Image for @<center><font size = 4>The International Center for Law and Religion Studies</center></font size>
Image for 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review:  Interviews, News Coverage

The 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review, hosted by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of BYU Law School, took place 6-7 July 2017 at the Conference Center on the campus of Brigham Young University.

Watch this space for links to recordings and photographs of the event.  And please see the links below for radio interviews with participants and local news coverage.

Among the highlights of this outstanding event were a keynote address by Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, followed by an opening General Session featuring addresses by Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (whose title was "Religious Freedom as an Article of Faith") and Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation and former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (who spoke on "What Religious Freedom Means to Me").  Workshop topics included "How to Reach Out and Find Common Ground with LGBTQ Communities," "Religious Liberty and Religious Literacy in American Public Schools," "Civil... more

Image for Senator Jeff Flake Keynotes at 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review, held July 6-7, 2017, in the Conference Center on the Campus of Brigham Young University. Hosted by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of BYU Law School, the Annual Review provides an up-to-date review for lawyers and nonlawyers on religious freedom challenges in the United States and around the world. Senator Flake's keynote address is available on the Center's Facebook page.

As a member of the US Senate, Senator Flake sits on the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Foreign Relations Committee where he also serves as chairman of Subcommittee on African Affairs. Senator Flake is a fifth-generation Arizonan who was raised on a cattle ranch in Snowflake, Arizona. The town was named in part for Senator Flake's great-great grandfather. After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in southern Africa, He graduated from Brigham Young University, where he received a BA in International Relations and an MA in Political Science. He started his career at a Washington, DC public affairs firm, but soon returned to Africa as Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Namibia. In this role, Senator Flake helped monitor Namibia's... more

Image for Student Research Fellows for 2017

The 2017 Student Research Fellows of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies have now returned from their internships and have begun the research and writing projects that will occupy them for the rest of the summer. Each year the Center 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... more

Image for G20 Interfaith Summit, Potsdam, Germany, 15-17 June 2017: <br />Religion, Sustainable Development, and the Refugee Crisis

The 2017 G20 Interfaith Summit, Religion, Sustainable Development, and the Refugee Crisis, was held at the University of Potsdam, Germany, 15-17 June 2017. This highly successful event brought together experts on economy, law and politics, as well as global leaders from various religious, professional, and humanitarian backgrounds to highlight the key role that religion plays in promoting aspects of achievement of the United Nation’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals that Germany has chosen to highlight during this year’s G20 Summit, to be held in Hamburg 7-8 July. Special attention was paid to issues surrounding the refugee crisis, addressing concerns such as religious extremism and the other issues, including the environment, where religious voices have much to contribute.

The annual G20 Interfaith Summits invite opinion leaders – including scholars, lawyers, and political leaders – to join with faith and interfaith leaders from around... more

Image for Gary Doxey and Scott Isaacson participate in Costa Rican symposium on Religious Freedom in June 2017
At the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Associate director Gary Doxey, senior fellow Scott Isaacson, and IAC member Jeff Robinson traveled to Costa Rica for meetings in June. Among others, they met with personnel from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica, and with members and staff of Costa Rica’s unicameral congress, the Asamblea Legislativa. 

On June 9 the Center, in collaboration with the Asamblea Legislativa, held an international symposium on “Religious Freedom Challenges in Costa Rica: A Pending Human Rights Commitment.”  

The symposium discussed the importance of religious freedom and the need to reform current Costa Rican law to protect it better.... more

Image for Tbilisi, Georgia: Religion and the Legacy of the Soviet State: A 25-year retrospective

The International Conference 'Religion and the Legacy of the Soviet State: A 25-year Retrospective', was held 2-4 June 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Organized by the Free University of Tbilisi, School of Law and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University (USA), the conference marked the 25 years (in 2016) since the disbandment of the Soviet Union. Seeking to explore the long-term impact of the Soviet state in the sphere of religion, conference presentations asked questions: How have Soviet approaches been adapted or rejected in post-USSR countries? How have post-Soviet states responded legally to the restrictive regulation of religion, the appropriation of religious property, and other results of the Soviet regime?

Conference languages were Georgian, English, and Russian.

The aim of the conference and its future publication was to tackle these issues... more

Image for Conference at Central European University in Budapest. The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief

On 27-28 May 2017 the International Center for Law and Religion Studies and the Central European University co-sponsored an event celebrating the beginning of the twenty-fifth year of cases addressing freedom of religion or belief in the European Court of Human Rights. Convened by W. Cole Durham, Jr., Jeroen Temperman, and T. Jeremy Gunn, the event took place at CEU in Budapest, Hungary. Participants in the conference presented papers analyzing various types of cases and differing perspectives on the Court’s decisions commencing with the Kokkinakis decision in 1993, and continuing down to the present.

