Time and again our members complain about the awful treatment their loved ones and families receive from organizations with religious sounding names in the guardianship business.
These very big businesses often organize as not-for-profit 501(c) 3 companies and use their connections to religious organizations prominently in their literature, website and educational materials. They are in the business of acquiring and managing guardianship and take wards from any religion.
The three most common names found are Catholic, Lutheran, and Jewish.
Given the large number of complaints of the abhorrent and immoral behavior by guardians associated with these religious sounding organizations, it is hard to understand how these organizations do business under cover as a religious entity. An examination of some of the precepts of these various religions is in order
Catholics believe that the strict morality of the church helps followers live in compliance with God’s will and attain salvation in heaven. From the laity to the clergy, every member of the Catholic Church tries to follow a prescribed moral standard and seeks to avoid living a life of sin. This morality comes partly from the Bible, but also from theologians, philosophers and the papacy.
The Old Testament provides an ethical guideline that many Catholics try to follow. Catholics believe that God handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses, who shared it with the Jewish people. These commandments prohibit acts such as murder, theft, bearing false witness and adultery, as well as mental acts, such as coveting another person’s possessions and failing to honor one’s parents.
Catholics pray to God for moral guidance and to show appreciation for the gifts they receive in daily life. Moral Catholics also strive to act charitably toward others and help those in need.
One of the most important moral laws in the Catholic Church is the principle of acting with love and kindness, following the example of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that Christ told Christians to love not only one another, but all of humanity. Catholics believe that individuals should even love their enemies and “turn the other cheek” when attacked by an enemy. A moral Catholic doesn’t seek revenge or act wrathfully; instead, he treats others with mercy and compassion.
The writings attributed to the Biblical prophets exhort all people to lead a righteous life. Kindness to the needy, benevolence, faith, compassion for the suffering, a peace-loving disposition, and a truly humble and contrite spirit, are the virtues which the Prophets hold up for emulation.
Akiva, a 2nd-century CE rabbi, states “Whatever you hate to have done unto you, do not do to your neighbor; wherefore do not hurt him; do not speak ill of him; do not reveal his secrets to others; let his honor and his property be as dear to thee as thine own”
Akiva also declared the commandment “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. xix.18) to be the greatest fundamental commandment of the Jewish doctrine
“Act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’
Falsehood, flattery, perjury and false swearing are also forbidden. The reputation of a fellow man is sacred (Ex. 21:1). Tale-bearing and unkind insinuations are proscribed, as is hatred of one’s brother in one’s heart (Lev. 19:17). A revengeful, relentless disposition is unethical; reverence for old age is inculcated; justice shall be done; right weight and just measure are demanded; poverty and riches shall not be regarded by the judge (Lev. 19:15, 18, 32, 36; Ex. 23:3).
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Theirs is the church that shares a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. As per ELCA, this faith comes through the good news of Jesus Christ and gives us the freedom and the courage to wonder, discover and boldly participate in what God is up to in the world.
The Lutheran Church is always being made new, and at the same time, is deeply rooted in Scripture, Lutheran theology and Lutheran confessions. We are also rooted in the vibrant, diverse communities and rich histories of our congregations. It’s through these roots that the Holy Spirit guides and nourishes us so that we can be a church that is both resilient and always new.
The well-founded principles of these three religions seem to be in direct conflict with events on the ground perpetrated by organizations and individuals within them particularly when it comes to the BIG profitable business of guardianship.
None of these religions would approve of taking another person’s money, coveting another person’s possessions, stealing a person’s home, isolated a person from his family and loved ones, abusing a vulnerable elderly person in any manner, intentionally overmedicated a vulnerable individual, profiting from another person’s pain, retaliating against a family member, repeatedly lying and generally acting with an exceedingly haughty attitude. All of these actions would absolutely be considered mortal sins by any standard in any of these three religions.
It might seem that those in the business of guardianship profiteering are quite comfortable using the name of religion to cover their sins.
Lutheran services of Florida which has been the source of so many complaints to the state about their callous and immoral treatment of wards and their families is a prime example. They claim to be closely affiliated with a church in Tarpon Springs Florida. However officials at that church indicated that their church as well as all other Lutheran churches mostly pray for the success of Lutheran Services and support their “good work”. They know, or claim to know, next to nothing about what Lutheran services does in guardianship. They seem to be under the impression that Lutheran services Florida is a charitable, kind, observant and righteous bunch of individuals doing God’s will on earth. It’s pretty much the same situation with Jewish and Catholic family services.
So how can we reconcile the principles of these three religions with the fact that guardians working for companies bearing their name are so often accused of the very sins and acts of hubris that all three religions vehemently oppose?
How can we understand a non-retaliation clause in the very heart of Lutheran services Florida website which reads:
LSF Non-Retaliation Policy
No person shall be retaliated against, harassed, intimidated, threatened, coerced or discriminated against for making a charge, testifying, assisting or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing; or for opposing alleged unlawful discriminatory practices prohibited by state and federal laws
…when we know of so many cases in which brutal retaliation was rained down on family members who attempted to protest Lutheran services Florida aggression and theft and sinful misdeeds against loved ones? And why was it necessary to include this disclaimer—how many times has it been employed or ignored?
I suggest that when business and religion conflict, business wins out every time. Most established businesses and organizations exist for their self-preservation and good old-fashioned morality and religious rules simply never trump the need for profits even if they are ill-gotten and a product of heinous sin. The commission of these sins are major transgressions of basic Judeo-Christian principles. We can only hope that God has mercy on the souls of the predatory guardians and the judges and lawyers that support them in the name of their respective religions. We can pray that God will grant them precisely what they have earned.
Sam J. Sugar MD
August 27, 2015
Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship
Po Box 800511
Aventura Florida 33280
Phone: 855 91 ELDER (855 913 5337)