Of human sacrifice, and parents tears,
Though, for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud,
Their children’s cries unheard that passed through fire
To his grim Idol.
—Milton: Paradise Lost
The day began like any other, for the family. A recent Friday morning at the little farm of William and Jenica Keim, in Mansfield, Ohio. William was raised Amish, but had broken away years before. And met and married Jenica. They had two young sons, Malachi (age 4) and Dalton (age 2). After years of dreaming and saving, they had just recently purchased and moved onto the eighty acres that was their new home. A place where they could live in peace, live off the land as much as possible, and raise their children.
That morning, before dawn, William got up and went turkey hunting. I don’t know if it was on his own farm or at some other local spot. In any case, he was successful. Called in and bagged a nice gobbler, and returned in triumph to his home and family. He skinned the bird and his wife put it into a large pot and placed it on the stove to boil. The little boys were excited. Daddy had shot a turkey. And now Mom was fixing it to eat. Oh boy. They couldn’t wait.
After hours of boiling, the turkey was ready. Jenica turned off the stove and turned her back for just a moment, doing something else. And that’s when it happened. Right there, while she was in the room. Little Dalton, eager to see for himself, walked up and tried to pull himself up by the stove handle, so he could peek at the turkey. His weight tipped the stove forward. The large pot slid off and crashed to the floor. Dalton was severely burned by the boiling water, mostly on the front of his legs and feet.
And that’s what happened. A terrible, tragic accident. One of those things that life throws at you, now and then. What happened next is why I’m writing this.
William and Jenica were very familiar with burn treatments. They knew what happens to burn victims at hospitals. The scraping, the screams of agony. The painful skin grafts that would follow for years and years. They also knew very well of the only known natural treatment that heals burns. B&W Ointment. They knew of it because William’s father, John Keim, had invented it. B&W will actually regrow new skin over burned areas, even third degree burns, something the most sophisticated modern techniques cannot do. It has been proven over and over again. They also knew that if they took Dalton to the hospital, he would undergo the painful scraping and grafting. The folks at the local hospital wouldn’t hear anything of B&W Ointment. And they wouldn’t release Dalton, either, so he could be taken to a hospital that allowed the treatment.
And so, because they feared the consequences of state-mandated burn treatments, they made their choice. And rushed their child to a relative 10 miles away, a relative trained and certified to treat burns with B&W. And she applied the ointment. For the next sixteen hours, they watched him closely. He showed no signs of pain. The next day, they decided to take him to a hospital in Pennsylvania, a rare island in the hospital world where the B&W treatment was permitted. And as they were making their plans, it happened. The worst possible thing imaginable. Dalton’s eyes started fluttering, and within minutes he stopped breathing. They immediately called 911 and applied CPR. But by the time the ambulance arrived, he was gone. Their beautiful two year old son. Just…..gone.
The furies of hell were about to be unleashed upon William and Jenica. But here, I stop. Pause. Think about it. The loss of your child. The intense shock, the grief. I’m not a parent, but that’s one fear I’ve tried to imagine, now and then. The fear of such a loss. Maybe you get over it, sometime. Maybe you never do, quite. Whatever the case, you will walk through desolate fields of intense grief for a very long time.
I don’t know William and Jenica Keim. I’ve never met them, never communicated with either of them. But my heart goes out to them both in the loss of their son. Two years. They had him for two years. Ample time for him to develop his own distinct personality. To be his Mama’s “little man.” And now they will know him no more on this earth. Even from a safe emotional distance, it is a harsh and bitter thing to contemplate.
After the ambulance arrived at the hospital, all the corrupt machinery of the state was unleashed upon the couple. Two police officers awaited them and questioned them at length. I would have told them never to speak to any law enforcement investigators without an attorney present. Never, under any circumstances. Never, for any reason. But they didn’t know. They thought they had to, I’m sure. The officers intimidated them, I’m sure, too. And after they returned to their home, the vile vultures of the press closed in. Eager to peck at the carcass of grief, eager for such a sensational story, reporters camped outside the home and practically assaulted anyone who came or went. TV news crews closed in as well. And the headlines screamed from the newspapers. The Keims had not taken their son to the hospital and now were under investigation for negligence in Dalton’s death. Think about that. You’ve just lost your two year old son. And then you are forced to deal with a nightmare like this.
The community, the common people, rallied, though. As did the local churches. Support poured in for the grieving family. More than 800 people showed up for the viewing, and around 400 attended the funeral. And people came to the farm and worked. Cut down trees, removed limbs, cut the grass, fixed a broken well, cleaned up and repaired the barn. That’s what real people do, people with a heart. Show up and help. Mourn with those who mourn. But show up with support.
And now the dark cloud of the vengeful state hangs over William and Jenica Keim. Will they be charged? Will their remaining son be ripped from their arms and forced into the jungle of state foster care? Will they go to jail? And it all boils down to one simple question. In a case like this, where there is no hint of any history of abuse, who gets to decide what is best for a child? The parents? Or the state?
I come down way, way on the side of the parents. It’s not even close. Life, and living, includes risks. And it includes choices that can go dreadfully wrong, the choices of parents who truly love their children, and want what’s best for them. Why should the lack of certain actions of such parents be criminalized? William and Jenica wanted Dalton to live. To heal and be free to be the man he would one day be. They bear the loss of their son. They will always bear the regrets, the not knowing for sure whether or not they did the right thing. They were deeply vested in their son. With all the love of which parents are capable. They made their choice. The best choice they knew. And we all know the state cares nothing for Dalton. Nothing. The state is incapable of compassion. In this case, it cares only that its power might have been challenged. And it is all too willing, too eager, to lash out, to crush and punish any perceived dissent. That’s how I see it. And I know no other way to say it.
