Chocolate and Child Slavery


#1

Let’s start off with a little background:

Earlier today, an acquaintance at school today came up to me before class and said, “Let’s just see how moral your religion really is…”.

I’ll back up a bit and state that she and I have had quarrels on religion before, but I can’t seem to get reason across to her very well.

Anyhow, she asks me what my church (yes, she said “my church”, not the Catholic Church, which was kinda confusing/annoying to me because I know she knows I am Catholic) thought on slavery.
I, jumping ahead to where she might have been going with this, asked, “Well, what kind of slavery do you mean?” (since I thought she might be referring to why there were “slaves” in the Bible).
She said, "You know, just slavery."
I said, now guessing that she meant just Black slavery, "Well, the Church is apposed to slavery."
Then she said, "Does your church (again, it bugged me) support chocolate?"
I said, "What do you mean ‘support chocolate’? The Church doesn’t support any chocolate companies."
And then she started saying things about how chocolate companies were getting chocolate from places that use forced child labor to get their cocoa, and that if my church (again) wasn’t actively supporting this, then we weren’t “moral”, as implied.
I said that since she was the first I heard from about this I couldn’t be too sure as to the truth of the matter. She started saying that I never hear about it because it is hushed up and all I’d have to do is google “chocolate and child slavery”.

So, I came home today and did that. You all can see the google search yourself, if you try. But there does seem to be some truth to the matter. So I ask you:

“How do I defend that the Church isn’t doing anything wrong by not actively supporting this?” and also “Is eating chocolate immoral?”.

I know this has to do with something about material cooperation and such, but I have no idea how I would explain this to a girl that doesn’t even have a religious view, just a sort of “I don’t like religion so I will just create my own world” point-of-view (and even that may not be able to sum it up).

Thank you all for your advice!


#2

I worry about this too as I eat a lot of chocolate. I would like to know what the Church says about this issue.


#3

The Church absolutely does not support slavery. The problem is, your friend seems to think the Church has a great deal of temporal power. It has some, sure, but it does not have a standing army. It teaches against such things and does its best to help those who suffer, but it takes worldly force to stop slavery.


#4

[quote="OxygenMan, post:3, topic:315659"]
The Church absolutely does not support slavery. The problem is, your friend seems to think the Church has a great deal of temporal power. It has some, sure, but it does not have a standing army. It teaches against such things and does its best to help those who suffer, but it takes worldly force to stop slavery.

[/quote]

True, but she wouldn't be satisfied with such an answer, I know her. She would remark with something like "but no one is even trying!" and also "why don't you stop eating chocolate?".

I need to be able to answer those questions as well.


#5

[quote="Timothy_Garber, post:4, topic:315659"]
True, but she wouldn't be satisfied with such an answer, I know her. She would remark with something like "but no one is even trying!" and also "why don't you stop eating chocolate?".

I need to be able to answer those questions as well.

[/quote]

As far as why you individually eat chocolate, that's not something the Church has power over. That's up to each individual to decide. I don't know of any Church activities specifically related to this issue, so that would take some research.

There is also the question of which companies purchase cocoa from the areas in question. Do all chocolate companies purchase cocoa from the areas where forced labor is in use? If not, I would suggest purchasing from companies which buy cocoa farmed with legitimate labor.

Sorry I can't help more, but it's not an issue I know much about. :confused:


#6

[quote="OxygenMan, post:5, topic:315659"]
As far as why you individually eat chocolate, that's not something the Church has power over. That's up to each individual to decide. I don't know of any Church activities specifically related to this issue, so that would take some research.

There is also the question of which companies purchase cocoa from the areas in question. Do all chocolate companies purchase cocoa from the areas where forced labor is in use? If not, I would suggest purchasing from companies which buy cocoa farmed with legitimate labor.

Sorry I can't help more, but it's not an issue I know much about. :confused:

[/quote]

It's ok. I was mainly just stating those questions so they would be out there for others to see.


