The Religious Right and adoption

Over the years much has been written about the Religious Right, but mainstream media have often overlooked the adoption angle when describing the workings of this section of American society.

Ever since the late 1970's the so-called Religious Right has managed to gain an enormous influence in American politics and that influence can hardly be overstated. While consisting of many different organizations, the movement is very homogeneous in its goal and very little dissent exists among its members. That is mainly so, because the Religious Right is the works of a relative small group of highly influential and highly affluent individuals that make up the boards of these various organizations.

The agenda of the Religious Right can be summarized in three main goals:

  • Eliminate the public sector and break down the separation between church and state
  • Institute social laws based on biblical rule
  • Facilitate free market economy

It would go too far to get into too much detail about these three goals, suffice it to say that each of these goals is been attained by the use of wedge-issues. The Religious Right tries to undermine public eduction by insisting on the teachings of creationism in science classes, trickily called "intelligent design". It uses wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion to get a grip on the judiciary system in an attempt to institute biblical rule in American law.

The Religious Right should not be mistaken with people believing in traditional values, although they do pander to those who do. The goal of the Religious Right is mainly political and financial. Despite an outward appearance of religiosity the Religious Right is very much an unchristian coalition whose ultimate goal is worldly power.

The Religious Right has many ties to the adoption industry and a central role is being played by Bethany Christian Services, America's largest adoption agency, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Like many adoption agencies, Bethany Christian Services started as an amateur run organization when in 1944, Mary DeBoer and Margueritte Bonnema wanted to establish a Christian residence for homeless children. By now Bethany Christian Services has 81 offices in 31 states and has international presence in 17 countries. Their services include abstinence education, adoption, foster care, pregnancy counseling, home studies and post adoption services. With that they cover the whole spectrum of child placement services. In that sense Bethany Christian Services is the Walmart under the adoption agencies, the one-stop shop for all child placement services.

Bethany Christian Services presents itself as a pro-life agency and that already indicates their position, but Bethany's links to the Religious Right go much further than that.

While receiving more than $45 million in service fees annually, Bethany Christian Services receives another $11 million in grants.

The biggest contributor to Bethany Christian Services is the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, which contributed nearly $4 million since 2000. This foundation is one of the principal contributor to the Religious Right and Bethany Christian Services has been one of its main recipients in the last decade.

Richard DeVos is the founder of Amway, a multi-level marketing organization that made a fortune for its founders and has been a disaster for many people that signed up to the marketing scheme. Over the years Amway has been a highly controversial organization, often likened to a pyramid scheme, which allegedly managed to stay out of judicial trouble because of huge political donations made by its founders.

Some Amway distributor groups have been accused of using cult-like tactics to attract new distributors and keep them involved and committed. Allegations include resemblance to a Big Brother organization with paranoid attitude to insiders critical of the organization, seminars and rallies resembling religious revival meetings and enormous involvement of distributors despite minimal incomes. DeVos himself calls this "compassionate capitalism"

Not only Richard DeVos' businesses are highly controversial, so are his political activities and affiliations with and donations to Religious Right organizations. He was treasurer of the Republican National Committee and has served as president of the Council for National Policy, a secretive, but highly influential Washington, DC based umbrella organization and networking group for social conservative activists, founded in 1981 by Tim LaHaye. The Council for National Policy is a virtual who is who of the Religious Right and is claimed to be the true power within the Republican Party.

Over the years Richard DeVos has donated large sums of money to Coral Ridge Ministries, a fundamentalist Presbyterian church in Fort Lauderdale, ran by D. James Kennedy. Kennedy is one of the founders of the Moral Majority, together with Jerry Falwell, Charles Frazier Stanley and Tim LaHaye. He also is the founder of Hope Women's Centers, a pro-life pregnancy counseling center, which in collaboration with Focus on the Family's Option Ultrasound Program was one of the first pregnancy counseling centers that deliberately introduced ultra-sound equipment to show pregnant women the movements of the fetus to discourage them from having an abortion.

D. James Kennedy is one of the founders of the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that receives considerable contributions from Richard DeVos too. Alliance Defense Fund is a joint initiative of D. James Kenney, Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ), James Dobson (Focus on the Family and Family Research Council), Larry Burkett (Crown Financial Ministries) and Marlin Maddoux (Point of View - Radio Talk Show).

