Image for Brett G. Scharffs Appointed Director of International Center for Law and Religion Studies

Brigham Young University Law School Dean James R. Rasband has announced the appointment of Brett G. Scharffs as the new Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The Center, since its beginning on January 1, 2000, has played an internationally significant role in the work of the Law School. With a mission to help secure the blessings of freedom of religion and belief for all people, Center faculty and staff, aided by hundreds of BYU law students, have worked to disseminate knowledge and expertise regarding the interrelationship of law and religion, through scholarship, network building, participation in law-reform processes, and organization and sponsorship of hundreds of conferences, at BYU and throughout the world.

Scharffs, who is the Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law at BYU, will begin as Director of the Center on May 1, 2016. He succeeds W. Cole Durham, Jr., who has served as Director of the Center since its beginning. Durham will assume the role of Founding Director of the Center, also on May 1.... more

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


Image for A Welcome from the Founding Director

Welcome, Visitors, to the website of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School. We hope you will enjoy learning more about our mission and the many people and endeavors involved in helping us accomplish it.

The Center was formally established and commenced operations as of January 1, 2000, to provide the institutional base for our long-term initiatives in the field of law and religion throughout the world. During the succeeding decade and a half, we have emerged as a recognized leader in the field of religious rights, both at the national level in the United States and internationally. Work in the United States has included Congressional testimony in support of draft legislation and participation in numerous conferences in the U.S. Internationally, ICLRS personnel are now instrumental in organizing and participating in 20-30 regional conferences and law reform consultations... more

Image for Robbers, Durham, Thayer (and Many Students): The Brill Encyclopedia of Law and Religion

The publishers are pleased to announce the upcoming release (June 2016) of the Brill Enyclopedia of Law and Religion. General Editors of the volume are Gerhard Robbers, currently Minister of Justice for Consumer Protection of Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), and W. Cole Durham, Jr,. Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law and Founding Director of BYU Law School's International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Associate Editor for the work is Donlu Thayer, the Center's Senior Editor. 

The editors express deep gratitude to Ashley Isaacson Woolley, whose editorial expertise contributed immeasurably to the completion of the work, and to those Student Fellows and Members of the Student Management Board, as well as other Center Research Associates, who together contributed 73 of the Encyclopedia's 239 articles. We may note that Professor Robbers, formerly of the University of Trier, Germany, is a member of the Center's Academic Advisory Board... more

Image for New Publication: Religion and Law in the USA

A new book by Professors Brett Scharffs and Elizabeth Clark, Religion and Law in the USA, has just been issued by Wolters Kluwer as part of its innovative prints and online series, International Encyclopaedia of Laws. Each volume of the Encyclopaedia is designed to cover an identical set of topics from the legal viewpoint of a particular country. Professors Scharffs and Clark were selected by the editor, Rik Torfs, Rector at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, to write the United States volume on law and religion. 

“It is a recognition of the International Center of Law and Religion’s stature in the international law and religion field that we were asked to write the book... more

Image for The International Center for Law and Religion Studies Outstanding Service Awards 2016

The Barrister's Ball, an annual tradition of the BYU Law School, provides an opportunity to recognize students and faculty for their accomplishments. Each year, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies honors those students who have dedicated service to both the Center and to the cause of international religious freedom. At the 24 March 2016 awards ceremony, Center Associate Director Elizabeth Clark presented the award to Bennett H. Briggs, Travis J. Hyer, Jedi Knight, Aline Marie H. Longstaff, Zachary D. Smith, Ryan Andersen, Eva Marie Brady, Tara Fitzgerald, Roman Harper, Annalee Hickman Moser, Laura Monique Mullenaux Laing, and Lauren Ravsten Robins. These students have devoted many hours as Student Research Fellows, Student Management Board members, or Symposium Student Executive Committee members. In some cases... more

Image for Registration is Open for the 2016 Religious Freedom Annual Review

Registration is open for the 2016 Religious Freedom Annual Review scheduled for July 7-8, with a discount available through May 15. The Annual Review will be open to both lawyers and nonlawyers who are interested in religious freedom challenges in the United States. In plenary sessions and workshops, experts from all over the United States will address questions such as "What is religious freedom?", "What does separation of church and state really mean?", and "How can I get involved?". Speakers will include Elder Lance B. Wickman, General Counsel and Emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Daniel I. Mark, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University, and Commissioner for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and Hannah C. Smith, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

To register or for more information, call 1-877-221-6716 or see religiousfreedom.byu.edu. Utah Continuing Legal Education Credit will be offered. 

