Many of you have read of or seen the news about the group of ten Baptist Christians from Idaho who are in jail in Haiti for allegedly attempting to take 33 Haitian children from their earthquake-ravaged nation without following any official procedure or even getting permission from parents in some cases. Of course the entire story is not known. Many of the children may have no family, and permission may have been granted in some cases. What we do know is that legal processes were not followed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I believe correctly, stated that what they did is “unfortunate, whatever the motivation.”
I want to believe that these Christian missionaries had the best motives. In fact, I don’t have any reason to believe that their motives were anything less than impure. They may have been naive and ignorant of Haitian law, or believed that the practical lack of a government in Haiti at present meant they would have little trouble. But I cannot, regardless of their reasons, excuse this. The very act of even making a proposal to Haitians to take their children to some form of “better situation” is indescribably arrogant. The crassness of taking advantage of desperate people in a desperate situation is so contradictory to the teachings of Jesus Christ, that I cannot imagine a scenario that would make what these missionaries did acceptable.
I don’t know if these people belong in jail. I do believe they have done a great disservice to all Americans and all Christians. They have shown the ugly face of smug, colonialist American hubris. At the very least, they owe a lot of apologies.