Christianity's Mixed Contributions to Children's Rights: Traditional Teachings, Modern Doubts
Emory Law Journal, Vol. 61, No. 991, 2012
Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 46 (2011): 713-732
18 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2019
Date Written: 2011
The United States is the only nation, besides Somalia, not to ratify the 1989 United Nations Convention on Human Rights. This is ironic, given the leading role that American lawyers and diplomats played in creating the Convention. The leading opponents to ratification, it turns out, are conservative Christians who object to the idea of children’s rights altogether, or at least to international human rights protection of the child, and see these rights as a liberal threat to parental rights to nurture, educate, and discipline their own children. We argue, however, that many of these modern objections to children’s rights are misplaced, and fail to appreciate the classical and Christian roots of children’s rights and parental duties in the Western tradition. We call upon churches and states alike to embrace children’s rights more fully, and to offer at least qualified acceptance of the UN Convention.
Keywords: Children’s Rights; UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child; Aristotle; Thomas Aquinas; John Locke; Johannes Morsink; Christian Critique of Rights; International Human Rights; Child Development; Parental Rights
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