Set the oppressed free!  The Church of Norway and human rights

“Human rights” is not a concept found in the Bible. But if we read the Bible through the lens of human dignity and human rights, we will find many examples that can motivate us, as a Christian community, to be involved in human rights efforts.

The Bible is full of stories about how God ensures justice and denounces abuse, oppression and injustice against people. When Jesus preached in the synagogue in Nazareth, speaking about his calling, he chose a text from the prophet Isaiah. He spoke about the good news for the poor, freedom for the captive and that the oppressed shall be set free (Luke 4: 18-19).

Churches and Christians have not always had a strong human rights commitment. Many church leaders and theologians have been sceptical of anything connected to human rights. These issues and questions are discussed in “Set the oppressed free”. In this document, human rights are interpreted further in light of Christian theology.

Set the oppressed free
The Church of Norway Synod 2014 discussed the document “Set the oppressed free!” and recommended it as a resource document that can lead to reflection and action in the Church of Norway.

The document states that "while human rights are strengthened both in rhetoric and to some degree in implementation mechanisms, some aspects of human rights are also under increasing pressure."

The Church of Norway Synod especially asked congregations to include human rights perspectives in the congregation’s services, diakonia and Christian education. The Synod discussed the characteristics of the church’s responsibility in human rights efforts, as well as a set of criteria for the church’s human rights involvement, which can be found in the resolution attached to this document. The Church Synod’s strong commitment to human rights makes this document (which served as a basis for the Synod deliberations) an important resource for the years ahead.

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