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Image for Punta del Este Conference: Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Center for Law and Religion Studies Director Brett Scharffs, Founding Director Cole Durham, Associate Director Gary Doxey, and International Advisory Council Chair David Colton — under the auspices of the European Academy of Religion, with the leadership of Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside the European Union, and with co-conveners Carmen Asiaín Pereira, Heiner Bielefeldt, Tahir Mahmood, Alberto Melloni, Dicky Sofjan, Renáta Uitz, and Robin Fretwell Willson — assembled an international group of scholars and human rights experts in Punta del Este, Uruguay, 2-4 December 2018, to prepare the Punta Del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere. 

In connection with the conference a website was developed to support the event and provide resources for ongoing efforts to realize the conference objectives. At the conclusion of the event, the conveners issued the following Press Release:

Punta del Este Working

PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY, December 5, 2018. Prominent experts and government leaders specializing in human rights and constitutional law from around the world gathered in Punta del Este from December 2-4 to remember, reaffirm and recommit the world to human dignity as the foundational principle of human rights by issuing the Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere. The conference commemorated the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The purpose of the Declaration is to broaden support of human rights and to emphasize their universal and reciprocal character.

Ján Figeľ, Special Envoy for promotion... more

Image for Cole Durham participates in 19th 'Meeting of Experts' in Cordoba, Spain
Photo courtesy of IRLA

by Bettina Krause, Communication Director, International Religious Liberty Association

As the number of migrants and refugees worldwide continues to surge, a panel of scholars convened last month by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) says more must be done to deal with related religious freedom challenges. 

The IRLA’s 19th Meeting of Experts, held in Cordoba, Spain, brought together renowned scholars from a variety of academic disciplines to explore this issue. But the topics discussed were anything but academic for the many millions of men, women and children who are currently on the move, fleeing poverty, violence, or religious persecution, according to IRLA Secretary General Dr. Ganoune Diop.... more

Image for Sherie Rogde joins the Center as Conference Liaison

Sherie Rogde has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University as a Conference Liaison. Sherie’s past experience includes working for several years in BYU’s Division of Continuing Education as a program administrator, planning and executing numerous conferences, and providing a variety of educational opportunities to many people. Sherie earned a master’s degree from BYU’s Marriott School in Organizational Behavior with an emphasis in international development. She has served on nonprofit boards of directors and participated in development and humanitarian efforts in West Africa, Egypt, Central and South America. Her responsibilities at the Center include acting as a key liaison officer for the Religious Freedom Annual Review, assisting with the International Law and Religion Symposium, and coordinating other conferences worldwide. Sherie is excited to work with her colleagues in the Center to help fulfill its mission.

Image for Durham and Thayer: Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference

The Routledge ICLARS Series on Law and Religion has announced the publication of Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference, edited by ICLRS Founding Director Cole Durham and Donlu D. Thayer.  Description of the book from the publisher's website:

We live in an increasingly pluralized world. This sociological reality has become the irreversible destiny of humankind. Even once religiously homogeneous societies are becoming increasingly diverse. Religious freedom is modernity’s most profound if sometimes forgotten answer to the resulting social pressures, but the tide of pluralization threatens to overwhelm that freedom’s stabilizing force.

Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference is aimed at exploring differing ways of grappling with the resulting tensions, and... more

Image for ICLRS and Pardubice University to sponsor 'State Responses to Security Threats and Religious Diversity' in Prague, November 26th – 28th, 2018

Pardubice University’s Department for the Study of Religions and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School co-sponsoried the conference, “State Responses to Security Threats and Religious Diversity: What Future for Europe in the Beginning of the 3rd Millennium?” The conference was held in Prague, Czech Republic on November 26-28, 2018. 

The main objective of this conference was to analyze state responses to security threats and the impact this has on religious diversity in Central and Eastern Europe. Some of the questions discussed were: What is the future for religious diversity in Europe and Eastern Europe? How has European religious thinking formed our present understanding of religious tolerance... more

Image for Ninth Annual International Religious Liberty Dinner and Award - October 11, 2018
Rabbi David Saperstein delivers the keynote address.

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies presented the 2018 International Religious Liberty Award to Rabbi David Saperstein for his many years of work defending and supporting freedom of religion or belief for all. The award was presented by W. Cole Durham, Jr., ICLRS Founding Director, at the Ninth Annual Religious Liberty Award Dinner held on October 11, 2018 at the Monaco Hotel in Washington, DC. Rabbi Saperstein delivered the keynote address.

