In early March you may have read something about the Lev Tahor sect in the newspapers or seen some of the coverage of this obscure Jewish ultra-orthodox group on television. Earlier in the year I interviewed two of the group’s leaders on my television show after they were accused of marrying the community’s children off at an illegally early age and various other forms of child abuse. They have denied all of this and I have to say that they made a pretty convincing case for themselves. But that doesn’t mean they were telling the truth.
They are certainly extreme, hard line and fundamentalist and in the past they fled from Quebec to Ontario because the children’s aid society in the province were investigating them. They are now trying to leave Canada and have, by the way, fled countries before. At the point of writing some of their children have been removed by the local CAS and two of them, girls aged 14 and 16, are on hunger strike because they don’t want to go into foster care. It’s genuinely difficult to know what is going on here and perhaps the children’s aid people are totally correct. Problem is, they have not always been right in the past, not by a very long way indeed.
This is the 20thanniversary of the case of a man called Dorian Baxter, who was accused of sexually abusing his two young daughters. I got to know Dorian rather well while covering his case. He was humiliated, prosecuted, vigilantes came to his home, he was bankrupted, and almost destroyed. The children’s aid society refused to listen to him, displayed a political agenda from the beginning, and seemed totally indifferent to his defence and his suffering. After years of struggle and a resistance and a courage that is almost beyond comprehension he won his case. This Anglican minister, while eccentric, was an innocent and good man who had been a victim of a former wife and her partner and a caseworker and her superiors who smelt blood. The case was well documented because Baxter was the first man to successfully sue a children’s aid society in Canada.
I also interviewed on my television show, The Arena, a lawyer and a filmmaker whose documentary More Powerful Than God documented some of the horrific excesses of the CAS. He described a Children’s Aid Society rewarded financially by how many children they take out of families, who need to disrupt families to remain solvent, who can enter your home at will with the police and have you arrested if you refuse, who fail so often to detect or prevent abuse in numerous hideous cases but who intervene too readily and too aggressively in homes where no crime has been committed.
Also on Sun News we exposed the story of where the little girl had drawn a picture at school of her daddy fighting an alien with a ray gun. A teacher had complained that this indicated a violent father; her superiors then contacted the police, who lied to the father, entered his home illegally, arrested the man and made his life a living hell. The school finally apologized but explained that they were “co-parents” in the situation.
The list goes on and on. Please understand that I am not arguing that the Lev Tahor case has no foundation. I simply don’t know. What I am saying is, frankly, thank the Lord nobody has ever accused me of child abuse because I do not trust many of those who work for children’s aid and some of the unworldly, agenda-driven men and women who claim to care for children but don’t much like families.
This is an issue of direct and enormous significance to the pro-life community. First, because we care about the integrity of families and family life. Second, because the state is seldom a friend of pro-lifers and the pro-life ethos and we should resist it becoming too powerful. Third, if anybody is likely to face false and malicious accusations it is pro-life activists.
Genuine child abuse is a terrible thing but then so are baseless charges. More than this, the most horrible child abuse of all is the mass destruction of unborn children in the womb, something that is actually state-sanctioned and state-financed.
There was a time when families were assumed to be safe havens because in the vast majority of cases that is what they were. But then there was a time when the womb was assumed to be a safe haven because in the vast majority of cases that is what they were. How times have changed, and seldom for the better.
Michael Coren latest book is The Future of Catholicism (SignalBooks). He can be booked for speeches at firstname.lastname@example.org