Payday loansPayday Loans

Recent News

  • Myanmar Politician Preparing to Seek Legal Limits on Interfaith, Interethnic Marriage

  • Call for Religious Leaders to Teach Acceptance in Malaysia

  • Attacks on religion, liberty

  • Can Muslim lands learn to tolerate Christianity?

  • China vents anger over Dalai Lama's planned Norway visit

  • Militia attack Muslims in Central African Republic's capital

  • Egypt’s new charter stronger on personal freedoms

  • Pussy Riot members freed from prison

  • Frank Wolf, champion of religious freedom, will end congressional career

  • A Political Deal in a Deeply Divided Tunisia as Islamists Agree to Yield Power

  • Egyptian Christians Bridle at Prison Terms for Copts Only in Fatal Clash

  • The Central African Republic descending into ‘complete chaos’

  • French burqa ban challenged in top European court

  • Sharia in Sudan v. women and religious freedom

  • China aims to harness religious beliefs to promote harmony

  • Afghanistan Considers Reinstating Public Stoning for Adultery

  • Sunnis Close Baghdad Mosques to Challenge Religious Attacks

  • Modi campaign stirs religious divide in India's heartland

  • Aung San Suu Kyi, and Myanmar, faces an uncertain future

  • Syrian Christians flee persecution as Patriarch urges them to stay in war-torn country

  • Central African Republic on the verge of genocide, France warns UN

  • Myanmar rejects U.N. resolution on Rohingya Muslims

  • How the State Department Is Getting Religion

  • UN to Myanmar: Make Rohingya Muslims citizens

  • Our Failed Religious Freedom Policy

  • Turkey drops a screen over Christianity

  • Opinion: The oppression of Bahais continues in Iran

  • TAJIKISTAN: "The Law demands that all religious literature be checked by the State"

  • Sudan’s Enduring Question: The Role of Shari'ah in the Constitution and Law

  • The Role of the Hijab Is Becoming a National Problem for Russia

  • For Indian Christian leader, Narendra Modi is a threat to religious freedom

  • Commentary: The two faces of India

  • With 'loving kindness', Myanmar frees 69 political prisoners

  • New U.N. Rights Council Members Are Elected

  • Turkish court lifts headscarf ban for attorneys

  • Egypt's Christians close ranks as kidnappings spike

  • Hundreds of Buddhists in Myanmar protest Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s upcoming visit

  • Frank Wolf Renews Calls for Release of U.S. Pastor from Iranian Prison

  • Many Sunnis and Shias Worry About Religious Conflict

  • China paper blames blind faith of “uncultured” Uighur youth for Xinjiang unrest

  • Turkey's Alevis protest for greater freedoms

  • KAZAKHSTAN: "He was told not to sell religious literature"

  • Myanmar violence between Buddhists, Muslims threatens reforms

  • UZBEKISTAN: Baptist camp ordered seized, Protestant pressured to inform

  • Tibetans Call China’s Policies at Tourist Spot Tacit but Stifling

  • Violence against Muslims threatening Myanmar reforms: U.N. envoy

  • Putin says unnamed foreign foes use radical Islam to weaken Russia

  • Malaysia’s curbs on use of the term ‘Allah’ hurting its moderate Muslim image

  • Vietnamese Court Orders Two Parishioners of Vinh Diocese Jailed

  • Opinion:State Department stays mute on persecuted religious minorities worldwide

  • Turkey, Religious Freedom and the Current State of Christian-Muslim Dialogue (1895)

  • In Nigeria, Wedlock Seen as Terror Fix

  • Northern Iraq no longer safe for Christians

  • Clerics call on UN military force to secure Central African Republic

  • EU condemns Egypt church violence, urges end to religion-based attacks

  • Young Turkish Jews emigrating due to anti-Semitism, tensions with Israel

  • Egypt orders trial of four policemen over killing of Islamist detainees

  • Passion of Pakistani Sufis infuriates Taliban

  • Egyptian writer may face jail for accusations of defaming religion

  • UN expert hails “key breakthrough for religious freedom reached in Cyprus”

