Image for <center><font size = 4>The International Center for Law and Religion Studies</center></font size>


The Mission and Purpose of the Center are 
to help secure the
blessings of freedom of religion and belief for all people by

  • expanding, deepening, and disseminating knowledge and expertise regarding the interrelationship of law and religion,
  • facilitating the growth of networks of scholars, experts, and policy makers involved in the field of religion and law, and 
  • contributing to law reform processes and broader implementation of principles of religious freedom worldwide.
Image for Professor Brett G. Scharffs Wheatley Institution Religious Liberty Lecture Series

Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Law School Associate Dean and Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, presented the paper "Our Fractured Attitude Towards Corporate Conscience" at the Wheatley Forum's Religious Liberty Lecture Series on March 12, 2014 at Brigham Young University. 

Professor Scharffs, who is Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law, focuses his teaching and scholarly interests on comparative and international law and religion, jurisprudence and adjudication, and international business law. 

Professor Scharffs is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he received a B.S.B.A in international business and an M.A. in philosophy. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he earned a B.Phil in philosophy. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Senior Editor of the Yale Law... more

Image for Durham Keynotes Conference: Promoting the Freedom of Religion and Beliefs in ASEAN

Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, was the keynote speaker at a Regional consultation on Promoting the Freedom of Religion or Belief in ASEAN in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 19-20 February 2014. The event was hosted by HRWG – Human Rights Working Group, a Coalition of Indonesian NGOs for International Human Rights Advocacy, in partnership with the Indonesian Representative for AICHR, Mr. Rafendi Djamin, and supported by the Canadian Government. Participants included members of AICHR, ACWC, representatives of relevant governmental agencies from ASEAN Member States, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI’s) from Indonesia and the Philippines, Think Tanks and academes, Human Rights NGOs, interfaith dialogue organizations, and religious organization from several ASEAN Member States and representatives from the diplomatic community in Jakarta.... more

Image for Center Welcome New Student Management Board

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University is pleased to announce the creation of a new Center Student Management Board, composed of second- and third-year law students. Students selected for the board were chosen for interest in the worldwide work of the Center and for expertise in such areas as research, writing, editing, languages, and website management. This inaugural group includes second-year students Victoria Carlton, James Heilpern, Bryant Hinckley, Lynn Nouri, and Alex Storms, and third-year students Carl Hollan and Eimi Priddis. Languages spoken by members of this group include Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.... more

Image for The Center Announces the Student Research Fellows for 2014

Each year the International Center for Law and Religion Studies welcomes a group of outstanding scholars who have completed their first year of study at the J. Reuben Clark Law School into the Research Fellows Program. The program brings the students into the worldwide work of the Center, as they complete internships with the offices of the legal counsels of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City and in many other parts of the world, participate in Center research, writing, and publishing projects, and help to maintain the Center's ever-increasing international web presence.

Among this year's group of 16 students are speakers of Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

... more
Image for 2013 in Review

Dear Friends,

On behalf of all of us working at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU, I want to extend our warmest personal holiday greetings. We approach the conclusion of another year of endeavor with gratitude for new friendships made and longtime friendships strengthened and renewed.

Reviewing the events of the past year while preparing our 2013 Annual Report has reminded me of the remarkable opportunities we have had to collaborate with others. This year we held our 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, devoted to discussions about "Religion and Human Rights." Over the years this annual event has brought nearly 1000 scholars and government officials from some 120 countries to Brigham Young University. We also hosted the biannual conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies ("ICLARS")—a Milan-based umbrella organization for law and religion scholars from around the world—in meetings held in Richmond, Williamsburg, and Charlottesville, Virginia.  This gave the international membership of ICLARS a chance to spend time at some of the historical sites that witnessed the birth of religious freedom in America.... more

Image for A Quiet Voice in a World of Trouble, Cole Durham Works for Religious Liberty
Renata Uitz (Hungary), Cole Durham, Janet Ep Buckingham (Canada), Judge Françoise Tulkens (European Court of Human Rights)
Photo by Page Johnson

Eric Schulzke, Deseret News - 9 January 2014

In a crowded, wood-paneled mock courtroom at a recent conference on religious liberty in Provo, delegates from 40 countries listened intently through their headphones as translators scrambled to integrate 15 languages, ranging from Macedonian to Vietnamese.

At the podium, a South African judge told how he twice overruled parental religious objections, forcing them to allow their child a blood transfusion. "I think in both cases the parents were eventually happy that their children survived," he said.

