By Mikhail Bell (@Bellsworld)
On April 10, the 14-member Faith-Based Advisory Council , of which Katharine Jefferts Schori, Leith Anderson and Lynne Hybels are members, announced the completion of a 36-page report, nearly one year after its first meeting on the issue.
The document, entitled “Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery,” recommends that:
- The Obama Administration lead the effort to elevate and bring to scale the fight against modern-day slavery at home and abroad
- The Obama Administration lead the effort to eliminate slave labor in the purchase and consumption of goods and services
- The federal government elevate anti-trafficking work at the agency level
- The White House convene a National Summit to raise awareness and inspire action to combat modern-day slavery
- The Obama Administration develop and announce a National Call to Action for civil society to increase and align efforts to eradicate modern-day slavery
- The Obama Administration produce a toolkit on how religious and community-based organizations can learn more about and take steps to join the fight against trafficking
- The Obama Administration work with the Ad Council to create a public awareness campaign on how to spot and report signs of trafficking
- The Obama Administration designate the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Hotline as the primary national human trafficking hotline promoted to the public
- U.S. Embassies and USAID Missions work with civil society leaders to develop comprehensive strategies to combat human trafficking and
- The Corporation for National and Community Service create a pilot partnership to place national service members in Mayors’ and Governors’ offices to help map and coordinate local responses to human trafficking.
Melissa Rogers, who directs the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, wrote that the White House “gladly and gratefully received” the comprehensive document. Rogers further explained on the White House blog:
“Now that the Administration has received the Advisory Council’s report, its job is to review these recommendations carefully and to respond… Many who now live in the shadows are counting on us to see them and to make changes that will help them to reclaim and restore their lives. This report will be an invaluable resource for us as we continue to work to achieve those aims.”
Cause for Concern?
Even as the Faith-Based Advisory Council contributed to the United State’s anti-trafficking strategy, a specter of dismissal lurked. Leading up to the third annual Easter Prayer Breakfast in April, the council’s future was uncertain. On April 5, Christian Post reported, President Obama issued an executive order that extends their work through 2015. Then, unless the president intervenes again, the group will be disbanded.
In March Congress reauthorized the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which languished in its halls after expiring in 2011. The bill was previously reauthorized in 2003, 2005, and 2008. After a year and a half of negotiations, America’s federal anti-trafficking legislations cleared both houses as part of the Violence against Woman Act. The latest TVPA, as Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse and Brenda Zurita write, contains controversial provisions.
Read the Faith-Based Advisory Council’s full report here.
Editors note: Janice Shaw Crouse is Chair of the Board of Directors at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.