Month Archives: July 2013

Sowing and Reaping: China’s “One-Child” Policy Fosters Human Trafficking

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 22, 2013

The U.S. State Department, experiencing a rare spasm of moral rectitude, has issued a new report downgrading China from being a Tier 2 sex trafficking nation to a Tier 3, the lowest possible rating (Trafficking in Persons Report 2013).

Human trafficking is one of the great evils of our time, but in China it is exacerbated by the government’s “one-child” policy. This coercive initiative has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of unborn baby girls and nearly 40 million Chinese men of marrying age who cannot find wives. That the State Department admits this is striking, even as the report itself is disturbing: “The Chinese government’s birth limitation policy and a cultural preference for sons, create a skewed sex ratio of 118 boys to 100 girls in China, which served as a key source of demand for the trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution.”

The report continues that the Communist government has not done nearly enough to stop the trafficking of women and girls throughout the country caused by the “one-child” program: “The government did not address the effects its birth limitation policy had in creating a gender imbalance and fueling trafficking, particularly through bride trafficking and forced marriage.”

A nation, like a person, reaps what it sows. China has created not only a demographic crisis of unprecedented proportions through its “one-child” policy, but in carrying this policy out has consigned millions of unborn babies to death through abortion and thereby left millions of men without the possibility of marriage. This has, in turn, fostered a demand for women and girls who can be sold and purchased like commodities.

Let’s pray that somehow, a “culture of life” - even if driven by sheer economic self-interest - will take root in China and that abortion in that ancient land becomes as unthinkable as it should be.

Over Niagara Falls — and into the Hands of God

by Robert Morrison

July 19, 2013

Jim Honeycutt was a construction foreman in Niagrara, New York, in July, 1960. He offered a Saturday afternoon boat ride to one of the carpenters he supervised. Frank Woodward and his wife begged off, but their children eagerly accepted. Seventeen-year old Deanne Woodward and her seven-year old brother, Roger, pleaded to be allowed to go. Their parents knew that Jim was a powerful swimmer and experienced lifeguard, so they said yes. But only if the children wore their lifejackets. It was Roger’s first boat ride. He begged Jim Honeycutt to let him take off the hot, sticky lifejacket, but Jim had promised the lad’s parents. Jim did let Roger steer the boat, however, and the boy thrilled to the feel of the 7 ½ horsepower Evinrude outboard. They went down the Niagara River, passed under the Grand Island Bridge, and headed out to explore Goat Island. Jim resumed the helm, but soon, the boat got into trouble. A squealing sound indicated that the boat’s propeller had sheared off. Now, they were without power in the in the strong river current.

A leading Canadian writer, Pierre Berton, tells the story in dramatic detail in his acclaimed book, Niagara: A History of the Falls. As the children panicked, Jim Honeycutt reassured them: “Don’t be scared; I’ll hold you.” Moments later, all three boaters were thrown into the churning waters. And being carried downstream.

Deanne was not a strong swimmer, but she made for the shore. There, a vacationing New Jersey bus driver, John Hayes, dropped his camera and crawled through the guard rails to reach out to Deanne. “Someone help me,” she yelled, “and help my brother!” John Hayes hooked a leg over the railing and reached out to Deanne. “Swim for your life, girl!” John Hayes commanded, now reaching so far out that he was at risk of falling into the raging river. John Hayes managed to grab Deanne. She held on tightly to his thumb and two fingers. He called for help. Others watched, frozen.

Not John Quatrocchi, a Pennsylvania steelworker. He stepped forward. Quatrocchi was a veteran of five European campaigns in World War II. Quatrocchi leaped over the barricade and, with only the toes of his shoes clinging to the river bank, helped John Hayes pull Deanne to shore.

Deanne’s first thought was of her little brother. “Pray for him,” Quatrocchi told the girl.

She did. Right there, on Goat Island, she knelt down and prayed for Roger.

