Dr Sr Maryanne Loughry is a Sister of Mercy and has been associated with Jesuit Refugee Service Australia since 1986. She is a visiting research scholar at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College, and a research associate at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. The following is an edited summary of her remarks at the July 2022 Windsor Dialogue conference.
The 2022 AMAR Windsor Dialogue focused on the link between music, mental health, and the preservation of culture and religion. This topic had evolved from earlier dialogues addressing the persecution of the Yazidis, with a particular focus on religious persecution.
Brett G. Scharffsis Rex E. Lee Chair, Professor of Law, and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University
Andrea Pinis Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua, and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law & Religion Emory University
Dmytro Vovkis Director of the Centre for the Rule of Law and Religion Studies, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University (Ukraine) and co-editor of Talk About: Law and Religion
This blogpost is modified from Scharffs, Pin, and Vovk’s Introductionto “Human Dignity and Human Rights—Christian Perspectives and Practices: A Focus on Constitutional and International Law,” in a special issue of the BYU Law Review.
The relationship between Christianity and human rights is a matter of deep controversy, drawing the attention of theologians, historians, lawyers, and philosophers alike. The historical connections between various denominations of Christianity and human rights and the dialectics between Christianity and human rights are matters of endless academic debates. How much contemporary narratives of rights are owed to Christianity, what Christianity has borrowed from nonreligious modern and post-modern thinkers, the extent to which the contemporary language of rights clash with Christian values, and the theoretical foundations of such clashes keep scholars busy.
The topic, however, is all but confined to theoreticians. How Christianity understands or ought to understand rights is often discussed within legal and political circles. The public role of Christianity and Christians in contemporary societies surfaces whenever a policy that touches upon Christian values is discussed. Parliaments and courts, especially in countries born out of Christianity, are often busy trying to reconcile religious freedom claims put forward by Christians with rights that contradict Christian morality.
Greg Marcaris the Harold Turner Research Fellow at the Center for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago
Since the end of World War II, 149 States have committed themselves to recognising the rights of those fleeing persecution to refuge under the United Nation’s 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol. In recent years, these commitments have been tested by some of the worst refugee crises since the crime against humanity that gave rise to the 1951 Convention. At present, however, many States have suspended their refugee resettlement programs, with no clear indication as to when these programs will resume. In this piece, I would like to explore how a Christian understanding of the world and human beings lends itself to a more expansive, inclusive, and hopeful refugee policy.