Following the news surrounding Harvey Weinstein, a movement to shed light on the frequency of sexual assault and sexual harassment developed on the internet.  The news was followed by a movement of women who had either been sexually harassed or assaulted posting “#MeToo” in their status.  Alyssa Milano, an actress, started the movement a few years ago by asking women to post the hashtag in their status to show the magnitude of sexual violence.

I saw that many friends posted #MeToo as their status.  In fact, it was so many that it made me seriously concerned for humanity.  The comments on their statuses were filled with loving, supportive comments, which restored my faith in humanity.  I have had a number of #MeToos throughout my life, and one of them was particularly traumatic.  So, for a moment I thought about putting MeToo in my status. I stopped myself just as I was about to hit the “post” button.  I was afraid about what other people would think.  Would they view me differently? Would they wonder what happened? Would they feel sorry for me and view me as a victim?  Worse, would they believe me?

I have told very few friends and family what happened. Partially because it is hard to talk about, but mostly because I do not want anyone to see me differently.  Whenever I tell someone, I am worried they will not believe me, or that they will think I am exaggerating.  I had too much drink the night it happened, I invited him into my apartment, I knew my attacker, I was wearing a provocative outfit- these are all factors that discount a victim’s story.  We can do better as a society.  We need to teach boys not to rape; a girl can wear whatever she wants and drink as much as she likes.  It is not her job to make sure that she is not tempting other men the same way it is not a homeowner’s job to make sure their house is not tempting a burglar.  We need to take victims seriously when they come forward; dozens of women had to come forward about Weinstein before they were taken seriously.  Only one person should have to come forward for the allegation to be taken seriously.

The day that I was brave enough to go to the hospital and complete a rape kit for my experience I was told I would owe thousands of dollars for the four hours I spent being handed medication, swabbed and photographed.  It cost me $382 just to step into the hospital. I am blessed to be on my parents’ insurance, which covered almost all expenses, and they paid for the remaining balance.  It is not like that for everyone though.  Some women are required to spend years paying for the medical bills related to the attack after their assault.  They are faced with a harsh question: do I seek treatment for my assault or do I pray that he did not give me an STD?  The experience is traumatic enough itself, not person should have to spend a cent for care after they have been sexually assaulted.  If your house is broken into and you call the police, they do not bill you their services. If we fix one thing and only one thing, it is that treatment for sexual assault victims should be free.

We have come a long way as a society, but we still have a ton of work to do.  It is up to us to ensure that we raise a generation of men that do not rape, and it is up to us to take care for the people that this happens to.  My hope is that someday I will live in a world where I can easily say #MeToo without worrying about society thinks.

Our Christian Call to Help Refugees

By Katie Mendez


The Trump administration has decided to pull out of the Global Compact on Migration, which is intended to: address all aspects of international migration; make an important contribution to global governance and enhance coordination on international migration; present a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility; set out a range of actionable commitments; be guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; and be informed by the Declaration of the 2013 High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development according to the International Organization for Migration’s website.

This is one of the latest moves by the Trump administration to not allow refugees in the country due to his dislike of Muslims and other ethnic groups, as demonstrated by his response to the bombing of an Egyptian mosque.

President Trump also tweeted three videos by an European alt-right organization accusing Muslims of multiple crimes, which were then proven to be false by multiple journalists, government agencies, and officials, such as Teresa May. Trump’s actions have alienated us from our allies, with many British governmental officials calling for Trump to be banned from entering the country.

Trump’s actions regarding  Muslims  and  refugees  are  important  for  multiple  reasons:  they alienate us from our allies, they give Daesh and other terrorist groups material to recruit more people, they “prove” to the Middle East that the United States never cared for them, and they violate our Christian calling to help refugees.

There are currently 6.3 million displaced Syrians with 4.5 million Syrians in hard-to-reach areas of conflict. Another 5.4 million are considered persons of concern. These refugees and populations of concern are at higher risk of human trafficking. The refugee crisis has contributed to higher rates of modern slavery in the areas of sex trafficking, labor trafficking, debt bondage, and child soldiers. Women are bought and sold at markets in Raqqa, Syria, sometimes for as much as $40,000.

