A nation-wide sweep last week by the FBI netted the arrest of almost 300 human traffickers and rescued 168 underage trafficking victims. “Operation Cross Country” was carried out in 106 cities across the U.S., the 8th such sting of its kind by the FBI. Since the beginning of this operation, over 3,600 children have been rescued.

These are not children living in some faraway place, far from everyday life,” FBI Director James Comey said in a press conference Monday. “These are our children. On our streets. Our truck stops. Our motels. These are America’s children.”

There are a multitude of reasons that children get swept up into human trafficking. Here in the U.S., traffickers learn to prey on vulnerable young people: the lonely, the outcast, those with little or no family support. In the video below, Nicole talks about her experience as a trafficked person.

 

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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A Christian Convert, on the Run in Afghanistan
Azaim Ahmed, New York Times

In official eyes here, there are no Afghan Christians. The few Afghans who practice the faith do so in private for fear of persecution, attending one of a handful of underground churches that are believed to be operating in the country. Expatriates use chapels on embassy grounds, but those are effectively inaccessible to Afghans.

The Core of Catholic Education: Philosophy of Schooling Is at Stake
Stratford Caldecott, The Imaginative Conservative

So what is this Catholic philosophy that we need to maintain in the face of the Common Core? The fundamental idea, drawn from the tradition of the liberal arts that goes back to ancient Greece, is that schooling is not primarily designed to churn out efficient components of an economic machine, able to “compete in a global economy,” but to nurture human beings and to free the soul from the forces that hold it enslaved.

The Best- and Worst-Paid Jobs in America—in 1 Ludicrously Long Chart
Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

The 13 best-paid non-executive jobs in America have one thing in common: They’re all in health care. Anesthesiologists nip surgeons to grab the top spot.

How Americans Spend Their Time and What It Means for Whole-Life Stewardship
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its American Time Use Survey on Wednesday. It’s fascinating to read through how people spend their time. In a sense, the survey provides a snapshot of how people are living (or not living) out God’s command to be fruitful and multiply and develop the world.

Part 1 is here.]

An economically free society doesn’t have to be hyper-utilitarian, materialistic and banal; and yet, here we are, living in a capitalist age marked by these very features. Some social conservatives who see capitalism as one of the main culprits argue that we should turn away from both socialism and greedy capitalism, toward a more humanitarian and community-based approach, toward a small-is-beautiful aesthetic of farmer’s markets, widespread property ownership, social responsibility and local, collective enterprise, a political and economic strategy that would allow us to move beyond the noisy, vapid, bustling tackiness that has come to characterize so much of modern life.

The poet farmer and essayist Wendell Berry, and journalist and Crunchy Cons author Rod Dreher are among the more prominent contemporary defenders of this view. They build on the earlier work of writers such as E.F. Schumacher, Malcolm Muggeridge, G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.

Belloc, in particular, often regarded as the father of Distributism, advocated government policies that would divide productive property more equally and spur the economy toward more buy-local patterns and greater individual contact with the land. His Distributist vision called for an active, top-down approach to the reallocation process. Here’s how Belloc put it in his 1936 work “An Essay on the Restoration of Property”:

We must seek political and economic reforms which shall tend to distribute property more and more widely until the owners of sufficient Means of Production (land or capital or both) are numerous enough to determine the character of society…. the effort at restoring property will certainly fail if it is hampered by a superstition against the use of force as the handmaid of Justice.

There are some problems with this vision of cultural renewal. (more…)

Nuns Gabriella Bottani (L), Estrella Castalone (C) and Carmen Sammut hold the logo of an international campaign called ''Play in Favour of Life-Denounce Human Trafficking' - Reuters

Nuns Gabriella Bottani (L), Estrella Castalone (C) and Carmen Sammut hold the logo of an international campaign called ”Play in Favour of Life-Denounce Human Trafficking’ – Reuters

Did you watch the U.S. v. Portugal game last night? Did you cheer for the amazing play of American keeper Tim Howard? Did you howl in disbelief at the last minute goal by Portugal? Even if you’re not a soccer fan, it’s hard not to get swept up in the fun and rivalry of the world’s biggest soccer extravaganza.

