Religion and Child Rights in the United States

Georgetown University Collaborative on Global Children's Issues

Religion and Child Rights in the United States


Time: 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT


Religions worldwide emphasize the sanctity of the family and advocate strongly for children’s access to essential needs like food, health, shelter, education, and community support. These principles establish faith communities as leading advocates for children’s well-being around the world.

On closer examination, however, religious communities are at times divided internally and from one another on issues related to the rights of and responsibilities toward children and the dynamic interplay between parents and states in ensuring their protection and care. Some members of faith communities emphasize the rights of parents over children. Others place more emphasis on child autonomy and participation. This divergence often contributes to polarized policy debates that pit “child rights” against “parental rights,” raising questions about what “family values” mean in the real lives of children and caregivers. We see this in U.S. politics, for example, and at the UN. Notably, the United States remains the only country not to have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)—the most widely-recognized human rights treaty in the world—primarily due to opposition from certain religious groups.

This webinar aims to create space for reflection on how child rights, parental rights, and family values intersect within faith communities and in public discourse. 


Rabbi Diana Gerson

Associate Executive Vice President, New York Board of Rabbis

Azza Karam

Secretary General Emerita, Religions for Peace International

Jedd Medefind

President, Christian Alliance for Orphans

Michael J. Nyenhuis


Rebeca Rios-Kohn

Executive Director, Arigatou International New York

Stephen Hanmer D’Elía (moderator)

Research Fellow, Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues

This event is part of the Culture of Encounter Project's international, interfaith working group on child rights and convened by the Collaborative on Global Children's Issues and Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.