Holy Cross Anglican Church Hackett

Following Jesus and building community in Canberra’s Inner North

Tag: Easter

How good is your chocolate? Your Chocolate Ethical Shopping Guide

At Holy Cross, as we prepare for Easter, we have been thinking about chocolate as a consumer choice and as something we enjoy at the end of Lent to celebrate new life in the risen Jesus.

Block of chocolate and cocoa beans

Easter is the biggest chocolate shopping time of the year. But what’s really going into the chocolate we buy? There’s more than cocoa, dairy and sugar, there are hidden costs for vulnerable people, impoverished communities, and the environment.

Be Slavery FreeGreen AmericaINKOTAMighty Earth, and National Wildlife Federation surveyed the world’s biggest chocolate companies to find out what they are doing to eliminate child labour from their supply chains, ensure farmers make a living income from their work, and prevent environmental damage caused by deforestation. 

They have given each company a score across different categories so that you can buy Easter chocolates from the heart knowing which ones could be tainted by child labour and deforestation.

Download the Easter Chocolate Shopping Guide here

Easter worship services

Join Holy Cross for Easter:

9am 28 March Palm Sunday;

7.30pm 1 April Last Supper;

2 April Good Friday
9am Service
2pm Meditation at the Cross;

4 April Easter Sunday
6am Dawn Vigil
9am Family Eucharist

Easter and Social Justice

Chocolate’s great but tainted by child labour. Here’s what you can do about it.

Block of chocolate and cocoa beans

Lent is a good time to consider how we celebrate Easter. In our religious and our secular lives, it’s increasingly mediated by chocolate eggs, not only on Easter Sunday but in the days before!

What do we know about the production of retail chocolate? Where does it come from? And how does it stack up against social justice Christian principles? 

We know that the countries producing cocoa, much poorer than ours, are certainly not the ones consuming it. Australia is a growing market among traditional high-income countries.

What might come as a greater surprise is that hazardous child labour is widespread and growing

A recent report from the University of Chicago, commissioned by the US Department of Labor, finds that there are more children, as young as five, working in the sector than there were in 2008-09. 

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, where two thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced, an estimated 1.5 million children and teens under the age of 17 produce cocoa in dangerous conditions.

Minors use sharp tools such as machetes, carry heavy loads, burn fields and use other herbicides without protective gear.

Under pressure to produce ever-bigger yields, producers are using increasing amounts of toxic agrochemicals to control weeds and spreading into new areas cleared by deforestation.

The 300-page report details shocking injuries including wounds and cuts, back pain, fatigue, broken bones and burns. 

Children told researchers they would prefer working in almost any other related industry because it would not be as exhausting and dangerous.

As Christians we should be unnerved. We are taught not just to respect other people but also support them to flourish, whatever their condition or stage of development. 

The least we can do is try to prevent harm. 

And, there are plenty of references in the Bible extolling honourable and enjoyable work rather than exploitative “toilsome labour under the sun”. 

Back in 2001, big brands Mondelez, Nestle, Mars, Ferrero, Hershey and Lindt and the US multinational Cargill that collects much of the cocoa signed the ground-breaking Harkin Engel Protocol and the Framework of Action to Support Implementation of the protocol with cocoa industry representatives and the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, undertaking to eliminate child labour and certified employmehnt practices. 

Because the companies insisted they could self-regulate the protocol became a non-binding, although legal, agreement. 

Twenty years on, its aims are far from realised.

The root cause of child labour is, of course, extreme poverty. COVID-19 has made things worse. Cocoa farmers currently earn less than A$2 a day. Estimates suggest if they earned just 3% more, they could afford to hire adults to do the hazardous work of handling chemicals and machetes. 

The children and young people labouring in cocoa production would rather be going to school, playing soccer and dreaming of being doctors. Their parents would too.

The sector’s two-decade-old child labour monitoring and remediation systems are not responsive enough. Regulation with penalties would make child labour reforms mandatory.

Big Chocolate finally appears open to a binding agreement as the 20-year protocol reaches its expiry date this year – 2021 – a year the United Nations has co-oincidentally declared the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

In response to survey questions prepared by charities, many of them Christian, 75% of companies in the industry backed mandatory due diligence which could include sanctions. 

It’s a good time for Christians and all people of faith to get informed, pray and put prayers into action to help end child labour in the chocolate sector (and elsewhere). Actions you can take today include: 

The Christian mission includes taking action to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. Children forced into involuntary work in the chocolate sector are certainly among them.

When we work to empower people – all image-bearers of the creator God – so they are treated well, social justice becomes part of evangelism. 

It’s an idea well articulated by influential theologian John Stott: “The gospel lacks visibility if we merely preach it, and lacks credibility if we who preach it are only interested in souls and have no concern about the welfare of people’s bodies, situations, and communities.”

Toni Hassan is an adjunct scholar with the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. She is also a volunteer board director with Be Slavery Free and a member of the community of Holy Cross, Hackett.

Christos anesti! Christ is Risen!

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Without it, there would be no church today, and Jesus would be remembered (if at all) simply as a moral teacher who was unjustly killed. With it, the life and death of Jesus becomes bathed in a new light: it becomes a source of joy and hope in the midst of suffering, and not just for Jesus and his contemporaries – it becomes Good News for all of us.

But the Resurrection is such an unexpected event (literally a one-off!) that it’s not surprising even Jesus’s closest friends took a long time to come to terms with what it meant. And God is always gracious – God knows we also need time to adapt to this new, improbable reality which has opened up for us.

So today, now the season of Lent is over, we begin the season of Easter: fifty days for us to come to terms with this miraculous news, before we celebrate the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Let’s take the time we need to welcome the Resurrection, and let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the places in our hearts where God is longing to give us new life and hope.

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