OTTO FREDERICK NOLDE

“[Churches] must cultivate in our people the moral restraints which will keep military strength under control and indicate the direction to be followed in order that strength may contribute to peace.”

OTTO FREDERICK NOLDE

Otto Frederick Nolde was a pioneer for human rights. Nolde was an influential activist, and he even helped draft the freedom of religion section for the United Nation’s (UN) Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Nolde was also a professor for Christian Education and a Dean for the Graduate School at Lutheran Theological Seminary. 

 

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) was one of thousands of organizations that worked with the UN from its formative stages. In the 1940s, the UN formed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nolde was one of the members that worked with LWF and partnered with others in the UN to draft the Declaration. Along with Eleanor Roosevelt, Nolde collaborated in drafting Article 18 regarding the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The Declaration emphasizes that all human beings are born with free and equal rights. 

 

Nolde was one of the leading nongovernmental voices in human rights. Nolde boldly lobbied for ecumenical (Christian church) goals at the UN. Nolde was a leader of the World Council of Churches (WCC), another organization that was founded to unify the church and Christian resources. Through the WCC, Nolde advocated for drafting a declaration of human rights and creation of a human rights commission.

CENTERED ON CHRIST

Nolde pursued peace throughout his life because of his Christian faith. He once stated, “[Churches] must cultivate in our people the moral restraints which will keep military strength under control and indicate the direction to be followed in order that strength may contribute to peace.”

 

Article 18 of the Declaration of Human Rights, which Nolde helped draft, states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

 

Nolde's faith motivated him to fight for basic human rights for all people. He sought peace and unity in his life and fought for others to experience it as well.

Nolde and Eleanor Roosevelt

Nolde and Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt sought counsel from Otto Frederick Nolde Photo: Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia

Nolde and JFK

Nolde and JFK

President John F. Kennedy visits with delegates from the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

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