An overview on PARL and AIDLR in a European context

An overview on PARL and AIDLR in a European context

Interview with Dr. Liviu Olteanu, director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department for the Inter-European Region and General Secretary of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty.

June 08, 2018 | Bern, Switzerland. | C. Cozzi, L. Olteanu, CD-EUDNews.

During this extremely sensitive time in the history of this world, where the conflicts we witness are also unfortunately countersigned with a religious background, and where religious freedom is in danger in many countries, we ask to Dr. Liviu Olteanu to give us an overview of his interventions in this domain.

EUDNews: Dr. Olteanu, can you provide details on the responsibilities you have been in charge of since November 2001, regarding the defense of religious liberty?

Dr. Olteanu: Permit me a minor correction: fortunately, we have a complementary part of the department of Religious Liberty, named Public Affairs.

Since I was called in 2011, I’ve been honored and happy to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church particularly in the Inter-European Region (EUD) and all people that need my commitment, passion, and expertise on religion freedom. I consider this invitation an opportunity and treat the accomplishing of this work not as normal ‘job’ but as a special and diplomatic mission, as an ‘ambassador’ of Christ for ‘public affairs and religious freedom’. I do this with the awareness of huge responsibility for the results of the defense and promotion of religious liberty we work for, and from the perspective of unforeseen implications for the present and future of this special and strategic mission of the Adventist Church. This was voted as a mission by the Executive Committee of the EUD in 2012 and always I’m trying to accomplish it with care, knowledge, love and energy.

EUDNews: Why we can’t separate the work of « Religious Liberty » and « Public Affairs » ?

They are part of the same coin but have different approaches. I’m convinced that ‘religious liberty’ is a fundamental freedom and ‘public affairs’, with its importance and tools, can be used in public relations. Both, together, are the key factor in fostering religious freedom, peace, and harmony for every human being as well as between people and nations.

We really need to take care on two distinctions: first, ‘religious liberty’ is one dimension of the coin, and ‘public affairs’, the other dimension that belongs to the same ‘job description’. According to the official position of the Adventist Church, the Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty has developed the ‘public affairs’ aspect into a comprehensive model representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church in public. The Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty has multifaceted functions and is entrusted to foster capacity-building for Adventist leaders and members to be equipped to defend and present Church identity, message, and mission to every person of power: presidents, prime ministers, government officials, governors, mayors, ambassadors, political leaders, judges, lawyers, and legislative affairs personnel, and every public official.

The Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department is involved in government relations and inter-church contacts. The department not only works for the religious liberties of church members and entities of the Church, but supports the rightful religious liberties of all people without distinction of race, religion, etc.

EUDNews: What about the distinction can be done between the PARL and the AIDLR?

Dr. Olteanu: First of all, PARL is a department belonging to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, representing and working in the territory of the EUD. On the other side, the AIDLR - though founded by Dr. Jean Nussbaum, who was a prestigious and committed Adventist doctor as well as an international advocate for religious liberty – is an organization that, since its creation in 1946, was established by its statute and, thus, doesn’t belong to any religion or church but it must defend the principle of religious liberty for all people.

The AIDLR is accredited in the international arena as Permanent Representative at the United Nations in Geneva, New York, at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg, and Representative at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, at the OSCE in Warsaw and Vienna, among invitations to other international meetings where human rights and religious liberty are debated.

Second, PARL means ‘Public Affairs and Religious Liberty’ and it is one of the core departments of the Adventist Church that was established to promote and maintain religious liberty, with special emphasis on the most intimate freedom, that is liberty of conscience. The AIDLR means ‘International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty’ (its abbreviation comes from French name of the organization ‘Association internationale pour la defense de la liberte religieuse’). The AIDLR was founded in 1946 by Dr. Jean Nussbaum with the purpose not to defend a religion or a church, but to defend a principle: The principle of freedom of religion for all people.

In this “all people” are included the Adventists as well as other religious or non-religious people; and we can refer to the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, and so on; it doesn’t matter if we agree, or not, with the philosophies, doctrines and practices of other religions or beliefs. We have to speak up for Adventist members’ rights, but we must also speak up on behalf of the rights of every person, belonging to other religions or beliefs, that is persecuted, suffering, and condemned for his/her faith or belief.

It is a citizenship duty to defend others’ rights to express and publicly manifest the religion or belief they have chosen, even when it is contrary to our beliefs. Doing the same as we want others to do: to respect and protect us, too.

As Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, I represent the Adventist Church in the Inter-European Region. As Secretary General of the AIDLR, I work especially on defense of human rights and religious liberty for all people participating in the public arena. Many times, there is a normal intersection between the work of the PARL and the AIDLR in public arena, too.






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