A rabbi and a lawyer, David Saperstein served as the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Liberty from 2014 to 2017. He was also the first chair of the US Commission on International Religious... more

Image for The 25th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium — Protecting Religious Freedom and Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70

The 25th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) is underway at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University. Delegate participants and invited observers are meeting together to commemorate both the 25th anniversary of the Symposium and the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Space does not permit inviting the general public to the Symposium, but recordings of many sessions are made available shortly after each session concludes, and written reports and recordings of other sessions will be available soon after the Symposium's close.

See recordings of Symposium Presentations as they become available, here.

Keynote speaker at the Symposium opening sesssion on Sunday evening, 7 October was Ann Power-Forde, an Irish laywer and academic who is currently... more

Image for Symposium 2018: Keynote Speaker Ann Power-Forde

Ann Power-Forde SC is an International Judge, a Senior Counsel, and an Academic. She is currently the Presiding Judge of the Constitutional Court Chamber of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in The Hague. She served as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights — working through French and English — from January 2008 until her final case in July 2015. A Consultant Adviser in International Human Rights Law, Ann joined Doughty Street Chambers in London as an Associate Tenant in September 2015, and she is a member of the Doughty Street International Team. She is Senior Counsel with extensive experience in Medical Law, Public Law and Constitutional Law.

As an academic, Ann has over 20 years’ experience of teaching Philosophy and Jurisprudence. She has published and presented papers on a wide range of topics — including international human rights law, bioethics, and risk management. She is a regular guest speaker at national and international conferences. ... more

Image for Symposium 2018: Keynote Speaker Sam Brownback

Sam Brownback was sworn in as United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom on February 1, 2018. He served as Governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018. Previously he served as a U.S. Senator (1996-2011) and a U.S. Representative in the House of Representatives (1995-1996) from Kansas. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. He also served as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture (1986-1993) and was a White House Fellow in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (1990-1991). Prior to his public service, Ambassador Brownback was a private attorney in Kansas and taught agricultural law at Kansas State University, co-authoring two books on the subject. He earned a B.S. from Kansas State University, and a J.D. from the University of Kansas.

Image for Symposium 2018: The Student Executive Committee

Every year a talented group of BYU Law Students devote countless volunteer hours to the success of the International Law and Religion Symposium. Under the direction of Center Associate Director Elizabeth Clark, Committee Members do everything from coordinating the complicated master schedule of all events, including the schedules of numerous delegates, to coordinating transportation of the delegates to and from the airport and various venues, and many important tasks in between. Preparation starts weeks in advance and, beginning with the arrival... more

Image for ICLRS Student Management Board 2018-2019

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is pleased to announce the Student Management Board for 2018-2019. Members of the board are chosen based on their interest in law and religion and their skills in writing, research, editing, and languages. Throughout the school year Board Members participate in research, writing and editing projects, conferences, and other assignments with the Center. The 2018-2019 Board Members are continuing members  Shaun BellistonMelissa Hartman, Kyle Harvey, Justin Miller, Malea Moody, Jox Moxon, Shelise Rupp, and Taylor Shaw, and new members Abdullah Hassan, Austin Atkinson, Erin Cranor, Miranda Cherkas, Diana Flores, Fabiana Lauf, Madison Moss, Rachel Whipple, and Kyra Woods, along with LLM student from Brazil, Tiago Camargo.

Image for ICLRS at the G20 Interfaith Forum 2018 in Argentina: 'Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development: Religious Contributions for a Dignified Future'
Opening Session: Faisal bin Abdulrahman Muaammar, KAICIID; Kevin O'Brien, Handa Foundation; Monsignor Carlos Malfa; Brian Adams, Griffith University; Argentine Vice President Gabriela Michetti; Christina Calvo, Etica y Economia.

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University Law School was represented at the 2018 G20 Interfaith Forum, held 26-28 September 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Center directors, staff, and student fellows, as well as members the Center's International Advisory Council (IAC).

Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., ICLRS Founding Director and a member of the G20 Interfaith Forum's Organizing Committee, played a key role in developing and organizing the program for the entire event, where he moderated and spoke in sessions, including leading the concluding session. Professor Durham was accompanied in Buenos Aires by Professor Gary Doxey, ICLRS Associate Director and Regional Advisor for Latin America; ICLRS Publications Director, Donlu Thayer and Communications Specialist, Blythe Shupe; IAC Chair and BYU Law School student... more

Image for The Fifth ICLARS Conference - Living Together in Diversity: Strategies from Law and Religion

The Fifth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) was held 12-14 September at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil. The theme of the Conference was Living Together in Diversity: Strategies from Law and Religion. ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs (a member of the ICLARS Steering Committee), Founding Director W. Cole Durham, Jr. (Past President of ICLARS), and Publications Director Donlu Thayer (a member of the conference Support Committee), joined some 100 others — from... more

Image for Religious Freedom and the Law Emerging: Contexts for Freedom for and from Religion

Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Rex E. Lee Chair and Professor of Law and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, along with his colleague Asher Maoz, Dean, Peres Academic Center Law School, Israel, with the editorial assistance of lawyer / editor Ashley Isaacson Woolley, announce the publication of their book Religious Freedom and the Law: Emerging Contexts for Freedom for and from Religion (Routledge 2018). The chapters in this collection were developed from presentations at the Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), held in Oxford, UK, in September 2016. 

This volume, which is part of the Routledge ICLARS Series on Law and Religion, presents a timely analysis of some of the current controversies relating to freedom for religion and freedom from religion... more

Image for ICLRS Certificate Program on Religion and the Rule of Law, Held in Oxford, UK

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at BYU Law School in Provo, Utah, USA, launched a new program during summer 2018,  training young scholars, academics, and government officials in religion and the rule of law. The program too place at Christ Church, Oxford University from July 22 through August 10, 2018.
     International Program participants are chosen each year from human rights and comparative law backgrounds. The members of this charter class included lawyer-scholars and students from Afghanistan/Netherlands, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Greece, Israel, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
     For almost two decades, ICLRS, together with many partners, has been supporting international... more

Image for Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere: ICLRS Cosponsors Conference at Christ Church College, Oxford

On August 3-4, 2018, ICLRS, along with The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion; The Religion, Law and International Relations Programme, Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regents Park, Oxford; and the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government, University of Oxford Faculty of Law sponsored the conference "Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere: Founding Figures, Foundations, and the Uses of Human Dignity." 

The conference was organized in anticipation of the 70th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights coming up in December 2018. Speakers explored the ideas that motivated and illuminated the human rights project 70 years... more

Image for ICLRS Student Fellow Erin Cranor, Externship in Salt Lake City, Utah

Erin Cranor’s first interaction with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies was while attending the Religious Freedom Annual Review in the summer of 2016. She was serving on the school board in Las Vegas and attended the conference to gain more insight into protected class legislation around sexual orientation and gender identity issues as well as looking for ways to promote civility in the conversation. A year later she would return to Provo as a first year law student and spend the summer of 2018 assisting in the organization of the Religious Freedom Annual Review and serving an externship at the Office of General Counsel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City.  

Erin found herself busy the first few weeks of the summer overseeing volunteers and the general logistics of the Religious Freedom Annual Review. Under the direction... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark Speaks at BYU Education Week, August 2018

International Law and Religion Studies Associate Director Elizabeth Clark spoke at BYU Education Week on Thursday, August 23, on the topic "Challenges to Religious Freedom: What’s on the Horizon? What Are the Priorities?" as part of a series organized by Church Public Affairs.

BYU Education Week began in 1922 and is one of the largest continuing education programs of its type. The program is held on the beautiful Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah, each August and offers more than 1,000 classes on a variety of subjects, including education, religion... more

Image for Religious Freedom Annual Review 2018: Religion and the Common Good
Elder L. Whitney Clayton. Photo by Madeline Mortensen, BYU Photo.

The fifth Religious Freedom Annual Review of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies has concluded on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some 500 participants in the event heard US media, legal, and religious leaders speak on topics such as why religious freedom matters, how to find common ground with LGBTQ rights, religious freedom in the media, and how to promote religious freedom in their communities.

The Event in the Press

Keynote speakers were Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Emma Green, religion specialist writer for the Atlantic and recipient of the 2017 Religion... more

Image for ICLRS Leadership Weighs in on Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, 4 June 2018, the United States Supreme Court announced their decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Seven of the court's nine justices sided with the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, who had refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because he felt it violated his religous beliefs. ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs and Associate Director Elizabeth Clark were asked to weigh in on the decision. Both had signed an amicus brief in support of the cakeshop in this case.

