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

Image for ICLRS Co-sponsors First Caribbean Religious Freedom Symposium - November 2017

The first Caribbean Religious Freedom Symposium was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on 15-17 November 2017. The conference was hosted by Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) and sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS); the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation; Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM); Latin American Consortium of Religious Freedom; and the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic.

The theme of the conference was "Religious Freedom and Economic Development", highlighting the importance of religious freedom as a fundamental right related to freedom of conscience. The ICLRS was represented by Associate Director Gary Doxey, Senior Fellows Scott Isaacson and Denise Lindberg, and Academic Advisory Board Member Juan G Navarro Floria. Also attending were Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and David Armstrong, Church Area Legal Counsel for the Caribbean Area.

Image for Professor Durham Speaks at Conference on Protecting Places of Worship and Holy Sites in Cyprus - November 2017

Founding Director W. Cole Durham, Jr., participated in a conference titled “Places of Worship and Holy Sites in Europe and the Middle East: Status and Protection under National and International Law.” Held in Nicosia, Cyprus the 8-10 November 2017, and organized by the Conference of European Churches and the Church of Cyprus, the aim of the conference was to urge European institutions to increase efforts to respect and to protect places of worship and holy sites in the run up to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. The argument was made that religious... more

The third Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference (SEA FoRB III) was held the 7-8 November in Manila, Philippines. Organized by the International Commission of Jurists, Boat People SOS, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Forum-Asia, and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the conference sought to adopt a more hands-on approach and to involve wider participation from influential leaders and key stakeholders in the promotion of religious freedom in Southeast Asia. 

In addition to helping organize the conference, Professor W. Cole Durham... more

Image for Gary Doxey Delivers Keynote Address in Mexico City, 7-8 November 2017
Gary Doxey with conference attendees and organizers

The Pontificia Universidad de México hosted a conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of constitutional reform establishing significant religious freedom in Mexico on 7-8 of November. The conference was sponsored by three law schools: the law school at the Universidad Iberoamericano, the law school of the Pontificia Universidad de México, and the Insitituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Professor Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the Center, was invited to attend and deliver a keynote speech. Center Academic Advisory Council member, Javier Martinez-Torron was also a keynote speaker. 

Image for Elizabeth Clark speaks at Interfaith Religious Freedom Conference on 7 November 2017
Photo by Dave Frechette, University of Detroit Mercy Law School

ICLRS Associate Director Elizabeth Clark participated on a panel of legal scholars at the Interfaith Religious Freedom Conference on 7 November 2017. Sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Detroit Chapter and the Michigan Catholic Conference, the conference was hosted by the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The topic of discussion was legislative and legal challenges to religious freedom. 

The conference website describes the event as follows:

During this panel, legal scholars offered various perspectives regarding one of America's most treasured rights: the right to religious freedom. Specifically, their discussion will focus on current legislative and legal issues that... more

Image for Gary Doxey at Dialogue on Ethics and Economics in Buenos Aires, 2-3 November 2017
Gary Doxey and Gustavo Guillermé, event organizer

Associate Director Gary Doxey presented at a conference, Dialogue on Ethics and Economics, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 2-3 of November 2017. Professor Doxey, along with Juan Navarro Floria, a professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica in Buenos Aires, and a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spoke in the fourth plenary session titled "Sustainable Development: The Interconfessional Alliance and The G20 Interfaith Group." The two addressed the history of the G20 Interfaith Summit. Other panelists were Gabriela Agosto, Head of the National Cabinet, Pbro. Francisco Hernández, SELACC, and Humberto Shikiya, CREAS.

Image for Gary Doxey Attends the Second World Congress of intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue in Argentina - 1-2 November 2017.
Juan Navarro Floria and Gary Doxey

Associate Director Gary Doxey attended the “II Congreso de Diálogo Intercultural e Interreligioso” held in Ushuaia, Argentina 1-2 November 2013. Organized by the provincial government of Ushuaia and others, the conference was attended by community leaders, local government, and religious leaders, but also by high school students from area Catholic schools. Professor Doxey shared his thoughts on the importance of religious freedom to society’s wellbeing and the need to work together to defend religious freedom. Other speakers at the conference included Abraham Skorka, the leading rabbi (retired) of Argentina, and Sumer Nofouri, a Muslim leader. 

Image for ‘Religion, Economics and ASEAN Community' - Hanoi, 23-24 October 2017

Report by Neville Rochow

On 23 and 24 October 2017, the International Center for Law and Religious Studies, represented by its director, Professor Brett Scharffs, took part in a conference at the Hanoi School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Professor Scharffs’ participation continued what is now a more than decade-long tradition of partnership with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi and the Institute for Global Engagement in holding conferences on law, religion, and economics. 