  • Kenneth Bae's mother tells of heartbreak after seeing, leaving imprisoned son

  • Conviction of Christians for Murder of Hindu Leader in India Biased, Unfounded, Attorneys Say

  • Opera Fights Hungary’s Rising Anti-Semitism

  • Buddhists and Christians denounce Hanoi for using law to control religions

  • ARMENIA: "Imprisoned conscientious objectors should be immediately and unconditionally released"

  • Bombs planted in confessional box of Syrian church

  • French court upholds Scientology fraud conviction

  • Suzan Johnson Cook to resign as religious freedom ambassador

  • BELARUS: Why is Catholic priest still detained by KGB secret police?

  • Q&A: What Court Decision on Use of ‘Allah’ Means for Malaysia

  • The Surprising Story Of 'Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an'

  • Religious tension runs deep for Vietnam’s minorities

  • Malala Yousafzai wins EU's Sakharov human rights prize

  • Religious liberty takes center stage in diplomacy with Iran

  • Turban row: Sikh NGO wins case against France at UN

  • Vietnam Lets Churches Thrive, but Keeps Control

  • KAZAKHSTAN: Pastor to be transferred from prison to house arrest

  • Kenya Salvation Army Church Torched; Four Killed

  • Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng gets U.S. platform to promote human rights

  • Orthodox leader calls for end Christians' persecution

  • Jewish groups slam Council of Europe Assembly resolution on circumcision

  • Opinion: Quebec’s coup d’etat against religious freedom

  • Small town, big impact: Supreme Court case could define religion’s role in public

  • European council passes anti-ritual circumcision resolution

  • Council of Muftis complain to U.S. reps about disrespect for Muslims in Russia

  • Woman, 94, killed as Buddhist rioters attack Muslim villages in western Myanmar

  • RUSSIA: What's wrong with "extremist" Koran translation?

  • Persecution against Christians increases in many parts of the world

  • How Promotion of Religious Freedom Can Help Prevent Extreme Violence

  • RUSSIA: Muslims rush to challenge Koran "extremism" ruling

  • Judge Ordered Sikh to Remove 'That Rag' from Head, Says ACLU

  • Donate by Paypal or Credit Card

    Solution Graphics

    Click Amazon to Help ICRF

    amzn-ba100x70.gif (2357 bytes)

    Help ICRF with your donation

    Follow ICRF on Twitter

    Twitter Image

    Like Us on Facebook

    Facebook Image
    Brazil Religious Freedom Meeting Finds Common Ground for ‘New Millennium’ PDF Print E-mail


    Brazil Religious Freedom Meeting Finds Common Ground for ‘New Millennium’

    The crowning achievement for the International Coalition for Religious Freedom (ICRF) in 1998 came at its Sao Paulo conference, entitled "Religious Freedom in Latin America and the New Millennium." The conference brought together more than 120 scholars, human rights activists, religious leaders and legal experts from 33 countries at Sao Paulo’s prestigious Sheraton Moferrej Hotel, October 10-12.

    The Sao Paulo conference came on the foundation of three earlier conferences in 1988, also dealing with "Religious Freedom and the New Millennium," in Washington DC, Tokyo and Berlin. Speakers at these conferences included such figures as Nobel laureate and former president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias, National Association of Evangelicals president Don Argue, Freedom House president Adrian Karatnycky, and former prime minister of Ireland, Albert Reynolds.

    The Sao Paulo meeting was characterized by a spirit of openness and cooperation between North and South American delegates, as well as an attitude of mutual respect between Protestants and Catholics, and between Christian and non-Christian participants. Organizers were particularly pleased by the participation of noted representatives of the Catholic Church in Latin America, notably Fr. Carlos Mario Alzate, Director of the Ecumenical Department of the Episcopal Council of Colombia, and Dr. Lina Boff, Professor of Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University at Rio De Janeiro.

    From a practical standpoint, the Sao Paulo conference presented difficult challenges. Not only was it organized in a record short time of less than three weeks, but conference staff faced a serious problem in securing visas for participants. The Brazilian embassy in the US and other countries at first declined to issue any visas for the conference, claiming that the ICRF, because of its open and proud association with the Unification Church and the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, was suspect. Among those who stood to be turned down under this policy were the head of a prestigious human rights organizations and a former US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere.

