World Council of Churches

Protestants were active in advocating for human rights provisions in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, individual leaders of mainstream Protestant churches have long spoken out strongly on human rights issues. However, the story behind the development of the theology and the international movement that sustains such witness is less well known. In particular, the crucial role played by the World Council of Churches has received little attention. The WCC includes Orthodox as well as Protestant churches, but initiatives for human rights within the ecumenical body have come largely from its Protestant membership.  

Theological Justification

Methodist theologian J. Robert Nelson offers a fine summary of a Protestant position on human rights. He writes that "Concern for the integrity, worth, and dignity of persons is the basic presupposition of human rights."1 Such concern requires at least three personal freedoms: "freedom of conscience, freedom from unjust exploitation or oppression, and freedom to live a properly human life."2 Nelson affirms that "Christian faith, as based upon biblical teaching and expressed in the experience of believers through the centuries, assuredly affirms these freedoms."3 Furthermore, he asserts: "Of the three main divisions of Christianity, Protestantism enjoys the best, but not an unsullied, reputation for securing, extending, and enhancing human freedoms."4

He suggests that within the Protestant tradition Calvinism has served more "as stimulus and tutor to human rights" than Lutheranism, because Calvinist theology fostered the rise of democratic government based on the notion of a covenant.Therefore: "It is not coincidental that the constitutional document of Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations was called the Covenant, and the covenant concept persists in the United Nations' program to further human rights."6

However, often the Protestant view of human rights is flawed in its emphasis that each person is of "infinite value," as "liberal Protestants usually say," in that the claim of one person to a human right cannot in all cases be held to be absolute:

The right of one member of the community must not be used to override the well-being of the whole, any more than the whole community may annul the right of any one member. The individual always exists in community, and it is within this community that the truly personal character of the individual's life is realized.7

For many Protestants, despite their emphasis on individual rights, "it is the intimacy and solidarity of members of the community which are the distinctive signs of their concept of the church."8 Yet, it is equally clear that Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians have often defended these communal values more vigorously than Protestants.

Nelson suggests that the concept of the church in the teachings of the apostle Paul is a check on individualism. Paul argues that the gifts of the Spirit must be used for the good of the church community (1 Cor. 12:26; 14:12). Moreover, "Paul gave an exemplary instance of the application of human rights within a communal context when he instructed the Corinthian Christians about their dispute over eating sacrificed meat."9 He told the Corinthian Christians, who claimed a right to eat meat used in pagan sacrifices, that for the sake of other Christians who opposed this practice they should wave their right. Nelson concludes: "The right of the individual was here subordinated to the welfare of the community, but it was a freely chosen abstinence in which his right was weighed against a more important responsibility (1 Cor. 8)."10

The Protestant tradition embraces this notion that the church consists of the voluntary association of believers. In this "gathered church" the individual precedes, at least theologically, the organization of the church, and thus the members of the church are not inert building blocks in some impersonal edifice but "living stones" in the corporate "temple" (1 Pet. 2:5). Nelson suggests that this type of ecclesiological concept has, for the last four centuries, "contributed to the most overt and persistent championing of human rights."11 

Ecumenical Advocacy

The World Council of Churches is the international and ecumenical voluntary association most directly involved in the struggle for human rights.12 Max Stackhouse asserts that the World Council of Churches "has done more for human rights among the peoples of the world than any other single international body."13 He also argues that "the principles which were enunciated in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights after World War II can not be accurately understood" unless the Protestant tradition is "seen as part of the background of its essential shape and content, and the conciliar organizations of ecumenical Protestantism are [seen as] clearly dedicated to those principles."14

The involvement of the World Council of Churches in the struggle for human rights dates back to its inception. At the inaugural Assembly in Amsterdam in 1948, the members of the WCC affirmed:

We are profoundly concerned by evidence from many parts of the world of flagrant violations of human rights. Both individuals and groups are subjected to persecution and discrimination on grounds of race, color, religion, culture or political conviction. Against such actions, whether of governments, officials, or the general public, the churches must take a firm and vigorous stand, through local action, in cooperation with churches in other lands, and through international institutions of legal order. They must work for an ever wider and deeper understanding of what are the essential human rights if men are to be free to do the will of God.15

In the early years of the WCC its concern with human rights was dominated by the Western emphasis on individual civil and political rights, with a particular concern for religious liberty. However, by the mid 1960s human rights were understood more broadly, and at the Geneva Conference in 1966 a scale of values was developed "with human rights at the top" rather than simply freedom of religion.16

