Thousands celebrate at Festival of Religious Freedom
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Thousands of Jamaicans gathered at the National Arena yesterday for the first ever conference, dubbed a Festival of Religious Freedom to celebrate religious practises and freedoms in the country.
Organised by the Seventh Day Adventists Churches in Jamaica and the International Religious Liberty Association, the conference brought representatives from all 730 congregations of Seventh Day Adventists churches in Jamaica, as well as representatives from the United States and Latin America.
Speaker after speaker hailed Jamaica, its government and people, for the premium placed on religious beliefs and practises here.
Dr John Graz, secretary general, International Religious Liberty Association, said Jamaica was an example to the world of harmonious religious tolerance. He said it was a privilege to be associated with the country, and the rally was sending a powerful message to the rest of the world, giving a lesson on religious freedom.
Pastor Glen Samuels, president, West Jamaica Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, said, it was thanks to a loving God that governments, past and present, gave the highest protection to religious freedoms, by enshrining it in the Constitution.
He said the freedom to practise religions should reign across Jamaica.
Delivering the main sermon for the morning session, he said, we should be tolerant of each other, on religious and all other grounds, and the powerful should use that power to uplift the downtrodden, and to provide justice.
According to him, although Jamaica was in the record books for having the most churches per square mile, it did not mean that the longing of every heart was being satisfied.
He said no one should claim a monopoly on God, for God himself was the creator of those other beliefs that were not of God. Speaking to the right to practise, and worship on any day (against the background of the flexi-week in Jamaica) he said God did not intend for anyone to choose between his faith and his job.
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