Reversing the Church’s Decline

Any society which has explicitly or implicitly rejected the Ten Commandments is already in sharp decline. Reversing that decline will require radical action on the part of society’s most important institution, the Church. The Church must be stopped in its tracks, and go and find its Biblical foundations, all over again. That may take a generation or longer to accomplish, but otherwise we’ll just continue on the same old slippery slope to irrelevance, oblivion and judgment.

Church-Decline[1]The Old Testament prophets didn’t have an easy task going to Israel with their message from God. From Moses onwards, there wasn’t a lot of love lost towards them, because they were perennially confronting a nation determined to head into sin, idolatry and depravity. And when Jesus came with His message from God concerning the kingdom of heaven and His command to repent, despite the thousands of miraculous public healings, the resurrections from the dead and events such as the feeding of the five thousand, Israel found a way to have Him tried, condemned and executed.

What does this tell us? It’s a fact of human nature that people (including religious people), really don’t like being confronted and challenged to change. They very commonly find some way to either ignore the messenger, rationalise his message, or just get rid of him.

We cannot ignore human nature, for only God through Jesus Christ can change that. What we have to do is what prophets have always done: confront people with the perennial messages of repentance and the ethics of the kingdom of God. God requires the ethical faithfulness of His people to His covenant, but the wages of sin is death. There will be a lot more pain, if we don’t change, now.

Change has to begin somewhere, and it certainly can’t be nebulous, or merely a matter of good intentions. Noah and his sons needed a lot more than good intentions over 120 years, to build the ark. I believe change in the Church will have to begin with four things:

1)      A recognition that the 6-day Creation is foundational to the Church’s belief.

2)      A re-discovery of the importance of God’s covenant with His people.

3)      A re-appraisal of God’s law, and the absolute necessity of its application today.

4)      A tremendous growth in believers in personal, family and church responsibility.

All of this will require communication, discussion/debate and time. But the longer we leave it, the worse the Church and the world around us will get. The fate of the world for better or worse, is inextricably tied up with the state of the Church, because Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth…” and “You are the light of the world…” (Mat.5:13-14).

The decline of the Church for hundreds of years now has been very serious. God helping us, it won’t be terminal. We’re like men on the deck of a burning ship in a vast ocean, with no ship in sight, no means of communications with the world, and no life-rafts. If we can’t put these doctrinal and theological fires out, we’ll go under. Thus we have a great imperative to get moving and working for dramatic but constructive change for the better.

Of course, there would be a huge proportion of people today in the Church who would respond saying, “What’s the problem?” That approximates the attitude of Lot’s sons-in-law, when he told them of the impending destruction of Sodom (Gen.19:14).

We have to confront the sin, the compromise and the failures of the Church over many generations, for it’s been God Who has been smiting His Church and bringing us to so many humiliations of late. We cannot expect Him to relent in this process, until we get busy effecting serious change and reform.

And if there are some who would say. “Look Andrew, the Lord Jesus would never do that, because He loves us so much, and He only does good to His people,” I need to remind them of what the Bible says:

Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel up to plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they were not willing to walk, and whose law they did not obey? So He poured out on him the heat of His anger and the fierceness of battle… (Isa.42:24-25).

And from the New Testament,

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off (Ro.11:22).

Conclusion:

I’m fond of the saying attributed to the Chinese: Every great journey starts with a few small steps. If the Church will respond to God in repentance and obedience, and start the challenging but rewarding process of getting its house in order after so many years of decline, there is a hope and a future for us.

We would be foolish to leave this to those who are today’s leaders. The Reformation wasn’t begun by men who were part of the era’s status quo. Those who have led us into crisis, will be the last ones who know how to get us out of it. Thus there is a great individual responsibility on believers (as at all times), to take up the challenge of personal obedience and faithfulness to God.

Will each of us be a part of the problem or part of the solution?

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Health and the Christian

Proverbs-3-7-8[1]Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones (Prov.3:7-8)

Recently, my wife and I visited a 65 year old friend of hours, in a Brisbane hospital. Admitted while having a heart attack, he nearly died, but was twice resuscitated. Now, he hopes to make a slow recovery.

