A Child's Right to a Healthy Environment

Volume 1 of the series The Loyola University Symposium on the Human Rights of Children pp 3-30


“To Such as These, the Kingdom of Heaven Belongs”: Religious Faith as a Foundation for Children’s Rights

  • Gary B. MeltonAffiliated withInstitute on Family and Neighborhood Life, Clemson University, University Center Email author 

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When the topic of religion enters discourse on children’s rights, all too often it is to lament the influence of certain religions on the status and well-being of children. At worst, there is concern that participation in religious life may directly place children at risk of harm. As is well known to the general public, some religious denominations have accrued huge liabilities as a result of sexual abuse of children by clergy and others in religious occupations (Associated Press, 2005). At the time of the symposium from which this book developed, cable news cameras were focused nearly around the clock on the compound of a polygamist sect in Texas from which hundreds of children were placed in emergency custody of the state. The Texas case was a variation on long-standing concerns about religious communities with unconventional sexual mores and child-rearing practices (Lilliston, 1997) or even satanic rituals (Goodman et al., 1997).