The 73rd UN General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution A/RES/73/329 declaring April 5th the International Day of Conscience. The resolution, sponsored by the Kingdom of Bahrain, called on members states of the United Nations to build a “Culture of Peace with Love and Conscience.” The resolution was inspired by Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
International Day of Conscience recognizes the importance of people of conscience, from all nations and societies, working together to secure a culture of peace based upon “a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors inspired by the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, human rights, tolerance, and solidarity.”
Since its founding, the United States has recognized the importance of people of conscience and the contributions of faith communities in American public life. People often quote John Adams, one of the foremost Founding Fathers of the United States, who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
American history reveals that significant periods of spiritual renewal – across faiths – have often been followed by transformative social and economic development. These developments have gone on to improve countless lives and have even inspired global change.
Recognizing the vital role of people of faith and conscience, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon has long worked to bring together spiritual leaders to lead in an awakening towards a shared dream of peace. “Engaging, organizing and mobilizing people of faith and conscience in grassroots initiatives that put our principles into action is a timely and essential undertaking,” he said in 2012, at an inter-religious conference held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Moon encouraged the building of “a dynamic civic square” with people from all the different faith communities. He emphasized that engagement should be based on a consensus around shared, spiritual values, and a “robust and diverse expression of religious freedom”. It was the combination of these things that would create “a rich environment for the fruits of liberty to flourish”, as it had so often happened throughout American history.
It was also then that Dr. Moon called on leaders from different faiths and backgrounds to come together to renew America in its promise:
“America is to be a place where people of all races and backgrounds can discover the deeper basis of human value that under God all have been endowed equally with the same essential rights. America is meant to be a living demonstration that all people of the world are to be one family under God.”
His words remain relevant for a world filled with division. Today, faith leaders can transcend differences and come together based on a shared vision of peace so that blessings can be shared not just in one nation, but with all the brother and sister nations around the world.
On this day celebrating the International Day of Conscience, let us, as people of faith and conscience, lead in the renewal of our nation, whether it be the United States or any other. In doing so, we become those that can usher in a world of peace and prosperity for all.
Read the full text of Dr. Moon’s speech at the Atlanta Conference here.