Through the years the WCC not only changed its conception of human rights, as international law developed through the United Nations, but also changed its composition to include many independent Third World churches. Today the WCC espouses an ecumenical theological position on human rights that is greatly shaped by the concerns of Third World Christians:

For instance, human beings are seen to possess a transcendental worth not subordinate to any other end, a conception that is incompatible with material conceptions or systems which result in materialistic goals and lifestyles. Human dignity is therefore inherent to all individuals. Human rights are not ends in themselves, but the conditions for the realization of human dignity. Since all dimensions of human dignity are considered, economic, social and cultural rights are stressed to the same extent as civil and political rights. Therefore the church must make a preferential option for the poor, rather than giving primacy to individual freedoms over, or even at the expense of, basic human necessities.17

As the task of the church is to enable or assist rather than enact or enforce human rights, "there is less emphasis on the question of legal enforcement than on the creation of conditions conducive to the realization of human rights, including the elimination of root causes of human rights violations."18

The World Council of Churches has long involved churches from Eastern Europe as well as the Western hemisphere and Western Europe. Many in the churches of Eastern Europe have supported the construction of socialism in their countries "out of a genuine Christian concern for the collective welfare of the people."19

This became clear in 1974 when a working group of Christians from the predominantly Protestant German Democratic Republic (East Germany) submitted a paper on human rights at an ecumenical consultation held at St. Pölten, Austria by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the WCC.20 They argued that "the inviolability of life, dignity and property are not a constitutive element of the human being," as these rights belong to God alone.21 Moreover, at the Fifth Assembly of the WCC in 1975 in Nairobi, the churches of Eastern Europe sided with the Russian Orthodox Church in defending the evolution of democratic principles under socialism against those who, in the wake of the Helsinki Declaration, wanted a resolution from the WCC condemning the Soviet Union.

The report of the Nairobi Assembly was "a remarkable milestone in the ecumenical understanding of human rights" for two reasons: the question of religious liberty had become "inseparable from other fundamental human rights" and "for the first time in ecumenical history, the churches arrived at a consensus regarding the content of human rights."22 This consensus is set forth in terms of the six headings developed at St. Pölten:

1. the right to basic guarantees of life,
2. the rights to self-determination and to cultural identity, and the rights of minorities,
3. the right to participate in decision-making within the community,
4. the right to dissent,
5. the right to personal dignity,
6. the right to religious freedom.

Throughout 1976 discussion between church representatives of Eastern and Western Europe focussed on the Helsinki Declaration and the involvement of the WCC in human rights issues in Europe.

In 1979 the World Council of Churches took the position that the responsibility for human rights work was primarily that of local, national and regional church bodies. In a report to the 1979 meeting of the WCC Central Committee in Jamaica, it also affirmed the notion of international ecumenical solidarity:

This concept rests on the responsibility of churches within the ecumenical community to support each other morally, materially and politically. It implies that many churches live in situations so grave that they cannot cope with the problems using their own resources alone. It also implies, however, that help must be sought by those in need, and must not be imposed however well meant, from the outside. In addition, it takes seriously the fact that in an interdependent world, the causes of human rights violations, or the insufficient realization of human rights, are rarely phenomena limited to any given local situation, but are linked with a variety of international structural dependencies.24

As "a switching station among the many member churches," the WCC "stimulates the churches in each region to take seriously the human rights aspects of a variety of church concerns, draws the attention of churches to human rights problems in their own region of which they may not be aware, and assists churches and church agencies to fulfill these responsibilities."25

Although the bulk of the WCC's involvement in human rights is administered by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, "almost all programs of the WCC, in all subunits and units, have elements of work directly or indirectly relevant to human rights."26 It is mainly through the CCIA, however, that the WCC engages in monitoring human rights violations, in advocacy to promote human rights, and in the study of human rights issues.

The CCIA in 1979 offered to coordinate an "Interconfessional Study Project on the Theological Basis of Human Rights." The Christian groups that chose to participate included the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the Preparatory Committee of the Pan-Orthodox Council, the Baptist World Alliance, the Anglican Consultative Council, the World Methodist Council, the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, and the Pontifical Commission Justitia et Pax. Although the justification for human rights had long been assumed by those active in the WCC, more conservative elements within the Protestant community were demanding a theological rationale.

