No one of sane mind should criticize President Joe Biden’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking initiated in 2021.
Nor should there be criticism over the movie The Sound of Freedom, the hit box office drama about child trafficking.
But examining the back story, condemnation does exist over the movie starring Jim Caviezel who also played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.
The story chronicles Tim Ballard; a real life hero who quit being a Homeland Security special agent to fight global child sex trafficking. He saved countless children from prostitution rings serving pedophiles.
Critics like Rolling Stone Magazine attacked the validity of the movie. They attempt to discredit Ballard, the founder of the anti-tracking organization Operation Underground Railroad, and suggest ties to QAnon conspiracy theorists.
The attempted smears have not deterred audiences. Since its July 4 opening, the movie out earned Harrison Ford’s sequel Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny grossing over $173 million…10 times the cost of production.
An estimated 25 million individuals have been subjected to trafficking in spite of gender or age. Disgusting situations occur where children are exploited sexually, marketed as unwilling organ donors, or presented as child brides while feeding illegal labor markets earning $150 billion annually.
Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares, has acted swiftly combating this scourge. He was cited in a recent Washington Post article where the owners and managers of Magnolia Cleaning Service from Williamsburg pled guilty to the trafficking of immigrants including minors from El Salvador.
The owners George Evans and Jeffrey Vaughan as well as Ana Aragon Landaverde, a Cleaning Service Manager, were sentenced to prison terms of 2 ½ years to five years. Salvador Jeronimo-Sis charged with creating false identity documents will serve two years.
Miyares calls the level of exploitation “evil” stating, “The case highlights crimes too common, that occur in plain sight.”
How correct Virginia’s top cop is, as he responsibly hosts Human Trafficking Summits across the Commonwealth.
And for good reason as according to Biden’s report, indicators suggest Latino and Black women and girls are disproportionately represented among human trafficking victims and survivors.
In Sept. 2021 my wife and I joined GOYA CEO Bob Unanue, the Executive Producer of the film and producer Eduardo Verastegui at a Washington, D.C. screening along with former HUD Secretary, Dr. Bob Carson, a strong advocate for the movie.
Ballard years earlier had advised then President Trump on trafficking issues.
But after Trump’s White House departure, Unanue, Verastegui, as well as film director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde found little support from administration officials for the movie.
Hollywood Disney Studios, once known for traditional wholesome family productions, passed on distributing the film. They suggested it lacked audience appeal, darkening the spirit, but not resolve of producers and directors.
Incredibly a minuscule Provo, Utah based company, Angel Studios became the proverbial god send, agreeing to distribute the movie.
Was it divine intervention that secured “Angel” Studios as the film’s distributor?
Undoubtably some progressive mindsets find such a “Christian national” possibility abhorrent.
Nevertheless, the film emboldened Christian believers reinforcing the divine intervention concept to many.
Unanue, unashamedly Christian, was so moved as to the need for individual intervention, he formed the GOYA Cares international initiative that has reached one quarter billion individuals worldwide to deter the estimated annual $250 billion sex trafficking industry.
“It has been a spiritual calling that led us to this point with the hopes to not just shed light but put an end to this horrific evil,” he stated. He’s repeatedly called the action the “hand of God” at work.
I sat with Unanue as an appointee on President Trump’s Hispanic Prosperity Commission that carried over to the Biden administration.
He has donated millions of pounds of GOYA products to feed the hungry while sponsoring humanitarian initiatives worldwide.
Lauded by White House Presidents on both sides of the aisle because of his outreach; if there’s a man deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, his name is The Honorable Bob Unanue.
So why is the concept of divine intervention a negative to some?
Perhaps, because the anti-trafficking movement, or movie’s free speech advancing Christian morality, puts into question lifestyle choices of groups associated with trafficking.
To be succinct, this issue is not about any relationship between consenting adults, but inappropriate and illegal relationships with minors.
Other attempts to undermine the mores of religious organizations also enter into the equation when examining a memo from the House Judiciary Committee suggesting Biden’s FBI probe into religious groups, calling them “radical, traditional Catholic” and potential domestic terrorists.
Migration, relocation, unstable housing, substance abuse, mental health or childhood trauma are also transnational factors criminal organizations engage in human trafficking.
Irrespective of motive, whether the movie or White House mandates take political editorial license, protecting our most vulnerable should remain without contestation.
The White House trafficking national initiative must be adhered to. Watching the Sound of Freedom can facilitate that objective with the help of responsible Attorneys General like Jason Miyares and prudent judicial actions.
And if Christian virtue or morality is advanced or not, so be it.
DANIEL CORTEZ lives in Stafford County, Virginia.