God created human beings,
in the image of God they were created;
male and female were created
            (Genesis 1:26-27, adapted)

We affirm that all persons are of equal worth in the sight of God, because all are created in the image of God. Biblical tradition demands that we live in an interdependent relationship with God and our neighbor. We must respond to human need at every community level.

As covenant people of God, we are called to responsibility rather than privilege.

God's vision for humanity as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ demands the total fulfillment of human rights in an interdependent global community. It is a vision of life where needs of the community have priority over individual fears and where redemption and reconciliation are available to all. Human rights are holistic in nature and therefore indivisible in their economic, social, cultural, civil, and political aspects. The omission of any of these aspects denies our God-given human dignity.

As Christians, we receive and carry a mandate to seek justice and liberation. Isaiah calls us to

loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke
            (Isaiah 58:6).

The United Methodist Church continues its commitment to human rights as grounded in God's covenant by critically assessing and safeguarding the following principles as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

(1) All persons are of equal worth and dignity.

(2) All persons have the right to the basic necessities of life.

(3) All persons have the right to self-determination, cultural identity, and minority distinction.

(4) All persons have the right to religious expression and practice.

The United Nations has spoken strongly against racism as a human rights violation in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:

Discrimination between human beings on the ground of race, color or ethnic origin is an offense to human dignity and shall be condemned as a denial of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations among nations and as a fact capable of disturbing peace and security among peoples.

In addition, the United Nations has also defined sexism as a violation of human rights in the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women:

Discrimination against women, denying or limiting as it does their equality of rights with men, is fundamentally unjust and constitutes an offense against human dignity.

Furthermore, Amnesty International has proposed to "end abuses based on sexual orientation" and to "defend the rights of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to live lives free from stigmatization and violence."

We call upon citizens within the church and society to analyze critically trends and developments that adversely affect human rights. These include:

(1) the increase of capital-intensive technology that destroys opportunities for productive and meaningful employment;

(2) the intentional use of data banks to undermine rather than enhance abundant living;

(3) the growing phenomenon of an "underclass" of persons domestically and internationally excluded from full participation in society due to educational, cultural, economic, and political conditions;

(4) the possible economic and political scapegoating of such an underclass for technological and social displacement;

(5) increasing extrajudicial executions; torture; and disappearances of dissenters, their families, and communities;

(6) the growth of militarism and the imposition of military-like control over civilians;

(7) the increase of terrorism and the growth of white supremacist and racial hate groups, neo-Nazi groups, paramilitary units, and extreme ultranationalistic groups;

(8) in many countries, the decreasing civilian control of domestic and international policing and intelligence units as well as increasing surveillance of their own citizenry, imposed under the guise of a potential threat to national security; and

(9) the conflict between meeting the basic needs of developing countries and the disproportionate sharing of global resources.

We are increasingly aware that militarism and greed can overwhelm and undermine movements to secure human rights. The church is called to be an advocate for the human rights of all persons in the political, social, and economic quest for justice and peace.

As people of faith and hope, we commend those trends that contribute positively to the human rights movement. Among them:

  • the growing acceptance of universal standards for human rights;
  • the establishment of organizations such as Amnesty International, which documents, verifies, and publicizes political imprisonment, torture, killings, and crimes against humanity;
  • the increasing consensus against war as a viable solution to international conflicts;
  • movement toward the inclusion of "basic human needs" criteria in international aid packages and financial aid programming;
  • the growing importance of human rights offices in governments around the world; and
  • the growing emphasis on technology appropriate to the cultural setting.

We uphold the requirements advocated by the National Council of Churches to preserve and protect human rights:

(1) Human rights require world peace.

(2) Human rights require a secure and sustainable environment.

(3) Human rights require sustainable human development.

(4) Human rights require the preservation of communities.

(5) Human rights require the preservation of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

We call upon all governments to accept their obligation to uphold human rights by refraining from repression, torture, and violence against any person. We further call upon all governments to ratify and implement international conventions, covenants, and protocols addressing human rights in the context of justice and peace.

We call the church to be a place of refuge for those who experience the violation of their human rights. It is the duty of Christians "to help create a worldwide community in which governments and people treat each other compassionately as members of one human family."


See Social Principles, ¶ 164A.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

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