The Haitian prime minister explained the arrests with these words:
"It is clear now that they were trying to cross the border without papers. It is clear now that some of the children have live parents. And it is clear now that they knew what they were doing was wrong."Another official said the arrested Baptists were “suspected of being part of an illegal adoption scheme.”
So, the Haitian government is seeking to enforce its laws -- laws that were designed to protect Haitian children and families against child trafficking.
In response, Southern Baptist pastor Clint Henry, urged his congregation to pray to God to "help them as they seek to resist the accusations of Satan. . . . “
Uhhhh … is he talking about the accusations of the Haitian government? Is that what he’s calling the “accusations of Satan”?
So let me get this straight.
When another country’s government seeks to safeguard children by arresting those who take them without documentation, the pastor of some of the arrested “missionaries” publicly denounces the matter as “accusations of Satan.”
Must be nice to always have someone else to blame, huh?
Maybe that’s part of the reason why Southern Baptists are so reluctant to institute accountability systems for their clergy. It’s just so much easier to blame Satan rather than to take a hard look at yourself.
And by the way . . . this guy, Clint Henry, isn’t just some Podunk pastor. He’s pastor of Central Valley Baptist, the largest Southern Baptist church in Idaho. In fact, the combined Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention described him as “one of our finest pastors.”
So this is the sort of example that is set by a prominent Southern Baptist pastor.
His church sends a “mission team” that, according to the Associated Press, “appeared to lack any significant experience with Haiti, international charity work or international adoption regulations.” It was, at best, a dreadfully “misguided approach.” Yet, rather than taking responsibility and dealing with it, the pastor shifts the blame to Satan.
A spokesman for Unicef in Haiti said he was “amazed” that the Baptists thought their actions were acceptable. "You can't just go and take a child out of a country no matter what country you're in. This is not what is done," he said.
And the head of a Canadian group in Haiti said this: “Whether this is trafficking or not, it puts children at risk. Because even well-intentioned people who remove children from their communities and their country, by crossing borders, it makes it almost impossible for us to track them and find their parents and extended families. . . . “
Yet, despite the knowledgeable views of established aid workers, Southern Baptist pastor Clint Henry expressed his disappointment in having his church “dragged into the controversy.” And then he blamed it on the “accusations of Satan.”
How will Baptists ever accept accountability for themselves when they’ve always got Satan to carry the blame?
Jeri Massi did a good job of summarizing some of the apparent problems in this whole scenario, chalking it up as yet another example of the lack of accountability in Southern Baptists’ “radical church autonomy.”
The accountability and tracking of this so-called ministry is, itself, problematic in terms of the Southern Baptist Convention. In the end, there really is no convention-wide oversight of this mission. This is the problem of such radical church autonomy, which is typical of Baptist denominations, coming to surface yet again. Nobody in the Southern Baptist Convention is actually held accountable to the Convention at large . . . .
So, and this has been made quite clear, local churches . . . could have sent down nitwits, incompetents, spoiled little rich kids, or even criminals, on a mission team to Haiti. There is no centralized record keeping in place in the Southern Baptist Convention to tell us, or to certify, that these people were qualified to attempt this "mission" . . . .
If each local church that sent members of the team did not do exhaustive background checks on those people, then nobody did. The Southern Baptist Convention would not require it. Remember, we are talking about a local church pastored by a man, who, when it was announced that his members had been illegally transporting impoverished children after an earthquake, who were dehydrated and ill, first expressed concern and dismay about the reputation of his church, and not the children.
I really do not know if these Baptist "missionaries" had criminal intentions. I doubt that they did, though I can easily believe that criminals would have found them easy marks to use to round up children. Clearly, they are incompetent and short sighted. . . .
But such gross incompetence is wrong. High handed "rescues" that ruin lives are not rescues. They are tragedies. . . . Nobody, no matter what their intentions, has the right to be that incompetent with the lives of others.
Update: As reported in the New York Times: "While the Americans said they did not intend to offer the children for adoption, the Web site for their orphanage makes clear that they intended to do so" . . . "with seaside villas for adopting parents." Haitian parents said they trusted the Americans "because they arrived with the recommendation of a Baptist minister." Laura Silsby, a leader of the "mission team" said, “God wanted us to come here . . . . “