With all due respect to Third Circuit Court Judge Vernon Douglas' decision and Lake City Reporter's editorial comments ("Parents have right to raise their children" February 1, 2001) in agreement with the judge [decision to refuse grandparent's visitation rights to the author of this letter], I would offer my opinion in the following:
1. The court does not address the possible mental abuse of the children in Meade Ministries. The children's well-being was not looked into by the court except to say that nothing was produced by the grandfather. Yet, it is the children that end up suffering because they don't have a choice. The parents have the right to decide for them.
2. Meade Ministries does not honor and uphold family values as most churches do. Instead, they shun family contact after milking whatever they can from their worldly assets, as in the case of Alice Cooke, who gave $6,500 to the church building fund, then was refused access to the church she helped build. Many former members that gave as they were required were accepted. If you questioned anything, you were on the outside of the barbed wire compound (church?), unable to communicate with your loved ones.
3. Former Meade Ministries members, as well as many others, say that it is a cult. A cult is defined as a destructive religious group, mind control by a man who thinks and teaches that he and he alone is in direct communication with God almighty. My daughter, Chris Cooke, told me if I "say anything bad about Charles Meade, it's like blasphemy against God Himself."
4. 276 children died at Jonestown; 21 children died at Waco.
5. Numerous children have already died in Meade Ministries. Is Meade Ministries really a church or a money-making machine riding along in their Cadillac convoys?
6. Let's hope the well-being of the children is addressed and comes before the rights of the parents in future court decisions.