The St. Pölten report in 1974 had set forth the foundation for Christian support for human rights in very general terms:

It is our conviction that the emphasis of the Gospel is upon the value of all human beings in the sight of God, on the atoning and redeeming work of Christ that has given to man his true dignity, on love as the motive for action, and on love for one's neighbor as the practical expression of an active faith in Christ.27

In 1976, after six years of study, the Lutheran World Federation Consultation on Human Rights published a report containing the following statement:

Being aware of the unconditional acceptance of man by God in Christ, we affirm that the Church is a community in which Christians accept each other unconditionally and extend the same love to all people. This gift commits the Church to respect and to promote the understanding and the implementation of human rights.28

The Lutherans followed Heinz-Eduard Tödt29 and Wolfgang Huber in structuring human rights around the concepts of freedom, equality and participation, which are said to be biblically justified as the basic elements of all human rights. Nelson observes that the Lutherans did not just "baptize" the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "but see in its rights the secular analogies to the essential terms of the Gospel by which all persons should be able to live."30

The Calvinist theologians involved in consultations sponsored by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches were led by Jürgen Moltmann in identifying a different set of three fundamental principles: "liberation by Jesus Christ, creation in the image of God, and hope in the coming Reign of God."31 "As translated into the language of rights," these dynamic concepts "speak of the activity of God in human history, recreating in Christ the persons who were first created in the divine image, and providing them hope, despite privation and suffering, for liberation of life in society to its fulfillment in God's purpose."32 However, the Reformed theologians agreed with the Lutheran theologians that all human rights are under the sovereignty of God, the Creator and the Redeemer: "Human rights are not, therefore, given in the laws of creation, in natural law."33

In his book On Human Dignity: Political Theology and Ethics, published seven years after these consultations, Moltmann reflects on this period of intense theological reflection within the Protestant traditions. He notes that the CCIA of the World Council of Churches was involved in human rights advocacy from the time of the Universal Declaration through the development of the international human rights covenants passed by the UN General Assembly in 1966 up through their ratification and coming into force in 1976. At the same time the Roman Catholic Church was clarifying its position, in a "Message Concerning Human Rights and Reconciliation" by the Roman Synod of Bishops and the working paper, "The Church and Human Rights," by the Pontifical Commission Justitia et Pax.34

Moltmann clearly acknowledges that since the 1974 St. Pölten conference, "socialist concepts of human rights" have been discussed openly in Protestant circles.35 More recently, Third World concerns have come to dominate Christian debate:

The history of the ecumenical discussion concerning human rights shows a quite striking development from the almost entirely accepted predominance of the Western civil-liberal view of human rights and the social rights of the human community to the eventual perception of the life interests of the Third World.36

Moreover, Moltmann affirms that Christianity "has trod a common path in the ecumenical movement" and thus "preserved its solidarity in the three worlds" in spite of conflicts. Therefore, he asserts that the "advancement of human rights"

has become the framework of ecumenical politics and ethics. Liberation, development, passive and active resistance, the overcoming of racism, economic aid to developing countries, nuclear reactors, and the building up of a sustainable society are discussed today within the framework of human rights. For church guidelines on political and social matters gain their universal significance only through reference to human rights.37

By involving itself in the struggle for human rights, Moltmann argues, "the church becomes the church for the world."38

This ferment of theological activity in the late 1970s was accompanied in the World Council of Churches by numerous published reports on human rights by the CCIA concerning violations in specific situations and strategies for protest and support.39 In addition, in 1978 an ecumenical and international Human Rights Advisory Group was established out of the "conviction that God wills a society in which all can exercise full human rights."40 In 1980 the Human Rights Advisory Group unanimously recommended that "human rights education" be developed at all levels: "local congregations, national church leaders, grass roots groups, families, Sunday schools, confirmation classes, theological institutions, as well as the whole realm of secular schools, trade unions, political parties, social action groups, etc.41 

Then in 1981 the Human Rights Advisory Group asserted:

As the churches and groups of Christians have become more actively engaged in the defense of human rights, we have experienced this divisiveness in our own midst. We are in need of the mediation of the Spirit to reconcile us and to strengthen our unity as we seek to be faithful to the demands of the Gospel.42

It also affirmed that "work for human rights can forge new bonds of unity within and between the churches, and with people of other faiths or those motivated by secular inspiration whom we encounter in the struggle for justice. . ..43

