Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1961
NUMBER 30, PAGE 4,12b

The Victims


"The orphanage, that bleak institution that has outraged human sensibilities from the time of Oliver Twist to Little Annie Rooney, has all but vanished."

Obviously the writer of this article in TIME magazine (which we reprint in this issue) is not a reader of "our" journals! If he were, he would know that "we" are swelling with pride over the fact that "we" have started more than a score of these "bleak institutions" within the last decade — and-more are on the way! The Churches of Christ have their necks bowed!! We are going to show the world that we love orphanages! Even in a book listing "New Testament Churches of Today" the soundness of a congregation is judged by whether or not it contributes to, or is in favor of, "our orphanages."

Notice that we say they love "orphanages" — not orphans. For if the love of helpless children were present, surely there would be some effort to consider their welfare, their happiness, and their future status as well-adjusted citizens both in the kingdoms of men and in the kingdom of God. For there is not the shadow of a doubt that institutional care is detrimental and malignant so far as growing children are concerned. They leave the institutions emotionally handicapped and crippled, marked for life by the well-meaning, but misguided "do-good-ism" of sentimental incompetents. These children are sacrificed to appease the vanity of brethren who love to boast that they are doing something to relieve poor children — but who are NOT willing to provide a normal home themselves for these children, neither willing to agree for anyone else to provide such a home lest they be robbed of their glorying.

We urge upon every reader of this page a very careful study of the article from TIME magazine. It should cause some serious and soul-searching self-examination by those who have not only been willing to rend asunder the body of Christ by their promotion of "our orphanages," but who have (unwittingly, but nevertheless effectively) victimized scores of helpless children, leaving them scarred and bereft. They have denied these little ones the warmth and love and normal life of Christian foster parents, while dooming them to the cold, impersonal, dreadfully "bleak institutionalism" of the orphanage! And why? What has been gained? Are the children better off? Are the churches happier and stronger and healthier? Is God honored, or is Christ glorified by such vicious and heartless treatment of helpless children?

Sometimes we are told by those defending these bleak institutions that they are not really "orphanages," but are homes for abandoned and dependent and helpless little ones. BUT when you hear these brethren preach, and when they write in condemnation of other brethren, they ALWAYS refer to brethren "who do not believe in caring for orphans!" Why use the term "orphans" if the homes are NOT "orphanages?" Why not say (if they really believe it) that "there are certain brethren in the land who do not think the congregation is obligated to care for abandoned Children?" Or, "It grieves me to think that certain of our brethren teach it is unscriptural and wrong for the congregation to spend her money in providing for the needs of children from broken homes and drunken, divorced parents?"

If that is REALLY what the "homes" are for, why not say so? Why insist on the one hand in pleading for the "orphans," and in the next breath admit that the homes are not "orphanages?" Could it be that we all recognize that the word "orphan" is one that is loaded with emotionalism, and that a promoter can get far more money from congregations by pleading for "helpless, hungry little orphans" than he can by appealing for funds to "care for dependent and neglected children from divorced parents?" And one can certainly stir up more hatred and prejudice against fellow-Christians by branding them as "orphan-haters" than he could by referring to them as people who "teach it is wrong for the congregation to build an organization to care for the dependent and neglected children of unworthy parents!"

Have you ever visited one of "our orphanages?" Have you seen how the affection-starved little victims take hold of your hand, plead to be loved, crawl up into your lap, and in a thousand childish ways reveal their hunger for love — the love of a father or mother? The kind of love no institution on earth can give — but which, indeed, could be given generously and satisfactorily by a foster father and a foster mother?

Certain brethren seem to take great pride in their progressive, up-to-date promotions and productions. Why be archaic in the care of helpless children? Why divide the churches, victimize helpless innocents, and bring chaos and confusion by these monstrous institutions? They are an excrescence on twentieth-century society, a rotting, corrupt and evil hang-over from a previous civilization, and should be regarded by sensitive Christians with about the same feelings of horror and revulsion one would feel for the gas chambers of Dachau and Buchenwald. They may enrich their superintendents, enable certain congregations and preachers to talk with great swelling pride of "our orphanages" — but they ought to be an abomination and a stench in the nostrils of right thinking people. A far better way to provide for "orphans" is both known and possible. Why not take it? — F.Y. T.