By Tony Perkins
Family Research Council – Liberals care about fighting sex trafficking — but not all care enough to partner with Christians already in the battle. To them, the church’s involvement is less about helping the hurting and more about a hidden agenda of religious conversion. In an eye-opening piece by Melissa Gira Grant, Salon.com treats the faith-based movement’s involvement with deep suspicion, insisting that Christians are using the issue as a pretense for mass proselytizing and political conversion.
Grant, who starts out to discredit the church’s outreach, ends up showing just how transformational these programs have been for victims and their families. At one point, she even bemoans the faith-based organizations’ “real influence on policy and policing.” To the Left’s dismay, more and more communities are turning to groups like Shared Hope International and its protégés — largely because its model works. Unlike liberals, whose only answering to trafficking is more contraception and abortion, former U.S. Representative Linda Smith’s approach is full restoration and care of girls who were trapped in that lifestyle.
After retiring from Congress, Rep. Smith traveled the world, building rescue houses for victims and raising awareness about what many believe is the biggest human rights issue of the 21st Century. Her work helped pave the way for other groups to get involved, including a growing network of committed Christian organizations, which also happen to be some of the most effective.
But, as we saw with Catholic Charities, success is secondary to ideological compatibility. Despite treating thousands of victims and receiving the government’s second highest rating, Catholic Charities lost its federal funding for refusing to promote abortion to the girls in forced prostitution. Obviously, the Left is less concerned about a group’s progress than it is with victims being exposed to a potentially pro-life or pro-purity message. Even the title of Salon’s article “Fighting sex trafficking with Jesus: How the Religious Right’s ‘Healing’ Hurts,” seems to suggest that liberals would rather these girls remain as sex slaves than be rescued by people they disagree with.
For Christians, it seems like a no-win situation. First, liberals complained that the church isn’t involved in social justice — then they complain when it is! It’s ironic. Proponents of Big Government are crowding out the church and then saying, “Where’s the church?” Christians either aren’t doing enough or, as this article seems to suggest, they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. What should matter is that more victims are getting help, more communities are being educated, and more young people know how to protect themselves.
And let’s face it. Much as the other side wishes it weren’t, sex trafficking is, at its core, a moral issue. While Salon and others seem to begrudge the church’s involvement, who better to deal with this crisis than people who understand the intrinsic value of a human life, created in the image of God? Sex trafficking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s the result of a weak moral foundation, a lack of respect for other people, and sexual exploitation like pornography.
Maybe that’s why faith-based programs are so successful. Unlike the world’s approach, theirs is truly transformational. Groups like Shared Hope, Sold No More, Project ROSE, and others are focused on restoration— not just rehabilitation. Without it, there is no freedom from bondage — for any of us. The Left’s attack on the compassionate Christ-centered approach to the evil of sex trafficking isn’t surprising since Congress is expected to take up the issue in the coming weeks. But trust me, they won’t be the only voice in the discussion!
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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