Covenant Churches Confront Human Trafficking

Post a Comment » Written on April 20th, 2009     
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CHICAGO, IL (April 20, 2009) – Recent and upcoming actions by two Evangelical Covenant churches separated by 3,100 miles demonstrate some of the different approaches to fighting human trafficking.

Nearly 170 women who participated in a spring brunch at Modesto Covenant Church in Modesto, California, wrote handwritten postcards to Jim Buckmaster, president and CEO of the popular online classifieds website Craigslist, asking him to remove the “Erotic Services” section of that website that critics charge is used by prostitutes. Each woman took a petition to be signed by five people that also will be sent to the company.

Earlier this year, Thomas Dart, Cook County (Illinois) sheriff, filed suit against the company, accusing it of promoting prostitution. “Craigslist is the single largest source of prostitution in the nation,” Dart said at the time. “Missing children, runaways, abused women and women trafficked in from foreign countries are routinely forced to have sex with strangers because they’re being pimped on Craigslist.”

“The FBI found more than 2,800 child prostitution ads posted on craigslist.”

The FBI found more than 2,800 child prostitution ads posted on craigslist with Chicago in the top 10 cities for juvenile prostitution, Dart said.

Although Craigslist has taken steps that it says has reduced the number of such ads by 90 percent, Dart said law enforcement agencies continue to make the same number of prostitution arrests.

“I applaud the work of the women at Modesto Covenant,” says Ruth Hill, executive minister of the denomination’s Department of Women Ministries. “I hope women and men in Covenant congregations across the country will consider taking similar action to keep up the pressure on Craigslist.”

Across the country in Rhode Island, Lyle Mook is exhorting members of his congregation and others to participate in a political rally on the steps of the Statehouse on Tuesday. He is pastor of Christ Church, a Covenant congregation in East Greenwich.

“The battle against human trafficking must be fought on a number of different fronts.”

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RICHT) is organizing the rally to seek support for House Bill H5661 and Senate Bill S605, which supporters say would close a loophole that allows solicitation by prostitutes if it occurs indoors.

According to RICHT, there are approximately 28 brothels operating across Rhode Island, although their main concentration is in Providence and surrounding communities. Women who have been trafficked from elsewhere are among the prostitutes, bill supporters say.

“The actions of the California and Rhode Island churches demonstrate that the battle against human trafficking must be fought on a number of different fronts,” says Hill.

For information on what the denomination is doing to fight trafficking, click here.

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