In the report of the 1980 Melbourne Conference, the kingdom of God and the struggles for human rights are directly related:

The worldwide church is itself a sign of the kingdom of God because it is the Body of Christ in the world. It is called to be an instrument of the kingdom of God by continuing Christ's mission to the world in a struggle for the growth of all human beings into the fullness of life. This means proclaiming God's judgment upon any authority, power or force, which would openly or by subtle means deny people their full human rights.44

Therefore, "Participation in struggles for human rights is in itself a central element in the total mission of the church to proclaim by word and act the crucified and risen Christ."45 


The materials of the WCC contain numerous statements and articles on human rights concerns and activities all over the world and provide a history of the development of human rights affirmations from earlier liberal concepts to present Third World notions.

In the April 1975 issue of The Ecumenical Review, the quarterly of the WCC, we find the following affirmations of human rights. Julio Barreiro writes from Latin America: "We believe that human dignity is the dignity of the children of God. The defense of human rights implies an obstinate struggle against modern dictatorships which deny the possibility of such dignity."46 The Human Rights Working Group of the Christian Conference of Asia in 1974 affirms that the power of the state is not absolute: "We believe that man has the inherent right to witness to the truth."47 A human rights paper, prepared by the UN Working Group of the GDR Regional Committee of the Christian Peace Conference, is published.48 Burgess Carr, Secretary-General of the All Africa Conference of Churches, shares with readers a paper entitled "Biblical and Theological Basis for the Struggle for Human Rights," which he presented at the consultation on human rights held in Khartoum, 16-22 February 1975.49 David Jenkins supports the thesis that "The struggle for human rights requires no theological justification."50 Finally, Swedish theologian Gustav Wingren analyzes the human rights responsibility of the churches.51

Numerous other articles affirming human rights have appeared in theological journals in the United States.52 Furthermore, denominational publications of the member churches of the World Council of Churches carry news stories and appeals, as in the "Soapbox" piece in the weekly publication of the Christian Church,53 the column in the Baptist Times urging President Reagan to sign the UN treaty condemning torture,54 and the article in the newsletter of the Episcopal Church of New York on its peace and justice network.55 In addition, various church groups are reported to be carrying out human rights programs of different kinds.56

In 1983 Ninan Koshy of the World Council of Churches wrote that

The struggle for human rights takes place in each situation where our member churches live. The test of the concern of the churches for human rights is in ensuring that involvement in and support for this struggle is part of their witness.57

For Sithembiso Nyoni of Zimbabwe, this means: "Christians in the poor nations have to be Christ's ambassadors, encouraging, developing and defending the rights of the poor.58 Similarly, Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, Principal of the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kerala, India, asserts that: "To identify with the poor and fight for their rights is not a theology of combat or a utopian dream of a classless society. Those who pray 'Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth . . .' have a duty to work for the goal implied in the prayer.59 In the words of theologian F. Ross Kinsler, the mission of the church involves "struggles for human rights" because it "is the mission of God's redemptive kingdom, which transforms human life in all its relationships."60

Human Rights: A Challenge to Theology, published by the WCC with IDOC International in 1983, is notable in that it contains only a brief chapter in Part I on the justification of human rights but devotes twenty-five chapters in Part II to ethical issues relating to the struggle for human rights in the Third World. Five of these chapters are written by Roman Catholics, and other chapters are reports from ecumenical conferences involving both Protestants and Roman Catholics.61 In fact, Part II begins with just such an ecumenical working document, "The Challenge of Reality to Theology," from the Fifth Conference of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT), which met in New Delhi in August of 1981. 


The World Council of Churches has been in the forefront of the human rights movement since its beginning in the middle of the twentieth century. Moreover, the changes in international human rights law in the past fifty years are clearly reflected in the teaching and work of the World Council of Churches. Law and theology are evolving together.

Protestant theologians from different denominational backgrounds continue to differ over theological categories. However, they agree on the content of human rights, for they support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international covenants developed to implement it.

Today, in the crucible of the Third World, the religious ethics of human rights is being reformed along with the law of human rights. Here Protestants and Roman Catholics are joining together with others of good will in a common struggle for the conditions of human dignity. They are united by the universality of God's love, which Christians affirm is offered as a gift through Jesus Christ. Christian supporters of human rights are concerned with more than material human sustenance, because they believe that "human rights belong to our redemption, not just to our creation."62

Revised from a chapter on "Liberal Protestants" in Faith in Human Rights: Support in Religious Traditions for a Global Struggle (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1991).


