The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University maintains this website to share news of its activites as well as News and daily Headlines about freedom of religion or belief in the United States.
The Center also maintains the website of the Religion and Law Consortium, a research forum for legal developments on international religion or belief topics as well as the site of the Strasbourg Consortium, which is devoted to issues of freedom of conscience or religion at the European Court of Human Rights, including a comprehensive case table of significant freedom of belief cases to come before the Court in its 50-year history.
We thank you for your interest, and invite your participation.
23-24 May 2013. International Symposium on Iraq, 'Human Rights and Justice in Iraq', Istanbul, Turkey. The symposium is sponsored by the International Jurists Union, Istanbul University, Istanbul Sehir University, Istanbul Yeni Yüzyil University, Association of Researchers on The Middle East and Africa (ORDAF), and Lawyers' Association, Brett Scharffs presenting.
31 May 2013. Berkely Center event: The Good Muslim and Religious Freedom, featuring Mona Siddiqui, Charles Butterworth, and Karen Rupprecht, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, Georgetown University, Berkley Center 3rd Floor Conference Room, 12:00 - 2:00 pm. »rsvp required
5 June 2013. Religious Freedom Discussion Series Lecture by Professor Gary Doxey, Brigham Young University.
7-8 June 2013. Freedom of Religion and Non-Discrimination: The Collision of Identities, conference to be held at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, co-sponsored by the Department of Legal Studies... more
The International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) is pleased to announced that Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, is confirmed as the keynote speaker for the Third ICLARS Conference, to be held in the United States, 21-23 August 2013.
Holding both a PhD and a post-doctoral habilitation degree in philosophy, Professor Bielefeldt teaches in the areas of political science, philosophy, law and history. He has taught at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Toronto, and at the time of his UN appointment in 2010 he was professor in the newly created Chair of Human Rights and Human Rights Policy at the University of Erlangen. From 2003-2009 he served as Director of the German Institute for Human Rights.
Other international experts – including Douglas Laycock, John Witte Jr., Asher Moaz, Jeroen Temperman, Agnès Callamard, Kent Greenawald, Rex Adhar, Lawrence Sager, Kayatoun Alidadi, Carmen Aida Dominguez Hidalgo, and Andrew Koppleman — will address such topics as religious pluralism and... more
New York City, NY (16 May 2013) – Tonight Elder Dallin H. Oaks received the highest honor awarded by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the nation’s premier religious liberty law firm, at the 18th anniversary Canterbury Medal Dinner at the Pierre in New York City, NY.
The Canterbury Medal, the Becket Fund award, is given to a person who has “most resolutely refused to render to Caesar that which is God’s.” This year’s medalist, Elder Oaks, Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received the award in recognition of his work defending religious liberty, as a Chicago Law professor, Utah Supreme Court Justice, and Church Apostle.
Past Canterbury Medalists include Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Prison Fellowship founder the late Charles Colson, financier Foster Friess, Archbishop Charles Chaput and the former Ambassador to the Vatican, James R. Nicholson among others. Though diverse in religious... more
Professor Torfs (r) with Ralph Hardy, former Chair of the Center's International Advisory Council,
at Symposium 2012 in Provo
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies congratulates Professor Rik Torfs, a member of the Center's Academic Advisory Board, on his election on 17 May 2013 as Rector of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium). Professor Torfs' four-year mandate will take effect on 1 August 2013.
Professor Torfs holds licentiate degrees from KU Leuven in law (1979), notary sciences (1980), and canon law (1981). In 1987, he successfully defended a doctorate in canon law. He was appointed lecturer of canon law at KU Leuven in 1988 and was promoted to full professor in 1996. He was Dean of the KU Leuven Faculty of Canon Law from 1994-2003. He has in addition been since 2000 visiting professor at both the University of Strasbourg (France) and the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa).... more
On May 14, 2013, at the annual conference of the Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) at Cardiff Law School, University of Cardiff, Wales, Dr. David Kirkham, Senior Fellow for Comparative Law and International Policy and Regional Advisor for the European Union and Council of Europe of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University, made a presentation entitled "Natural Rights and Natural Wrongs: Liberty, Law and Self-Restraint in the Mostly Secular West." The conference was attended by law and religion scholars from throughout the United Kingdom and numerous foreign countries. Professor Norman Doe, Director of Cardiff Law School's Centre for Law and Religion, and Dr. Javier Oliva of the University of Manchester oversaw the proceedings, with assistance from John Duddington (Editor, Law and Justice... more
Professor David M. Kirkham, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University, and Professor Ivan Strenski, University of California, Riverside, delivered the keynote addresses at the conference "Models of Relationship of State and Church: Contemporary Tendencies," which took place 10-11 May 2013 at the American University of Armenia in Yerevan. Sponsored by the Collaboration for Democracy Centre under the direction of Stepan Danielyan, and with the support of the US Embassy in Armenia, the conference was the first of its kind in the country in which scholars focused almost entirely on challenges posed by traditional church-state relationships... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies Student Research Fellows for 2013 have begun their summer's work. The Center wishes these fine students well as they travel to their assignments worldwide. Each year the Center welcomes a group of scholars from the J. Reuben Clark Law School into the Research Fellows program, which involves a five-week summer visiting externship, this year in Salt Lake City and in eleven other locations worldwide, followed by a guided individual research project at Center headquarters in Provo.
