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Brazil: Historic meeting, with 207 Deputies, 12 Senators supporting religious freedom

13 Aug, 2015

Brazil-parliament-meetingPRESS RELEASE: Aug. 11, Brasilia – Eduardo Cunha, President of the Brazil’s House of Representatives, joined the first Parliamentary Committee for Religious Freedom, chaired by Congressman Moroni Torgan

With the slogan: “Don’t just believe. We must respect!” The Parliamentary Front for Religious Freedom announced the signed participation of 207 Deputies and 12 Senators in the common goal of guaranteeing the free exercise of religion.

Government officials, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations and the business sector united to support this right, highlighting the need for greater tolerance as a way to peace.

Brazil Congress President CunhaThe matter is of such importance that the event was attended by Eduardo Cunha (pictured at center), the President of the House of Representative. Cunha highlighted that “the State is secular but parliamentarians might have a religious faith – religious freedom guarantees everyone the right to express their beliefs, including parliamentarians.”

For Congressman Moroni Torgan (pictured right of center), “the Parliamentary Committee for Religious Freedom is an instrument for the institutions of the most varied religions and denominations, for believers and even for atheists, to ensure everyone has the right to believe or not.” He added, “respecting the diversity of beliefs is as important as the very right to believe or not to believe; then we can also learn from each other.”

Business & Interfaith Peace AwardsThe event was cosponsored by the Brazilian affiliate of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (ALRN), which recently signed a partnership agreement with the United Nations Global Compact for the Global Business & Interfaith Understanding Awards to be presented in the host city of each summer and winter Olympics, beginning with Rio in 2016.

“Brazil today is one of the most populous countries with the lowest level of government restrictions on religious freedom, according to a Pew Research investigation,” stated Dr. Ricardo Cerqueira Leite (pictured at far right), President of ALRN, during the first Parliamentary Committee for Religious Freedom meeting at the National Congress in Brasilia.

“But,”Cerqueira Leite asked, “if we are in the leading place among countries in terms of freedom of religion, why do we need establish a Parliamentary Committee for Religious Freedom?” He explained that “Brazil should exercise a global leadership role in the protection of religious freedom.”

TorgonDr. Damaris Kuo, from OAB (the Brazilian BAR Association) and expert in the matter, also emphasized that vigilance is key: “Brazil will only be a country with real religious freedom when the constitutional rules protecting this right get fully applied.”

The importance of being a secular state was the focus of Congressman Eros Biondini comments, stressing that “we must know how to interpret the meaning of the secular state, for indeed it is a great support of religious freedom that not only guarantees us the right to belief but, to choose different faiths.”

In the list of greetings and presentations were representatives from different organizations and religions, including Catholics, Mormons, evangelicals of different denominations, different streams of African religions, among many others. Mr. Moroni Torgan stressed that “what unites the Congressional group is the right to use  free will to choose to believe or not. And this can be done with great respect and peace.”

The multi-party Parliamentary Committee for Religious Freedom was created in February this year by Congressman Moroni Torgan (DEM-CE), who is also head of the important Parliamentary Public Security Committee and the author of the proposal to install a CPI for  Drug Trafficking (1991).

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