1 J. Robert Nelson, "Human Rights in Creation and Redemption: A Protestant View," in Human Rights in Religious Traditions, 1.

2 Ibid. 

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., 2.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid., 3.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid., 4.

11 Ibid.

12 For a brief analysis of the WCC's human rights activity, see Marc Lienhard, "Protestantism and Human Rights," in Human Rights Teaching 2, no. 1 (1981), 24-37.

13 Max L. Stackhouse, "Public Theology, Human Rights and Mission," in Human Rights and the Global Mission of the Church (Cambridge: Boston Theological Institute, 1985), 16.

14 Ibid.

15 Report of the Church and the Disorder of Society, WCC First Assembly, Amsterdam, 1948. Quoted in Erich Weingärtner, Human Rights on the Ecumenical Agenda: Report and Assessment (Geneva: Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, World Council of Churches, 1983), 8.

16 David J. Bosch, "The Melbourne Conference: Between Guilt and Hope," International Review of Mission 69, nos. 276-77 (October 1980-January 1981):515.

17 Erich Weingärtner, Human Rights on the Ecumenical Agenda, 11.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid., 20.

20 See Günter Krusche, "Human Rights in a Theological Perspective: A Contribution from the GDR," Lutheran World 1 (1977):59-65.

21 The Meaning of Human Rights and the Problems They Pose," The Ecumenical Review 27 (April 1975):143.

22 Erich Weingärtner, Human Rights on the Ecumenical Agenda, 24.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid., 30.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid., 32.

27 Human Rights and Christian Responsibility, Report of the Consultation, St. Pölten, Austria, 21-26 October 1974 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1975).

28 Report from Working Group III, "The Responsibility of the Church for Promoting Human Rights," Theological Perspectives on Human Rights, ed. Jorgen Lissner. Report on an LWF Consultation on Human Rights, 29 June-3 July 1976 (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1977), 27.

29 See Heinz-Eduard Tödt, "Theological Reflections on the Foundations of Human Rights," Lutheran World 1 (1977):45-58.

30 J. Robert Nelson, "Human Rights in Creation and Redemption," in Human Rights and Religious Traditions, 11.

31 Ibid. See Jan Milic Lochman, "Um eine christliche Perspektive für die Menschenrechte," Reformatio 25 (July-August 1976):418; and Jürgen Moltmann, "Christian Faith and Human Rights," in Understanding Human Rights, 182-95. See A Christian Declaration of Human Rights, ed. Allen O. Miller (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1977), for an English translation by Catherine Keller of Lochman's paper and for papers by Moltmann entitled "The Original Study Paper: The Theological Basis of Human Rights and of the Liberation of Human Beings" (1971), translated by M. Douglas Weeks, and "A Definitive Study Paper: A Christian Declaration on Human Rights" (1977), 25-34 and 129-43, respectively, and for other related materials.

32 J. Robert Nelson, "Human Rights in Creation and Redemption," in Human Rights in Religious Traditions, 12.

33 Ibid.

34 See The Gospel of Peace and Justice: Catholic Social Teaching since Pope John, ed. Joseph Gremillion (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1976), 513-629; and "Working Paper No. 1," The Church and Human Rights (Vatican City: Pontifical Commission Justitia et Pax, 1975).

35 Jürgen Moltmann, On Human Dignity: Political Theology and Ethics, trans. M. Douglas Meeks (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 6.

36 Ibid. Early in the 1970s Latin Americans raised issues about the individualistic orientation of Western concepts of human rights. Warren Lee Holleman reports that in 1973 delegates from Uruguay to the Second General Assembly of the Latin American Council of the Protestant Methodist Church pointed out that one of the first references to human rights, in the writings of Spanish philosopher Alfonso de Sabio, affirms the "right of the peoples (derecho de gentes)" rather than individual rights. Holleman, The Human Rights Movement: Western Values and Theological Perspectives (New York: Praeger, 1987), 22. See "The Application of Human Rights in Latin America," in Commission of Churches, Human Rights and Christian Responsibility, Dossier 1 (May 1974), 42.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 See Erich Weingärtner, Human Rights on the Ecumenical Agenda, 57-58, for a partial list of publications.

40 Fifth Assembly 11, in "Minutes: XXXII Meeting of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs," Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (April 1977):19.