    After several tense days of negotiations and communications between Brazilia and Washington, DC, the Embassy’s original policy was reversed and visas were finally issued for all participants. Several delegates commented that their trouble obtaining a visa helped them appreciate the fact that freedom of speech and religion cannot be taken for granted, even in a relatively open society such as Brazil’s.

    Previous ICRF conferences also had to overcome obstacles of prejudice. During the Washington DC conference, an associate of a delegate from Venezuela was held overnight by police and closely questioned concerning the conference’s schedule, speakers, funding and purpose. At the Tokyo conference, Russian delegates could not obtain visas to enter Japan. A week later, at the Berlin conference, hotel officials, under pressure from opponents of new religions, attempted unsuccessfully to persuade conference organizers to cancel its optional interfaith service and drop one of its featured speakers. Thankfully, none of these problems, with the exception of the Russian delegates’ inability to attend in Tokyo, seriously affected the conferences’ accomplishments.

    As if on cue on October 9, the day before the Sao Paulo conference, the US Senate unanimously passed the "International Religious Freedom Act" requiring the US government to impose sanctions on those countries that engage in violations of religious freedom.

    At the opening banquet on Saturday Evening, delegates were welcomed to Brazil by Mr. Marco Polo del Nero, a well known attorney and head of the Brazilian Federation of Soccer Referees. Mr. Jose Maria Eymael, head of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party and a recent candidate for President of Brazil, also greeted the participants. The keynote address was given by Dr. Paul Muller, Chancellor Emeritus of the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica, who inspired the audience with a vision of religious freedom as the foundation for world peace and unity in the new millennium.

    Sunday morning began with an optional interfaith worship service, followed by breakfast and a morning plenary session. Featured speakers were Mr. Dong Moon Joo of the Washington Times Foundation, who spoke on "Religious Freedom and World Peace" and Mr. Elliott Abrams of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC, who addressed the topic "North America, Latin America and Religious Freedom." Both talks were greeted with great enthusiasm by the participants.

    "The most essential freedom of all is the freedom of religious conscience--the freedom to worship, to believe and to practice the faith of one's choosing," said Mr. Joo. "Without religious freedom, the freedoms of speech, of the press, of association, of movement and of the marketplace are incomplete, and ultimately impossible."

    Mr. Abrams, who formerly served as the U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, also emphasized the central role of religious freedom as a fundamental human right: "Religious freedom came late to the world. It was far easier in many cultures to allow some freedom of movement, of political speech, of voting rights, than to allow people to believe what was seen as ‘error’ and as sin. But today we have truly realized that religious freedom is an essential cornerstone of all human rights and all freedoms. If men and women are deprived even the ability to worship their God, and to raise their children in their religion, we can be sure that no other freedom is safe."

    The second plenary session dealt more specifically with the topic "Religious Freedom in Latin America and the Caribbean Today." Luis Ramirez of the Committee for Religious Liberty in Venezuela covered the Caribbean, while Dr. Paul Sigmund of Princeton University and Mr. Pedro Moreno of The Rutherford Institute dealt with Latin America from Catholic and Protestant perspectives, respectively.

    During lunch, former US Senator Larry Pressler addressed participants on the question "Religious Freedom and Inter-American Relations." Sen. Pressler stressed the importance of democracy as a foundation for religious freedom and praised Latin America’s progress in the regard over the past two decades. He said the US can feel justly proud that it contributed to this process by helping Latin American nations resist the threat of communist totalitarianism.