While many other countries have failed to support refugees to the best of their ability, the United States is especially held accountable because it has often been the cause of much of the instability in the Middle East, often touts itself as the moral agent of the world, and consistently talks about being the richest nation in the world. Another factor sets it apart from other nations: it claims to be Christian. Further, the majority of Evangelical Christians claim that Trump is the first president to uphold Christian values in decades.

However, Trump’s actions—and many Evangelicals who support him—seem to ignore the Godly calling to help the destitute. Many seem to forget that God judges individuals and nations for their lack of support for the needy and poor: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the  poor  and  needy”  (Eze.  16:49, ESV). The call to help the refugee is not simply an Old Testament calling that become null and void with Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, in the book of Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that God will judge all the nations and separate its people based on who was righteous and who was not:


31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to ’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’


41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

The Bible is not silent on what God expects of us. Multiple times, God condemns nations for their lack of empathy and aid to those who needed them most. The old prophets often proclaim God’s judgement on the nations for not feeding the hungry or helping widows and orphans.

Isaiah 58 is another of the many Bible verses that speaks of God’s condemnation for what is called “false fasting”:


1 “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.

4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.


The true fast, God says, is:


6 to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed[b] go free, and to break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

When the United States acts, when we vote, do we vote in accordance with the true fast, or do we vote for the false fast? Is our worship useless to God? If we want to call ourselves a Christian, if we want our worship to be heard and noticed by God, we have an obligation to welcome and take care of the refugee, maybe even host them in our home, as God says in Isaiah 58:7. May we be more concerned with God’s laws than those of our government.


Katie Mendez is a senior in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core.

Combating Hunger in Waco

By Nikki Thompson

(Image courtesy of World Hunger Relief, Inc.)

Waco is a hotspot for hunger-related issues. Residents who struggle with poverty often deal with food insecurity. That, paired with the food deserts in Waco, results in a vicious cycle of eating unhealthy foods because they are the most readily available, getting sick, and being unable to pay for healthcare. Furthermore, research shows that nutrition directly affects performance in school. In Waco, food deserts correlate with underperforming and even failing schools. These circumstances reduce the student’s probability of getting a high-paying job, which then reduces options for the next generation. This cycle of poverty is connected to a lack of nutritional produce.

World Hunger Relief, Inc. attempts to address hunger on both a global and a local scale. Its involvement in the Waco community has seen a significant increase in healthy eating. WHRI partners with the Waco government and local nonprofits in various projects to promote policy reform and to increase wellness within the community. Two of their most successful projects are the Veggie Van and the school gardening initiative.

The Veggie Van was launched in June of 2015 as a mobile market system to bring fresh produce to food deserts throughout Waco. This makes it possible for those people who do not live within a two-mile radius of a grocery store and do not have a car to have access to food with nutritional value. The van sells fresh and locally grown produce at affordable prices. Each sale also includes a recipe, so the buyer can know how to cook the produce, thus making it more likely that they will eat it and continue to come back. The van not only makes healthy food available to the community, it sparks conversation about healthy living and why it is important.

Another way WHRI addresses hunger and health in Waco is through their school gardening program. WHRI supports the Heart of Texas Urban Gardening Coalition in many community-wide initiatives. The mission of this program is to partner with schools and develop sustainable communities by teaching students how to grow a sustainable food system and why it is important. Volunteers with WHRI teach students how to grow ornamental plants and food crops. Students are involved in the planting and maintenance of the gardens and as a result, they learn about plants and healthy diets. WHRI is currently partnered with Indian Springs middle school and J.H. Hines elementary.

These two programs are examples of creative ways WHRI addresses hunger in Waco. These are the kinds of solutions we should be seeking for community-wide problems instead of just focusing on legislation. By getting the community involved and making them aware of the problem, WHRI has seen a significant increase in the overall health of Waco. Understanding that communal problems are complex and affect multiple aspects of life is key to change.


Nikki is a junior majoring in professional writing and rhetoric.

The Bat and the Cat

By Aaron Cobbs

Welcome back to Crazy Train, the place where we talk about all things pop culture and apply it to learning in general. I’m still Aaron, and I’m still here to be your conductor for the experience.

