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Immanuelskyrkans blogg

Immanuelskyrkans blogg

Upplevelser, tankar och åsikter från människor i Immanuelskyrkan. Mitt i Stockholm.

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After drug trade and counterfeiting, human trafficking is estimated to be the largest criminal industry in the world. Almost 25 million victims are trapped in modern day slavery, a quarter of which are children. The number of prosecutions is alarmingly low. (1) What does the bible say about the stealing of people? And how should that inform and activate the worldwide church?

 

During our week-long visit of biblical sites in Greece with the AICEME network of international churches earlier this year, we had the honor of hearing professor Myrto Theocharous summarise her findings on the topic of human trafficking in light of Deuteronomy 24:7, where peoplestealing is condemned.

 

The emphasis in the book of Deuteronomy is on protecting people, particularly those who are vulnerable. Peoplestealing carried the death penalty for various conceived reasons. Professor Theocharous suggested that it reverses the exodus and violates God’s “property rights”. In addition, it is a form of “social murder”, cutting people off from their family and community - indeed from their own bodies - with far-going and life-long consequences.

 

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Photo by lalesh aldarwish from Pexels

 

She pointed out that the bible is unique in its emphasis on protecting humans over property. In most ancient laws, humans and possessions could be treated similarly. However, in the bible, no property theft carried the death penalty - only people theft did. As far as I understand, in Swedish law, human trafficking (människorov) is punished more heavily than theft (grov stöld): 4-18 years versus 6 months-6 years. However, in some countries, such as Greece, the sentences do not differ as much. In in some cases, fines can be paid instead of prison sentence - this is nothing less than human commodification.

 

The most radical part of her lecture was her advice to the church: “What does the death penalty for peoplestealing teach the believers of the Church? Is it a call for them to push towards introducing capital punishment? Or is it rather an exhortation that it is appropriate for believers to respond by dedicating their lives to seeking, rescuing, protecting, and investing in the lives of these victims—life for life? If someone must “die” for this crime to stop, should it not be the Church that gives itself over as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1) in the manner of their Lord (Luke 9:23; 1 John 3:16), thus making a public declaration of the pricelessness of humanity?” (2)

 

1. Human Rights First, Human Trafficking by the Numbers, viewed 10 July 2018, https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/human-trafficking-numbers.

2. Theocharous, M. (2013). Stealing Souls - Human Trafficking and Deuteronomy 24:7. In: J. DeRouchie, J. Gile, and K. Turner, ed., For Our Good Always - Studies on the Message and Influence of Deuteronomy. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns Inc., pp.508-509.

Träffar: 1591

 

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A cold clear Saturday in November. Hundreds of people have gathered on Sergelstorg in the heart of Stockholm to protest. We are here to protest slavery. I simply cannot fathom that this is actually happening - an anti-slavery protest in 2017. Yet, we know that there are more slaves today than in any previous point in history, with more than 40 million people being exploited around the world (Global Slavery Index 2016).

Today, we are protesting the slave trade in Libya. African lives that are being auctioned for $400 as CNN reported, it obviously reminds us of two of the worst chapters in human history, the Atlantic and Arab slave trade.

Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come is sung from stage. People chime in. Different speakers, sub-cultural profiles, take the floor. Swedish politicians are accused of not speaking up. Swedish media are accused of not reporting enough. Representation is failing and important voices go unheard. The proximity principle does not apply when you are in a position of privilege.

Meanwhile, there are Swedish citizens of African origin who get a call and learn that one of their relatives is captured in northern-Africa and that a ransom is demanded. What is the price of a human life… They pay, time and again, regardless of the increase. It is easy to see how the world is more interconnected than ever before.

One speaker reminds us that even if you cannot relate through relatives, everyone can relate as a fellow human being. As someone who believes that every life is free. We are encouraged to be the voice of change, in our homes, at our kitchen tables. Because the idea that one human life would be less valuable than another’s starts in our minds, with our perceptions, ideas and prejudices.

The protest is ending and I walk home with a heavy heart. I realize that the current migration situation in the world is vast and complicated. And that the problems of failed state Libya are many. But the auctioning of human lifes is beyond any opinion or discussion. It is simply evil. And we must do everything in our power to end its practise.

 

Träffar: 1710

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