Symposia, public events, and meetings help to increase public awareness.
A packed agenda of events and high-level visits marked Religious Freedom Week in the Brazilian city of São Paulo, May 24-27, 2019. Celebrations were coordinated by Adventist member and State Representative Damaris Moura, an attorney and long-time religious freedom advocate in the country. She helped organize the week of events in partnership with the Brazilian Association of Religious Freedom and Citizenship (ABLIRC).
A special guest for the celebrations was Adventist Church Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director Ganoune Diop, who also serves as secretary general of the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA).
Events held around the city brought together religious leaders, civil authorities, government officials, political representatives, and human rights associations. The purpose of the celebrations, according to organizers, was to “promote wide public respect for different beliefs in the face of the many tragedies and massacres that have occurred in the name of religion.” Several symposia focused on the foundational role played by religious freedom in society and the challenges of religious intolerance.
Religious Liberty in Brazil
By law, the practice of discrimination or prejudice against religions has been a crime in Brazil since 1995. Statistics from the Ministry of Human Rights show, however, that nationwide, an incidence of religious intolerance occurs every 15 hours. Adherents of religions of African origin are among the main targets. The State of São Paulo has the highest percentage of occurrences, leaders said.
This reality prompted Moura, founder of the Religious Freedom Commission at the Brazilian Attorney’s Order, to propose the creation of Religious Freedom Week.
- Adventist Church member and State Representative Damaris Moura (left), who coordinated activities of the Religious Freedom Week in São Paulo, Brazil, May 24-27, 2019. [Photo: Danúbia França, South American Division News]