What is PARL?
The Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists exists for one simple reason.
We work to position the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its services to a standing of credibility, trust, and relevance in the public realm.
Why? So the Adventist Church can be more effective in its mission. Our task is to enhance our church's ability to operate around the world by building bridges with public and religious leaders. In working with government officials, community leaders, and others, we want to present the best that the Seventh-day Adventist Church offers—in promoting life, improving people's well being, and offering hope for a better destiny.
What does PARL do?
Our goal may be simple, but in practice, the work of PARL is broad and multi-faceted. And it is not just something that happens from the church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. There are PARL leaders at each of the 13 world divisions of the church, at each of the unions and conferences, and even in many local churches. Dedicated men and women at all these levels are working to help the the decision-makers and thought-leaders of society understand who Adventists are, and how we contribute to the quality of life within every community.
For this reason, PARL has a wide mandate. PARL works in cooperation with other church departments to advocate public policy positions on issues in areas as diverse as health, education, peace issues, environmental protection, women’s’ issues, children’s’ issues, the rights of prisoners, and aid and development.
Another very important part of PARL's work is promoting religious liberty for all people, no matter what they believe. From the beginning of our church's history, we have worked to promote this as a fundamental, God-given human right. Related to this is PARL's work in assisting church members who are discriminated against or persecuted for their beliefs.
How does PARL work?
The day-to-day work of PARL resembles that of a countries foreign ministry--representing the church before governments, international organizations, and various non-governmental associations.
We focus on three main areas:
We maintain a presence at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, and with other international organizations. We also have an office on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where we maintain contact with lawmakers, the White House, and members of Washington's large and diverse diplomatic community. We build relationships with state leaders and public officials by visiting with them, and by inviting some to visit with Adventist Church leaders at the General Conference headquarters.
We organize and take part in special events, large and small. These range from academic symposiums, to festivals that fill stadiums. Every five years we also organize a World Congress for Religious Freedom, an event that brings together hundreds of public officials, lawyers, NGOs and religious leaders from around the world.
We publish regular news reports, articles, academic papers, books, and an annual World Report on Religious Freedom. We also want to keep church members informed and we invite them to become partners with PARL in raising the profile of the Adventist Church. The third Sabbath of every January is named "Religious Liberty Sabbath" and we invite church members to take time to remember the work of PARL and the importance of protecting and promoting our most precious freedom--religious liberty.