Category archives: Human Rights

Can You See Me?

by Patrina Mosley

April 27, 2018

He asked her to have sex with a man for money. He told her that it would be just once and that it would be fun. He begged her and she just wanted to make him happy. He told her that she belonged to him… This became a cycle.”

To most, “Julie” seems like a typical high school girl who has s boyfriend that seems mysterious and looks a bit older than her. Over time, you may notice changes in her appearance, mood, and activities. She may appear to have heightened anxiety around her boyfriend, who seems to be exerting subtle control over her. Do you see her?

Julie” is just one of the estimated 40.3 million people who are in modern slavery around the world today. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking), with 24.9 million people who are in forced labor. Sexual exploitation is the most commonly identified form of forced labor, which disproportionately involves women, children, and young girls.

The problem with human trafficking is that of course the victims are silenced,” says Monique Villa, the CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which fights human trafficking. Many cases go unreported, so it is not possible to get an exact number of how many people are being exploited. By knowing how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to report it, more and more victims will be lead to the freedom.

An increase in reports will lead to an increase in victim identification.” – A21

So you may be saying to yourself, “I want to help, but how do I know when this is going on?”

A21, a non-profit organization that works with government authorities and the public to bring an end to modern day slavery, has launched a new campaign called “Can You See Me?”  The purpose of this campaign is to help “the general public know how to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and to report suspected scenarios. Through collective action, human trafficking identification and rescue will increase making it difficult for traffickers to operate.”

When a lot of people do a little, it adds up and makes a difference.”

– Christine Caine, A21 Founder

What we have done today is launch a campaign not only aimed at government officials and police but at ordinary people … they can rescue anyone … that means that children, men and women who previously had no voice, now have the opportunity to be seen.” – Malina Enlund, A21 Thailand County Manager

A21 is part of a growing anti-trafficking movement that has now seen legislative results. Due to the bi-partisan efforts of Congress and the Department of Justice, legislation has recently been passed, signed into law by President Trump, and enforced to bring down online perpetrators of sex trafficking. This new legislation will make the reporting of suspected trafficking by ordinary citizens even more effective.

In your everyday life, you could be interacting with individuals being trafficked in “seemingly innocuous situations.” Watch and share these videos of different scenarios. Each video page will give you a backstory, the signs to be aware of, and the law. You could be the one to help bring freedom to even just one victim of human trafficking.

Always contact your local police authorities if you see that someone may be in immediate danger. To request help or report suspected human trafficking, you can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or text HELP to: BeFree (233733). 

State Department Defends Actual Human Rights Instead of Made-Up Rights

by Travis Weber

April 24, 2018

Some activists are upset that the current State Department is going back to conducting worldwide reporting on violations of human rights law instead of the activist flavor of the day. “We are a nation founded on the belief that every person is endowed with inalienable rights. Promoting and defending these rights is central to who we are as a country” (emphasis added), the report began, before going on to report on human rights around the world.

Yet to hear international legal activists describe it, the Trump administration is taking us to the dark ages once again. The administration has allegedly “erase[d] reproductive rights” from the reporting. Over-used and hyperbolic language aside (the term “erase” must have poll-tested well), articles like this are entirely wrong about human rights law and fail to provide historic context on this issue.

If President Obama injected “reproductive rights” into the process in 2011, as the article admits, how was the issue dealt with before then? Is President Trump merely stopping the last administration’s activist approach to the issue, and bringing us back in line with the (bipartisan) approach we enjoyed for decades before? This would be nice to know. Yet we are left without any objective picture or understanding of human rights law from such “news” stories. The irony is that sites like Rewire only further cement and confirm the “fake news” narrative.

The truth is, as the State Department pointed out, the Trump administration was only returning to the clear requirements of international human rights law—which contains no “right to abortion.” In the face of this fact, abortion activist groups like Amnesty International USA could only try the feeble response: “Reproductive rights are human rights.” Except, they’re not. I welcome anyone at Amnesty to show me where such a notion is contained in international law.

It’s not for lack of trying on the part of those who want such a “right” in place. Abortion advocates ceaselessly push their agendas in international forums, eliciting public statements and “rulings” in the context of international organizations to try to claim there is a “right to abortion.” But none of this actually changes the law.

