Working to promote freedom of conscience for every person, no matter who they are or where they live.

Chile: Worship Law an Example for Latin America

News September 2003

Santiago, Chile… “The Religious Liberty Law in Chile is an example for the other countries of Latin America,” declared Spanish attorney and University of Madrid professor Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes.

Dr. Martinez made her comment in a presentation on the opening day of the National Religious Liberty Congress held in Santiago, Chile, August 26-27. Approximately 300 delegates from countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa participated in this three-day conference. Organized by the Chilean branch of the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), the conference brought together representatives from the Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Jewish and Islamic faiths.

“Inter-religious dialogue is the feasible route for peaceful coexistence in the world,” said Dr. John Graz, IRLA secretary general. He affirmed that dialogue opposes a path leading to religious exclusivism and totalitarianism, in which churches lose their independence. “Man was created by God as a free being. Man has to have liberty to choose the religion that he wants to follow. And this is also supported by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Graz added.

Other speakers included former Ambassador Robert Seiple, president of Institute for Global Engagement; Senator Mario Rios Santander, author of Chile’s religious liberty law; and Professor Camilo Cardosa, registrar of religious organizations for the foreign ministry of Argentina; and Dr. Eugene Hsu, a vice president for the IRLA.

The IRLA was founded in 1883 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 national chapters and affiliated associations in 66 nations. For more information about the IRLA, visit [ANN]

IRLA Chile president with S Almeida (Brazil).

Some of the participants of the Chile congress.

Panel of experts: E Hsu (vice president of the IRLA), R M Martinez de Codes (expert from Spain), Siloe Almeida (expert from Brazil), Ambassador R Seiple, and John Graz (IRLA general secretary).

L to R: John Graz (right) with Francisco Jaramillo (Secretary General for the President) at the de La Moneda palace.

L to R: Dr. Jose Cardosa, director general for religious affairs for Chile, and Professor Darrichon, vice president from the University of Chile.