Thursday, January 20th, 2011
47

Our Government-Funded Mission to Make Haiti Christian: Your Tax Dollars, Billy Graham's Son, Monsanto and Sarah Palin

The story that best describes Haiti's last year is not from a slum, nor from a cholera clinic. It's not to be found in the rubble—but in a courtroom in Texas.

In November, 2010, Lewis Lucke, a former U.S. ambassador to Swaziland and former USAID official in Haiti, filed suit against Haiti Recovery Group Ltd. for some $500,000 in unpaid fees for the tens of millions of dollars in contracts Lucke secured for the group in the days after the earthquake. After leaving his USAID position, Lucke immediately signed a $30,000 a month "consulting" contract with the Haiti Recovery Group, a conglomerate formed by several American contractors with the specific goal of securing U.S. funding. Lucke used the contacts developed while at USAID to score the conglomerate over $20 million in contracts. Then it canned him. Sucker.

Lucke's take is typical of a Haiti that's become a massively swelled teat on which NGOs profitably suckle. Overall, Haiti has become one of the greatest money laundering operations in history, an island engine turning public funds into private profits.

What's more, U.S. taxpayer dollars are, against Presidential directive, being funneled from the United States Agency for International Development to Billy Graham's charities for use in Christian proselytizing—all while building Sarah Palin's 2012 campaign army.

An Army for God
"At that time, they were not open to the Gospel, and now they are," said "Festival of Hope" director Sherman Barnette, of the difference in Haiti before and after the earthquake. The festival was held on January 9, in Haiti's National Soccer Stadium. It was put on by Franklin Graham in cooperation with his Samaritan's Purse charity and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Franklin—William Franklin Graham III—has been head of the Association for ten years. He is the successor to his father, who is now 92, and who has appeared infrequently in public these last few years.

A month before the event, Sarah Palin had appeared in Haiti beside Graham, urging followers to help "those less fortunate" by contributing to Samaritan's Purse. "It is still here doing the tough work," Palin said. She was gone less than 48 hours later.

Exactly what the tough work Palin spoke of depends on who you're talking about. It could be raising millions more dollars that Haitians will never see. Or, in the case of Samaritan's Purse, whose Haiti work is being heavily funded by the taxpayer-funded USAID, it could be to “take back their country from voodoo, despair, and sin," one of the charity's stated goals for the "Festival of Hope." As Graham said of Haiti in his address at the Festival, "…the biggest need is the spiritual need." (Graham and his crew are especially obsessed with the elimination of voodoo, as it comes up again and again in Purse literature. A recent personal update on work in Haiti from Franklin Graham himself reads, "Through our partnership, the three original churches have been able to establish 28 more—including one in a village that was infamous for voodoo….") Video of the heavily promoted fundraising event has been erased from the Samaritan's Purse website as a result of our questions to USAID.

Somewhere around 10,000 NGOs now operate in Haiti, without any organization. Much of the money that was raised in the nation's name has not been spent. In some cases, it seems this is intentional.

The Disaster Accountability Project estimates that a year after nearly $11 billion was raised or pledged ("Text HAITI! to donate $10!), only half has been spent. In some cases, not even that. By November, Catholic Relief Charities had reported spending just 32 percent of the $192 million it raised for Haiti.

Many NGOs say the reason they are reluctant to spend more is that it may be wasted. But as DAP's Ben Smilowitz discovered in his investigation with the Red Cross, the organization is treating the interest generated on the $500+ million "trust fund" it raised (and has not yet spent) for Haiti relief as "unrestricted revenue."

A report on U.S. contracts for reconstruction found that only $1.60 of every $100 awarded goes to Haitian firms, essentially meaning that the brunt of Haiti funding actually functions as stimulus for economies elsewhere. An audit by USAID’s Inspector General found that 70% of the cash awarded to the two largest U.S. contractors was spent on equipment and materials (bought outside of Haiti), meaning just 8,000 Haitians a day were hired instead of the promised 25,000 a day.

Where One Corporation Saw Opportunity
Meanwhile, American corporations see the push to rejuvenate rural Haitian agriculture as a chance to, literally, sow the seeds of future profits. No matter that Haiti is broke, and will be broke for a long time. Monsanto has rigged it so that you, the taxpayer, will be underwriting those profits.

Monsanto donated tons of corn and vegetable seed to Haitian farmers and has committed to donating hundreds of tons more in the coming months. But these seeds are hybrids, engineered not only so that they cannot naturally reproduce, but to assure Haitian farmers remain in hock to Monsanto in the future. Of this donation, Monsanto had the unbelievable balls to claim “There are no contractual obligations between Haitian farmers and Monsanto since this is a donation." Responding to whether or not the donated seeds will force farmers to need "additional inputs" (i.e., trademarked Monsanto products), the company said "technically, it can be planted without any additional inputs."

Pressed about why Monsanto didn't just provide open pollinating seed, a spokesperson said, "Open pollinated seeds would be a great option if they produced as much crop as a hybrid seed." That's like saying, nobody should bother driving a Honda Civic because it doesn't perform like a Maserati.

