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On why Christians were interested in human rights (II)

Summary

Samuel Moyn discerns, in the Christian embrace of human rights, both self-interest and interest in the common good.

Summary

Samuel Moyn discerns, in the Christian embrace of human rights, both self-interest and interest in the common good.

Transcript

There’s some pluralism in every politics because people are going to want to allow room for manoeuvre within their commitments, and that’s certainly true of Christians all the way back.

So Christians have learned what happens when the state violates their rights. The popes in the 1920s and ’30s had made agreements with Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and seen those secular dictators trample the agreements.

And so Christians who embrace human rights in the ’40s want to do so in ways that apply across the board. It’s not just religious freedom for Christians, but for all peoples. They embrace them non-cynically. But I think it was for the sake of a Christian society, and so we have to keep that in mind, too.