Participants included Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs from Brigham Young University Law School, along with UK scholars Stephanie Barry, Ioana Cismas, Sir Malcolm Evans OBE, Nazila Ghanea, Mark Hill QC, Peter Petkoff, and Lucy Vickers; European scholars Dia Anagnostou, Sophie... more

Image for The Fifth Conference on Law and Religion in Africa, Rabat Morocco, 14-17 May 2017

The Fifth Annual Conference of the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS) took place in Rabat, Morocco, from 14 to 17 May 2017. Following the success of conferences in Ghana (2013), South Africa (2014), Namibia (2015) and Ethiopia (2016), this event was a collaboration of ACLARS with the International University of Rabat; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of Brigham Young University Law School, United States; and the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), Milan, Italy.

Participating in this highly successful event were more than 100 scholars and government and religious leaders from Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe.

The subject of the conference was Religion, Law, and Security, focusing on religious extremism, blasphemy, violence, terrorism, and human and sustainable security. Themes for the conference included: 

  • The interrelationship
... more
Image for Gary Doxey speaks at Trnava University in Slovakia 4-5 May 2017

Gary Doxey represented the Center at two events at Trnava University in Trnava, Slovakia in May of 2017. 

Professor Doxey first spoke at the May 4th conference, “Financing of Churches and Religious Organizations: A Comparative Perspective”, at the Faculty of Law at Trnava University. The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School was a co-sponsor of the event. 

Marek Šmid, Rector of Trnava University, opened the conference and highlighted the political and legal sensitivities of the topic. Draft legislation on government financing of churches and religious organizations is taking shape in the government of Slovakia and the question is whether or not it should be a topic of legislation or one of agreement between the churches and the state. 

Professor Doxey delivered a keynote on the subject of government financing of religious organizations from the American legal perspective.... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Jane Wise as an Associate Director

Jane Wise has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School as an Associate Director. She comes most recently from twenty years as an adjunct professor (advocacy faculty) at the Law School, where she served on the legal writing and external relations committees. She taught legal writing, lawyering skills, and law and literature courses in the classroom, as well as legal writing classes online. She developed curricula for the American legal academy including materials for English as a–second-language law students, and the writing curriculum she helped design for BYU Law's Rex E. Lee Advocacy Program was ranked 17th in the nation for legal writing programs in law schools by U.S. News and World Report in 2000,... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Sharman Blood as a Conference Liaison

Sharman Blood has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University as a Conference Liaison. Sharman's past experience includes working for the Office of Public Liaison at the White House and later as a research assistant for a policy research group before moving to San Francisco. While in the Bay Area, Sharman earned an MA in education from Stanford University and taught high school for several years working with at-risk students. She has also owned her own bookkeeping business and served for a time as the Public Affairs Director for the San Francisco Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sharman will assist in coordinating and organizing the annual International Law and Religion Symposium as well as other conferences worldwide. She looks forward to working with others who are passionate about the Center's mission.

Image for The Center Congratulates the 2017 Law School Graduates

The Center has the privilege of working with some of the best and the brightest students at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. As research assistants, Student Fellows, and members of the Student Management Board and Symposium Executive Committee, they are an essential part of the work the Center does. They often continue to assist in the cause of freedom of religion or belief in their professional lives outside of the university. The Center congratulates this year’s BYU Law School graduates, thanks them for their service, and wishes them the very best in the future.    

Here are highlights of just a few of the students who have... more

Image for Nigeria: Conference on Law and Religion: The Role of the State, 24-28 April 2017

A conference on 'Law and Religion: The Role of the State' was held 24-28 April 2016 at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Sponsors of the event were the National Judicial Institute, Nigeria; the Faculties of Law & Arts of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; the Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos, Nigeria; the West African Center for Law and Religion Studies; and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University (USA).

Watch this space for more information.

Image for ICLRS Presents 2017 Outstanding Service Awards

The BYU Law School held its annual Barrister's Ball and Awards Banquet at the Provo City Marriott on Wednesday 29 March 2017. The banquet and ball are an opportunity to recognize students and faculty for outstanding achievement over the past year. 