But here's the best part. Monsanto added that it contacted NGOs in Haiti and that those organizations will "support farmers with recommendations and resources [including] helping farmers decide whether to use additional inputs (including fertilizer and herbicides)." Two of the NGOs Monsanto identified are the WINNER organization and World Vision, both heavily funded by USAID. This means your tax dollars will be used to purchase any "additional inputs" from Monsanto.

To understand where the Haitians are headed, just look to Malawi, which Monsanto itself points to as a goal for Haiti. In 2005, droughts devastated Malwai. Monsanto donated hybrid seeds. Today Malwai has achieved food security. But It turns out, what Malwai did was recreate the American model by subsidizing farmers to use Monsanto hybrid fertilized seeds. Malawi's farmers have now converted to a one-crop, undiversified, exporting agriculture model that is dependent on its government to subsidize production—by buying from Monsanto. Today Monsanto's market share in Malawi is 50%. No wonder it holds up Malwai when speaking of Haiti.

(Of course, Haiti needs to be a corn-producing nation now, since its former rice economy was obliterated by Bill Clinton, whose subsidies for U.S. rice farmers destroyed Haiti's rice industry. As an Oxfam report notes, the total of U.S. aid to Haiti is nearly $80 million less than the $434 million annual subsidies for U.S. rice production. That's rice that taxpayer-funded NGOs now buy to help feed starving Haitians, in what is maybe the darkest joke of all time following Clinton's appointment as co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.)

The U.N.
Even the U.N. is in on the profiteering. The U.N.'s role in Haiti is partially clear: employment. Haiti is essentially a giant jobs program for foreign militaries. The U.N.'s statement on peacekeeper pay states, "Countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the U.N. at a flat rate of a little over US$1,000 per soldier per month. The U.N. also reimburses countries for equipment." In 2010, the ongoing U.N. peacekeeping mission increased its budget to $732 million, two-thirds of which was accounted for by salary and personal costs of the 12,000 troops now stationed there. Less than 5% of the U.N.'s total Haiti budget goes to "national staff."

That $1,000 per month per troop to the U.N.-serving nations does not stay in Haiti. It goes back to be invested in the economies of the nations themselves. While the U.N. acknowledges that "the greatest burden in the form of troops is borne by a core group of developing countries"—where $1,000 per soldier per month in salary probably represents a profit.

The United States footed just under one-third of this total in 2010, meaning that Haiti exists as another way for the America to underwrite the expenses our military allies.

(Our U.N. funding in Haiti is first and foremost a regional defense strategy. One revelation of the Wikileak's barfing up of diplomatic communications is a 2007 cable from the Embassy in Santiago to the Secretary of State, assessing the U.N. mission in Haiti as valuable because " participation in international and regional peacekeeping operations…" "completely excludes Chavez, and isolates Venezuela among the militaries and security forces of the region." The cable adds that to further neutralize Chavez, the U.S. "should explore using the mechanism that the region's contributors to MINUSTAH (Haiti) have established to discuss ways of increasing peacekeeping cooperation on a broader scale.")

But the profiteering isn't entirely economic, it's also spiritual.

Salvation in Action

The minute George W. Bush got into office, the floodgate of taxpayer-funded federal grants to faith-based aid organizations exploded. But the USAID still maintained rules about use of this funding.

But our research into the hush-hush tag team efforts of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Samaritan's Purse found millions of USAID dollars going to Samaritan's Purse aid stations in Haiti. Their mission: a coordinated effort by BGEA chaplains to evangelize to and convert the trapped, weak and suffering.

"The nurse explained to her God’s plan of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ, and that someday we would all die but God’s gift to us was eternal life through faith in Christ. After much discussion and praying, the lady’s head dropped and she said she wanted to accept Jesus. I am told she left the clinic still looking downward, remorseful for her ways in voodoo but with the real joy that can only come through the Lord."

That is an entry from Dr. Dick Furman's Haiti "Surgeon's Journal," published by Samaritan's Purse.

Furman's journal is just one bit of evidence of a vigorous drive in (USAID-funded) Samaritan's Purse clinics' Christian conversion plan.

In a later passage, Furman basically testifies about how Samaritan's Purse is breaking USAID rules:

"The volunteer doctor and nurses and pharmacist were excited at their numbers. Today, they had seen 97 patients and led 14 to the Lord… Today, at the clinic with his mom, he looked like a normal 8-year-old boy. One of the nurses asked the mother if she were a believer and she said no. The nurse explained to her God’s plan of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ, and that someday we would all die but God’s gift to us was eternal life through faith in Christ."

First Samoa, Then Haiti: Proselytizing with Tax Dollars
Samaritan's Purse has received at least $500,000 from USAID to distribute non-food relief and recovery non-food items to those in Samoa displaced by the 2009 tsunami, the latest grant coming last year.

Given the organization's (and its leader's) explicitly stated goals and intentions, is it reasonable to believe the "relief" it was paid to distribute with USAID money did not come with… extras? No, it is not.

In an annual letter to Samaritan's Purse donors and followers, Franklin Graham wrote "Most recently, we launched a massive relief effort in response to a series of major disasters that struck the Asia-Pacific region— typhoons in the Philippines, earthquakes in Indonesia, and a tsunami in the Samoan islands. Some 100,000 survivors have received emergency food and other aid in the Name of Jesus Christ." They may have received it in the name of Jesus Christ, but you better believe it was paid for by you.