Several other noteworthy organizations Richard DeVos contributes to are:

As a staunch pro-family advocate Richard DeVos of course has offspring, who themselves are big contributors to the religious right and to Bethany Christian Services. Douglas DeVos started the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation and Dick DeVos started the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation.

Betsy DeVos is another interesting link to both the Religious Right and to Bethany Christian Services, she is the daughter of Edgar D. Prince and Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, who started the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation. Edgar D. Prince, an entrepreneur from Michigan is one of the founders of the Family Research Council. FRC is essentially the political leg of Focus on the Family and an organization that is often mistaken by the media to be a mainstream family advocacy group.

The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, like the Richard and Hellen DeVos foundation is one of the big contributors to the Religious Right and to Bethany Christian Services. Over the years the foundation has provided grants to some of the same organizations DeVos has contributed to, though their contributions are somewhat more geared towards James Dobson's activities than to those of D. James Kennedy. So they made major contributions to Focus on the Family, to the Alliance Defense Fund and to the Family Research Council and of course Bethany Christian Services.

Over the last couple of years the Prince family has gained notoriary as a result of the business activities of Erik D. Prince, son of Edgar and Elsa Prince and vice-president of their foundation. His mercenary army organization Blackwater has been most controversial and has made the headlines of many news paper articles over the last couple of years.

Some other contributors to Bethany Christian Services are James P. and Debra K. Hovinga Charitable Foundation, Scaife Foundations, Dewitt Families Conduit Foundation, Aimee and Frank Batten, Jr. Foundation and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. All of these organizations also donate substantially to other Religious Right organizations.

The Bradley Foundation is especially noteworthy, since they also donate substantially to the National Council for Adoption (NCFA), a memberships organization of Christian adoption agencies, of which Bethany Christian Services is one of the most prominent members together with the Gladney Center for Adoption and LDS Family Services.

The National Council for Adoption has its own ties to the Religious Right. Former president Thomas Atwood, once a board member of the Virginia branch of Bethany Christian Services, worked for The Heritage Foundation, the presidential campaign of Pat Robertson and was a board member of the State Policy Network, the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy and was vice president of the Family Research Council.

Another president of the NCFA, Patrick Purtill, later became director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. That connection ended up being very lucrative for both the NCFA and for Bethany Christian Services; both received large sums of money from the federal government for Infant Adoption Awareness (NCFA), and for embryo adoption, abstinence-only education and basic operation (Bethany Christian Services).

The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives offers another link to the Religious Right adoption practices through its director Jedd Medefind, who after his stint at the White House, became executive director of Christian Alliance for Orphans. This organization is a mix of adoption agencies, orphan relief organizations, foster care agencies, adoption advocates and churches.

The Christian Alliance is one of three closely related organizations, the other two are Hope for orphans and Cry of the Orphan. Essentially these three organizations are an initiative of Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ/FamilyLife, and are closely affiliated to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

It goes without saying that Bethany Christian Services is a prominent member of the Christian Alliance for Orphans as well as of Hope for Orphans and Cry of the Orphan.

By now we have established some of the many relations between the Religious Right and Bethany Christian Services, so now lets see how the Religious Right agenda fits the business of Bethany Christian Service like a glove.

The Religious Right calls itself pro-family, which is code for promoting sex as only part of heterosexual marriage while shunning and bashing everything that does not fit that ideology. The shunning aspect is pivotal here. The biggest sin for the Religious Right is of course gay sex, which to some elements deserves capital punishment, but the second biggest sin is heterosexual sex before marriage. Their approach to that "problem" is:

  • abstinence-only education
  • preventing access to birth control
  • fierce anti-abortion activism
  • bashing of single mothers and praising their sacrifice when relinquishing a child

These four elements of pro-family activism contribute highly to the number of babies available for adoption. Abstinence-only education helps create unwanted pregnancies, birth control prohibition makes prevention of unwanted pregnancies less likely, anti-abortion activism promotes unwanted pregnancies to be carried to term and the bashing of single mothers prevents mothers to choose to keep their baby.

Of course coercion is not allowed, that's why pro-family organizations often don't mention adoption as one of their goals, but given all elements of their pro-family agenda, there is simply one option left when facing pregnancy outside of wedlock: adoption.