Roger went over the Falls. Fifty years later, Roger described his experience to the Toronto Star:

One minute you’re being dragged under water, you can’t breathe, you can’t get to air, you can’t get up,” says Woodward, remembering the moment. “You’re upside-down, you’re thrown around, then you come flying out of the water like somebody just spit you out. Then you just fall back into the water and it starts all over again.”

The boy lost track of Deanne and Honeycutt as he was tugged through the roaring water. But as he got closer to the falls, it calmed. He glanced towards Goat Island, the land mass separating the American and Canadian falls. Woodward could see people running, trying to get to Deanne. No one was helping him. “I was angry because I was screaming as loud as I could for help and nobody would do anything. Of course, I didn’t know I was headed to the brink of the falls,” he says. He was alone in the water. Anger turned to surrender. Cold and then fatigue took hold of the 55-pound boy and there was nothing anyone could do. “I realized I was going to die,” says Woodward. “I thought about my dog, I thought about what few toys I had, I thought about my mom and dad and how sad they were going to be when they found out that I died. And there was just total peace.”

Woodward then entered what he calls a cloud — what actually was a 167-foot drop down Horseshoe Falls. Engulfed in mist and unable to see, he had no sense of falling.

And then there was silence.”

John Quatrocchi watched from the heights of Goat Island as the famous tour boat,

Maid of the Mists II, changed course and made for a little figure in a red lifejacket, swimming vigorously toward her. Captain Clifford Keech had heard the “Man Overboard” cry of a crewman and responded with speed.

Seeing the boy clamber aboard the Maid, Quatrocchi told Deanne her prayers had been answered.

Jim Honeycutt didn’t make it. He was swept over the Falls, too. His body was found four days later. But in his last act, he had pressed the children to put on those lifejackets.

Twenty years later, in 1980, Roger Woodward was a Navy veteran of Vietnam. He went to a prayer service with a friend who was a member of an Evangelical youth group. Sitting in the pew, he prayed a simple prayer welcoming Jesus into his life as his Lord and Savior.

Still later, in 1990, Roger Woodward returned to Niagara Falls, Ontario, and there gave a powerful testimony: Why was he spared? “So that I could live again…so that others would come to the saving knowledge of Christ and have the gift of eternal life.”

Roger Woodward was the first human being known to survive a plunge over the Falls. Doubtless there had been Indians, perhaps even some of the local Tuscarora, who had thus survived. And several others have been documented since.

Still, little Roger’s “Miracle” was the most dramatic story my wife and I brought away from our recent trip to Niagara Falls. In another wondrous testimonial, John Hayes, a black man, risked his life for a stranger, a young white girl. We need more stories like that in our lives. John Quatrocchi, also hero of the story, knew what Deanne had needed most on the heights of Goat Island: prayer. And so do we all. 

FRC in the News: July 19, 2013

by Karah Kruger

July 19, 2013

Texas Passes 20 Week Abortion Ban, Should Survive Legal Challenge

Ken Klukowski, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, wrote an article for Breitbart about the recent pro-life bill that became law yesterday when Governor Perry signed it. Once enacted, the law will ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation, the point in the pregnancy proven when a baby feels pain. Ken Klukowski that if challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, it will be upheld. The following are quotes from Ken’s article:

Pro-life advocates praised Perry and the Texas legislature. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said, “We applaud the brave state leaders—including Gov. Perry—who refuse to back down from defending human dignity, even in the face of pressure and harassment.” He was referring to the nationwide efforts of abortion supporters who portrayed this law as a “war on women” by requiring a woman who wants an abortion to make that decision before she’s five months along in her pregnancy.”

This Texas law (or one of its counterparts in Wisconsin or another state) will show whether this theory (that any abortion restriction that is good enough for Kennedy should survive a court challenge) is correct. If you carefully study Kennedy’s jurisprudence—not only regarding abortion but many other issues as well—it seems Kennedy does not like the idea of completely shutting the door on federal courts saying women can abort their pregnancies—but wants to leave the door cracked open, not wide open.”

