For All Peoples and All Nations: The Ecumenical Church and Human Rights

For All Peoples and All Nations: The Ecumenical Church and Human Rights

by John S. Nurser

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Overview

This is the remarkable story of the early human rights movement, and of the influence of Christianity and the Christian churches on envisioning a post-WWII framework for international justice that ultimately resulted in the passing of the 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. In sum:
When Hitler and Stalin were on the prowl, several ecumenical church leaders in the U.S. and Europe saw that not only must they be stopped by the use of military force, but that a non-territorial and non-coercive interpretation of Christian concern for justice and the welfare of the neighbor could help shape a new global order after the war. These church leaders, led by Frederick Nolde and Searle Bates, translated the deep insights of the Christian tradition into terms that could be endorsed on inter-faith, cross-cultural, and international bases. These leaders supplied the intellectual firepower and the zeal for the cause that tirelessly prodded the heads of states and leaders of diplomatic corps to think about the formation of institutions that could most likely prevent the barbarism of Fascism and Communism from terrorizing the post-war future. Supported by the World Council of Churches, they drafted the basic designs behind the most important institutions of today's system of international law--including the 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. The rest, as they say, is history.
Social action inspired by Christian convictions has a mixed record in the modern world. Here is a case in which progressive stalwarts in the church, by articulating enduring theological principles that recognize the human dignity of each and every human being, got it right.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589010390
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
Publication date: 01/05/2005
Series: Advancing Human Rights Series
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John S. Nurser is a fellow of the Human Rights Center at the University of Essex and Canon Emeritus of Lincoln Cathedral in the Church of England. He was the founding director of the ecumenical group Christianity and the Future of Europe (CAFE).

Table of Contents

ForewordDavid Little

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsArchives and Abbreviations

Introduction: Revisiting a Myth

PART ONE

1. The Idea: To Universalize "Christendom"

2. The Man: Fred Nolde

PART TWO

3. To Write a Just and Durable Peace

4. Mobilizing Christian Forces

5. The Joint Committee on Religious Liberty

6. Preparing for San Francisco

7. The Charter of the United Nations Organization

8. An Ecumenical Instrument

9. Finding a Text

10. Declaring Human Rights

11. Conclusion: Faith and Human Rights Need Each Other

APPENDIXES

A Extracts from the Report of the WCC-in-Formation Conference "The Churches and the International Crisis"

B Extracts from A Message from the National Study Conference on the Churches and a Just and Durable Peace

C Extract from the Minutes of the First Full Meeting of the Joint Committee on Religious Liberty

D The "Six Pillars of Peace"

E Statement on Religious Liberty

F Statement on Religious Liberty, Memorandum No. 2

G Extracts from the Report of Commission II, "The Peace Strategy of the Churches"

H Letter on Human Rights in the Charter of the United Nations

I Extracts from Concluding Remarks of J.H. Oldham and John Foster Dulles at the Final Session of the Girton College Conference

J Letter from O. Frederick Nolde to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt

K Extract from the Report of the Drafting Committee to the Commission on Human Rights

L Extracts from the Declaration on Religious Liberty

M Extracts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

BibliographyIndex

What People are Saying About This

Bishop Stephen Sykes

John Nurser's impressive research has demonstrated that some leaders of Protestant and Anglican churches played a vital role in the formulation and promotion of international 'human rights' during the 1940s. The fascinating story he tells challenges conventional secularist assumptions about the separation (or even hostility) of religious convictions and public discourse.

Kevin Boyle

A book of wonderful historical scholarship that recovers the lost story of the influence of Protestant Christianity on the origins of the United Nations and its international human rights mission. A group of Christian thinkers and activists of the 1930s and 1940s, and in particular the dynamic Lutheran Frederick Nolde from Philadelphia, promoted a global ethos and a global secular order that honoured and protected all religious belief. Their international and theological vision remains compelling in today's religiously fractious world. All interested in human rights and in religion and peace must read this work.

Robert F. Drinan

This volume tells the exciting story of how a few dedicated Christians helped to incorporate guarantees of religious freedom in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a book that will be indispensable for everyone who is involved in the dramatic and ever growing acceptance of internationally recognized human rights.

Max L. Stackhouse

This volume could renew the spirits of today's ecumenical Christians; renew the faith of clergy in the possibilities of making a difference in a conflicting but globalizing context; show new paths for creatively reshaping the common life to believers in other parts of the world; and remind political, military, and diplomatic leaders, plus legal scholars, of the fact that what they do depends heavily on the prior formation of a moral and spiritual ethos in civil society, which they cannot alone create.

For All Peoples and All Nations is the most important work on how religion has influenced human rights and other key developments, and what it takes beyond good ideas to make a difference. Every religious leader wonders, when they rest with the saints, what their work on earth accomplished; for most of what they do has consequence beyond the reach of a lifetime. Nurser has shown what a generation of nearly forgotten workers in the vineyard did for us all. It is an excellent tale, well told.

Mary Ann Glendon

John Nurser has retrieved an important, nearly forgotten, part of the history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His account of how Christian leaders and NGOs helped the Declaration become a document 'for all peoples and all nations' is impressive and inspiring.

From the Publisher

"This volume could renew the spirits of today's ecumenical Christians; renew the faith of clergy in the possibilities of making a difference in a conflicting but globalizing context; show new paths for creatively reshaping the common life to believers in other parts of the world; and remind political, military, and diplomatic leaders, plus legal scholars, of the fact that what they do depends heavily on the prior formation of a moral and spiritual ethos in civil society, which they cannot alone create.

For All Peoples and All Nations is the most important work on how religion has influenced human rights and other key developments, and what it takes beyond good ideas to make a difference. Every religious leader wonders, when they rest with the saints, what their work on earth accomplished; for most of what they do has consequence beyond the reach of a lifetime. Nurser has shown what a generation of nearly forgotten workers in the vineyard did for us all. It is an excellent tale, well told."—Max L. Stackhouse, Rimmer and Ruth de Vries Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life, Princeton Theological Seminary

"John Nurser has retrieved an important, nearly forgotten, part of the history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His account of how Christian leaders and NGOs helped the Declaration become a document 'for all peoples and all nations' is impressive and inspiring."—Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

"This volume tells the exciting story of how a few dedicated Christians helped to incorporate guarantees of religious freedom in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a book that will be indispensable for everyone who is involved in the dramatic and ever growing acceptance of internationally recognized human rights."—Robert F. Drinan, SJ, professor of law, Georgetown University Law Center

"John Nurser's impressive research has demonstrated that some leaders of Protestant and Anglican churches played a vital role in the formulation and promotion of international 'human rights' during the 1940s. The fascinating story he tells challenges conventional secularist assumptions about the separation (or even hostility) of religious convictions and public discourse."—Bishop Stephen Sykes, principal of St. John's College and professor of theology, University of Durham, UK

"A book of wonderful historical scholarship that recovers the lost story of the influence of Protestant Christianity on the origins of the United Nations and its international human rights mission. A group of Christian thinkers and activists of the 1930s and 1940s, and in particular the dynamic Lutheran Frederick Nolde from Philadelphia, promoted a global ethos and a global secular order that honoured and protected all religious belief. Their international and theological vision remains compelling in today's religiously fractious world. All interested in human rights and in religion and peace must read this work."—Kevin Boyle, professor of law, University of Essex

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