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Religious Liberty, Evangelism, and Proselytism

This statement was voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM), for release at the time of the General Conference Session in Toronto, Canada, June 29-July 9, 2000.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that freedom of religion is a basic human right. As Christians, they are persuaded that the dissemination of religion is not only a right, but a joyful responsibility based on a divine mandate to witness.

God has called Christians to evangelism—the proclamation of the good news of salvation in Christ (Matt 28:19, 20). This is central to Christian life and witness. Thus Christianity is missionary by its very nature.

In affirming global mission and evangelization, Adventists are motivated by willing obedience to Christ's commission and by a sincere desire that every human being be saved and inherit eternal life. They are also motivated by a sense of urgency in expectation of the imminence of Christ's return. In endeavoring to fulfill the gospel commission, Seventh-day Adventists are thus witnessing, preaching, and serving today in more than 200 countries.

In the context of the dissemination of religion, the issue of "proselytism" has arisen because the term "proselytism" is defined in a number of ways and increasingly is being given a pejorative connotation, associated with unethical means of persuasion, including force. Seventh-day Adventists unequivocally condemn the use of such methods. They believe that faith and religion are best disseminated when convictions are manifested and taught with humility and respect, and the witness of one's life is in harmony with the message announced, evoking a free and joyous acceptance by those being evangelized.

Evangelistic and missionary activity needs to respect the dignity of all human beings. Individuals need to be truthful and transparent when dealing with other religious groups. Terminology should be used which avoids offending other religious communities. Statements which are false or ridicule other religions should not be made.

Conversion is an experience of the Spirit, and should therefore in no way be connected to offering and receiving material inducements. While the right to engage in humanitarian activities must be fully recognized, such action must never be linked to evangelism in a way that exploits vulnerable people by offering financial and material incentives to entice them to change religion.

Seventh-day Adventists are committed to serving their fellow men by preaching the everlasting gospel to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people (Rev 14:6).