If that is true, this law and many other restrictions should be upheld. One of these laws should be before the Supreme Court in the next 18 months, with a decision by summer 2015.”

Obama’s Pants on Fire in White House Obamacare Speech

Ken Klukowski, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, wrote an article for Breitbart consisting of several examples when the Obama administration, sometimes with the approval or help of the Supreme Court or IRS, quietly admitted that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t working by actions such as making the previously mandatory Medicaid expansion optional for states, not enforcing the Employer Mandate until 2014, issuing waivers for companies who cannot pay health care benefits for their employees, and putting off state exchange systems for a year. Yet with all the mess Obamacare is causing, President Obama is vehemently defending it.

Yet with all that, Obama says that the ACA is working great, and those who deny it must have sinister political motives. (Set aside the fact that now some of the ACA’s biggest critics are major unions like AFL-CIO and the Teamsters, normally Obama’s biggest allies and without whose zealous support the ACA would never have passed Congress.)”

It’s like George Orwell’s 1984. The government literally could say 2+2=5, and no one would call them on it. If a conservative leader said such things, the media would call for his head. But when a liberal does it, they ignore it. (Or if you’re MSNBC, you applaud his “courage” and might offer him a TV show to anchor.)”

 “So using such a word would be disrespectful, and we won’t do it here. But if the smoke detectors go off at the White House, there’s no need to call the fire department. The smoke is because President Obama’s pants are on fire.”

 

Hare-Brained Regulators and a Rabbit Response

by Robert Morrison

July 17, 2013

Marty the Magician is the stage name of Marty Hahne. His act is primarily performed for pre-schoolers in Southern Missouri to promote reading and to encourage the tykes to make libraries a favorite home away from home. Marty the Magician has a partner in his act. It’s Casey, the female rabbit.

Marty likes to finish his act with a flourish. His stage presence, according to this story on the front page of The Washington Post, is that of “an exuberant doofus.” And Marty the Magician delights the children by pulling Casey out of his hat.

Well, Marty is not America’s only exuberant doofus; that much is clear. We apparently have entire bureaus of exuberant doofuses. One of these, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, collared Marty during a performance at a library in Monett, Mo., back in 2005. As the children squealed in delight, the USDA-approved exuberant doofus pulled Marty over. “Where’s your license?” No, Marty, not your driver’s license, the license for your rabbit.

This was in Missouri, the “Show Me” State. And Marty had failed to show this bunny bureaucrat proper certification for his animal. The story details a lot of the occupational hazards Marty the Magician has encountered throughout his career. If the rabbit doesn’t make a mess on stage, that’s no surety that excited children won’t. He had one inebriated fellow on a cruise ship lose his lunch on the rabbit.

One of Marty’s rabbit partners was so mean that it growled. Maybe that’s the one that famously attacked President Jimmy Carter while the hapless peanut planter was whitewater rafting.

President Carter’s security detail managed to protect the commander-in-chief from the attack rabbit, but you can never be too sure. The possibility that some rabbit might escape the magic shows and endanger national security is probably why the USDA has been on bunny patrol for the past decade. The USDA has 14 pages of regulations it enforces, all dealing with rabbits.

Of course, this bunny patrol is not the same USDA unit that is responsible for enforcing rabbits-as-pie regs. If you want to slaughter your rabbit onstage, apparently, you come under an entirely different set of regs. I can see it now: “Kids, don’t try this at home.”

Now, in this age of tornadoes and hurricanes, of DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano, and other man-caused disasters, we cannot afford not to have a magic rabbit disaster plan. What will you do, Marty the Magician, if there’s a twister or earthquake while you and Casey are doing your magic hat routine?

Fortunately, Marty the Magician was able to find a friend in Kim Morgan. She writes disaster plans for a living. And she agreed to help Marty and Casey for no fee. Pro bono?

Or pro bunny?