A fundamentalist approach to religion helps the Religious Right movement. It claims the inerrancy of the Bible and by extension the inerrancy of their preachers is assumed, even when they are sinners themselves at the same time (fundamentalism always gets convoluted). Fundamentalism is by definition not self-critical, there is no interpretation, no curiosity, there is only the word.

So when it comes to the masses there is no need for education and certainly not for education that leads to critical thinking and to in-depth knowledge of human reproduction. It also helps in the free-market economy to have a class of low-educated people that can be exploited by rich entrepreneurs. That same class, especially when white, is at the same time a source for unwanted pregnancies. After all poverty not only breeds poverty, but it also breeds a lot of unwanted babies.

The push for free market economy has not only kept America's poverty level remarkably high for such a rich country, it has also helped to prevent the emergence of a middle class in many third world countries. Over the years the World Bank has pushed for deregulation in all of the countries they "helped" and as a result the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.

The Religious Right has been hugely involved in both the shaping of foreign policy as well as in relief organizations in third world countries. The foreign policy influence has been hugely anti-communist, which in reality meant suppressing peoples movements in favor of military dictatorships and supporting deregulation of the economies of third world countries. At the same time they preyed upon the poor with their missionary work to gather more souls for their cause. In other words: one hand giveth and the the other taketh.

Again in this highly cynical approach to foreign politics, where wars are just another source of income, organizations like Bethany Christian Services benefit. The more poverty, the more orphans, the more children are available for adoption and the more money can be gathered through fund-raising.

In all their activities, organizations like Bethany Christian Services, stand to win from the agenda of the Religious Right, they are being backed by the Religious Right and they are part of the Religious Right. It's time for the main stream media to pick up upon that and not only focus on the wedge issues the Religious Right wants to be talking about.


Amway Tool Scam

If Amway didn't have a tool scam, it would be a decent business. Read this link for more details:

religious right and adoption

I don't know who Rich DeVos is but if half of what you said about him is true thank God for men like him. Christian values are what made America great and it is what will keep it from falling apart.

Founding fathers

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites.

Thomas Jefferson.

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.

Thomas Paine.

When a Religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its Professors are obliged to call for help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.

Benjamin Franklin.

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

James Madison.

As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Treaty of Tripoli, 1797 - signed by President John Adams.

Doing as Jesus would do

The facts about Richard DeVos speak for themselves and there is much more to him than I have been able to convey in this article. The issue, though is not Mr. DeVos, nor his businesses. The articles is about Bethany Christian Services and their relations to the Religious Right.

The real issue is the creation of "orphans" for Christian parents to adopt and how both the Religious Right and organizations like Bethany Christian Services collaborate in an effort to achieve that, at the expense of the unmarried and at the expense of the poor.

Please tell me what is Christian about withholding a child's knowledge of sexual reproduction, tell me what is Christian about promoting policies that keep people poor and ignorant, tell me what is Christian about coercing women to surrender their babies, tell me what is Christian about roaming third world countries for adoptable infants?

To me Christian values, means doing as Jesus would do. Didn't Jesus say in his Sermon on the Mount:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Then why does the Religious Right condemn women that conceive children out of wed-lock?

That is not a rhetorical question, the answer is just as cynical as it is unchristian: because there are Christian couples that want children and adoption is a means to obtain children. That by no means is exclusive to Christian couple. It is just as much true for couple of non-christian faith and for non-religious couples, but "Christian" practices as found in many churches and so-called religious organizations use the fear of God to further a personal agenda, one that is greedy in nature.

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

A charitable deed is helping a woman in need who does not have family support, it is helping poor families that temporarily don't have the means to take care of their children. Sounding a trumpet is taking the baby and showing the world what a great savior you are.

Doing as Jesus would do is the exact opposite of the works of agencies like Bethany Christian Services, aided and abetted by essentially a political and unchristian movement called the Religious Right.

Rich DeVos

Rich DeVos is both a very good and very bad man. He has created a business that employs thousands, and has made himself a billionaire, and he is quite generous. On the other hand, he has personally known the high level IBOs have been ripping off their downline for decades, to the point the high level IBOs make several times more from the tool scam than from Amway, and most downline lose money until they reach a fairly high level. This FACT has been kept hidden from the downline, although the internet is making this issue better known.

