The United States Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program invited Joe Shadle, director for Xavier University’s Center for Mission and Identity, Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director for Interfaith Community Engagement, James Buchanan, director of the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, and Xavier students to meet with a ten-member group participating in a regional project for Africa entitled “Religious Freedom in the United States.”
The group is in the United States getting an overview of religious freedom and tolerance amid diverse populations in the U.S., as well as the role of religious and faith-based organizations in various arenas, including community service, education, and electoral politics.
“We were excited to share Xavier’s rich tradition and mission with the delegates as they seek to better understand the intersection of religion and society in the United States,” said Shadle.
The State Department outlined the following key objectives for the project:
• To explain the core values of individual freedom of conviction, expression, and worship in U.S. society;
• To examine the role of religious leaders in the community;
• To observe the interplay between religion and politics in the U.S.;
• To explore how religious conviction relates to charitable and community activism in fields such as education, health care and social service initiatives.
The African visitors requested an overview of the mission of Xavier University, a tour of campus, and a discussion with students about their experience of attending a Jesuit Catholic University.
“On Friday night, the delegation will be my guests at the dining commons for our traditional end-of-semester Shabbat dinner,” said Rabbi Ingber. “Only at Xavier University could a rabbi from a Jesuit Catholic University bring African religious leaders, students from their African hometowns, and students from all over the world together for a Shabbat experience.”
Other international delegations have visited at Xavier, including Africa in 2011, Vietnam in 2010 and Saudi Arabia in 2008.