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Convention on the Rights of the Child

As children are the face of this ongoing debate revolving around immigration, I noticed a tweet by David P. Gushee, whom I have really enjoyed following:

“Did you know that US, Somalia, S. Sudan are only nations not to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?” (the embedding was not working)

It really peaked my interest in to what the Convention of the Rights of the Child entailed. It is a convention of the United Nations outlining the rights of a child throughout the world. You can find the treaty here.

T. Jeremy Gunn also has a very in-depth look at the article and examining it’s history in the US. It was created in 1989. Altogether, 194 countries have signed the treaty, with only three members of the UN not signing: Somalia, South Sudan and United States. If we aren’t signing it, you would think their would be something very troubling with the treaty but here is a general sense of what the Convention calls for (via Amnesty International, amnestyusa.org):

  • Freedom from violence, abuse, hazardous employment, exploitation, abduction or sale
  • Adequate nutrition
  • Free compulsory primary education
  • Adequate health care
  • Equal treatment regardless of gender, race, or cultural background
  • The right to express opinions and freedom of though in matters affecting them
  • Safe exposure/access to leisure, play, culture, and art.

It can often take years to ratify treaties. However, this was presented to the US in 1989 – the same year Seinfeld debuted. It’s been 25 years. Many conservative groups including the Christian Coalition, Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have led the charge in opposition against the Convention. They have been key in spreading misrepresentations about the treaty, largely based around the parents not being able to fully parent their kids and the UN having a say in parent’s decisions.

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Psalm 146:9

With children currently at the front of the immigration issue that has become so heated, I find myself confused why this is an issue at all. Especially to followers of Jesus. I realize that many U.S. citizens shutter at the idea of a social program that their taxes support going towards children from another country. It would also be silly to ignore the hints of racism involved – that maybe some are just against non-caucasians becoming Christians. I wish we had time to do this by the book and make sure we could get before a judge and document their arrival to make them official citizens. New immigration judges are being brought in to help the process but yet we still have swarms of Christians protesting bringing children into our country when turning them away could often mean rape or murder for many of these children. I have lost count of times I have heard or read “it’s not my problem,” on the internet. As believers of Jesus, it is our problem.

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I believe we have to take our blinders off and quit looking at children through the prism of nationality. Looking at the below verses, I just don’t know how we can ignore these children.

Psalm 146:9 says “The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”

Or Matthew 10:42 says,”And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

Or James 1:27 states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Based on the above scriptures, I would say it is our duty to protect these kids rather than leave them stranded in dangerous, sometimes lethal, conditions. I think Jesus would absolutely say this is our problem.

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