IRLA Strengthens Ties with Colombian Religious Freedom Activists

Event will mark 20 years since the passage of key constitutional reform in Colombia


From left, Attorney Dwayne Leslie, IRLA Director of US Congressional Affairs; Dr. John Graz, IRLA Secretary-General; Dr. Ted Wilson, Seventh-day Adventist Church President; Senator Charles W. Schultz of Colombia.

A leading Colombian politician said last week there is still more work to be done in his country to protect the religious freedom rights all its citizens.

Senator Charles W. Schultz made his comments during a March 7 visit to the International Religious Liberty Association headquarters, in Silver Spring, Maryland. In his meeting with Dr. John Graz, IRLA Secretary-General, and attorney Dwayne Leslie, IRLA Director of US Congressional Affairs, Senator Schultz asked for additional support from the IRLA to help his country build on the religious freedom reforms it has already passed.

Until 1991, Roman Catholicism was the official religion of Colombia, and Senator Schultz was one of the prime movers behind that year’s historic constitutional reform, which required equal treatment for all religions under the law. 

This year, religious freedom advocates in Colombia will mark the 20-year anniversary of this reform with an event they hope will place the issue back on the public agenda. Senator Schultz and a group he helped establish called Confelirec (the Colombia federation for religious freedom), will host a major Law and Religious Freedom program in Bogotá in July to explore ways to strengthen legal protection for religious minorities in Colombia. The IRLA has accepted Senator Schultz’s invitation to send participants to the event.

“Senator Schultz is a man of principle and courage, who is doing much to advance the cause of freedom in his country,” said Dr. Graz, after the meeting. “The IRLA is committed to exploring ways we can more closely partner with our friends in Colombia. I am delighted to see that our both associations plan to work together to train religious freedom leaders in Colombia” [IRLA Staff]