His problems? Diabetes, poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive weight, too much sitting around and too much stress. His heart has sustained too much damage to permit a by-pass operation in the short-term; it would probably kill him. He’s still not out of the woods; he could still die in that hospital, any day.

All of this was predictable. These life habits were not new; they were present with our friend for many years, before his recent crisis.

Each of us shares the same human vulnerability. Once the heart stops, you have a few minutes to be resuscitated, or that’s the end. And we must remember this: God’s faithfulness to us doesn’t mean we can afford to be negligent with the body He has given us.

Every car’s oil, coolant levels and tyre pressures can easily be checked by its owner, and should be.  I do mine regularly. But what about our body?

The notion that we can somehow afford to despise or neglect our body has no basis in scripture. Paul prays for the Thessalonians, that “…your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (I Thess.5:23). This means that all aspects of bodily care, including health and fitness, should be important to us. Our bodies are a trust from God to be cared for, for His use and glory.

The body needs regular work and exertion. We were designed for it. Our modern, western sedentary lifestyle hasn’t been good for us, because we sit round, far too much. It might be the computer, the TV, or our work habits that contribute to this, but we need to find ways to deal with the problem.

I heard once of a middle-aged golfer who neared the end of his round, and challenged his partner for a race to the golf-house. He ran the 400-500 metres to beat his friend, turned around to brag to him, and died. His body was utterly unprepared for such a challenge.

Thus we need regular and reasonably vigorous exercise, and when our lifestyle is consistently marked by a lack of it (like my friend), there can be a severe price to pay.

I have a 120 metre hill up from our house, with a set of 13 stairs at the top. After running up that hill and then up the stairs, my heart is really working hard. It takes me 2 minutes to get my breath back (don’t ask me to talk!), but I feel good for it all. 5 days a week gives me a good workout.

But there’s a lot more. We have to talk about diet, which can make a huge difference to an individual’s health. I saw a sign when a child, saying “What you eat and drink today, walks and talks tomorrow.” Very true.

We are fortunate in australia to have relatively easy access to plenty of meats, along with lots of fruits and vegetables, and they are all important. The Bible is not a vegetarian’s handbook. God said that for the feasts of Israel,

You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household (Deut.14:26).

Barbeques are Biblical. Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus “…declared  all foods clean” (Mk.6:19). But it’s been noted that there is a correlation between a diet high in red meat, and incidence of bowel cancer. The solution? Intersperse consumption of red meats with fish and chicken.

It’s probably true that, “an apple a day keeps the Doctor away,” but it’s not only apples. Some less fashionable and cheap vegetables like spinach, beetroot and broccoli have very important protective functions in the body that we really need.

The best source of Vitamin D, is sunshine. Yes, over-exposure to the sun can cause sunburn and possibly skin cancer, but we all need some regular exposure. Furthermore,

In addition to the healthy affect on your skin, sunlight also provides another positive benefit. The human eye contains photosensitive cells in its retina, with connections directly to the pituitary gland in the brain. Stimulation of these important cells comes from sunlight, in particular, the blue unseen spectrum. A study by Dr.’s Turner and Mainster of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, published in the British Journal of Opthamology in 2008 states that, “these photoreceptors play a vital role in human physiology and health.” The effects are not only in the brain, but the whole body…The bottom line: The sun can help brain function, which can improve the nervous system, hormonal regulation, muscle function, immune health, and carries many other benefits.[1]

But there’s more. People whose lives are free from chronic anger, bitterness and unforgiveness towards others, will probably live longer. Why? Because these sentiments or attitudes really do harm people long-term, contributing to things like anxiety, lack of sleep and cancer.

Mental health institutions are largely made up of people who are refusing to face reality or take personal responsibility for their actions. In the vast majority of cases, there is nothing organically or biologically wrong with their minds at all. How they are thinking is really the problem. Attitudes of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and guilt can be endemic in these places. The people there need to know that Christ’s atoning blood really does set people free. Through Christ, they can know that “all is forgiven.”

You really want to be healthy? Don’t expect perfection in this life from yourself, or others. Forgive people who offend or hurt you. You will not just please God, but do your health a huge favour in the process.

