In Mexico City, First-Ever Religious Liberty Congress Draws High-Level Support

IRLA leader expresses gratitude for religious freedom safeguards in Mexico, while Governor pledges continued efforts.

Religious freedom and human rights were the focus of a meeting January 22 between Dr. Ganoune Diop, Secretary General of the IRLA, and Dr. Eruviel Ávila Villegas, governor of the State of Mexico.

“I want you to know that you have an ally in the the government of Mexico,” Ávila Villegas said at the talks on Jan. 22 in Toluca de Lerdo, the state capital. He pledged continued support in promoting human rights and thanked Diop for his global work in safeguarding religious freedom. The Governor described Diop as “a man who promotes peace and who develops alliances to do good and to support those who need it most.”

In turn, Diop expressed gratitude to the governor for his continuing support for religious freedom as a fundamental and universal human right. He presented the governor with an award for his role in promoting religious freedom in his state.Dr. Ganoune Diop and Dr. Eruviel Ávila Villegas, Governor of the State of Mexico

The meeting took place the day before a weekend religious liberty congress — the first ever to be held in Mexico City — that was organized by the Azteca Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Some 220 people, mainly university students, professionals, and local pastors, attended the event. Along with Diop, speakers included Daniel Silva, a constitutional law expert and city leader; Raul Ruz, an author and professor from Veracruz University; and Fernando Crespo, a human rights lawyer and professor from Santander University.

For some people in Mexico, religious liberty is more than just a theoretical concern. Ruben Ponce, religious liberty director for the Azteca Conference, cited a long list of challenges that Sabbath-keepers regularly encounter, including public university admission tests scheduled on Saturdays; employment discrimination against Sabbath-keepers; and, in the State of Mexico, a mandatory state-wide evaluation for teachers that has been held on Saturdays.
Doctors who object to performing abortions on conscientious grounds sometimes also meet with legal complications, he said.

Diop reminded the gathering that Mexico’s constitution establishes the right to religious liberty and conscience for all Mexican citizens, and confirms the equality of every person.

He encouraged congress attendees to express their gratitude for these liberties while working to make these freedoms even more clearly reflected within Mexican society.