41 Erich Weingärtner, Human Rights on the Ecumenical Agenda, 63. See "Gearing Education to Human Rights Issues," Education Newsletter (Office of Education, Program Unit on Education and Renewal, World Council of Churches, no. 1, 1985).

42 Ibid., 66-67.

43 Ibid., 67.

44 "Melbourne Conference Section Reports: Good News to the Poor," International Review of Mission 69, nos. 276-77 (October 1980-January 1981):401.

45 Ibid., 402.

46 Julio Barreiro, "In Defense of Human Rights," The Ecumenical Quarterly 27, no. 2 (April 1975):108.

47 Alice Wimer, "One Step on a Journey," The Ecumenical Review 27, no. 2 (April 1975):115.

48 "The Meaning of Human Rights and the Problems They Pose," The Ecumenical Review 27, no. 2 (April 1975):139-46.

49 Burgess Carr, "Biblical and Theological Basis for the Struggle for Human Rights," The Ecumenical Review 27, no. 2 (April 1975):139-46.

50 David Jenkins, "Theological Inquiry Concerning Human Rights," The Ecumenical Review 27, no. 2 (April 1975):99.

51 Gustav Wingren, "Human Rights: A Theological Analysis," The Ecumenical Review 27, no. 2 (April 1975):124-27.

52 See Robert McAfee Brown, "Human Rights: A Context," Christianity and Crisis (27 December 1976):302-16; Donald M. Fraser, "The U.S. and Human Rights," Christianity and Crisis 36 (27 December 1976):314-16; Wes Michaelson, "Human Rights: A Surer Standard," Sojourners 6 (April 1977):3-5; Ernst Saunders, "The Bible and Human Rights," Church and Society 69 (November-December 1978):48-53; Nancy Bancroft, "Christian Human Rights Thought: Can Marxism Contribute?" Horizons 8, no. 2 (1981):247-59; Robert V. Rakestraw, "Human Rights and Liberties in the Political Ethics of John Wesley," Evangelical Journal 3, no. 2 (1985):63-78; Robert Traer, "Religious Communities in the Struggle for Human Rights," The Christian Century 105, no. 27 (28 September 1988):835-38; and Pablo Martinez, "The Right to be Human," Evangelical Review of Theology 10, no. 3 (July 1986):270-76. These examples go beyond the liberal Protestant tradition, but are part of its discourse.

53 Gerald Vandezande, "Follow Justice Alone," The Banner (26 May 1981):18.

54 "Baptists Press Reagan on Torture," Baptist Times (17 April 1986):5.

55 "Anglican Consultative Council, Family Networks Meet," Diocesan Press Service (30 April 1987):4-7.

56 For example, Clergy and Laity Concerned identifies in its flyer "Covenant Against Apartheid at Home and Abroad" that one of the program areas of its 54 chapters located in 28 states is "Human Rights and Racial Justice." And a letter from Habitat for Humanity dated 1 January 1988 affirms: "adequate housing must be a basic human right." In its flyer the California/Nevada Interfaith Committee on Corporate Responsibility lists as a present concern "Pressuring Corporations to Protect Human Rights in Central America." And the Peace with Justice Commission of the Northern California Ecumenical Council administers a "Central American Human Rights/Refugee Project."

57 Ninan Koshy, "Director's Introduction," in Weingärtner, Human Rights on the Ecumenical Agenda, 5.

58 Sithembiso Nyoni, "All Christians Are Called to Witness," International Review of Mission 72, no. 288 (October 1983):645.

59 Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, "Kingdom of God and Identification with the Poor," International Review of Mission 69, nos. 276-77 (October 1980-January 1981):506.

60 F. Ross Kinsler, "Equipping God's People for Mission," International Review of Mission 71, no. 282 (April 1982):135.

61 The WCC also collaborated in publishing a book by Archibald A. Evans entitled Workers' Rights Are Human Rights (Rome: IDOC International, 1981), containing both Protestant and Roman Catholic positions on human rights and labor issues.

62 J. Robert Nelson, "Human Rights in Creation and Redemption," in Human Rights in Religious Traditions, 12. For an ecumenical position that further develops this theology, see Agnes Cunningham, Donald Miller, and James E. Will, "Toward an Ecumenical Theology for Grounding Human Rights," Soundings 67, no. 2 (Summer 1984):209-39. © Robert Traer 2016