Dr. Ganoune Diop, secretary general of the IRLA, presents at the South American Religious Liberty Forum, held November 9 to 11.

IRLA Argentina Hosts South American Religious Liberty Forum

By Alexis Vilar/IRLA

Even though religious freedom is recognized throughout South America, “there is still work to be done,” say organizers of this inaugural event.

More than 150 people gathered at the government headquarters of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, last week for the South American Religious Liberty Forum organized by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) and the Argentine Council for Religious Liberty (CALIR). The much-anticipated event brought together leaders from several institutions, religions and countries, including Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Spain, and the United States.

Dr. Ganoune Diop, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, gave a keynote address at the forum, saying that when it comes to matters of religion, every person has the innate right to exercise their options freely, “living in accordance to their conscience, within the rightful limits of society.”

Discussions during the event were focused on religious freedom and its relationship with the state, education, and worship practices. There were also presentations regarding the exercise of religiously prescribed days of rest, the use of religious symbols in public spaces, and the financing of religious services.

Pastor Darío Bruno, director of IRLA Argentina and director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Argentine Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke to the national media about the event. “It is common to think that in South America there are no problems with religious liberty because there is freedom of worship, of preaching and of publishing literature,” he said. “However, in the different countries of South America, including Argentina, there are still some reminders of the limitations to religious liberty.” Bruno explained that the forum “grouped together professionals from different countries in South America to share concerns about how they can guarantee religious liberty in our countries.”

The Secretary for Worship of Argentina, Ambassador Santiago de Estrada, spoke at the event, calling it “an opportunity to address these important topics and to work toward the goal of ensuring religious freedom throughout the entire world.” Another speaker, General Director of Worship of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, Professor Federico Pugliese, spoke about the tremendous benefit an event such as this brings to religious communities. “It allows us to speak about living together, dialoguing together, and affirms that every person should be free to choose their religion and to be respected for it,” he said.

The International Religious Liberty Association and the Argentine Council for Religious Liberty promotes the concept that every human being has the fundamental right to have, adopt, or change religion or religious beliefs according to their individual conscience.