ABC’s Harris Focuses on Evangelical Christians as a Force for Good in Nonreligious Cambodia

Less than two weeks after linking draconian anti-gay sentiment in Uganda to a group of American evangelical Christians who visited the African nation, on Sunday’s World News, ABC correspondent Dan Harris filed a report focusing on the positive work of American evangelicals in Cambodia who are helping children escape from being sold into prostitution by their own parents. And, although he did not mention by name the existence of former communist leader Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, Harris recounted the theory of some Christians that the destruction of religion in the 1970s is one of several factors that helped erode morality in the country. Harris: "Why is this so easy here? Poverty is part of the answer, but some Christians say it's also because Cambodia endured a genocide in the 1970s, during which children were forced to spy on and even execute their parents, and the educated and religious communities were nearly wiped out. Pastor Don Brewster believes, as a result, Cambodia now suffers from a moral vacuum."

Diane Sawyer, anchoring on Sunday because of the impending House vote on ObamaCare, introduced the report: "It says in the Bible that faith without deeds is dead. And it's a notion taken to heart by a group of American evangelicals who are fighting child sex trafficking in Cambodia, a country that has been a magnet for pedophiles. Weekend anchor Dan Harris traveled to Cambodia to witness the rescue."

As the ABC correspondent introduced his report that recounted the efforts of American Christians to rescue Cambodian children, Harris highlighted one American Christian from California:

DAN HARRIS: This is the village of Sfi Pat, the epicenter of the child sex trade, where Clay Butler, a 27-year-old evangelical Christian from California, now runs a community center based out of a former brothel.

CLAY BUTLER: I think the most exciting part of Christianity is living it out. This stuff is not fun at all. But there is a deep fulfillment in laying your life down for somebody else.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Sunday, March 21, World News on ABC:

DIANE SAWYER: It says in the Bible that faith without deeds is dead. And it's a notion taken to heart by a group of American evangelicals who are fighting child sex trafficking in Cambodia, a country that has been a magnet for pedophiles. Weekend anchor Dan Harris traveled to Cambodia to witness the rescue.

DAN HARRIS: Look at these children and try to wrap your mind around the fact that on any given night, most of them will be sold for sex with strangers by their own parents. But, I mean, if we look at this group of kids right here-

CLAY BUTLER, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Yeah.

HARRIS: Some, some very, very, very, very high percentage of these kids have been trafficked at some point?

BUTLER: I know kids in that group that are being trafficked.

HARRIS: This is the village of Sfi Pat, the epicenter of the child sex trade, where Clay Butler, a 27-year-old evangelical Christian from California, now runs a community center based out of a former brothel.

BUTLER: I think the most exciting part of Christianity is living it out. This stuff is not fun at all. But there is a deep fulfillment in laying your life down for somebody else.

HARRIS: Other American Christians here in Cambodia are practicing an even more daring version of their faith. They go into the brothels to gather video evidence and then work with police to bust suspected sex tourists. They rescue child sex slaves like this girl named Bella. A few years ago, she was being sold for sex. Did they force you to have sex every day?

BELLA: Yeah.

HARRIS: Every day?

BELLA: Every day.

HARRIS: Bella was sold into slavery by her own mother. As we learned, it can be astonishingly easy to buy a child from his or her family here. We meet this 15-year-old girl selling water on the street, and in broad daylight, her mother says she's willing to make a deal. Can I get a sense of how much that would be? Are we talking $200 or $300 a month?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN TRANSLATING FOR UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's up to you.

HARRIS: Up to me. Has her daughter been with any men before me?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN TRANSLATING FOR UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, no, no, no, no. If you don’t trust, you can take her to the hospital.

HARRIS: If I don’t trust, I can take her to the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: For a medical examination.

HARRIS: Why is this so easy here? Poverty is part of the answer, but some Christians say it’s also because Cambodia endured a genocide in the 1970s, during which children were forced to spy on and even execute their parents, and the educated and religious communities were nearly wiped out. Pastor Don Brewster believes, as a result, Cambodia now suffers from a moral vacuum.

DON BREWSTER, AGAPE INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS: These families will take a loan to buy a TV, which they know they can never pay. They can't feed themselves, let alone pay for a TV, but they know, "Hey, I’ve got my ace in the hole, I can sell my daughter."

HARRIS: Pastor Brewster runs a shelter here, where Bella now lives and is finally getting help.

BELLA: Because I can study and I can get love and I can have- (STARTS TO CRY)

HARRIS: Dan Harris, ABC News, Cambodia.

SAWYER: And Dan will have more reporting next week on all of this.