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Religious Extremist Appointed to Head Already Troubled Child Welfare Agency in Florida

Governor Jeb Bush of Florida appointed Jerry Regier, founder of the anti-abortion, anti-women Family Research Council, as head of the state’s Department of Children and Families, according to the New York Times. Regier’s appointment is the latest in a string of controversies and embarrassments for the state’s child welfare system. The agency’s previous director, Katherine A. Kearney, resigned under pressure last Tuesday after having admitted that the agency had lost a 5-year-old girl in its care, Rilya Wilson, for 15 months before the agency noticed, according to the Washington Post. “Florida is clearly among the most dangerous and dysfunctional [child welfare] systems we’ve seen, and we’ve seen a lot,” said Ira Lustbader, associate director of Children’s Rights Inc., to the Washington Post.

Regier’s appointment has only created more controversy for the troubled agency due to a 1989 essay, published by the Christian fundamentalist organization Coalition on Revival, entitled, “The Christian World View of the Family.” The essay denounces abortion, lesbian and gay parents, and women in the workforce. The essay also states that “the radical feminist movement has damaged the morale of many women and convinced men to relinquish their biblical authority in the home,” according to the Miami Herald. Regier appears on the cover of the essay and, while he denies any input into the essay, Jay Grimstead, director of the Coalition on Revival, told the Florida Democratic Party that Regier was in fact one of the editors of the essay.

Sources:

Miami Herald 8/16/02; New York Times 8/17/02; Washington Post 8/15/02; Florida Democratic Party, fladems.com