Russian Leaders To Discuss Religious Freedom Issues July 3-4

July 1, 2003

Russian leaders involved in shaping religion policy in their country will visit Baylor University's J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies for a program on religious freedom and church-state issues on Thursday and Friday, July 3-4, through the U.S. Congress-sponsored Open World Program.

The 18 Russian leaders, who come from 14 different regions, include an official from the Ministry of Education, an adviser to the Administrative Office of the Russian Federation Commissioner for Human Rights and regional and municipal officials involved in overseeing religious associations.

Managed by the Center for Russian Leadership Development at the Library of Congress, Open World gives Russian leaders a hands-on introduction to American democratic and economic institutions in communities across the United States. It is the only exchange program housed in the U.S. legislative branch.

"The delegates all treasure the opportunity to learn about our tradition of religious liberty in America, which is the focus of their trip," said Dr. Derek Davis, professor and director of the Dawson Institute. "Russia is in transition, politically and culturally, and the Russian people naturally look to us as a possible model to try to emulate in many ways--although Russians always like to be thought of as distinctively Russian and not overly influenced by any other nation or culture."

While in Waco, the group will participate in cultural and educational activities including a panel discussion regarding Russian-American relations, American perceptions of Russia, religion in Russia, Russia's place in the world; a colloquium on American church-state issues; and a lecture on the international war on terrorism.

The Russian delegation also will visit Homestead Heritage community outside Waco and attend a Texas Rangers baseball game and Independence Day fireworks display in Arlington.

For more information or a schedule of events, contact Dr. Derek Davis, professor and director of the Dawson Institute, at 710-1510.

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