#7

[quote="Timothy_Garber, post:4, topic:315659"]
True, but she wouldn't be satisfied with such an answer, I know her. She would remark with something like "but no one is even trying!" and also "why don't you stop eating chocolate?".

I need to be able to answer those questions as well.

[/quote]

This is an odd question but not completely without president. I would simply look for any designer label she is wearing. Nike rebox, almost any clothing she is wearing will work (don't even mention mother Teresa's bits of plastic junk which she paid for so her kids could have a nice christmas) and ask her why she supports a company that makes there products from slave labor. Anything that comes out of china that you buy in walmart, kmart ect... is made from slave labor but that does not bother her. Some things you cannot buy form anyone who does not make them with slave labor. This argument is a case of mistaken identity. The church does oppose people smuggling. The church is not the people held up in China forcing young mountain girls to work 16 hours a day 28 days a month for $40 a month making things they will never be able to afford.


#8

[quote="Timothy_Garber, post:4, topic:315659"]
True, but she wouldn't be satisfied with such an answer, I know her. She would remark with something like "but no one is even trying!" and also "why don't you stop eating chocolate?".

I need to be able to answer those questions as well.

[/quote]

How does she KNOW nobody is 'even trying?' Does she read the Pope's mail?? How about the bishops of the places where this takes place? Is she privvy to everything that people have done and said?

And how come she isn't asking President Obama to do something about this? Or the leaders of the countries where this occurs?

My friend, I think this person is not concerned about the chocolate OR the children, but rather in using the fact that these wrongs exist as an 'indictment' against religion. Nothing you could say is likely to have any effect on her since she has already 'made up her mind'. You can't win, and in a sense, you don't HAVE to win, because it's a big old strawman argument that she has set up. It's fake, it's phony, and so you don't HAVE to play her game. Let it go. Pray for her and all who are suffering, and do what you can (look for Fait Trade chocolates, talk to your priest about ways to contribute money or help to the people in that area, etc.) Don't even bother to argue.


#9

[quote="Tantum_ergo, post:8, topic:315659"]
How does she KNOW nobody is 'even trying?' Does she read the Pope's mail?? How about the bishops of the places where this takes place? Is she privvy to everything that people have done and said?

And how come she isn't asking President Obama to do something about this? Or the leaders of the countries where this occurs?

My friend, I think this person is not concerned about the chocolate OR the children, but rather in using the fact that these wrongs exist as an 'indictment' against religion. Nothing you could say is likely to have any effect on her since she has already 'made up her mind'. You can't win, and in a sense, you don't HAVE to win, because it's a big old strawman argument that she has set up. It's fake, it's phony, and so you don't HAVE to play her game. Let it go. Pray for her and all who are suffering, and do what you can (look for Fait Trade chocolates, talk to your priest about ways to contribute money or help to the people in that area, etc.) Don't even bother to argue.

[/quote]

Could I try to explain to her that "one man can't do everything" as well?


#10

[quote="Timothy_Garber, post:9, topic:315659"]
Could I try to explain to her that "one man can't do everything" as well?

[/quote]

But your religion claims to be perfect and true! So it SHOULD be able to do everything! Otherwise why bother?

Is what you would probably get from that. Again, you're allowing her to put you on the defensive and 'justify' that you, or 'some Christian' aren't doing anything and thus are not moral.

If it were I, again, I wouldn't even try to deal with what appears again to not be concerned about the issue of slavery but more an indictment of the Church. The Church has already expressed Christ's teachings. That is its business, to PREACH the gospel, not to ENFORCE the gospel.

So the Church has already spoken up for the enslaved, it has already condemned the moral wrong, and now it is up to the individual to either reject the wrong or not. The Church has already done what it is called upon to do, now it is up to the individuals who make up the Church to accept the teachings (or not).