The visiting externships take place at the offices of legal counsels for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide and at the Office of General Counsel of the Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students become active participants in the current... more
The 2013 Religious Freedom Discussion Series continued on 8 May with an excellent and informative lecture by Professor Elizabeth Clark, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, which sponsors the series. At the meeting held at noon in the law school and simulcast by Webinar to listeners worldwide, Professor Clark discussed "Converging Challenges to Religious Freedom."
Current challenges to religious freedom around the world come both from highly secular states and from societies closely tied to one... more
"Unprecedented Repression of Religious Minorities and NGOs in Russia" was the subject of a two-hour side-event organized by Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l (HRWF Int'l), the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies (KCIS) at the United Nations in Geneva on 29 April 2013.
This event focused on recent, unprecedented human rights violations in Russia, particularly where religious liberty is concerned. The meeting was scheduled to take place on the day that the Russian Federation was being reviewed... more
The J. Reuben Clark Law School held its annual Barrister’s Ball & Awards Banquet at the Provo City Library on 28 March 2013. Among the awards received by students were service awards presented by The International Center for Law and Religion Studies. M. Brandon Bastian and Cecily Elizabeth Couture each received the Center's Meritorious Service Award, given to graduating law students who render extraordinary service to the Center during their three years of law school. Brandon
The conference "Challenges for Democracy: Religion, Law and Dialogue in the CIS and Baltics", was held 25-27 April 2013 at the Baltic International Academy in Riga, Latvia. The conference brought together scholars and government leaders from the CIS and Baltics to look at law and religion issues in this region.
The conference organizing committee consisted of Ringolds Balodis, University of Latvia; Elizabeth Clark and Cole Durham, Brigham Young University; Ekaterina Elbakyan, Academy of Labor and Social Relations (Moscow); Merilin Kiviorg, Oxford University; Andrei Tatarchuk, Baltic International Academy; and Renata Uitz, Central European University.
The conference was sponsored by the Baltic International Academy; the... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies has announced the Twentieth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, to be held 6-8 October 2013 in Provo, Utah.
The theme of this year's conference will be "Religion and Human Rights," with the following sub-themes:
* Religion, Human Rights, and the Courts
* Tensions Between Religious and Other Human Rights
* Religious and Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights
The Center is also pleased to announce the members of the Symposium Executive Committee, comprised of students from the J. Reuben Clark Law School who will play a major role in planning and carrying out the logistics of the conference.
Watch this space for more information
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies announces the third Religious Freedom Discussion Series. The lectures, followed by a brief question & answer period, are held in room 472 JRCB on the campus of Brigham Young University at noon on six Wednesdays each year, and are simulcast by limited-space Webinar to listeners worldwide. The public is invited to attend the lectures in person. For those joining by Webinar, early registration to secure a place is encouraged. Webinar links are available on iclrs.org one week before each lecture.
The right to freedom of religion is increasingly vulnerable worldwide. Recent studies find that 75 percent of the world’s population live under high or very high restrictions on religious freedom, and restrictions in many... more
In an important contribution to the 10th Anniversary Issue of The Review of Faith & International Affairs, Professor Brett G. Scharffs explores "International Law and the Defamation of Religion Conundrum." Professor Scharffs is Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University.
Since the late 1990s, notes Professor Scharffs, there has been a concerted effort by many Muslim-majority countries and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to incorporate a ban on "defamation of religion" into international law. In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted, with the support of the OIC, Resolution 16/18, which shifted away from the idea of defamation to focus... more
W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of The International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Susa Young Gates Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, presented the first lecture in the third Religious Freedom Discussion Series on Wednesday, 20 March 2013. Professor Durham's topic was "Against Free Exercise Reductionism."
- The PowerPoint presentation: download here.
