Social and Environmental Justice
Commission on Social & Environmental Justice
The Commission on Social and Environmental Justice engages in research and discussion on situations marked by injustice. It suggests ways in which the BWA and its member bodies may improve their environmental and social stewardship of God's Kingdom.
Annual Gathering 2013
Commission chairs will be contacting their commissions shortly to begin planning for the upcoming Annual Gathering in Ocho Rios, Jamaica from July 1-6, 2012; focusing on the theme of In Step with the Spirit: Liberation.
The Commission on Religious Freedom met from July 2-6, 2012, in Santiago, Chile, featuring sessions on Gender Justice – Domestic Violence; Environmental Justice; and Migration.
- This commission held sessions on three important subjects: domestic violence, creation care, and migration. It also heard a firsthand account of the maladies of the Pinochet Era in Chile. According to this report, between 1973 and 1990, 40,000 people were jailed in Chile, most of which experienced tortured. 112 children were born in prison, 250,000 people were exiled, and 120,000 lost their jobs. What is the value of talking about this pain? The answer coming from one of the victims of the regime was: We have to remember it. We learn from remembering. When we hear of oppression, we learn to value those who put their lives on the line of danger to defend and promote the basic rights of others. It is a learning experience to see that the Word of God is not just “words.” It is sinful not to make an effort to transform an unjust situation. In the same lines, another discussion challenged Baptist communities to address the issues of violence and abuse in the home. “We must challenge the suffering that too many have been taught to endure within the family, or we risk supporting the message that God condones abuse.”
- An entire session was dedicated to reflect on environmental issues. A presentation highlighted environmental problems in Chile, and a report on the Baptist participation in the Rio+20 Conference was offered (Rio+20 Brief)
- The Commission also drafted a resolution proposal on the topic, which was passed by the General Council. A theological reflection on the relational character of God as Trinity was offered as a basis for ecological renewal. Finally, this commission addressed the important issue of migration, offering analyses of the cause and effect of migration and discussing the role of the churches in relation to that. Whereas xenophobia or a phobic anxiety against “outsiders” is perceived as a serious social dilemma affecting migrants, and has resulted in chaotic conditions for them, the Divine command to care for the stranger was presented as the matrix of an ethics of hospitality in the Bible. The issue of migration has become a crucial problem for the globalized world, due to the intensification of global inequalities. Christian churches are urged to address this issue from a perspective which privileges the plight and afflictions of the most vulnerable.
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