following is a proposal for the establishment of a new church. The
ideas are freely available to anyone who wishes to use and adapt them.
Church of Human Rights promotes human rights
universally as set out in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. For
this purpose, the church creates and adapts religious
inspired by diverse global religious cultures
and spiritual traditions (like Sea
of Faith Network).It
does so with humour and lightness (likeSunday
In many ways, the Church of Human Rights is like
is an organization that aims to promote the common good.
members meet regularly to celebrate and promote their community with
ritual and music. The meetings are open to anyone who accepts the basic
principles of the church.
meetings take place preferentially in large, resonant buildings.
Disused churches can be used for this purpose. We
many beautiful architectural
structures have fallen into disuse and aim to fill
them again with life.
principles are set out in writing, and they are
and implemented. Our "scripture" is the Universal Declaration of Human
This text is not perfect and different interpretations are possible.
principles of the Church of Human Rights are shared with major world
religions, and they are also principles that atheists and
agnostics can support. Quasi-universal religious principles include the
golden rule (the principle of treating others as one wants to be
looking for heaven within, speaking the truth from the
heart, practising all-encompassing love and charity (agapē),
giving and sharing rather than receiving, criticizing oneself before
criticizing others, forgiving
anger, making peace, not harming, not judging, taking responsibility
for one's own actions, aspiring for wisdom rather than wealth,
and following the spirit of important texts rather
than the letter.
Church of Human Rights recognizes that humans are social animals.
We need to belong to and
identify with groups, and we need to be proud of the aims and
achievements of the group to which we belong. The church does
that without rejecting other groups -- especially those with
Promoting human rights in practice
The Church of Human Rights is political.
Human rights can only be promoted in practice if powerful people and
organizations support them. The church therefore encourages
powerful people and organizations to care more about less powerful
people -- especially those whose rights are being infringed most
such as poor or discriminated communities in the Global South.
The Church of Human Rights is altruistic.
The main aim is to promote the rights of other people, although the
rights of church members can also be promoted. Church members typically
act on behalf of other people when trying to prevent significant
human-rights violations. For example, global warming will cause untold
millions of premature deaths, especially in the Global South.
Therefore, reducing carbon emissions is a central CHR concern.
Church of Human Rights focuses on today's
biggest global issues from a human-rights perspective, and
their causes with the aim of achieving sustainable progress. Today's
problems include poverty, hunger, disease, climate change, and
violence. Conflicts between different rights
The Church of Human Rights is considerate.
When exercising our rights, we must always consider others. Rights
are generally linked to obligations: Our
rights can only be exercised to the extent that they do not infringe
the rights of others.
The Church of Human Rights understands that some rights are more important than others.
There is a hierarchy of rights. For example, the right to life is more
important than freedom of speech. Therefore, our right to freedom of
speech is limited if by exercising that right we endanger the right to
In particular, our right to disagree with scientific consensus is
limited. We may disagree, but not in a way that will risk the lives of
other people. Climate denial is a familiar example. Whereas climate
deniers have freedom of speech, which is a very important right, it is
even more important to defend the right to life of young people and
Another example is vaccination. Vaccines promote the right to life (the
right) by slowing the spread of deadly diseases. Whereas everyone has
the right to choose or reject recommended medical treatments, that
right is less important than the right to life. In a deadly pandemic,
individuals have a moral obligation to vaccinate themselves if
the vaccine is known to be effective with a high probability and the
side-effects of the vaccination are much smaller than the effects
of the disease itself. Beliefs
other churches, the Church of Human Rights is founded on
beliefs -- statements of faith that cannot be proven (like
ethics in philosophy). Our
faith focuses on real, down-to-earth
concepts like truth, love, charity, and mutual respect. We also
uphold the ideals of the French revolution -- liberty, equality,
solidarity -- and acknowledge
importance of creativity, fantasy, and fun.
The Church of Human Rights does not reject the supernatural, the
utopic, the magic, or the
miraculous. Instead, we emphasize the symbolic nature of such concepts.
We refrain from
insisting that they are real.
emotions that theists feel in religious rituals can also be felt by
atheists. Theists have the right to freely pursue their
practices, just as atheists have the right to proclaim their
non-belief, provided they respect others and do not infringe upon their
rights. Core principles
work of the Church of Human Rights is based on core principles.
Freedom of thought. Church
members are free to
believe or not to believe in god(s), and respect each other's belief or
exist or not, is
not the point. Morality is independent of belief. Regardless of
belief, anyone can feel empathy for a person who is
suffering. Anyone can want to do good things for other people,
society, and the world. Anyone can get personal satisfaction from
Human equality. Every
conscious human being has
as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All people
have the same fundamental inherent
value, and the value of a human being is the most important
kind of value for us. By "conscious" we mean "able to reflect on
experience". Of course, unconscious human beings also have rights. We
encourage an open, caring,
of this and other controversial issues.
