The restricted liberty of thousands of people during World War II spurred the creation of an international organization. At the end of 1948, the United Nations (UN) established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which outlined common ideals for all countries.
One of the themes highlighted in article 18 of the document was ignored by several nations and groups at the time. It reads, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
In 1893, only 30 years after its inception, the Seventh-day Adventist Church began defending this right by creating the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA). IRLA is the oldest entity in the world in defense of religious liberty for everyone. Communities and individuals today, however, are fighting daily for this cause. It is to give them a voice that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a department dedicated to ensuring religious liberty for all people.
“Without religious liberty, there are other liberties that cease to exist, including the expression and the privilege of sharing one’s faith. Therefore, we defend, protect, and promote religious liberty for everyone, because that is the only way to guarantee that the gospel is preached to the whole world,” explained Helio Carnassale, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America.