The Religious Right and Adoption

I agree with you - Rich DeVos has influenced the Amway Global Corporation and things around him in a wonderful way. A great example is Amway Global's One by One Campaign for Children which helps children around the world. It is another example of how America and the Christian faith lead the world in outreach to help people - much more than any other country or non-faith based groups.

I was adopted

Everytime I hear or read these pro-religious right to adopt messages, I want to puke.

This sentiment of radical faith goes to show how ignorant certain Christian followers really are. No wonder people hate America and Americans, and what they do "in good faith". If there is a God, he will make sure these ignorant assholes living a rich lifestyle, and taking from poor, will pay, in hell, where they and their arrogant beliefs belong.

in good faith

And every time I read hackneyed anti-American generalizations and feckless criticisms of Christian faith being arrogant, I see how malevolently vitriolic people have become.

This sentiment of radical faith to adopt children is outreach not ignorance. And if it is offensive that the material success and religious faith of people all over the world (not just evil Americans) motivates them to give back and change a life – then hate away. There is a God, and I have no doubt that He will judge all people and their actions correctly.

my two drops of vitriol

When sentimental outreach meets ignorance there is a combustable combination to exploit and be exploited. And that is offensive, since what one hand giveth the other taketh. But I guess, IP, after three comments in this thread, you'd rather see the speck in someone elses eye.

There is a God, and I have

There is a God, and I have no doubt that He will judge all people and their actions correctly.

No, there isn't. American history attests to just how much hatred and bile christians have for each other, much less everyone else, and how much your god cares about all the bloodshed christians have spilled against each other over stupid things like church dogma. They give little; and take, demand, and feel they are naturally entitled to far too much, just because they believe in the un-believable.

Judge, schmudge.

some perspective

In absolute numbers the United States is the biggest donor country for developmental aid, with Iraq being the largest recipient. Relative to Gross Domestic Product the US ranks #21, behind all other rich countries in the world. By far the biggest US contributor to developmental aid has been the Federal Government, donating three times as much as all private charities together.

Agree or Disagree

You can't agree with half of what I said without agreeing to the other half.

Russell D. Moore

You fail to mention the Russell D. Moore and his resolution On Adoption and Orphan Care that was passed by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Orphan crusade

When we wrote the above article it was mostly intended to expose the central role played by Bethany Christian Services in the Religious Right movement.

Christian adoption and their "orphan crusade" is a much bigger story, that can hardly be told in one article. Still I am glad you brought up Russell D. Moore and his On Adoption And Orphan Care resolution which was passed by the Southern Baptist Convention.

This resolution effectively calls on each of the 16 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention to consider adoption or becoming foster parents. Of course this call is based on the 143 million orphans falacy, in the case of this resolution further inflated to 150 million. It of course also references James 1:27: Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

I'd like to address this use of James 1:27 by repeating a comment I wrote several months ago:

The quoted version of the text is the New American Standard Bible's, but most versions are basically the same, varying on the word orphan versus fatherless, to visit versus to care for and unstained versus, unpolluted, uncorrupted, unspotted.

This particular verse is being used in all sort of christian adoption promotion to mean an appeal to adopt and is a very self-serving and shortsighted interpretation. Let's assume we want to have a pure and undefiled religion, we should do as the text says: visit/take care of orphans/fatherless AND widows in their distress AND remain unstained/uncorrupted etc. The call to adopt only adheres to one of the demand, and only when negating the meaning of the word "to visit".

Looking after widows in their distress is much less of a Christian cause, when just looking at the website of an average church. Most websites I have visited,  have information for children, men, women, they have information about marriage and some of them have specific missionaries, where orphan care is often present while widow care is rarely seen. Why do people that call themselves Christians care so much more about orphans than about widows? Could it be because they covet their neighbour's children?

Why is it never considered that orphans and widows are used in conjunction. Why does the adoption interpretation of the verse so much want to separate the child from the mother. Doesn't the verse not mean that we have to visit/take care of [orphans and widows].The bible version that uses the word "fatherless", the one that is never used on adoption promotion websites, reveals how much the concept of orphan is related to that of widow. Once we look at that, do we see that indeed the instruction means to visit/take care of those families where the man is no longer alive and able to provide.