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies recognized nine law students for their dedicated service to the Center and to the cause of international religious freedom. Founding Director Cole Durham presented the award to Laura Shrum, Cami Schiel, Scott Ludlow, Bradley Rebeiro, Cara Duchene, McKenna Mills Collins, Andee Gempeler DeVore, Michael Goodrich, and John Sellers (not pictured). These students have served many hours as Student Research Fellows... more

Image for Center Welcomes Denise Posse-Blanco Lindberg as Senior Fellow for Latin America

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School is pleased to announce that Denise Lindberg, a former district court judge of the Third Judicial District of Utah, has joined the Center as a Senior Fellow for Latin America.

Denise was born in Cuba, and educated in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Her father was Cuban and her mother was a Puerto Rican US citizen; as a result, Lindberg was born a dual citizen of Cuba and the United States. In 1960, she, her mother, and her brother were forced to leave Cuba, while her father was forced to remain. In 1963, Denise's family came to the US, settling in New Rochelle, New York. She and her family were introduced... more

Image for Honduran Ambassador to London Co-Hosts Goodwill Reception at BYU London Centre

His Excellency Ivan Romero-Martinez, Honduran Ambassador to London and most prominent diplomat for the Latin American group of ambassadors in the United Kingdom, co-hosted a goodwill reception and luncheon on 21 April 2017 at the Brigham Young University (BYU) London Centre, in association with Public Affairs representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and representatives of the International Center for Law and Religions Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University Law School (USA). The Latin American diplomatic group comprises 21 countries in Central and South America. Supporting the Honduras Ambassador at the event were ambassadors and senior diplomats from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.... more

Image for 'Are Catholic majorities more hospitable to religious minorities than others?' Brett Scharffs speaks in Trento, Italy on 13 April 2017

Are Catholic majorities more hospitable to religious minorities than others? This was the topic of Center Director Brett Scharffs’ presentation at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler on the 13th April 2017. He was joined by four panelists, Paolo Costa, FBK-ISR, Roberto Toniatti and Cinzia Piciocchi both of the University of Trento Law School, and Andrea Pin of the University of Padova Law School. 

From the abstract:  It is hard to believe it is a coincidence that when we look at the patterns of restriction of religious freedom that exist around the world, including... more

Image for Scharffs: Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent, and those Hostile to Religion Should Care

From the website of Cardus Law:  This critical paper on religious freedom and its relationship to the State by Professor Brett Scharffs of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University poses an important question: why should anyone care about religious freedom? The question here, though, is specifically directed towards those who are indifferent or hostile to, or uninformed about religious freedom.

Prof. Scharffs proceeds to examine a number of the crucial debates around freedom of religion and conscience through both an historical prism and by reviewing recent American jurisprudence... more

Image for Brett Scharffs Speaks on 'Why Religious Freedom?' in Brussels, Belgium 10 April 2017

From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - EU Office Report

On Monday 10 April, the European Union Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) held another event in its “Food for Thought” Breakfast Series entitled “Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed and the Religiously Indifferent Should Care”. The aim of the event was to examine the modern articulation of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), and address questions and issues including the relationship between religious freedom and human rights, the economic aspect of FoRB, and more. Guest speaker was Professor Brett Scharffs, the new director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, Utah. ... more

Image for Iraqi-Kurdistan Delegation Visits the Center

Under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs visited the Center. The delegation included the Spokesperson and Director General of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs (MERA), who was responsible for creating Directorates for all of the religious minorities within the Ministry to assure that underrepresented groups had a voice within the government. Other ministry delegates represented Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian communities. 

Objectives of the visit included helping MERA strengthen interfaith cooperation... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark at Nootbaar Institute, Pepperdine Law School 9-10 March 2017

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark presented a paper at Pepperdine Law School's Nootbaar Institute Conference, "Religious Critiques of Law", on March 9-10, 2017. 

This year's conference theme, Religious Critiques of Law, was centered around Tom Shaffer's premise in his book American Lawyers and Their Communities that lawyers need to see the problems of a religious congregation from the viewpoint of the house of worship, not just the courthouse. Speakers were encouraged to support or challenge Shaffer’s notion that religious critiques of law are of value. Professor Clark was one of several speakers from a wide variety of religious traditions addressing the law from their traditions. Her paper "Mormon Postmodern Critiques of the Nature of Law" looked at understanding freedom in LDS doctrines and how that contributes to Mormon willingness to engage in dialogue on social issues. 

