Today is Human Rights Day, a yearly observance in commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948. The Guinness Book of Records says that the UDHR is the world’s “most translated document.”
The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) for more than twenty years now has encouraged Baptist congregations around the world to observe Human Rights Day (HRD) on the Sunday closest to Dec. 10. (I wish Second Baptist Church where I am a member would do so.) On its website the BWA makes available HRD resources, such as “A Prayer of Commitment for Human Rights Day” written by a Brazilian Baptist. That prayer ends with these words:
“As followers of Jesus Christ, we pledge to be agents of life who actively oppose the powers of death manifest in situations of urban and rural violence, war, genocide, and human trafficking, abuses against women and children, economic and sexual exploitation, racial discrimination and religious intolerance. We commit to so respond to your presence in our lives that our cowardice may be turned into boldness, our egotism into solidarity, our fear into hope, and our weakness into strength. With your help, we will courageously serve as agents of your kingdom of freedom, justice, love and peace. In this, may your grace and mercy always attend our efforts. We pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen!”
This is a fine prayer. But as with other materials on the BWA website and in most other places, it does not say anything about gay rights. But the Amnesty International USA website states clearly that it “believes that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights, without exception.” They go on to say, “However, every day, across the globe, sexual orientation or gender identity leads to abuse in the form of discrimination, violence, imprisonment, torture, or even execution.”
I pray that at this time of recognizing human rights more and more people, and especially Christians, will come to realize that gay and lesbian people generally fail to enjoy “the full range of human rights” and to support efforts to extend those rights to LGBT people across the world as well as to others.
Just this week a broad range of Christian leaders in this country denounced the terribly harsh anti-gay bill now being considered by the Parliament of Uganda. I am thankful for that, but I wish they would also speak out for the human rights of gays and lesbians in this country as well. (Lee Judge in this morning’s Kansas City Star has a good cartoon about that, which you should be able to see by clicking here.) Full human rights should be available for everyone, everywhere.