Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Jesus, take pity on me!"

This is several years old, but was recently reposted on a Catholic forum I frequent: Terrible Crosses to Bear

Crucifixes sold in the gift shop of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York were found to have been produced in Chinese sweatshops under horrible conditions. The complete report from the National Labor Council is heart-wrenching. The workers, some as young as 15, subsist on a meager vegetable broth and the occasional "meat" dish. They live in crowded, filthy dorms. They are forced to work overtime for an hourly wage that wouldn't even buy us a can of soda in the U.S. After a mandatory deduction for their dorms and food, their gross pay is 9 cents an hour. They work up to 108 hours in a week. After working a 19-hour shift, one worker cried, "Jesus, take pity on me! I'm going to die of exhaustion!"

The supplier of these crucifixes is a member of the Association of Christian Retail, but there is nothing Christian about the conditions these workers are subjected to. What's more, they are making religious items, supposedly objects of devotion. What must they think of the supposed Christians who buy these crucifixes at markups of 1000%? Christ shares in their suffering - but trapped in what amounts to slavery, they will probably never hear His message.

I have avoided buying religious items made in China due to their government's repressive policies toward Christianity and their policy of forced abortions. This has only strengthened my resolve to stay away from Chinese-made products. Importers of religious goods need to take responsibility for their supply chain and stop claiming ignorance of their suppliers' actions. Maybe in some cases they are willfully ignorant. After all, it's easier not to know, isn't it?

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