The State Department’s approach to human rights in this report is fair, neutral, and objective. Its critics should aspire to the same standard.

12 Resources to Fight Sexual Exploitation, Part 2

by Peter Sprigg

April 23, 2018

Here is a list of websites that represent the work done by some of the speakers at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) Global Summit that I recently attended. I hope this will serve as a reference or resource for those seeking more information about how to combat pornography, prostitution, and other forms of sexual exploitation such as the general objectification of women’s (and sometimes men’s) bodies.

The first six resources can be found here. Here are the final six:

7. World Without Exploitation

In addition to pornography, the other major form of sexual exploitation addressed at the Summit was prostitution. I mentioned that the CESE Summit involves a fascinating coalition of social conservatives and radical feminists. However, there is a sharp divide on the Left over the issue of prostitution. One strain of thought, coming out of feminism, views prostitution as inherently exploitative and favors laws against it (albeit with the focus on punishing pimps and purchasers of sex, rather than the prostitutes who are being exploited and abused). The other strain of thought, coming as best I can tell more out of the labor movement (although also encompassing supposed “human rights” defenders such as Amnesty International) favors decriminalization or legalization of prostitution, referring to it as “sex work” and to prostitutes as “sex workers.” The CESE takes the former, “abolitionist” view—which is well represented by World Without Exploitation’s vision statement:

Getting to a world without exploitation means starting with a clear vision. This is ours.

  • We believe that human trafficking and sexual exploitation are human rights issues, fueled by gender, racial, and income inequalities.
  • We seek to honor the power, purpose, and inherent worth of every person. Human trafficking and sexual exploitation endanger the welfare of the individual, the family, and the community. Accepting such exploitation as inevitable is inconsistent with a human rights vision.
  • We know that listening to survivors of exploitation is critical to developing just and effective social policies. We’re committed to survivor engagement. And we’re driven by survivor leadership.
  • We recognize that adults and children who have been trafficked or sexually exploited should be treated as victims of a crime, not as criminals themselves.
  • We realize that there can be no social justice without social services, so we’re working to ensure that all survivors of labor trafficking and the sex trade have the comprehensive support they need to exit exploitative systems and rebuild their lives.
  • We understand that we won’t end sexual exploitation until we end the demand for prostitution. As long as there is a global sex trade, ours will be an unsafe, unjust world.
  • We commit to eradicating the market for coerced or unpaid labor that drives the multi-billion dollar trade in trafficking.
  • We advocate for laws and policies that hold those who purchase other human beings and those who profit from their sale accountable for the harms they cause.
  • We know that law drives the culture even as culture shapes law. Challenging inaccurate media representations of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, while partnering with artists and writers who seek to tell a more accurate story, is central to our mission.
  • We believe that true freedom means being free from violence, exploitation, and oppression.

World Without Exploitation’s website also includes a 73-page report on What We Know About Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, and Sexual Exploitation in the U.S.

8. Global Centurion

This group’s slogan is “Fighting Modern Slavery by Focusing on Demand.” Their mission statement declares:

Global Centurion Foundation is a non-profit organization fighting human trafficking by focusing on the demand side of the equation – the perpetrators, exploiters, buyers, and end-users of human beings who fuel the market for forced labor and commercial sex. In this way, we seek to prevent modern slavery at its source, since it is the buyers who create and fuel the market for sex and labor trafficking.

Laura Lederer of Global Centurion gave a fascinating historical overview (dating back to 1688) of the “anti-slavery” movement, citing four separate streams:

  • Faith-based (appealing to the Bible and Christianity to oppose slavery)
  • Secular (appealing to U.S. founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to oppose slavery)
  • Feminist (opposing “sex slavery” beginning in the late 1800’s)
  • Human Rights (the unfortunate term used by Lederer to describe the labor-focused support for “sex work” and “sex workers.” These groups believe that legalization and government regulation of “sex work” are the best ways to prevent “sex workers” from being exploited.)

