On Saturday September 19th, the Second Edition of the Religious Freedom Awards were delivered, within the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Church of Scientology in Spain. The celebration was followed by two wonderful performances of the singers Nerea Acevedo and Carolina Rodriguez, who played special songs to raise the spirit. (SEE ALL THE PICTURES AT THE END)
In a crowded Hall with circa 100 people, including Scientologists, friends, civic leaders and scholars, the candels were blown for the 35 years of Scientology rooting in Spain. Before the cakes were brought, Ivan Arjona, President of the religion in Spain, presented the Second Edition of the Religious Freedom Awards. This award was born last year in Madrid, by the Church of Scientology of Spain, after seeing that there was no similar award given for the promotion and defense of religious freedom.
In the words of the certificate received by the awardees: “The Spanish Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, exalt the need of Religious Freedom, since the individual and associative awareness about human existence is linked to the search for the origin and reason for creation” and to symbolize the award Tizona Sword from Toledo is delivered. The certificate also says that “Of all the weapons invented by man, none reached the esoteric symbolism and mystery of the Sword” and “The sword symbolizes the virtues: wisdom, strength, moderation and justice. Sanity, calls for caution, the Strenght, which is the virtue that makes a man stand firm facing the dangers that come to him. The measure, which is temperance, peace of mind .The justice, which is law to apply and go with it.”
Prior to announce the awardees, Mr. Ricardo García García, thanked the existence of these prizes and congratulated the participants for these 35 years of hard work. The awardees this year were:
-Department of Ecclesiastical Law at the University of Leon, formed by Prof. Salvador Tarodo and Prof. Paulino Pardo;
-Prof. Mercedes Murillo Muñoz, currently Technical Advisor of the General Department of Relations with the Denominations(Faiths) of the Ministry of Justice
– and British lawyer Mr. Peter David Hodkin
At the awards ceremony, Professor Tarodo said:
“I take this prize as an incentive for the future to continue defending religious freedom” … “all of us, both those who are dedicated to the study of religious freedom, and everyone else, we have to be continuously on watch and permanently committed to defend religious freedom”
On the other hand, Prof. Mercedes Murillo told attendees:
“We live in an increasingly pluralistic society … and by being different and being plural, we are better and thereby enrich the society in which we live”. “I would like at this point to especially remember those living in contexts in which they are persecuted because of their beliefs” and at the end stressed that “we all must act to defend religious freedom.”
And the last award of the night, was delivered to the lawyer Mr. Peter Hodkin, who traveled by the English judicial system to ensure that his daughter could get married by her own church, heading all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and thereby achieving recognition of the Church of Scientology as a religion in their country. In his acceptance speech for the award, Mr. Hodkin said:
“Religious freedom is something very close to my heart, and it is something for which I worked as a lawyer for many years.” and described what religion means to him: “… life is not an object. Life is something that can perceive and manage objects in the physical universe. And religion is simply a belief in life“.
After that, Nerea Acevedo and Carolina Rodriguez interpreted 3 beautiful songs that raised the spirit, commitment and motivation of all attendees; and right after the various leaders took to the stage to help blow out the candles of two pies the completed the sweetening of the evening to all attendees.
Before the end of the event, Ivan Arjona made the announcement that many Scientologists and many friends of the Church of Scientology were waiting for; and this was the forming of a Foundation which purpose will be to promote human rights, the teachings and practices of Scientology for the improvement of the individuals and society, and to promote tolerance in this world that is so plural and needy of unity. The name chosen was “Foundation for the Improvement of Life, Culture and Society” and it is scheduled to begin its activities at the entrance of 2016.
The Scientology religion came to Spain from the hand of its founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 60s, but it was not until 1980 that the first church was established. Currently it has more than 11,000 churches, missions and groups in more than 189 countries. Its recognition by scholars, governments, judiciaries and civil society, has been increasing at the same rate as the growth of implementation in countries around the world, including with the recognition of European Court of Human Rights, the U.S. IRS, The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the High Court and Ministry of Justice of Spain, among others.
Among the attendees, also were: Mr. Ricardo García García, Deputy Director of Relations with the Confessions of the Ministry of Justice; Ms. Mercedes Murillo Muñoz, his Technical Advisor who also received an award; Mr. Dionisio Llamazares; Mr. Fernando Arias, Director of the Foundation for Pluralism and Coexistence; Prof. Salvador Tarodo; the attorney Mr. Gonzalo Martinez-Fresneda; Mr. Joaquín Antuña, President of the Peace and Cooperation Foundation; attorney Mr. Ivan Jimenez- Aybar; Mr. Angel Jose Gomez, President of the Stake of Madrid East of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; attorney Ms. Isabel Ayuso Puente; Mr. Marcelo Cabezas, President of the Platform United Social Action; Mr. Simon Nong , President of the NGO Africa Activa; Ms. Bertha Cazco director of magazine Eventos en Red; Ms. Maria Orozco of of the association Tears and Smiles; Mr. Roberto Sastre director of TV Channel HAtv; and ESImagen production company, among many others.