Program

Image for ICLRS and IGE Partner for Religion & Rule of Law Program in Vietnam's Central Highlands

Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies Brett Scharffs joined colleagues from the Institute for Global Engagement in Vietnam from 7-10 March 2017 to conduct a "Religion and Rule of Law" (RROL) certificate training, in partnership with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Vietnam National University. For more on the Center's work in collaboration with Vietnam, please see this link. For a report on the Vietnam Central Highlands event, we are grateful for the report from IGE, below.

Press Release March 17, 2017: From 7 to 10 March 2017 the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with the Vietnam National University’s University of Social Sciences and Humanities and Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion... more

Image for ICLRS Partners with IGE and Mandalay Community Center for Training in Myanmar

Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spent two weeks in Myanmar in late February and early March as part of the second Religion and the Rule of Law Training program, held in Mandalay, and a subsequent discussion in Yangon, hosted by Sitagu International Buddhist Academy. Please see below the press release from one of the Center's partners in the endeavor, the Washington DC based Institute for Global Engagement.

Press Release: The Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with the Mandalay Community Center in Myanmar and Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies (BYU), co-convened a 10-day certificate program on Religion and Rule of Law from 20 February to 1 March 2017 in Mandalay,... more

Image for Interfaith Symposium organized by Gary Doxey held in El Salvador 13 February 2017

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the keynote speaker at an interfaith symposium organized by ICLRS Associate Director Gary Doxey in February in El Salvador. Focusing on religious freedom as a fundamental human right, the symposium was hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and took place at a stake center on the site of the San Salvador Temple in El Salvador on February 13. The event drew select leaders from five Central American countries. These leaders included clergy representing several faiths, judges, members of Congress, mayors, advocacy organizations, and university leaders. The group expressed unanimous support for continued collaboration as a group throughout the region to educate about and improve the laws concerning religious freedom.

Image for The Center Bids Farewell to Akinola and Dolapo Ibidapo-Obe

The Center was honored and most pleased to enjoy the visit of Professor Akinola Ibidapo-Obe and his wife, Dolapo, to Provo during the 2016-2017 school year. Professor Ibidapo-Obe ("Professor Akin") is former dean of the Faculty of Law and former director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria. As a visiting scholar at BYU Law School Professor Akin was part of the teaching team for the advanced courses in International Protection of Religious Freedom and U.S. Church and State, taught by Professors Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham. 

Professor Akin has been a key figure in several successful events sponsored by the Center in Nigeria over the past two years, beginning with his hosting, as Dean of the Faculty of Law at Lagos, an international conference "Towards Law and Religious Freedom in Africa" in February 2015, and including... more

Image for Dr. Ganoune Diop Receives Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award
Dr. Gannoune Diop accepts award from Elder Lance B. Wickman and W. Cole Durham, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Mormon Newsroom.

(Originally published by Mormon Newsroom)

Dr. Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, was given the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (Brigham Young University) recently in Philadelphia.

In presenting the award, Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emeritus member of the Seventy, thanked Dr. Diop for being a friend of the Church like Thomas L. Kane was a friend to the Church.

During its annual conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania... more

Image for Center Welcomes Ján Figeľ to the Academic Advisory Board

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University is honored to announce that Dr. Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's first Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, has accepted the invitation to join the Center's Academic Advisory Board. The fourteen members of this distinguished group of globally recognized scholars make outstanding contributions to illuminating the intricacies of religious freedom principles and promoting enlightened discussion of those principles, significantly advancing the Center's mission and the cause of religious freedom throughout the world. Since his appointment as Special Envoy in May 2016, Dr. Figeľ has worked tirelessly throughout the world to fulfill his mission, and in the process has enriched a great many of the Center's endeavors... more

Image for Brett Scharffs named to Religious Freedom Institute's Board of Advisors

Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, has been named to the Board of Advisors of the newly organized Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) based in Washington, DC. RFI is an outgrowth of the Religious Freedom Project (RFP) at Georgetown University's Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Formation of the new entity, which is "committed to achieving broad acceptance of religious liberty as a fundamental human right, the cornerstone of a successful society, and a source of national and international security," was spearheaded by RFP partners Thomas Farr, Timothy Shah, Byron Johnson, and Kent Hill. Professor Scharffs is an alumnus of Georgetown University, where he earned a BSBA in international business and an MA in philosophy.... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Adesina J. Olukanni in the Role of Senior Fellow for Africa

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School is pleased to announce that Adesina J. Olukanni, recently retired as the Director of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Africa West Area, has accepted an invitation to serve as the Center's Senior Fellow for Africa. He was the Country Director in Nigeria for Church Education Systems between April 2004 and March 2007. He came into Public Affairs in April of 2007 as the Director of Public Affairs for the Church in the Africa West Area and the Africa South East Area.