The final part of verse most of all gets ignored, the command to stay unstained/uncorrupted. Again in the context of a fatherless family it makes perfect sense. When (as a man) visiting a fatherless family don't screw the widow or any of the children/don't expect favors in return of the care given.

Using James' verse to apply to orphans as opposed to taking care of fatherless families, is a far cry, but even if we do take the command in that direction it doesn't call for adoption. Again the use of "to visit" and the conjunction with unstained/uncorrupted should not be ignored. The way to stay unstained/uncorrupted is by indeed visiting the orphan, taking care of the orphan where it already is.

The modern day orphan crusade is not unprecedented. The orphan trains, which rode from the mid-1800's till the Great Depression, were as divinely insprired as this modern day orphan crusade is, and were devastating for the children involved. The orphan trains, like the modern day orphan crusade was not based on an understanding of the child's best interest, but on a religious drive, which is ultimately an adult desire.

The resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention is yet another example of the evangelical movement's ambition to strengthen their position in American society. Misrepresentation of facts, bogus "scientific studies" and weird and twisted biblical exegesis have always been part and parcel of this movement, but until now the people duped by their actions were at least adults. By aiming at children, the evangelical movement has even further lowered themselves. The orphan crusade as pioneered in evangelical circles over the last decade, will harm the most vulnerable children and families. The only ones benefiting from this are several church leaders, by making a name for themselves, and organizations such as Bethany Christian Services that will see an increase in their revenues.

Christian beliefs

Why is it never considered that orphans and widows are used in conjunction. Why does the adoption interpretation of the verse so much want to separate the child from the mother. Doesn't the verse not mean that we have to visit/take care of [orphans and widows].The bible version that uses the word "fatherless", the one that is never used on adoption promotion websites, reveals how much the concept of orphan is related to that of widow. Once we look at that, do we see that indeed the instruction means to visit/take care of those families where the man is no longer alive and able to provide.

Around Christmas time, I find myself looking at all sorts of blogs and articles reminding readers that the story of Baby Jesus is an adoption story.  [See "A story of adoption", which I posted last year.]

Yesterday, I wrote about a new call to Christians, asking each good Christian family to adopt (so no homosexuals can ever become a parent through adoption).

This morning I read a small piece promoting Christian songs and poetry celebrating adoption, and the author wrote the following:

Visualizing the Christmas Story can be a bit more intensely real when you think of your child being born in a borrowed house and possibly left there for a day in a cold December. If you have an international family, many of the charity appeals you hear this time of year seem not so far away, but much closer to home. I've written before about weeping during a Christmas medley of "What Child is This" and "Child of the Poor".  [From:  Christmas Stories and Quotes, Seen in the Light of Adoption

All this do-good feel-good stuff surrounding the Christian belief system gets confusing to a person like me.  Do Christians forget, according to the bible, Mary, the biologic mother of Jesus, never relinquished parents rights to her only son?   Sure, Mary married a man who was not the father of her God-given child, but Mary never relinquished parental rights or disowned her son.... ever. 

Seems to me, many Christians like to have partial amnesia, especially when the topic revolves around family preservation and adoption services.... but as organizations like Bethany Christian Services prove, these Christian organizations can have their cake and eat it too.


Do Christians forget, according to the bible, Mary, the biologic mother of Jesus, never relinquished parents rights to her only son?   Sure, Mary married a man who was not the father of her God-given child, but Mary never relinquished parental rights or disowned her son.... ever.

...much less that Jesus was a product of deity-rape, and so gets to claim father's rights over....himself.

So let's see, God the father comes down and impregnates Mary against her will through immaculate conception, somehow leaving her a perpetual virgin (last I checked virgins, by definition, do not give birth.)

Then he's born as Jesus, who raises some hay among some key detractors then go gets his ass nailed to a tree in order to redeem the evil sin that he as God the perfect omniscient, omnipotent Father created in the first place.

Then he got up and walked around after being entoumbe, disappeared into the ether on Pentecost, and sent himself back to Planet Earth as God the Holy Spirit.

All you have to do, if one subscribes to the nonsensical idea that an omnicient god grants "free will" is somehow believe this falderol story is The Truth and you will escape burning forever.

