IRLA Secretary-General Addresses Church State Experts at Laval University

News October 2003


From left to right: Professor Franck Fregosi, Dr. Graz chairing session, and Eileen Barker, Laval University

QUEBEC, CANADA... "If all religious institutions dedicated to the service of people had to stop their services for a month, there would be disaster worldwide," said Dr. John Graz, secretary-general for the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), in his September 26 remarks to Church State relations at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.


Laval Symposium Quebec, Professor B. Chelini in foreground

"Religions," he says "have contributed positively to improving quality of life for many communities around the world. States must recognize a religion's enormous potential for good will." Graz also commented that often religious minorities provide integration when many immigrants identify with the values that religious groups bring to the table.

"States have to affirm its neutrality and impartiality," said attorney Alain Garay of the Court of Appeal in Paris. States should cultivate dialogues among religious minorities and encourage inter-religious interactions to reduce misunderstandings and tensions, the experts added.


Professor B. Chelini (l) and Dr. John Graz (r)

Organized by the Center for Public Politics Analysis at Laval University, other sponsors of the symposium included Emory University's Law and Religion program; and Brigham Young University's International Center for Law and Religious Studies. The symposium theme, "Public Management of Religious Diversity: Responses," brought other experts such as Dr. Jeremy Gunn (Emory University), Massimo Introvigne (Center for Studies on New Religions in, Torino, Italy), Blandine Chelini-Pont (University of Aix Marseilles, France), and Willy Fautre (Human Rights Without Frontiers International), and Eileen Barker (London School of Economics).

The IRLA was founded in 1893 through the initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to defend the right of each citizen to choose and freely follow his or her religion. Today, the IRLA has representation in approximately 200 countries, and affiliated associations in 66 nations. For more information about the IRLA, visit www.irla.org. (Viola Hughes)