Friday, April 11, 2014

Sad Easter...

Confession: I cried in the middle of the Easter aisle at Walgreens yesterday.

Yup - the lovely spring colors, the sweet bunnies, the beautiful baskets. And I got all teary and had to run out of there.

Why? Because I live in a really screwed up country. Here, just a few short weeks ago, Christians raised up an army of protest against World Vision when they changed their employment policy to include the hiring of gay Christians.  There was an outrage: people pulled their sponsorships, organizations threatened to pull funding.  World Vision had no choice but to cave if they wanted to continue to help children.

My tears weren't because of that, however (at least not yesterday).  I was sad and upset because that same group of folks are going to flock en-mass to stores over the next week and buy up lots of lovely chocolate to put in Easter baskets for their children to celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection. Arguably, the most important holiday in the Christian faith. And those chocolate bunnies? Made from cocoa beans harvested by slaves. Most likely child slaves.

Where is the outrage? Why is the Christian community not up in arms over this? Why aren't we storming the gates at Hershey's telling them we will no longer support their use of child slavery? The companies know about it (you can read more here and find some links).

Y'all. I am wrecked over this. Wrecked.  I can honestly tell you I haven't been able to buy a bar of chocolate that wasn't fair-trade (or responsibly-sourced) in years. I can't do it. I love twix and kit kats. Love 'em. And sometimes I look longingly at them in the checkout aisle. But then I remember where they came from. I can't do it.

If the thought of two women getting married makes you more upset than the thought of children trafficked, stolen from their families, and forced to work hard manual labor day after day SOMETHING IS WRONG. 

I know lots of people don't know. That's why I spread the word.  But you know what? Christians were awfully quick to spread the word about World Vision's decision. Articles were posted, shared, tweeted all over the place. Radio stations talked about it on the air.  I KNOW that some of the folks who were so quick to share that info also know about what's going on with our chocolate.  Why aren't we raising our voices together to bring peace, to fight for the oppressed, to work for the least of these?

Easter is the celebration of life. Jesus said he came to give us life, life to the full, abundantly (John 10:10).  He stepped out of heaven, lived among us, and sacrificed himself to reconcile us back to God. And then as if that wasn't enough, defeated death and rose again.  My life with Jesus is exactly that: abundant, joyful, peaceful, amazing.  How ironic that the Easter celebration of life is one of times of the year when we make our largest chocolate purchases from companies who use child slavery.

Imagine how you put your child to bed the night before Easter. You read a book, make sure they've gotten their teeth brushed, tuck them in, maybe even lie down for a snuggle. You pray together, then you turn on the music, turn on the nightlight. Make sure everything is just so.  Contrast that with the life of the child who had to harvest those cocoa beans: thin blanket (if any), no parents to tuck them in, fresh bruises from a beating from not working hard enough, no books (no education!).  Is this how we want to celebrate Easter?

We can band together - use our voices for good! What if we shared the message about how our purchases for Easter can bring life instead of chains? What if we refuse to indulge in luxuries that require oppression to create?

Before you buy your Easter candy, please check the labels! If it says "Fair-Trade," you are all set! Or look for the words "responsibly-sourced" or "ethically-sourced." If you can't find those, organic chocolate is the next best choice.

Where can you find it? EarthFare is a great place. I got my kiddos some chocolate Easter Bunnies there.  Some grocery stores carry chocolate bars too - look in the candy aisle.  If you can't find anything else, I believe Dove Dark Chocolate (dark only), is sustainably-sourced.

"But that ruins our tradition," I hear you say. "My kids so look forward to their Cadbury Eggs every year" or "that fair-trade stuff doesn't come in cute Easter packaging."  Can you say that out loud to yourself again? When we focus on that stuff, we are saying our preferences are more important than a child's freedom. Make a new tradition. Kids are resilient. Tell your kids that Jesus loves them AND he loves the children who were forced to harvest the chocolate. Heck, tell them the Easter Bunny just realized what he's been doing and he's decided he's only bringing your family fair-trade chocolate. Whatever.  My kids are aware of the child-slavery issue and they've told me that they don't want to eat chocolate made by kids just like them who don't get to go to school or see their parents ever again.  Give your kids a chance to shine!

