IRLA NEWS RELEASE
The second IRLA Inter-American Religious Liberty Congress was held in Medellín, Colombia, March 18-19, 2015, in the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel. The theme was: “Church-State Relations, Why Are They Important and How to Improve Them?” A large public rally in the city followed the event and showed broad public and official support for religious freedom.
The IRLA Inter-American secretary-general Roberto Herrera and his team had done their homework and ensured the great success of the congress. One hundred fifty delegates representing 35 national IRLA partner associations gave a report of their activities in daily workshops. Former Senator Charles Schultz, an authority in the history of religious freedom in Colombia, was the guest speaker. Professor Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes from the University Complutense of Madrid and Professor Jaime Contreras, vice-rector of the University Alcalá de Henares in Spain, brought the European dimension to the congress. The IRLA headquarters was represented by its secretary-general, John Graz, and his two deputies, Ganoune Diop and Dwayne Leslie. The Inter-American Division president, Israel Leito, welcomed the participants and thanked Colombia for its high level of religious freedom
One of the climaxes of the congress was the interview of Dr. Ted Wilson, IRLA vice president and president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Interviewed by Graz, Wilson called believers to respect religious liberty for all as a gift from God. He reaffirmed the position of his church to defend the principle of religious freedom for all: “Everyone should be free to believe according to conscience.”
The congress ended with a ceremony of recognition for all national associations that have held congresses, symposiums, and festivals. A tribute to John Graz was given by Israel Leito for his 20 years of service as IRLA secretary-general. According to Roberto Herrera, this second congress shows the vitality and the engagement of the Inter-American region to promote and defend religious freedom for all and everywhere.