Adesina has served in numerous Church positions, including high counsellor, branch president, district president’s counsellor, district president, mission president’s... more

Image for Erlend 'Pete' Peterson Named as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School is pleased to announced that Erlend "Pete" Peterson, recently retired from service as Brigham Young University's Associate International Vice President, has accepted a position as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East.

During his fifty years of full-time employment at BYU, Pete served in several professional positions in Admissions and Records (35 years), as Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, and Dean of Admissions and Records (25 years). For the past 15 years he was Associate International Vice President, which included many international roles and hosting, including a close working relationship with the International... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark discusses the Johnson Amendment on BYU Radio

Top of Mind with Julie Rose, a BYU radio show focused on current events, interviewed Associate Director Elizabeth Clark in regards to recent religious freedom issues under President Trump. Professor Clark shared her insights on the Johnson Amendment and the President's threats to repeal it, concerns surrounding the potential loss of tax exempt status for various churches and ancillary organizations associated with churches, the perception that religious freedom implies discrimination, and the recent travel ban.

While discussing the clash between those who believe that... more

Image for Scharffs' paper 'Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent, and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care' — Top 10 on SSRN

Center Director Brett Scharffs paper, "Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care" has been listed on Social Science Research Network's (SSRN) Top Ten download list in four categories: "Human Rights, Justice for Nonhuman Animals, Ecologies, Environments"; "Race, Ethnicity & Identity Politics";  Political Behavior eJournals"; and "U.S. Constitutional Law: Rights & Liberties eJournals".

The paper is available for download on SSRN at this link. The abstract for the paper is below:

Religious freedom: Is it the grandparent of human rights, or the neglected stepchild? As with... more

Image for Distinguished Visiting Professor Alan E. Brownstein, Fall Semester 2016

The Center was privileged to be able to enjoy contributions from Professor Alan E. Brownstein, who joined the BYU Law faculty during the 2016 fall semester as a distinguished visiting professor. He taught the law school course on the Fourteenth Amendment, and joined Professors Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham in teaching US Church and State and Internationial Protection of Religious Freedom. He also attended and acted as a moderator at the Center-sponsored International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies conference in Oxford, England, in September.

A nationally recognized Constitutional Law scholar, Brownstein is Professor of Law and Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at UC Davis School of Law. He was an attorney in general litigation and corporate... more

Image for Professor Durham at the Summit on Religious Freedom in Orlando, FL
Summit speakers and organizers

The Summit on Religious Freedom, an Interfaith Invitation, took place at the First Baptist Orlando Faith Hall in Orlando, Florida on 31 January 2017. ICLRS Founding Director Cole Durham took part along with other renowned religious freedom experts. 

Professor Durham spoke on "The Continuing Need for Vigilance Concerning Religious Freedom". He pointed out that while we have been blessed with a rich tradition of religious liberty, there is a continuing need to guard against erosion of this first freedom. He cited examples of this erosion and offered concrete recommendations for action.

The recording of the event is available online here.... more

Image for South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies (SACRALS) Established in India

At a meeting of international religious scholars in New Delhi in January 2017 a new entity was launched, an academic, apolitical and non-governmental regional association to be known as the South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies [SACRALS]. with Professor Tahir Mahmood as its first president. Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, the Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University, along with members of the Center's International Advisory Council, attended the launch.

Religion and Law Studies – encompassing theoretical and empirical studies and research on the relationship between state, law, and religion in a human rights perspective – is a fast-growing academic discipline being pursued in many leading universities across the globe. The International Center for Religion... more

Image for Peace, Stability, and Sustainable Development: The Role of Religion, 13-15 January 2017
L-R: Swami Agnivesh, Brett Scharffs, Ján Figel’, Cole Durham

The conference "Peace, Stability, and Sustainable Development: The Role of Religion" took place in Hyderabad, India from 13-15 January 2017. The conference was co-sponsored by the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, India; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University Law School, United States; and King and Diane Husein. 

The opening session featured an inaugural address by Neera Chandhoke, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, New Delhi, and speakers Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, European Commission, Slovakia; and W. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates University Professor and Founding... more

Image for Symposium 2016: Session Recordings and Photos are Available

The recordings and photos of the 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, "Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World", are now available. All keynote sessions were recorded in 13 different languages and many of the breakout sessions were translated to multiple languages. Select the language by changing "English" in the upper right corner to the language of choice to filter the selections by language availability. Closed captioning is available on all English language recordings.