"But that fair-trade chocolate stuff is so much more expensive." I hear you, too.  But you know what? The other stuff is cheap because it was harvested by kids who were trafficked and aren't being paid. Easter baskets are a luxury. If you have to spend more on the chocolate, buy less chocolate. Or tone down on the other "presents" in the Easter Baskets (when did Easter become Christmas-take-two, by the way?).

Y'all, there are zero good reasons I can come up with for why we would buy regular chocolate this Easter. Please join me and have a sweet, sweet Easter this year!

And... one more plug for the movie we are hosting... want to know more about ways our purchases might be inadvertently supporting slavery or unsustainable work conditions world-wide? And about what we can do about it? Come see Stand with Me with us on April 21st! Tickets must be purchased HERE


  1. Hello Kirstin C

    I am a very confused reader in why you always have to talk about how bad Christians are before making your point. You are right most people do not know about the human trafficking and slave trade of children and who knows they might actually get as passionate as you are about dealing with them. But they are not going to even listen to what you have to say if you start off by pssing them off. Obviously that is not your goal and you are incredible passionate about this topic. But look at it from the other point of view... Say you are a person who is passionate against gay marriage. Your post doesn't say it like this, but this is how they are reading it... If two people from the same sex bothers you then you suck at being a Christian and are completely wrong. Also I know that I just bashed your opinion because it is not mine but how can that bother you more than the trafficking of kids and kid slave trade... Now is everyone going to read it that way? Of course not... But I am sure there are people who automatically take offense to the bashing you give just to get your point across. Look at how passionate you are and just remember there are people out there just as passionate about certain things and gay marriage is obviously a HOT topic. Eventually gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states... I can almost guarantee it will happen within 10 years from now... But there will still be people thinking they are not being treated fairly and there will most definitely still be people not being treated fairly... Look at racism... Is it gone? Not even close... Has it progressed immensely overtime. YES it has! I guess what I am trying to get at is what you are talking about is EXTREMELY important... But do not eliminate half of your audience right off the bat... Regardless have been a long time reader first time commenter and will continue to read whether I always agree with what you are saying or not. I hope that PEOPLE do take this stuff to heart and start to act on it in whatever way that they can to contribute or help. Keep doing what your doing.

    Confused Reader

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment! And I have no idea who/how many folks read my little blog so I really thank you for reading it regularly! And if there is one thing I know for sure, I’m not right all the time. I need folks who love me who are willing to challenge me on things I say. I’m all for “civil discourse” about stuff like this. Thank goodness there’s enough grace at the foot of the cross for my mistakes!

      I consider myself a Christian so I certainly never mean to "bash Christians" and I do really hope that it doesn't come across as if I always do. I think I get frustrated sometimes with how Christians come across to mainstream society, mostly because I identify myself as part of that group. I fear we are going about things the wrong way a good bit of the time. My hope is to encourage us to remember why we are here. I think the really important conversations happen through relationships, so it’s actually a little silly for me to have a blog where I put my words out there outside of relationships.

      Thanks for the chance to clarify. I'm not saying it's not okay to have feelings about gay marriage. Not at all. That’s a big struggle for folks right now. However, there was some research that came out several years ago in which people were asked how they view Christians and the main answer was “they hate gay people.” I think we need to take that to heart. We are not doing a great job of showing the love of Christ if mainstream America links “hates gay people” to the word “Christian.” What if we were known for loving out of sacrifice, for leading the way and standing up against racism, against child slavery, for being FOR people, not against? Can you imagine if, when most people heard the word “Christian” they would think “love” or “peacemaker” or “genuinely cares about others.” That would be amazing. And, you know, it’s just my little humble opinion that we should be up in arms over poverty and slavery rather than gay marriage. You are very welcome to disagree with me. Thank you for doing it in a nice way. I struggle with wanting to be “liked” so my heart beats a lot faster when I read comments from folks who disagree. I appreciate you being kind.

  2. I love this part: "Can you say that out loud to yourself again?" :) Thanks for the reminder.


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