That is one confused wonder so many rightwing Xns are confused about adoption.

From fundamentalist to....?

I have many friends who were put in-care and/or adopted and force-fed a steady diet of religious script.  For some, the religious rhetoric became an indoctrinated mind-set, for others it became an annoying tradition, still for others, religion was the reason and excuse for a parent to inflict emotional and physical abuse.

Very few of those friends who shared stories with me followed the fundamentalist footsteps of their chosen care-takers.

Many became agnostic or atheist.... some simply chose a new religion.

Compulsory Salvation

I have many friends who were put in-care and/or adopted and force-fed a steady diet of religious script.  For some, the religious rhetoric became an indoctrinated mind-set, for others it became an annoying tradition, still for others, religion was the reason and excuse for a parent to inflict emotional and physical abuse.

You can put me in those, highlighted. To the extreme.

FWIW, though, plenty of friends not from care/adoption took the same route.

Religion's not for everyone, at least not the way we do it in the USA. But when you've been forced into a prosyletizing one and that's your entire environment, it's very difficult to escape. But it's possible.

Discipline and child placement

While religious abuse is nothing new, it scares me fundamentalist groups are encouraging members of their congregation to adopt, in huge numbers.  

This is an issue that needs to be reviewed and addressed by political leaders and those advocating adoption for children in-need of a home/family, because lists like THIS should NOT exist!

Meanwhile, I was reading a very interesting blog-piece about spanking, Christianity, and the fundamentalist belief-system.  Mike Adkins writes:

Everyone seems to agree that fundamentalists, or those leaning that direction, are more likely than most to resort to corporal punishment. Further, the lion’s share of child developmentalists see spanking as a harmful thing-associated with undesirable child, adolescent, and adult outcomes (Ellison, 2001). The question then is, When is the line crossed? Is all spanking abusive? When I was part of the fundamentalist world, what I knew about and saw were some pretty stout spankings administered to children as young as six months old. I saw lots of spankings with paddles. [Remember, you were encouraged to use a "neutral(?)" object. The hands were used to give love. The notion was that the child would not associate the object with the parent.] In answering the question about spanking, and abuse, I turn now to a fascinating study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study, reported on the Medpage Today website (Heavy Spanking Predicts Overt Child Abuse, 2008), revealed the following results:

1. Parents who spanked were 2.7 times more likely to engage in overt abusive behavior than non-spankers.

2. Parents that spanked with a belt or paddle or another object as opposed to their hands had triple the odds of becoming abusers (remember the “neutral” object theory?).

3. For each additional spanking per year, there was a 3% increase in the likelihood of yet stronger punishments being used in the home. (When I was in the fundamentalist church, it was not unusual for children to receive two or three spankings a day.)

4. The report stated, “This is the first study to demonstrate that parents who report spanking children with an object and who frequently spank children are much more likely to report harsh punishment acts consistent with physical abuse.

All of these conclusions seem to have implications for children placed in a fundamentalist Christian environment.    [From:  On Christianity, Fundamentalism, Spanking, And What Constitutes Child Abuse, January 7, 2009]

Children should NOT be "placed" in homes where severe punishment for not toeing the line is going to happen.  Period.

Orphans for Jesus

If Bethany Christian Services and their ilk were so interested in "family values" and the best interests of those 150 million economic orphans whose families could easily afford to raise them in many instances with nominal monthly support they would have been so busy all these years discriminating against the millions of heterosexual, two parents families amongst the 1.12 BILLION Catholics that are a global resource for children. Having said that, for many years and with substantial FEDERAL FUNDING for both their foreign and domestic adoption programs they did just that. And, of course, by support birth families they would be out of the millions of dollars in revenues generated by their commercial adoption programs, some of which have arisen from their federal foreign aid supported maternal and child health programs, or as we like to call them "baby farms"....this is a kind of double dipping few people ever thought about.

Worse yet, even in those cynical efforts to cloak their commercial interests in the aura of perennial do gooding in some cases historically they would not serve even the most impoverished "clients" in destitute foreign countries until they abandoned their own faiths, whether Muslim, Catholic, Jewish or otherwise to embrace evangelical Christianity. Of course, none of this is new. Charles Loring Brace, the founder of the Children's Home Society and arguably the architect of the Orphan Trains in mid 1800 America, did so to rescue orphans from the clutches of their "immoral" immigrant Catholic families, usually Italian and Irish.