A Malaysian lawyer later stood to condemn any religious influence in public life. "Human rights is the enemy of all religions," he said, his perspective bent under the weight of a heavy-handed Muslim majority at home. “Human rights stem from... more

Image for David Kirkham Delivers Keynote Address at Religion, Democracy, Law Conference

Professor David Kirkham, Senior Fellow for Comparative Law and International Policy, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, delivered the keynote address at the conference "Religion, Democracy and Law", held 15-16 January 2014 at London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom.  The title of Professor Kirkham's address was  ‘Democracy and Religion: Happily Married or Destined for Divorce?’ 

Welcoming remarks at the event were given by Professor Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic... more

Image for The Archon 2nd International Conference on Religious Freedom, Berlin 4-5 December 2013

Professor Cole Durham attended the Second International Conference on Religious Freedom: "Tearing Down Walls: Achieving Religious Equality in Turkey", held Germany, December 4 and 5, 2013.  This "extraordinary, historic and watershed event" was organized and hosted by the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America in cooperation with the Patriarchal Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union. The coordination of the local political and church partners was undertaken by the Greek Orthodox Metropolitanate of... more

Image for Linda Nearon Donates 'Majesty of the Bridge' Painting to the Center

At a meeting of the International Advisory Council (IAC) of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies held in Salt Lake City in April 2013, artist Linda Nearon, a member of the IAC Executive Committee, presented her painting, "The Majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge" to Cole Durham, Center Director. Linda and her husband, David, are longtime friends and supporters of the Center, and we are most grateful for this gift, and for others of Linda's beautiful paintings that are hung in the office in the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. The inspiration for this most-recent of Linda's paintings was a idea of Director Durham's about the work of those who are devoted to the cause of religious freedom, who sometimes walk "out onto the bridge," as if through mists... more

Image for Visitors to the Center in 2013
Vietamese Delegation and Center Personnel visit BYU International Vice Presidents
Sandra Rogers and Erlend Peterson

The Center was pleased to welcome a number of distinguished visitors in 2013. 

  • Researchers from China: Jinsong Wu, Doctor of Judicial Science (Jan 2013–Jan 2014); Liang Liang, PhD Candidate (Jan–Apr 2013); Zhang Zheng, PhD Candidate (Jan–Apr 2013)
  • Delegation from Vietnam (Jun 2013): from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Vietnam National University (USSH/VNA): Hung/Do Quang; Thanh/Pham Quoc; Nguyen Van Hieu; Lam Minh Chau; Nguyen Van Khanh; from the Ministry of Public Security: Nguyen Hung Manh; from Brigham Young University: Sandra Rogers, International Vice President; Erlend 'Pete' Peterson
... more
Image for Center Thanks and Honors Scott and Christine Cameron for Devoted Service

In an emotional tribute at a meeting held in conjunction with the 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium in Provo in October 2013, Director Cole Durham of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies expressed the Center's heartfelt thanks to Dean Scott Cameron and his wife, Christine, for extraordinarily devoted service over many years, to the Center and to the cause of religious freedom. "I just have to say that Scott has been, in many ways, the heart of the Law school," said Professor Durham. "I don't think there's anyone who has taken a more holistic view of law students and of the legal community." 

Scott Cameron most recently served the Law School... more

Image for Theme for 21st Annual International Law and Religion Symposium Announced

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University has announced the theme for its 21st annual International Law and Religion Symposium, to be held 5-7 October 2014 in Provo, Utah. Invited delegates will address the theme "Varieties of Secularism, Religion and the Law." Please watch this space for more information over the coming months.

Image for Symposium 2013: Recordings and Photos Now Available
Father Yakov Krotov (Russia) and
Jáder Freire de Macedo, Jr. (Brazil)
Photo by Page Johnson

Recordings (audio and, where available, video) for many sessions of Symposium 2013 are now available here. Please note that many presentations are available in numerous languages. To find the dropdown list, please click the arrow to the right of 'English' on the far right of the 2013 Annual Symposium line.

Photos from the 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium held in Provo, Utah, October 6-8, 2013 are now posted on the Symposium 2013 web page. (Please scroll down the page to see the various albums available.)