So, if you haven’t heard recently, in issue #24 of Batman (2017) by Tom King, Clay Mann, and David Finch, Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne (like you don’t know who he is) proposed to Catwoman a.k.a. Selina Kyle. In issue #32 of that same series, after telling a major story about his war with the Joker and the Riddler, Catwoman finally said “yes” to Batman’s proposal.

While this is certainly not the first time that these two have been romantically linked, they have not had as much of a relationship presence as they do now. The two were married in an alternate universe story in The Brave and the Bold #197 (a DC Comics team up series), and were even married in DC’s Earth 2 continuity (and had a daughter together – Helena Wayne). So DC has obviously been thinking about the possibility.

So why is there all the fuss about the proposal now?

Up until this point, Batman and Catwoman in the main continuity have not had as much of a romance as their alternate counterparts. For most of her comic book career, Catwoman has been portrayed as a bonafide villain. When DC decided to make her have a romantic interest in Batman, her character changed to become more antiheroic and eventually, in the modern day, heroic (who steals from the rich). Modern adaptations of the character have brought this to light including helping Batman in video games like Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Injustice 2. Even the movies got involved with The Dark Knight Rises where both Bruce and Selina ride off into the sunset after Bruce’s brush with death.

So again, Aaron, why all the fuss now?

There is a reason that I’m writing about this and not about another item in pop culture. Bruce and Selina represent the very nature of us. They represent the people who thought that they had it all but realized that there was one thing missing: their own self-care. As the protector of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante, but also a caretaker. He’s adopted four young men into his care as Robin(s), trained them all to be strong in themselves, and has protected the streets of Gotham from the criminals and villains that populate it. He also leads and funds the Justice League of America, mentors and helps out the Teen Titans, and runs a day-to-day business with Wayne Enterprises. He is the definition of a Renaissance Man.

But even Batman can’t do it all, and the one thing that he ultimately fails at is his own self-care. In issue #24 of Batman (2017), titled “Every Epilogue is a Prelude”, Bruce talks with a fellow superhero about the issue of his happiness. He mentions that he is Batman because he wants to be happy with his life, but he doesn’t admit to it because he is scared of the potential of being happy. After everything that he’s seen and done in his career, his greatest fear is being happy with the man under the cowl. Because of that, he takes the first step in asking the love of his life to marry him – to finally end the pain and trauma of his vigilante lifestyle.

In other words, Bruce is finally practicing some self-care.

No matter what action you take, no matter who you are trying to help, and no matter what you say, we are all aiming to be happy. We are all aiming to do something in this world that means something. For a lot of us, that means serving others and doing the right thing. For some of us, that’s a little different. But what is universally missing is the self-care that we need to practice. If there is one thing that you remember, it’s to take care of yourself. If you need help, reach out. If you’re lonely, talk to someone. If you are afraid, admit it. In other words, be your hero.

I learned this lesson coming into college. I was very much like Batman; I always gave solid advice to everyone else. When it came time for my turn, I froze. I didn’t know how to handle myself. It’s not like I didn’t have the wisdom; it was just the fear of either being arrogant or self-serving. In any case, I learned how to be my own hero, and it’s a lesson that I’m still learning to this day. I am thankful for all the people who have helped and supported me, but even they cannot always be there one-hundred percent. In a sense, I had to be happy with the man behind the mask.

Not everyone’s answer to the question, How do you make yourself happy, will be marriage. It won’t be a career, it won’t be service, and it won’t be friends. Sometimes, you do what you have to do to take care of yourself in a positive and constructive way. For me, it’s boxing, eating ice cream, reading comics, and writing helpful yet funny articles like this one. You have to find your way of life and find a way to defeat your own “private demons” (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1986).

As you walk out into the world, remember to take care of yourself and to always find your peace. Godspeed, dear readers.


Aaron is a senior majoring in professional writing.

On Picture Books and Patriarchy

By McKenna Middleton

In my childhood, the only compensation for the fateful call for bedtime at 9 p.m. was my bookshelf. Filled with stories big and small, books held the key to new worlds, but also gave me tools to interpret the social sphere in which I was situated. While some of the morals in those children’s books are obvious – be nice, don’t tell a lie, etc. – others were more skillfully veiled.