    The first afternoon breakout sessions covered a) the Theological and Historical Aspects of Religious Freedom in Latin America and b) The New Pluralism and Religious Freedom in Latin America. Topics and speakers included:

    Committee A: Theological and Historical Aspects

    1. The Historical Background

    Antonio Stango, Helsinki Commission, Italy

    2. Developments Since Vatican II

    Lina Boff, Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro

    3. Directions for Religion at the Turn of the Millennium

    Lisias Nogueira Negrao, University of Sao Paulo

    4. Current and Future Issues

    Jose Yelincic, Bolivia

    Committee B: The New Pluralism and Religious Freedom

    1. Evangelical Denominations and Catholic Culture

    Carlos Mario Alzate, Episcopal Conference of Colombia

    2. The Moral Challenge of Religious Diversity

    Lewis Rambo, San Francisco Theological Seminary

    3. The Changing Landscape of Religion and Freedom

    Adrian Karatnycky, Freedom House

    The second round of breakout sessions dealt with the topic "Beyond Toleration." Committee A featured a mini-workshop in "Deep Dialogue" led by Dr. Leonard Swidler editor of the Journal of Ecuemnical Studies and Dr. Ashok Gangadean of the Global Dialog Institute. Committee B covered "Overcoming Religious Intolerance." Topics at speakers are as follows:

    1. International Agreements and the Protection of Religious Freedom

    Lee Boothby, International Academy for Freedom of Religion and Belief

    2. Media Sensationalism and Its Effects

    Larry Moffitt, Tiempos del Mundo

    3. The Evolving Role of the State in Interfaith Relations

    Paul Martin, Columbia University Center for Human Rights

    4. The UNO Convention and ECLA Regional Agreements

    Giulio Murano, International Federation of Human Rights, Italy

    The dinner program featured a speech by well known Brazilian journalist and author Jorge Boaventura, who spoke on "The Responsibility of the State to Defend Religious Freedom." This was followed by a program of Brazilian music emceed by Mr. Antonio Betancourt of the Summit Council for World Peace.

    The next morning, delegates gathered at 9:00 a.m. for the session on "Religious Freedom Concerns." Here, a panel of distinguished representatives of various religious groups gave brief presentations about the concerns of their particular religious communities. Included, were Catholic, Protestant, Native Brazilian, African Brazilian, Scientologist, Unificationist, and Buddhist perspectives. Speaking on behalf of Unificationism, Mr. Antonio Bentancourt of the Summit Council for World Peace listed several urgent contemporary problems:

    The infringement of Reverend and Mrs. Moon’s right to travel to several major European countries through an unjustifiable use of the Schengen Treaty, which was designed limit the immigration of terrorists.

    The failure of the government of Japan to take action to protect the religious freedom of more that 200 Unificationists each year who undergo the torture of forced "deprogramming" each year in that country.

    The refusal of Japan to allow Reverend Moon to enter the country to officiate at next year’s planned events during the World Cultural and Sports Festival.

    A continuing atmosphere of prejudice and suspicion against Unificationists as "cultists," fed by hateful stereotypes and media sensationalism.

    The conference concluded with committee reports the adoption, uncer the chairmanship of ICRF president Bruce Casino of a Joint Declaration on Religious Freedom, based on the earlier documents created in Tokyo and Berlin.

    The Declaration reads in part:

    "…Each religious faith should receive equal protection of its religious freedom and there should be no hierarchy of religious faiths established by government policy or action on religious freedom.

    … Legislative committees or government agencies or government lists or other government activities which focus only on minority religious faiths should not be formed or undertaken since their narrow focus discriminates between categories of religions on a discriminatory basis and has resulted in discrimination against minority faiths.

    …The forcible kidnapping of members of a religious faith in order to force them to change their faith ("deprogramming") and other forms of religious vigilantism are a violation of religious freedom and should be vigorously prosecuted by government authorities.

    …Immigration and other laws and treaties should not be applied to restrict the ability of believers and leaders of religious faiths and their representatives to establish and maintain direct personal contacts and communication with each other...

    …Discrimination in employment, obtaining of government benefits, housing, or political participation based on religious faith should not be permitted… There should be no religious litmus test for serving in public office.

    …Use of the term "cult" or "sect" by government agencies has developed a pejorative connotation and the terms "religion," "minority religion," "small religion," or "new religion" should be used instead."

    ICRF is currently completing preparations for the publication of the proceedings of all four 1998 conferences on Religious Freedom and the New Millennium. As they are edited, individual papers will be posted on our website.

    ICRF Home Page