When "12 Years a Slave" Director Steve McQueen accepted the Oscar for "Best Picture" on Sunday night, he dedicated the award to the 21 million people still in slavery today. Experts drew a comparison between sex trafficking and the struggles of Solomon Northrup, the film's main character, and also compared modern slavery and Christian persecution.
"Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup," McQueen declared in his Oscar acceptance speech. "I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today." Fact-checking website PolitiFact rated his statement "Mostly True," since he cited the 2012 estimate from the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency.
Taryn Manstrean, director of Communications at Shared Hope International, a group dedicated to fighting human sex trafficking, compared the struggles of the Oscar-winning film's main character, Solomon Northup, to those of women in the sex trade. "He was a free man and was taken into slavery – he struggled to escape and survive," Manstrean explained. "In the exact same way, most of these girls did not start a slave." more >>
A bill introduced to the Georgia legislature regarding religious freedom has apparently been derailed due to a controversy over a similar bill in Arizona.
House Bill 1023, also called the "Preservation of Religious Freedom Act," would essentially provide citizens of Georgia with the same religious freedom protections provided by the federal Religious Freedom Protection Act. RFRA was passed in 1993 with a unanimous vote in the House and a 97-3 vote in the Senate and was signed by President Bill Clinton.
RFRA says that for the government to deny religious freedom, the government must show that it has a good reason for doing so and there is no way to avoid doing so. Plus, laws that are generally applicable (apply to all faiths) must provide religious exemptions when that can be done without placing too great a burden on the state. The Supreme Court ruled, however, that RFRA does not apply to state law, so many states have passed their own RFRA laws. H.B. 1023 would do that for Georgia. more >>
The head of the Europe-based World Council of Churches has called on those involved in the ongoing Ukraine crisis to "refrain from violence."
The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary for WCC, released a statement Monday expressing concern for the people of Ukraine, specifically in the Crimea region.
A Lutheran pastor from the United States who served as chaplain for some of the most notorious figures of the 20th century is the subject of a soon-to-be released book.
Henry Gerecke, a chaplain who served with the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II eventually found himself ministering to the spiritual needs of Nazi war criminals.
His story, long lost amid the major names and events of the 1940s, will be available to the public in a historical book titled, Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis. more >>
The United States Senate has considered the efforts of an interfaith coalition of groups looking to reduce the usage of solitary confinement in American prisons.
The hearing took place Tuesday afternoon before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
Those advocating for Congress to examine the usage of solitary confinement included several religious groups such as the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). more >>
Two clerks in the Commonwealth of Virginia have recently filed appeals in response to a judge declaring the state's marriage amendment unconstitutional.
Clerks for the Prince William County Circuit Court and the Norfolk Circuit Court have sent appeals to the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Their actions come after the Thursday, Feb. 13 decision by United States District Judge Arenda Wright Allen declaring Virginia's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. more >>