As Seventh-day Adventists, we’ve always embraced religious liberty as an important part of our beliefs, history, and mission. Religious liberty is in the very DNA of our Church. For us, courageously standing firm for the freedom of conscience and religious liberty for all people is the only option.
The Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) serves as the official voice of the Adventist Church on matters of religious freedom and human rights. PARL maintains offices in Washington, D.C. to allow for convenient access to the U.S. Congress; New York City to liaise with the United Nations; and at the Church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. PARL also sponsors the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) on behalf of the Adventist Church. IRLA is a non-sectarian organization supporting religious freedom around the world.
In 2017, the Carolina Conference sponsored four pastors to attend the 8th World Congress of the IRLA held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
During this six-year term (2016-2021) the Carolina Conference Religious Liberty Department has worked together in close partnership with the Southern Union PARL Department to assist members in both North and South Carolina specifically with respect to Sabbath and other accommodation issues. An enormous debt of gratitude is owed to Amireh Al-Haddad, director for the Southern Union PARL, and her associate, Kevin James, for their tremendous support and assistance with this valuable ministry. Kevin James worked on most of the cases that had an impact on our Carolina members.
The first chart below indicates what transpired within these years (with the exception of 2021, which does not include specific accommodation tallies as most of the calls involved requests for vaccine exemptions):
Of the two complaints that were filed from our Conference with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), one was resolved with a $40,000 settlement.
22 members received counseling, nine received other support, and 17 cases were resolved.
One item not reflected in the chart is a 2017 unemployment case.
These totals include all the different types of cases/problems we work on, including workplace issues, unemployment, vaccine exemptions, testing requirements and immigration/ non-combatant letters.
Last, but certainly not least, is our Carolina giving report of offerings that specifically aid in the ministry of public affairs and religious liberty (PARL) issues. These include the distribution of Liberty Magazine to key thought leaders and lawmakers in both North and South Carolina, as well as litigation funding. A portion of this offering is utilized by the Southern Union for education and outreach, such as our legislative watch program.
Thank you for your prayers, and for your steadfast and generous offerings as we work together to be faithful watchmen in these difficult times.