So now, Marty the Magician and his licensed lapin, Casey, have their own 26-page federally-approved disaster plan. If anything untoward happens—Hazmat spill, flood, tornado, heat wave—during a show at Little Angels Learning Academy in Battlefield, Mo., the American public can rest assured that the USDA has covered every rabbit trail.

We are currently undergoing the rigors of the Sequester. Usually, federal bureaucrats respond to such attempts to limit spending by closing down the Washington Monument. But since that edifice is already closed down, they’ve had to endure the loss of line-dance training and draconian cuts to their Star Wars skits.

Here’s a recommendation for government cutbacks: Don’t just furlough the flop ears at USDA who handle rabbit regs, lop away whole divisions of these hare-brained regulators. When we hear the cries of pain from the Watership Down lobby, we may know we are actually cutting to the bone. Then go ahead and cut further. Don’t even leave a rabbit’s foot. That would be the appropriate rabbit response. 

P.S. President Harry Truman famously described Washington, D.C.“This is the kind of town where, if you need a friend, you should buy a dog.” Well, if you already have all the friends or dogs you need, then buy a rabbit. You’ll get your very own USDA-approved regulator.”

Conference on Managing an Unexpected Prenatal Diagnosis

by David Prentice

July 17, 2013

If you’re in the Chicago area, consider attending a one-day conference this Thursday, July 16. For those not able to be there physically, the conference will also be livestreamed on the internet!

 

Managing an Unexpected Prenatal Diagnosis: Critical Considerations for Counselors, Clinicians, and Friends”

Thursday, July 18, 2013

9 am – 4:30 pm (Central Time)

on the campus of Trinity International University, hosted by The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity

CME Credits Offered to On Site Participants

SCHEDULE and Registration at http://pgdc.eventbrite.com

Live Streaming at http://cbhd.org/prenatal

for those watching on the internet, Q&A via gmail: prenatal2013@gmail.com

FRC in the News: July 16, 2013

by Karah Kruger

July 16, 2013

Defending the Religious Liberty of Those Who Defend Us

Ken Blackwell, Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, wrote an article for Breitbart.com about the recent attacks on religious liberty. It is very obvious that members of our armed forces are the ones experiencing outright suppression of their religious freedoms. Family Research Council recently released a document containing dozens of incidents of hostility toward religious expression, entitled “A Clear and Present Danger.” After citing the story about when Muslim radical Nidal Hasan shot 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, TX, which Obama did not treat as a terrorist attack, Ken gave the following comments:

No wonder even such a measured and sober analyst of public affairs as veteran columnist Michael Barone can describe Obama administration policy bluntly. This Harvard-educated senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute says Mr. Obama’s military policy is: “Christianity bad; Islam good.”

The cover of FRC’s Clear and Present Danger report shows a white cross from the U.S. Cemetery at Normandy. It might as well have shown the Stars of David that are nestled among those beautiful crosses. For Jewish service members have their religious freedom threatened by Obama policies, as well. Now is the time for Congress to act to protect the religious liberties of all those who protect us.”

New Coalition Pushes Back on Obama Admin’s Religious Liberty Failures

Ken Klukowski, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, wrote an article for Breitbart.com concerning the response lawmakers have received from Obama’s military appointees after Members of Congress sent letters to the Pentagon asking why Pentagon officials were meeting with an anti-Christian activist and how their current stated policies, such as forbidding proselytizing, could be justified with our federal law protecting religious liberty. The three responses tried to assure the lawmakers that they had nothing to worry about. These Secretaries can deny the reality of religious liberty being attacked, but we know that his administration is aggressively against the expression of Christianity, as Obama openly threatened to veto Rep. Fleming’s (R-La.) religious liberty amendment. Ken made the following statements:

…A new coalition—Restore Military Religious Freedom (RMRF)—was announced to secure passage of this new religious-freedom legislation and establish a long-term agenda to protect the First Amendment for those in uniform. The RMRF coalition was launched on Capitol Hill in a press event with Members of Congress and conservative religious-liberty leaders.”

