Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Criminal Justice (M.S.)

Degree Program

School of Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Tonisha Jones

Second Advisor

Dr. Brian Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. Brandon Youker

Academic Year



In the nearly 21 years since the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) was passed, there has been an increase in research analyzing the influences that led to the development of the legislation and their impact on anti-trafficking efforts. A review of the literature revealed the most influential groups were faith-based interest groups who lobbied for a sex trafficking focus that would enforce an anti-prostitution agenda. The impact of faith-based interest groups on the 2000 TVPA and subsequent anti-trafficking policies has been significant and deserves critical analysis given the failures of the TVPA to effectively address trafficking crimes, in the U.S. and abroad. While the literature details the influence these faith-based groups had on the TVPA, their efforts are often presented as a unified effort with radical feminist and conservative groups. The aim of this paper was to identify the actions taken specifically by faith-based groups and to assess the impact their unique influence had anti-trafficking policy. The findings of this review detail a powerful abolitionist campaign to define prostitution as sexual exploitation and to steer the focus of the TVPA towards abolishing all forms of sex work as elements of sex trafficking. The result of their influence is an ineffective human trafficking policy that has left far too many victims unidentified or without the protection the TVPA was meant to provide. Future policy decisions should rely on victim-centered and empirically sound research, and eliminate morality-based arguments, so as to prevent future policy discussions from being misled by ideology.