The Center sponsors, co-sponsors, and participates in numerous conferences annually. To date (mid 2015), the Center, since its inception in 2000, has helped organize more than 300 academic conferences and workshops in approximately 50 countries. These events involve government, academic, and religious leaders, and are aimed at making a practical difference in the implementation of religious freedom principles. The Center typically partners with local and international leaders in the field, allowing for diverse viewpoints and backgrounds to be represented in each of the conferences.

Image for Religious Freedom Annual Review 2015: 'Fairness for All'

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson of the University of Illinois College of Law, and Director W. Cole Durham Jr. of BYU Law School's International Center for Law and Religion Studies were among the experts participating in the 2015 Religious Freedom Annual Review," Fairness for All," sponsored by the Center and hosted July 6-8 by BYU Continuing Education.

Click to view conference

Video presentations are also available on YouTube.

The purpose of the event was to provide an update for lawyers... more

Image for The 2015 Oxford Conference: Magna Carta and Freedom of Religion or Belief

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies, in cooperation with the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, hosted its 2015 Oxford Conference June 21-24  at St Hugh's College, Oxford. The event began with a devotional Sunday evening at the Oxford LDS Meetinghouse, featuring an address Religious Freedom and the Habits of the Heart by Elder Brcue C. Hafen, Emeritus General Authority and Member of the First Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a violin performance of Ave Maria (Bach / Gounod) by Mark Oshia of Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, accompanied by Elder Hafen.


Monday featured presentations at St Hugh's College addressing the conference theme, Magna Carta and Freedom of Religion or Belief and concluding with a keynote address by Professor Nicholas Vincent, University of East Anglia, Historical Researcher of The Magna Carta Project.... more

Image for Brett Scharffs at Symposium in Beijing on Marxist Theories of Religion

Dean Brett G. Scharffs, Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law, and Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, participated in a Symposium on Marxist Theories of Religion sponsored by the Institute of World Religions, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on May 30-31, 2015, in Beijing. Professor Scharffs' presentation was titled, "The Relationship of Religion and the State: The Surprising Similarities and Important Differences in the Political Philosophy of Marx and Locke." The paper, which will be... more

Image for Advances and Setbacks in the Legal Protection of Religious Freedom, Mexico City, May 2015

The 15th Annual Colloquium of the Latin American Consortium for Religious Liberty was held May 21-23, 2015 at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico. Sponsored by the Latin American Consortium for Religious Liberty, the Universidad Iberoamericana, and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU, the conference focused on the theme "Advances and Setbacks in the Legal Protection of Religious Freedom". The inaugural session was chaired by the principal host and organizer of the colloquium, Prof. Dr. Alberto Patiño Reyes of Universidad Iberoamericana.  Other participants included Prof. Dra. Maria Concepción Medina González, acting as the "Relatora General" of the colloquium. Prof. Dr. Raul Gonzalez Schmal, who delivered the inaugural address, and Prof. Dra. Carmen Asiaín Pereira, President of the Latin American Consortium... more

Image for Religious Freedom and Religious Pluralism in Africa: Prospects and Limitations

The Third Conference on Law and Religion in Africa took place in Windhoek, Namibia, May 18-May 19, 2015. This memorable and very successful conference focused on the theme "Religious Freedom and Religious Pluralism in Africa: Prospects and Limitations." Some sixty participants are participatee in the conference, from 17 countries:  UK, US, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, South Africa, Senegal, Namibia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Uganda, Belgium.

Participants discussed such topics as:

  • African traditional law / religion
  • Human rights and dignity (including rights of children, the disabled, the elderly and women)
  • Implications of globalisation, neo-liberalism, democratisation, and fragile states for religious
... more
Image for Conference: 'Religious Freedom Development in the Sphere of Law' – Yerevan, Armenia

With thanks to Ryan Andersen

From May 13-15, scholars and attorneys from the United States, Europe, and Central Asia met in Yerevan, Armenia to participate in the conference "Challenges and Opportunities: Religious Freedom Development in the Sphere of Law".  The International Center for Law and Religious Studies and the Coordinating Counsel for CIS and Baltic Countries on Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Religious Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine—Moscow, Russia) co-hosted the event, which focused on the development of law and religion in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

See conference reports and photographs from the website Religions in Armenia.  More Conference photos are here.

Topics ranged from religion and the environment, the religious aspect of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and its effects on religious life in Ukraine, religious divides... more

Image for 'Religion and the Rule of Law Comparative Studies:  Vietnam and the United States'

Press Release from the Institute for Global Engagement

From 11-12 May 2015, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with Brigham Young University (BYU) and Vietnam National University’s University of Social Sciences & Humanities (USSH), conducted a "Religion and the Rule of Law Comparative Studies: Vietnam and the United States" conference in Washington, DC. The conference examined religious freedom, good governance, and policymaking in the U.S. and Vietnam.

