by Jim Ray
You probably think about the United Nations – if you think about it at all – as a colossal international bureaucracy that is occasionally effective, more frequently feckless. On the whole, it is an organization that may seem irrelevant to your everyday life.
But you might be surprised to learn that, according to some observers, the UN is poised to hijack your parental rights.
Like many government intrusions, this power play comes via a treaty which on its face seems to have very little to do with parenting: the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). But numerous religious and advocacy groups are warning that the measure will “fundamentally alter the parent-child relationship,” and some politicians are belatedly awakening to the danger.
The United Nations in New York City has long provided a forum for infamous tyrants and pipsqueak dictators to voice their causes. Nikita Khrushchev was said to have pounded his shoe on his delegate desk at a 1960 meeting of the General Assembly. Venezuela’s buffoonish leader Hugo Chavez used the UN in 2006 to claim that President Bush was the devil and smelled of sulfur, and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lectured the “imperialist” U.S. during his recent controversial visit.
But the United Nations also works to advance human rights, as they define it, and the CRPD is an overreaching document that could have far-reaching implications for parents who believe that the Bible, not government, provides the authority and guidance for parenting.
President Obama signed the CRPD in 2009 and it is now before the U.S. Senate, where it requires a two-thirds majority for ratification. Thanks to a quickly-organized calling campaign by several organizations, including the Home School Legal Defense Association, voting has been delayed.
In short, the treaty is supposed to protect children with disabilities around the world, certainly a noble objective. However, provisions of the document allow the government, not the parent, to decide what’s in the “best interests” of a disabled child. Under the “Supremacy Clause” of the U.S. Constitution, treaties made under the authority of the United States government are the “supreme law of the land.” In other words, the terms of the treaty would effectively override any state or federal laws not specifically addressed in the Constitution. And unlike laws crafted in Washington, treaties cannot be undone simply by replacing politicians.
Opponents argue that the U.S. already has many laws protecting the disabled, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that the CRPD would represent a loss of sovereignty and an attack on parental rights. Moreover, the treaty makes reference to the right of “reproductive freedom,” which is commonly used as a euphemism for abortion, and the UN has previously expressly prohibited corporal punishment.
President Obama’s position is clear given that he has already signed the treaty. Several Republicans, including Senator John McCain, are also supporting it. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposes the treaty. “I believe that the best safeguard for the well-being and protection of children is the family,” Romney wrote, “and that the primary safeguards for the legal rights of children in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the states.”
Similarly, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that the “CRPD would usurp the rights and powers of parents here in the United States to do what is best for their special needs child by placing the law of the UN above the rights of the parents. It is the job of our elected representatives to preserve these rights, not hand them off to unaccountable international bureaucrats.”
The Psalmist wrote that “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) and Scripture is clear that raising a child is the duty, responsibility and privilege of the mother and father. You should prayerfully consider the CRPD and what it may mean for the future of parental rights. If you believe, like many Christians, that it poses a threat, you should act quickly to contact your senators to voice your objection to its ratification.
Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.