As for their interest in actual children, if they promoted the "sanctity of human life" for actual human children - and I say this as someone who has been, inspired by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, prolife all my life - as much as they do for fetuses the world would be a better place to live. The hypocrisy is unlimited. They demand waiting periods for abortion but support anonymous infant abandonment. They oppose the sale of fetal body parts but selling the entire living, breathing human being is ok. They want abortion clinics strictly regulated but adoption agencies should have unrestricted freedom to do whatever they want including charging astronomical sums of money, bribing foreign officials, allowing children to be adopted by the most odious, unsuitable people....and the list goes on.

God help the children....or perhaps the children would be better off taking care of themselves.

Faith-Based Bigots

Charles Loring Brace, the founder of the Children's Home Society and arguably the architect of the Orphan Trains in mid 1800 America, did so to rescue orphans from the clutches of their "immoral" immigrant Catholic families, usually Italian and Irish.

Charles Loring Brace promoted straight-up Know-Nothing, religious and ethnic bigot/nativist "values" (if they can even be called "values"), disguised as politics. For those not familiar, the Know-Nothings/American Party was the historical precursor to the Republican Party, whom, we're all supposed to consider having the monopoly on "family values" 

This faith-based farce still endures, even up until a decade ago: "Children Faith Based Agencies", by Stephen O'Connor

In 1973, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Shirley Wilder, an emotionally troubled black girl. The suit charged that she had received inadequate care because as a Protestant, she had been turned away by city- financed Roman Catholic and Jewish foster care agencies.

While the case was not settled until 1999, religion as an eligibility test for child welfare services effectively ended shortly after the suit was filed. But the child welfare system's original structure -- a network of religiously affiliated organizations -- still creates problems today. Poor communications among agencies and a byzantine bureaucracy can have the direst consequences for the children who are meant to be served.

Moreover, the competition among agencies for limited funds has always made it difficult to give children the care they needed. Charles Loring Brace well understood what we might call the Iron Law of Anti-Poverty Funding, under which no effort to help poor children, including public education, has ever been funded well or consistently enough to operate according to its original design.

Brace knew that the Children's Aid Society would have no chance of success if it couldn't do its work cheaply. He sent children to the country in groups because he couldn't raise enough money to place them individually. Nor could he screen and monitor prospective foster parents. As a result, while many children found fine homes [rolls eyes - MC], many others found nothing of the sort.

Budgetary restraints contribute to many of foster care's present failures. New York City child welfare workers must handle an average of 25 cases at a time, roughly double the caseload recommended by the Child Welfare League of America. And caseworkers at private agencies are paid salaries comparable to those of city sanitation workers.

The bastardization of civic and civil rights priorities, especially when it comes to ethnic, racial and religious minorities...Same old same old.

Of course, the Braces and other white-Protestant-supremacist, forced-assimilationists of the world were not the first, and would not be last to forcibly steal children from their own families "for their own good", not by any stretch.

Recommended Reading

Thanks for pointing out the excellent work of Stephen O'Connor is documenting Brace's nutty approach. O'Connor's biography of CLB is a must read, as is all of O'Connor's work.

For other perspective on the history of adoption, read the entire catalogs of Rickie Solinger, whose Wake Up Little Susie is particularly revealing; Dorothy Roberts who addresses racism in adoption.

On the topic of the Shirley Wilder case in NYC, read The Lost Children of Wilder by Nina Bernstein.

An interesting history of child welfare in the US is Building the Invisible Orphanage by Matthew Crenson.


I'll spare PPL my screeds on all of the above-mentioned theocrat groups mentioned in conjunction with Bethany Christian Services, but only point out, as has been done in this article, that anything from Michigan with the name DeVos tacked onto it = Amway. Amway in turn is connected to many extremist rightwing Republican so-called "prolife" and of course deregulation-of-everything measures.

Deregulation of everything except for what happens in the very god-mandated "nuclear family" heterosexuality factories they promote as the only ideal. In that, they want the government fully entrenched, and intrusionist as possible.

Pound Pup Legacy