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 International Center for Law and Religion Studies 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 was opened by the president of the University of Jordan, Professor Dr. Azmi Mahafzah. The keynote address was delivered by the former prime minister of Jordan, His Excellency Professor Dr. Senator Adnan Badran, chairman of the board of the University of Jordan. The opening session was attended by the highest-ranking leaders in the Jordanian Government, the Jordanian Judiciary... more

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

The fourth 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 News Association's award for excellence in religion-news analysis. Other speakers included Professor attorney Nathan Lewin; Professors Sahar Aziz, Thomas Berg, Angela Carmella, and William Eskridge; author Tom Christofferson; Imam R. Ossma Bahloul, Resident Scholar of the Islamic Center of Nashville; San Clemente Mayor Tim Brown; Neill F. Marriott, Former Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; writer-scholars Teryl Givens and Fiona Givens;  activist scholars the Reverend Eugene F. Rivers, III and Dr. Jacqueline C. Rivers; and "the Godfather of all religion reporting and religion news," Terry Mattingly.

More from the impressive lineup of presenters: J. Stuart Adams, Pamela Atkinson, Haroon Azar, Chelsea... 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 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 ICLRS Announces Certificate Program on Religion and the Rule of Law, to be held in Oxford

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at BYU Law School in Provo, Utah, USA will launch a new program during summer 2018  training young scholars, academics, and government officials in religion and the rule of law, to be held this year at Christ Church, Oxford University from July 22 through August 10, 2018.

For almost two decades, ICLRS, together with many partners, has been supporting international certificate training programs in religion and the rule of law in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Nigeria. Additionally, Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs have taught courses on freedom of religion at Central European University in Budapest for many years. This is in addition to the ICLRS’s annual academic symposium at BYU Law School and the regional academic conferences... more

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, Ghana, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and South Africa. Two will work in the office of the General Counsel in of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Center is grateful for the work of these fine students, as they experience this enriching program.... 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 Hands, and the Universidad de San Carlos.

Events began with a meeting between associate director Gary Doxey and senior fellow Scott Isaacson and members of the Guatemala Congress to discuss law reform. A similar meeting was held... 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 January 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 Symposium 2017: Video Recordings Now Available

The recordings of the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World, held in October of 2017 are now available to view here

The keynote session and all plenary sessions are available in 12 different languages. All breakout sessions are available in English and may be available in other languages as well. To select other languages other than English, select the English icon next to Presentation/Photo Albums in the upper right corner of the screen, and select the desired language from the drop down menu. Only recordings available in the language selected have a watch icon available. Or select from the following quick... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Session Reports

Reports of sessions of the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, "Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World", are being gathered here.  Check back often!

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