When I think back to some of my favorite stories from that time, most of them feature not humans, but animals (Frog and Toad are Friends, The Berenstain Bears, etc). What could books with animals rather than people have to teach me about my place in the world?

According to research from Janice McCabe, a professor of sociology at Florida State University, one lesson children’s books with animal characters reinforce is gender norms. A survey of children’s books published between 1900 and 2000 revealed that male animals were central characters in over three times as many books as female animals. The fact of the matter is, if the characters in these stories are animals, we really shouldn’t even be able to notice this imbalance.

Yet, what often happens with anthropomorphism – the attribution of human characteristics to an animal or object – is an application of gendered stereotypes. For example, if a pig with a pink bow appears on a page next to a dog with a top hat, most readers would ascertain that the pig is female and the dog is male. But how could one possibly make a distinction with such certainty based on such little descriptive information?

The issue is not just that female animal characters in books are depicted as essentially different and marked by a bow, dress, the color pink, or long hair, but that male animal characters often don’t come with these kind of gender markers at all. Yet, we still identify them as male, suggesting that the default for any sentient being is male, and it only becomes female when given some type of specified marker. Not only are book authors/illustrators/publishers responsible for this discrepancy, but so are adults who assign male pronouns to ungendered animals in books when they read aloud.

“When [my daughter] hears story after story in which everything from the skyscraper to the very hungry caterpillar is called ‘he,’ how can she help internalizing the idea that to be male is the rule and to be female is the exception?,” writes Jennie Yabroff, guest columnist for the Washington Post.

In my years of listening to bedtime stories from my parents, I never once questioned that pink or a bow meant a girl and any animal without such a distinction was male. These internalized gender stereotypes stayed with me throughout my childhood and often dictated the ways I saw not just the characters in my books, but also the way I perceived the behavior and appearance of others and myself.

Just think about the ways society encourages us to talk about women that don’t adhere to these types of stereotypical gender markers: tomboy, lesbian, and everything in between. In other words: a woman who doesn’t know her place and is unwilling to adhere to the idea that she is inherently lesser than and different from the “default” male distinction.

There is nothing inherent about the color pink or a bow that makes something feminine. Despite this fact, it is undeniable that these gender markers affect they the way children gather information about their place in the world.


McKenna is a junior majoring in journalism and Spanish.

Why Smoke is Worse than Fire

By Delaney Shiu

Everyone has been hearing about all the natural disasters occurring in the U.S. recently – historic flooding, major hurricanes, and unforgiving wildfires. We all have tendencies to focus on one major problem until the next one comes along, which is why everyone is talking about California wildfires right now instead of the problems that many people who live in Houston are still facing and will be faced with for years to come. In a few weeks, something else will happen, and we will move on from conversing about the wildfires, which is why I want to take the time while we’re all still focused on the topic to talk about how they might be causing more damage to the state than we can see.

Even though the fire itself is extremely destructive, the main problem that the Californians will be facing is the smoke, ash, and debris left over from the fire. Most people who are killed in wildfires die from smoke inhalation rather than from the fire itself. Inhaling carbon monoxide decreases the body’s oxygen supply, and even people who survive wildfires are often faced with health problems for years depending on how long they were breathing in the low-quality air. Most of the time, the people who develop prolonged health problems because of a fire are ones who are particularly sensitive to air quality, such as people with asthma or heart disease.

Right now, health officials are most concerned about the levels of PM2.5 in the air. PM2.5 is made up of very small pieces of liquids and solids that are no more than 2.5 micrometers across. Since PM2.5 particles are so small, they can be easily inhaled and transferred into the body’s bloodstream through the lungs and alveolar sacs. Good-quality air has no more than a dozen micrograms of PM2.5s per cubic meter of air. Once the level reaches about 55 PM2.5s per cubic meter, people with diseases such as asthma begin to notice, but most healthy people wouldn’t. Above 55 PM2.5s per cubic meter, anybody outside would begin to notice and breathing would become difficult. Once you reach the level of 100 PM2.5s per cubic meter, everybody outside would feel their eyes and throat sting as they walked around. Recently, there was a reading of about 137 PM2.5s per cubic meter in Californian air affected by the wildfires, and that was 50 miles away from the actual fire. Using this data, we can clearly see why the fire is causing more problems in California than just the destruction of property.

