6/20/09 – TG: Parents hope to keep newest addition

Texarkana Gazette
June 20, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Parents hope to keep newest addition

Carlos and Sophie Parrish’s joy at the birth of their fifth child is clouded by fears an Arkansas state agency will take their baby because they are Tony Alamo Christian Ministries members.

The couple’s four other children, a 7-year-old boy and three girls ages 5, 3 and 1, were taken by Arkansas Department of Human Services officials and placed in foster care.

“I feel in my mind a battle of hope and doom at the same time,” Carlos Parrish said. “My child being born, even through all of this, is like a ray of hope. I keep telling Sophia that God will protect this baby.”

The Parrishes are hoping for help from the public, especially other parents, and from the courts. “Help us. Stand up for what’s right,” Sophie Parrish said. “If this can happen to us, it can happen to any family.”

Little Gian Carlos Parrish, born a couple of days ago, is believed to be the first baby born to ministry-loyal parents since six girls were taken following a raid on properties in Fouke, Ark., in September. He weighed 9 pounds when he entered the world at an area birthing center with a midwife’s assistance. Within hours of his birth, Gian Carlos lifted his tiny head from his mother’s shoulder and peered into her face.

“He looks so much like his brother,” Carlos Parrish said proudly.

The Parrish’s four older children were among 20 taken by DHS from SUVs in November as they traveled toward Texas.

Removal orders signed by judges in Miller and Sebastian counties listed more than 125 children whose parents are church members. “I can’t comment about a specific case but we do an assessment based on the risk to that child at that time, said DHS communications director Julie Munsell. “But if we have a family that is working toward reunification, if there are ongoing efforts on the part of the family to comply with the court’s case plan, we may not feel it necessary to take this child. We also take bonding issues of newborn children into consideration.”

The allegations that led to the removals of the children last year included sexual abuse, underage marriages, physical abuse and medical and educational neglect.

“There are no allegations of newborns or very young children being abused,” said Desere Howard of CPS Watch, an organization that advocates for parents.

So far, the state has taken 36 kids, ranging in age from 1 to 17 years of age. Many members have fled with their children and are in hiding.

Two parents were jailed in January during custody proceedings in Miller County for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of their spouses and children. Both Bethany Myers and Don Thorne remain in jail.

Thorne is Sophie Parrish’s father. Sophie Parrish has both children and siblings now in foster care. The Parrishes said they will not run.

“We haven’t done anything wrong. We’re not going to hide,” Carlos said. “Why would we hide if we haven’t done anything wrong?”

Sophie was only 12 when she married Carlos, then 18. Both were raised in the ministry. “We’ve been married for 12 years, we’re still happy, we’re still in love,” Carlos said.

The couple said they will not permit any of their children to wed before they are legally able to do so under the law.

“Nowadays teenagers aren’t mature enough,” Carlos Parrish said. “At 18 or 19, they might not even be old enough but at that age they’re basically on their own.” The Parrishes declined to talk in depth about the custody proceedings because of a circuit court gag order though both lamented the anguish separation from their children has brought.

“They (the public) only get to hear one side,” Carlos Parrish said. “We have services every night. Anybody’s welcome to come and see what we’re about.”

Carlos and Sophie Parrish are concerned that without the support of the larger community in which they live that their dreams of family reunification may never be realized.

“Just to stand by and watch something like this go on, it’s like when people did nothing during Nazi Germany. I just hope people realize what they’re doing to us, to our children, Carlos Parrish said.

“This isn’t just about our baby. This is about every baby that is born here in Texarkana. They’re all at risk.”

The Parrishes said they never spent that much time in Tony Alamo’s personal residence. They live in a house in Fouke that is part of a cluster of privately owned residences around the church.

The circuit judges presiding over the custody cases have ordered parents to sever residential, economic and employment ties with the church. The Parrishes said they believe they are being asked to choose between their faith and their children.

Carlos is the church’s gardener and Sophie once cared for her own children and at times the children of other members.

“I wouldn’t want this to happen to anybody else-it’s horrible,” Sophie Parrish said. “Just because I’m in this ministry.”

The Parrishes responded with smiles and attention to Gian Carlos’ coos and cries.

“I don’t even know how to explain how much I love my children. I could never understand how somebody could love their child so much-until I had one. And then I thought, ‘How could I love the next one as much?’ But they all have their own unique, special little place in my heart that could never be anybody else’s.” Carlos Parrish said. “Of course, my heart belongs to God, but God has put my children in my heart.”

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

| Back to Top |
Want to help?

Click the button!

4 Posts

  1. The Truth Comes Out Says:

    So…she was 12 when she was married…

    Weren’t they all denying child marriages. Did I miss something here? Isn’t 12 years old considered a child? Can a 12 year old vote? Smoke? Drink? Marry with parental consent?

    No. they cannot. On a video report this woman said she was 16 when she married. Now she was 12? How much younger were other’s forced to marry? I say forced because a CHILD of 12 can not know what is best for them.

    Based on this information, ALL children from this cult need to be taken into custody. If they believe marrying this young is okay then they are not good parents.

  2. Marcel Says:

    Now Tony is in jail…He was the one having many wives and concubines, and that not right according the New Covenant and the law of the land…So maybe he is going to be locked for a long time (except he repents sincerely before God and men, and renounce all of that practices, and that the Lord then make a move for him …).
    But now that he is in jail, the people in that church have to reconsider some of the teaching of Tony, like for example they have to reject polygamy, multiple marriages, divorces and remarriages (but it was only ok for Tony anyway to have many wives and concubines, according to many witnesses and the truth is established with 2 or 3 witnesses, and more…)
    Also they have to stop to think that because they are at the foundation, and that Tony tell them it s OK , that some can do wrong things, like for example selling mattresses they have received in donation for the victims of the hurricane Katrina, etc… ).
    The Lord is not a respecter of person and, wrong is wrong…
    So my prayer is that all the children come back to the parents, and that they can serve God together. That they tell Tony “As for us , we don’t go alone anymore with some of your teachings, and that they reject Tony as leader, and if they are in that church some older brothers that fear more God than Tony, that they take care of that church without some of the wrong practices and teachings of Tony…It was at the beginning a good place where hundred of people got saved and many freed from drugs and become good Christians but then Tony went too far , thinking he has all truth and power, so now is the time for some others to lead that church and reject Tony leadership…Anyway, a church has to be led by elders and not by a single man who can go astray has it happen often…
    So I pray for the parents that they get back they children, because it will be a shame that in the US parents are afraid to have their new born children taken away from them at birth….It was like that in Europe at one time, during the inquisition and it is a shame…

  3. witt Says:

    the reason they snagged the kids is because because t.a. promoted child sex..yes me and my friend have many radio rec. from the n.y. sickend even the pagan listeners too..but to make a long story short..its the D.N.A. they want from them to see if he was practising what he sure the kids will be back to there ‘rightfull’ parents as soon as they try this nut case one last the mean time..PRAY FOR T.A.,to go to hell.

  4. erik the red Says:

    Carlos dont be simple. This kind of thing only happens to people who invite it to happen to themselves. You deserve everything just like every person on this earth deserves everything they get.

Post A Comment

Please note: All comments are moderated. There is no need to resubmit your comment. Please submit a well thought out post with proper punctuation and spelling, so that it can be reviewed and posted promptly (as space allows).

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.