Image for Fourth ICLARS Conference, in Oxford: 'Freedom of/for/from/within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?'

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for the Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, which will be held at St. Hugh’s College in Oxford September 8-11, 2016. 

The Conference topic — "Freedom of/ for/ from/ within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?" — aims at considering the fundamental right of freedom of religion from differing perspectives, shedding light on its various and interconnected facets and addressing new challenges it faces in the modern world. Freedom of religion highlights the right to profess... more

Image for BYU Law School's Eva Brady Named Best Speaker at Moot Court Competition in Venice

The Center is pleased to announce that third-year BYU Law Student Eva Brady has been named Best Speaker at the 2016 Law and Religion Moot Court Competition, sponsored by Fondazione Marcianum and held in Venice, Italy, March 9-11, 2016. The Case for this year's competition concerned school prayer in the light of American Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence.

Eva is from Charlottesville, Virginia. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Philosophy with a minor in Logic. and studied Spanish extensively for ten years. Before beginning law school, she served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Korean, Busan mission. As an ICLRS Student Fellow for 2014, Eva spent a summer externship in Lima, Peru, and served as a student... more

Image for Brett Scharffs and BYU Law Students in Venice for Conference and Moot Court Competition
Photo credit: Fondazione Marcianum

Professor Brett Scharffs, Center Associate Director and Law School Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, participated at the conference "The Legitimate Scope of Religious Establishment", held March 7-9, 2016 in Venice, Italy.  The conference was sponsored by the Fondazione Studium Generale Marcianum (Fondazione Marcianum), and features prominent academics from throughout the world, assembled to discuss such questions as "What are the essential features of establishment regimes? Should any limits be set to the establishment of religion? Are there any means of support that should be ruled out? May a decent state grant preferential treatment to one religion over other religions (or some of them)? If so, on which basis could this be done?" Professor Scharffs presented... more

Image for Delegation from France visits the Center

On Friday, 4 March 2016, a delegation from France, invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, and arranged by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, visited the International Center for Law and Religion Studies as part of their time at Brigham Young University. The three French visitors, Ali Dahmani, Director, ACSECE, Capelette Mosque, Marseille; Frederique Neau-Dufour, PhD, Director, European Center of Deported Resistance Members; and Emmanuel Valency, Rabbi of Bordeaux and Southwestern France, met with Cole Durham, Center Director, and Gary Doxey, Associate Director. The meeting included an overview of the Center and its mission, as well as a comparison between the... more

Image for Fourth ACLARS Conference: 'Religious Pluralism, Heritage, and Social Development in Africa'

The organizing committee of the African Consortium of Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS) is pleased to announce the fourth conference on Law and Religion in Africa, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference will be hosted by the University of Addis Ababa and held at the African Union from Sunday, 22 May to Tuesday, 24 May, 2016. A workshop for early career scholars will be held immediately prior to the conference on May 22.

The conference will focus on the topic of religious pluralism in Africa, particularly in relation to contemporary questions of heritage and social development. "Heritage" is to be understood broadly as including religious, cultural, legal, and historical traditions, and the way these shape religious identities and societies in Africa today. The topic includes the challenges for organizations like UNESCO and ICOMOS to promote and protect heritage in diverse African... more

Image for The Seventh Annual Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition

The District of Columbia Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are pleased to announce the Seventh Annual Founding Fathers Religious Liberty Writing Contest... more

Image for Freedom of Religion or Belief in Situations of Crisis: Tallinn, Estonia, 16-19 June 2016

The University of Tartu Faculty of Law in cooperation with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University is organizing an international conference entitled "Freedom of Religion or Belief in Situations of Crisis: Why Can’t We Get Along?" on 16 – 19 June 2016 in Tallinn. It is an interdisciplinary conference intended for academics, professionals and students interested in human rights issues in the current migration crisis.