9. Prostitution Research & Education

This group seeks to “Abolish Prostitution and Provide Real Alternatives.” Their mission statement describes them as an organization that:

conducts research on prostitution, pornography and trafficking and offers education and consultation to researchers, survivors, the public and policymakers. PRE’s goal is to abolish the institution of prostitution while at the same time advocating for alternatives to trafficking and prostitution – including emotional and physical healthcare for women in prostitution. The roots of prostitution are in the assumption that men are entitled to buy women for sex, in racism, and in women’s poverty.

Melissa Farley has been a regular speaker at the CESE events. Her website includes a valuable report on Pornography, Prostitution, & Trafficking: Making the Connections.

10. Organization for Prostitution Survivors

The last three groups I will mention here are ones which provide direct services to “survivors” of the sex trade. This Seattle-based group:

provides psychosocial accompaniment to survivors of prostitution, co-creating and sustaining efforts to heal from and end this practice of gender-based violence.

It:

facilitates healing from the harm of prostitution by providing the opportunity for survivors to share their experience of prostitution with others and assisting them with resources and referrals to meet identified needs, goals and aspirations.

Peter Qualliotine of OPS spoke on a panel about the #MeToo movement and the “Movement to End Sexual Assault & Rape Culture.” He offered an interesting perspective on “consent” as the only prerequisite to sexual activity, warning that “‘consent’ just becomes one more thing that men have to get,” and suggesting that “mutuality” would be a better standard.

11. Treasures

Monique Calderon of Treasures spoke at the CESE. According to its website:

Treasures is a unique, faith-based outreach and support group for women in the sex industry.

Our mission is to reach, restore, and equip women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking to live healthy, flourishing lives, and train others to do the same across the globe.

One unique aspect of this organization is that it is:

Located in the heart of the Adult Industry Capital of the World, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. 90% of all legal porn worldwide is filmed, distributed, and or manufactured here.

12. Sun Gate Foundation

Shamere McKenzie was another speaker who gave a first-person account of having been exploited. Here is how her organization is described:

Sun Gate Foundation, a (501)(c)(3) non-profit, survivor led organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, is an independent organization addressing a critical gap in the human trafficking aftercare community by making a substantial commitment to survivors. Sun Gate Foundation funds educational opportunities provided to survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in the United States. The ultimate goal is to equip these young girls, boys, women, and men with a solid foundation to confidently go after their dreams.

12 Resources to Fight Sexual Exploitation, Part 1

by Peter Sprigg

April 20, 2018

I recently attended the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) Global Summit, but it’s hard to know how to summarize it. The CESE, an annual event organized primarily by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), was held in early April in Herndon, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Rather than try to summarize the speakers’ messages from the sessions I was able to attend, I decided to post a list of websites that represent the work done by some of those speakers. I hope this will serve as a reference or resource for those seeking more information about how to combat pornography, prostitution, and other forms of sexual exploitation such as the general objectification of women’s (and sometimes men’s) bodies.

Note that the CESE is a broad-based coalition, cutting across political, religious, and ideological lines. Not all of the groups or speakers who participate are social conservatives or Christians—some for example, are liberal feminists. (Therefore, Family Research Council does not necessarily endorse everything on these websites.) All these groups, however, have found common ground in the cause of ending all forms of sexual exploitation.

Here are the first six websites (a subsequent post will present the final six resources):

1. National Center on Sexual Exploitation

The first website to highlight is that of NCOSE itself. NCOSE explains its purpose and focus this way:

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography. As the thread of pornography in the web of sexual exploitation is systemically overlooked by society, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has prominently advanced this issue as a central pillar of its projects in order to promote more holistic solutions.

A separate website for the CESE Summit itself includes videos of some of the presentations (note: there are audio problems at some points in the video).

2. Culture Reframed

Dr. Gail Dines, an activist and scholar who founded Culture Reframed, was a pioneer in the effort to define pornography as a public health crisis—a declaration that has now been made in resolutions adopted by several state legislatures. Here’s part of the description of their work:

Culture Reframed is the first health promotion effort to recognize and address pornography as the public health crisis of the digital age. … Our research-driven programs teach parents and those in the helping and healthcare professions how to recognize and respond to the role pornography can play in sexual violence, unhealthy relationships, internet and sex addictions, negative self-image, sexual dysfunction, depression, sexually transmitted infections, injuries, and other health problems.