Conclusion:

“Healing to your body and refreshment to your bones” begins with the fear of the Lord. We all need that, and we need to take those wise steps with our body that it requires, to maintain and improve its health. That means looking at our diet, our rates of exercise, and even our attitudes and changing what we do, so we can joyfully serve the God Who entrusted our bodies to us, for a long time.

 

[1] Dr Phil Maffetone, “Sunlight is also Good for Eyes and Brain.”

A version of this column originally appeared in:

America’s Foster Care System: Test Lab For Big Pharma, Cash Cow For Caretakers?

“Tristen,” a former foster child, tells of his experience being overprescribed psychiatric drugs as a child, during a Foster Care Alumni of American meeting. (Photo/screen grab via YouTube)

“Tristen,” a former foster child, tells of his experience being overprescribed psychiatric drugs as a child, during a Foster Care Alumni of American meeting. (Photo/screen grab via YouTube)

Hours after Texas Child Protective Services removed 5-year-old Tristen from the care of his mother and placed him in a foster home, Tristen’s foster parents took him to see a psychiatrist, citing concerns the young boy was depressed. That day, a psychiatrist prescribed Tristen three medications: one for anger, one for depression and one to help the 5-year-old relax.

Now an adult and out of the foster care system, Tristen says he recognizes he was depressed that day, but he says he never needed any medication — his feelings were only natural given the circumstances.

“They just took the thing that meant the most to me,” he said. “My family.”

Passed from foster home to foster home all over the state of Texas, Tristen says no one ever asked him how the pills made him feel, despite the fact that he would often spend time in his room crying because he felt his medicines were slowly tearing his chest apart.

Doctors also never tested Tristen to see whether the drugs were working or whether the combination of medications he was on was safe. And whenever he asked his case worker or foster parents if he could stop using the drugs, they threatened to call the police, take him to a psychiatric hospital or kick him out of the foster care system.

Unfortunately, stories like Tristen’s are all too common in the U.S.

Of the more than 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, it’s estimated that more than 50 percent are on some sort of psychiatric drug.

Money is part of the reason. Foster parents are paid more to take care of a child with mental health issues.

On average, a foster family earns about $17 a day for taking in a child who needs a basic level of care. But a child who is taking drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, anxiety medications or anticonvulsant medications is worth around $1,000 a day.

And foster parents are not responsible for paying for the medicines, either, as they are covered by Social Security.

Many child and human rights advocates are concerned about the dramatic number of children who are classified as “special needs” after entering the foster care system. One reason doctors, psychiatrists and therapists may not be speaking out against the unnecessary drugging of these children is because those who prescribe the drugs often benefit financially, receiving big payouts from pharmaceutical companies.

But for foster care alumni like Tristen, placing children on several different medications is a common practice that needs to change, especially since the “medication only makes foster parents richer” at the expense of a child.

 

Medicine or poison?

Dr. John Breeding is a psychologist who has long spoken out against prescribing children psychiatric drugs. He calls the increased reliance on pharmaceuticals to keep kids in line “institutionalized child abuse,” and says these medicines are as damaging as hitting a child on the head with a pipe.

He says children are being used as experimental guinea pigs and “as profit points for a corrupt, cynical, evil industry,” referring to big pharmaceutical companies.

“It’s a shame and disgrace,” Breeding said.

According to Breeding, in 2011, psychiatric drugs were prescribed to 12 percent of children age 5 and under, 55 percent of children ages 6-12, and 67 percent of children ages 13-17 in the Texas foster care system. Of those children, 73 percent were taking two or more drugs, while 42 percent were taking three or more drugs.

National statistics are not available on the number of foster kids on psychiatric drugs because each state is responsible for overseeing its own foster care program. However, many speculate the numbers would be similar to those in Texas, since despite the fact that only 3 percent of the U.S. population has a medical condition that would benefit or require the use of antipsychotics, that type of drug is the top seller in the U.S.

Despite protests from medical experts like Breeding and testimony from foster care alumni, some medical professionals say there is nothing wrong with prescribing psychotropic drugs to children.

At a 2004 Texas committee hearing on psychotropic drugs and foster care children, psychiatrist Joe Burkett said he prescribed the medications to kids partly because “they are very sick” and “come from a bad gene pool.”