RMRF pledged to organize national support to work with Congress to see these new protections put into law. Military service members put their lives on the line to protect against threats to the freedoms of all Americans, and now lawmakers and policy leaders are returning the favor.”

Don’t Try to “Cherry-Pick” the Bible

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 16, 2013

In the Associated Baptist Press, Thomas Whitely argues that all professing Christians “cherry-pick” the Bible to find texts that suit them and rationalize or simply disregard those they find discomfiting.

Everyone cherry-picks the Bible, (including) those who claim to be ‘staunch believers in the Bible’ claiming its inerrancy and infallibility along with those who view it as a historical and all-too-human text,” he writes. “No one – conservative Christian, liberal Christian, Jew or atheist – reads all of the Bible the same way because the nature of this anthology of texts precludes this possibility.”

Mr. Whitely is candid about his views and, in tone, quite respectful of those he indicts. However, he wrongly conflates hermeneutical difficulties with selective application. In other words, some passages of the Bible are hard to interpret, let alone accept or apply. This makes them no less inspired than other passages whose meaning is more clear and appealing.

Either the Bible is “God breathed,” as Paul claims it to be (“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” he writes Timothy), or it’s a hodge-podge of contradictions, fantasy, and distortion. We do not have the luxury of coming to Scripture as if children lying on our backs looking at the clouds – “I see a horsie,” says one, while the other says, “I see a pirate ship.” There are consistent rules of interpretation for all of us; that we don’t like where they might take us is an indictment of our hearts toward God, not intellectual integrity about the meaning of any given passage.

For example, Mr. Whitely notes that most Evangelicals will turn to biblical passages on human sexuality to make the case against homosexual behavior (and any other kind of non-heterosexual, non-marital sexual intimacy) and “while ignoring other parts such as the command to kill a rebellious child.”

Well, no. A serious student of Scripture will look at the text closely, read exegetical and expositional commentators about it, study the historical context, and determine, if the text is part of the Mosaic code, the kind of law to which it refers (ceremonial, civil, or moral). He will not come up with some strange and hitherto unknown interpretation but will take the text for what it says, even if what it says makes him irritated. Meaning is not determined by personal preference but by the intent of the author and the words he uses.

In the case of stoning a persistently and perniciously “rebellious” child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), it is noteworthy that the Talmud states there was never a single such instance in which this penalty was exercised (“there never was and never will be [one who fits the definition of] a wayward and defiant son”). More importantly, there is never a single instance in Scripture describing the implementation of this command.

As to the specifics of the command, unlike the laws of Greece and Rome, parents did not have absolute authority to put their children to death; Deut. 21:18 makes clear that the case has to be adjudicated before magistrates (elders in governing session) and that both parents have to agree that their son merits capital punishment.

The capital nature of this offense seems grounded in a severe threat to vulnerable parents and the community as a whole by a violent, adult or near-adult bully. It’s not as though mom and dad got tired of junior complaining too much about his matzo.

Perhaps most poignantly, this command appears to be a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel. As noted by Asbury University professor Victor Hamilton, “The only other places where both Hebrew words (‘stubborn and rebellious’) occur in tandem as descriptors of Israel(or of anyone) are Psalm 78:8, ‘They should not be like their ancestors, a stubborn and rebellious generation,’ and Jeremiah 5:23, ‘But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts’” (Handbook of the Pentateuch). And while Israel was sent into exile and spiritually disciplined, God never rejected them – “stoned” them – as His people.

The meaning of all but a handful of biblical texts is, with careful study, pretty obvious. That I might not like what they say simply means that I am not God; not being deity caused Eve to eat a certain piece of fruit, which should encourage all of us against elevating our own judgments ahead of those given us by our Creator.

Mr. Whitley also claims, “The way 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus talk about women does not govern how I view women and their potential for leadership. The unquestioning acceptance of slavery and the treatment of women as property does not govern how I live my life. Yet other passages do.”