But the Samoa money is chickenfeed compared to the USAID gravy pipeline that Samaritan's Purse has hooked itself up with in Haiti.

A December, 2010, USAID memo outlining Financial Year 2011 expenditures for "Humanitarian Assistance to Haiti for Cholera" lists Samaritan's Purse as a grantee to the tune of $2,869,431. That's 15% of the total ($19,143,098) budgeted by the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. And that's in addition to $1 million budget for Samaritan's Purse in 2010 for "Economic Recovery and Market Systems, Health, WASH."

During a November 2008 USAID conference session ("USAID Partnership 101"), Terri Hasdorff, USAID director of community and faith-based initiatives, said in the very first part of her address, "First and foremost, the government can fund compassion, but cannot fund conversion. No witnessing or actually proselytizing." Later at the event, Heather MacLean, USAID senior advisor for faith-based initiatives, reiterated, "Any religious activities, which can take place, but they must take place in a separate time or place from U.S. government funded activities and they must be voluntary on part of the beneficiary. The beneficiary shouldn’t feel any pressure to participate."

Hasdorff used a perfect "salad verses cake" metaphor to describe USAID's rules:

"If your organization is like a salad, where you can separate out the lettuce and the tomatoes and the carrots—in other words, you can separate out portions of your program to provide specific services—you have a food program; you have a homeless program; you have a program where you work with orphans or vulnerable children—and you can separate that out in such a way so that there’s not an overtly religious aspect to it—there’s no conversion aspect to it—then that would be an excellent program to target federal funding for.

If your organization is more like a cake, where the flour and the sugar and the eggs are so grafted together that you can’t separate them out—in other words, you have such an overtly religious component to your program that there’s no way that you feel like you could do your program without having that component to it, then you do not want to go after federal funds."

Nearly all of Samaritan's Purse's literature describes its mission as cake-like.

One of the ways that Samaritan's Purse is able to skirt attention for hard core evangelizing with federal funds is by splitting duties. Samaritan's Purse is the aid arm. It applies for USAID loans and providing tents and medical equipment and the like. Meanwhile, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association maintains a "Rapid Response Team" of chaplains that go into Samaritan's Purse aid stations and set upon converting the weak and needy. In this arrangement, Samaritan's Purse can technically say it manages no organized proselytizing agency.

A recent BGEA newsletter itself admits to this arrangement:

I saw this in action as I spent time with Rapid Response Team chaplains when they visited the Samaritan's Purse cholera clinic in Cité Soleil (one of the poorest areas of Haiti). I first talked with team leaders Phil and Pam Rhodes. The Rhodes have been in Haiti multiple times since last year. Pam shared that she sees the Lord moving in ways here that you rarely see back home. Perhaps because the need is greater here, but she also observed that their prayers here have a greater depth and sense of urgency. Phil noted that, as their ministry has transitioned into meeting with cholera patients, they've seen 'Lazuruses and Lazurites: men and women who are on the verge of death, brought back to life through medical care and fervent prayer.'

If that's not cake, what the hell is?

Franklin Graham, Millionaire
The Festival of Hope fundraising event also featured a video of the BGEA's Phil and Pam Rhodes ministering to needy Haitians in Samaritan Purse cholera clinics. (Remember, USAID has budgeted nearly $3 million for Samaritan's Purse clinics.)


Above: Screenshot from the a video shown during the Festival of Hope event showing BGEA Chaplain Pam Rhodes ministering to a patient at a Samaritan's Purse clinic. Note USAID logo in the background. Video since deleted from SP site.

The Samaritan's Purse-BGEA arrangement is so poorly hidden that the unwillingness to address it has to be willful ignorance. The best summary of this relationship comes from BGEA "Internet writer" Jeremy Hunt, who wrote a weeklong blog from Haiti:

The picture that’s forming of the complementary efforts of the BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse working together is really quite powerful. The two combined contribute different aspects of the calling of Jesus to minister to the widowed and the orphaned in their distress. While SP efforts focus on meeting the physical needs, the RRT chaplains counsel survivors and victims on the spiritual side of things.

Even with Jesus (or maybe especially so), one need just follow the money for proof. Franklin Graham serves as president and CEO of both organizations. Samaritain's Purse pays Franklin Graham $616,665 a year. Apparently, Jesus approves of Graham's work as, despite an economic implosion, that is an increase from the $416,987 he received in 2008. That also does not count Graham's pay from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which puts the man of God's income well over $1 million a year. He recently received a 21% increase in compensation, even as his charity laid off 10% of its workforce. (It's assumed Jesus will provide for them.)

