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The American Lutheran Church, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, composed of 4,800 congregations having approximately 2.4 million U.S. members

The Lutheran Church in America, headquartered in New York City, composed of 6,100 congregations having approximately 3.1 million members in the U.S. and Canada; and

The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, composed of 260 congregations having approximately 110,000 U.S. members.

These church bodies are also members of the Lutheran World Federation, a free association of Lutheran churches around the world, whose membership now totals approximately 54 million baptized persons.

Speaking both on behalf of our Lutheran churches in the United States and also on behalf of the International Lutheran community, we wholeheartedly support United States ratification of the Human Rights Covenants. Our churches have studied the two International Human Rights Covenants—the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-in detail and this testimony will relate mainly to these two Covenants. We also support ratification of other human rights treaties before the Senate, specifically those on Genocide, the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the American Convention on Human Rights.

Our support for ratification of the Covenants is based not only upon the doctrines and teachings of the Lutheran church but also upon official statements of Assemblies of the Lutheran World Federation in 1970 and 1977 and upon official statements made by individual Lutheran churches in the U.S.

In support of ratification, we are testifying to affirm the rights guaranteed by these International Covenants, recognizing that the guarantees of the United States Constitution secure, and in some cases exceed, some of the rights contained in these Human Rights Covenants. We are here also on behalf of the poor, the downtrodden, and the oppressed in other countries as well as our own, for it is our belief that United States ratification of these Covenants will strengthen the stature of the Covenants and will enhance their international authority so that their provisions would become more likely to be observed by all governments. We urge this Committee to consider the international consequences of U.S. ratification or non-ratification of the Covenants as much, if not more than, consequences.


Since the conclusion of World War II, Lutherans throughout the world have been actively engaged in the struggle for human rights at both the practical and the theoretical levels. In the post-war period, these churches concentrated their efforts in the areas of relief, reconstruction, and the settlement of refugees and displaced persons. More recently, these same churches have directed their efforts toward the achievement of justice and self-determination in various regions of the Third World, notably southern Africa.

These very practical involvements have been matched by close attention to the work of articulating international standards of human rights and securing their acceptance by the members of the world community.

A pioneer in the effort to incorporate human rights within the growing body of world law was the late Dr. 0. Frederick Nolde, Lutheran pastor, teacher and Director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, an agency of the World Council of Churches. Widely recognized and esteemed in his time, Dr. Nolde guided the shaping of the articles on religious freedom in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Certainly members of religious communities throughout the world, and the members of our churches in particular, are concerned that their religious liberties and freedom of worship be guaranteed. The concern for religious liberty cannot be neatly blocked off from a concern for the observance of other human rights, for religious liberty is inseparable from other human rights. Indeed, it is this inseparability that demands of Christians and persons of other religious persuasions that they attend to the championing of all human rights and not simply that of religious free exercise. Dr. Nolde explained this as follows:

“While religious liberty is in one sense basic to all other human rights, especially civil rights, it is at the same time inseparably related to them. Freedom to worship, interpreted to include public worship, is dependent upon the rights of assembly and to a certain extent of association. It may involve freedom of speech and freedom of the press as well as the right to have property. Freedom to teach and to bring up children in the faith of their parents, if it is to include education, beyond that which the home provides, involves freedom of speech, the press, of association and assembly. It may also require the right to have property. Freedom to practice one's religion or belief calls into play freedom of opinion and expression including freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. The latter provision is significant for those manifestations of religious belief which have to do with missionary activity. Freedom to practice may also require freedom of association and the right to own property in association with others. Manifestations in observance may involve freedom of organization and assembly, freedom of expression, as well as the rights of the family as the 'natural and fundamental group unit of society.' The interrelationships here mentioned are only illustrative and not exhaustive. A fuller analysis would require consideration of the manner in which religious freedom impinges upon freedom in social, economic and political affairs." I

At its two most recent Assemblies, in Evian, France in 1970 and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 1977, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has considered and passed resolutions on human rights. The times and contexts of both Assemblies caused the delegates to focus their attention on the human rights issue in a fashion which might not otherwise have occurred. The Evian Assembly was physically disrupted in that at a late stage in the preparations for the assembly its location was changed from Brazil to France. This decision was made in response to the repressive human rights situation in Brazil at that time. The Dar es Salaam Assembly, meeting in Tanzania, especially heard the cries of those in southern Africa who were, and are, the victims of the repression of racism, and the cries. of those in neighboring Uganda who were, and in some respects still are, the victims of that country's late murderous and chaotically totalitarian regime.

The Evian Assembly's (1970) Resolution on Human Rights observed:

The LWF Fifth Assembly is deeply aware of the deprivation of human justice that engulfs millions of people and renders them virtually helpless to assist themselves. It recognizes the manifestation of such deprivation in the violent acts of sociopolitical conditions in a number of countries, even to the extent of the suppression of political rights, imprisonment and torture.

Further it is deplored that human rights are also deprived by less violent operations of unjust social and economic systems, in some instances by exploitation by rich land owners, in other instances by the manipulations of major industrial developments often controlled by residents of other countries. It is evident that victims of such activities are plunged into hunger, misery, and hopelessness.

