The minister of an Amish-Mennonite sect was convicted on Tuesday for aiding and abetting in the kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins, who is now ten years old. The pastor, Kenneth Miller, assisted Isabella’s mother, Lisa Miller (no relation) in fleeing the country with Isabella instead of complying with a court ordered shared custody of Isabella with her other mother, Janet Jenkins.
Many LGBT and religious media outlets have written about the case, in which Lisa Miller renounced her identity as a lesbian and her partner, Janet, and then used her religious conversation as a reason to disrupt court-ordered visitation between Janet and Isabella. When a Vermont court was about to order primary custody to Janet because of Lisa’s antics, Lisa fled with Isabella to Nicaragua. Pastor Kenneth Miller was found guilty of coordinating other Mennonite pastors to transport Lisa and Isabella to Canada and then on a flight to Nicaragua.
It should be noted that this pastor does not represent Mennonites everywhere. The Bretheren Mennonite Council on Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, and Transgender Interests advocates for full inclusion of LGBT people in the Mennonite faith.
Lisa Miller has been a poster child for the anti-LGBT industry. She had renounced being gay and her relationship with Janet. Anti-LGBT activists lobbied to remove all contact between Isabella and Janet, even supporting Isabella’s kidnapping. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association staunchly defended Lisa Miller’s kidnapping of Isabella, rather than comply with a court order to share custody. He even went so far as to say that there should be an “underground railroad” to operate outside the law to forcibly remove children from families headed by LBGT people. Fischer has been prominently featured in GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project for his past extreme views, but this latest statement brings him even further out of the mainstream.
Strong and healthy families are ones allowed stability. GLAAD is thankful that one of those who resorted to kidnapping to tear a family apart has been held accountable for his actions. However, there is much more we can do to protect LGBT families. This extreme kidnapping case, and the outrageous comments by Bryan Fischer, should shed light that it is not in the best interest of any children and family to be torn apart. Our laws and our culture should enact in a way that secures protections for all families. Religious opposition to LGBT families does not give permission to harmful and illegal acts, such as kidnapping. GLAAD calls on the media to use this case as a wake-up call to all Americans to understand that LGBT families (and children like Isabella, who is believed to still be in Nicragua) are in real risk and harm.