- The recording of the live Webinar: mp4 format wmv format
A growing number of voices are suggesting that a separate constitutional protection for free exercise of religion... more
Brett G. Scharffs, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Associate Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University Law School has published the article "John Banzhaf's Fatwa against Catholic University" in the 10 January 2013 issue of the University of Chicago Divinity School's online publication, Sightings. The article concerns a human rights complaint against Catholic University for not making prayer space available for Muslim students.
Excerpts: "On first glance, this looks like an example of a powerful religious majority institution refusing to accommodate a small minority religion within its own sphere. Resorting to a... more
Islam and Political-Cultural Europe
W. Cole Durham Jr., David M. Kirkham, Tore Lindholm, eds.
Islam and Political-Cultural Europe identifies the sometimes confusing and often contentious new challenges that arise in daily life and institutions as Islam settles deeper into Europe. Critiquing past and recent assimilation efforts in the fields of education, finance, and security, the contributors offer prospective solutions to diverse contemporary problems. Exploring the interactions... more
The Future of Religious Freedom: Global Challenges, edited by Allen D. Hertzke, Presidential Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma, is now available from Oxford University Press. The book's first chapter, "The Status of and Threats to International Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief," was authored by Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS), President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion; assisted by Matthew K. Richards, member of the First Amendment & Religious Organizations section and shareholder with the law firm Kirton McConkie; and Donlu D. Thayer, ICLRS Managing Editor and a Case Note Editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.... more
RELIGARE ('Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe: Innovative Approaches to Law and Policy') is a European framework project focusing on the ways in which European states govern the diversity of religions and beliefs within their territories. Its ultimate aim is to advance 'promising practices' through an in-depth comparative study of case law and sociological data on the freedom of religion and the right to nondiscrimination. A two-day conference held 4-5 December offered a unique opportunity to discuss and reflect upon the projects key findings.
The first day (4 December - University of Leuven) was dedicated to a detailed presentation and an in-depth discussion of the research results among... more
Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, delivered the paper "Regulating Religion: Formal and Informal Mechanisms of State and Social Oversight in an Easy-entry Registration System — The U.S. Experience" at the Beijing Forum 2012, "The Harmony of Civilizations and Properity of All," held 2-4 November 2012 in Beijing. Professor Scharffs was a participant in the second of the Forum's 10... more
Please be aware that photographs by Erlyn and Duane Madsen, Linda Nearon, Lynn Anderson, and David Westerby taken during the 18th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium (2011) are now available online. Photos from the 2012 Symposium – taken by Matt Imbler, Crys Kevan Lee, Page Johnson, and David Christensen – have also been posted. To view photos from recent Symposia, click the links below:
The 19th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium was held 7-9 October 2012 at the J. Reuben Clark Law School on the campus of Brigham Young University.
The Symposium – "Religion, Democracy, and Civil Society" – opened as delegates, invited guests, hosts, students, and friends of the university, as well as viewers worldwide accessing the live Internet stream, heard keynote addresses by Professor Silvio Ferrari, Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, and Commissioner Katrina Lantos Swett. Professor Ferrari also received this year's Distinguished Service Award.
During the two days following, more than 75 experts – including government and religious leaders as well as leading academics, from the United States and more than 40 other countries – met in plenary sessions to consider the topics "The Role of Religion in Democratic Transformations", "Religious Organizations, Civil Society, and Pluralism", "Religion... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was pleased to welcome three distinguished keynote speakers for the Nineteenth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium: Professor Silvio Ferrari of the law faculties of the universities of Milan (Italy) and Leuven (Belgium), Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the United States' Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Freedom. ... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University is pleased to announce that the Distinguished Service Award for 2012 was presented to Professor Silvio Ferrari at the Nineteenth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium on the evening of 8 October 2012 in Provo, Utah. The award is given annually to outstanding proponents of the cause of freedom of religion or belief worldwide, and the Center is most pleased to recognize the longtime and extensive contributions of Professor Ferrari to this cause.
Silvio Ferrari is Professor of Canon Law at the University of Milan and Professor of Church-State Relations at the University of Leuven in Belgium. He has been visiting professor in Paris (École Pratique des Hautes Études) and Berkeley (University of California). He advises many international organizations, including the European Union and the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He has founded, together with other professors, the European Consortium for Church and State Research. Professor Ferrari is a member of the... more
The 2012 Religious Liberty Honor was presented to Professor Douglas Laycock at the third International Religious Freedom Awards Dinner, held 11 October 2012 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington DC. The award is given annually by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University.
Also announced at the Awards Dinner were the winners of the Third Annual Religious Freedom Student Writing Competition.
Those in attendance at the dinner were welcomed by Michael Merrell, Chair of the International Religious Liberty Award Committee. The invocation... more