How Can Christians Fight for International Human Rights?
- Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Hotel Rwanda seemed to me an even more Christian film than The Passion of the Christ… it evoked in me a wave of compassion for my neighbors around the world, whatever their color or tribe, whatever their religion or politics. And I hear our Lord saying, “As you have done to the least of these… you have done to me.”
McLaren muses about the practical outcomes of millions of people watching Gibson’s film, and wonders what outcomes might occur if equal numbers saw Hotel Rwanda. He goes on to say there must be a wave of repentance for the “bad thinking that numbs us and steels us, blinds us and distracts us from the suffering of our neighbors.”
Although not explicitly Christian in its presentation, Rusesabagina’s story is not unlike the story Christ told of the Good Samaritan. It too asks the question, “who is my neighbor?” As another writer put it the Hotel Rwanda has much to teach us about “suffering, redemption and transformation.”
So perhaps “guilty” is how the film makers and others think I should feel. Guilty that I ignored the atrocities when they took place. Guilty that Christians, by and large, ignored the retelling of the story ten years later.
Christian Concern on the Rise
Each of us individually must decide what we need to repent of. Not all of those who read this are disinterested in or ignorant of Rwanda and other human rights issues around the globe. That such a film was made and made well, is a triumph.
Low interest in Hotel Rwanda notwithstanding, there is evidence on the rise that American Christians are becoming more and more concerned with what goes on outside the borders of the United States.
In his recent book Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights, Allen Hertzke chronicles the growing interest in human rights that Christians have displayed in the last 10 to 15 years. This interest has led to a variety of public policy measures passed. It has led to higher awareness on a number of human rights issues.
The first legislation passed, supported by an unlikely coalition of conservatives and liberals, Christians and secularists, was the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The following years saw new bills passed on Sudan, North Korea, sex trafficking and prison rape. More awareness has been raised about the persecution of other believers around the world.
Historically, human right has been a left-wing concern. Now politically conservative evangelicals are finding themselves building coalitions with liberal Jews, Catholics and feminists. Even Madeleine Albright recognized in her Post article that there is reason to hope incidents such as the Rwanda genocide will become less frequent. Christians are asserting their influence on politicians.
[M]ore and more conservative American politicians are joining liberal internationalists in asserting a moral duty to lead on global issues. This creates an opportunity for all parts of the U.S. political spectrum to come together. If the American right, left and center can agree to work with international partners to prevent future genocides, that alone would carry us farther than we have ever been.
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