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Kader leads Kosovo delegation in discussion of religion and law

January 08, 2009

Professor David Kader, who teaches “Religion and the Constitution” at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, will give a presentation to a delegation from Kosovo on Jan. 7, as part of a three-week “citizen’s exchange” seminar with religious and non-governmental leaders from Kosovo.

The seminar is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and organized by ASU’s Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“The citizen’s exchange project represents part of a relatively new State Department effort to use citizen exchanges to highlight ties with international ‘faith communities,’ with particular focus upon parts of the Muslim world,” according to Stephen K. Batalden, director of the Melikian Center. “The State Department also views this citizen’s exchange as contributing to the advancement of inter-ethnic understanding in Kosovo by drawing the visiting Kosovo delegation into sustained discussion with their American counterparts, comparing the Kosovo situation with how religious institutions operate within American civil society.”

The seminar sessions were created to highlight touchstone issues involving American faith communities and the broader civil society.

Kader will be the discussion leader for a session titled, “Religion and the Law in America.” It is described as an opening session on constitutional/legal conditions governing the free expression of religion in America (including informal introduction of issues posed by Noah Feldman in his recent monograph, Divided by God: America’s Church-State Problem – and What We Should Do About It). The Rev. Jan Olav Flaaten, executive director of the Arizona Ecumenical Council will serve as moderator for the discussion.

The delegation coming from Kosovo is roughly representative of the population as a whole, with 12 Kosovar Albanians, one Serb, and one Bosnian. By religious affiliation, the group is composed of 10 Muslims, including a Bosnian imam; two Kosovar Catholics, including a Franciscan monk from Prizren; one Serbian Orthodox journalist; and one Kosovar Protestant.

Kader has worked with the Melikian Center, speaking to delegations of religious leaders from Bosnia who have made two, two-week visits to Arizona in the past four years. He  visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in June as part of two events discussing freedom of religion. The first, a two-week seminar that began June 3 in Sarajevo, was sponsored by the U.S. State Department and organized by the Melikian Center. In this trip, a group of about 10 Arizonans is visiting the war-torn region to share discussions on “Faith Communities and Civil Society.” The second event was a one-day conference on “Secularism and Religious Pluralism as a Prerequisite for Actual Democracy,” in Zagreb, Croatia, organized by the Open Society Institute. Kader delivered the conference’s plenary talk, titled “Religious Liberty in an Open Society.”

Judy Nichols,
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law