Religious freedom for all, even in Italy

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July 2, 2010 

More than a thousand people marched joyfully in central Rome on 19th June for religious freedom and for pluralism in the media. The rally was called for by the Italian Evangelical Alliance together with other faith communities, the Radical Party and other cultural movements to ask for full religious freedom in the country and for access to the media for all religious expressions.  

Before the event, figures were released about religious coverage in RAI (the national media service):  almost 100% of the time is given to the Roman Catholic Church, in spite of the fact than more than 10% of the population is not catholic  and that the law prescribes to RAI to reflect pluralism. Moreover, although there is no longer a state-religion, Italian politics, media, culture still operates according to a monolithic pattern, thinking that religion in Italy only means Roman Catholicism. 

While marching, people used slogans like: “No privileges, nor  special protection. We only ask for respect of the Constitution”; “One, hundreds, thousands of convictions. RAI opens the televisions for all”; “Pluralism is a resource. Italy come out of backward looking”; “Italy is a multi-religious nation. Information must respect it”, “Let’s give to Caesar what is of Caesar. Let’s give to God what is of God”, etc. 

The end of the march was at Campo de’ Fiori, the place where “heretics” through the centuries have been burnt, several of them because of their Protestant faith. Symbolically then, religious freedom was honoured precisely where it had been denied. Evangelical theologian Giuseppe Rizza addressed the crowd saying that caring for religious freedom is biblical (God created us with this original freedom), Christian (more than 80% of the violations of religious freedom are suffered  by Christians around the world), and fruitful (when religious freedom is respected, there are conditions for justice for all and development). Evangelicals care for religious freedom for all and for the welfare of the nation. 

For videos and full coverage of the march, see www.alleanzaevangelica.org  

Leonardo De Chirico
Italian Evangelical Alliance