What Is Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL)?
What is PARL?
The department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) is part of the global endeavor of the SDA church to create favorable conditions to share the good news of freedom and to invite all to loving fellowship with God and fellow human beings. Additionally, PARL proactively and diligently works to dispel prejudices against the SDA church—its identity, message, and mission—by mingling with people, and sharing distinct Adventist insights through peaceful persuasion. Essentially, PARL works to position the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its services to a standing of credibility, trust, and relevance in the public realm.
PARL’s mandate is to promote and develop a culture of human rights grounded on human dignity and on the belief in the creation of all humans in God's image, free to fellowship with God and fellow human beings.
Accomplishing this mandate involves engaging all actors of civil society, primarily people of influence in the political as well as in the religious worlds: government officials, decision makers, law makers, faith-based organizations and community leaders. In doing so, PARL
presents to the world the varied portfolio of services the Seventh-day Adventist church offers the world: education, health, humanitarian work, human rights, especially religious freedom also called freedom of religion or belief.
What does PARL do?
The work of PARL is broad and multi-faceted including, but by no means limited to, what happens at the church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. There are PARL leaders in each of the 13 world divisions of the church, in 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 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, environmental protection, peaceful coexistence, women’s, and 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 country’s 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. (See list below) 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 aim 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.
- Promotion of the good reputation of Seventh-day Adventist’s identity, mission, and activities to international organizations: UN, EU, AU, OAS and other international organizations.
- Relations with national institutions: The executive branch of government, the legislative branch: US Congress, the Senate, the judicial branch.
- Cordial relations with national political leaders, various countries and ambassadors
- Cordial relations with religious leaders: international and national
- Promotion of freedom among scholars: Meeting of Experts
- Intentional advocacy towards law makers, senators, parliamentarians and various legislators and judges to influence their decision-making in matters of religious liberty.
- Festivals as popular gatherings to celebrate religious freedom
- Liberty Dinner
- Various Publications: Fides et Libertas, World Report, manuals, department brochures, books and articles on public affairs, and books and articles on religious freedom.
- Video productions for the development of the awareness of SDA members and for the general public on religious freedoms, fundamental freedoms and human responsibilities.
- Adventist Review articles / ANN articles
- Faith and Freedom (Hope Channel program)
- Protocol luncheons
- Academic curriculum for PARL
- Religious Liberty Tour
- Collaborative leadership training with other GC departments such as BRI in their Bible and mission conferences,
- Mediations on behalf of Adventist’s right to abstain from taking exams or working on the Sabbath.
- Mediations on behalf of Adventists suffering injustices or persecution
- Development of an Association of Adventists in public offices, governments, national and international organizations.