The Bible has a great deal to say about the need for justice in trade and challenges us to act justly as consumers, promoting products that benefit people and planet, rather than harming and exploiting them. As ethical consumers, we can make a difference. We can help bring justice and transformation to communities through trade. There are many things we can do to bring about justice through Fair Trade, which guarantees farmers a minimum price for their product, however low the international market price falls. As a result, producers can afford to send their children to school, get decent healthcare and buy enough food for their families. This is one aspect of loosening the chains of injustice.
Read James 5: 1-5
James was obviously a no-nonsense person. James wants us to live out our faith: to let it change the way we live our everyday lives.
1. Who do you think the rich people are in verse 1?
2. Why does James condemn the hoarding of wealth in verse 3?
3. What message is conveyed by the phrase ‘fattened in the day of slaughter’?
4. Compare James’ view of wealth with those of our society today.
5. Discuss the contrast between unjust trade and fair trade, and how these issues might connect with the passage in James.
6. What examples can we find in today’s world of this: ‘The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty’ (James 5:4)
Isaiah and Jeremiah say that God is angered when the luxury enjoyed by the rich is a result of the exploitation of poor workers (Isaiah 58:3 and Jeremiah 22:13-17).
Fair trade aims to benefit, rather than harm, people and planet (Leviticus 25, especially vv1-7).
Discuss examples of exploitation that you are aware of today.
Read Deuteronomy 24:14,15 and Leviticus 19:13.
Apart from fair wages and prices for products, what else is required when employing workers?
Read Leviticus 19:35, 36 and Micah 6:11.
What else is required to help make trade more fair?
Unjust global trade means that more and more land in the poorest countries is used to grow luxury cash crops for supermarkets, rather than for growing food for local people (Proverbs 13:23). Fair trade aims to help farmers prosper on their own land by paying them a just price for their produce.
What can we do?
The action pledge of the Trade for Life campaign reads ‘I believe trade should work in the interests of all people. I promise to act with others to change the rules that govern international trade so that they work to eradicate poverty, protect the environment and ensure equal access to life in all its fullness.’ Discuss this pledge. Do you agree?
See www.fairtrade.org.uk and www.traidcraft.co.uk
Meditate individually in silence on Amos 5:21-24:
‘I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream!’ (Amos 5:21-24)
QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS
Is “Fair Trade” merely a fashion, or a luxury which only relatively well-off Christians can afford? Or is Fair Trade a vital element of discipleship for all Christians?
Should our church become a “Fair Trade” church?