“Jesus, take pity on me! I’m going to die of exhaustion,” exclaimed a Chinese factory worker after a 19-hour shift, according to a recent report by the National Labor Committee. In the report titled “Today Workers Bear the Cross,” U.S.-based churches and Christian retailers are accused of selling crucifixes made by slave labor in China. The report focuses on the Junxingye sweatshop factory in southern China, which employs mostly young women paid 26.5 cents per hour—less than half of China’s legal minimum wage.
The Association for Christian Retail, which represents 2,055 member stores and suppliers, stated that claims of sweatshop labor used to make their products are “unfounded and irresponsible.” However, NLC executive director Charles Kernaghan said in an interview on Democracy Now! that the NLC traced serial numbers on the crucifixes by using production orders smuggled from the factory by Chinese workers. “The decisions we make in our congregations about goods we purchase and services we hire too often make ‘cheap’ the ultimate value,” Kim Bobo, director of Interfaith Worker Justice, told Sojourners.