Action orientation. Belief
alone is not enough. We
must act on our beliefs.
there is nothing wrong with prayer, must also act to ensure that human
rights are universally and sustainably respected. Our
most important task is to sustainably reduce human
suffering on a global
basis. Our moral
obligation to act increases with our wealth and/or privilege. While
everyday acts of kindness are undeniably important, if we are serious
equality, we also need clear thinking, cooperation, and diligence, and
we need to encourage the most powerful people and organizations to
promote human rights universally.
core principles are not set in stone. They are constantly
challenged in church
discussions, and opinions among church members are diverse. There is
nevertheless a common agreement that basic shared assumptions of
this kind are necessary to give the church a clear direction.
work of the Church of Human Rights is based on core methods.
Transparency. The church's
main ideas, messages, and internal communications are published on the
internet. Information is only deliberately hidden if hiding is
necessary to safeguard human rights (e.g. data protection law).
their ideas honestly and sincerely, both within and outside the church.
They refrain from manipulating others by
distorting the truth. They expose conflicts of interest that could lead
to truth distortion.
church promotes its principles by non-violent
means, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. The church generally opposes
militarism, aggressive international politics, and international sales
of armaments. Whereas church accepts the necessity of self-defence at
both personal and international levels, it also supports strict,
democratically determined limits on the sale and proliferation of
the core methods are subject to discussion and possible change. Scriptures
Like other churches, the Church of Human Rights involves
ritual, music, and prayer, but it has no holy scriptures. We
acknowledge the historical and psychological importance of fantastic
narratives with a moral
message, and respect the beauty and profundity of
the scriptures of traditional churches. But we regard honesty,
integrity as even more
important than magic, and see no clear dividing line between religious
belief and superstition.
Our "scripture" is the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Like the scriptures of great
religions, this document is written by humans, and like humans it
imperfect. One of our goals is to contribute to improvement of
this text in the
future. Meanwhile, we devote our time and energy to interpreting and
Our written sources also include the writings of great thinkers and
researchers in humanities and sciences.
If widely accepted findings or positions in relevant academic
disciplines contradict the teachings of the church, those teachings
must be questioned. If there is a scientific consensus on a given
issue, the church accepts it. It does not attempt to undermine
scientific consensus on any issue. It does not give a platform to
arbitrary ideologies or conspiracy theories. Nor is the church a place
for detailed critical scientific discussion.
of the church are nevertheless free thinkers. We think for ourselves
and take responsibility for our
thoughts and ideas. Our members inspire each other, explaining how
they would like to
contribute to a fairer world or how they are actually doing so. They
discuss in detail about what love and altruism mean for them and for
others. Laughter is common and jokes are respectful -- but not at the
expense of others. Meetings are open to all. The role of consciousness
Consciousness is what separates humans from other animals. It plays an
important role in the Church of Human Rights.
There may not be a conscious life after death, but unless we die in
some kind of armageddon, the world will continue after we die.
The wonderful things that we have experienced in our lifetimes, for
which we are grateful, imply an obligation to make a positive
contribution to the future as well as the present. If we love our
children, we have no other choice.
There may not be a conscious life before birth, but if there is, its
the mother's responsibility. Any discussion of this issue must respect
the human rights of women.
We cannot be sure about non-human consciousness and must therefore
also promote animal rights. But as long as millions of people are dying
every year from preventable hunger disease and violence, human
rights are even more important than non-human animal rights. Confronted
with a dying human and a dying non-human animal, our first instinct is
to save the human. The church pleads guilty to speciesism in this
sense, but we also
believe in a future in which the rights of all animals including humans
are equally respected. We reject any doctrine that puts humans at the
pinnacle of creation/evolution or regards non-humans as mere resources
for human use.
Anti-groupism and interfaith dialog
It is ok to identify with a group of people who are similar to each
other in some way (appearance, language, gender, religion, profession
and so on). It is not ok to believe that one's group is inherently
superior to another group. This universal human tendency is
called groupism and it includes racism, sexism, and homophobia.
The Church of Human Rights is opposed to all forms of groupism and
works to replace
them with universal respect.
Churches are themselves groups.
The Church of Human Rights does not believe itself to be superior to
other churches. On the contrary, we are inspired by world
religions such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Christianity. We
are also inspired by humanist and atheist movements such as for example
Church of Human Rights works together with similar movements such as humanism and effective
altruism. We support the promotion of human rights within
existing churches (more).
Democracy and independence
The Church of Human Rights is and will always remain independent of any
other organisation, whether public, private, political, national,
global, economic, profit oriented, not for profit,
academic, religious, cultural, or social.
The church is democratic. All
members have equal rights. Members' diverse contributions are
of aims, mission, rules, and procedures, including this introductory
mission statement, can be changed by democratic procedures.
church strives for a maximum of transparency
in financial management.It
is financed by anonymous donations and fund-raising events only.
Finances may be used to maintain buildings or pay administrators; as
far as possible, costs
of this kind are avoided or minimized. Founders
and leaders have no special status and receive no direct or indirect
payments of any kind for any service. Travel and accommodation expenses
are not reimbursed.
If you share this vision and would like to promote the Church of Human
Rights, please send
suggestions for improving this document.
Acknowledgment. I am grateful
to Luke Macmichael and Kurt Remele for helpful comments.
The opinions expressed on
this page are the
opinions. Readers who know and care about this topic are asked to
contact the author with suggestions for
improving or extending the content: parncutt at
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