Summer School on Human Rights: Churches address anti-discrimination

25 May, 2015

Press Release No: 15/24
29 May 2015

Stand up against discrimination!

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

The Summer School on Human Rights took place from 25 to 29 May in Hagaberg, Sweden. The project was organised by the Conference of European Churches in collaboration with hosts Church of Sweden and Uniting Church in Sweden.

About 40 participants and prominent lecturers gathered to discuss discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, race, sex and other grounds.  Theological approaches to these challenges grounded in scripture were central to their work.

Participants gained basic knowledge on anti-discrimination legislation from European Union, Council of Europe, and United Nations perspectives. Notable presentations included one from Morten Kjaerum from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, who focused on hate crimes and their under-reporting.

Of the many aspects of discrimination raised by participants, stop and search stood out. For minority groups this practice is often disproportionate and illegitimate.

Participants enjoyed a number of local visits that enhanced their understanding of human rights work in the Swedish context. These included a trip to Södertälje townhall to learn more about anti-discrimination and democracy from local representatives. They also attended a Theatre of Oppressed focusing on discrimination against women. Time at Immanuel Church in Stockholm included a presentation on discrimination and Islamophobia from the office of the ombudsman for equality.

Another experience of note was a visit to the Living History Forum in Stockholm to take in the exhibit “We are Roma People” led by Mia Taikon, educator at the forum. She stressed that Roma people still suffer from misconceptions and much community-based work is required to overcome this problem.

The informative program prompted the theologians and human rights advocates present to express renewed commitment to working on anti-discrimination in their home contexts.

Human rights has enjoyed a long history within the ecumenical movement. At the regional, national, and international level ecumenical bodies including the Conference of European Churches have worked toward ending discrimination and building inclusive communities. Efforts like the Summer School for Human Rights are instrumental for this work.

For more information or an interview, please contact:

Erin Green
Communication Coordinator
Conference of European Churches

Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13
Twitter: @ceceurope

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.
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