Human Dignity: 500 Years of Protestant Contributions to Human Rights
Protestantism, Human rights, Reformation, Universal priesthood
When Martin Luther King, Jr., marched on Selma, wrote a defense of civil disobedience from a jail in Birmingham, and proclaimed his dream of racial equality on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, was he acting in any meaningful way in the tradition of his namesake, the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer Martin Luther? Or were the connections to the unfolding stream of Protestant history merely historical accident or coincidence? Were their protests connected to each other by more than simply the universal human resolve to stand for conviction and truth?
To ask the question more broadly, did the Protestant Reformation play any positive role in the development of human rights in the West? Or did systems of human rights develop apart from, and perhaps even, as some would argue, in opposition to, the influences of Protestantism? The 500th anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 theses in 1517 is an opportune time to reflect on these questions.
Miller, Nicholas Patrick, "Human Dignity: 500 Years of Protestant Contributions to Human Rights" (2017). Faculty Publications. 518.