In their effort to participate in the movement to end human trafficking, are progressive Christians losing their distinctive voice? Yvonne Zimmerman, associate professor of Christian ethics at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, believes they are.
In a faculty lecture, “Missing in Action: The Disappearance of Progressive Christianity in the Movement to End Human Trafficking,” Zimmerman will discuss the process by which progressive Christian perspectives are co-opted and effectively silenced in the anti-trafficking movement.
The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Alford Centrum on the MTSO campus, 3081 Columbus Pike, Delaware. It is free to the public.
“In their eagerness to participate in this global human rights movement,” Zimmerman said, “progressive Christians often end up adopting the same social and political analyses of human trafficking as the rest of the mainstream anti-trafficking movement.” This uncritical appropriation is a problem, Zimmerman argues.
“Progressive Christians tend to use the same objectifying images of sexual exploitation and sexual slavery, tell the same kind of patronizing rescue stories, and tout the same punitive political measures that center on abolishing prostitution as the as the best ways to end human trafficking as the rest of the mainstream anti-trafficking movement, as if the tradition of progressive Christianity has nothing distinctive or worthwhile to offer for engaging this or any other contemporary social issue.”
Zimmerman is the author of “Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex and Human Trafficking,” published by Oxford University Press in 2012. The book explores the particular religious roots in Protestant Christianity of the notion of freedom that shapes the United States’ official federal response to human trafficking and initiatives undertaken to end it.
The lecture is presented by the Theological Commons at MTSO, which promotes the sharing of knowledge and experience between students, faculty, clergy and the public for the benefit of all participants and those they serve, according to MTSO officials.