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BY GUTHRIE GRAVES-FITZSIMMONS

May 13, 2019


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Trump appears to be enjoying his trade war with China.
"Trump’s own top economic adviser gives lie to his trade war rhetoric," via the Washington Post. "[Trump] has suggested over and over again that China pays the tariffs, when that’s simply not how tariffs work. They are taxes on imports, paid by U.S. companies. And those costs are often passed down to consumers, in the form of higher prices. It was a reality that Trump’s chief economic adviser tried to avoid Sunday — but couldn’t."
In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” -- John 2:14-16
I'm 99% sure I've never heard international trade agreements come up in any sermon illustrations. International economics and foreign policy can seem very removed from the issues we regularly hear about in church, but trade agreements are moral documents. The economic rules of the world impact every human life on Earth and we should care as Christians how they're written. Here are three principles to keep in mind:

1. Measure how Jesus would measure.  How can we judge how successful a trade agreement has been? How has it impacted the lives of the poor is a good place to start. Too often, we hear about trade wars impacting the stock market or large multinational companies. The preferential option for the poor is clear in Scripture and we should measure all economic policies first and foremost on the impact on the poor.

2. Every human is created in the image of God. While most of the people reading this newsletter are Americans, our concern for human flourishing should not stop at our national borders. The argument right now with Trump's escalating trade war with China is entirely about how it might hurt Americans. We should care just as much about how it is hurting the average Chinese worker as well.   

3. Environmental and labor conditions aren't secondary. Trade agreements are powerful tools to enact other forms of change on a global scale. Environmental and labor protections are often referred to as "side agreements" in trade agreements but we should focus more attention on how trade is a tool for advancing our values in other ways. 

We're hearing a lot about free trade and Trump's trade wars in the news right now. May we all strive to advocate for Holy and Fair Trade that supports the common good and people everywhere on Earth.
Learn more about Oxfam: "Trade generates incredible wealth and connects people everywhere, yet millions of people in poor countries are not benefitting, and many are actually worse off, because trade rules are rigged against them. Oxfam is committed to making trade fair." 
A prayer from Episcopal Relief and Development:

We pray for the one billion people who live on less than one US dollar per day and for each child of God who dies every 3½ seconds from hunger.  
Lead us eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for the more than 100 million children who are not in school this day.
Lead us to achieve universal primary education for all children.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for women who because of their gender never realize their full potential.
Lead us to promote gender equality and empower women.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for those precious children under the age of five who die every 3 seconds due to disease caused by unclean water, sanitation and poor nutrition.
Lead us to reduce child mortality.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for the more than 500,000 women who die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
Lead us to improve maternal health.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for those who die each day from preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Lead us to combat these diseases.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for our environment. Make us good stewards of your creation so that all of your children may lead productive and fruitful lives.
Lead us to ensure environmental sustainability.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for a fair trading system, increased international aid and debt relief for developing countries so that all peoples may realize their dreams and their potential.
Lead us to create a global partnership for development.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer
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