Breeding, who was in attendance at the hearing, said many like Burkett view mental illness as a genetic brain disease and therefore justify prescribing the pills.

Since activists such as Breeding began calling for change, some states, such as Texas, have begun to see legal changes regarding medicating children. Breeding told Mint Press News that while foster kids are the hardest-hit group of kids when it comes to use of psychiatric drugs, the number of kids on multiple drugs has declined.

Still, many foster care alumni remain concerned about kids “being drugged to the gills,” especially since most of the kids get off the medications once they age out of the system.

 

Drugging epidemic

Aisha was in foster care for 15 years and spent a great deal of time in a home with her brother and 13 other children. Of the children in Aisha’s home, she says everyone was on medication when she arrived — except for her. But the first time she was taken to the doctor, she was prescribed 200 milligrams of Prozac to help her depression, as well as 200 milligrams of Seroquel so she could sleep at night.

“Foster parents should not be allowed to diagnose foster children,” Aisha said.

While Aisha was taking two medications, the other children in the foster home were taking at least five pills each. She said some kids took as many as 13 pills and were so accustomed to medication that they would swallow all of them at once.

“It’s absolutely tragic,” Breeding said, “We’re killing these kids. This is poison; this is not medical treatment. This is not an illness. These drugs are not medicine. They’re toxic poisons that disable and kill — physically many times, psychologically always.”

When 14-year-old Elnita was taken away from her family by Texas Child Protective Services and placed in a foster home, she was given a medication for depression that she says she did not need.

“I was a shy person,” Elnita explained, adding that she was struggling to get used to her new living environment, which was filled with several other young girls and caretakers she didn’t know. “I wasn’t ready for that.”

But like Tristen, she was forced to take the medication.

Elnita was prescribed 500 milligrams of an antidepressant and said every time she or one of the other girls in her foster care home cried or screamed out of frustration, they were put into an isolation room or given more drugs to calm down.

While in foster care, Elnita was on four different kinds of depression pills. Despite the fact that the medicines made her slow, caused her to struggle to focus at school and gave her terrible nightmares, her foster parents and her social worker denied her request to be taken off the high dosage.

 

Foster parents

While each state has its own version of Child Protective Services with its own rules and policies, the general requirements to become a foster parent are similar throughout the U.S. Foster parents are required to be at least 18 years old, be healthy physically and mentally, and live in an environment that protects and promotes the well-being of children. Single people and married couples are eligible to apply.

Elnita said the behavior of children in foster care is often “not normal because of what we’ve been through and what we’ve seen.” But all children in the foster care system are normal, she said — they just have “a little bit of extra problems.”

Elnita said that a problem with the current system is that foster parents “treat us like we’re only there for the money.”

“They don’t love us,” she said.

Judge Janson A. Kauser is a retired municipal court judge, attorney, Guardian ad Litem for abused and neglected children, and former police officer who investigated suspected child abuse and neglect cases. He agrees with Elnita that the current foster system isn’t working and told Mint Press News that he doesn’t see much value in the current program.

While Kauser recognizes many Child Protective Services agents are well-intentioned individuals, he says based on his experience, they are doing loads of work without the necessary qualifications. Most of the agents “couldn’t spell investigation much less handle” one, he said.

Elnita is out of the foster care system now and has been off her depression medications for a year. She says she feels better and has found she can fit in with other people. She realized that what she needed all along was a person to talk to.

Ciara Jackson, a foster care alumni from Colorado, agrees. She said that when she first entered the system at 13, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Until she was 17, Jackson fought with her foster parents and caseworker after realizing the drugs were making her slow mentally and physically. But she says the more she refused the drugs, “the more defiant social services labeled me and the angrier I became.”

When she emancipated herself at the age of 18, Jackson says she refused her medication and discovered that she was not bipolar, but had a mood disorder.

“If you had been in my surroundings and seen the things that I witnessed, your moods would change rapidly too,” she said.

Pleading with current and future foster parents, Tristen said foster parents need to recognize that the children in the system are already dealing with a life that has been halfway destroyed. He said the best thing a foster parent can do is not medicate a child, but ask him or her how she’s doing, how he’s feeling.

