Trafficking in persons is a crime against humanity and ultimately a sin. Human trafficking denies the values of human life, exposes victims to serious health risks, endangers the mental well-being of victims and impedes the ability of victims to reach their full God-given potential. As Christians, we believe that every human being is created in the image and likeness of the divine Creator, of God. The prophets cried out against the exploitation of the poor and of laborers who are not treated fairly and compensated justly (Job 24:1-12, for example).
The United Church of Christ has consistently upheld the rights and dignity of workers and of women and children, believing that God calls us into community with each other as sisters and brothers, not as exploiters and exploited. The violence done to the physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing of children and women who are forced into prostitution, the pornography industry, sex tourism and other forms of sexploitation are violations of the call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves. The kin-dom of God among us requires us to provide protection for those most vulnerable and to seek conditions which support wholeness and health for everyone.
In a resolution of witness entitled “A Call to Awareness and Action to End the Practice of Trafficking in Persons,” the 27th General Synod of the United Church of Christ called on UCC members, congregations and various settings to of the church to engage in education about the issue of trafficking in persons and advocacy efforts to end this criminal and abusive practice.
Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States – a day to bring awareness to the world-wide crisis also known as modern day slavery. 2014 underscored the complexities of human trafficking issues, from the Nigerian girls’ kidnapping to the growing crisis of unaccompanied minors at the border. Such events highlighted the need for people of faith to be educated and empowered to take action on human trafficking.
The UCC recognizes January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and President Obama proclaimed January 2015 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. To raise awareness about human trafficking and kick off a year full of justice advocacy and faithful witness, you and your congregation are invited to engage in some of the following ways:
- Contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by calling 1-888-373-7888 or sending a text to BeFree (233733) to report trafficking crimes, connect with local anti-trafficking services, and request training or additional resources. Consider posting these numbers on your church’s bulletin boards and bathroom stalls.
- Find local anti-trafficking organizations to connect with in your area with this directory.
- Incorporate online trainings from the Trafficking Resource Center into your church’s education curriculum and Bible studies.
- Note that Congress at the end of last session provided major funding for anti-trafficking programs, a victory for advocates.
- Note the Pope and other religious leaders made a major interfaith statement against trafficking at the end of the year, which people can also sign onto.
If you need help or have a tip, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTRC is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government. In an emergency, call 911.
You can share information about the National Human Trafficking Resources Center Hotline by printing out this flyer and posting it on your church bulletin board.
A Litany of Commitment (Download)
One: Creator and Creating God, we bear your likeness in our souls and in our bodies, having been created in your image.
All: What a wondrous world with wondrous peoples!
One: We enjoy being together - to celebrate, to compete in good spirit, and to cheer on our favorite teams.
All: What fun it can be to watch teams put their best efforts out on the field of play.
One: But, dear God, keep us vigilant as well to things that happen away from the main event.
All: We pray for our sisters and brothers who are trapped by those who would use them for commercial gain.
One: We pray that we will have the courage to transform a culture that tolerates degrading and abusive behavior.
All: We pray for justice for all of God’s children, each one of whom bears divine likeness in soul and body. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
By Rev. Loey Powell
What UCC Churches are Doing Around Human Trafficking
In this section, we will highlight some of the activities our local churches are doing to bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking. Please send information from your church to Rev. Michael Neuroth if you are doing advocacy and awareness on trafficking.
Country Club UCC in Kansas City, MO, is doing ongoing work to raise awareness about human trafficking. It hosted a community conference in 2010 and is doing follow up work.
- Global Ministries Resources
- National Council of Churches resources on trafficking, including links to ecumenical sources
- Presbyterian Church (USA) - A Toolkit for Action: Modern Slavery
- The Sum of Justice for Human Trafficking: Prayer of Lament and Libation
- Polaris Project offers state-by-state information on local resources and all pending state and federal anti-trafficking legislation
- Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST)
- The Coaltion of Immokalee Workers
- Freedom Network USA
- U.S. State Department “Trafficking in Persons Report”
- Contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by calling 1-888-373-7888 or texting BeFree (233733) to report trafficking crimes, connect with local anti-trafficking services, and request training or additional resources. You can also get help by calling the Department of Justice Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force at 1-888-428-7581 (voice and TTY). New laws provide options for trafficking victims regardless of immigration status.
- 5 Ways to End Human Trafficking: a collection of additional resources including reports, remarks, books, films, and action steps.
- How do your daily choices impact slavery? Calculate your slavery footprint