The Human Rights Team was established by World Conference action in 1984 to continue a careful but sustained exploration of how the church can respond to human rights issues around the world from our peace and justice perspective. The team informs church members about critical issues of injustice; offers information and/or training materials to help congregations partner with other human rights organizations and movements specifically working to secure human rights; and focuses on listening for and giving voice to the voiceless.
Articulate the prophetic (or theological and Christological) relationship between nonviolence, human rights, and how human rights are affected.
A theology sub-committee drafted a document on Community of Christ foundations for the global struggle for human rights. The statement clarifies how this struggle is grounded in scripture, theology, and values of Community of Christ.
Scripture affirms God is on the side of liberation and human dignity by hearing the suffering of the oppressed and responding in human history.
The document identifies four theological foundations for human rights and nonviolence: a) Imago Dei or Imago Trinitatis, b) Unity of Body and Spirit, c) Jesus Christ, and d) Shalom, God’s Yearning for Creation, Zion, or the Peaceable Kingdom of God.
The Enduring Principles specifically serve as a guide to disciples toward life in solidarity with the struggle for fundamental human rights. The theological foundations document is at CofChrist.org/human-rights/. An abridged form of this formal document was published in the July/August 2022 Herald.
Articulate the relationship between the principles of nonviolence and global struggle for fundamental human rights.
Defining nonviolence as a tactic or strategy for political activism excludes consideration of nonviolence, human rights, and democracy. The principles of nonviolence and human rights shape democratic self-governance, its institutions, and political processes as an alternative to oppression and rule through violence. The team drafted an essay titled “Human Rights and Nonviolence: The Praxis of Theocratic Democracy” with the following assertions.
- The discernment of God’s justice (Matthew 6:10, 33) is the discernment of human rights.
- The discernment and promotion of human rights requires the practice of democracy.
- The promotion of democracy requires the best practices of nonviolent resistance.
- Democratization, the discernment of God’s justice, and nonviolent resistance are human rights.
Work with the First Presidency on issues related to Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 12:1.
An indigenous persons’ subgroup met throughout the triennium to discuss:
- Indigenous identities.
- Justice and reconciliation for injustice against indigenous persons in Community of Christ.
- Formation of a forum or dialogue for and by indigenous persons in the church.
The subgroup produced a report entitled, “The role of UNDRIP within the mission of Community of Christ, incorporating Article 12:1.” The report named eleven (11) recommendations for the inclusion of indigenous peoples to manifest, practice, develop, and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies. The report also acknowledged the role of the Reorganized Church in the military occupation that toppled the government of indigenous Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii in January 1893. The report included a proposal for reconciliation.
Use a website and social media.
A social media subcommittee established a Facebook page for Human Rights in Community of Christ. It wrote a short series of Human Rights highlights, covering select issues. The subcommittee worked with the Communications Team on the Human Rights pages of the new CofChrist.org site, launched in March 2022. This includes a redesigned Human Rights page, a new page dedicated to the Human Rights Award, a video introducing the Human Rights Award, and online submission form for nominations.
Human Rights Award
Recipients for the 2023 Human Rights Award were announced at World Conference.
Matthew Frizzell, co-chair
Catherine Striley, co-chair