The Amish have their faults and failures, I know all too well. It took me long enough to break my way out of that culture. But I am very proud of many aspects of my heritage. I am proudest of all of a single, defining Amish characteristic. And that is their quiet, persistent, relentless resistance to the state, when they deem it necessary. They don’t march. They don’t make a lot of noise of any kind. But they refuse to yield. They simply won’t comply. No matter the cost.
In the past few months, the Swartzentruber Amish faced down the state of Kentucky over the simple issue of safety signs on their buggies. (Yes, of course I think they are insane. No, it doesn’t have to make sense to me, what they believe. I strongly support their right to be left alone.) And recently I saw some old film footage of a row of darkly-dressed, black-hatted Amish men walking into the courthouse here in Lancaster. Walking in to be jailed for refusing to send their children to high school. The footage shocked me. These men were willingly giving up their freedom for their beliefs. Quietly. And back in those days, the 1950s, the Amish were far from the media darlings they are today. Back then, they were very much viewed as second class citizens. Looked down upon. Despised. It didn’t matter to them then, how they were perceived. It doesn’t matter to them now. And it will never matter. They will always be who they are, when it comes to conflicts between their religion and the state. They will always stand firm. They will never surrender.
And that’s a beautiful thing. I strive to be worthy of such a heritage. I differ a bit from the traditional Amish resistance, though. I’m most definitely not shy about raging against the machine and throwing my stuff out there. I’m not shy about calling the state what it is, either. Right to its face. And so I’ll just say it here, out loud.
When it comes to our children, the state is Moloch, demanding sacrifice. And those who impose its edicts are Moloch’s priests. As are a good many (not all) of the minions who enforce those edicts.
A rash accusation, you say? Hyperbole? OK. Fair enough. Let’s take a little peek at some of the actions of the state, and see if my claim might hold water. Here goes.
It is the state that imprisons many of our children in the morass of failing public schools, and then criminalizes them for simply being children. It is the state that assaults and terrorizes four-year-olds at airports. It is the state that sends our sons and daughters to shed others’ blood and too often their own in countless, senseless, endless wars all around the world. All the while trumpeting the preposterous vacuous slogan that they, our sons and daughters, are “protecting our freedoms” by killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people ten thousand miles away. It is the state that persecutes and destroys Amish farmers for producing and selling raw milk. It is the state that criminalizes farmers for making a living, by suddenly redefining as a felony the act of owning the livestock they are producing, and have always produced. And sends its goons right out to farms to kill hogs worth thousands of dollars each. It is the state that blatantly robs its citizens for carrying more than arbitrarily dictated amounts of cash. It is the state that casually and ruthlessly destroys lives, just because it can. It is the state that is trying to gain control of every aspect of our lives, with the vile abomination that is Obamacare. It is the state that has incarcerated more than 2.3 million people in this country, which boasts the highest prison population in the world. The number of people under correctional supervision now totals six million, more than were in Stalin’s Gulag at its apex. And the list could go on and on. It is the state…It is the state…
And as the state’s devastation is unleashed upon the land, the cries of innocent children echo to the heavens. The untold millions of children of the state’s victims all across this land, and across the world. Often, no one is there for them except the state itself, which steps in as the “provider” for those children. As a benevolent father figure, as a “god” to replace the family it has destroyed.
Why, then, should we even listen to Moloch’s priests, as they piously bray about the tragic but accidental death of a child? A child about whom they couldn’t care less, except as a bludgeon to destroy the parents who dared to defy them. What can one do, in the face of such tyranny? How can we respond? How should we react? We can be aware of the true nature of the forces at work here. We can speak out. And as a Christian, I can choose to pray for the oppressors in this case. As counter-intuitive as that seems. Yes. Pray for them. Not that they would have wisdom. But that they would change in their hearts as individuals, and cease their worship of the beast. And cease demanding by threat of raw and brutal force that we worship the beast as well. (To those who would challenge me with Romans 13, consider maybe for the first time in your life what many believe that chapter really means.)
And then, of course, I am called to lift the parents, William and Jenica, in prayer before the Lord in this their time of intense grief and loss. And in this their time of persecution. And you can, too, wherever you are. If you live in the Mansfield area, get involved. Let them know you support them. Help them out where and when you can. Be there for them, provide what comfort you can. And stop the gossip when you hear it. It’s slithering around out there, oh yes, it is. A bane of the Amish culture, it’s pulsing from person to person, from mouth to ear, a poisonous stream of words. Rumors. Told as facts. Stop them, stop it cold. These people are hurting. Rebuke the gossipers. And don’t pass the venom on.
If you just want to keep informed of what’s going on, or send William and Jenica a personal message, check out this web site now and then.
One day, I am convinced, the time will come when the Amish “popularity wave” will crest and crash and recede. And they’ll go back to being what they were when I was a child. Second class citizens. And when that day arrives, the state will be all too ready, all too eager, to step in and declare the Amish lifestyle a crime, a felony. The lifestyle itself. It’s so primitive. And it’s abuse on its face, the way they raise their children. The way they discipline them. The way they make them work, and deny them an education. Such a time will come. Maybe not in my lifetime. Maybe not for a long time. But it will happen.
But until then, and even after it all comes down, the quiet persistent Amish will always stand in defiance to the vile false god that is the state. They will not waver. They will not comply. They will never surrender their children to Moloch’s priests.
And we must never surrender ours.Share