Unfortunately, since the majority of us reading this article are stuck in Waco, Texas, there isn’t anything we can physically go out and do to help the people who are suffering in California. However, there are other ways to help. The Salvation Army and American Red Cross are the two organizations that most often deal with natural disasters such as this one, and could always use monetary donations. There is also a GoFundMe page that is gaining popularity and is going towards helping the victims of the wildfires. Californian agencies such as the Napa Valley Community Foundation and Northern California Fire Fund are also accepting monetary donations and serve particular parts of California.

It is no secret that the state that contributes the most students to the Baylor community, other than Texas, is California. We hope that the wildfires come to an end soon and that the air quality continues to improve consistently so everyone is able to return home safely, whenever that may be.


Delaney Shiu is a freshman in the BIC.

A Visit to the Italian Senate

By Brittany Gamlen

This past summer I studied abroad in Italy with the Baylor in Italy program.  Besides eating too much gelato and pasta, I was lucky to have the privilege of visiting the Italian Parliament.  While eating breakfast in our hotel one morning I mentioned to Dr. Smith that I was interested in visiting parliament.  One phone call later, and Dr. Smith and I had an entire day booked with parliament, including a private lunch with a congressman.  It proved to be a whirlwind, but it was unlike anything I have experienced.

After taking an early morning train, Dr. Smith and I arrived in Rome at the Senate House.  We handed over our IDs in exchange for badges that granted us access to the Senate gallery.  After passing through metal detectors, we were admitted into the main hallway of the building.  The elevator brought us to the second floor, where we were greeted by two more guards.  The guards took our personal belongings, as the senate has a strict policy against taking any photos of the senate’s session.  We were briefed on the proper behavior for observing the senate; you must sit up straight, limit your talking and not show any emotion.  Once in the gallery, the guard sat behind us during our visit so he could ensure that we continued to follow the protocol.  Furthermore, if the senate were to go into a closed conference, we would have to leave the gallery until they were finished. A closed conference could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.  To our luck, we only had to leave the gallery once for about fifteen minutes during hour two-hour visit.

The Italian political system is much different than ours.  For starters, their Senate has 315 senators, their Chamber of Deputies (the equivalent of our House of Representatives) has 630 members, and there are twelve parties.  Thus, thinks are chaotic by nature.  Each party is too small to accomplish anything of its own, so parties get together to form coalitions.  There are two main coalitions in Italy, and they get into conflict with one another the way our parties do in the United States.  People often say that Congress can never get anything done, but I can assure you our Congress is nothing like the craziness of the Italian Senate.

The morning we visited, the Senate was arguing about the best way to solve the current banking crisis (or at least that is what Dr. Smith translated for me since my Italian skills end with “ciao”).  Many senators advocated for centralizing the banks, while many others were strongly against it, and the rhetoric became incredibly heated. At one point, a female senator began yelling violently, prompting several senators to run towards her.  A few guards rushed onto the floor and formed a circle around her, preventing her from being harmed.  Like I said, the disorder of our congress is nothing compared to that of the Italian Parliament.  Even so, there was some elements that were not so different from the United States.  The senators were unfocused on the speaker and instead were on the phone were their staff, away from their desks socializing with one another, or absent from the floor entirely.  When it was time to vote, the floor suddenly became full of senators sprinting to their desks.

Maybe politics is crazy everywhere, and we do not realize how much more efficient we can be in the United States (even if it might not always seem like it).  Regardless, things are not as rambunctious as they are in the Italian Senate.


Brittany Gamlen is a senior majoring in political science.

The Human Trafficking Crisis in Waco

By Katie Mendez


Normally, when we think of human trafficking, we think of the movie Taken—of people being sold overseas, of people in other countries. Rarely do we think of people in our country being trafficked—and, when we do, we usually think of Americans being sold to other countries, much like in the movie Taken.

In reality, human trafficking looks a little different. Human trafficking is not just an “overseas” problem. It also looks like Americans being sold to other Americans, foreigners being sold to Americans, and Americans traveling to other countries to partake in child sex tourism.