NCOSE presented Dines with its highest honor, the Founders Award, at the Summit.

3. Fight the New Drug

This website is particularly effective in reaching the younger generation with a message about the harms of pornography. For example, they offer t-shirts with messages like “Porn Kills Love.”

Here’s how they describe their work:

Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

Clay Olsen, President and Co-Founder of Fight the New Drug, spoke at the CESE Summit.

4. Your Brain on Porn

Your Brain on Porn (YBOP) is an exhaustive clearinghouse of scientific research on the effects of pornography.

YBOP created a few lists of studies:

  1. This page lists 39 neuroscience-based studies (MRI, fMRI, EEG, neuropsychological, hormonal) providing strong support for the addiction model.
  2. This list contains 14 recent literature reviews & commentaries by some of the top neuroscientists in the world, supporting the porn addiction model. (This dated paper was not a literature review and misrepresented most the papers it did cite.)
  3. 24 studies linking porn use/sex addiction to sexual problems and lower arousal to sexual stimuli. The first 5 studies in the list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions.
  4. Almost 60 studies link porn use to less sexual and relationship satisfaction.
  5. Over 20 studies reporting findings consistent with escalation of porn use (tolerance), habituation to porn, and even withdrawal symptoms
  6. Over 45 studies link porn use to poorer mental-emotional health & poorer cognitive outcomes.
  7. Over 25 studies linking porn use to “un-egalitarian attitudes” toward women.

YBOP founder Gary Wilson spoke at the CESE Summit, and said there about five studies that are relied upon by pornography defenders to try to debunk the overwhelming evidence in the studies listed above. He thoroughly debunked the debunkers, taking on five myths about pornography. The myths are:

  1. Pornography is not addictive.”
  2. Sex addicts simply have high sexual desire.”
  3. Using pornography is good for your relationship.”
  4. Using pornography makes you more egalitarian.”
  5. Pornography has many benefits and few drawbacks.”

Oh, and do you think that only religious conservatives have concerns about pornography? Gary Wilson is an atheist.

5. Collective Shout

While the CESE Summit featured heart-wrenching stories about victims of sexual exploitation, it also featured inspiring stories of grassroots activism making a difference, especially when directed at corporations. Among the speakers at the Summit was Australian writer Melinda Tankard Reist, whose organization is described this way:

Collective Shout is a grassroots campaigns movement against the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls.

Collective Shout is for anyone concerned about the increasing pornification of culture and the way its messages have become entrenched in mainstream society, presenting distorted and dishonest ideas about women and girls, sexuality and relationships.

One of the best stories was about a protest against Mossimo, a clothing store that ran an online competition it called “Peepshow,” inviting ordinary women to send in pictures of themselves in their underwear. A prize was offered for the person whose photo got the most votes. Instead of a picture in her underwear, one woman submitted a picture of herself holding a sign that said, “Mossimo Peepshow = Sexist Rubbish.” Collective Shout got enough people to vote for this entry that it actually won the competition!

Reist also has a personal website, and the book she edited, Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, is available on Amazon.

6. U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking

According to their website:

The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking intends to eliminate Human Trafficking in the United States.

We will end Human Trafficking in the United States through prevention, combating demand, the rescue of victims, and providing safe refuge for the restoration of survivors.

USIAHT is one of a number of organizations that bluntly describe sex trafficking as slavery:

Sex Trafficking is modern day slavery, happening everywhere in the United States.  The victims can be U.S. citizens or of any nationality, age, socioeconomic status, or gender. Sex Trafficking is a highly profitable crime that exploits an adult through force, fraud, or coercion, or that engages a child in any form of commercial sexual exploitation.

Geoff Rogers of USIAHT was a speaker at the CESE Summit, and one of only a few who explained that men and boys can be victims of sexual exploitation, too.

I would note that USIAHT’s name and a glance at their home page may give the impression that it is a federal government agency, but this is not the case. USIAHT is “a nonprofit, faith-based organization anointed by God to fight against human trafficking in America with truth and integrity, showing the love of Jesus Christ to all involved.”

