Religious Tolerance Group from Kyrgyzstan Visit

Written by Hannah Crivello
April 9, 2014
Report from Rabbi Anson Laytner:
On March 10th, faculty, staff and graduate students from Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry, along with the Ecumenical and Multifaith Campus Minister and a student representative, met with delegates from Kyrgyzstan. The visitors came to Seattle University courtesy of the State Department and the World Affairs Council. The group, which included the deputy director of the State Commission on Religious Affairs; the director of the Center for World Religions and Cultures at Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University; the department head of the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science, Culture and Sport; and a legal expert with the Kyrgyz Parliament; were touring the US to learn about how we practice religious tolerance, particularly as it applies to educational institutions.? Kyrgyzstan, a pro-Western, primarily Muslim country that borders on Afghanistan, is struggling to balance the conservative religious outlook of many in their society with the government?s desire to promote good interreligious relations and modernization.? Of particular interest to them was learning how a Jesuit Catholic institution manages to remain true to its heritage and open to the views and participation of peoples of other faiths and spiritual backgrounds.? With many of their younger students attending madrassas (traditional Muslim religious schools) that offer no ?modern? or ?secular? subjects, they were fascinated to learn how Catholic and Jewish parochial schools are required by the State of Washington to teach the standard secular curriculum in addition to their religious content.