Christians come together in Latvia to influence society


Eastern Europe

Viktorija Slavinska-Kostigova

Finnish Päivi Räsänen speaking at a conference in Latvia. Photo Samuel Lemantovich

Listening to foreign experiences, discussing the value of human life, and reflecting upon political influence. That is a grab from the conference “Human and Family Identity Today and Forever” last week in Riga, Latvia.

No less than 210 participants from 15 countries came together in Riga, all with one goal: to be enlightened about family’s place in society.

Rotberga speaking at the conference. Photo Facebook

“We are a light to the world and a city on a hill that cannot be hidden”, started Aiga Rotberga at the conference. The head of the Christian Medical Association in Latvia repeated those words at the end of the two-day meeting.

“We are pleased that we managed to find many answers to the currently relevant identity issues in society, as well as to establish new contacts with representatives of both Latvian and foreign organisations,” says Aiga Rotberga, the head of the Christian Medical Association (Kristīgo Mediķu Biedrība) in her country.

One of the key addresses was given by the Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen, who is in a legal battle about expressions regarding Christian sexual ethics. She said it is essential to stand in faith when facing trial for expressing beliefs. This has allowed many to return to Christ, who have followed this long-standing trial for many years.

She visited Latvia together with her husband, theology doctor Niilo Rasanen. The attendees of both speeches bid them farewell with loud applause and standing ovations, congratulating them on their 39th wedding anniversary. Blessings for the Räsänen couple were offered by Zbignev Stankevich, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Riga.

Rotberga took the initiative for the conference. For her, it was successful. She said she enjoyed the speeches and panel discussions. Even before the end of the meeting, the start was made with the translation of a book by René Écochard from France, one of the conference speakers. “Man, Woman, What Neuroscience Tells Us” will appear in Latvian. Another fruit is a documentary for which recordings of the lectures and interviews during the conference will be used as a basis.

The conference was opened by the founder and leading pastor of the “Novi Sad Nexus Church” in Serbia, Nenad Radeka. The pastor reminded that the sanctity of life and its inviolability stem from the conviction that humans are created by God. Human beings possess the highest value from conception to the last day of life. No one in this world is born by chance or considered unnecessary.

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Radeka at the podium. Photo Gundars Bremze

Similarly, Radeka emphasised that, unfortunately, “the most dangerous place for human life is not Gaza or Ukraine, but the mother’s womb.” More people die from abortions than in wars. As the pastor points out, abortions and euthanasia are a direct attack on human life.

“Human identity begins and continues within the family”, said Andars Ignacs, the head of the Latvian Men’s Association and one of the conference organisers. “The speeches at the conference clearly showed how important it is to know one’s identity, to explore it, and to live by it.”

He emphasises that such a conference took place in Latvia for the first time, and the unique benefit of these days was for all NGO representatives. Already on the evening of the first day, a special NGO presentation evening took place, where representatives from 25 Latvian and foreign NGOs, including paediatrician and founder of the “For Life” movement in Romania, David Ille, talked about their activities in the sphere of defending life, family, and human values.

He revealed that in Romania, the issue of abortion is especially problematic. For many years, this country has had one of the highest abortion rates. As Ille tells Latvian Christian Radio (Latvijas Kristigais Radio), the situation regarding defending life has improved, also thanks to the activities of the “For Life” movement. Over 26 years, assistance has been provided to 35,000 women, and the lives of 800 babies have been saved.

The specialist emphasises that alongside practical assistance to women facing choices, society needs to discuss these topics because “if the other side, which supports abortions, speaks up, then it’s not fair if we remain silent. We need to explain our position more broadly.”

Speakers at the conference included Adina Portaru, Senior Counsel for Europe at ADF International; Per Ewert, director of one of Sweden’s leading Christian think tanks and research institutes; Jeffrey Barrows, Senior Vice President of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations from the USA; Pastor Nenad Radeka from Serbia; and Oliver Steiner, an electrical engineering and communication engineer from Germany. Lecturers and participants were represented from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia, the USA, Germany, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, and other countries.

The conference was organised by the Christian Medical Association in cooperation with the “Family Association” and the “Latvian Men’s Association”. More information can be found on social media platforms as well as on the website Par dabisku ģimeni (For the natural family).

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Podium discussion. Photo Gundars Bremze

Science does not contradict our belief in God, said one panel moderator, political scientist Andis Kudors. “The media hardly ever discuss these topics. But here, the people can hear the answers from experts and those researching the topic for many years.” He especially mentioned the French physicist and epidemiologist René Écochard and the Lithuanian professor Gintautas Vaitoska.

Rihards Kostigovs, the head of the Association Family (Asociācija Ģimene), appreciates that during these two days, everyone had the opportunity to receive concentrated, research-based information about people from the perspective of neuroscience, gender ideologies, abortions, euthanasia, the influence of artificial intelligence and modern technology, as well as to view the sanctity of life and human values from a faith perspective.

“We heard legal, medical, and scientifically based explanations of the basic impacts and sought solutions to questions about family, marriage, and society survival”, emphasised Kostigovs. “For us as carriers of conservative thought, it is certainly necessary to continue the path of discussions initiated to be visible and audible about the currently discussed hot ideological issues in society.”



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