Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
The second millennium brought with it the closing of some tragic events and a sobering landscape for the future. With the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans still fresh in our minds, other horrors began filling the headlines: a slaughter in Darfur, child soldiers in the Congo, 27 million lives enslaved, and two billion around the globe living in poverty.
In all of this, where was the Christian church? With biblical commands to "seek justice" entrenched in its very being, the church should be front and center in the human rights crisis. Thankfully, the church is becoming increasingly involved in the fight, and issues of human rights are growing in importance among Christian leaders. Especially among young Christians, social justice is an ever-present topic of conversation.
Faith in God serves as the source of strength for the victims of some of the greatest human rights abuses; in many oppressed regions, the churches are the only viable institutions; and in many wealthy regions, churches can be a source of leadership and resources. The church may prove to be the key to addressing human rights issues - both theologically and pragmatically.
Please join us at the Nootbaar Institute's annual conference on "The Role of the Church in Doing Justice," as we explore with some of the church's foremost Christian leaders, the biblical foundations of justice, the history of the church's leadership and failure of leadership on social justice issues, and the ways that churches today can address the mandate to "seek justice."
Robert F. Cochran, Jr.
Director, Nootbaar Institute and Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law
Associate Director, Nootbaar Institute and Director, Global Justice Program