In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and since then the struggle to honor and defend the dignity of people has been waged on many different fronts. Christians value this ideal and yet religion has been used to justify human rights violations. In this scholarly paperback, Richard Amesbury, a moral philosopher, and George M. Newlands, a theologian, take a hard look at Christianity and the global struggle for human rights.
They begin with an overview of the role played by the Catholic Church in the struggle for human rights in El Salvador during the 1970s when the United States government supported a repressive dictatorship. Archbishop Oscar Romero distinguished himself as a defender of human rights during the conflict.
The second chapter examines the concept of human rights and the history of its development, noting that over time, the threats to human dignity have changed. The next chapter assesses the relationship between our moral reactions and our understanding of what it means to be a person. In a look at Christianity and human rights, the authors explain that while the biblical notions of justice and righteousness have been used to promote human rights, they have also been used in support of capital punishment, slavery, and patriarchy. The last chapter presents a theology of human rights based on a Christology of self-giving, forgiveness, and reconciliation.