This year’s conference was entitled 'Religion, Economics and ASEAN Community' and attracted expert speakers from a variety of academic disciplines and religious perspectives. Experts came from Vietnam, neighboring ASEAN countries, and from the United States and Australia. ... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark participates in conference on Violence, Social Justice, and Human Rights - 19-20 October 2017

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark participated in a conference sponsored by the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Held in New Brighton, MN, the conference titled "Violence, Social Justice, and Human Rights at the Intersection of Law and Religion" was held 19-20 of October 2017. Panels included discussion on law and violence, global social justice, and the source of human rights. 

Clark participated on the global social justice panel with panelists Azizah al-Hibri, University of Richmond Law School; Ayesha Chaudhry, University of British Columbia-Vancouver; and Vincent Rougeau, Boston College Law School. The conference described the panel as follows: ... more

Image for Baroness Elizabeth Berridge Receives 2017 International Religious Liberty Award
D. Todd Christofferson, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, Matthew Richards, W. Cole Durham, Jr.

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies were honored to present the International Religious Liberty Award for 2017 to Baroness Elizabeth Berridge for her many years of support and work for religious liberty. 

Elizabeth became Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose in the County of Rutland on 20th January 2011. As a member of the House of Lords she founded and chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG) and is a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Within her role as Baroness Berridge she works on projects relating to policing, human rights and foreign affairs and is patron of the Rutland Foodbank. She is a trustee... more

Image for 2017 Founding Fathers Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition Award Winners
Stephanie Barclay, Matthew Richards, W. Cole Durham, Jr., and Michael West, First Place winner in the Writing Competition

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are pleased to announce the winners of the 8th Annual Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition. The winners were announced at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner held on Thursday, October 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

First Place ($4000): Michael West (University of Virginia School of Law)
Paper Title: Waiving the Ministerial Exception

Second Place ($3000): Daniel Boger (University of Virginia School of Law)
Paper title: The Executive Branch... more

Image for Associate Director Gary Doxey receives Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

ICLRS Associate Director Gary Doxey was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Award from the Boy Scouts of America on 26 October 2017 in Provo, Utah. To be nominated for the Distinguished Eagle Award, past Eagle Scouts are required to have received their Eagle at least 25 years prior and have “received extraordinary, national-level recognition or eminence within their identified field.” They must also exhibit a strong record of community service and family values. Gary was previously awarded the Silver Beaver Award and the Outstanding Eagle Award. 

The Center congratulates Gary on the award. The full article on Gary's award as well as a video interview with him can be found here

Image for Director Brett Scharffs participates in Law & Religion Symposium at the University of Washington School of Law

The Church Council of Greater Seattle hosted its first Annual Law and Religion Symposium on 13 October 2017 at the University of Washington School of Law. Center Director Brett Scharffs presented on religious freedom issues in the United States, focusing on the Masterpiece Cake Shop Case scheduled to come before the Supreme Court.

Other presenters included:

  • Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice
  • Professor Clark B. Lombardi, University of Washington Law Foundation Professor of Law, Director of Islamic Studies
  • Elder Von G. Keetch, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Public Affairs Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
... more
Image for Ján Figeľ and András Sajó open the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium
Left: Ján Figeľ Right: András Sajó

by Melissa Hartman, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

Two distinguished Keynote speakers addressed participants from around the world assembled for the opening session of the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium.  In addition to an address by Ján Figeľ, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of religion or Belief Outside the European Union, those assembled at the J. Rueben Clark Law School and participants via webcast, were privileged to hear from András Sajó, Former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights.

The opening session commenced with the Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brett G. Sharffs welcoming attendees and inviting them to reflect on the role religion can play in building peace, stability, and harmony or alternatively contributing to disunity and violence. BYU President Kevin J. Worthen, and Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Gordon Smith, then also welcomed... more

Image for Symposium 2017: 'Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World'

The 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) was held 1-3 October 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some 100 Delegates to the 2017 Symposium were invited to discuss the conference theme — "Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World" — including such sub-themes as Religion and Security, Religion and Pluralism, and Religion and the Rule of Law.  

Session reports of presentations are available here, and recordings from the event will be available soon at this link. (See recordings from Symposium 2016 here.)

The 2017 Symposium opened Sunday evening, October 1, with keynote addresses by Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, and András Sajó, Hungarian scholar and former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights. 

