First meeting in Europe, 28 June 2014
On 28th of June, 2014, in an atmosphere of openness, mutual respect, tolerance and friendship, an informal group of NGOs, religious communities and denominations met in Brussels, led by a common aspiration to create a free space for dialogue and work together on specific religious freedom issues and problems.
Even if having different opinion on many religious aspects, all the NGOs attending the meeting were unanimous on the belief that religious convictions are to be freely expressed and on the necessity to work together for this.
Soteria is part of this initiative unique in Europe and opening concrete collaboration regarding the freedom of thought, conscience and beliefs.
Soteria is confident that the new born platform has the potential of a think tank for sharing best practices as well as developing new practices related to the way the spirituality should be perceived and accepted, as a constructive element for our future Europe.
The International Religious Freedom Roundtable exists also in Washington DC where it has operated for almost 4 years now with interesting results and an average of 70 participants attending each time. The intention is to deploy it all over the world and to play a significant role with impact on the society and on the decision makers.
In Europe the tools used so far in this respect were common initiatives related to some religious discrimination cases with positive response from the side of the European decision makers. Some participants stressed the idea that despite the general opinion that Europe has a good position from this point of view, the real feeling is that Europe has many cases of infringement related to the human right of freely expressing the religious believers and it is why a special attention should be given first of all to the European area.
A new proposal of forming working groups (WGs) on different topic and projects already proposed during the meeting has been welcomed by all participants. Collaboration of these EWGs with the existing groups in the European Parliament on aspects related to religious freedom: Religious Freedom and Discrimination should be an important target for the new created platform.
The personal example is the key of any social transformation. The aim of the platform should be also to raise awareness of different spiritual movements’ practitioners about the necessity of their harmonious integration in the European societies they are living in. This remark is based on the fact that, in a society where a lack of democracy is claimed, the only possibility for changes to be possible should be the personal example.
In the same sense, a constant effort to reach positions of representatives at a governmental level should be a key target for important minorities in many European countries.
Principles are beneficent for the dialog society-religions.
Soteria International also endorsed the idea supported by many other organisations presents in the meeting, that a very important desiderate of the new platform should be to bridge religions with the societies. For doing it, it is important to draw up and keep a list of spiritual principles upon which all NGOs should commonly agree. Such principles can be very helpful in avoiding situations of extreme behaviours in the spiritual communities that are creating tensions into the societies.