Harare, Zimbabwe – 34,000 Attend the 1st Festival of Religious Freedom
On the 21st June 2014, over four thousand uniformed Pathfinders braved the chilly weather as they marched from Harare city center to join over 30 000 Adventists at the Glamis stadium to celebrate religious liberty in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe prisons band played for the Pathfinders who carried banners reading “Celebrating Religious Liberty in Zimbabwe” and “Virginity is a Virtue.”
Dr. Paul Charles, IRLA Secretary for the South African region, told the gathering that the purpose of the festival was to express their appreciation to the people and government of Zimbabwe for the religious freedom. He urged the participants to respect those from other religions and denominations. We are all made in the image of God and we ought to respect one another. God gave human beings the freedom to choose and those who choose differently deserve our respect. “The reason why we love each other, even though we do not know each other is that in you I see the image of God and in me you see the image of God” he said.
Dr. Masango, religious liberty leader in Zimbabwe, also echoed the need to have peace in the country by being tolerant with others. He urged the participants to be the forerunners when it comes to the issues of peace. “No meaningful development can take place if there is no peace.”
The Guest of Honor, Minister of State in The President’s office, Harare Province Cde. Miriam Chikukwa, spoke on the government’s commitment to protect the constitution that guarantees religious liberty. She said that the government would not hesitate to arrest those who perpetrate violence in the name of religion.
The event was supported mainly by the Adventist church in Zimbabwe, which counts 860,000 members and 142 primary and secondary school, orphanages, clinics and universities. The IRLA congratulated the organizers and encouraged other churches and religious organizations and NGOs to plan other events for religious freedom.
Dr. John Graz, IRLA Secretary General