[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 151 (2005), Part 1]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages 1448-1449]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]



                           HON. BEN CHANDLER

                              of kentucky

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, February 2, 2005

  Mr. CHANDLER. Mr. Speaker, this week nearly 4,000 people will attend 
the National Prayer Breakfast, including 1,500 representing 170 nations 
from all continents of the world. What began in 1952 as a small 
gathering, led by President Eisenhower and Senator Frank Carlson of 
Kansas, has evolved over time to being a much larger ecumenical event, 
particularly as it relates to international participation. As my 
colleagues know, the Senate and House prayer groups are official 
sponsors of the National Prayer Breakfast.
  While many of the major faiths are represented, with a special 
emphasis this year on

[[Page 1449]]

involving leaders from Israel and Palestine, the purpose has not 
changed: to emphasize the principles and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth 
as the best means of achieving reconciliation and peace in a troubled 
  Our Nation is challenged as never before to deal with religious 
extremism and the increasing militarism of certain faiths occurring in 
many countries around the world. That is why I appreciate the example 
of Kazakhstan, whose president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is making a 
considerable effort to deal with religious diversity in his country and 
in the region. In fact, all of the world's great religions--Islam, 
Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism, are present and thriving in 
Kazakhstan, thanks to a climate of tolerance and openness in that 
  Kazakhstan today is a model of religious diversity. One half of the 
country's 15 million people are Muslim and roughly one-half are 
Orthodox Christian, with 40 other religions and 100 ethnic minorities 
among its citizens. Leaders of the major religious sects, including 
Russian Orthodox and other Christian as well as Jewish leaders, all say 
there is full freedom of religion in Kazakhstan.
  Pope John Paul II, on a visit to Kazakhstan, called it an ``example 
of harmony between men and women of different origins and beliefs.'' 
Kazakhstan is emerging as an example of regional stability given its 
positive atmosphere regarding religious expression and lack of 
interethnic and inter-religious conflicts.
  In September 2003, Kazakhstan hosted the first ever congress of 
leaders of world and traditional religions. Upon conclusion of the 
congress, 120 religious leaders from 18 different religions unanimously 
adopted a declaration renouncing terrorism and promoting the true 
values of all religions--tolerance, truth, justice and love of one 
another as the basic tenets of all religious teachings. The delegates 
pledged to combat violence by propagating the peaceful values of their 
different faiths.
  Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to learn that Mr. Nurtai Abikayev, who is 
Speaker of the Upper House and chairman of Kazakhstan's National 
Security Council, will be attending this year's National Prayer 
Breakfast and a featured speaker at the International Luncheon. It 
demonstrates not only President Nazarbayev and Speaker Abikayev's 
personal commitment to the idea of religious tolerance in their country 
and throughout Central Asia, but to also learn more about our country's 
tradition and beliefs and how America's religious and ethnic diversity 
has also become a source of strength in our Nation.
  As one who sits on the House International Relations Committee, I 
have come to appreciate the difficulty and challenge these countries 
face in making the transition to Western-style democracies where 
freedom and free markets are new experiences. It has been uneven, to be 
sure, and there is plenty of room for criticism. But I do applaud 
Kazakhstan's leadership and example in insuring that religious freedom 
will be a cornerstone of building a freer society in that country.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude by inserting into the Record 
the Declaration of the Participants of the First Congress of Leaders of 
World and Traditional Religions.