Professor Scharffs spoke on the BYU Radio program Top of Mind with Julie Rose about the decision. In the interview he provided a basic understanding of the case as well as analysis of the decision. Professor Scharffs said that "the most important guidance given is that when a court or tribunal is weighing and balancing competing rights, it needs to be done in a fair-handed way." He referred to the frequent use of the words hostility and neutrality in the decision.... more

Image for Kirkham at 'To Be Secure' Forum in Montenegro, 21-23 May 2018

David Kirkham, ICLRS Senior Fellow and Director of the Brigham Young University London Centre, moderated an unprecedented forum discussion on religion and international and national security at the Atlantic Council of Montenegro's 8th high-level To Be Secure (2BS) Forum, held in Budva, Montenegro, 21-23 May 2018. The panel debate and discussion brought together leading clerics of the Orthodox, Catholic, and Islamic communities of Montenegro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a fellow of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Other participants on the program included the president of Montenegro, the prime minister of Montenegro, the president of Kosovo, and numerous ministers, ambassadors, civil society leaders, and ranking journalists from throughout Europe.

Image for The Sixth ACLARS Conference: Law, Religion, and Human Flourishing, 20-22 May 2018
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses the delegates

The 2018 ACLARS Conference—Law, Religion, and Human Flourishing—was held 20-22 May 2018 at Baze University in Abuja, Nigeria. Participants gathered to explore their shared interest in the relationship of law and religion to the advancement of human flourishing. The conference was co-sponsored by ACLARS (the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies), ICLARS (the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, Milan, Italy), WARCLARS (the West African Regional Center for Law and Religion Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Nigeria), and ICLRS (the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, United States).

... more
Image for Scharffs and Durham at Grassrootsmobilise Conference Kokkinakis Book Launch in Athens

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies hosted a launch of the book The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the conference Between State and Citizen: Religion at the ECtHR, held 4 May 2018 in Athens, Greece. Center Director Brett Scharffs participated on a roundtable discussion at the conference – "Do we need the ECtHR to protect religious freedom?" – with participants Nicos Alivizatos, Malcolm Evans, Ronan McCrea, Renáta Uitz, and Lucy Vickers, moderated by ICLRS Founding Director Cole Durham. 

Other participants in the conference included Effie Fokas, Ceren Ozgul, Margarita Markoviti, Pasquale Annicchino, Alberta Giorgi, Liviu Andreescu, Mihai Popa, Dia Anagnostou, Marco Ventura, Julie Ringelheim, Panos Bitsaxis, Panayote Dimitra, Yannis Ktistakis, Andrea Williams, Lisa... more

Image for First Middle East Regional Conference, 'The Amman Message in a Changing World,' held in Jordan April 22-23, 2018

On April 22-23, 2018, the Center sponsored its first Middle East regional conference. Held at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan, the theme of the conference was "The Amman Message in a Changing World," a retrospective look at The Amman Message, a vision of peaceful Islam promulgated by King Abdullah II of Jordan a decade ago. The conference was sponsored by the Center, the University of Jordan Law School, and BYU Religious Education. 

His Royal Highness, Prince Hassan bin Talal, the uncle of King Abdullah II, was the royal patron of the conference. The conference... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark and Hannah Clayson Smith speak at BYU Women's Conference, May 2018
Elizabeth Clark and Hannah Clayson Smith

BYU Women's Conference, held annually, is the largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world. This year's conference was held May 3-4, 2018 on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah.  The theme was "Strengthen One Another in the Lord." Approximately 160 presenters participated and 18,458 people attended.

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark and Senior Fellow Hannah Clayson Smith presented on "Religious Freedom: A Cherished Heritage to Defend." In their joint presentation, they addressed questions such as "How do religious freedoms impact our right to worship? How can we keep our freedom of worship from being destoryed? How do we work together with those of other faiths to defence religious liberty?"

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this talk are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Image for Student Research Fellows for 2018

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is pleased to announce the 2018 Student Research Fellows. Each year the Center invites outstanding students to spend the summer between their first and second years at J. Reuben Clark Law School in externships with offices of the Area Legal Counsels of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in many parts of the world and at the General Counsel's office in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to this work, the Fellows participate in Center research, writing, and publishing projects. This year's thirteen students will travel to Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark Lectures at Ukrainian Academy of Sciences

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark gave a lecture at the Institute of Philosophy at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences on April 10, 2018. Her lecture was titled “Developments in Law and Religion in the United States.”

