More than 4,000 youth from Seventh-Day Adventist marched from Harare Province to join over 30,000 others at Glamis Stadium in Zimbabwe to celebrate religious liberty on June 21. The country’s prisons band played for Pathfinders who carried placards reading slogans such as “Celebrating Religious Liberty in Zimbabwe.”
Miriam Chikukwa, Minister of State in the President’s office, who served as the guest of honour, spoke of the government’s commitment to protect religious liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution. She reassured people that the government would not think twice before arresting those who perpetrate violence in the name of religion.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which runs 142 primary and secondary schools, universities, clinics and orphanages, has a total membership of 860,000 in Zimbabwe alone. The church started operating in the country in 1894 and it has grown consistently with the help of government aid and support. The event was organized by East Zimbabwe Conference, which is affiliated with the Zimbabwe Union Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventists.
Paul Charles, communication director for the religious denomination’s regional division, told those that had assembled at the parade that the purpose of the celebration was for Seventh-Day Adventists to express their gratitude to the government of Zimbabwe for allowing the church as much religious freedom as it enjoys. He also requested Adventists to respect the beliefs of those that belong to other religious denominations.
“The reason why we love each other, even though we do not know each other is that in you I see the image of God and in me you see the image of God,” said Charles.