All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights

(Article 1 UDHR)

After the horror of World War II, the 56 countries of the United Nations came together on December 10, 1948 and agreed on the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the core of this declaration stands, that Human Rights are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each person;

  • Human rights are universal, meaning that they are applied equally and without discrimination to all people;
  • Human rights are inalienable, in that no one can have his or her human rights taken away; they can be limited in specific situations (for example, the right to liberty can be restricted if a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law)
    (for more Information see: OHCHR – website)

One might argue that Human Rights is a secular matter and not a religious. And, indeed, throughout history, churches, like any institution, have not always been on the side of Human Rights. Christians had to learn from followers of other religions or from secular people what Human Rights truly meant. But for many individuals within churches, orders and religious organizations, it has always been at the core of their faith to stand up, speak out and “pick up the dust”, as Lois Dauway said at the launch of this website. They may not have always used the term “Human Rights” but, to use the words of Valli Bachelor,  Jesus Christ himself was the first Human Rights activist in Christian history. And when diplomats started to draft the Universal Declaration Christian scholars, politicians and clergy from many denominations felt committed to the issue of Human Rights as a result of their own faith. Some remarkable examples can be found on this website.

But at the same time, within as well as outside the churches, all too often Human Rights are not taken as a serious matter. There is a notion, that religion should only happen inside the churches, mosques, temples and synagogues. We, at the Lutheran Office for World Community, and with us many Christians and followers of other religions alike, do mot agree to that. As Jesus himself was challenging his own society by touching lepers and talking to women, we think that his followers are called to challenge the structures of an unjust world today and to promote dignity for the marginalized, which for many Christians means nothing less than acknowledging that all human beings are created in God’s image. This might happen in public, or behind the scenes, in diplomatic fields or as “on the ground”, using the term “Human Rights” or just doing it.   

In 2008, 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have created this website. Our goal is to disclose the link: The link between our Christian faith and advocacy for Human Rights. We asked people from all around the world and from a variety of traditions to talk about their work in video interviews. Some of them all well versed with the Universal Declaration. Others found out about the link between the Declaration and their work during the interview. But all have in common that their Christian faith is not limited to the private sphere. They all have in common that they do not agree to the structures of this world and they feel committed to promote dignity for those who do not fully participate in the abundance of God’s creation. 

On this website it is our goal to start a global conversation about the status of human rights in our societies in 2008, and how we can promote greater leadership and awareness of faith-based groups in the struggle to achieve universal human rights.

Contact:
Lutheran Office for World Community
777 United Nations Plaza, 10B
New York, NY 10017
USA
Phone: +1 212 808 5360
Emily.Davila AT elca.org

Special thanks to Christian Albers, a vicar from the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau and the Evangelical Church in Germany, who had the idea, energy and passion to create this website.

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This website is a project of The Lutheran Office for World Community

A joint ministry of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at the United Nations in New York

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