A public vote held by the Ministry of Education of Brazil that resulted in changes to the National High School Exam (Enem) is a victory, not only for Sabbath keepers, but also for religious liberty.
Minister of State Mendonça Filho shared on March 9 that of the more than 600,000 people who participated in the national vote, 64 percent favored holding the Enem on two consecutive Sundays instead of a Saturday and Sunday, marking the official change of the exam’s schedule effective immediately.
Every year it is estimated that more than 70,000 students request an alternative time to take the Enem.
Those who set aside Saturday for religious activities and community service have felt discriminated against since the exam was created. In the past, Sabbath-keepers arrived at the exam’s location on Saturdays and sat in an isolated room until after the Sabbath ended, which was when they would begin their test.
“I think that a young person who sees himself in front of this exam, which is already exhausting, from the effort every young person does, and even more, having to be confined for 4 hours, is in a disadvantage in relation to everyone else”, said Filho. He went on to say, “We need to promote this exam, but treating everyone with dignity, respecting human rights and, providing equal ideals and conditions to evaluate it.”
Freedom of Thought Principle
Recently, individuals in Brazil have fought to have their rights respected when faced with situations that involve freedom of thought and worship. By changing the Enem testing day, the Brazilian government showed it is interested in understanding the reality of thousands of people who not only see Saturday as the Sabbath, but as an opportunity to obey a divine commandment.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brazil praised the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Brazilians who participated in the vote for respecting the faith of Sabbath observers.
“Sabbath-keepers, especially Seventh-day Adventists, are not seeking more privileges than other candidates,” said Erton Köhler, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America. “Quite the opposite, they desire to have the same opportunity when it comes to such an important program that can not only guarantee, but define the professional future of thousands of people.”
“The results of the public poll makes this reality equal to everyone. And I take this opportunity to thank all Seventh-day Adventists that voted and did something to make this a reality,” said Köhler.
The Seventh-day Adventist World Church is made up of more than 20 million members in more than 200 countries, 1.6 million of which live in Brazil alone.