#11

But the church (or should I say, many churches) are opting to feature fair trade chocolate, coffee, and other goods for sale - usually after particular Masses - or through one of the specific ministries such as "Social Justice" or Social concerns committees.
It may not be much, but it is something - and I venture to say it is catching on. You can check out Catholic Relief Services for more information/catalogues...


#12

The young lady who asked the question sounds like one of those people who thinks that if something is fun or enjoyable, it has to be evil; and if it is evil, then the Catholic Church as something to do with it.:rolleyes: Personally, I have almost no patience with such people and dangerously little Christian Charity.
Such people should grow up and join the real world


#13

[quote="Tantum_ergo, post:8, topic:315659"]
How does she KNOW nobody is 'even trying?' Does she read the Pope's mail?? How about the bishops of the places where this takes place? Is she privvy to everything that people have done and said?

And how come she isn't asking President Obama to do something about this? Or the leaders of the countries where this occurs?

My friend, I think this person is not concerned about the chocolate OR the children, but rather in using the fact that these wrongs exist as an 'indictment' against religion. Nothing you could say is likely to have any effect on her since she has already 'made up her mind'. You can't win, and in a sense, you don't HAVE to win, because it's a big old strawman argument that she has set up. It's fake, it's phony, and so you don't HAVE to play her game. Let it go. Pray for her and all who are suffering, and do what you can (look for Fait Trade chocolates, talk to your priest about ways to contribute money or help to the people in that area, etc.) Don't even bother to argue.

[/quote]

Could you give me a papal or otherwise authoritative Church document that contains this concern? This would be great evidence!

[quote="Tantum_ergo, post:10, topic:315659"]
But your religion claims to be perfect and true! So it SHOULD be able to do everything! Otherwise why bother?

Is what you would probably get from that. Again, you're allowing her to put you on the defensive and 'justify' that you, or 'some Christian' aren't doing anything and thus are not moral.

If it were I, again, I wouldn't even try to deal with what appears again to not be concerned about the issue of slavery but more an indictment of the Church. The Church has already expressed Christ's teachings. That is its business, to PREACH the gospel, not to ENFORCE the gospel.

So the Church has already spoken up for the enslaved, it has already condemned the moral wrong, and now it is up to the individual to either reject the wrong or not. The Church has already done what it is called upon to do, now it is up to the individuals who make up the Church to accept the teachings (or not).

[/quote]

I said "one man", but I see what you mean.

Yes, this is a direct attack on the Church, but more importantly, all religions in general.

Thank you for the great argument. These are great valid points that I will have to make. Unfortunately, I believe you are correct - she won't listen. I know from previous arguments that she hates to be wrong and therefore never accepts the truth.


#14

Since chocolate can be and often is made without child slave labor, it would be quite absurd for the Church to oppose it (chocolate) in general.

What more does you friend expect? Speak out against slavery and child labor? Well, the Church has!

Back during the industrial revoluation Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical "Rerum Novarum" which touched on this issue a little: "…in regard to children, great care should be taken not to place them in workshops and factories until their bodies and minds are sufficiently developed. For, just as very rough weather destroys the buds of spring, so does too early an experience of life's hard toil blight the young promise of a child's faculties, and render any true education impossible."

It was a different time back then, and it is fair to say today that children working to some degree may be necessary and benefitial in some contexts. But forced slave labor of any kind is rejected by the Chruch.

The catechism speak very strongly against slavery in general:

2414 The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason - selfish or ideological, commercial, or totalitarian - lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit. St. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother,... both in the flesh and in the Lord."

You can also read more here, especially about ecconomic activity and social justice: vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a7.htm


#15

I know this chocolate source is free of any forced labor.
As this is a young industry in my country, supplies aren't huge, but hopefully will expand.
daintreeestates.com/about_us.htm
Please God other growers will respond to the call to grow cocoa and process chocolate in a just and fair way.
For interested Aussies: daintreeestates.com/contact.htm
Another source of morally produced chocolate for Australians is Cocoa Farm
cocoafarm.com.au/

Does anyone know of other growers and producers that offer chocolate that is produced in a fair manner? I cannot doubt that these exist, even if their chocolates are necessarily more expensive.
It would be pleasing to know that we can enjoy chocolate that does not hold others in servitude and subhuman conditions.


