Maybe that she studies hard and becomes a doctor, or that she finds a decent, loving, responsible husband, or simply that she is happy and in a safe and healthy environment. So how on earth can a kind father call his daughter ‘good’ when she ends up in a brothel? And yet that is exactly what some fathers (and mothers) do call their daughters – even though they are sex-workers. They call them good because those young women are suffering so they can send money home to their dirt-poor families. Some parents actually sell their daughters into sexual slavery – others are conned into it with bogus stories of jobs in a foreign country.
Slavery in many different forms still exists around the world today, which is why I applaud the making of ‘Amazing Grace’ a feature film that tells the story of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce. This film is due to be screened at a cinema near you next month, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the outlawing of the slave trade by the British parliament. Christianity magazine has published a six-part series on the slavery theme, which concludes this month with an article to help you and your church make the most of the great opportunities this film brings (see page 16).
Amazing Grace has been financed by billionaire Christian, Philip Anschutz’s Bristol Bay Productions, a sister company to Walden Media, which produced The Chronicles of Narnia, screened at Christmas 2005. Anschutz has repeatedly financed films that have a strong Christian message – films other companies would never have touched.
Anschutz is a secretive man, shunning all requests for interviews for decades. He has invested into many sports franchises – and insists all his teams employ a Christian chaplain. Clearly his faith often motivates his actions. However there is another side to Mr Anschutz. While believers appreciate many of his deeds, Christians in London are fighting against plans to turn the London Millennium Dome, which is owned by another of Anschutz’s companies, into a so-called ‘super casino’. Despite his love of privacy, Anschutz invited deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to his exclusive ranch, no doubt to lobby for his casino in the dome.
I find that I can understand the father who appreciates the sacrifice of his prostitute daughter far more easily, than I can understand the billionaire Christian who opposes the slavery of some, while promoting the enslavement of others.
The social consequences of allowing super casinos to set up in the UK are dire. There are already a wide range of ways people can gamble away their money – the rise of Internet poker and other forms of online gambling are vigorously promoted at every turn and on the shirts of several Premiership football teams. The links between gambling addiction, rising mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse, organised crime, rising debt, domestic violence, marriage breakdown and broken homes, are well established. We need super casinos like a fat man needs a Big Mac.
William Wilberforce recognised the dangers of gambling – he won and lost large amounts at the card table and became so horrified at the consequences of acquaintances gambling beyond their means and racking up ruinous debts that he stopped gambling altogether. Doubly curious then that Mr Anshutz should fund a film about a man who opposed all forms of slavery and who rejected gambling – while funding another project that threatens to corrupt and enslave thousands.