Transylvanian Unitarians Celebrate the Proclamation of the Act on Religious Freedom

By Eric Cherry

Torda Painting 2011
Please enjoy this exciting news from the Transylvania Unitarian Church: On January 13, 2012 the Consistory of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church honors the 444th anniversary of the proclamation of the first law on freedom of belief and conscience, and religious tolerance. In January 1568, King Janos Zsigmond and his court preacher, David Ferenc had the Diet of Transylvania pass, at its session held in Torda, the Patent of Toleration, which stated:
In every place the preachers shall preach and explain the gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well; if not, no one shall compel them but they shall keep the preachers whose doctrine they approve. Therefore none of the Superintendents or others shall annoy or abuse the preachers on account of their religion, according to the previous constitutions, or allow any to be imprisoned or be punished by removal from his post on account of his teaching, for faith is the gift of God, this comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The celebrations start in the morning in the Unitarian church of Torda with a worship service that includes a history lecture on the importance of the Act on Religious Freedom. Then, the congregation will walk over to the National Museum of Torda which was reopened in fall 2011 after many long years of restoration. The purpose of visit is to salute the new exhibition of the famous painting on the 1568 event, which was also restored over the past decade. The painting entitled The Proclamation of the Act on Religious Freedom at the 1568 Session of the Transylvanian Diet was painted by Aladár Körösfői Kriesch in 1896.

The celebrations will continue with an evening worship service in the Unitarian church of Kolozsvár, and a concert featuring the children’s choir of the Unitarian High School. The day will be closed with a reception at the residence of the Unitarian bishops, built in the 15th century, currently expecting the launching of a major restoration work. The Consistory of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church thankfully acknowledges the contribution of the Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist international community to urging the completion of the restoration works at the museum in Torda. Among other things, it was due to the international campaign lead in 2009 and 2010 by the International Council of the Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) and the International Relations Office of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) that the renovation works were speed up, and eventually finished. This way, the painting, a symbol of the struggle of our liberal faith for the recognition of the religious freedom, became accessible again for the public.

About the Author

Eric Cherry

Eric was the Director of the UUA’s International Office since August 2007. Prior to this Eric served for 12 years as a parish minister with UU congregations in Burlington, Iowa and N. Easton, Massachusetts. Eric has long been involved in the UU Partner Church movement, serving as the English...


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