Conference participants focused on four cross-cutting themes: 1) Registration and legal status of religious groups; 2) Rights of religious foreign entities and individuals; 3) New religions; and, 4) Religious property. Experts from both countries brought various academic, religious, legislative, and international... more

Image for International Conference: Towards Law and Religious Freedom in Africa

An International Conference "Towards Law and Religious Freedom in Africa" was held at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, February 26-28, 2015. The conference was an initiative of the Centre for Human Rights of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association (Lagos and Ikeja Branches); the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, South Africa, and the International Centre for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University. 

The Chief Host and Host of the event were the Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Rahamon A. Bello, FAEng, and the Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Professor Akin Ibidapo-Obe... more

Image for Developing a multilateral approach to freedom of religion or belief: a European perspective

W. Cole Durham, Jr., Professor of Law and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University, Provo delivered a paper "Protecting FoRB in situations of conflict: from the Balkans to the Middle East and the Ukrainian crises" at the Conference Developing a multilateral approach to freedom of religion or belief: a European perspective, held 9-11 February 2015 at Wiston House, Wilton Park. Wilton Park is an international forum for strategic discussion located in Sussex, United Kingdom. 

The Wilton Park conference was part of a larger project of transatlantic policy dialogue funded by the British Council/Luce Foundation Bridging Voices... more

Image for G20 Interfaith Summit in Australia: Economic Development and Religious Freedom

G20 Interfaith Summit:  “Economic Development and Religious Freedom,” November 16-18, 2014, Gold Coast, Australia

The G20 Interfaith Summit brought scholars, lawyers, political office holders, and other opinion leaders together with faith and interfaith leaders from around the world for three days of discussion and dialogue as a substantial contribution to the G20 Economic Forum. This was the first of a major series of annual conferences in which the Center is engaged with other major partners in G20 side events.  Given the number of attendees, this conference was almost double the size of the Center’s annual International Symposium in Provo. 

The conference showcased the scholarly and societal contributions of various faith traditions and philosophies from around the world. This conference also created opportunities for communication and relationship building and raised the profile of participating communities, groups and organizations. Cole Durham was a moderator for one of the conference panels and, in another, made a presentation titled "Religious Rights and Economic Development: International Perspectives." Conference panels focused on religious freedom’s impact on a society’s economy, humanitarian aid, social cohesion and charitable giving, among other things. This conference was extraordinarily successful with more than 150 delegates participating from countries in the Pacific region, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Europe.

See links, below, to Conference materials and coverage from the website of the Centre for Interfaith & Cultural Dialogue, Griffith University (Australia).

Image for Conference in India: Constitutional Parameters of Individual Freedom, November 2014

Amity University India Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University USA co-sponsored an International Symposium, "Constitutional Parameters of Individual Freedom: Secularity, Public Interest & Social Reform", 8-10 November 2014 at the Hotel Taj Mahal in New Delhi.

The event opened on Saturday, November 8, with high-tea and the launch of a new book by Professor Tahir Mahmood, Reminiscing on Law Brains: Bench Bar and Academia. 

Speaking at the conference were international experts... more

Image for Conference in Krakow 4-6 November 2014: Religion in the Context of Globalization

The conference "Religion in the Context of Globalization: Legal Aspects of the Functioning of Religious Organizations" was held in Krakow, Poland,  4-6 November 2014. The event was sponsored by the Department of History of Religions, Institute of Religious Studies, Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland); the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah, USA); and the Coordinating Counsel for CIS and Baltic Countries on Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Religious Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine—Moscow, Russia).

The conference opened Tuesday, November... more

Image for Center Sponsors UN Side Event on Religious Freedom: New York City October 2014

A Untied Nations Side Event held on October 24, 2014, and set to coincide with the Report by Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religious or Belief, was co-hosted by the United Kingdom Mission to the UN and BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS). Noted authorities featured at the event included Ambassador Peter Wilson, CMG, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK Mission, Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of ICLRS and Susa Young Gates Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, along with Lucy Vickers (Oxford Brookes University), Peter Petkoff (Oxford University), Katayoun Alidade (Catholic University of Leuven / RELIGARE), Todd R. McFarland (Associate General Counsel, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists), Richard T. Foltin (Director, National and Legislative Affairs at American Jewish Committee), Bobbi Nassar, UN NGO Committee on Human Rights Co-Chair, and Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Among those attending were diplomats from missions to the United Nationas and representatives from non-governmental agencies interested in fostering religious freedom globally.

Image for Religious Liberty Awards Dinner, Washington DC, October 2014

For his tireless advocacy and record of legislative accomplishment, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University were pleased to present the Religious Liberty Award to retiring Congressman Frank Wolf. Throughout his 33-year career in Congress, Representative Wolf has championed efforts to alert the United States and the world to the plight of men, women, and children who are persecuted for living their religious convictions. Representative Wolf authored the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which established the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the International Religious Freedom Office at the... more

Image for The Center in Latin America 2014: Mark-up Session in the Dominican Republic

Professor Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, along with the Center's long-time colleague and Academic Advisory Board Member from Argentina, Juan Navarro Floria, were invited as outside experts to attend a mark-up session of a comprehensive new bill regarding religious organizations that is before the National Congress of the Dominican Republic.

Also in 2014, the Center assisted with legislation in Costa Rica and Bolivia and provided research for a brief submitted to the Constitutional Court of Colombia.