“Take the time to talk to them,” he said. “It’s going to shock you.”

 

A version of this column originally appeared in mintpressnews.com.

A version of this column originally appeared in feedproxy.google.com.

Anger as services to keep teens from crime dumped by state government

365644c8-29a4-4a34-a877-2b1ad4aee86d[1]Parents and caseworkers are outraged the state government will abolish two specialist services that provide after-hours support for marginalised teenagers in Kings Cross and Cabramatta.

The services operate seven days a week and after hours to divert teenagers from crime and help reconnect them with their families.

The NSW government has confirmed it will disband the two units and absorb resources into seven units spread across the state.

Caseworkers who spoke to Fairfax Media said resources would be spread too thinly under the new arrangements and they would no longer be able to spend time building relationships and supporting young people and families.

One case worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the Cabramatta and Kings Cross adolescent units provided invaluable support for vulnerable young people.

"There are vulnerable teenagers in these areas who won't get a service now," the caseworker said.

"We work with them and their families to help keep them at home and keep them off the street and get them back into education.

"The new service will be spread too thin."

Another caseworker said under the new arrangements, caseworkers would only have time to assess young people. There would be no time for building relationships and providing after hours care.

"It is just ticking the boxes and very short sighted breaking up an established service," the caseworker said.

"The new system will provide a higher turnover, with no time to spend on support or follow up.

"There will be no after hours service - we see people until 9pm. The new service will be nine to five."

The caseworker said removal of the adolescent units in Kings Cross and Cabramatta would also put greater strain on education and juvenile justice services.

"I just can't believe they don't think they need adolescent service to stop kids congregating in gangs," the caseworker said.

"This is a very specialised service for the most marginalised kids".

One Sydney parent, Jamal Ammoun, said the Cabramatta adolescent unit had helped keep his daughter at home. He said she was being encouraged by her peers at school to leave home. But the intervention of the service has helped resolved the problem.

Mr Ammoun said his daughter had attention deficit disorder and related behaviour problems.

"It is a good service because they came to my house. Her schoolmates would tell her what to do and she would follow them," Mr Ammoun said.

"She is a lot better. It was a good service for her.

"She doesn't think about leaving home any more.

"I am so sad to hear they are closing this office."

The Public Service Association of NSW called an emergency forum on Thursday to protest against the plans to disband the Kings Cross and Cabramatta street teams.

Assistant Secretary Steve Turner said the department of family and community services had confirmed the unit's specialist team would be split up, despite its success.

“The break up of the Kings Cross Adolescent Unit clearly shows the government has no effective plan for tackling the serious issue of youth at risk on the streets of the Cross,” Mr Turner said today.

“For 27 years, the specialist team has reached out to tens of thousands of vulnerable kids and removed them from the danger of Kings Cross, including drugs, alcohol and prostitution.

“These caseworkers can't tackle serious teen issues by working regular office hours or remotely – they need to be out on the streets at night speaking with vulnerable teens and offering assistance."

The Public Service Association has urged the government to guarantee the Kings Cross Adolescent Unit can continue work as a dedicated unit.

Opposition spokeswoman for Family and Community Services Linda Burney said the government has also abolished mental health services for adolescents.

She said caseworkers had told her that from July 1, the mental health service will only be available to children under 12.

"This is another frontline service cut reducing early intervention and prevention programs for vulnerable adolescents," she said.

"It is short-sighted and the long-term implications of cuts like these will mean more children being caught up in out of home care."

"Street teams are particularly effective because they can provide a rapid response in a crisis, which is exactly what's needed in areas like Kings Cross and Cabramatta," she said.

"This is yet another crazy decision that will put children and young people in these communities at greater risk".

Ms Burney also said frontline staff vacancies were becoming chronic in many locations including Brewarrina and Bourke where child protection problems are chronic.

A spokesman for Family and Community Services minister Pru Goward said the adolescent unit would be expanded from two to seven teams serving the whole state.

He said the new service would reach adolescents in places including Parramatta, Albury, Wagga Wagga, the Central Coast and Dubbo.

