The Seventh-day Adventist Church has released a 408-page report outlining international religious liberty demographics and issues.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has released its 2015 Religious Freedom World Report, its ninth since 1999. The 408-page report, available for free online, contains summaries from 223 countries and territories, focuses on issues involving the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but also includes valuable information for researchers and journalists interested in the religious demographics which play such a central role in current international tensions and conflicts around the world.
The report, which can be thought of as a religious freedom equivalent to CIA’s The World Factbook, provides the population of each country, the number of Adventists, the religious breakdown of each country by percentage, perspectives on current political and religious issues in each country, applicable constitutional provisions, state attitudes and actions, private attitudes and actions, and the Seventh-day Adventist experience in each location. The Adventist perspective is analyzed along the lines of institutional freedom, Sabbath-keeping freedom for students and employees, and the freedom to evangelize.
For example, the United States is listed with a population of 320,029,000 of which 1,108,893 are Seventh-day Adventists. The nation is 52% Protestant, 24% Catholic, 2% Mormon, 1% Jewish, 1% Muslim, 10% other, and 10% none. The report notes changing demographics over time, cites the U.S. Constitution, and notes that Adventist institutions are generally able to operate freely, but that statistics show that three Seventh-day Adventists lose their jobs every day because of their Sabbath convictions and others find it difficult to gain employment.
Unfortunately, the Report indicates that the kind of freedom enjoyed in the United States is a rarity in much of the world, with some nations providing very little freedom for religion at all, confining religious freedom to members of a particular religion or sect and denying freedom for others.
According to Ganoune Diop, Ph.D., the Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in his introduction to the report, the church’s “focus on religious liberty is motivated by the fact that it is a distinctive freedom: at a popular level, it is a fundamental civil and political right. But, for us, it is much more. The working policy of the Seventh-day Adventist Church specifies that religious freedom is the primordial freedom, which undergirds all freedoms. It is central to every other human freedom. As such, we must do everything we can to promote and protect this foundational right.”
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The working policy of the Seventh-day Adventist Church specifies that religious freedom is the primordial freedom, which undergirds all freedoms.[/pullquote]
With a reported 18,143,745 members in almost every country on earth the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a keen interest in international affairs, and the international nature of the church, at least partially, informs the church’s positions with regard to its relation with the rest of the world, sensitivity on a global level toward local concerns that may lead to life and death situations for its members, and preservation of religious freedom to the extent possible in every potential scenario.
This report is a go-to resource for understanding international areas of religious liberty concern and will be a valuable resource for students, international aid workers, NGOs, diplomats, and others who seek to understand formal legal structures as well as the practical implementation of the law, the impact of global political issues and conflict on religious freedom around the world.
The report is available online at http://www.irla.org/world-report-2015.pdf
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