World Conference on Religious Freedom Inaugurated by Inter-faith Prayer Meeting

November 1999, New Delhi, India … [IRLA News] The International Religious Liberty Association [IRLA] began its World Conference on Religion Freedom in New Delhi, India, today (Nov. 15) with a special inter-faith prayer session at Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.

"We chose this venue because of Gandhi’s total dedication to religious freedom and pluralism," said Dr. Justus Devadas, director of IRLA-India and organizer of the Conference. "The wide representation from India’s many faith communities is illustrative of the broad base for religious liberty that we wish to build on during this Conference.

"Prayers and songs were offered by representatives from the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Baha’i, Parsi, and Christian communities in simple program.

"This event says more than words about our desire to encourage freedom of conscience and religious liberty for all," commented Dr. John Graz, general secretary of IRLA International, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. "IRLA has been working to develop commitment to religious freedom for over a century, and we are delighted to host this conference here in New Delhi. India has demonstrated a long history of religious tolerance and the right to worship according to conscience is guaranteed in the country’s constitution. Today more than ever before, the world needs to understand the practical importance of such religious freedom."

The Conference meets in session from November 16 through 18 with presentations by many leading scholars and experts from India and abroad on the theme of "Religious Freedom: A Fundamental Right in the 21st Century." [Jonathan Gallagher]