Further evidence of how taxpayer money is going to fund proselytizing efforts in direct defiance of the Establishment Clause is this January 2011 Haiti report from BGEA:

"Two RRT chaplains were ministering at the Samaritan’s Purse Cite Soleil cholera treatment center when one of the Samaritan’s Purse nurses pointed out a woman holding a lethargic baby who had an IV in her tiny arm. The nurse indicated that the baby had been sobbing for nearly two days. As the frustrated woman gently shook the baby, the chaplains introduced themselves and asked if it was her baby. She said her name was Day and that it was her sister's baby. She went on to say that she was watching the baby until her sister returned from an errand. As the baby continued to cry, the chaplains reached out to pray for the baby. Noticing Day's tired and hopeless face, however, they asked her, "Do you have Jesus in your heart?" She replied, "No. I'm waiting for you to tell me." Surprised by her answer, the chaplains told her about the love of Jesus, and how He came to set us free from sin. They shared the Gospel message with Day, and asked if she would like to receive Jesus into her heart. Day answered, "Very much so!" Bowing to lead her in prayer, the chaplain noticed that the baby was now quiet. As Day repeated the prayer, calm came over both of them, and afterward Day laid her sleeping niece on the bed. The chaplains gave Day some spiritual growth literature and urged her to share what God had done for her and the baby with her sister. When the chaplains returned the next day, the baby was awake and smiling. Day's sister was there, and she said that Day shared with her what had happened. She also wanted to hear more about Jesus, and later received Christ as her Lord and Savior."

That story without a doubt is a violation of November, 2010's Executive Order 13559 regarding federal aid.

We called Keith Stiles, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's deployment manager for the Rapid Response Team of chaplains, and asked him about the BGEA and Samaritan's Purse. Stiles said that BGEA chaplains work in "close cooperation" with Samaritan's Purse personnel. As he defined it, the chaplains acted as the "spiritual support staff" in (USAID-funded) Samaritan's Purse clinics. Stiles then broke down the data on the nearly 2,000 Haitians that had "come to Christ," including 1,500 "first time salvations" and 154 "re-dedications for Christ."

Stiles confirmed that many in this count were within Samaritan's Purse clinics.

"Not an Activity Sanctioned by the U.S. Government"
USAID is completely aware of Samaritan's Purse's misuse of funds. A 2009 report by the Inspector General identified Samaritan's Purse as having received $3,249,557 in USAID funding in 2006 and 2007 despite "deficiencies in partner notification of the requirements of title 22 Code of Federal Regulations, part 205." The IG report provided recommendations on how USAID should control future grants, recommendations it seems to have ignored. Why would USAID fund Samaritan's Purse in Haiti if it had already been identified as an organization with a proven unconstitutional use of funds? Ken Isaacs probably knows.

Ken Isaacs is the organization's vice president of programs and government relations. His job is ensuring the USAID taxpayer money spigot stays unclogged for Samaritan's Purse. Isaacs worked for ten years for Samaritan's Purse before becoming the director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for USAID—before resigning to then again work for Samaritan's Purse. Is it then any surprise that Samaritan's Purse just happens to employ a former top level USAID executive while remaining one of USAID's top grantees despite outright breaking its rules?


Above: Screenshot from Festival of Hope event featuring former USAID exec, and current Samaritan's Purse executive, Ken Isaacs with BGEA hosts. Video since removed from site.

We contacted The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to ask specifically about cholera clinics and "cake."

"USAID takes seriously any allegation of improper use of U.S. taxpayer funding, including allegations of U.S. government funding being used for religious worship, instruction or proselytization. Upon hearing that a USAID-funded partner helping treat cholera patients in Haiti may have crossed the line, USAID immediately looked in to the situation."

There appears to have been an instance where a chaplain was praying for religious conversion with a Haitian male while in a USAID-funded cholera treatment facility. This was not—and is not—an activity sanctioned by the U.S. Government. USAID partners must comply with Executive Order 13559, which, among other things, requires that organizations that engage in explicitly religious activities perform such activities."

USAID then noted of one of the Samaritan's Purse videos I had pointed them to showing the breaking of USAID rules: "With respect to the video you sent to us, the NGO partner in question has removed the video for their website and is working to re-educate their staff about regulations pertaining to religious activities."

See, it's not a problem anymore because the proof of it has been removed. (Indeed, the video archive of the Festival of Hope event was scrubbed from the Samaritan's Purse site within days of my inquiry to USAID, a move that does not at all admit wrongdoing.)

When I supplied proof that Samaritan's Purse was regularly breaking federal rules well beyond "an instance," the reply I received was "Our statement will have to stand, as is, at this time."

Does USAID, which itself admits organizational challenges in Haiti are extremely difficult at best, expect anyone to believe that they changed the fundamental operating policy of Samaritan's Purse and the BGEA with one call about one video on a website? Absolutely not. USAID was also not at all interested in speaking with us about Ken Isaacs.

Christians Only Need Apply
While Samaritan's Purse might be the most overtly evangelistic organization getting unconstitutionally fat on the taxpayer dime, it's hardly the only such organization that's doing so. World Vision proudly states that it only hire Christians. In an August 25, 2010 letter to Harry Reid, World Vision President Richard Steans wrote:

We respectfully urge you to oppose any effort to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), to amend Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, or otherwise to dilute the right of faith-based social service organizations to stay faith-based through their hiring, including when awarded a federal grant… We want to continue to serve the poor and victims of injustice [including] earthquake victims in Haiti… We intend to continue working effectively with government in a constitutionally-sound and proven manner, but only if we can stay faith-based in mission, which means remaining faith-based in those we hire.