Each year since 1994, ICLRS has hosted a symposium devoted to the discussion of law... more

Image for The Center Co-sponsors a Conference in Vladivostok, Russia in September 2017

On September 12-14, 2017, the Center co-sponsored the International Scientific Seminar “Social Partnership of the State and Religious Associations in the Modern World: Legal and Practical Aspects.” The conference was held in Vladivostok, Russia at the Institute of the History of Archeology and Ethnography of the Peoples of the Far East, FEB RAS.  The scientific and practical goal of the event was to study the positive experience of state-confessional relations in relation to social partnership, to analyze well-founded models of social service of confessions... more

Image for Gary Doxey, Scott Isaacson, and Denise Lindberg attend Annual Colloquium of the Latin American Consortium for Religious Liberty

Associate Director Gary Doxey and Senior Fellows Scott Isaacson and Denise Lindberg attended the annual colloquium of the Latin American Consortium for Religious Liberty in Montevideo, Uruguay. The colloquium, held the 6-9 of September 2017, focused on laicidad, the Latin American version of separation of church and state. The Center was a principal sponsor of the event, which took place in the chambers of Uruguay’s national Senate as well as at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay, the country’s most prestigious institution of higher education. 

The colloquium drew scholars from around Latin America. The Latin American... more

Image for Symposium 2017: The Student Executive Committee

Every year a talented group of BYU Law Students devotes 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 of the first delegate... more

Image for Durham and Scharffs Plenary Speakers at 8th World Congress for Religious Freedom
Ganoune Diop presents Award of Honor for Global Impact to Cole Durham.
IRLA World Congress 2017

Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, were among the distinguished plenary speakers at the 8th World Congress for Religious Freedom, sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), held 22-24 August 2017 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. During the event, Professor Durham, "prolific author, editor, and international scholar" who is one IRLA's Advisory Directors and a member of its Panel of Experts, was presented with the International Religious Liberty Award of Honor for Global Impact in Promoting Constitutional Law, Human Rights, and Religious Freedom.... more

Image for Durham at UN Launch of the OSCE / ODIHR Guidelines on the Legal Personality of Religious or Belief Communities, Geneva 29 September 2017
Kishan Manocha, Dilnoza Satarova, Cole Durham (OSCE photo)

[From reports by OSCE/ODIHR:] One of the most significant obstacles to full enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief in practice is the inability for religious or belief communities to access legal personality within a national legal framework. To address this challenge facing many religious or belief communities across the OSCE region, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Venice Commission issued in 2015 Guidelines on the Legal Personality of Religious or Belief Communities.

The Guidelines were presented and discussed at the United Nations Office in Geneva on 29 September 2017 at a meeting attended by some 45 representatives of UN... more

Image for Durham and Toronto at the Italian Parliament, September 2017

On 25 September 2017 Center Founding Director Cole Durham, in company with James Toronto, a professor of Arabic language and Islamic religion at Brigham Young University and Center Senior Fellow in Islamic Studies, made a presentation at the Italian Parliament on Legal Considerations of Religious Liberty in Russia. Among other participants was Massimo Introvigne, Founder and Director of the Center for Sutides on New Religions (CESNUR), based in Turin.

Image for Center Directors Present at 2017 BYU Education Week

This year marked the 95th anniversary of the annual BYU Education Week. During August 21-25 thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds gathered on the BYU Provo campus to attend classes. This year's theme was taken from the Doctrine and Covenants 50:24, "He that receiveth light and continueth in God receiveth more light."

An important part of this year's offering included a series of Religious Freedom Classes sponsored by the LDS Church Public Affairs.  Center Associate Director gave two lectures in this series — "The Plan of Salvation and Religious Freedom: The Role of Moral Agency" and "A Choice Land: Religious Freedom in America and the Restoration of Christ's Church." Also presenting in this session were BYU Law School Dean of Admissions Gayla Sorenson, LDS Church Associate General Counsel William Atkin, and Alexander Dushku, Hannah Smith, Matthew Richards,... more

Image for Durham and Scharffs at the 8th Annual Certificate Training Program in Beijing, August 2017

On August 7-9, Professor Cole Durham and Professor Brett Scharffs participated as trainers in the 8th annual Certificate Training Program on Religion and the Rule of Law held in Beijing, China, sponsored by the Pu Shi Institute. Durham and Scharffs each spoke on several topics relating to this year's program theme, Religion and Security. Durham lectured on the strategic outlook and global trends in countering violent extremism, the "International Bill of Rights" related to religion, and newly emerging religions. Scharffs spoke on the legal status of religious groups, religious freedom and free speech, and religious property... more

Image for Interfaith Dialogue for Peace, Harmony and Security - Yangon, Myanmar August 2017

On August 5-6, Professor Scharffs was a delegate and speaker at a major international conference, The Interfaith Dialogue for Peace, Harmony and Security (SAMVAD II), held at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, in Yangon, Myanmar. The conference involved high-profile religious leaders, government officials and academics from nineteen countries, with a focus on Southeast Asia. His lecture was televised in Myanmar. 