"Over recent years, there has been a steady reduction in the number of child protection reports referred to the Kings Cross Team," he said.

"The former Government failed to review where services were needed most."

He said the number of caseworkers would increase from 16 in two teams to 61 across seven. Annual funding for the teams would increase from $1.9 million a year for two teams to $8 million a year for seven.

Jim Moore, director general for the Department of Family and Community Services, has written to the PSA and said the expertise of the Cabramatta Street team will be "shared across the region."

"Staff have been offered opportunities to move to other adolescent teams," he said.

"There is significant need for a child protection adolescent response in areas across the metro central region, rather than focussed within the Kings Cross and Central Sydney area.

"For example, Sutherland, Chatswood, Epping, St George and Lakemba community services centres all receive more reports involving adolescents than eastern Sydney and central Sydney.

"Non-government services also undertake outreach work aimed at supporting young people in the Kings Cross and Central Sydney area, and this has reduced the need for the out-of-ours services provided by the unit."

However, Laurie Matthews, the chief executive officer of Caretakers Cottage youth refuge, based in Bondi, said without the Kings Cross and Cabrammatta street teams, teenagers would have no clear point of contact with the Department of Family Services for support.

"The adolescent team form relationships with young people and young people come to them because they are the human face of the department," he said.

"They work every night talking with kids, but that is probably not paying enough dividends for the government because it is not sexy enough and easy to dispose.

"The street teams are the last point of access to the department for an adolescent. It is the best bet a young person has got of getting external supervision other than by getting arrested to get a juvenile justice worker to give them support.

"This is just cost cutting."

A version of this column originally appeared in bordermail.com.au.

Native Americans trade tales of heartache, anger over displaced children in Rapid City summit

Elijah Bearsheart, left, with his daughter, Keanala, 1, and family, Kehala Diserly, Kiari Diserly, 3, and Yamni Pederson, 5, as they listen to testimony during the Indian Child Welfare Act summit Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City, S.D. The summit was called in response to charges that South Dakota breaks the Indian Child Welfare Act, which requires that Native American children removed from homes must be placed with relatives or put in foster care with other Native American families except in unusual circumstances. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Benjamin Brayfield)

Elijah Bearsheart, left, with his daughter, Keanala, 1, and family, Kehala Diserly, Kiari Diserly, 3, and Yamni Pederson, 5, as they listen to testimony during the Indian Child Welfare Act summit Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City, S.D. The summit was called in response to charges that South Dakota breaks the Indian Child Welfare Act, which requires that Native American children removed from homes must be placed with relatives or put in foster care with other Native American families except in unusual circumstances. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Benjamin Brayfield)

RAPID CITY, South Dakota — Between choked sobs and streaming tears, more than a dozen Native American families delivered testimony Wednesday in Rapid City about how their children were taken from them by South Dakota social workers.

Those stories from parents — specifically details about the difficulty in regaining custody of Native children placed in non-Native foster homes — filled the first day of the Great Plains Indian Child Welfare Act Summit in Rapid City.

More than 250 people from reservations and organizations across the Midwest were at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center for the conference. Wednesday focused on testimony from families about alleged violations by South Dakota under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Thursday and Friday are to focus on potential solutions.

The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted in 1978 to protect Native culture and tribal identity from the unnecessary removal of Native children by state and federal agencies. South Dakota tribal officials allege that South Dakota has violated the law since its inception, but those complaints have gained new impetus after an expose by National Public Radio in 2011. The Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux tribes, along with three Native American parents, filed a lawsuit against the state two months ago.

Richard LeCompte, 54, a heavy-machinery operator in Rapid City, was among those who shared their stories on Wednesday.

LeCompte said he had spent a year battling the state to regain custody of his 8-year old son, who was placed in foster care after he was molested by a family member.

LeCompte said he saw no end to his struggle. He had appeared in court 15 times and said, like many others giving testimony, that South Dakota set an impossibly high standard for him to meet.

"The Virgin Mary could not have met that criteria," he told the crowd.

At times, Wednesday's testimony evoked frustration and anger among tribal officials. Cyril Scott, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, speaking during a recess, said each child placed in non-Native care was a blow to the integrity of tribal culture.

 

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