Many people are shocked to hear the extent and prevalence of human trafficking in the United States. Even more so, Texans are shocked to hear that the state holds 313,000 trafficking victims, of which 79,000 are minors being trafficked for sex.


Breaking Down “Human Trafficking”*

Human trafficking is the general term given to modern slavery that involves the sale and trade of human beings. There is, however, more than one type of human trafficking. The most common types of human trafficking—with simplified definitions—are:

labor trafficking: the selling of human beings for construction work, domestic labor, etc.;

sex trafficking: the selling of human beings into the commercial sex industry; and,

debt bondage: a type of labor trafficking in which the trafficker uses someone’s debt to hold them in slave labor.

*It is important to note that this is not a comprehensive breakdown of human trafficking, but an introduction to facilitate understanding of the rest of this blog article.

The two forms of human trafficking most seen in Texas are labor trafficking (234,000 people in Texas alone) and domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), where minors (anyone under the age of 18, therefore, anyone who cannot legally consent to sex) are sold into the commercial sex industry. In the past, many people referred to this as child prostitution, a misnomer, given that it is impossible for children to consent. Because children cannot legally consent, any act of “child prostitution” involves rape and immediately becomes sex trafficking once they’re sold.

Although Texas is the state with the second highest rate of human trafficking, the amount of services provided are limited. UnBound, an anti-trafficking nonprofit in Waco, provides great advocacy and education programs. The Advocacy Center provides great counseling resources and helps identify current trafficking victims, but is not equipped to shelter sex trafficking survivors. Likewise, the Family Abuse Center will house sex trafficking survivors when necessary, but is not equipped to provide case management specific to the needs of a sex trafficking survivor and is often at capacity for survivors of domestic violence.

Currently, there is no safe house dedicated to the needs of sex trafficking survivors, adult or minor, in central Texas. A two-page Google search will show six safe houses for survivors of human trafficking in the state, of which only one is tailored for survivors of DMST.  These safe houses are: Refuge of Light, Mosaic Services, Redeemed Ministries, The Refuge Ranch, Refuge City, and Freedom Place, which is the safe house for DMST survivors.

A safe house start-up in Waco, SHE is Freedom, is working to open a drop-in center for survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking. While the organization has found a location, garnering financial support has been a challenge due to Waco’s economic hardships and lack of government aid.

According to the Texas government, the best method for providing aid to survivors of sex trafficking is to rely on the foster care system or to place young victims with families that volunteer to help. On the surface level, the government’s plan sounds logical—use existing state resources, such as the foster care system, or vetted volunteers outside of the foster care system, so that young victims have a supportive family unit. But this plan is better in theory than in action, according to studies conducted on the connection between the foster care system and human trafficking. One study found that “98% of children who are identified as survivors of sex trafficking had previous involvement with child welfare services, and many were legally in the care and custody of the state while they were being prostituted by traffickers.” Further, it would be incredibly difficult to find families willing to take in a traumatized, often drug addicted youth; most importantly, they would not have the training to ensure that they would not return to their trafficker. The amount of resources that would be required to train 79,000 families to handle sex trafficking survivors would be better spent in safe houses with people who are already trained by multiple nonprofits and universities.


How to Help

Donating and volunteering with anti-trafficking organizations and nonprofits is a great way to get involved. Many students volunteer with UnBound and help mentor at-risk youth. Advocacy is a very important step in prevention of human trafficking; but, we need to do more for those who have already been victimized and need to escape. We need to do more for children who are falling through the cracks of a system not built for their protection. In short, we need a safe house. We need a place tailored to provide the services, protection, and mentoring within a community of individuals who have been there, not just people who sympathize.

(If you want to donate to SHE is Freedom, the safe house start-up, you can visit sheisfreedom.org/give)

Communism as Critiqued by Marx–Part 2: Introduction and Overview

By Jake Hollis


Note: Communism and socialism are treated as synonymous in this article as they were by Marx and Engels. What is today termed ‘socialism’ (free healthcare, basic income, free education, and so on) will be called ‘social-democracy’ or ‘the welfare state.’


