Ten years ago, on January 1 of 2000, Brigham Young University established the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The formal establishment of the Center built on years of work we had done at the law school and abroad and was undertaken to promote scholarship and further knowledge in the field of law and religion. Growing from small beginnings, the Center has emerged as a recognized leader in the field of religious freedom, both at the national level in the United States and internationally. Center faculty have provided testimony before the U.S. Congress and have contributed to the drafting of laws and constitutions in numerous countries across the globe. Work in the United States has included Congressional testimony in support of draft legislation and participation in numerous conferences in the U.S. Internationally, ICLRS personnel are now instrumental in organizing and participating in 20-30 regional conferences and law reform consultations each year in countries around the world.
For me, the work in a sense began another decade earlier, in early 1990, as I traveled Eastern Europe not long after the disintegration of communist regimes. There were many experiences during those years of so much swift and surprising social change that reinforced my determination to bring together what I knew to be the particular talents of BYU Law School faculty and students with scholars, legal professionals, and government and religious leaders in all parts of the world, in friendship and productive dialogue that would help build laws that would create, teach, and bolster notions of and structures for liberty, and very importantly religious liberty, in many parts of the world.
You can read more in various places on our websites of our progress from what was basically our work in producing international issues of the BYU Law Review to our current worldwide efforts. We have by now brought some 800 experts in law and religion from more than 100 countries to the Law School to present, to discuss, to teach, and to learn. We have enjoyed the support of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of volunteers over the years, in organizing and conducting conferences, maintaining contact with our many friends worldwide, and in building what we hope are useful web tools for those working in the law and religion field. We look forward to increased cooperation with many around the world in improving these tools and the wealth of information they can make available.
Thank you for your interest in our work. Please let us know how we can help in your own efforts to promote freedom of religion, conscience, and belief in all parts of the world.
W. Cole Durham, Jr.