The La­bor Move­ment and Ad­ven­tist’s Re­spond

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The la­bor move­ment is one of the main com­po­nents of civil so­ci­ety in most in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries. Ad­ven­tist per­cep­tions of the la­bor move­ment have changed over time. At first, Ad­ven­tist saw the la­bor move­ment as con­nected with Euro­pean

im­mi­grants to the United States, “which in­cluded many Catholics who brought their ideas with them and fur­nished much of the vi­tal­ity of the la­bor move­ment on the west

side of the At­lantic.” 156 Thus, the la­bor move­ment was iden­ti­fied with Catholic

in­mi­grants. Gen­er­ally, most Protes­tant groups viewed “the United States as the world’s model of lais­sez-faire phi­los­o­phy that em­bod­ied free­dom of con­science and re­li­gious ac­tiv­ity. How­ever, some feared that vi­o­lent strikes would in­cite in­ter­ven­tion by the state which could pro­duce a mil­i­tary state that would re­move in­di­vid­ual rights. To

The words of the prophet Isa­iah en­cour­age be­liev­ers to seek jus­tice and re­sist evil or in­jus­tice: “Learn to do good; seek jus­tice, re­prove the ruth­less, de­fend the or­phan, plead for the widow” (Isa 1:17).

Any con­sti­tu­tion, Aris­to­tle ar­gued, “should be ad­justed to the na­ture and the needs of the mem­bers of the par­tic­u­lar group. There­fore, a good con­sti­tu­tion must

rec­og­nize these nat­u­ral in­equal­i­ties and con­fer rights ac­cord­ingly.”174 It fol­lows that as­pects eco­nomic im­bal­ance, power im­bal­ance, and re­source im­bal­ance should be con­sid­ered. Such in­equal­i­ties would be a spe­cial fo­cus of the state’s con­sti­tu­tion.

In the case of Myan­mar, where there has been no con­sti­tu­tion since 1988, rule is by de­cree and or­der. The mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment threat­ens its own peo­ple as if they were en­e­mies and slaves. So it can never solve in­equal­i­ties in the coun­try.175

Although Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary junta drafted a new con­sti­tu­tion in 2008, it was de­sign to serve it’s own in­ter­est. The Mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment has failed pro­tect the ba­sic hu­man right of re­li­gious free­dom, along with other rights of eth­nic mi­nori­ties. Thus there is ev­i­dent a lack of bal­ances in meet­ing the peo­ple’s needs; power and eco­nomic pros­per­i­ties are not dis­trib­uted fairly.

As an ex­am­ple, in the newly drafted con­sti­tu­tion, he su­pe­ri­or­ity of the Bud­dhist re­li­gion is stated. This kind of re­li­gious im­bal­ance and re­stric­tion to other re­li­gions made it dif­fi­cult for Chris­tians to en­joy wor­ship ser­vices in their own lan­guages and cul­tural con­texts.

Com­pared to Myan­mar’s na­tional law, in­ter­na­tional law would be ap­pear to bet­ter able to find a so­lu­tion to the cur­rent cri­sis. Ar­ti­cle 27 of the In­ter­na­tional

Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights (ICCPR) states, “in those States in which eth­nic, re­li­gious or lin­guis­tic mi­nori­ties ex­ist per­sons be­long­ing to such mi­nori­ties shall not be de­nied the right, in com­mu­nity with the other mem­bers of their group, to en­joy their own cul­ture, to pro­fess and prac­tice their own re­li­gion, or to use their own

lan­guage.”176

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