During the conference there is also a session for students to introduce their work, get feedback from... more

Image for Parliamentarians Meet at Palace of Westminster to Discuss Freedom of Religion or Belief

The Steering Group of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) met on 9 February 2016 at the Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom, to reflect on the outcomes of the New York summit that took place in September 2015 and create a roadmap for future activities of the IPPFoRB.  Hosted by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the House of Lords, members of the Steering Group include Abid Raja, Norwegian MP; David Anderson, Canadian MP; Leonardo Quintão, Brazilian congressman; Jose M Ibañez, Paraguayan MP; Uziel Santana, IPPFoRB Secretariat; and Knox Thames, IPPFoRB Secretariat.  David Kirkham, Senior Fellow, represented ICLRS at the meeting.  The group noted the contributions BYU and ICLRS made to the formation of the panel two years ago in Oxford. For more information on the New York summit, see the IPPFoRB news release

Image for Kirkhams Represent the Center at Copt Commemorative Service in London

On 10 February 2016 David Kirkham, Senior Fellow, and his wife Judy represented ICLRS at a Coptic service commemorating the anniversary of the 21 Copts murdered by religious extremists in Libya in 2015 for being "people of the cross." The service, held at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom, was presided over by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and introduced by The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.  Bishop Angaelos spoke of his compassion for the victims and their families, for whom they were in Egypt trying to make a living, as well as for the need for prayer for victims and perpetrators alike.

Image for Brett Scharffs Speaks at St. John's Law School Colloquium in Law and Religion
Photo courtesy of the Center for Law and Religion
at St. John's Law School

On February 1st 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs spoke at the Center for Law and Religion at St. John's Law School as part of its third biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion. This seminar invites leading law and religion scholars to make presentations to an audience of students and faculty. Professor Scharffs was the first speaker of the ongoing series.

The following was taken from an article on the Center for Law and Religion's website:

This week, the Center hosted BYU Law School Professor Brett Scharffs in our biannual Colloquium on Law and Religion. Brett, who is BYU’s associate dean and the associate director of its magnificent International Center for Law and Religion Studies, presented his draft, "Four Models of Public Discourse and their Implications for the Public Sphere." Brett has been a great friend of the Center for several years and we were delighted to have him with us. 

Image for Vietnam Government Committee for Religious Affairs Receives Delegation of US lawyers

GCRA Press Release — GCRA receives US lawyers delegation

Prof. Cole Durham, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies under Brigham Young University led a delegation to visit the Government Committee for Religious Committee (GCRA) on January 20.

Joining the US delegation included First Secretary of the United States Embassy in Hanoi David V. Muehlke, Political Officer of US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh city Garret Harkin.

Welcoming the delegation were Vice Chairman of the GCRA Bùi Thanh Hà, representatives from the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children, the Government Office, the Ministry of Justice and the GCRA Departments for International... more

Image for David Kirkham Speaks at NATO Workshop 'Security and Religion' – January 2016

David Kirkham, ICLRS Senior Fellow for Comparative Law and International Policy, spoke in late January 2016 at a high-level workshop on 'Security and Religion' at NATO Headquarters, in Brussels. The meeting brought together leading experts and practitioners--scholars, diplomats, religious leaders, NGO representatives and others—from both sides of the Atlantic, the Western Balkans, and the Black Sea.

The workshop examined current challenges to security, with a specific focus on 'soft security' issues, and the cultural and religious contributions to the peaceful development... more

Image for Cole Durham Participates in 'Religion, Security and Human Rights' Conference at European Parliament

The European Platform against Religious Intolerance and Discrimination (EPRID) organized a conference on Human Rights Day, 10 December, 2015, titled "Religion, Security and Human Rights". The conference, held in Brussels Belgium at the European Parliament, included speakers such as Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr. Kishan Manocha, Senior Advisor at OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Dr. Liviu Olteanu, Secretary General & Director of Conscience and Liberty from the Association Internationale pour la Défense de la Liberté Religieuse, Ms. Kalpna Devi, Human Rights Defender from Pakistan, and the Center's director, Professor Cole Durham.... more

Image for Sudanese Delegation Visits the Center

On December 8, 2015, a delegation of Sudanese visitors, invited to the United States under the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, visited the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The objective of their visit was to promote religious tolerance and peaceful settlement of conflicts. Center Managing Director, Robert Smith, met with the delegation. 

Current sanctions imposed upon Sudan were the primary topic of concern. The delegates were particularly interested in discussing Professor Smith's congressional testimony on 18 September, 2014 in which... more

Image for The Center Announces the Student Research Fellows for 2016

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 international... more