The title “Communism as Critiqued by Marx” may seem wrong—it is not. But shouldn’t it be like “Communism as an Idea from Marx”? Not at all. To use Marx’s own biting words against philosophers, Marx didn’t “have the solution of all riddles lying in [his desk], and the stupid, exoteric world had only to open its mouth for the roast pigeons of absolute knowledge to fly into it” (Marx, 1843). On the contrary, communism was the emergent result of a “ruthless criticism of all that exists” (ibid.), including socialism.

The fundamental results of such criticism were laid out in an 1852 letter from Marx to a J. Weydemeyer, nine years after setting out on his “ruthless criticism”:

“… [A]s to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them… What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat [meaning the working class—JH], (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.” (Marx, Marx to J. Weydemeyer, 1852)

What are the key ideas that stand out from Marx’s conclusions? In my reading, the fundamental line of continuity within these three conclusions is the notion of class society’s self-abolition: that capitalism, by its own laws, (1) exhausts its ability to continue profit-making, and (2) exponentially produces a mass of propertyless workers who seek to liberate themselves, a liberation which can only occur coinciding the abolition of capital and of all class systems (cf. Chapter 4 of The Holy Family and The Principles of Communism).

From here, it would help to refer ourselves to Marx and Engels’ The German Ideology, which decidedly states:

“Communism is, for us, not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.” (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology, 1845)

To reiterate this point, communism can express two things: either “the real movement which abolishes the present state of things” (the proletarian revolution against capital) or the subsequent mode of production which “[results] from the premises now in existence” (that which capitalism is leading to). We will see that these—the subjective factor of workers and the objective factor of capitalism’s self-destructive production—are one and the same later. For now, let us sketch out the path of inquiry Marx followed, that path which led him to his theories.

Throughout my personal readings of Marx and Engels’ works and with some guidance offered by Karl Korsch’s 1923 work, Marxism and Philosophy, I see it is best to give the following outline of Marx’s initial critiques:

  1. Marx followed Feuerbach’s trend of reversing Hegel’s notion of alienation;


  1. Marx critiqued Feuerbach’s materialism and unified critical theory and revolutionary practice (cf. Theses on Feuerbach);


  1. Marx discovered the proletariat as the rightful heirs of German Idealism (cf. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, The Holy Family, and The German Ideology); and


  1. Marx continued to dedicate his life to studying the class struggle, the result of which can only end in the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie or barbarism (1845 and on).

Next, we will introduce Georg Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Marx’s relation to their philosophic systems, detailing points one and two. 



Infamous Westboro Baptist Church Comes to Waco

Image courtesy of Pablo Gonzales


As some of you may already know, Westboro Baptist Church visited Waco last Sunday, September 10. Westboro Baptist Church is based out of Topeka, Kansas and has been widely denounced by Christian organizations (such as World Baptist Alliance, the Southern Baptist Convention, and others) for their hateful ideologies. A central part of WBC’s doctrine is the idea that “God hates f*gs” (see their website name, godhatesfags.com). The way they spread this “theology” is by protesting at soldier’s funerals, spreading hate through speech, and attributing tragedies (such as 9/11 or Hurricane Harvey) to God’s hate and punishment for sin. They regularly travel the country to protest, saying that they wish to spread the message of God’s hate and condemnation.


On Sunday morning, Westboro Baptist Church protested outside of Antioch Community Church and St. Louis Catholic Church. They posted a press release online explaining their reasons for protesting, though its message is embedded in deeply religious phrases and seemingly obscure Bible verses (link: http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/20170828_Waco-TX-Churches.pdf). The document first asserts that Waco churches are enemies of God because they are not facing persecution. Furthermore, WBC says that the churches of Waco “gladly and greedily justify their sisters Sodom and Samaria,” which is presumably in reference to allowing homosexuality. The press release states that Waco churches have succumbed to the fear of men and thus abandoned all talk of “Sodom.” The document pronounces a “double woe” to the churches, as they have also exhibited pride in committing these sins. Essentially, it seems they are saying that Waco churches are cursed for not preaching the same idea of God’s anger that Westboro Baptist holds so dear.


The protesters were toting numerous signs boasting different slogans, such as “Obey and Seek Mercy” and “God Sent [Hurricane] Harvey.” Each sign was accompanied by a Scripture verse, which is what I wish to draw attention to. Westboro Baptist claims to be doing God’s work by “spreading God’s hate,” and a large part of this perceived power comes from their use of the Biblical narrative. It seems as if Scripture justifies and even encourages their ideas. Rather, I argue that they are taking verses out of context and therefore misrepresenting Scripture and the message of the Gospel.