Mike Pompeo Has the Correct Perspective on Human Rights

by Travis Weber

April 12, 2018

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo was asked by Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) whether he thinks “LGBTQ rights are human rights.”

Pompeo responded:

I deeply believe LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person has.

This is exactly right. Mike Pompeo’s response accurately captures how international human rights law addresses the claims of the LGBT movement, expressed with care and charity.

As I stated several years ago:

All human beings possess rights because of our unique human nature as evidenced by reason and conscience. LGBT persons have the same human rights as others, because of their human dignity, evidenced by their endowed reason and conscience … .

Some may claim, as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” This statement misleads by … implying that same-sex-attracted and transgendered persons do not currently enjoy human rights protections … .

The [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] protect every individual from arbitrary arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing by the State, because all humans have human dignity, regardless of their sexual attraction or gender preference.

If any person is denied these rights (whether they identify as same-sex attracted or not), then UN human rights bodies should investigate and strengthen enforcement of their rights. Secretary Clinton names a problem that already has a solution.

Mike Pompeo shows he has the right perspective on international human rights law. Not everyone may like the law, but for the rule of law to be upheld, it must be respected. Considering how he was pressed to uphold the rule of law during his hearing—and how he promised (rightly) to do so—we have hope that he will take this principled approach to international law when implementing our foreign policy.

Pence: Human Rights Council “Doesn’t Deserve its Name”

by Travis Weber

September 27, 2017

Speaking at the United Nations last week, Vice President Pence had harsh words for the UN Human Rights Council—an entity he claimed “doesn’t deserve its name.”

As we look at the membership of the council today, we see nations that betray these timeless principles upon which this institution was founded. Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world.” (emphasis mine). The vice president concluded, “[a] clear majority of the Human Rights Council’s members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards.”

Pence singled out Cuba and Venezuela as examples of countries that didn’t belong there. They aren’t the only ones.

President Trump, speaking the day before, had emphasized the same point: “In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.”

While these words may seem harsh, they are true, and make a long-overdue point more world leaders need to recognize themselves.

While the UN began with a noble purpose and a framework to achieve a worthwhile goal, it has become corrupted in the years since 1945. The term “human rights”—which recognizes that all people have certain rights that come from God and not government because they are made in the imago dei, or “image of God”—must retain its core meaning to bear any fruit in the international arena. Yet the term has been used and abused over the years to mean many things to many people, and hence nothing at all. Through this definitional watering down along with intentional noncompliance and hypocrisy, we have achieved a “Human Rights” Council of human rights violators.

The only thing consistent about the council is its irrational and mind-boggling hatred of Israel, the Middle East’s most successful democracy and a human rights leader in that area of the world. As Vice President Pence pointed out, “[t]he council’s agenda item seven actually singles out Israel for discussion at every single meeting, something no other country must endure. As evidence, the Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions condemning Israel, while largely ignoring the world’s worst human rights abusers.” Such anti-Semitism further discredits the already scornful behavior of the council.

The UN was founded with a worthy goal, and it is one worth continuing to strive for. But striving includes reform where needed. The “head-in-the-sand” mentality too often taken in the face of ongoing problems will only prolong abuse and the suppression of human rights—not their protection.

Release Charlie Gard

by Arina Grossu

July 6, 2017

Arina Grossu, FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, delivered the following speech on July 6, 2017 at a press conference for #CharlieGard at the National Press Club.

Good afternoon and thank you for being here. We are encouraged by the outpouring of love and support that Charlie Gard and his parents, Chris and Connie have gotten from all over the world, in their quest to take Charlie out of the U.K. for nucleoside bypass therapy. They have already raised $1.7 million in private funds and they even had offers from a U.S. hospital for free treatment and also for him to stay at the Vatican hospital. We are encouraged that Pope Francis and President Trump have expressed support for Charlie and his family. President Trump has requested a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit in Germany tomorrow and a family spokesman said, “The White House has been in talks with Charlie’s family, GOSH, the UK Government, the Department of Health and the American doctor who wants to treat Charlie.”

