Why Religious Freedom Matters to Me

Reverend Marian Edmonds-Allen is Executive Director of Parity, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of faith and LGBTQ+ concerns. The following is an edited summary of her remarks presented at the ICLRS 2022 Religious Freedom Annual Review, 16 June 2022.

Religious freedom is our best hope for our country and for our world. At a time when divisions threaten to rend the very fabric of society, when seemingly intractable disagreements split communities and even families, it is religious freedom that is our very best hope.

That may seem like a strong statement, but I have a perhaps unusual perspective on religious freedom. I am a walking embodiment of our current divisions. You see, I am a person who scares people: I am a genderqueer, bisexual person and an ordained Christian pastor. I would guess that there is something about that statement that is surprising, if not a little bit scary, to people. In fact, when I introduce myself in faith contexts as LGBT, I can watch the body language in the room and see a reaction. And when I am speaking to LGBT groups and not wearing a clerical collar but “out” myself as clergy, I can, once again, watch people recoil. I am not offended. I understand the reaction because that used to be my reaction too.


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The First Brazilian Symposium on Religious Freedom

The First Brazilian Symposium on Religious Freedom was held in Rio de Janeiro, 23–25 March 2022. The symposium was organized by the Brazilian Center of Studies in Law and Religion and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University. Participants included dozens of leaders from religious organizations, academic institutions, government entities, and nongovernmental and civil society organizations—from Brazil and other Latin American countries, the United States, and Europe. The following summaries provide a small glimpse into ideas exchanged at this first-of-its-kind event.

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La Recepción del Derecho de Libertad Religiosa en América Latina

Carmen Asiaín Pereira se desempeña como senadora en el Parlamento de Uruguay. Es doctora en derecho y ciencias sociales por la Universidad de la República y es profesora de derecho y religión, posgrado, en la Universidad de Montevideo y profesora de derecho y religión y de derecho de la salud, posgrado, Facultad de Teología de Uruguay Monseñor Mariano Soler. Como abogada acreditada ante la Corte Eclesiástica Nacional (Uruguay y Argentina) y socia del estudio de abogados Pollak & Brum, es litigante en derecho matrimonial canónico y asesora y litiga casos de libertad de conciencia y religión o creencias contra el Estado.

El siguiente es un resumen de sus comentarios como panelista en el Primer Simposio Brasileño sobre Libertad de Religión o Creencia, en el panel “Perspectivas Latinoamericanas sobre la Libertad Religiosa.” Los panelistas discutieron la libertad religiosa en el contexto del derecho internacional de los derechos humanos y, más específicamente, de los países del sistema interamericano: cómo se consagra con diferentes matices en las constituciones de los países latinoamericanos y qué problemas enfrenta la región.


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