The collection by Matt Imbler (official BYU Law School Photographer) is now available, as well as photos by other photographersm which are available in separate albums, identified by the photographer's name. So far we have albums by David Christensen, Page Johnson, Linda Nearon, and Yakov (James) Krotov... more

Image for The Edict of Milan – 313 AD – the 'birth certificate for religious freedom'

The theme of the 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium – "Religion and Human Rights" – was chosen for its timeliness and urgency, and also in acknowlegment of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of the Edict of Milan, the 313 AD agreement between Roman Emperors of East and West that effectively granted religious freedom throughout the Roman Empire, marking what lawyer, politician, and professor Gabrio Lombardi has termed the Initium Libertatis, in effect the "birth certificate for religious freedom."

In a certain sense, said Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, writing in December 2012, "the very first emergence in history of the two phenomena that today we call 'religious freedom' and 'the secular state' ... two crucial elements of a good organisation of political society" may be traced back to this event.... more

Image for Symposium 2013: Student Executive Committee

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University expresses its deep gratitude to the members of the Student Executive Committee for 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, held at the Law School in during October 6-8, 2013. The success of the Symposium each year is due in large part to the planning and performance of outstanding students from the J. Reuben Clark Law School, who not only volunteer their own time before and during the Symposium as members of this committee, but also recruit and supervise a large number of other students from... more

Image for China Certificate Training Program Alumni Meet in Beijing
China Training 2012

Alumni from the first four annual Certificate Training Programs in Religion and the Rule of Law gathered in Beijing on Saturday, November 1, 2013, to discuss the future of religion and the rule of law in China and elsewhere in Asia, and to share their recent research. Thirty former participants in the Certificate Training Programs from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 participated in the meeting, which is one of four regional "midyear" conferences being held during October and November in various cities in China. International Center for Law and Religion Studies Associate Director Brett Scharffs participated in the meeting and made a presentation about law and religion fellowships at BYU Law School. A Fifth Certificate Training Program will be held in Beijing in July 2014.

Image for Brett Scharffs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2-4 November 2013

ICLRS Associate Director Brett Scharffs participated in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Institute of World Religions China Social Sciences Forum – World Religions and the Dialogue of Civilizations – held in Beijing on November 2-4, 2013. Professor Scharffs addressed the question, "Can Public Reason Accommodate Conscience?" 

Scharffs noted that public reason as a framework for political dialogue has come to have a force in American and European political thought that might have come as a surprise even to its most articulate contemporary defender... more

Image for Brett Scharffs Presents on Moving Beyond Balancing at International Symposium on Freedom and Security, Istanbul, 30-31 October 2013

J. Reuben Clark Law School Associate Dean Brett Scharffs presented a paper, Freedom and Security: Beyond the Balancing Metaphor at an International Symposium in Istanbul, Turkey on October 30-31, 2013. The symposium focused on the balance between freedom and security in fighting against terrorism and was sponsored by the Justice Academy of Turkey, and included scholars, journalists, judges, and government officials from around the world. In his paper, Dean Scharffs noted that when freedom and security come into conflict we instinctively turn to metaphors involving balancing to guide our discussions of the tradeoffs that certain situations seem to demand. Thinking in terms of balancing is natural... more

Image for Center Hosts Panel Discussion Following Special Rapporteur UN Report
Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations, and Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Report by Lawrence Richard Peterson Jr.

Between October 28 and 30, 2013, Professor Cole Durham of the J. Reuben Clark Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies was involved in events featuring Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief.

On Monday, October 28th, the Canadian Mission to the United Nations hosted a side event on the UN campus moderated by Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom. On Tuesday, Professor Durham attended the UN Committee on Human Rights where Professor Bielefeldt presented his report.  

On Wednesday the International Center for Law and Religion Studies co-hosted with the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief a luncheon and panel discussion featuring Professor Bielefeldt. Other panelists were Laksmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women, Gulalai Ismail, founder and chairperson of Aware Girls, Margareta Grape, representative to the UN of the World... more

Image for Dr. John Graz Receives Religious Liberty Award in Washington DC, 10 October 2013
Dr. Graz with Eric Baxter

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society were honored to present to Dr. John Graz, Secretary-General of the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), the 2013 Religious Liberty Award. The award was presented at an Awards Dinner held October 10, 2013 in Washington, D.C.  Those in attendance were also privileged to hear remarks from former senator Gordon Smith, who spoke on the unique link between American history and religious freedom.

