Trafficking Bill Gets Green Light from House
"I thought it only happened in poor countries," Sister Gladys Leigh told reporters. But, like too many people, the St. Louis nun underestimated the strong grip of sex trafficking. Now a volunteer at St. Louis's shelter for recovering sex slaves, Leigh and others know all too well the dark and horrifying world of forced prostitution. Over and over again, she's heard stories like Christine McDonald's. "I'd been branded like an animal, stabbed, held at gunpoint, chained to a leash in a closet. With a life like that," she said wistfully, "all you can do is pray for death."
Fortunately for Christine and thousands of girls like her, leaders are more committed than ever to answering a different prayer -- for help. With sex trafficking exploding in the U.S. (the FBI calls it the fastest-growing business of organized crime), Congress is preparing to take on the $9.8 billion industry that's buying and selling tens of thousands of little girls a year. For events like the Super Bowl, some cities have seen as many as 10,000 children brought in before the game hoping to do business with men who have money to burn. Increasingly, the targets aren't just runaways or desperate women either. Young victims are lured away from the mall by men who say they want to buy them clothes or dinner. And they never come back.
Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) is hoping to change that by zeroing in on one of the roots of the problem: online advertising. She knows that if the government can cut off trade at its hub -- the internet, where girls are marketed like common merchandise -- it'll go a long way to stopping the sales in and out of hotels. Under her bill, the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act, or SAVE, it would be a crime for any company to knowingly run ads, or profit from ads, that offer forced sex with a child. Based on her research, just one online service featured more than 2,800 little girls!
In yesterday's Judiciary hearing, members did their part to crack down on the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world and voted 23-4 to send the SAVE Act to the floor. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is just one of the many leaders sickened by the torture these teenagers experience. "We've been referring all morning to this epidemic as 'domestic minor sex trafficking,'" he said. "But let's call it what is really is: the forcible rape of children for profit. ...In September 2010, less than four years ago, the House passed a bill... that explicitly made it a crime to advertise animal crush videos. Certainly, advertisements that offer sex with children are as worthy, if not more worthy, of congressional attention as those seeking to subject animals to harm."
What's even more encouraging is that Wagner's bill isn't the only one aimed at ending this kind of modern slavery. Clearly, Congress is rededicating itself to ending the crisis and restoring these victims to the wholeness they deserve as humans made in God's image. We congratulate the House for fighting the problem head-on and look forward to working with members to raise awareness of one of America's worst nightmares.
Mr. Inhofe Goes to Washington -- for Inspiration
It's not often that someone talks sense in Harry Reid's Senate, but yesterday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) did. Like us, the Oklahoma leader wanted to pay tribute to the first president and the indelible mark left by his first inaugural address. This year marks the 225th anniversary of George Washington's speech, and to Senator Inhofe, America could use a reminder of what made his leadership -- and our nation -- so great. So, on Wednesday, he took to the Senate floor to make it clear that the founders' faith in God not only created America, but sustained her.
"We're here because of the hand of God," Inhofe said. "Washington's leadership was grounded in God, and his leadership was God's gift... I find it sad that our nation does not have the same belief today that we had back when Washington was president," he mused. "We've become arrogant, inward-focused individuals. Rather than submit to God's authority, we define truth, justice and morality by what feels good at the time."
Saving America, Inhofe believes, means harkening back to the morality those brave patriots cherished. To the outrage of the Left, the Senator went on to speak candidly about the White House's double standard between Islam and Christianity. "Oklahomans regularly ask me -- and I don't really think this is unique just to Oklahoma, I think it can be in almost any state -- but how they regularly ask me why we have an administration that suppresses our Judeo-Christian values while praising Islam." It's the same brand of political correctness that's seeping into our schools, our military, and even the "free" market. "Today, instead of having leaders that protect the church from government, we have leaders that believe it is government's job to impose on churches what should be universally upheld as truth." That has to end, the Senator insists.
We agree. In the meantime, we need to thank the men and women standing for that truth -- like Senator Inhofe. They need our encouragement when they do something as courageous as calling the country back to its founding principles. Email Senator Inhofe and tell him how much you appreciate his faithfulness to America's core values. Then, if you missed it, tune in to my Tuesday segment on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" to hear more about that inaugural address and what it means for America today.
White House's E.O. Is Obama's M.O.
Not many people take Vice President Joe Biden seriously -- but they should on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Yesterday, the country's second-in-command hinted at another executive order to accomplish what liberals in Congress couldn't: special homosexual workplace protections. "I don't see any downside," Biden told the Huffington Post.
Well, the Vice President must not be looking hard enough. Under the measure, which the President would love to force on government contractors by fiat, "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" -- not experience or performance -- would be the most important factor in any hiring, firing, or promotion decision. What people do in the bedroom would suddenly translate to the board room, as executives would be forced to give homosexuals and transgenders a professional edge over their coworkers.
The vast majority of employers wouldn't consider an employee's sexual orientation relevant -- or even want to know. But in ENDA's case, those same businesses could be hit by costly lawsuits from disgruntled workers suing for "discrimination" over a characteristic which isn't visible. If liberals are serious about ENDA, they should call it what it is: a club to beat small business and Christian employers into submission on homosexuality. At this point, there's no guarantee that the White House will even offer the fig leaf of "religious exemptions" that would supposedly protect faith-based organizations.
The government already has a suffocating grip on businesses. This would further crush employers' rights to run their companies and organizations the way they see fit. Under ENDA, profits give way to political correctness, as radicals impose their own warped view of sexuality on every business owner, school administrator, and charity across America. And as far as we're concerned, that's plenty of "downside."
** Are Evangelicals "too nice?" FRC's Rob Schwarzwalder thinks they might be and explains why in a new piece for Real Clear Religion.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.