To use an arcane theological term, bunk: (a) Paul’s teaching on women is consistent; you might not like it, but it is what it is; (b) “unquestioning acceptance of slavery,” really? Is that why Paul tells Philemon of Onesimus to treat the latter “no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (Philemon 16)?

As to slavery, one perceptive commentator notes that “the New Testament nowhere attacks slavery directly. Had Jesus and the apostles done so, the result would have been chaos. Any slave insurrection would have been brutally crushed, and the slaves massacred.”

However, as New Testament scholar Donald Guthrie observes:

It is clearly incongruous for a Christian master to “own” a brother in Christ in the contemporary sense of the word, and although the existing order of society could not be immediately changed by Christianity without a political revolution (Which was clearly contrary to Christian principles), the Christian master-slave relationship was so transformed from within that it was bound to lead ultimately to the abolition of the system. (New Testament Introduction).

And where does Mr. Whitely get his “women as property” trope? Acts 16 tells us Paul interacted directly with a merchant of expensive fabrics named Lydia, who after her conversion hosted Paul in her home. Paul also affirmed the equality of women and men (Galatians 3:28) even as he taught that they possess different roles. This is patriarchal oppression?

Mr. Whitely has given himself the luxury of accepting those parts of the Bible he likes and jettisoning those he does not. He thus creates an imaginary faith based not on objective truth but those sentiments he finds most reassuring.

J. Gresham Machen, the great Presbyterian theologian, wrote elegantly on how we should view the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. I’ll give him the last word:

The contents of the Bible, then, are unique. But another fact about the Bible is also important. The Bible might contain an account of a true revelation from God, and yet the account be full of error. Before the full authority of the Bible can be established, therefore, it is necessary to add to the Christian doctrine of revelation the Christian doctrine of inspiration. The latter doctrine means that the Bible not only is an account of important things, but that the account itself is true, the writers having been so preserved from error, despite a full maintenance of their habits of thought and expression, that the resulting Book is the “infallible rule of faith and practice.”

Cohabitation: Preferred? Maybe. Productive? Nope.

by Family Research Council

July 16, 2013

In Friday’s Best of the Web Today, James Taranto referenced a RAND report showing that men and women entering cohabiting relationships have widely differing expectations and attitudes. Among cohabiters aged 18 to 26, 13 percent more men than women lack “near-certainty” about the permanence of their relationship, and 15 percent more men than women reported they weren’t “totally committed” to their partners. However, Taranto notes that among both married men and women, equal (and markedly lower than cohabiting) numbers lacked “near-certainty” that their relationship was permanent.

Clearly, this gap in desires and expectations is problematic. Taranto says that “[i]f cohabitation is better suited to male sexuality … as the RAND study suggests, then one would expect the most attractive men—those with the widest options—to be most able to exercise their preference for the former.” He mentions that this selection of the “best” men into cohabitation would bode ill for the well-being of marriage, as well.

I’ve already blogged for Marriage Generation about why I consider cohabitation the “margarine” of relationship arrangements. I wrote there from a generally theological and personal perspective. My personal essay aside, the data make it very clear that men benefit substantially from marriage, and that non-marriage (avoiding and delaying marriage, which may or may not involve living unmarried with a partner) is harmful to the U.S. economy.

The proofs for these two points (think “proof” in the sense that you used it in tenth grade geometry) exist in the form of a MARRI publication, “Non-Marriage Reduces U.S. Labor Participation: The Abandonment of Marriage Puts America at Risk of a Depression.”

The short version of the explanation is this: unemployment among men across all sorts of employment classes (service-sector workers, sales workers, unskilled laborers, professionals) is lower among those who are married than among those who are single or cohabiting. This gap in unemployment between men of different marital states has persisted across 50 years of labor history, recessions included.

Furthermore, this isn’t a matter of less-employed men being unable to get married (i.e., a so-called selection effect­); it’s a matter of fewer men being trained through the institution of marriage to straighten up, fly right, and hang onto their jobs. Men who are already inclined to work less or who are only able to work less aren’t just shifting into cohabitation or singleness. Were that the case, as marriage declined and as less-employed men dropped out of the highly-employed group of married men, married unemployment would drop even further.

