July 19, 2019

President of Colombia Reassures on Religious Freedom to Faith-Based Leaders

Inter-American Division, and Adventist Review

The president of Colombia, Ivan Duque, shared his commitment to upholding religious liberty in Colombia during a special breakfast to commemorate the country’s Religious Liberty National Day on July 4, 2019. More than 130 religious leaders were invited to the breakfast in the Bolivar de la Casa de Nariño Room at the Presidential Palace in Bogotá, Colombia.

“Having all of you here today is a demonstration that in religious freedom, and each of the spheres of those present, there is spiritual leadership,” Duque said. “I believe we can unite all this strength to help Colombia take the transcendental steps we need.”

Duque stated his firm reliance on his religion and his belief that spirituality leads human beings to greater things. He encouraged religious leaders to keep reaching the hearts of all Colombian citizens for the better.

“Keep strengthening families for a better society, provide moral and ethical values across schools, and support the kind of equality that makes a better nation,” Duque told them.

Gabriel Villarreal, public affairs and religious liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Colombia, joined the group of religious leaders during the special breakfast. Villarreal said that for more than 10 years, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has taken part in national efforts to protect religious liberty in Colombia.

“It is important that we continue to work for religious liberty so that individuals can have the freedom to worship or exercise their beliefs according to their conscience,” Villarreal said. He had the opportunity to greet President Duque and speak to him briefly about the work of the Adventist Church in recent years.

Later, Villarreal, who also heads the church’s Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Colombia, took part in a panel discussion with Bogota’s Mayoral Office. Together with other leaders and experts, they discussed the social contribution of non-governmental agencies (NGOs) on behalf of the nation’s population.

Church leaders reported that Villarreal highlighted the basic needs and health care project offered to more than 18,000 Venezuelan migrants, implemented by ADRA Colombia in the first six months of 2019. He also reported on the numerous ADRA projects in process across the country to assist displaced persons and those in need, they said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.