Churches Put Faith into Action with Fair Trade

While Christians continue to be drawn in public and media circles as preoccupied with the politics of abortion and gay "marriage," Christians have also proven passionate on causes that include concern for the environment, and most recently, fair trade.

"People who come to church regularly hear the message of spreading God's love – with fair trade there is a tangible way of putting their faith and love into action," explained Lutheran World Relief fair trade projects coordinator Kattie Somerfeld, according to Business Week.

Many companies, recognizing the potential business in catering to faith-based, fair trade minded churches, have moved in to fill the void and meet market demand.

Equal Exchange, a Massachusetts-based organic coffee company, is just one of the many companies that has capitalized on the growing concerns of Christians to support fair trade causes.

Through special relationships and ties to churches, a percentage of all the profit that Equal exchange earns goes to support fair trade causes and Christian charitable organizations.

At present, nearly a third of the company's annual $30 million sales reportedly come from churches, according to Business Week, a figure that church groups are proud of.

Churches have a responsibility to "speak out with one voice against injustice, to confront structures of power, practices and attitudes which deprive human beings of dignity and to offer alternative visions based on the Gospel," the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, an organization of over 100 churches and charitable organizations, said in a statement, while explaining the importance of churches in supporting fair trade.

Melanie Hardison, a fair trade coffee project member at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), said she believes that fair trade is a cause that many young people can relate to and could help church attendance figures.

"When people who are doubtful or cynical see these proactive messages of direct support for these types of programs, they can relate better to the church. It's an upbeat message that they can make a difference," she said.

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