Christianity and I have had some quarrels.  We have learned to live peaceably over the years.  And I, in fact, am a Christian.  But I often find myself skeptical of folks who broadcast their Christianity, who act “in the name of Christ.”  Many, many acts of hatred and intolerance are perpetrated in God’s name…

I particularly bristle at missionaries.  I realize that is unfair (and part of my current prejudice comes from having just finished The Poisonwood Bible). Not all missionaries strive only to break cultural customs and force a foreign idea of God onto unsuspecting people.  Some missionaries care deeply about those they encounter, trying only to demonstrate God’s love through their compassionate actions.  But many a missionary has been sent to save the “savages” from themselves… to introduce them to Jesus before it is too late and to force them to adopt a more “American” way of life, one that makes them less savage and more like us (which I find laughable). With my distrust of missionaries in mind, I will tell you that I have watched the Haitian missionary saga unfold with great interest.

Admittedly, my immediate reaction when I first heard about the efforts to remove Haitian children from the chaos and suffering that followed the earthquake was that quick action should be taken to remove them from Haiti and to facilitate adoptions for the orphans.  See, I am not immune to ridiculous responses based on emotion and grounded in ignorance…

After I began to educate myself about some of the problems with adopting Haitian children,which include a host of cultural issues and some “American as Messiah” issues, I realized that the answer was to attempt to help stabilize Haiti so that families could remain together and children could grow up immersed in their own culture, instead of in a foreign land, with family ties possibly severed forever.

The times that the American government (or American citizens) have attempted to intervene in a country’s placement of their “orphans,” well… let’s just say things haven’t gone well.  The American missionaries that have been charged with kidnapping in Haiti represent what is wrong with white, Christian Americans believing they know what is best for the “savages.”  They tried to take children who have families to the Dominican Republic to place them in an orphanage that was being built there.  At least that is the story they tell.  I believe it is far more likely that the missionaries were planning on having those children adopted by white, Christian Americans… who certainly could offer a better life… after all they are Christian AND American, which naturally equates to superior (in their own eyes at least).

Either way, those missionaries stole Haiti’s children.  Now they must atone for their sins.  Unfortunately for them, that atonement may occur in a Haitian prison.

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