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Activist Faith

I’ve been doing a little research lately on Christian involvement in the fair trade movement. Here’s what I’m learning:

1. Christians are woefully lacking in support fair trade efforts: Christians are doing a lot of great things, but fair trade is not really among them from what I can find. Considering the emphasis in Scripture regarding ethical treatment of workers and loving your neighbor as yourself, this is really concerning to me.

2. Christians involved in fair trade are amazing people: Rather than just giving money to the poor, long-term thinkers are working to empower those in difficult situations to make an income and have some dignity in the process. People with disabilities, refugees, people with leprosy, HIV/AIDS, and other terminal illnesses, and former slaves are all involved in Christian run fair trade efforts that are changing lives now and for eternity. Good examples include Worldcrafts and Pura Vida Coffee.

3. Churches and Christian retailers must lead the way: Tough questions remain for leaders of churches and Christian retailers. Here are a few to consider:

  • Does your church serve only fair trade coffee and tea?
  • Does your local Christian store sell fair trade cards and gifts? (Many are made in the same inhuman factories as the big box retailers activists rail against. Shouldn’t Christian retailers be selective about the sources of their products to remove any forms of slave labor or labor injustices?)
  • Is your church doing anything to empower those working in fair trade initiatives around the world, especially among Christian brothers and sisters? (For example, Worldcrafts allows people and churches the ability to host parties to buy products to support artisans in developing nations. Why isn’t every church in North America participating in this or a similar endeavor?)

I’ll be posting more on this, but here’s the big question: If we care for those in need, what are we doing to show it? Fair trade efforts are one of the best methods to show good while empowering those in need with a way to support themselves and their families. Consider how you could be part of the solution in this area.

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DILLON BURROUGHS is an author, activist, and co-founder of Activist Faith. Dillon served in Haiti following the epic 2010 earthquake and has investigated modern slavery in the US and internationally. His books include Undefending Christianity, Not in My Town (with Charles J. Powell), and Thirst No More (October). Discover more at ActivistFaith.org.

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