Hear that, Haitians? Better convert if you want part of the $11.5 million USAID gave World Vision for shelter building, rubble clearing and salvaging work in Haiti. Of course, Franklin Graham signed the letter as well. A journalist I spoke with, who is currently in Haiti, told me about a Haitian pastor who directs much of Samaritan's Purse work in Grand Goâve. He just built a new beach house, where he hosts Samaritan's Purse missionaries.

An ominous look at this horseshit in action comes from another January, 2011 report from BGEA:

"…two RRT chaplains were assigned a Haitian translator, named Gilbert, to assist them in their ministry. Over the next weeks and months, Gilbert went on many missions with the chaplains since the earthquake in Haiti. He would often talk to the chaplains about his family, and even asked if they could help his father get a job with Samaritan’s Purse. The chaplains explained the hiring process and the need to present the request to God through prayer and trust Him for the results. Gilbert shared that his father was not a believer, and the chaplains prayed with him for his father's Salvation and his employment need over several months. Gilbert shared the Gospel with his Dad at home but he was not interested. Recently, the chaplains had given the morning devotion at the Samaritan's Purse compound. On that day, Gilbert’s father’s heart was stirred and he made his way to the podium to publicly receive Christ. Gilbert and his father asked the chaplains to lead him in prayer as he asked Jesus to forgive his sin and be his Savior."

Palin Fundraising for Jesus
The 48 hours that Palin spent in Haiti was actually just about the only foundation-building being done in Haiti. Palin's hearty and seemingly out of nowhere endorsement of Graham's Haiti operation is meant to lock up Graham's support for either herself, or her endorsed candidate, in 2012. Palin's handlers are aware that Graham delivered the faithful to the polls for Bush II, instructing his flock in 2004 to "back God-fearing candidates" and warning that if Bush were not reelected that the media would basically start broadcasting pornography.

Graham has already communicated that he'll gladly Bo Peep his sheep against Obama. Last year, after expressing doubt that Obama is indeed a Christian, he said of the 2012 election that "churches all across America will sign up women and men to vote, not to tell them how to vote, but to sign them up, register them to vote. Because I believe the church of Jesus Christ can make a huge difference…"

Actually, no, that isn't the best part. The best part is that your tax dollars are paying for a bunch of unconstitutional evangelized aid, for which Billy Graham's son is publicly taking credit along with a potential 2012 Presidential candidate, whose support to raise private money for his organization will be rewarded by the delivering of votes, should they be needed.

Naturally, stringent defender of the Constitution Sarah Palin is uninterested in the details of the (USAID-confirmed) unconstitutional behavior of the organization she endorses. And Palin, Graham and supporters should note that not only is this an illegal use of taxpayer money as defined by Communist Jesus-hating secret Muslim Barack Obama. Because George W. Bush's Executive Order 13279, “Equal Protection of the Laws for Faith-Based and Community Organizations," clearly states, "organizations that engage in inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, and proselytization, must offer those services separately in time or location from any programs or services supported with direct Federal financial assistance…"

But wait, really, here's the best part: there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Samaritan's Purse's infrastructure is too entrenched in the USAID grant-giving process and USAID is too interested in being able to point to the results its grants get through the Purse so that everyone can move up the ladder. Those with nothing to eat or emergency medical needs do not have the luxury to complain. When the decision is an evangelical ministry's life-saving support or nothing, even the most ardent of anti-proselytizers would accept the support. The ones who wouldn't are liars. It's like being angry that big box retailers destroyed your downtown businesses and undermined the local social fabric—so then what are you going to do when you need toilet paper? You just keep wiping and try not to think about it too much.

A Global Operation
But the danger posed by Samaritan's Purse abusing your tax dollars is more than a constitutional concern, it's one of national security. Samaritan's Purse is heavily involved in Afghanistan and Sudan and Islamic nations, where it is almost certainly pulling the same shenanigans with federal funding that it is in Haiti, proselytizing for Christ in the name of the U.S. government, all the while undermining other (also taxpayer funded) efforts aimed at national stabilization. Ironically, it's in the financial (and spiritual) interest of Samaritan's Purse, and Graham's next huge pay increase, for these problems to never really be solved.

But again, the main priorities of USAID and its enablers are not constitutionality, the abuse of your tax dollars, or even Haiti. It's to ultimately be in the position, as Lewis Lucke now is, to sue some corporation formed just to take advantage of U.S. grants for unpaid finders fees for funneling them those grants.

The Wikileaks cables also include a message sent from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just eight days after the earthquake. Clinton wrote:

I am deeply concerned by instances of inaccurate and unfavorable international media coverage of America's role and intentions in Haiti… I direct you as Chief of Mission to personally contact media organizations at the highest possible level—owners, publishers, or others, as appropriate—to push back and insist on informed and responsible coverage of our actions and intentions…. This is a personal priority for me… I thank you for your personal attention to this very important matter.

A 2010 report from International Action Ties carries a title that doesn't mince words: "'WE BECAME GARBAGE TO THEM.'" The report chronicles the "prioritization of profit-making and political interests over the basic needs and physical protection of IDPs." Likewise, the group Refugees International has basically declared an abandonment of duty in Haiti by all involved. They wrote:

Camp inhabitants are protesting against their living conditions and threats of evictions and objecting to the arbitrarily appointed or completely absent camp managers. Gang leaders or land-owners are intimidating the displaced. Sexual, domestic, and gang violence in and around the camps is rising.

