Human Rights Minister, Ideli Salvatti, praised the innovate work of the Brazilian Religious Freedom & Business Association ( ALRN ) in a meeting this week in Brasilia. (ALRN is the Brazilian affiliate of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, based in the U.S.)
Minister Ideli received ALRN board members Romanna Remor and Silvio Guimarães on Tuesday. During the meeting, Ideli invited ALRN to attend the Second World Human Rights Forum this December in Morocco, a follow up to last year’s Forum in Brasilia. Minister Ideli discussed with Remor and Guimarães possible collaboration between Ministry and ALRN for a global prize for initiatives protecting religious freedom.
This meeting comes on the heels of other high level meetings between the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and Brazil’s Vice President Temer and Secretary General of the Republic Carvalho.
During the meeting, the Minister praised the innovative nature of ALRN. “By associating religious freedom and diversity to economic and social development, it addresses a key topic from a unique perspective,” she said. “And this fits with the Brazilian love of difference and diversity … which promotes the development of the country itself.” And indeed, research indicates that Brazil does value religious freedom and diversity.
Brazil has lowest government restriction on religion among 25 largest countries
Among the 25 most populous countries, only six have low government restrictions on religion (average between 2006-2012), with Brazil having the lowest of all (see chart). Brazil has lower restrictions, in fact, than the United States, where restrictions have been rising.
Religious freedom is highly valued in Brazil. For instance, when Brazilians were asked in a 2006 Pew Research survey whether it was important to live in a country where there is freedom of religion for religions other than their own, nearly the same percentage of people indicated that this was important (95%) as indicated that it was important to live in a country where they can practice their own religion freely (96%).
An expression of such support for religious freedom occurred this spring when the government of São Paulo – Brazil’s commercial center and the western hemisphere’s most populous city at 20 million – declared that henceforth May 25th will be “religious freedom day.” This declaration coincided with a multi-faith religious freedom festival that drew nearly 30,000 participants, including the participation of the Catholic archdiocese, leading politicians and celebrities.