The question at hand is not whether the treatment is going to work for Charlie, who has TK-2 related mitochondrial depletion syndrome. We hope that it does and we know that it has for others with less severe forms of mitochondrial depletion syndrome—others who are alive today as a result of their treatment. Why should Charlie be deprived of the same chance?

We urge the British government, the courts, and the hospital to release Charlie. You are holding him hostage. This is a case about parental rights coming into conflict with socialized medicine. Who should decide what’s in the best interest of Charlie? His parents. Not the courts. Not the hospital. Not the government.

As Wesley Smith so aptly put it, “The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?”

It is Chris and Connie, his parents, who have the right to seek treatment for their son—treatment that has been successful for little Maxwell Smith, another British boy who was also diagnosed with TK2-related MDS. He was diagnosed at 9 months and treated with nucleoside bypass therapy. He is still alive at 5 ½ years old as a result. Doctors of another boy, Arturo Estopiñan, told his parents that there was no treatment and that he would die soon. Arturo is still alive today at 6 years old as a result of this therapy. Arturo’s parents said that their son “would surely be dead by now” if he was not granted access to the treatment. The therapy is a simple oral medication.

Please don’t deprive Charlie of a chance at therapy. Charlie’s parents have said in a tearful plea, “We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives.” They also said, “If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting.”

Chris and Connie, please be assured that we join you in prayer and we support you in your right to parental authority.

We must protect the rights of parents to make decisions for their children’s health—decisions that are based with best interests in mind. We must protect Charlie, the most vulnerable person among us.

We are praying for you Charlie, Chris, and Connie at this most stressful time. You are not alone. You have supporters all around the world.

And to the U.K and Great Osmond Street Hospital, please free Charlie so that he can have a fighting chance at life. The world is watching and waiting for you to do the right thing and release Charlie to his parents.

Thank you.

Think Slavery Has Been Eradicated in the 21st Century? You’d Be Wrong.

by Travis Weber

April 13, 2017

 

Living in the Western world, in our modern era, one might think that chattel slavery (the buying and selling of human beings as property) is a thing of the past. They would be mistaken.

Just yesterday, it was reported that widespread human smuggling operations are still ongoing inside Libya, with migrants arriving from West Africa being openly traded in “public slave markets” where they are bought and sold:

One survivor from Senegal spoke of how he was brought by smugglers across Niger in a bus to the southern Libyan city of Sabha, where he was due to risk a boat trip to Europe. When the middleman did not get his fee, the survivor was put up for sale along with other passengers.

He was taken to a prison where he worked without pay while the captors demanded 300,000 West African francs (about £380) before selling him on to a larger jail. Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger, said migrants would be brought to a square where they were put up for sale.

 . . . 

Those who did not get their ransom paid were often taken away and killed while others would die of hunger and disease in unsanitary conditions.

If the number of migrants goes down, because of death or someone is ransomed, the kidnappers just go to the market and buy one,” Manente said.

The going rate for a migrant was between $200 (£160) and $500 (£400) each, with many forced into captivity for months before they are freed or sold on. So far this year more than 170 bodies have washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean while the Libyan Coast Guard has also rescued thousands more.

This is horrific.

Unfortunately, it is also the inevitable consequence of abandoning the idea that all human beings have been created in the image of God, and that they have inherent dignity for this reason.

What else does this show us? That worldview matters; that one’s view of God and of fellow human beings matters. What we believe about the dignity of the human race matters. If we believe that God created us in his own image, we will understand that we are accountable to God for how we treat fellow human beings.

Indeed, the whole idea of human rights flows from this notion. Because we have dignity as image-bearers of God, no government may transgress this dignity. From this truth flow certain rights which no government may override—these are called human rights. Among these are the freedom to exercise the religion of one’s choice—and the freedom to not be bought and sold as property!

If we ever forget this truth—may God help us!

40 Days for Life Speech in Front of D.C.’s Planned Parenthood

by Arina Grossu

March 1, 2017

Note: The following is Arina Grossu’s speech for the February 28, 2017 40 Days for Life vigil in front of D.C.’s Planned Parenthood. Arina Grossu is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Good evening. Thank you for being here today. I wish we did not have to be here and I hope that one day soon we will no longer have to be when abortions are no longer committed. Let’s make abortion unthinkable. Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women and children, and Planned Parenthood, America’s number one abortion chain is also the abortion lobby’s number one perpetrator.