Professor Scharffs was asked to speak on the topic of conflict avoidance, peace and harmony. Scharffs noted the high correlation between countries with high or very high legal restrictions and social hostilities involving religion and the presence of a majority religious... more

Image for Durham at 4th Sino-U.S. Counterterrorism Dialogue – Beijing, 4-6 August 2017
Photo: IGE

IGE 5 September 2017: From 4-6 August, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) led a delegation to Beijing, China, to co-convene the 4th Sino-U.S. Counterterrorism Dialogue. Since the dialogue's inception in 2014, it has sought to deepen communication and understanding between Chinese and U.S. government, military, civil society, and business leaders over issues related to terrorism, religion, security, and governance. This Track 1.5 dialogue was hosted by the U.S.-China New Perspectives Foundation (NPF) and the Pu Shi Institute for Social Science (PS).

The IGE delegation was led by Chris Seiple, IGE's president emeritus, and included: BG (ret.) Michael Meese, chief operating officer of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association; Geoff Davis, former U.S. Representative to Congress; Cole Durham, professor of law at Brigham Young University; and, James Chen, IGE’s executive director.... more

Image for International Forum on Law and Religion, University of the Philippines – 3 August 2017

An International Forum on Law and Religion: The Secular State and Religious Freedoms was held at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City on August 3, 2017, sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University, the University of the Philippines College of Law, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the international importance of protecting freedom of religion, form alliances and relationships among government leaders,... more

Image for Scharffs participates as panelist at Open Forum on 'Relations between Religious Minorities, Majorities and the State in Indonesia and the United States'

On July 31, 2017, Center Director Brett Scharffs was a panelist at a special Open Forum on "Relations between Religious Minorities, Majorities and the State in Indonesia and the United States: Current Trends and Issues," sponsored by the U.S.-Indonesia Society (USINDO), in Jakarta, Indonesia. Panelists included Yenny Wahid, Indonesian Co-Chair, Indonesia-US Council on Religion and Pluralism and Executive Director of the Wahid Foundation, Prof. Dr. Nur Syam, Secretary-General, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, and Febi Yonesta... more

Image for Scharffs is Guest Lecturer, Intersession Seminar on Religion and Human Rights, Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies, Graduate School, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta

In July 2017, Professor Scharffs was a guest lecturer for a half-day in the first-of-its-kind Intersession Seminar on Religion and Human Rights at the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Seminar, taught by Professor Zainal Bagir of the Graduate School of UGM and Dr. Suhadi of the Graduate School of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, introduces students to the many facets of the interface between the discourses of human rights, and in particular freedom of religion and belief, and how they have been understood by religious communities, and how they have been implemented in international, national, and local law. Professor Scharffs lectured on the drafting and background... more

Image for Scharffs Lectures as Visiting Professor, Masters Level Course on Shari’a and Human Rights, Muhammadiyah University, Malang, Indonesia

In July 2017 Professor Brett Scharffs lectured for the sixth consecutive year at the Masters Level Course on Shari’a and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University in Malang, Indonesia. This innovative course is designed to create avenues of discourse between two important world legal systems, Islamic law and human rights law. Professor Scharffs taught classes on the foundations of human rights, the right of freedom of thought, conscience and belief, and the regulation of religion under the rule of law. The Course was expanded in 2016 into a two-year master’s degree program on Shari’a and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University, with the financial support of the Asia Foundation.... more

Image for Scharffs Lectures on the Role of Religion and Religious Freedom at Muhammadiyah University

While in Asia during July 2017, Professor Scharffs was a guest lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Muhammadiyah in Malang, Indonesia. The lecture, attended by the entire law school community, addressed the topic, “The Role of Religion and Religious Freedom in Responding to Religious Freedom.” In this lecture, Professor Scharffs noted that while religion and religious freedom can both be used to foment violence in the name of religion, both religion and religious freedom play important roles in responding to and creating resistance towards violent extremism. The lecture was convened and hosted by Muhammadiyah Law School Dean Sulardi and University Vice Rector, Professor Syamsul... more

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... 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... more

Image for Durham and Scharffs at the European Academy of Religion in Bologna, 18-19 June 2017

Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, joined almost a thousand religion scholars in Bologna, Italy in June 2017 in Ex Nihilo: Zero Conference of the European Academy of Religion, the first conference of the newly established European Academy of Religion. Professors Durham and Scharffs, along with UK scholar Peter Petkoff (of Brunel Colleges and Regent's Park College, Oxford), participated in a panel organized by the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion: "Religious Rights and International... 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.... more

Image for ICLRS and a Symposium on Religious Freedom in Costa Rica, June 2017
At the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, ICLRS Senior Fellow Scott Isaacson, and Jeff Robinson, member of the ICLRS International Advisory Council, traveled to Costa Rica for meetings in June. Among others, they met with personnel from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, and with members and staff of Costa Rica’s unicameral congress, the Asamblea Legislativa

On June 9 ICLRS, in collaboration with the Asamblea Legislativa, held an international symposium "Religious Freedom Challenges in Costa Rica: A Pending Human Rights Commitment". The symposium discussed the importance of religious freedom and the need... 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 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 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... 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 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).

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 '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 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 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 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