Finally, the difference in the labor habits of those men who are and those who aren’t married, and our culture’s shift away from early and lasting marriage, should be cause for concern—if we’re at all concerned for the health of our economy. These two factors alone account for about half the fall-off in men’s labor participation since the 1960s.

Marriage is a formative institution—to say nothing of the courtship process leading thereto. Speaking as a recently-married twenty-something, I can attest to the fact that there’s something about a girl ruling out the prospect of living together before he puts a ring on it that tends to weed out the slackers and commitment-phobes. And the guy who marries a girl, formally and legally, will become more productive as he works to provide for her and their children than he ever would have otherwise.

So perhaps RAND is right: Perhaps “cohabitation is better suited to male sexuality”—or, at least more appealing to short-term thinking and libido. But the data make clear that marriage is better suited to increasing male productivity; that is, to men developing professionally. Perhaps it’s time we stop treating cohabitation and marriage as though their outcomes for the economy and personal financial well-being (and other matters) are six of one, a half-dozen of the other.

Looking Towards Freedom: An End to Human Trafficking

by Krystle Gabele

July 15, 2013

Human trafficking has once again found its way into the media spotlight. Whether it is a Saudi Princess allegedly holding women against their will and forcing them to work against their will or a sex trafficking sting in Mexico City, which freed 74 women from captivity, we continue to learn more about the victims who have escaped from this horrible crime against humanity.

Whether the trafficked victim was forced into prostitution or into pornography, the psychological trauma that many victims endure has a long lasting impact. In a recent article in Verily Magazine, Mary Rose Somarriba describes the emotional toll and the need to end this crime. Somarriba interviewed several former victims, as well as organizations that assist trafficking victims, to bring awareness to the link between sex trafficking and pornography.

One theme that stood out was a victim who was trafficked, sold into prostitution and pornography. This victim, who has escaped the crime, indicated that being exploited in pornographic materials is far more damaging, as the photos still remain online long afterwards.

Other victims of trafficking who were forced into pornography also note the trauma of being exploited. Somarriba also notes an interesting statistic that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provided:

The U.S. government considers all minors exploited in pornography to be victims of human trafficking, by virtue of their youth and inability to consent. And child pornography is a booming business. “With the advent of the Internet,” Allen notes, “the problem of child pornography has exploded … with that sense of anonymity and the ability of people to connect with each other, like-minded individuals, and trade images.”

The Department of Justice and NCMEC “both recognize that pornography is an element that adds to the serious problem of sex trafficking,” notes Elaine McGinnis in her 2004 report The Horrifying Reality of Sex Trafficking. “Many traffickers are found with filming equipment and cameras to create and sell pornography.”

This is a particularly sad statistic, and one that should outrage society as a whole. What can we do to prevent this crime from occurring? What can we do to protect the innocence of youth everywhere?

Although the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was enacted in 2000, this crime still occurs, partly because people do not recognize the signs of trafficking. Many of this could be contributed to not having the resources available to recognize those who are victims and ensuring that law enforcement is actively trying to get the traffickers off the street.

However, it is up to each state to ensure resources as well. Shared Hope International provides a valuable resource in identifying how your state ranks in preventing human trafficking. This resource tracks each state legislature and what they are doing to prevent domestic minor sex trafficking in terms of legislation.

It is time to stop girls and young women from being sexually exploited through the grim acts of trafficking. It must be the mission of professing Christians everywhere to advocate tirelessly for a society that is free of this horrible crime.

Will Snowden Look into Putin’s Eyes?

by Robert Morrison

July 12, 2013

Former NSA contactor Edward Snowden wouldn’t be the first American to try to get “a sense of his soul” by looking hopefully into Vladimir Putin’s eyes. In June 2001, President George W. Bush told the world he had done that at their first summit meeting and had seen a good man there. That summer, the famous Russian dissident author, Vladimir Bukovsky was asked what he thought Mr. Bush might see looking into Putin’s eyes. “I have looked into many a KGB agent’s eyes and have not found anything particularly soulful there,” the writer and veteran of the Soviet Gulag deadpanned. It was Bukovsky’s sly way of reminding his credulous American listeners that Vladimir Putin is what he has always been: A tough adversary and a trained agent of the dreaded KGB.

