The Belarussians are coming!!!

The State Department called me yesterday to see if I'd speak to a group from Belarus. It is a eclectic mix of officials- a Jew, Christian, and Hare Krishna -- all coming to the U.S. on this junket:

RELIGION IN THE U.S. A Freedom Support Grant Project for Belarus

These visitors are invited to the United States under the auspices of the State Department
International Visitor Program.

March 6 - 28, 2004


The participants will be exposed to the diverse religious, social and cultural life of Americans. The visitors will:

· Explore the meaning and significance of the constitutional provision against governmental establishment of religion (“separation of church and state”)

· Discuss with representatives of the legislative and executive branches of the government issues of religious freedom domestically and internationally

· Learn about the role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play in defining and mediating the status of religion in the U.S.

· Examine the role of religious communities in the area of volunteerism

· Meet with representatives of various faith communities to exchange observations on the practice of their faiths in the United States and their relations with other denominations and faiths

· Become acquainted with the role of the U.S. Military Chaplain Corps in promoting religious identity and tolerance

· Examine the relationship between the news media and religious practice in the U. S.