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Many of the largest religious groups in the USA have stated their position on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on their websites. From those that have done so, all except one support it. On this page you will find links to official Statements and Resolutions from church organizations which specifically refer to their policy towards the CRC.
The first article in this series pointed out that the United States of America has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The membership figures for each denomination in the table below come from The 2009 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches published by the National Council of Churches in the USA. The first 3 are the largest in the United States.
Denomination + Total Members
Statement or Resolution on the CRC
The Catholic Church
The Holy See was one of the first states to ratify the CRC. In October 2009, Archbishop Celestino Migliore addressed the UN General Assembly urging all member states to ratify the treaty:
Southern Baptist Convention
Resolution against “New Age globalism”:
United Methodist Church
The UMC Statement of Social Principles:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The ELCA affirms the major international human rights instruments adopted by the United Nations (PDF document):
African Methodist Episcopal Church
The AMEC Women’s Missionary Society has partnered with
The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Partners list – childrightscampaign.org
Resolution Number 1994-C024.
A call for ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
American Baptist Churches
in the USA
ABC-USA has partnered with
The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Partners list – childrightscampaign.org
United Church of Christ
The UCC has an advocacy page in the campaign for U.S. ratification of the CRC:
Human rights, except for children?
Unitarian Universalist Association
The UUA resolution called Speak Out for Children supports the Convention:
2. Although the CRC affirms the “right to life” (Article 6), there are some Catholic organizations [example] which say that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 14) automatically implies a right to abortion. These Catholic groups are opposed to the treaty. Meanwhile, the U.S. Catholic League opposes abortion but is satisfied with Article 6 of the Convention:
www.catholicleague.org/ — News Release
The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child has attracted support from more than 180 institutions and organizations. In addition to six of the Churches in the table above, other faith-based organizations have become partners in the Campaign. See the Partners list.
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA is an ecumenical fellowship of 35 Christian faith groups in the United States (membership list). On the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the NCC General Assembly adopted a Resolution which states:
A significant number of articles published on the internet which are hostile to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child appear to have been written by individuals and organizations associated with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). One of the co-founders of HSLDA, Michael Farris, established Patrick Henry College in 1998 specifically for Christian home-schooled students and is involved with a network of websites promoting his views, including hslda.org, HomeschoolFoundation.org and ParentalRights.org, which is pushing for a Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Michael Farris and his wife have 10 children.
A survey conducted in 2003 by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that there were 1,096,000 homeschooled children in the USA, of which 198,000 were enrolled in schools part-time. Compared to the NCES data for 1999 that represented an increase of almost 30%. Source: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/homeschool/…table_1.asp
The Unitarian Universalist Homeschoolers website estimated 2 million in 2004. They say: The Home School Legal Defense Association DOES NOT Speak for US! Whichever figure is correct, the HSLDA represents only a small minority of homeschoolers (less than 1 in 10).
Among the countries which ratified the Convention, homeshooling is legal in: Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Ireland, New Zealand, Slovenia and the United Kingdom (source).
The American Bar Association is the leading organization representing lawyers in the United States. The Bar Association is strongly in favor of US ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. See:
The official position of the Southern Baptist Convention is that it wants to hinder the ratification of UN human rights treaties by the United States, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child does not hinder the right of parents to guide their children in religious matters (CRC: Article 14, Clause 2).
The Southern Baptist Convention’s meeting in Florida in June 2000 passed a resolution against “New Age globalism” which included the statement:
Out of all the States in the USA, 16 States had more than the average number of child maltreatment deaths in 2006 according to U.S. government data (the most recent figures at the time of writing). Ten of them were in the Bible Belt.
Deaths resulting from child abuse in the USA.
The official figures show that a large majority of perpetrators of maltreatment were parents, although their religious affiliations are not recorded.
The recent statistics were in line with previous years. Families who care about the well-being of all children, not just their own, would have grounds to clamor for more legal safeguards.
Sexual abuse of children by Southern Baptist ministers.
As with the 1990s scandal concerning the Roman Catholic Church, there is an ongoing scandal of sexual abuse of children by Southern Baptist ministers.
For more information see:
Time Magazine ranked the Southern Baptist Convention’s refusal
to establish a database of clergy sex offenders as one of the most under-reported news stories in 2008 (source).
A Note on Sovereignty:
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has no powers of enforcement. It can only make recommendations. One strand of criticism is that United States sovereignty would be undermined by the CRC. However, the way the treaty is implemented is a matter of interpretation (some countries allow homeschooling while others don’t). In accordance with Article 51 of the CRC, many countries filed ‘reservations’ at the time of ratification to limit its scope, and Article 52 allows a member country to terminate participation in the Convention.
Criticism of the document:
Opponents of the Convention make their case by giving a misleading account of what the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child actually says. Articles condemning the Convention seldom link to the document itself. Why not? If you wish to get the true picture, make up your own mind by reading the actual text of the real Convention:
Critical articles sometimes use out-of-context quotations from the CRC in an attempt to discredit the whole thing. The following Articles of the Convention (quoted here in full) are the ones that are central to the controversy:
The rights of parents — Article 5:
States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention.
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.
2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.Comment: Freedom of expression is restricted by the need to (a) respect the rights or reputations of others, and (b) for the protection of morals. Some critics have suggested that Article 13 leaves a loophole allowing children to immerse themselves in pornography. However, Article 13 says quite plainly that freedom of expression is subject to restrictions provided by law. Does the United States lack adequate laws to protect children from pornography?
1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.
3. 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.Comment: Critics voice the objection that the freedom to choose a religion prevents parents from dictating what religion a child may adhere to. For them, it is not enough that Article 14 says States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents … … to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right.
1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.
2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.Comment: Critics say that if a parent felt their child was associating with someone who would influence them badly, the parent would have no right to intervene. But Article 5 states that parents have the right to provide appropriate direction and guidance. Only dictatorial behavior is restricted.
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.Comment: Some opponents equate ‘physical violence’ with spanking and object to any restriction. But consider the consequences in later life of telling a child that spanking is done in a spirit of love — this could be the result. In practice, many national laws have defined ‘physical violence’ as beatings which leave visible marks on the child’s body. By the end of 2009 only a minority of member states had banned spanking altogether.
2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement. [Already covered by U.S. laws]
1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;Comment: The principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations are summarized in the Preamble to the document:
(c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;Comment: The clause stipulates The development of respect for the child’s parents, although some opponents would lead you believe otherwise.
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.
2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.Comment: Individuals are at liberty to establish and direct educational institutions. The legality of homeschooling varies from country to country. Of the countries which ratified the CRC homeshooling is legal in:
Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Ireland, New Zealand, Slovenia and the United Kingdom (source).