Now, the young (just turned 30) American exile is living in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport under the watchful eye of the Russian security services. President Bush soon came to a more realistic assessment of good man Volodya. Edward Snowden may yet get a chance to look into those soulful eyes. And Snowden may provide a new twist on an old phrase—marry in haste, repent in leisure. Snowden may show us that defecting in haste can give one the leisure to repent.

Despite urgent pleas from the Obama administration that Snowden be turned over to U.S. authorities, the Russians have stonewalled our diplomatic overtures. On July 1st, President Putin said Snowden could stay in Russia, but only if he stopped “harming our American partners” with his leaks of sensitive security information. Putin himself noted it must seem strange for him to be shedding Krokodil tears over harm to the U.S.

The only thing that might be said for Snowden’s public disclosures is that they are public. That means that the U.S. intelligence services will know what he is releasing and presumably can take countermeasures. If and when Snowden is granted asylum in Russia, he will be strongly urged to stop “harming” the U.S. by his public statements.

From that point on, Snowden would do all his talking behind closed doors. And perhaps behind closed and locked doors. The Russian slang word for this is zyek. It stands for zaklyoochenyi—the locked away ones. Then, Russian agents would hear whatever he had to say and Americans would not be able to counter.

For Putin to call us his “American partners” is richly ironic. From the day President Obama sought to “re-set” our relations with Moscow, President Putin has been taking Mr. Obama’s measure. Re-setting meant letting the Russians take a pass on ripping an arm off the Republic of Georgia, so recently freed from Moscow’s control. Then, there was the withdrawal of the U.S. offers on missile defense to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The Obama team did that, we were told, to reassure Russia of our good intentions and to obtain Russia’s help in restraining Tehran’s quest for a nuclear weapon.

In this case, the road to Moscow was paved with Mr. Obama’s good intentions. In the past four years, Russia has been nothing but a thorn in our side. With North Korea. With Iran. And now with Syria.

It is indeed a terrible thing to watch as this misguided young man, Edward Snowden, pulls the pin from a hand grenade. As bright as he obviously is, he is a babe in the Moscow woods. He has no idea what lies in his future.

He may well get a headline or two in the ever-hungry Western media. Sometime this fall, he may show up at the Moscow Circus. Then, at the New Year, he might get a blurb while plunging into the frigid waters of the Neva River, a favorite winter pastime of hardy Muscovites. And then, slowly, he will fade from the TV screens.

With no new and interesting revelations to offer as chum to the media, he will have stopped harming the Americans and will soon be old news. And then will come the future. The long, gray future.

Once upon a time, American schoolchildren read Edward Everett Hale’s short story, “A Man without a Country.” In that Civil War era work, a young Army officer, Philip Nolan, becomes ensnared in the 1805 Burr conspiracy. Court martialed for treason, he bursts out: “Damn the United States! I never want to hear the name of the United States again!” DONE, say his judges. And they sentence him to spend the rest of his life on board American naval vessels, never setting foot on land, never hearing “the United States.” It’s a powerful and touching story, the more so since it was written at the time of the greatest rebellion against the United States. One of the most moving parts of this story has an aging Philip Nolan reading to the ships’ officers and ladies a portion of Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.” Suddenly, he comes upon this passage:

Breathes there the man with soul so dead?

Who never to himself hath said,?

This is my own, my native land!?

Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,?

As home his footsteps he hath turned?

From wandering on a foreign strand!

Americans today are doubtless too cool to be much moved by Philip Nolan’s breakdown on reading those lines. But if Edward Snowden defects and is ever able to read that story, he will understand them. And he will repent in leisure.

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