W ashington, D.C., USA ... [ANN] Under the headline "Austrian Parliament puts faith in limbo," today’s Washington Times (December 11) reports yesterday’s vote by Austria’s Parliament approving a restrictive religious law, cites Seventh-day Adventists as being affected, and showcases a quoted response from Adventist John Graz.

"We appreciate the importance the Times gives to this disturbing development," says Graz, director of the Adventist Church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department. "For a European nation to vote a law that is in some ways even more restrictive than the recent Russian law is of great concern to all who value religious liberty."

The Times article quotes Graz as saying "People who are members of religious minorities in Europe now are more or less second-class citizens. The media attacks you, and you are viewed as suspect. Today you are designated as potentially dangerous."

The article also mentions Adventists numbering 10,000 in Austria and that they have tried to gain legal recognition for 20 years, "but now face another decade of scrutiny in that attempt," says the paper.

"The Austrian decision can be viewed as an aberration in a long history of religious tolerance across Europe," says Ray Dabrowski, Communication director at the Adventist Church’s World Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. "It is in stark contrast with acts of Parliament passed in Italy, Spain, Poland and Scandinavia that make religious bodies equal before the law." [Jonathan Gallagher]