The recordings will appear in a slightly different format this year. Rather than... more

Image for Recordings from the 2016 ICLARS Oxford Conference Now Available

ICLARS Oxford Conference Video Recordings Here

Recordings of sessions for the Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), held 8-11 September 2016 at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, UK are now available on the website of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University. ICLRS was the primary co-sponsor of the event, along with the University of Milan, and the Religion, Law and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture of Regent's Park College, Oxford.... more

Image for Discussions in Strasbourg at the European Court of Human Rights:<br /> 'New Conceptual Challenges Regarding Freedom of Religion of Belief'

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies participated in the organization of a Series of Discussions at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, on 17-18 November 2016. Attending the event were Center Founding Director Cole Durham and Director Brett Scharffs, along with Senior Editor Donlu Thayer and members of the International Advisory Council Duane and Erlyn Madsen. Also involved in organizing the event was Grégor Puppinck, director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, who attended with colleagues Thierry Rambaud, Vincent Cador, Claire de La Hougue, and Jean-Pierre Schoupe.

Other participants included Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union, and Australian barrister and legal academic Neville Rochow and his wife, Penelope, who are serving as government relations representatives... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark Delivers Keynote Address at JRCLS Religious Freedom Symposium

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark participated in a religious freedom symposium on November 12, 2016 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Hosted by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society’s Salt Lake City and S.J. Quinney College of Law Chapters, the symposium speakers addressed different aspects of religious freedom. 

Professor Clark delivered the keynote address. She provided an overview of the fundamental principles of religious freedom, including the benefits to society that religious freedom provides. 

Other speakers included Shawn Gunnarson, First Amendment Attorney at Kirton & McKonkie; Gary McKean, attorney and member of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention; James Sonne, founding director of Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic; and Hannah... more

Image for Cole Durham and Ján Figel’ at Emory Law School: 'Restoring Religious Freedom'

"Law, Religion, Equality, and Dignity" was the theme of the Restoring Religious Freedom Conference held at the Emory University School of Law on 6-7 of November 2016. Professor Cole Durham joined Ján Figel’, EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, in a conversation titled "A Century of Genocides: Is Better Accommodation of Conscience an Answer?" in a Sunday evening session co-sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Freedom of Religion Project. This event, which also commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the Emory University School of... more

Image for Professors Scharffs and Doxey Participate in South American Forum for Religious Freedom

Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Gary Doxey, Associate Director, participated in the South American Forum for Religious Freedom. held 9-11 November 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The forum theme was "Religious Freedom, the Essence of Human Equality". Researchers, teachers, religious leaders and ministers, political leaders and public officials, journalists, professionals related to religious freedom, and other interested persons gathered to discuss freedom of religion and its relationship to state, education, and practices of worship. 

Professor Scharffs presented a paper in a plenary session on the topic "Why religious freedom? Why... more

Image for Durham and Scharffs at The Oslo Coalition: 'The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse'
Lena Larsen, Mark Lattimer, Nazila Ghanea

Professors Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs participated in a Center co-sponsored conference hosted by The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law 26-27 October 2016 at the Lysebu Hotel and Conference Center in Oslo. The conference 'The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse', saw the launch of new Oslo principles on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

In addition to the Oslo Coalition and ICLRS, the event was co-sponsored by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Fritt Ord.  ... more

Image for UN Side Event: The State of Religious Freedom

In an event that took place at the United Nations in New York City on 28 October 2016, Professor Heiner Bielefeldt provided a thoughtful retrospective look at his six-year tenure as UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Professor Bielefeldt was to be joined by Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, set to replace Professor Bielefeldt in office on November 1, but laryngitis prevented Mr. Shaheed from joining him.

Stephen Hickey, Political Counsellor at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York welcomed the group and made brief remarks on freedom of religion and belief. David Colton, representative in New York for LDS Charities, acted as the moderator of the event. Professor Bielefeldt's... more

Image for Professors Durham and Scharffs at Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism in the UK

Center Founding Director Cole Durham and Center Director Brett Scharffs made presentations at a major conference at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Wednesday and Thursday, October 19-20, 2016. 

The conference, "Preventing Violent Extremism by building inclusive and plural societies: How Freedom of Religion or Belief can help", brought together international parliamentarians, diplomats, academics, journalists, faith leaders, and civil society representatives. 

