Why should I care about Fair Trade?

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : June 5, 2007

imageTomorrow, I’ll post the first of a series of weekly posts. I’ve entered into a relationship with No Sweat Apparel, and have agreed to post weekly about the company and my journey with them. But before I embark upon this series of weekly posts, I want to explain why I have committed the time and energy to promote their company. After all, that might like an odd thing for a Christian Anarchist to do.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for more than a week knows that I have set myself against the soul-numbing effects of commodification and consumerism. Consumerism presents Christians with a double-whammy:

  1. the lens of consumerism has turned faith into a commodity turning Christianity into a product and Jesus into a brand symbol.
  2. the consumer capitalist system has abstracted our commodities in such a way that we don’t realize how our spending habits not only foster, but also codify, systemic injustice.

And so, Jesus has become packaged and our spending habits have implicated us in crimes against the “least of these.” In either case, our commitment to Christ has become subordinated to something else.

The solution to point number 1 above, as Vincent Miller points out in his book Consuming Religion, is for the church to live out an embodied Christ-centered ethic. The solution to point number 2 is for us to change our relationship with our money–and to subordinate our spending habits to Christ. In both cases, we need to be just in our spending, and live out our faith in such a way that our possessions serve the Kingdom and promote justice.

We need to stop spending money on crap–for the sake of our own souls–and spend money on things that matter. And those products should come from companies that pay their workers a living wage. It is pretty simple. I think the only reason many conservative Christians resist the Fair Trade movement is because they think it is a liberal cause–and reject it simply because it is liberal. But there are NO GOOD REASONS why Christians shouldn’t embrace the fair trade movement.

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