As of 2021, an estimated 28 million people were in modern slavery, not including the 22 million that were forced into marriage. Traffickers prey on those from vulnerable communities and force them into labor or exploit them into commercial sexual enterprises. The influx of immigrants crossing the border into America are most susceptible to modern slavery, as traffickers use their vulnerability as immigrants as tools to manipulate and coerce.
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 well-being of children and women who are forced into prostitution, the pornography industry, sex tourism, and other forms of “sex-ploitation” 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 that 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 Month
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and in the UCC we recognize January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States – a day to bring awareness to the worldwide crisis also known as modern-day slavery. 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:
- Download the Interfaith Toolkit on Human Trafficking
The Washington Interfaith Staff Community Working Group on Human Trafficking created this toolkit as a starting point for faith communities to educate themselves and take action during Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January of 2016. The United Church of Christ’s Washington office assisted in this effort along with staff from a broad range of religious traditions. The toolkit contains basic information about trafficking, as well as specific information regarding its impact on children. Children were chosen as a focus of this year’s efforts because all faith traditions value and encourage the protection of the vulnerable, particularly children. The toolkit contains faith-based resources for several faith traditions, including prayers, scriptures, statements, fact sheets, and resolutions. The toolkit also contains ideas for local faith communities to take action, as well as links to additional print and multimedia resources. It is hoped that this toolkit will help local faith communities across the country raise awareness, promote dialogue, and take moral action against the scourge of modern-day slavery.
- Take Action – Human trafficking is a crime against humanity and ultimately a sin. Tell Congress to pass the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).
- 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.
- Note the Pope and other religious leaders made a major interfaith statement against trafficking which you 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, even on holidays. 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.
- Download TraffickCam – Help fight trafficking by uploading photos of your hotel room. These photos will be used to determine where perpetrators of sex trafficking are committing their crimes.
- Recognize the signs by being aware of these red flags and indicators of human trafficking
- Calculate your Slavery Footprint to know which goods on the market might be produced by child or forced labor.
- Support Global Ministries projects that are addressing Human Trafficking
Pray for trafficked persons, all who work to assist trafficked persons, for those who work to prevent human trafficking, for traffickers to cease their practice, and for a global economy that promotes human well-being.
- The Sum of Justice for Human Trafficking: Prayer of Lament and Libation By Rev. Waltrina N. Middleton (Download)
- A Litany of Commitment to Address Human Trafficking during the Super Bowl by Rev. Loey Powell (Download)
- Global Ministries Resources
- 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 Coalition 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