Also honored at the dinner were the winners of the 2013 Religious Liberty Essay Contest. Eric Baxter, Chair of the D.C. Mid-Atlantic Chapter for the J. Reuben Clark Law Society presented awards to James Cleith Phillips, Ethan Blevins, Landes Taylor, and Spencer R. Nelson for their essays treating aspects of religious freedom in law, jurisprudence, and legal scholarship.... more

Image for Twentieth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, 6-8 October 2013

More than 80 distinguished delegates from more than 40 countries met, along with approximately 200 guests and students at the Twentieth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, held October 6-9, 2013 at the J. Reuben Clark Law School on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Delegates 

The theme of this year's conference – "Religion and Human Rights" – was chosen for its timeliness and urgency, and also in acknowledgment of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of the Edict of Milan, the 313 A.D. agreement between the Roman Emperors of the East and the West... more

Image for Professor Brett Scharffs: Can public reason accommodate conscience?

Professor Brett G. Scharffs addressed the topic "Can Public Reason Accommodate Conscience?" at the Religious Freedom Discussion on Wednesday, September 4, at Brigham Young University and via live Webinar. Professor Scharffs is Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Associate Dean of Research and Academic Affairs at the BYU Law School.

Download Professor Scharffs' PowerPoint Presentation here.  
Download the recording (.wmv) of the presentation here.

An internationally recognized scholar and lecturer in the fields of comparative law and religion, philosophy of law, and international business law... more

Image for Cole Durham Receives Honorary Doctorate from Ovidius University, Romania

On June 14, 2013, W. Cole Durham, Jr., in recognition of his contributions as a renowned specialist in constitutional law and religious rights, was awarded its highest honor, Doctor Honoris Causa, from the Faculty of Theology of Ovidius University in Constanta, Romania. Professor Durham is Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS, Brigham Young University) as well as current President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS, Milan). In making the award, the Faculty of Theology noted Professor Durham's extensive... more

Image for Professor Brett Scharffs Appointed JRCLS Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

J. Reuben Clark Law School Dean James R. Rasband has announced the appointment of Brett G. Scharffs as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, effective July 1, 2013. Professor Scharffs, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law, joined the BYU Law School in 1997. He has been the Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies for the past four years. His scholarly interests include comparative law and religion, philosophy of law, and international business law.

Professor Scharffs is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he received a B.S.B.A in international business and an M.A. in philosophy. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he earned a B.Phil in philosophy. He received his J. D. from Yale Law School... more

Image for The Center Thanks the 2013 Student Research Fellows

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies Student Research Fellows for 2013 have completed their summer's work, traveling to and from assignments worldwide and working on research and writing projects both remotely and on campus in Provo. The Center expresses gratitude to these students and looks forward to their ongoing contributions to our work.

Each year the Center welcomes a group of outstanding 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,... more

Image for David Kirkham Discussion Series Recording and PowerPoint Now Available

Professor David M. Kirkham presented the third lecture in the 2013 Religious Freedom Discussion Series, "Freedom of Conscience and the American Identity," on 10 July 2013 at Brigham Young University. 

  • The recording (wmv format) of the lecture is available here.
  • Professor Kirkham's PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Professor Kirkham is 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 and professor in the Department... more

Image for Center Signs MOU Concerning Religious Freedom with Vietnamese Delegation and IGE

Washington, D.C. – (June 27, 2013) For over 10 years, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with its Vietnamese country partners have convened government and religious leaders to build consensus about how to best make religious freedom viable and sustainable in Vietnam. Through IGE’s work with government officials and religious organizations,  IGE has catalyzed and contributed to sustainable change in the country, developing trusted networks of partners with which to inculcate policies that ensure that people of all faiths and none have full freedom of... more

Image for ICLRS Thanks Website Development Manager Marshall Morrise

With deep gratitude for his dedication to furthering its mission and enhancing its work, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies bids farewell to Website Development Manager Marshall Morrise, who for three-and-a-half years has applied his invaluable expertise, experience, and creativity to many of the Center's projects, but particularly to the functionality and capacity of its three websites.

Marshall and his wife, Susan Lorraine Hall Morrise, have now left for a three-year assignment in South Korea, where Marshall serves as President of the newly created Korea Seoul South Mission... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark on 'Converging Challenges to Religious Freedom' – Recordings Available

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."

Download Professor Clark's PowerPoint presentation here.  
The recordings of the presentation are available in two formats: wmv   mp4... more

Image for @Religious Freedom Discussion Series 2013

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... more