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson, said, "Our immediate goal is to destroy Daesh, a failing movement that is firmly on the road to defeat. But this conference is about preventing extremism from taking root in the first place by examining how to combat poisonous ideologies at their source."

Professor Durham spoke of the role of education in building acceptance of different faiths or beliefs among children. He drew upon his experience helping draft the Toledo Guidelines on education about religion, part of an OSCE project.

Professor Scharffs spoke about Center educational... more

Image for Brett Scharffs Delivers Brigham Young University Forum Address, 18 October 2016

Professor Brett G. Scharffs. Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, delivered the University Forum Address on 18 October 2016, in the Marriott Center on the BYU Campus. His address was titled "Audacious Faith: Appreciating the Unique Power and Singular Appeal of LDS Doctrine". The Forum was broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, and BYUradio. You may view or listen to Professor Scharffs' address at this link.

Read about Professor Scharffs work to help pilot a Sharia and Human Rights Masters Program in Indonesia on BYU's homepage. Don't miss Professor Scharffs' "Cougar Query" here.

Image for Event at Newseum, 7 October 2016: International Protection of Religious Freedom
Photo Credit: Maria Bryk/Newseum

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University Law School and the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute brought together on 7 October 2016 at the Newseum Knight Conference Center in Washington DC, key scholars and actors involved in government responses to religious restrictions, to address pressing issues concerning the International Protection of Religious Freedom.

Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, moderated a panel comprising Rabbi David N. Saperstein, the US State Department's Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; Honorable Ján Figel, the European... more

Image for Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett Receives 2016 International Religious Liberty Award

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies were honored to present the 2016 International Religious Liberty Award to Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett.

The award was presented at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner held at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, 6 October 2016. A keynote address was given by Dr. David Holland, Associate Professor at Harvard Divinity School and Advisory Board Member of the National Museum of American Religion. Winners of the 2016 Founding Fathers Student Writing Competition were also recognized at the dinner. See... more

Image for Winners of the 7th Annual Founding Fathers Religious Liberty Writing Contest - October 2016
Herman Hofman receives first place award.

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are pleased to announce the winners of the Seventh Annual Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition. The winners were announced at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner held on Thursday, 6 October 2016 in Washington DC.

First Place $4000:  Herman Hofman (Michigan State University College of Law)
Second Place $3000:  Courtney Miller (University of Virginia School of Law)
Third Place $2000:  Lisa Mathews (George Mason School of Law)

Honorable Mention $1000: Caleb Wolanek and Heidi Liu (Harvard Law School); Nevin Beiler (Regent University School of Law); Jonathan Backer (University of Michigan Law School); William Simpson (Boston University... more

Image for Heiner Bielefeldt Delivers Keynote Address and Receives Service Award at Symposium 2016

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was honored to welcome Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, who currently serves as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, as the keynote speaker at the opening session of the 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium on 2 October 2016. At the same meeting Professor Cole Durham presented Professor Bielefeldt with the Center's Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the interest of freedom of religion or belief worldwide.

Professor Bielefeldt was appointed to his position as Special Rapporteur on 18 June 2010, and his term of office will continue until November 1, 2016. He holds both a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen and a post-doctoral... more

Image for 23rd International Law and Religion Symposium: 'Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World'

The 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University opened on Sunday evening, 2 October 2016, with an outstanding keynote address by Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, who currently serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Professor Cole Durham, Founding Director of the Center, presented Professor Bielefeldt with the Center's Distinguished Service Award, for his outstanding contributions.

This year's truly remarkable Symposium — "Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World" — brought together 95 invited delegates, including scholars, jurists, political and civil society leaders, and religious leaders and religion policy makers from 45 countries, providing them an important opportunity for engagement on issues of religion, law, and policy. Speakers and panelists explored the relationships among religion, pluralism, and religious rights as they addressed such issues as "Religious Rights and Culture," Exemptions, Baselines, and Discrimination: Conceptualizing Religious Rights," and "Minorities, Majorities, and Religious Rights."

... more
Image for Vietnam NW Highlands Regional Certificate Training Program on Religion & the Rule of Law

From September 19-24, 2016, the first-of-its-kind regional certificate training program on religion and the rule of law was held in Lao Cai city in the Northwest Highlands region of Vietnam. Although Lao Cai province has a population of only a little over 600,000, it includes 24 of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, and a wide array of religious and linguistic communities. 

