Adventist Church to mark International Religious Freedom Day October 27

Adventist Church to mark International Religious Freedom Day October 27

Protestant denomination has long promoted freedom of conscience

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders and others who support religious liberty will participate in marking Monday, October 27 as International Religious Freedom Day (IRFD).

 John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director, says the Adventist Church has promoted religious freedom since 1889. Here, he speaks at the Religious Liberty Dinner in Washington, D.C. in April. [ANN file photo]


John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director, says the Adventist Church has promoted religious freedom since 1889. Here, he speaks at the Religious Liberty Dinner in Washington, D.C. in April. [ANN file photo]

The Adventist Church has promoted religious freedom since its founding and continues to highlight the freedom of conscience.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long and great history promoting religious freedom,” said John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Church.

Graz said Adventist leaders in 1889 chartered the National Religious Liberty Association, which today is the International Religious Liberty Association, the world’s largest forum solely dedicated to religious liberty. The Adventist Church remains a key sponsor of the organization.

IRFD is marked on October 27, the day the U.S. Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998. Though it’s American in origin, Church leaders say it’s a time for all governments, leaders and citizens to spotlight the freedom enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 18 states that “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.”
 
Dwayne Leslie, the Adventist Church’s Legislative Affairs director, said underscoring religious freedom is about “human dignity” and understanding that everyone has an “inherent right to believe or not believe” according to their conscience.  

“As Seventh-day Adventists, we often find ourselves in the religious minority, but we have always recognized the importance to defend this right, not just for us, but also for individuals with whom the Church had little else in common,” Leslie said.

Leslie said 75 percent of the world’s population live under a form of restriction on religion.

“This annual day of emphasis, and accompanying Presidential proclamation, help keep this important issue in the public’s focus,” Leslie said.

Church leaders regularly travel to participate in various ceremonies and programs to promote religious freedom. The Church also hosts think tanks, forums, large-scale public meetings and produces the TV show Global Faith & Freedom on Hope Channel to promote the issue.

For more information, visit the website IRLA.org or Twitter handle @IRLA_USA.