In the face of these circumstances in seeking to be obedient to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as he is known through the Scriptures, be it resolved by the Assembly that:

1. The delegates declare their judgment that it is appropriate and necessary for Christian churches to scrutinize such conditions in their respective national situations and to help to prepare their members for corrective actions at individual and corporate levels through available religious and secular instrumentalities and channels.

Thus, we see U.S. ratification of the Human Rights Covenants as a corrective action which should be taken by the United States in order to help promote human rights in the world.

The Dar es Salaam Assembly's (1977) Resolution on Human Rights recognized the Human Rights Covenants as the international standard for human rights when it resolved that LWF member churches should compare the legal codifications on human rights in international law with the Human Rights Conventions and directed them to report thereon to the LWF. The Dar es Salaam Resoluticn furthermore urged each of the member churches to take the steps necessary and possible in each situation for the furtherance of the comprehensive implementation of human rights. We see our presence here before this Committee as one step taken by Lutherans to enhance the observance of human rights in the world today.

Our mandate to be before you today also arises from the National Religious Call for Public Support of the U.N. Human Rights Convenants, issued in connection with the Thirtieth Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. The National Religious Call was signed in 1978 by the leaders of each of our member churches (see Appendix).

1 Quoted from the minutes of the CCIA Executive Committee in "Free and Equal" by 0. Frederick Nolde. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1968, pp. 67–68.



It is easy to belittle international covenants and conventions on human rights as mere “paper barriers” without power in the face of nations choosing to ignore them. It is worth noting that a similar argument was raised against the inclusion of a formal bill of rights in the United States Constitution. Madison, for instance, felt that a popular majority could and would nullify the guaranties of such a bill whenever it wished. Yet, interestingly enough, Madison himself ended up as the major drafter of the Bill of Rights that has served us so well for almost 200 years.

There is real, though incalculable, value in the public and solemn enunciation of legal norms regardless of the power of individuals, groups or nations to violate them. The covenants and conventions on human rights stand as evidence that today such rights are a matter of world concern. No nation can be altogether unaffected by the force of world public opinion concerning its treatment or mistreatment of human beings. Indeed, the vehemence with which some national governments occasionally defend their behavior in this regard is itself an indication, however negative, that governments are finding themselves in a position of answerability to the global human community. In its statement, "World Community', the Lutheran Church in America declared that “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, together with the Conventions related to is another sign of movement toward global civil order. Growing out of the general revulsion to the massive violation of human dignity during World War II, the Declaration bears witness to the fact that the rights of men and women-civil, political, economic, and social--are no longer the exclusive concern of particular nation-states. Even though national governments retain legal sway over individual persons, they have become, to varying degrees, sensitive to the judgments of world public opinion regarding their treatment of their citizens.”

Even if the Human Rights Covenants are considered to have little domestic impact as to the rights of Americans, we still believe that the covenants should be ratified. This is because of the dramatic international impact U.S. ratification will have on the credibility of the Covenants and of human rights in general. In the first place, it is the declared policy of the United States government to support human rights throughout the world. This policy must be considered somewhat hypocritical by those abroad when they consider that the United States has not yet ratified the Covenants, the internationally-recognized legal statements of what human rights are. Further, ratification of the Convenants by the United States will enable the U.S. to participate in the international enforcement mechanisms set up under the Covenants, thus giving the U.S. another international forum within which to exercise and implement its national foreign policy of support for human rights. Ratification of the Covenants will also give the United States government more credible standing to make representations on a bilateral basis to governments accused of violating human rights. Lastly, U.S. ratification will add to the prestige and the moral strength of the covenants in that the covenants will then count among their signatories that nation which from the time of its founding has set itself forth as the land of the free, the cradle of liberty.

In the words of the American Lutheran Church's 1967 Statement on U.S. Ratification of Human Rights Covenants:

It is fitting that the United States should exercise moral leaderships in promoting the respect for and observance of human rights both in it domestic life and in the development of international law

Christians, in keeping with their understanding of man as a person created in the image of God, have a special responsibility to foster the recognition of human dignity, responsibility, and free choice in the structures of

society To provide moral leadership and in recognition of the human dignity of all persons, we call upon this Committee and the Senate to consent to ratification of the Human Rights Covenants and thereby contribute to increased respect for and observance of human rights in our nation and throughout the world.

SOME COMMENTS CONCERNING RESERVATIONS TO THE COVENANTS We have had before us, as you have, the proposed reservations to the Covenants prepared by the U.S. Department of State. Some of the suggested reservations are

2 Since its organization in 1962, the Lutheran Church in America has on many occasions articulated its concerns for human rights. Notable are its policy statements : Race Relations (1964), Church and State: A Lutheran Perspective (1966). Religious Liberty in the United States (1968), World Community (1970), and Human Rights (1978).

shocking to many members of our churches. For example, under these proposed reservations, the United States would, in the context of an international treaty, reserve the right to execute pregnant women. It is indeed unfortunate that such a brutal statement has to be made outright as a confession that such conditions exist in the United States.

