News Release

Church of Jesus Christ Hosts Religious, Traditional and Media Leaders at Religious Freedom Event in Benin

Participants discuss religious tolerance and social cohesion through religious unity

Sup Ev. Barthélémy Togbe from the Church of Celestial Christianity at the religious freedom event in Benin on 20 April 2024.2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

On 20 April 2024, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted an Easter commemoration event at the Cotonou Benin Stake Center. The theme of the event was "Promoting Religious Freedom."  Participating were several religious leaders of many faiths, prominent university professors, traditional leaders, media figures, and leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ.

Presiding at the event was President Ange Sahoui of the Cotonou Benin Stake of the Church. He was joined by President Kelly Lundeen and Sister Tina Lundeen, mission leaders in the Benin Cotonou Mission.

Moderating the event was Bio Maman Rachidatou, a prominent journalist from the national television station Chanel. The musical numbers were provided by the Beninese Unity Choir, a local group made up of members from many denominations.

The event included a discussion among the guests about the importance of religious freedom, tolerance between different faiths and beliefs, and social cohesion through religious unity. Some of the questions discussed included:

 -How do you define religious freedom in your local congregations?

-Why do you think it is important that everyone has the right to express themselves and act on their beliefs?

-What effect would it have on our lives to not be able to express ourselves or act according to our beliefs, including our religious opinions?

-How does religious freedom benefit all members of society?

"We pray for the community to remain united and have unity in our differences. God is one and indivisible, so we must remain one and indivisible. That is why we are here today, to learn to be one,” said Dada Soumadjehouegni, King of the Boïzans and local traditional leader. “It is not enough to be King; you must learn from others day by day. You will never see a war between indigenous or traditional religions because we are tolerant.”

Benjamin Honoré Nahum, a local journalist in Cotonou, said, "The real problem we have is a problem of tolerance, and it starts from our families. We must educate our children to accept each other. If you are well educated, you must be able to love others in their difference because difference enriches.”

President Lundeen noted the importance of communication in maintaining interfaith unity.

“It is important to talk together and to discuss and share things because we have so many things in common. We are all children of God. God is our Father. We call Him by many names, but He is the same God," he said.

In his remarks, Sup Ev. Barthélémy Togbe from the Church of Celestial Christianity thanked the Church of Jesus Christ for bringing the diverse group together.

“I have never come to a meeting like this, but thanks to this experience, I can note that love is being cultivated on a global level, and particularly in our country Benin,” he said. 

He added, “I see that the session today has brought together everyone, all the religions that are in the country, and asks us to cultivate love. The follower of Vodoun (a local religion) is no different from the Christian, and the Christian is no different than the Muslim. We are all children of one Father who is the Heavenly Father. Let us learn to cultivate love so that there is peace in our country Benin.”

In his concluding remarks, President Sahoui shared, “The message of this conference is religious freedom. I personally know that we are all God's children, and as God's children, we must be united and must express love for our neighbor. This conference has welcomed all and we pray that this will continue over time, that it will be repeated so that other religious denominations can come together and discuss and share wonderful moments like today.”

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