Planned Parenthood is in the business of lies. Here are some facts containing numbers from its own annual reports. Planned Parenthood commits 35 percent of U.S. abortions, close to 325,000 abortions annually. Planned Parenthood is a scandal-ridden organization that needs to be defunded. It was at the center of the controversy involving the sale and trafficking of baby body parts as revealed by the Center for Medical Progress videos. It has also been caught promoting abortion quotas, and it failed to report statutory rape at a number of its affiliates. It has shown support for race- and sex-selective abortions. It targets minority populations: 79 percent of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African-American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.

While it advertises its non-abortion services, a closer look at its annual reports reveal a shocking reality. Abortion is on the rise, but their other services have dropped to over half in the past five years. From 2009 to 2014, cancer screening and prevention programs have consistently dropped by 63 percent. In those same years breast exams have consistently dropped by over half (56 percent). These do not include in-house mammograms because Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms, a fact that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards admitted in a September 2015 House Oversight Committee meeting, contradicting her 2011 claims that it did.

From 2009 to 2014, prenatal services have steadily dropped by more than half (57 percent). LiveAction’s January 2017 sting videos reveal that out of 97 Planned Parenthood facilities that they talked to, only five said they provided prenatal care. One abortion worker at the Merrillville, Ind. Planned Parenthood said, “No, we don’t do prenatal services. I mean, it’s called Planned Parenthood, I know it’s kind of deceiving.”

Another LiveAction January 2017 video revealed that of 68 Planned Parenthood facilities that were asked if they do an ultrasound in order to check the health of the baby, only three Planned Parenthood facilities said they did.

In 2014, if a pregnant woman walked into a Planned Parenthood facility, she was 160 times more likely to receive an abortion than an adoption referral.

So here we are standing in front of this $20 million state of the art mega-center that opened in September 2016 and is dedicated to child-killing. It is tragically located next to and across the street from Two Rivers Public Charter School. While children are being taught in those buildings, other children are being killed in Planned Parenthood’s building.

Here they do medication abortion up to about 9 weeks for $475 and surgical abortion up to 14 weeks for $525.

This Planned Parenthood, like other Planned Parenthoods and abortion facilities in each town and city, stands as an enemy against human dignity, an enemy against women and children, an enemy against human decency. Folks, we are looking at the gas chamber of our generation. It is a blight on our nation.

But you are here, and this gives me hope for the future. 40 Days for Life is a great opportunity to witness to vulnerable mothers and fathers and abortion workers the truth about human dignity and the lies of abortion.

Our presence matters. Not only does it matter, but it is crucial. Between 2004 and 2016, some 675 cities in 40 nations have conducted 40 Days for Life campaigns with measurable, lifesaving results.

Do you want to know what a difference prayer and witness makes? Through prayer and fasting, peaceful vigils and community outreach, 40 Days for Life has inspired 725,000 volunteers. With God’s help, during 19 coordinated campaigns:

  • 12,668 babies were saved from abortion
  • 143 abortion workers were converted
  • 83 abortion centers were closed
  • More than 19,000 church congregations were activated and united for life.

Wow! Do you realize how powerful we are when we unite for life? Together we will bring about an end to abortion. From March 1 until April 9, our community will unite with many others from coast to coast—and internationally—for another major simultaneous pro-life mobilization.

It is a very exciting time to be in the pro-life movement right now. Did you know that there have been a torrent of pro-life laws in the U.S.? In the last five years alone, 334 laws have been passed, which account for 30 percent of all pro-life laws enacted since 1973.

In 2015 Planned Parenthood closed 33 centers in a total of 18 different states. Planned Parenthood currently operates around 625 centers in the United States. At its height in 1995, there were 938 Planned Parenthood facilities. Both the numbers of facilities and affiliates are at an all-time low.

We are also going to witness the defunding of Planned Parenthood. The over $500 million in annual taxpayer funds that currently goes to Planned Parenthood annually should be redirected to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that actually provide comprehensive and true health care for women, men, and children. Abortion is not health care.