Obey and Seek Mercy – Proverbs 14:22, Nehemiah 9:17

 A sign which read “Obey and Seek Mercy” cited both Proverbs 14:22 and Nehemiah 9:17. Proverbs 14:22 reads, “Do they not go astray who devise evil? Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.” By itself, this verse can be used as a vague condemnation for evil, though when it is put into context it becomes clear the kind of evil to which the verse refers. Proverbs 14:21 says that “whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” So, if we are to obey these verses, we are to love our neighbor and care for those around us, which logically would include people in LGBTQ communities.


The same sign references Nehemiah 9:17. In Nehemiah 9, Israel is confessing and repenting of their sins following a period of rebellion. Nehemiah 9:17 states, “They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” I think the second part of this verse is particularly interesting, as it clearly states that God is ready to forgive and merciful. This idea of God as loving and slow to anger is in direct opposition to the God WBC presents.


God Sent Harvey/Irma – Psalm 126:6, Nahum 1:3

Westboro had a few signs attributing Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma to God as well. WBC cites Psalm 126:6 in the sign, which says: “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126 is a psalm of lament, in which the community is asking God to show mercy on His people. The psalmist remembers the good things God has done and asks Him to “restore [their] fortunes.” Presumably, Westboro added this onto the sign as a way of asking God for mercy on behalf of the nation. Though, this does not explain why they believe God sent the hurricanes.


Nahum 1:3 talks about God’s wrath against Nineveh, saying “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” It seems that Westboro has interpreted this verse as evidence that God sent Hurricane Harvey to punish the guilty with His wrath. Westboro has made other, similar claims about 9/11 and natural disasters, saying that God sent these things to condemn America for being sinful or accepting sin. The thing that these claims fail to recognize is that these events do not only affect “sinners,” but they affect Christians, too.


In the Old Testament, wrath was a way in which God showed His people their injustice and sin. The New Testament is very clear that believers are saved from God’s wrath through Jesus. The difference is that in the Old Testament, God’s people entered into a covenant with God through the Law, which led to punishment from God when they (in their sin nature) broke the law. Paul makes it very clear in Romans 7:7-13 that God must punish people for breaking the covenant, which is why Old Testament believers faced His wrath. However, the New Testament and the new covenant do not result in punishment from God, because Jesus took all of God’s wrath when He died on the cross. Romans 1:17 says that the “righteous live by faith,” opposed to living by the Law. This idea is repeated in Galatians 5:18 and Paul says in Romans 5:9 that believers are justified through Christ’s blood and that we are saved from God’s wrath (which is echoed in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 and 5:9). Therefore, believers do not receive God’s wrath for their sin and wrongdoing, because we are saved through Jesus’ death and not by our good works. Because of this, it is false to say that God sent Hurricane Harvey to punish us.


Jesus Will Return in Wrath – 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

 The verses WBC selected read: “And to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” In context, Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica, which has endured much persecution but has remained loyal to Christ (verses 3-4). Paul reassures them that when Jesus returns, He will enact justice and repay those who persecute the church with affliction. Paul says that all those who believed in the gospel through the testimonies of the apostles will marvel at Christ and, ultimately, be saved from judgement through His grace. The passage does not depict a wrathful God who is acting out in anger, but a just God who is establishing righteousness.



Westboro Baptist’s message that God hates us and is punishing us is not truth because the authority they derive from the Bible is taken out of context and does not consider the Gospel and Jesus’ earthly ministry. While it is abundantly clear throughout Scripture that God hates sin, He does not hate sin because he is a wrathful God. He hates sin because he is a righteous God who desires righteousness for His people. The message of the Gospel is one of restoration, grace, and forgiveness. However, Westboro Baptist Church uses the Bible as a tool by which to condemn and hate others. It is clear to me that they are simply a hate group which has hijacked the Bible in an attempt to justify their beliefs.


Nikki Thompson is a Junior majoring in Professional Writing and Rhetoric with a minor in Religion.