The presentation included lively Q&A and provided a great opportunity to discuss current US church-state law and recent developments. The Ukrainian scholars were particularly interested in current attitudes towards religion in the US, the US’s history of anti-Catholic bias, and understanding the development of current First Amendment case law.

Image for The Center Presents 2018 Meritorious Service Student Awards
Joshua Prince, Reed Adlish, Thomas Palmer, Nate Kinghorn, Alex Alton, Elizabeth McLaughlin, David Headley, Jacob Crump, Sarah Clifford, Ryan Hughes, Jane Wise, ICLRS associate director. Not pictured: Kaleb Brimhall and Jessica Farnsworth

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies presented 12 third year law students with Meritorious Service Awards at the annual Barrister’s Ball and Awards Banquet. Held at the Provo Marriott on March 29, 2018, the Barrister’s Ball is an opportunity for the BYU Law School to recognize students and faculty for outstanding achievement. 

Students were selected based on their dedicated service to the Center and the cause of religious freedom. Recognized students have served as student research fellows, on the Center’s Student Management Board, or on the Symposium Student Executive Committee. Many have assisted in the organization of and attended foreign conferences. Associate director, Jane Wise, presented the awards to the following students... more

Image for ICLRS Welcomes Senior Fellow Ruth Lybbert Renlund

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is honored to announce that noted Salt Lake City attorney Ruth Lybbert Renlund has accepted an appointment as a Center Senior Fellow. Formerly president of the law firm Dewsnup, King & Olsen, where she practiced plaintiff civil litigation for 20 years, she was associate attorney general of the state of Utah, served on the board of directors for the Deseret News, Murdock Travel, and the Workers Compensation Fund of Utah, served as chair of the Judicial Conduct Commission for the State of Utah, and was the first female president of the Utah Trial Lawyers Association. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Utah and a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland.

In February 2016 she delivered a lecture "Think about It: The Value of Law School" at the Women in Law Luncheon at BYU Law School. Introducing... more

Image for Scharffs at 2018 Global Business & Peace Symposium, Seoul, South Korea
Brett Scharffs and Brian Grim at Blue House

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was among the sponsors of the 2018 Global Business & Peace Symposium held 7-8 March in Seoul, South Korea. Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in the event, delivering a closing address. In connection with the Symposium, Professor Scharffs joined Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, as part of the Peace Delegation attending high-level meetings at the Korean National Assembly (Parliament), the Presidential Blue House, and with the Mayor of Seoul on March 7. 

Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave the keynote speech at the event, where special honors were given to business leaders who have worked to advance peace with North Korea, including some involved with the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC)... more

Image for BYU Law Students Compete at Moot Court Competition in Italy

Eight BYU Law students competed in an international Moot Court competition in Bologna, Italy, 6-7 March 2018. The competition was organized by the European Academy of Religion in collaboration with the International Consortium for Law & Religion Studies.

Teams from the United States and Europe argued a case before the European Court of Human Rights or the Supreme Court of the United States. The BYU law students were divided into two teams and argued before both. Pre-eminent scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions made up the two Courts. European Court of Human Rights judges were Silvio Ferrari, Professor of Law and Religion at the University of Milan (Italy), Mark Hill QC, Professor at the University of Cardiff (UK), Pretoria (South Africa), Notre Dame (Australia), and Ann... more

Image for International Religious Freedom Events in Guatemala, 6-7 March 2018

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) participated in a series of activities concerning religious freedom in Guatemala and Central America from March 6-7, 2018. The culminating event was an international conference on “Religious Freedom, the Secular State, and Conscientious Objection” at which Elder Quentin L. Cook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the keynote address. The event was sponsored by ICLRS, Asociación la Familia Importa (AFI), Mormon Helping... more

Image for Robin Fretwell Wilson Receives the 2018 Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award
Hannah L. Smith, ICLRS Senior Fellow, with Robin Fretwell-Wilson, 2018 Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award Recipient

Robin Fretwell Wilson was presented the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award at the 2018 J. Reuben Clark Law Society Annual Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah the 15-17 of February. The award, named for General Thomas L. Kane, an influential and powerful advocate for the religious freedom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during their migration to Utah and in the early days of the Church’s history, is presented to an individual who exemplifies the character and traits of Thomas L. Kane in upholding and defending religious freedom.

