In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration came as a result of the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany. The document states that every person is entitled to basic human rights. This reaffirmed the dignity and worth of all human beings no matter what a person’s race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.
In 1966, the United Nations developed the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in addtion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights focuses on four elements of religious freedom:
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
- No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
- Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
- The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions
The lack of basic human rights is a significant part of persecution in some countries. Christians are denied basic freedoms that humans should be entitled to and are not treated equally. They are persecuted because of their religion and for the words that they speak.
The Bible calls us to be advocates of human rights. Psalm 82:3 says "Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly." As Christians we need to see that all people are entitled to basic human rights.
See the entire International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights