End Modern Slavery by 2020

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Slavery is alive in the modern world. Believe it or not.

On Tuesday, Dec. 2, for the first time in history Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Christian leaders joined with leaders of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim religions with a common goal in mind.

They signed a declaration to the committed to the elimination of slavery and human trafficking by the year 2020.

“We consider any action which does not treat others as equals to be an abhorrent crime. God is a love that is manifested in every human being; everyone is equal and ought to be afforded the same liberty and dignity. [Ignoring this fact] is an abhorrent crime [that manifests itself as] modern slavery…an offense against humanity with victims from every walk of life, but above all amongst the poor.”
– Pope Francis, quoted in Huffington Post

The 2014 Global Slavery Index, published by the Walk Free Foundation, estimates 36 million victims of modern slavery. And it’s big business. The International Labor Organization says profits obtained by forced labor in the private economy throughout the world amounts to $150 billion a year.

The Global Freedom Network was created this year with the purpose of ending what is called modern slavery, which includes child labor, prostitution, and human and organ trafficking. The organization has compiled information for use by many religious communities, including The Anglican Communion.

Slavery’s Dark Past

The struggle over slavery is nothing new with the Church, which continues to come to terms with a dark past once supported.

In Providence, Rhode Island, a shuttered church, the Cathedral of St. John,  is about to be turned into a museum and reconciliation center.

Linda L. Grenz, Canon to the Ordinary with the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, told The Providence Journal that Rhode Island’s role in the slave trade “gives us both a responsibility and an opportunity” to confront the state’s past and racism today.

Photo: Cathedral of St. John, Providence, R.I. Source: Wikipedia

Cathedral of St. John

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The irony of the above comment is that Muslim scholars have been speaking out against slavery. They have been doing this for quite some time now. So have Christian religious leaders. Jewish rabbis. Buddist leaders. Etc.

Now that we have fresh eyes on our (all of us) scriptures, we have been able to re-interpret passages which have been used to abuse humans using various methods - linguistic, traditional accompaniment literature, history/context, even moral trajectory methods.

By the way, distractionary tactics which water down the issue at hand - such as trying to equate labour rights abuses normally associated with Walmart - does a serious disservice to abolition activism. Unjust economic policies and unfair labour practises have their own centres of activism, and rightly so. Equating them with modern slavery serves only to render victims and survivors of this modern evil invisible once more.

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