Unless you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Every large sporting event in the world has become a red-light district. Where there are many people, there are many people who are willing to buy sex. And that means human trafficking. In December, Time noted that while the nation of Brazil (currently hosting the World Cup) has an age of consent of 14, a recent court ruling allowed that sex with a 12 year old did not necessarily constitute statutory rape, setting the stage for human trafficking to thrive during one of the world’s largest sporting events. This is not to say that the illegal sex trade doesn’t already have a place in Brazil, as Time reported:

Thiago, 27, has worked as a pimp and trafficker across Brazil, convincing the mothers of girls like Amanda and Emmanuelle to hand over their daughters for some $5,000 to $10,000. “I sought the girls in Recife because there is so much poverty there,” he says in São Paulo, asking that his last name not be published. “It makes it way easier to convince the girls to come down and prostitute themselves.” (more…)

Integrated Justice - front cover (1)Christian’s Library Press has released Integrated Justice and Equality: Biblical Wisdom for Those Who Do Good Works by John Addison Teevan, a book that seeks to challenge popular notions of “social justice” and establish a new framework around what Teevan calls “biblically integrated justice.”

The term “social justice” has been used to promote a variety of policies and proposals, most of which fall within a particularly progressive economic ideology and theological perspective. Educated in economics, theology, and intercultural studies, and with extensive experience in both politics and the pulpit, Teevan has witnessed these tendencies firsthand, proceeding to dissect the host of flaws, gaps, and inconsistencies therein.

Teevan’s unique and creative approach will surely interest the most experienced of “social justice” interlocutors, but his writing is also highly accessible for those just getting warmed up. Weaving together thought and action from a variety of directions and points in history with remarkable clarity, Teeven concludes with a refreshingly integrated economic, philosophic, and biblical framework. For young evangelicals in particular, who have lately become fond of leveraging “justice” vocabulary toward a variety of aims and ends, Teevan’s unique blend of careful analysis and practical application offers a particularly relevant challenge to the status quo.

Teevan explores a variety of areas and ideas, ultimately pointing the way to a framework wherein the pursuit of justice is expanded beyond mere economic redistribution, restoring many of these activities to the realm of personal stewardship through which “to whom much is given much is required” (Luke 12:48). (more…)

washington1One of the best books I’ve ever read on American history is Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer. I’ve always been an admirer of the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware by German American artist Emanuel Leutze. The painting of course has been criticized by commentators for its inaccuracy. Fischer notes in the first chapter of his book:

American iconoclasts made the painting a favorite target. Post-modernists studied it with a skeptical eye and asked, “Is this the way that American history happened? Is it a way that history ever happens? Are any people capable of acting in such a heroic manner?”

One of the interesting things that Fischer notes is that in the 1950s the painting was removed for a time from Metropolitan Museum of Art because “romantic history paintings passed out of fashion among sophisticated New Yorkers.” He also notes that “among the American people the painting has never passed out of fashion.” (more…)

v2-MIMeriam Ibrahim gave birth to her daughter while her legs were shackled to the floor. The young Sudanese mother, who also raised her son in her prison cell, gave birth while waiting execution for committing apostasy from Islam by becoming a Christian. A Sudanese high court delivered the sentence when Ibrahim refused to denounce her Christian faith.

But after the case sparked international outrage, the Sudanese court appears to have reversed its decision. According to the official state news agency in Sudan, Ibrahim is to be freed:

Ms Ibrahim’s Christian American husband Daniel Wani was notified earlier this month that the appeals court in Sudan was deliberating the case, though the government had previously promised she would be released.

Sudan’s SUNA news agency said today: “The appeal court ordered the release of Mariam Yahya and the cancellation of the (previous) court ruling.” . . .

If the verdict had not been overturned, she would have faced a punishment of 100 lashes and execution by hanging.

As Elise Hilton recently noted, “this may seem like an aberration, an isolated throwback to more barbaric times, but according to Pew Research, one-quarter of the world’s countries have blasphemy and apostasy laws.”
(more…)