The program was modeled on successful certificate training programs over the past five years held twice in Hanoi, once in Ho Chi Minh City, and once in Danang. This was the first time the program was designed for a primarily regional rather than national audience. More than 70 students participated in the program, including religious leaders, educators, and government and party officials with responsibilities regarding... more

Image for Geneva: Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Humanitarian/Migration Crisis

A Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Humanitarian/Migration Crisis was held 17 September 2016, hosted by the International Government Relations Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsin Geneva at the newly dedicated offices of LDS Charities, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the Kennedy Center for International Studies, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Switzerland in Chambésy, Switzerland. 

 The keynote speaker at the event was W. Cole Durham, Jr., Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA; president of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies in Milan, Italy; associate member of the International Academy of Comparative Law in Paris, France; a co-editor... more

Image for International Conference: Implementation of Law and Religion in Vietnam in the Context of Building the ASEAN Community

Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in a significant international conference in Hanoi, Vietnam on September 15-16, 2016 focusing on issues relating to law and religion in the ASEAN region. The conference included two dozen experts from most of the ten ASEAN countries, as well as the United States. Professor Scharffs made presentations on “The UN Declaration of Human Rights: Foundations of International Standards for Religious Freedom and the Rule of Law,” and on “Regulating Religion: Before registration, at registration, and after registration – advantages and disadvantages.”

The conference was co-organized and co-sponsored by the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, a prestigious university within the Vietnam National University, BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and the Institute for Global Engagement.

Image for Vietnam National Assembly Workshop on the Proposed Law on Belief and Religions

On September 15, 2016, Center Director Brett Scharffs and Emeritus Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals J. Clifford Wallace were the featured presenters at a workshop organized by the National Assembly of Vietnam on a proposed bill that would regulate religious groups in Vietnam.  The two were invited to give foreign scholarly and judicial perspectives on the proposed legislation pending before the National Assembly. Workshop participants were given a Vietnamese translation of the book, Law and Religion: National, International and Comparative Perspectives... more

Image for Professors Durham and Scharffs participate in FoRB Policy Dialogue at the House of Lords, London, 7 September 2016

Professors Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs were invited to participate in the Freedom of Religion or Belief Policy Dialogue on 7 September 2016 at the Houses of Parliament in London, United Kingdom. Convened by the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG FoRB), the event was structured around two panels, each focused on specific recommendations made in a Policy Brief titledFoRB – Recognising our differences can be our strength: Enhancing transatlantic cooperation on promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Key recommendations made in the brief were... more

Image for G20 Interfaith Summit 2016 in China: “Dialogue among Civilizations and Community of Common Destiny for All Mankind'

Hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and jointly sponsored by the Institute of World Religions and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, a unique event took place in Beijing, China, 30 August – 1 September 2016, simultaneously with the meeting of world leaders for the G20 Economic Summit in Hangzhou. Chinese scholars joined with other international experts to discuss the topic “Dialogue among Civilizations and Community of Common Destiny for All Mankind".... more

Image for ICLRS Student Management Board 2016-2017

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is pleased to announce the 2016-2017 Student Management Board. Members of the board are chosen based on their interest in law and religion and their skills in writing, research, editing, and languages. These excellent law students speak a variety of languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Korean, French, and Russian. Throughout the school year they will participate in research, writing and editing projects, conferences, and other assignments with the Center. The 2016-2017 Board Members are third-year students Tanner Bean, Jeremy Driggs, Raquel Flores-Vera, Michael Goodrich, and McKenna Mills, and second-year students Reed Adlish, Alexander Alton, Sarah Clifford, Jessica Farnsworth, Lauren Flores, Rebecca HorneRyan Hughes, Minji Kim, Thomas Palmer, Joshua Prince, and Benjamin Thornell.

Image for Cole Durham Participates in 18th IRLA 'Meeting of Experts' at Harvard University
Photo credit: Nelu Burcea

A group of scholars gathered together on August 16-18, 2016, at Harvard University for the 18th 'Meeting of Experts'. The international panel of scholars and attorneys is convened annually by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), an independent advocacy organization founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This year's meeting focused on the paradox that while the principle of religious freedom is gaining foothold within international law, restrictions on religious practice continue to rise.

Professor Cole Durham was among the esteemed presenters at the meeting. Other presenters included David Little, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Divinity School; Rosa Maria Martines de Codes, History Professor at Complutense University in Madrid; Pasquale Annichino, Research Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy; Dudley Rose, Associate Dean of Harvard Divinity... more