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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

International Human Rights Day: Where is God?

Where is God? In light of the many human rights abuses occurring in the world, this is an entirely reasonable and fair question according to the President of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA).

Where is God for those being raped and tortured in the Congo? Where is God for those in the Philippines facing military and government intimidation to accept mining by Australian companies? Where is God for people in Kiribati and Tuvalu who need to relocate to another country because of climate change? Where is God for those being abused, threatened, tormented and killed in Zimbabwe? Where is God for 100,000 Australians sleeping on the streets every night? Where on earth is God?

The answer, said UCA President, Rev Gregor Henderson, is that God is there in the midst of the suffering and God is there in the midst of our work to overcome these human rights abuses.

“On the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we are reminded that God works through us as we provide love and support to our neighbours, to all who are suffering, to the disadvantaged and the downtrodden,” Rev Henderson said.

“Today we affirm the Declaration as an expression of the fundamental rights and needs of human beings.
“On this day the Church recognises the achievements of the past 60 years, while acknowledging that we have a long way to go to effect peace and dignity for all human beings.

“The Uniting Church believes that because every human being is created in the image of God, every person is precious and entitled to live with dignity. So we support the Declaration because it is a vitally important universal expression of that belief.

“Christians also believe that we are called by God to live in communities marked by justice, peace and equity. The international human rights framework is a shared language that helps us to make this happen.

“However, we must never forget that while there have always been Christians committed to ending violence and poverty, Christians and the Christian church itself have been responsible for perpetrating terrible violence and oppression. Therefore, we have a particular and urgent responsibility to do all we can to end violence, poverty and persecution.”

Rev Henderson said that in the context of continued human rights abuses both internationally and domestically, the Federal Government’s announcement of a national Human Rights Consultation is to be commended.

“Very few human rights are protected by law in Australia and some recent policies have demonstrated how important it is that we improve this situation. This is why today we also welcome the Government’s announcement of a public consultation into human rights legislation. We hope that many Australians participate in the consultation and we look forward to better legislative protections being developed as a result.

“Human rights belong to us all and we share the responsibility to uphold them in our life together.”

Rev Gregor Henderson is available for comment.

Contact: Penelope Monger, Assembly Communications Manager, 0417 416 674.