The report notes an increase in women exchanging sex for food and botched street abortions, probably as a result of rape. But at least, thanks to you, they have Jesus.



Abe Sauer can be reached at abesauer [at] gmail.com.

47 Comments / Post A Comment

propertius (#361)

"Lazuruses and Lazurites: men and women who are on the verge of death, brought back to life through medical care and fervent prayer.'"

OK my brain just quit.

Just the other day I was lamenting the dearth of Abe posts lately. Now I see what he's been up to.

Worth the wait. Incredible reporting, per usual.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Lord, give me strength.

beatbeatbeat (#3,187)

Ok fine I give up.

offthewawl (#8,258)

Congrats, Abe. You've turned The Awl into a site with some journalistic chops. Now let's all go to Tunisia, where people don't put up with this shit.

cherrispryte (#444)

Abe, this is incredibly well researched and well done.

And I say that as someone who works for a federally-funded international grants-making organization. The "salad vs. cake" thing is very common – the few groups my org funds that are religious in nature are VERY carefully monitored to ensure they're not carrying out religious activites on the Federal Gov't's dime. Which is what I find surprising – federally-funded grantees have to submit both narrative and financial reports on a regular basis, otherwise they don't get their grant paid out. Either Samaritan's Purse was falsifying their reports to a major degree, or people at USAID have been aware of this for years and not given a shit.

LondonLee (#922)

Terrific, Abe.

Sometimes there isn't enough alcohol in the world.

rynthian (#9,486)

Phenomenal job on this, thank you for the outstanding research and cites.

icecreammang (#9,487)

I come her for the lulz but love seeing in-depth ass-kicking like this. Atta boy, Abe.

Renate (#360)

Excellent, excellent work, sir.

roboloki (#1,724)

this is the most depressing thing i've read all week and i thank you for it.

bshep (#746)

Thank you- This is excellent and infuriating. I received one of those "a donation was made in your name" cards this Xmas from a relative, and I'm now doubly mortified that it was for Samaritan's Purse. I fully support donations in place of gifts, but what if it's for something you absolutely don't support? Also, the card clearly mentioned SP's relief *and* evangelizing efforts, so it's not like they're trying to hide the evangelizing part at that level of publicity/outreach.

Neopythia (#353)

I avoided this all day as I knew it would depress me. Brilliant work as usual, Abe.

Hm, it appears there were very few Christians in Haiti before the BGEA and their ilk showed up,

Bittersweet (#765)

According to the CIA's 2010 World Factbook, 96% of the population is Christian "but roughly half…practices voodoo."

So wait, how can they practice Vodou and still be Christian?

Bettytron (#575)

Voodoo, particularly the kind that is practiced in Haiti, is an amalgam of different religions including Roman Catholic Christianity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Vodou

Then it seems like "roughly half" of them are practicing Christianity and Vodou at the same time, pretty much. And if Vodou has elements of Christianity in it, then they're like one-and-a-half times as Christian as other Christians (give or take).

Not really sure why they're preaching at them then, maybe that's just too much Christianity?

Evangelical Protestants like Graham really don't consider Catholicism to be a legitimate form of Christianity.

hockeymom (#143)

Impressive…and depressing.

Aatom (#74)

I'm particularly fascinated by the Food, Inc. scandals here. This is staggering work, well done. Now I'm going to go drink an entire bottle of gin and try to wash the sad off my soul.

Chris Thompson (#9,493)

I do appreciate the in depth nature of this report, but I must say that is is quite cynical. As a christian who agrees there are some issues with governments funding faith-based work like you mentioned, I have to say the overall argument is “sure they're providing homes, setting up cholera relief centers, educating children and running hospitals – but they have the gall to say it was the work of Christ that sent them there. I'll take the actions, but leave that religious junk behind”. I understand that's what many of you many believe, but having been to Haiti many times and seen the work of these organizations there, Samaritans purse and World vision both before and after provide these necessities despite huge logistical obstacles and will do this for ANYONE, regardless of if they want to hear about Christ or not. As far as needing to be a Christian to work for them, any religious organization with a creed of beliefs does the same thing. And finally, if all of you are so upset by this situation, what exactly are you all doing to provide these same services to these people in Haiti? In the month we were there in June I personally saw dozens of temperary homes be built – with Haitian labor and international volunteers, by Samartians purse. There was no UN. There was no UnitedWay. There was no Haitian government. I understand if you want to remove all federal funding from organizations who have conversion as their primary goal. The fact of the matter is, this has been the motivation for humanitarian work more than than any other in the history of the world, and will continue to be. So if you are depressed, or concered or whatever about a few million dollars going to a Christian organization which provides basic services regardless of belief, then please go do something in place of the work they are doing instead of complaining.
Oh, and Christian missionaries have been in this country for years and are often the only source of decent education, hospitals or clinics around.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Chris,

Since I have a little background on where you are coming from, I can understand why this would be interpreted as a personal attack on the good work so many missionaries do in Haiti (and elsewhere), where the goal is aid, not evangelism, and Christ is promoted by example of action, not, basically, cornered muggings.

In fact, and again knowing your personal situation, I might expect you to be especially upset and impacted with Graham's clearly political operation when he leverages his huge media organization (and Sarah Palin) to siphon away the exact sort of private faith-based donations that so many other genuinely invested missionaries in Haiti need. While people like the ones we both know have to scrimp and scrounge to put together enough private donations to live humbly and provide genuine aid to Haitians in need, Graham used his USAID-funded camps to raise more funds that he can use to pay himself over $1 million a year in salaries as head of two separate aid organizations… money that donors think is being spent for Haiti. Money that should be in a Jacmel clinic or maybe paying for legal fees to help free Danny Pye or anything but Graham's grotesque political aspirations made in the name of Jesus Christ.

caw_caw (#5,641)

"What exactly are you all doing to provide these same services to these people in Haiti?"
Well speaking solely for myself, I gave money. Like millions of other people.
And right now it kind of sounds like a good chunk of said money is being used to proselytize to the desperate, pay religious evangelicals big salaries and provide public relations opportunities for Sarah Palin.
Or pad the bank account of the Red Cross. Or benefit Monsanto shareholders.

Nice job Abe. Depressing, yes, but shining a light will help.

What's more correct to be indignant about is that it's your tax dollars being (un)used this way. The logistical support needed by worthwhile NGOs like MSF just isn't being provided by the UN, or local government, or any government at all.

Chris Thompson (#9,493)

Abe,

Thanks for the clarification. The point about Graham's salary is well taken, although It might be appropriate to then put his salary and compensation next to those heads of other faith-based and government organizations which oversee international donation and relief efforts.

I also do see problems with the overt linking of the Gospel with particularly political parties – it's actually a sermon I preached on this summer.

But while Franklin, in my view, does have too close of a public connection to overtly political connections, I don't see how this disqualifies the huge amount of good they are doing. I'm not sure of what the cornered muggings are referring to, so maybe I missed that.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Well, you'd have to put BOTH his salaries against the others. Graham gets paid for two full time jobs. (Or, he just gets paid for one full time job that is conveniently divided into two for reporting purposes.) Case in point, Graham's recent defense of Sarah Palin over the Arizona shooting (right?!) was carried verbatim by both organizations. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/mb/franklin_graham_speaks_in_support_of_sarah_palin/

comforteagle (#9,547)

Abe,

I think you need more proof than a copied blog post to claim that Grahams two jobs are actually one. Just saying.

And even if you put both of his salaries and compensation together (though i though he gave up one of his salaries) he still makes very little compared to for profit CEO's. Which is the level of pay you should be comparing his to.

I think the concerns you bring up about development are very important. Proselytizing, requiring conversion or listening to a sermon in order to receive aid, is not practiced/endorsed by Samaritans Purse or World Vision You seem to have made very many accusations without very much proof. These organizations are very large. They hire predominately Christian workers. It is likely that some forms of proselytizing have occurred but it is almost certainly not the norm. You need more than one or two outliers.

It's clear that you care about relief work and how your taxes are spent. It is also clear that you make weak arguments held up by emotional fiction and sensationalism.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Well if you read the whole thing, I think you'll see that Graham's jobs are clearly the same thing. You know which press office responds to you when you inquire about Samaritan's Purse? BGEA's.
And, in fact, Graham's salary (combined) is almost dead on the average CEO salary (as of 2009). Which was just over $1 million. Not including other benefits of course, but then Graham's salary doesn't include those either. Sure, he makes much less than, say, Lloyd Blankfein… but are you suggesting he should make as much as a man tasked solely with created monetary wealth at any cost?

Bullshit it's not endorsed. The BGEA itself told me (see above) that its rapid response team of chaplains works in organized concert with Samaritan's Purse to provide "spiritual support." If you don;t understand that as a code word for evangelicalism, well, there's probably no explaining anything to you.

Your "this is an isolated case" dismissal of what is going on with the one-two punch of Sam Purse and the BGEA is as wishfully blind and enabling as USAID's. Remember, the BGEA (before they knew exactly who I was) outright told me this.

It's clear that you desperately want to support the continuing evangelical muggings that happen under the banner of the United States government. You're hardly alone. But now, the burden of proof is actually on YOU, and the rest of this organization;s defenders and funders, to prove that this is indeed an isolated incident and that the BGEA's admission was somehow…. mistaken?

I would gladly welcome an opening of SP's books and communications to my investigation. I'll be the first to print a complete retraction after I get a good look. If you can make this happen, email me. Address above.

comforteagle (#9,547)

Abe,

1. Saying if you read my article and noting that BGEA's press office responds for inquiry about Samaritan's Purse still does not prove they are the same organization. They have the same CEO. It shouldn't be surprising that they work together or share resources (probably to save money because they are actually really careful about donated funds or grants received from the gov't).

2."Graham's salary" of a million a year is his combined COMPENSATION of running two major NGO's. Average S&P 500 CEO salary was around a million but their total compensation was 9 in 2009 according to a AFL-CIO analysis of pay data from 292 companies provided by salary.com.

3. Proselytizing and evangelism are considered two different thing in development. You can note that they are for evangelism and against proselytizing, which again is requiring conversion for their services. But good job uncovering the conspiracy of a couple Christian organizations evangelizing. I'm sure when they provided spiritual support they were trying to hide the evangelistic work of their evangelical organization.