Because of our concerns over certain provisions of the proposed reservations, Lutheran World Ministries convened a committee of lawyers to examine the covenants and the proposed reservations. The conclusion of that committee of lawyers was one of sympathy with the motivation of the State Department's legal advisers that ratification of the covenants should not be used as a backdoor way in which one house of Congress could change certain provisions of domestic law and practice through nontraditional means of treaty ratification. Our view is that the specific issues brought forth in the reservations are completely overshadowed by the importance of ratifying the covenants themselves.

We therefore recommend that the Senate not get bogged down in detailed debate over each specific of the proposed reservations. Rather, we would advocate a course by which the covenants are speedily ratified. Then, those who object to provisions of domestic law which are reflected in the reservations will have the tool of the Human Rights Covenants to change, by traditional, domestic political means, those provisions of domestic law which they find objectionable and which would seem to be in conflict with the covenants. As such changes are made in domestic law, hopefully many reservations would become obsolete.

We would offer these three principles as guides to be kept in mind as the reservations are considered:

(a) The reservations should be of such a character as not to hinder U.S. participation in the international enforcement mechanisms.

(b) The reservations should be stated in as simple a way as possible and should not make U.S. ratification a mockery of the treaties.

(c) We are in sympathy with the motivation of the State Department that the reservations should be stated in such a way as not to change provisions of domestic law by the nontraditional means of ratification of an international treaty document by one house of the Congress.

We are also aware that it is often suggested that U.S. ratification of the Human Rights Covenants might in some way jeopardize individual and group rights guaranteed by our Constitution. This suggestion ignores the reality that international human rights agreements cannot diminish the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Our constitutional system allows modification of constitutionally guaranteed rights only through the process of constitutional amendinent or interpretation by the Supreme Court. Thus we contend that the individual and group rights guaranteed by our Constitution cannot be adversely affected by these Covenants which may add to but not detract from the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.


The Lutheran Church in America's Statement on Human Rights reads in part:

As God's liberated people, we are free to advocate the rights of persons without fear or favor. We have a special duty to be skeptical and vigilant about the exercise of power by governments and institutions and to be humble and self-critical about our own interests and attitudes.

When temporal authority performs its legitimate function of securing human rights, we can thankfully support it; when it does not, we can just as freely work for its reform or replacement, and if need be, disobey or resist it, accepting the consequences of such action. We see the International Human Rights Covenants as a very important step toward the world-wide enforcement and observance of human rights and human dignity. We thankfully support the Administration's action in signing the Human Rights Covenants on behalf of the United States. We strongly urge the Senate to complete the process of U.S. adherence to the Human Rights Covenants by consenting to ratification of the Covenants.

Thank you for this opportunity to share our views with you today.



COVENANTS Whereas December 10, 1978, marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations; and

Whereas the United Nations International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights strive to guarantee the rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration; and

Whereas more than 50 nations have ratified these Covenants, and President Carter has asked the U.S. Senate to approve them; and

Whereas we are daily reminded that people suffer because their human rights are unfulfilled or violated throughout the world as well as in the United States; and

Whereas our religious faith calls us to affirm the dignity and worth of every human being and to struggle for justice for oppressed people everywhere;

Therefore now we

Call upon all members of the religious community, our nation, and our leaders to observe Human Rights Week, December 10-17, 1978, as an occasion to renew our national commitment to the advancement of human rights; and

Urge the President of the United States to declare December 10, 1978 as Human Rights Day and December 10-17, 1978, as Human Rights Week throughout the United States; and

Commend the President for submitting the Covenants to the U.S. Senate on February 23, 1978; and

Urge our churches, synagogues and religious and other organizations to initiate a coordinated efïort to inform the American public about and acquire favorable public support for these human rights covenants.

General Secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ U.S.A.

Executive Vice President, Synagogue Council of America.

Most Reverend Thomas C. KELLY, O.P.,
General Secretary, United States Catholic Conference.



Senator ZORINSKY. I would like to ask Mr. Deffenbaugh a question as he has legal experience.

The committee was told on Wednesday by the Legal Counsel of the Justice Department that these treaties will not change U.S. law at all.

How does the ratification of these treaties enhance the attainment of human rights in the United States?

Mr. DEFFENBAUGH. Our churches and many members of our churches are shocked by some of the provisions in the reservations. For example, it is shocking that the United States has to confess that it is reserving the right to execute pregnant women.

On the other hand, however, our lawyers, our committee, and our church members are concerned that the Senate not go about changing provisions of domestic law by nontraditional means. For example, we had a committee of lawyers that looked into some of these reservations, and one of the people from South Dakota said that in his county the county prison had jailed juveniles and adults together for a while. This treaty, without a reservation, would prohibit that. Yet he was sure the South Dakota Legislature would not appreciate the U.S. Senate ratifying a treaty and the Federal Government coming into the State telling them how to run their prisons.

We think that the import of the treaties, if they are ratified by the Senate, would be to set up a standard for behavior with which people who oppose certain practices in domestic law can work to change those practices by our traditional domestic political processes. They think that would strengthen them in their political battle.

Senator ZORINSKY. In other words, you are indicating that the assumption may be correct that ratification of the treaties would not

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