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Trump sent many of the stolen central American children to evangelical centers for christianizing



In the last several weeks since Trump began seizing babies and children at the border, many of the stolen kids have been sent to Christian indoctrination centers, where they are having rightwing religious propaganda drummed into their young, developing brains.

One example is Bethany Christian Services, a Grand Rapids, Michigan non-profit that describes its mission as provid[ing] counseling to families, assist refugees and immigrants resettling in the U.S…to help keep families together…as Christ intended.”

The New Republic reports that Bethany “has helped place 58 separated migrant children [into foster care] since May 1.” And this is only the beginning. “You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S.” warned the former director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Sandweg, on Tuesday.

There’s no evidence that Christian hubs like Bethany are mistreating the children. The Detroit Free Press reports that Bethany is giving them “Spanish children’s books, toys, diapers,” while the Detroit Metro Times reports that Bethany “has applied for permission” to receive scores more refugee children. At the current seizure rate along the border—about 300 kids per day picked up by ICE and jailed–the number of imprisoned children could approach 20,000 by the end of August. More than 11,000 kids already are imprisoned in camps in at least 17 states.

Even as Pope Francis directly criticizes the abductions, many American Christians, especially white evangelicals, are celebrating them. For example, a Christian minister named Brent Gentzel, who heads the evangelical First Baptist Church, in Texas, (which strongly opposes same-sex marriage and preaches fire-and-brimstone-style visions of “eternal Hell”), defends the forced seizures this way: “When someone raises a hand to say: ‘We need to fix the legal side,’ there’s a side that screams: ‘You’re racist.’ And you’re sitting up there in Connecticut, and, no offence [sic], but you don’t have a clue.”

 Actually, decent, moral Americans in Connecticut and all other American states do have a clue; they know exactly what’s up: Nazi-style forced resettlement of innocent children. Only this time, the governing rationale is, not Nazism, but something closely allied to it: rightwing Christianity. Given Biblical citations to justify the kidnappings by the likes of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Jeff Sessions (whose own Methodist church just disavowed him), it’s not surprising that the administration should quietly be farming out the children to Christian indoctrination sites. That this is being done in secrecy also comes as no surprise, given the Trump regime’s penchant for doing its dirty work under cover of darkness.

Is Bethany the only Christian-front organization accepting children from the Trump administration? No. In California, “kids who crossed the border…have been placed in California foster homes by International Christian Adoptions,” reports the Sacramento Bee.

ICA is based in the conservative California city of Temecula, where the congressman is the extremist rightwinger, Duncan Hunter, who wants to build, not just a border wall, but a double border wall, and wishes to “punish nations denying repatriation” of seized immigrants.  ICA claims to put children it receives into adoptive environments “in the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.” The agency, like the Trump administration, is super-secretive about details of where it sends the kids. Again, there’s no evidence that kids sent to ICA are being mistreated. But the evidence strongly suggests that they are being indoctrinated with evangelical Christian beliefs that are conservative and pro-Trump.

We should be grateful, I suppose, that these Christian organizations are at least willing to take the children and feed and clothe them. But there shouldn’t be any need for this in the first place; Trump has created that need by introducing his new policy of forced seizures. Democrats in the Congress should immediately begin asking the tough questions:

How many of the stolen kids are being warehoused in Christian front groups and families?

Are they being indoctrinated with Christian propaganda?

Are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, atheist and other families and groups also being given these children?

How do these Christian adoption agencies intend to eventually reunite the kidnapped children with their legitimate families? Or do they?

We, the American people, need these answers, in order to be reassured that the Federal government is not conspiring to brainwash stolen children and turn them into goosestepping Christian Soldier Republicans. True, late yesterday Trump apparently ended the forced seizure program (we’re still not clear about the details, since he insists “zero tolerance” remains in effect). But these questions—especially reuniting the children with their parents—glaringly remain. Moreover, the horror of the Trump kidnappings will endure as long as the story of this sad presidency is told—and voters surely will be reminded of it heading into the midterm elections.


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