Religious Freedom Conference Aims to Teach Children Tolerance

Silver Spring, MD, USA. [IRLA news] Teaching children about tolerance and respect was the focus of recent discussions with government officials in Chile. Representatives from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) met with Senate President Andrés Saldivar and Minister Heraldo Munoz, at the invitation of Guido Quinteros, president of the Adventist church in Chile.

"It's so important to teach children to have respect and tolerance towards other religions. It's also important for children to be knowledgeable about various religions rather than grow up with biases and misconceptions towards others," said Graz who attended the meetings December 5-8. Education opens the minds of people, and public schools have the responsibility to cultivate respect and tolerance towards differences. It's better to teach respect and tolerance to young children rather than wait till they are adults."

Graz and organizers in Chile are preparing for an International Congress that will take place in August 2003. The Congress will address education in public schools.

Senate President Andrés Saldivar assured the IRLA of his government's support toward the Congress and to the mission of the IRLA. Saldivar affirmed the importance of associations such as the IRLA that works with different religions in promoting respect and tolerance. While government officials recognized that discrimination toward minorities still exist in their communities, they agreed to continue their work in educating the mindset of its citizens. Protestant minorities have been discriminated against in the past in many aspects of public life. In 1999, Chile passed a new law, which improved religious freedom for religious minorities.

The Adventist Church in Chile numbers close to 100,000 in this population of over 15 million. [Viola Hughes]