Roman Catholic, Anglican and Muslim representatives came together on Monday at the Vatican to launch together the Global Freedom Network, with a mission to put an end to human trafficking and slavery by the end of the decade.
"It's not politically correct to call this modern slavery a crime against humanity but we want to arrive at that in national and international law," said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo on behalf of Pope Francis, who signed the new initiative.
Sorondo was joined by New Zealand Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, as well as Dr. Mahmoud Azab, representing the Grand Imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar Sunni Islam center. more >>
Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby signed an agreement Monday to support an anti-slavery, anti-human trafficking initiative. The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion backed the initiative known as the Global Freedom Network.
"Many are already engaged in the struggle and we join them with much to learn as well as much to contribute. All are called to join common cause to end this crime and suffering," said Welby. "We are struggling against evil in secret places and in deeply entrenched networks of malice and cruelty. No one of us is strong enough, but together we are ready for the challenge God is placing before us today, and we know that he will strengthen us so that all people may live in freedom and dignity."
In a statement released honoring the occasion, Welby said that the joint endeavor was part of the efforts to have Anglicans and Catholics united. more >>
India suffers from an abysmal literacy rate, weak infrastructure and rampant poverty. But one of the toughest challenges the world's second largest country must confront in the 21st century is how it will better serve its declining and vulnerable female population.
The causes discouraging families and communities from raising and protecting girls and women are explored in "Veil of Tears," a new documentary from Gospel for Asia, which releases in the U.S. on March 28. more >>
A recent BuzzFeed article questioning whether fighting human trafficking was "a new mission for the religious right," suggests that young evangelical Christians were more inclined to put their efforts into the war on modern-day slavery than enter the marriage and abortion fray.
But Louie Giglio, Atlanta pastor and founder of the annual Passion Conference, suggested in an interview with The Christian Post that it was pointless to pit social justice against the culture war when young people are simply concerned about using their lives to elevate the lives of others.
Giglio debuted the anti-slavery "End It" movement at the 2012 Passion Conference that attracted 40,000 college students and reportedly raised an estimated $3 million for the cause. While noting the impact of Giglio's movement — which had caught the attention of the White House — BuzzFeed, paraphrasing National Association of Evangelical President Leith Anderson, suggests that the "End It" campaign was instrumental in expanding modern-day slavery from "a niche concern among liberally-minded 'social justice Christians' to an increasingly prevalent platform plank for Evangelicals across the political spectrum." more >>
After being told by his doctor two years ago that he would not be able to run again, Pastor Matthew Barnett of the Los Angeles Dream Center will run a full marathon Sunday to raise support and awareness for women exploited through human trafficking.
"It's very emotional for me because two years ago, I had a pulmonary embolism that almost took my life. I've lived in fear of this changing my lifestyle forever. The marathon is a way for me to face these fears once and for all in the ultimate test," Barnett told The Christian Post. "I'm a pastor and I probably need more faith but this has tested my breathing and my confidence. I believe running for a greater cause will push me over the top."
Over 100 Dream Center staff along with several human trafficking survivors will also participate in the 5K charity relay and marathon and are urging the Christian Community to help sponsor them. Their goal is to raise $50,000 and as of Thursday morning, over $43,000 had been donated by supporting individuals and churches throughout the country, as shown on Barnett's fundraising page. more >>
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 >>