#16

[quote="Trishie, post:15, topic:315659"]
I know this chocolate source is free of any forced labor.
As this is a young industry in my country, supplies aren't huge, but hopefully will expand.
daintreeestates.com/about_us.htm
Please God other growers will respond to the call to grow cocoa and process chocolate in a just and fair way.
For interested Aussies: daintreeestates.com/contact.htm

Does anyone know of other growers and producers that offer chocolate that is produced in a fair manner?
It would be pleasing to know that we can enjoy chocolate that does not hold others in servitude and subhuman conditions.

[/quote]

I recall Arnott's (for non-Australian's, it's Australia's biggest biscuit manufacturer, owned by Campbell) agreed to use certified chocolate for all it's production a couple of years back. So you can gobble Tim Tams all you like. I'm quite sure a few other major chocolate producers have promised to followed suit, but progress is slower than it ought to be. I think Nestle, on a global scale, has come under particular focus on this issue (and now horse meat sold as beef). It's pressure on the big producers that will ultimately drive change, so supporting producers you know use suitable cocoa and avoiding those who don't is the best means for most people to contribute.


#17

Can anyone answer as to how material cooperation fits into this? (if at all)


#18

Timothy_Garber, I respectfully think you are wasting your time "reasoning" with this person.

She does not sound as if she really wants or expects a serious answer, so much as she instead is playing "gotcha!" and trying to ask loaded questions to which there will never be any adequate answer. Your looking around for a Church document, a response of "one man can only do so much,!" etc., lends credibility to her arguments, which appear to be mockery in the form of questions.The way she phrased her "questions" is proof of that: She didn't say, "explain to me how the Catholic Church opposes slavery in the modern world", or even how that squares with slaves in the old testament. Instead, she basically pulled out some extreme (bogus) example in an effort to play on lack of knowledge. It's akin to the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus by saying, "Teacher, we KNOW you are a wise man, so tell us..." etc., etc.

She tried to make a fool of you, and of the Church. Have none of it. As Jesus said, some towns won't listen, and as to them, shake the dust off your feet and leave. You also might, if she tries this silliness again, smirk and say, "ask a serious question and you'll get a serious answer," or some permutation of that: Because she knows her question isn't serious. Alternatively, if she asks a question that sounds weird, it probably is -- so ask her to explain in extreme detail EXACTLY what she wants to know, before you even begin answering.


#19

I think PolarGuy is dead right.

It's hard to provide a logical, coherent response to incoherent questions. You've already answered her question here:

[quote="Timothy_Garber, post:1, topic:315659"]
she said, "Does your church (again, it bugged me) support chocolate?"
I said, "What do you mean 'support chocolate'? The Church doesn't support any chocolate companies."

[/quote]

If she wants more from you, you need to press her into making clear arguments. What does want to know exactly? What does she suggest that Church ought to be doing? As already addressed, we can't boycott chocolate per se since much of it is produced fairly. She's just trying to make you and the Church look silly and is using ambiguity to do so.


#20

Yeah, both of you are pretty much correct. Whatever I say to her doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. For example, I found out today that she doesn’t think Catholics are Christians (she said she would rather be a Christian than a Catholic, and I asked her what she meant). But when I tried to explain that Catholicism is the heart of all Christianity (and show her why we are Christians), she just said that her friend (who I know is a protestant) told her that, meaning she would believe her more than me.

This is when I ask God, “Look, I know I asked for a challenge, but this is just ridiculous!”.
You won’t believe how challenging it is just to talk to this girl, and it seems impossible to even make her understand my point.

Thank you all for your answers. I am afraid I will be unable to get even one point across…


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