This year, the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty (in French AIDLR) celebrates its 70th anniversary.
This is obviously a time for celebration. Yet, real celebration should not be a noisy and empty merriment but an occasion for serene and thorough evaluation of the course that AIDLR has been following since its birth in 1946 until today.
AIDRL is the legitimate child of Jean Nussbaum, a visionary physician, who knew by experience what segregation and harassment on account of conviction and religion meant. He had seen many people undergo the painful experience of being discriminated against and punished on account of their religious beliefs and practices.
Dr. Jean Nussbaum was deeply persuaded that he would not succeed in his endeavors on his own. He would need to find the right partners in order to create the necessary synergy to successfully overcome the challenges and any opposition to the mission he had committed himself: that of protecting, defending and promoting liberty of thought, conscience, conviction and religion for everyone, everywhere.
During his stay in America to attend the United Nations Convention that took place in San Francisco on April 1945, he met Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and realized that she was deeply engaged in promoting and defending human rights.
After several and fruitful exchanges, Dr. Nussbaum conveyed to Mrs. Roosevelt his intention to create the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty and extended an invitation to Mrs. Roosevelt to be its first president.
When we look back we realize that during the 70 years of AIDLR’s existence a great number of individuals, institutions and countries have greatly benefited from its ministry and interventions, usually in close cooperation with organizations, states and individuals fighting the same fight of freedom of religion, conviction and conscience.
Dr. Jean Nussbaum’s initial vision to create AIDLR is still alive and more and more timely and necessary today. In 1948 he expressed it this way:
“The goal of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty is to disseminate, all over the world, the principles of this fundamental liberty and to protect, in all legitimate ways, the right of every man to worship as he chooses or to practice no religion at all.
Our Association does not represent any particular church or political party.
It has assumed the task of gathering all spiritual forces to fight intolerance and fanaticism in all their forms. All men, whatever their origin, color of skin, nationality or religion, are invited to join this crusade against sectarianism if they have a love for liberty. The workload ahead is immense, but will certainly not go beyond our strength and means if everybody gets down to work, with courage.”
These are reasons why we are happy as we celebrate AIDLR’s 70th anniversary!
If you identify with this vision and our core values, come and join us for the celebration of the anniversary and the fulfilling of the mission, which is ours and yours as well!