IRLA Deputy Secretary General Promotes Religious Freedom in Romania

Calarasi, Romania, September 26, 2002. Dr. Jonathan Gallagher, Deputy Secretary General for the International Religious Liberty Association has just returned from Romania to promote religious freedom in the country.

At a special meeting in the prefecture of the regional town of Calarasi, Gallagher spoke to representatives of local government, social agencies, and church communities on the vital importance of developing religious freedom and human rights.

“It’s easy to forget that until twelve years ago, Romania was under a dictatorship,” comments Gallagher. “As a result there’s a great need to continue the development of democratic principles, especially the concepts of extending freedom of conscience to every citizen. It was my privilege to share our values and beliefs in this extremely relevant area, and to learn of progress to date.”

Organized by the Romanian Religious Liberty Association leader Viorel Dima with the participation of other local religious leaders, the meeting was hosted by the regional council vice-president Marian Dragan.

In a personal conversation with Gallagher, Dragan commended the work to promote religious freedom and identified this as of considerable interest in his district. “We appreciate what you are doing and will work with you to develop understanding of human rights and religious freedom.”

“This was an excellent opportunity to develop our external strategy of contacts with outside organizations and other faith communities,” say Dima. “We value the contributions that such meetings make to the improvement of religious freedom in our country.”

A meeting of minority faith groups has already agreed to work together in formulating comments and proposals to those charged with developing the new law. Several more meetings and seminars are planned.

“Our intention is to create a network of all religious organizations so that the proposed new law on religion is the best it can be and that it defends religious freedom,” Dima concludes.

Gallagher will be making presentations to authorities and officials in the town of Matca as well.