recognition of the
freedom, justice and peace in the world,
rights of all members of the
Whereas
the equal and inalienable
inherent dignity and of
human family is the foundation of
The
Universal
Declaration of
Human Rights
All human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights. They are
endowed with reason and conscience
and should act towards one another in
a spirit of brotherhood.
Article One
Personally, I believe Christ asserted the dignity of human beings by accepting human shape
and form and living among us. When he said, "As you have done it to the least of these, you
have done it to me," I hear him saying two things: First, that something of Christ is present
in each and every human being. He doesn't limit it to the morally upright or the repentant.
He seems to be saying that by virtue of their birth, by virtue of their humanity, all human
beings have something of Christ in them. Second, by saying that he is present even in "the
least of these," he seems to be asserting a kind of primal equality, an equality that precedes
and outweighs any human-created or socially constructed differentiations as well as any
inherited or God-given differentiations.

I believe Article One captures these two concepts by simply asserting that we are born free
and equal in dignity and rights. The language also suggests that we are born with a duty to
respect each other as brothers and sisters in the human family.
+++
Click here to comment+++
When you think of your experience of Jesus—in scripture, the
sacraments, in your prayer life, and in the tradition of the church:
—What suggests that we are all born free?
—What suggests that we are equal in dignity and rights?
—Does Jesus ever appeal to reason or conscience?
In your view, does Article One of the Declaration:
—Emphasize rights but not duties?
—Value the individual above the community?
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
Introductory remarks from the Editor:
Sister Gloriamarie Amalfitano offers some insights:
Yes, I too have been thinking about the fact that in Genesis we are told that God created
humanity in His own image, male and female, He created us. No matter who we are, at a
very basic level of identity, all human beings share this: we are the result of a deliberate act
of creation.

I don't know that we are born free. I simply don't know. If Original Sin exists, then we are
not born free. We are born into a world of sin that has not universally claimed the salvific
work of Jesus' incarnation, death and resurrection.

Then there is the Baptismal Covenant of the Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal
Church, USA where we vow to respect the dignity of all persons.To me the above does not
merely "suggest that we are equal in dignity and rights", it states this is so in no uncertain
terms.

"Does Jesus ever appeal to reason or conscience?"

All the time, IMO. In the Beatitudes, in the parables. Telling us to judge not lest we be
judged ourselves. Telling the person who is without sin to cast the first stone. Those
examples are but the tip of the iceberg as far as I am concerned.

"In your view, does Article One of the Declaration:—Emphasize rights but not duties?—
Value the individual above the community?"

I do not see an either/or in Article one. I see a both/and. Am I a good Anglican or what?
Maybe I am too much a product of the USA, but I recall being taught that with freedom
comes great responsibility. If we are ourselves free, then it follows that we must then
extend that freedom to others.

But this is not license to do whatever seems good to an individual. The Book of Judges, for
example, shows us the anarchy that results from that. We need appropriate boundaries and
limits.

While setting aside for the moment my issues with the gender exclusive word
"brotherhood", the meaning of this clause is, I believe, community. Community is a delicate
balance between the rights of individuals and the needs of the community.

Yet a community that does not respect the rights and freedoms of its members is not a
community at all. For instance in refusing to dialog with people of differing opinions. Nor
can an individual exert their freedoms and ignore the guidelines of the community. One can
choose to cross the street in the middle of the block instead of the crosswalk, but there
may be a high price to pay.+++
Click here to comment+++
Sister Gloriamarie's blog, "knitternun," is found at http://knitternun.blogspot.com/
Savi Hensman Comments
"To me, Christ as portrayed in the Gospels—the true light who gives light to everyone who
comes into the world—embodies the potential for human freedom and dignity. It is an
ongoing struggle to try to live our lives, and conduct our relationships, accordingly."
+++
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Savitri Hensman is a native of Sri Lanka who has written on topics such as:
“Conscience and Justice” http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/news/features/070126
I have been studying human behavior since 1953. I've written two books on the process
that demonstrates all people have intrinsic worth/dignity. It is based on the observation of
the universal response to rejection, regardless of culture.

When people accept that their worth is dependent on others and performance, rather than, a
"given" they trigger the fight/flight" stress response which impacts the bodies survival
capacity at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.

Therefore the experience of one's worth is a given. It is not selfj-estteem which is based on
extrinsic, not intrinsic, worth. For the theologically inclined the worth is God's love for
each of use. It is not up to us.+++
Click here to comment+++
Charlie Palmgren said...
I'm writing a very brief post for now simply to say how much I applaud this initiative -
despite not being an Anglican! I will try to publicise it through some of my networks in
Europe after Easter. I'll also try and encourage some of my colleagues here in Geneva who
are specialists in human rights work to make contributions.

I also wondered whether you knew of the book by John Nurser
For All Peoples and All
Nations: Christian Churches and Human Rights
. It charts much of the history of the human
rights declaration and the Christian input into it.

Anyway all the very best with this initiative which is a great idea.+++
Click here to
comment+++
Jane offered this comment:
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When I think of Jesus in the scripture, tradition, reason, and personal spiritual experience, I
imagine him as a liberator, activist, and humanitarian.  In Isaiah 61:1 the spirit of the Lord
God is upon me; to preach good tiding unto the m
teek; he hath sent me to bind up the
broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them
that are bound. For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:16.  "Jesus Christ died
that we might be made free from all forms of bondage and hostilities that one can oppose
on another human being regarding his/her rights."

We are equal in dignity and rights with regard to being created in the image and likeness of
God and given dominion of all things on the earth (Gen 1:26).” Keep your conscience clear,
so that when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may
be put to shame.  1 Peter 3:16.

In my view, Article One emphasize rights and duty¬—“they are endowed with reason and
conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”  However, in this
article the individual’s value is regarded equal with the community and not above the
community.+++
Click here to comment+++
Shirley said:
I see the image of the cross of Christ that represents not an individual, but rather humanity’
s freedom from sin that Christ wrought when he suffered the penalty for their sin.  Just as
Christ died for the sin of the world, so God created humanity in his likeness and image,
with a soul and spirit in order for humanity to commune with him, to love and care for each
other and to be good stewards over the earth.  Consequently, we are all equal before God,
as the scripture indicates, “There is no respecter of persons with God” and, “we are
wonderfully and beautifully made.”

Therefore, in light of the above, Jesus appeals to our conscience and reason when he says,
“by this shall all men know that you are my followers, if ye love one another.”  Wherefore,
with a birthright from God and the sacrifice of His Son, we have a duty to obey God’s
Word, “to honor all men,” and, too, “to do good to all men and especially those of the
household of faith.”  The prevalence of the knowledge and Spirit of God in my own life
empowers me to walk in love toward humanity, and to fight against the spirit of arrogance,
condescension, racism, sexism, and the like through the Word of God, prayer, worship,
and action.+++
Click here to comment+++
Linda offered:
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