Adventist religious liberty advocate recognized with First Freedom Award
12 January 2011 Richmond, Virginia, United States [ANN] A Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty advocate is among this year's recipients of the First Freedom Award for contributions in advancing freedom of belief in the United States and worldwide.
John Graz, who directs the Adventist world church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL), will receive the National First Freedom Award at a January 13 gala sponsored by the Virginia-based First Freedom Center.
Graz, who since 1995 has helmed the International Religious Liberty Association, was noted for his non-sectarian work, extensive writings and a series of world festivals of religious freedom. In 2009, more than 40,000 Peruvians gathered to celebrate burgeoning freedom of belief
in their country. A year later, Peru's congress voted to guarantee
protection of religious liberties.
"I'm very honored by this recognition," Graz said, citing the center's "long history" of "defending the heritage of Jefferson, Madison" and other early American champions of freedom of conscience.
Graz also said it was a privilege to be recognized alongside Asma Jahangir, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and J. Brent Walker, director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Jahangir and Walker will receive the International First Freedom Award and Virginia First Freedom Award, respectively.
The awards help bolster a commitment to religious liberty that "is at the core of our shared aspirations for stability, peace and the protection of human dignity," said First Freedom Center President Randolph M. Bell.
Graz is the first Adventist to receive a First Freedom Award.
Graz said the award is a testament to the work of the IRLA and the support of the Adventist Church. "I share this honor with the PARL team, and with the worldwide church," Graz said.
Religiously and politically neutral, the First Freedom Center has since 1984 championed the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and conscience. [tedNEWS]
tedNEWS Staff: Miroslav Pujic, director; Deana Stojkovic, editor
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