While the world is leaving the lights on for Caylee, plenty of other murdered children remain in the dark. They aren’t white enough, middle-class enough, for the media to pay much attention to…
Jadon Higganbothan was murdered by a cult leader, apparently for being “gay.” His murder was certainly motivated by religious extremism. So many issues come to play in his murder: homeschooled children falling off the radar, racist doctrines, abusive polygamy and the apathy of modern Americans.
Peter Moses supposedly ran the abusive household according to the principles of the Black Hebrews movement. With Black Sumpremacy theology, it shares similar ideology with the Christian Identity movement. Living with four women and nine children, he went unnoticed by the neighbors. Even when a woman begged to use a neighbors phone they turned a blind eye and didn’t allow her to use the phone or call the police themselves. That woman, Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, was killed later that day, after enduring beatings and strangulation, for seeking help. She was shot with the same gun that was used on Jadon, the only child in the house not fathered by Moses.
As a homeschooled child who fell off the radar myself, I find myself placing a lot of blame on a school system that allows children to be sucked into black holes of abuse without a home visit or follow up testing. Yet when a woman begging to use a phone to call the police is rebuffed though, how seriously would a school official take a child reaching out for help? Would it have made a difference in a society grown so insular and apathetic?
If polygamy wasn’t illegal, would Moses have the same amount of control over these women? Polygamist women being able to speak about their lives and live openly would shatter so much of the darkness associated with that lifestyle. Outlawing polygamy means polygamists live outside the law in more ways than simply plural marriage. Didn’t Prohibition teach us that making something taboo doesn’t erase it from our culture, but greatly increases the amount or crime and abuse involved with the taboo?The racist doctrines disturb me because I once had an encounter with this movement. Riding the train north through Atlanta from the airport a nice couple next to me were discussing Black Hebrews. I found their discussion fascinating, and longed to join in, but I got a vibe from them that they just wanted to be left alone. I thought it was the usual commuter train vibe, but now I’m troubled that two such interesting articulate people were considering joining such a cult. I find myself wishing I could find them again, take them to one of my tradition’s rituals and show them that true community and spirituality transcends race and sexual orientation. We are ALL the chosen people of the Gods.
I think the thing that bothers me most about this case is that I can’t help wondering if the abuse was overlooked because they were known to be religious? Had this been a Pagan group not only would the neighbors have been calling the cops but other folks in the Pagan community would have been raising red flags. However, it’s known that other people in his religious community were scared of Moses, it’s known that several people knew he was guilty of abuse and murder (he displayed McKoy’s body to his relatives) and his neighbors had to know something odd was going on at that house, yet no one said anything. Is it because he was seen to be a religious man? Because he believed in the One True God?
I sometimes lament at how argumentative and vicious my religious community can be, yet stories like this makes me grateful for that very quality. We have no sacred cows and challenge everything. I like to think we wouldn’t stand by while such a family existed in our communities. I hope we wouldn’t. I hope we would say something. I hope we would take Jadon into our homes and love him for the child he is. Was. He appears to have been a sweet child and deserved a family who loved him.