Robin Fretwell Wilson is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and director of the Family Law and Policy Program and the Epstein Health Law and Policy Program at the University of Illinois College of Law. She is the author or editor of eleven books, including The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (editor, Cambridge... more

Image for Scharffs and Rochow at FoRB Conference in Adelaide

From 14 to 16 February 2018, Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Center Senior Fellow, Neville Rochow SC, participated in a major conference in Sydney and Adelaide Australia. The conference featured leading academics and experts from Australia, the Pacific, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, addressing the conference theme: ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Other Fundamental Freedoms’.

The Center partnered in the conference with... more

Image for ICLRS Announces Two New Senior Fellows: Neville Rochow SC and Hannah C. Smith

Neville Rochow

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is honored to announce that two distinguished legal professionals have accepted appointments as Senior Fellow, Australia barrister Neville Rochow SC and American advocate Hannah Clayson Smith. 

Hannah Smith brings an unparalleled interest in and a distinguished record of service to the core issues of religious liberty in the United States. She twice clerked at the US Supreme Court, for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and between clerkships was an associate in private practice at national law firms in Washington D.C., representing clients before state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court in civil, criminal, and constitutional cases. Most recently she served as Senior Counsel at Becket Law, where she helped secure victories in key U.S. Supreme Court religious liberty cases, including Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School... more

Image for Shaun Casey Visits the Center to Discuss State Department Experience with BYU Law Students

On 1 February 2018, Shaun Casey, former U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, visited the BYU campus to deliver a lecture titled "Globetrotting for Interfaith Harmony" in celebration of the United Nation’s annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. The event was co-hosted by the Wheatley Institution; the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies; and the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

Prior to the lecture, Casey visited the Center to have lunch and talk with BYU Law students. In a casual setting, he talked about his experiences in the State Department’s Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives and shared some of his thoughts on freedom of religion or belief. He answered questions posed by the students and spent several minutes after the lunch ended talking individually with students. 

Image for SACRALS Conference February 2018: Religio-Legal Parameters for Social Harmony

During the first three days of February 2018, the South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies (SACRALS) convened the event "Religio-Legal Parameters for Social Harmony" at Hotel Sheraton New Delhi, India. Participants in the Meet included eminent scholars, jurists, and legal and interfaith leaders from the South Asia Area, with visitors from Australia and the United States. Under the direction of SACRALS Founding President Professor Dr Tahir Mahmood, meetings were held both at Hotel Sheraton and at Amity University in nearby Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The Inaugural Session of the Meet on the evening of 1 February was chaired by Professor Tahir Mahmood. Participants were welcomed by SACRALS Board of Trustees Chair Dr Saif Mahmood and heard an inaugural address by Professor Upendra Baxi, Former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University & Visiting Professor, Warrick University, UK, and... more

Image for Brett Scharffs  at the Summit on Religious Freedom in Orlando on January 30, 2018

Director Brett Scharffs joined other prominent speakers at the Third Summit on Religious Freedom: An Interfaith Invitation in Orlando, Florida on 30 January 2018. The annual summit, held at the First Baptist Orlando Church, was an opportunity to learn from and dialogue with nationally recognized experts in the area of religious freedom. 

Topics were: 

  • Religious Freedom: Why care? (Brett Scharffs, Director, BYU Law - International Center for Law and Religion Studies)
  • Rights: Issues coming before Congress and the courts that could affect you. (Jennifer Hawks, Associate General Counsel at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)
  • Respect: Creating an environment that welcomes all religious and non-religious traditions. (Rev. Katrina Jenkins, Dean of Religious Life, Rollins College)
Image for Brett Scharffs Appointed to BYU Law School's Rex E. Lee Chair

by Andrew Hoffman, BYU Law Student

On 15 November 2017, the J. Reuben Clark Law School held the final of this semester’s three investiture ceremonies. Professor Brett Scharffs was honored with appointment to the distinguished Rex E. Lee Chair, a position created to honor the late Rex E. Lee, a former Solicitor General, Dean of the Law School, and President of Brigham Young University. Dean Gordon Smith and Professor Cole Durham provided a few introductory remarks before Professor Scharffs was formally invested.

Dean Smith praised Professor Scharffs for his achievements in the field of legal scholarship. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, while president of BYU, remarked that it is the duty of the law school to produce great scholarship that is not just great in the eyes of church membership, but in the eyes of the general citizenry. Throughout his twenty years of teaching, Professor Scharffs has published in renowned legal journals and is well-known... more