4. One time I saw a man rob someone. I heard of another who murdered someone. Therefore men are evil. No. That's ridiculous. You can't take two observations and apply them to the entire population. It's possible that all men have those characteristics or behaviors but highly unlikely. I find it hard to believe that you would be swayed by that weak argument and poor logic against men. This is oversimplified but you get the idea. There are very few reputable reports that corroborate yours. My experience with these organizations is completely contradictory to the picture you paint and so are their corporate governance documents, statements of faith, and job applications. The burdon of proof is on you b/c your statements conflict with the prevailing reputation.

5. the BGEA's admission. Yea… I think that conspiracy theorists who lack an understanding for relief and aid work surprisingly find conspiracies in things they don't understand.

http://www.billygraham.org/financialcommitment.asp
http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Who_We_Are/Financial_Accountability/

Abe Sauer (#148)

1. Actually, I think I prove above that they are NOT the same organization by design as Sam Purse would not get the grants it does if it was running the RRT out of its own doors. They are separate intentionally.

2. I would love to know what Graham's overall compensation is. Can you supply this info? (See, SP's loss of Better Business Bureau accreditation over its unwillingness to provide transparent accounting http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/religious/samaritans-purse-in-boone-nc-281)

3. They are proselytizing. BGEA itself gave me numbers on the count of "first time salvations," many of which, by their admission, took place in SP locations (Specifically against the rules in both executive orders.) See, esp. Pam Rhodes above with her BGEA Chaplain shirt on in a USAID-bannered SP facility. Or I suppose she was just there changing the sheets? Or, she's the only one, a rogue BGEA chaplain. And Jack and Becca Dowling? Also rogue? Please.

4. Actually, there are a lot of reputable reports. Se, esp. Operation Christmas Child.

5. Oh, ok, you're proving BGEA and SP aren't in cahoots by referencing claims by BGEA and SP.

And by all means, reveal yourself and your experiences beyond an anonymous post here claiming evidence and then we'll talk. Your "just believe me" approach to defending these organizations is preposterously ironic.

comforteagle (#9,547)

Sorry to disappoint. I prefer my anonymity. And my just believe me approach. They help me sleep at night.

1. So they are not the same organization by design? But are the same organization because they work together?

2. Graham's overall compensation wasn't my point. The fact that you were comparing apples to oranges was. You compared his reported compensation to avg.CEO's salary. Not their compensation which was 9 million. But maybe you're right. SP and the BGEA aren't completely transparent. Maybe they're funneling 8 million plus to Graham and the rest of their employees with their government money. Even if Graham's salary was this high is it too high for good he has done? even though it's in Jesus' name?

3. What do you mean by proselytizing? How do you define it? Is your definition the same as the BGEA and SP? Is including a Bible/track with aid proselytizing/evangelism whether the recipient reads it or not? Is it wrong to believe something and tell others about it? Or only wrong if it's religion?

4. I've only seen a few. I haven't searched endlessly I have to admit so could I get links or copies of the ones you're citing?

5. Nice use of the word cahoots. (not sarcastic). I'm not proving they don't work together. But wouldn't you imagine two organizations to work together if they shared the same CEO? They admitted to working together. Not being in cahoots to steal taxpayer money.

Commenttrees (#9,500)

Hi Abe, I hope you will promote this baddass reporting of yours. The Awl is a great tide pool of internet creativity, but there's also much bigger pools out there, and your reporting voice is very strong. I hate to ask, but Slate/Salon/Daily Beast/Huffpo…? I'd love to see this story gain some traction, and since The Awl got your piece first I'm sure it's no conflict to seed it elsewhere, too? Even Vice, basically the more the merrier, right? Thanks very much for this.

kpants (#719)

Outstanding work. Well done, Abe.

BirdNerd (#4,196)

Best piece I've read on the awl. Excellent.

zidaane (#373)

Thanks Abe.

Dave Bry (#422)

Late to this, and not much to add. But, man, Abe, this is great.

melis (#1,854)

This was amazing. Hope to see more articles about this soon.

tomstedham (#9,543)

Truly, a great story! Our tax money at work… being misused, as usual… Sigh.

francesco (#9,558)

I've never read a more opinionated, presumed, skewed, piece of journalistic shit in my life. Talk about proselytization.

Eric Bierker (#9,562)

As a evangelical Christian, I worry about Christian organizations accepting government aid to do its work. It is bad for the Church, it is bad for the charity, it is bad for the government. A government that controls money for ministry can devolve into a government telling the Church what it can and cannot do. The Church should be beholden to no man or institution. The Government ideally should get out of the aid business. Wise voices in the developing world say that they want "trade not aid." But it should be trade that is not intrinsically servitude. I think that the organization Ten Thousand Villages is the right way to go (and approaches like this). It is a free and voluntary exchange that honors both the seller and the purchaser. http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/

GoddessOfCarbs (#9,755)

Eric, I am an atheist, and I agree with you 100%. The separation of church and state is good for both! A government that represents hundreds of millions of diverse people should not be influenced by any religion whatsoever. And in a free society, churches and other religious bodies should be free from government intrusion, as long as no laws are being broken. Mixing the two is just asking for trouble.

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