'Kingdom of God' Values Affirm Human Rights, Ecumenical Advocates Say

(Photo Credit: Christian Conference of Asia / Akrapol Camras)Participants of a World Council of Churches human rights advocacy training, which ran from October 21-25, 2012, pose for a group photo in Bangkok, Thailand in a file photo.

Church workers and human rights advocates from ecumenical networks in Asia participating in a training conference that concluded on Thursday affirmed that the concept of the 'kingdom of God' affirms values upholding human rights.

Participants at a conference organized by the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia in Bangkok, Thailand said in a joint statement that "rights and dignity of the voiceless, persecuted, socially marginalized and alienated is the responsibility of all God's people."

They stressed that an "underlying characteristic of the concept of the 'kingdom of God' is its universality, and this new framework promoted by Jesus affirms the values of upholding the universal human dignity and human rights of all God's people."

The event took place from October 21-25.

The participants said advocacy should focus on "people deprived of their human dignity and human rights by powers of evil."

"Many Asian countries face a senseless, lawless and violence-affected situation. People are losing a sense of direction in life due to a deteriorating situation where human rights and human dignity are constantly violated," said Basil J. Fernando, executive director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, while participating in the training.

He said that a "free and democratic society cannot emerge through spontaneous revolution, but it can be achieved only through a gradual evolution of public opinion and values".

He added: "Asia needs a new politico-social paradigm which sensitizes the people to defend their human rights. The churches and the ecumenical movement in this context should contribute to efforts by various actors in upholding the value of respect for human dignity."

Among the training topics discussed were: human rights violations happening due to the deteriorating rule of law, democratic governance and growing militarization, denial of freedom of religion, rights of religious minorities, and the lack of protective mechanisms especially in the case of rights of women and children.

Other themes included how churches and the ecumenical community can be engaged in human rights advocacy at the global level, especially through United Nations human rights protection mechanisms.

The event was organized in part by the WCC's Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA).

The training provided in-depth analysis on human rights principles from philosophical, historic, cultural, biblical and theological perspectives, especially in the regional context of Asia.

Sessions presented included themes covering torture, enforced disappearances, rights of domestic migrant workers and militarization.
Similar trainings are organized by the CCIA in various regions in collaboration with regional ecumenical councils, the WCC says.

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