The religious right, including the president and his brother in Florida, believe that gay adoptions are a threat to the sanctity of good Christian American families. I think these nice church-going people are doing enough damage without any help from us homos. These people were getting money from their church, which they drove 30 miles each way to attend to help pay their rent.
Come Alive New Testament Church
The Jackson family. Bruce, middle row, second from right; Keith, bottom left; Michael, bottom center; Tyronne, behind Keith.
Bruce Jackson was found rooting through his neighbors' garbage, so weak from starvation that he could not open the Tastykake that the shocked couple had given him out of pity.
Two weeks later, investigators and neighbors are still trying to make sense of two sharply contrasting realities: four adopted youngsters starving in plain sight and a family that was widely seen as loving and deeply religious.
The Jacksons are in jail in Camden County, charged with starving and neglecting the 4-foot, 19-year-old Bruce and three other boys adopted from the New Jersey foster care system — Michael, 9, Tyronne, 10, and Keith, 14 — so seriously that none of them weighed more than 50 pounds when they were found by the police.
Bruce, who was adopted eight years ago, when he was 11, was taken from his biological family because they were also starving him, according to case files at the Division of Youth and Family Services. At the time, he suffered from medical ailments caused by the lack of food.
Still, though the children were homeschooled, they were not hidden away. The parents drove the 30 miles from their home here to the Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford every Sunday.
To Pastor Thomas and the congregation, the abuse allegations are impossible to fit with the image of the struggling family that always had a small donation for the collection plate when it came around but needed help from the church to pay for its electricity and rent.
"I have told many people that I have never seen that many kids together be so good. I never saw them fighting, and I never saw them arguing, and I said, 'Wow, every family should be like that.' "
Ed Cotton, the director of the Division of Youth and Family Services, met with Bruce Jackson on Sunday at the hospital where he is being treated and was given a very different picture of his life than the pastor did.
Mr. Cotton said that it did not appear that Bruce Jackson had any friends. "I asked him whether he went to church or not. He said that he was not allowed to go because he was bad — because he liked TV earlier in life, one of his big punishments was that he was made to sit in front of the TV for hours with it off. Stuff that doesn't make sense."
Mr. Cotton said the children may not have understood that they were being mistreated.
"I think these kids were convinced by the foster parents that they had eating disorders," he said.
Mr. Cotton continued, "These are bright kids, they read well, they're smart, they're polite, and I think they're realizing what happened was not anywhere near the norm."
Chief Thomas J. Garrity Jr. of the Collingswood Police Department said Monday that Bruce emptied a box of cereal after he arrived at the station.
He was photographed holding the empty box, and clutching a stuffed tiger that is kept on hand to comfort young abused children.
Bruce, the one mentioned at the end of the article, is 19.
UPDATED: Here is a good article on the GOP's plans to use gay marriage as a major issue in the 2004 elections.