But we need your continued presence here—we need boots on the ground—and an active voice in contacting your members of Congress for the passage of pro-life bills.

Your physical, peaceful presence stands as a beacon of light in a very dark place. Whenever we stand at the foot of the abortion facility, at the precipice where unspeakable evil takes place, in whatever city we find ourselves, we are the conscience of the world, the last lifeline of support for a mother facing an unplanned pregnancy, and the first to embrace her if she goes through with an abortion. We are also there to help abortion workers leave this wretched business.

I encourage you to be part of this sacred task and sign up to pray and witness outside of this Planned Parenthood by going to 40daysforlife.com or just show up at any of its locations. You don’t have to say a word. You can come here to just pray and witness with your presence. Or if the Spirit so moves you in gentleness and love, to reach out to the mothers and fathers in unplanned pregnancies and abortion volunteers and workers and show them another way—the life-giving way. Your mere presence and witness speaks more than you can imagine.

One final word of encouragement. When you come here or any other abortion facility for peaceful witness, please remember that you are not alone. When you stand here, either by yourself or with a group, you are not alone. You are joining in solidarity with brothers and sisters in cities all around the world, helping to rescue other brothers and sisters from the grip of abortion. We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness. God’s power and strength will carry us.

Ephesians 6 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

For more coverage of this event, see here.

The Islamic State (ISIS) Lays Out Its Plan for Christians

by Chris Gacek

August 9, 2016

In case there is any doubt as to what the Islamic State (ISIS) thinks about Christianity and Christians, the current issue of its English-language magazine, Dabiq, leaves no doubt. Frances Martel of Breitbart News broke the story about its release, and the Drudge Report linked to Martel’s article.

This 82-page volume should be read widely by Christians, church leaders, and anyone in government. A website, the Clarion Project, focuses on providing “up-to-date news on Islamic extremism, sharia law and human rights” and it makes complete copies of Dabiq available for download (in .pdf). Volume 15 of Dabiq, entitled “Break the Cross,” may be downloaded via Clarion here.

Here is a sample from the chapter “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You” (pp. 33-33). It contains a six-paragraph section describing the reasons for their murderous animosity, so in the first paragraph (p. 31) one finds:

1. We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you. … [concluding sentences of para. 1:] Thus, even if you were to stop fighting us, your best-case scenario in a state of war would be that we would suspend our attacks against you – if we deemed it necessary – in order to focus on the closer and more immediate threats, before eventually resuming our campaigns against you. Apart from the option of a temporary truce, this is the only likely scenario that would bring you fleeting respite from our attacks. So in the end, you cannot bring an indefinite halt to our war against you. At most, you could only delay it temporarily…

Ultimately even supine submission will buy no respect for the Christian and makes clear why the cruelest persecutions of helpless religious minorities takes place in territories controlled by ISIS in the Middle East (pp. 32-33):

What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you. No doubt, we would stop fighting you then as we would stop fighting any disbelievers who enter into a covenant with us, but we would not stop hating you.

Ultimately, though, the ISIS ideologues let us know that they do this from a mind-set of giving salvation to lost pagans:

We fight you in order to bring you out from the darkness of disbelief and into the light of Islam, and to liberate you from the constraints of living for the sake of the worldly life alone so that you may enjoy both the blessings of the worldly life and the bliss of the Hereafter.

Well, that’s a relief. Christians being crucified, beheaded, burned alive, tortured, raped, kidnapped, sold into sex slavery, denied religious liberty, paying discriminatory and punitive taxes, etc., would be well-advised to remember such jihadi high-mindedness. After all, Christians are being saved from their heretical belief in multiple gods:

As for believing that there are other “gods” who partook in the creation of the universe or who have share in its lordship, then this was a creed so deviant and contrary to the fitrah that not even the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs believed in such. (p. 5)

The other sections of the volume are instructive in laying out the ISIS-jihadist ideology. Let there be no doubt about it—ISIS operates under a well-defined Islam-grounded, religious belief system that has no room for religious tolerance as the West understands it.

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