The Reception of the Right to Religious Freedom in Latin America

Carmen Asiaín Pereira serves as a senator in the Parliament of Uruguay. She received a doctorate in law and social sciences from the University of the Republic and is a professor of law and religion, graduate studies program, at the University of Montevideo and a professor of law and religion and of health law, graduate program, Facultad de Teología del Uruguay Monseñor Mariano Soler. As an attorney accredited by the National Ecclesiastical Court (Uruguay and Argentina) and a partner at the law firm of Pollak & Brum, she is a litigator in matrimonial canon law and advises and litigates cases involving freedom of conscience and religion or belief against the State.

The following is a translated summary of her remarks as a panelist addressing “Latin American Perspectives on Religious Freedom” at the First Brazilian Symposium on Freedom of Relief or Belief (2022). Panelists discussed religious freedom in the context of international human rights law, the inter-American system, national laws—how the freedom is enshrined with different nuances in the constitutions of Latin American countries—and related issues facing the region.


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The Foundational Character of Freedom of Religion or Belief

W. Cole Durham, Jr., is president of the G20 Interfaith Forum Association and is the Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law and founding director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and is a founding editor-in-chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion

This post was initially presented as a keynote address at the Fringe Conference held on 5 July 2022 at Portcullis House, Westminster, United Kingdom, in conjunction with the International Ministerial on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The address was part of a session titled “Preventing Violence, Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief—An Overview.” The event was hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, among others, and sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the ICLRSThe post was originally posted on the G20 Interfaith Forum blog, Viewpoints.

Today I want to advance seven reasons for thinking freedom of religion or belief is foundational: It is historically foundational, philosophically foundational, institutionally foundational, and empirically foundational. It is instrumentally foundational in that it is the best tool we have for forging peace in a highly pluralistic world, and it is intrinsically foundational because it protects the core of human dignity. Finally, it is foundational in being a critical criterion of justice. Let me provide a thumbnail sketch of each of these points.


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Religious Liberty: The Basis of a Free and Just Society

Elder D. Todd Christofferson is a Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


I am grateful for this opportunity to address you. I’m honored to be here among so many who work so hard to build better societies, to lift people out of poverty and desperation, and to protect fundamental human rights. We are all seeking for a more just and free society where every person is valued and where each has a fair opportunity to flourish. Thank you for all you do in the service of that noble end.

I speak to you today as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. In doing so, I affirm the eternal human dignity of each person as a beloved child of God. I affirm that each one of us has a divine nature and destiny. We are not merely cosmic accidents in a cold and uncaring universe. We are known and loved by an all-knowing and all-loving God.

I also affirm that each of us has the right to exercise moral agency—the right of choice to live our lives according to the truth as we understand it. Indeed, one of the primary purposes of government is to secure the freedom of all people to exercise moral agency.


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