Seeing the world more clearly is a huge challenge — especially when problems we thought had disappeared turn out to have survived beneath our global radar. On Monday, we recommended an upcoming PBS documentary on slavery — a problem most Americans associate with high-school classes on the Civil War.
Since 2000, however, a network of church-related groups has sprung up to combat modern forms of slavery.
There’s a whole lot you can do!
Producers of the documentary have provided these very helpful links to resources for churches. Of course, there are many more places you can go, including the following:
If you, your group or congregation want to get involved in the modern anti-slavery movement, one great starting point is Free the Slaves, an American nonprofit group based in Washington D.C. that works with other anti-slavery groups around the world. It was founded by Dr. Kevin Bales, a leading expert on the problem, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is an international adviser to the group.
Another powerful starting point is the Not for Sale campaign, headed by Dr. David Batstone. This group also has a helpful Web site — and Batstone has published probably the best book available right now for small-group study, called, “Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade — and How We Can Fight It.”
Based on data gathered by these two groups — some of it drawn from the United Nations and other global nonprofits as well — how much do you know about slavery?
1.) How many slaves are there in various corners of our modern world?
A. More than 1.5 million
B. About 27 million
C. More than 100 million
2.) Expressed in today’s dollars, the cost of a slave before the American Civil War in the South was $40,000. Today, what’s an average cost of a human being?
A. Less than $100
B. About $1,000
C. About $10,000
3.) Which is not a typical part of the slave trade today?
A. Harvesting cocoa
B. Weaving carpets
C. Harvesting cotton
4.) A research project at the University of California found evidence of slavery occurring in how many U.S. cities?
5.) In a guide to community awareness that you can download from the Free the Slaves web site, what are listed as the top countries of origin for slaves brought into the U.S.?
A. China, Mexico and Vietnam
B. Egypt, Nigeria and Congo
C. India, Pakistan and Sudan
6.) Human trafficking has been a federal crime since:
7.) Every movement these days has a symbolic color. What’s the color that’s often associated with the modern anti-slavery movement?
8.) The roots of this anti-slavery movement are deeply associated with religious inspiration. In the 1780s, when an organized movement sprang to life in Britain against slavery, which group is credited as first in line organizing abolitionists?
9.) Unless you’ve seen some of the films about the history of slavery in recent years, such as “Amazing Grace,” you may never have heard the name: Olaudah Equiano. But this is a name we probably should include in future education about this global problem. Who was he?
A. An infamous African king who operated the biggest slave market in the world
B. A secret identity used by operators of the Underground Railroad
C. A former slave who wrote an influential autobiography
10.) Various solutions to the problem of slavery sprang up over more than a century of American life. In the 1820s, one idea led to the founding of a present-day nation in Africa where freed American slaves were encouraged to move. Which country is this?
C. Ivory Coast
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1.) B. And that’s a very conservative number with a traditional definition of slavery. Free the Slaves puts it this way: “Yes, we mean real slavery. People held against their will, forced to work and paid nothing.”
Today you also can count your answer as correct if you chose C. Some worldwide groups and agencies cite estimates of more than 100 million slaves. Some groups even cite 200 million as the total. Those larger numbers include people in other dire forms of bondage and forced labor — such as children who are required to work in slave-like conditions rather than attend school. (UNICEF estimates that number of children at nearly 160 million alone.)
Whatever the exact number and definition of slavery — 27, 100 or 200 million — a huge part of our human family is suffering.
2.) A. As shocking as this sounds, people are incredibly cheap in the global slave trade — but that’s also one reason to get involved in combating the slave trade. Often, very little money applied through programs like micro-finance loans to family businesses can end cycles of slavery.
3.) C. According to Free the Slaves, the first two are more common.
4.) C. Slavery is widespread in the U.S., the study indicated. One U.S. study estimates there are about 15,000 people brought into the U.S. each year to work as slaves.
5.) A. People are brought into the U.S. to work as slaves generally from poorer countries around the world. That’s the general rule in the slave trade, experts report: slaves are moved from poorer countries to richer countries. (The Not for Sale campaign also offers a free, downloadable guidebook for church groups that want to get involved called, “The Abolitionist Church Handbook.”)
6.) C. Laws around the world have been accumulating against slavery for about 200 years and global treaties against slavery go back more than a century as well, but a tough federal law against human trafficking — now an important tool in law enforcement — didn’t go into effect until 2000.
7.) C. It may not be as readily identifiable as other colors associated with causes — but anti-slavery symbols and materials tend to feature bright orange.
8.) A. Quakers may never have been huge in numbers, but they’ve got a long history of early and active opposition to slavery.
9.) C. Once a slave himself, Equiano’s life story was published in book form and became hugely influential in ending the slave trade in Great Britain. Britain’s experience later was crucial in eventually ending slavery in the U.S. as well. Equiano is an example of an African who was in the forefront of the movement, working shoulder to shoulder with white abolitionists.
10.) A. American abolitionists helped to found Liberia. Many immigrants died in the harsh tropical climate, mainly from tropical diseases, but families living there declared their independence from the U.S. in 1847.
How did you do? Tell us what you think. Click on the “Comment” link at the end of the story — or Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm directly.
COME BACK TOMORROW, when our series this week about seeing the world more clearly leaps all the way to China for a Conversation With one of the world’s leading experts on an emerging religious movement in that huge and influential country.