-au-Prince aren't as frequent as he'd hope, because as a husband and father, he just wants to be sure his wife and daughter are safe. Because HE is such a caring parent, I guess it gives him rights over Haitian parents.

Imagine a plane of Haitian religious zealots landing in New Orleans and spiriting children off with the argument "Our hearts are in the right place. We don't care if these kids aren't orphans, New Orleans is a bad influence, the kids are better off with us. We can give them a better life." Of course we'd step aside and let them, right? RIGHT? Because their hearts are in the right religious place.
Akopsa, I decided it was worthy of a post. So you can find it over at my blog. Thanks for filling me in on Silsby's accolades.
This woman is a snake oil salesman. Personal Shopper, Inc. has been a "start up" company for 10 years, it's strictly investor funded. It has been losing money for 10 years. It's a fashion shopping site, nothing really God like about it. She's accomplished at finding angel investors to keep dumping money in. She locates these people through her Christianity. Meanwhile she uses, abuses and disposes of employees, some of which are incredibly talented code writers. Company meetings involved her giving speeches like the ones she's giving from jail, explaining how God would provide in the times when, surprise no paychecks this month. It's the same words and sincerity, the only difference was she was in designer clothes. The company never completes projects, it simply creates new ones when old investors run out of money.

The company has already been fined by the Idaho Board of Labor for wage theft for not paying overtime to hourly employees. In October of 2007 any remaining hourly employees were put on "salary" to begin a three month project working mandatory in-office 8 to 8 Mon through Sun, so much for God.

In Dec of 2008 it was announced, at another God is on our side meeting, that we weren't going to get paid. Merry Christmas. In the interim the company devised a plan where we could work part-time and collect full unemployment. The company could keep operating without having to pay full salaries and unemployment could subsidize it. They sent around emails explaining this (not smart), copies of those emails still exist (hahahaha). This has been reported to the Idaho AG's office and a number of legislators, no calls have ever been returned.

There have been numerous wage claims against this company and the courts ruled against them and again they were also fined for each claim. Mysteriously the in Jan 2010 employees received partial payment on Bonuses due from Jan 2008, it co-incides with the Haiti trip, hopefully none of the funds from the Church wound up in Personal Shopper's accounts.

Laura Silsby is incredibly good at getting enormous sums of money from people. 10 years good at it. She has probably smooth talked these poor people and now they're stuck in jail with her. All of what I've written is public record, all the court cases, all the liens against the company, and liens against her personally.

I tried tip some news agencies but so far I've seen none of this reported anywhere, just a blurb about some of the liens. If someone wants to dig deeper, this woman is in fact quite the piece of work. I have lots of dates, information and paperwork to back it up. I just want to keep a low profile because I still live in Boise. I have no idea what her scheme was but I have years of watching this woman on a regular basis, it can't be good.
Philos:
The majority of Americans proclaim some religious affiliation. My experience 20 years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer in Haiti was that religious belief among American aid workers was about the same as among the general American population. In particular, the Mennonite Central Committee's aid workers and the Baptist Mission's included plenty of agnostics who wanted to help.

I'm a left leaning atheist and I spent two years of my life working in Haiti. Frankly, the experience did a lot to kill what ever vestige of religious belief I had.

Further, the religious groups were no less likely to be involved in sleezy undertakings. There was an orphanage, I don't remember what religion, where the American sponsor was suspected of pedophilia. A nasty situation since it was hard to prove and he ran a very large church in America and the people with the suspicions didn't want to slander him if they were wrong. There was an orphanage that was also used as a hostel for visiting church groups (most of whom did nothing of use) where the orphans were turfed back on the street when a mission group needed the rooms. That one I think was run by a sleazy French minister/priest/pastor.

Further, gay/environmental and other interest groups gather to support their particular political interest. The individuals support other efforts (such as Haiti) through other groups.

The religious have this nice myth that religion makes people better. The data don't support it.
Malusinka, I am sorry about your loss of faith. As a person in full time ministry, I am always saddened to hear this. Yours is not a unique situation though. The misrepresentation of the Love of God and the Gospel has been a constant throughout history. It seems every generation has a cultural perspective to wrestle with. God has no grandchildren. People don’t become Christians for 2 reasons. 1 is they have never met a Christian, 2 is they HAVE met a Christian.

Any person in touch with reality knows Christians have no franchise on righteousness. Another extremely important thing to acknowledge is that the amount of aid given world wide by Christian Charities over secular charities eclipses by an almost immeasurable margin those of secular or non-religious charities. This is not a new trend. On the contrary. Although secular charities have grown in the last decade they are still marginal.


This being said, in spite of this, the church is still the voice of compassion in the world by a huge margin. Those incidences of abuse and corruption are more rampant outside of the church. They are just more shocking to hear because we have a higher expectation and hope these organizations live that standard.

Although I have no reason to disbelieve your accusations of pedophilia and opportunism that you mention, you yourself used the terms, “suspected of pedophilia” and “I think was run by a sleazy”. Your speculation and conjecture do nothing for your argument.

Lastly, your data may support the myth that you have perpetuated in your mind, but around the world every day, the evidence and the reality of life demonstrate the power of the love of God to change lives. The thing to remember about God’s Grace is that righteousness is not something that any human can obtain, but righteousness is a condition bestowed upon us by the Grace of God through Faith.
Akopsa, I went to the Dawins site you linked and I was really amused. Rather than give a simple explanation as to the general philosophy about faithless giving, an inordinate amount of space is giving to pounding on people of faith. So much so that I got the vib that Dawkins wants his spite driven (hate religion) campaign to be successful for all of the wrong reasons. So much for compassion. Then he ices the cake by choosing one of the (if not the) oldest Christian charities in the world The International Red Cross. Dawkins would undoubtedly have a reasoned response to why he chose them. I personally think it’s about time the faithless got on the 2000 year old bandwagon. Thanks

He also makes a statement that I find very hateful and misleading. “When donating via Non-Believers Giving Aid, you are helping to counter the scandalous myth that only the religious care about their fellow-humans.” Scandalous myth………It’s a fabrication all right. But Dawkins and his godless faith haters are the purveyors of this myth, not Christians.
"godless faith haters"?

Some days it's wonderful to be an atheist. You get labeled in such varied ways!
Going off Sandra's point, this is a larger scale version of the Elian Gonzalez case in 2000. In which uncaring ideologues thought depriving a kid of capitalism was worse than depriving him of his father. What an atrocious world view!

This case is 10 times worse though. You have people actively going in and stealing away multiple kids from their families under the world view that specific religious indoctrination takes precedence over laws, or ethics, or families. Sounds like a cult to me.
Skeptic Turtle, "sounds like a cult to me". Did you actually say that? Did you actually try to use conventional Christian denominational religious terminology to describe a behavior?

Let us get one thing straight. That statement from you was as preposterous as saying you believe in Santa Cause.

How can an atheist even use the term cult? Please. If you are truly an atheist and you believe that all faith is rubbish, please refrain from trying to distinguish or judge between viable and non-viable or legit or non-legit applications of faith.

To you, they are all cults. Duhhh. My opinion, I think you are a closet believer.