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May 30, 2008:

DAY 12 ON nFoG WATCH: The challenge stands to show how the nFoG would better handle the divisive issues faced under the current Form of Government. The question is not "Did the nFoG Task Force do a good job?" Nor is the question, "Could it work if everything went well?" The question is, "Is this a better option given who we are?" If we move into this house, will things be better or worse?

Committee Survey: Committee 11, Peacemaking

Here's a committee with the potential to generate headlines: Iraq, Israel/Palestine (and divestment), and Colombia. I have previously written about why I am not going to do a substantive review of these items: here. In short, there is no way between now and General Assembly I am going to become a foreign policy expert. Nor are these issues that I will be dealing with until we get back to the plenary Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I'm sorry for passing the buck on this one, but really...no point in creating more heat than light. For what it's worth, there's plenty here to upset everyone.

For this committee's survey, I want to focus on something else: a rare point of agreement.

Item 11-12 and Item 11-13 are about human trafficking. They do not set up as left-right, conservative-progressive controversies that we see so often at General Assembly. As far as I can tell it seems like everyone is in agreement on the basics of these two items. Consider this from the rationale to Plains & Peaks Presbytery's overture (Item 11-12):

Although thirty-six states have human trafficking task forces, the Polaris Project (funded by TVPA) reports:

1. a failure to identify victims;
2. a failure to prosecute traffickers;
3. a failure to provide rehabilitation services to victims;
4. a failure to educate the public about human trafficking.

Many victims are trafficked into the United States through failure to address immigration issues such as forged passports and visas.

Human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world (United States Department of Health and Human Services, Rescue & Restore: Victims of Human Trafficking fact sheet. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.

Each year, approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders, and 14,500 to 17,500 of those are transported into the United States (United States Department of Health and Human Rescue and Restore: Victims of Human Trafficking fact sheet http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking).

The majority of sex trafficking victims are women and underage children who are lured into situations of sex trafficking with the promise of a good job in another country or the promise of (false) marriage.

That's pretty scary. I cannot imagine anyone arguing in favor of human trafficking; yet, even with three daughters and living near an international border, I was unaware of the scope of the problem.

Why bring this up in a survey of the business of this committee? The others are much more likely to be talked about and questions raised when commissioners come home.

Well, this is why: in previous notes about other issues, I have been harping on the price tag -- here, look at the action items requested: communication and education. Low cost, high reward. Here, the denomination is being asked to function as a resource to help educate Presbyterians across the country about an issue they can act to make better. (Yes, it is not exclusively that, but the bulk of what would be done would necessarily involve providing resources for the church.) Being a resource for local congregations and presbyteries is what being "missional" is all about, it is what the structures are actually designed to do. On the procedural side, I like the fact that the three comments from GAC entities all recommend approval of something proposed by a local presbytery.

So, for all you experts on foreign policy; this is your committee. For the rest of us, we are going to wait to see what the committee does before trying to discern how to ultimately vote during plenary.