Center Co-sponsors Conference for Ukrainian Officials and Scholars, 20-21 May 2008

Scholars, media representatives, and virtually all national and regional Ukrainian religious affairs officials attended the conference “Religion in Postmodern Society: Conceptual, Social-Political, and Legal Aspects,” 20-21 May 2008, at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kiev. The conference was co-sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University. Other sponsors included the State Committee of Nationalities and Religious Affairs of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies Scholars, and the Division of Religious Studies of The Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Conference participants addressed questions of relationships between society and religion, particularly state-confessional relations in the context of global and regional changes in the postmodern era. Special focus was on processes taking place in the countries of the former USSR, comparing themes and tendencies of change in religious life in post-Soviet and European governments. Official perspectives were offered by Olexander Sagan, Chair of the Ukrainian State Committee of Nationalities and Religious Affairs, Vladimir Stretovich, Member of the Rada and Head of the Christian-Democratic Union, and Andrey Evgenievich Sebentsov, Director, Division on Mutual Relations with Public and Religious Associations, Department on Mass Communication, Culture, and Education, Government of the Russian Federation.

Experts from several other countries addressed questions of regional specifics and church-state trends in conditions of secularization and globalization, including Ringo Ringvee, Advisor, Department of Religious Affairs (Estonia); Javier García Oliva, Lecturer in Public Law, European Union Law and Law and Religion at the University of Wales, Bangor (UK); Merilin Kiviorg, Doctoral Student, University of Oxford (EU); Willy Fautre, Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium and Francophone Europe), Roman Podoprigora, Professor, Adilet Law School, Almaty, (Kazakhstan and Central Asia). Other scholars provided unique perspectives on various topics affecting state-confessional relations in the postmodern era. Cole Durham (ICLRS) spoke on religion laws in Eastern Europe in comparative perspective; Anatoly Kolodny (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) addressed the post-modern religious scene; Eileen Barker (London School of Economics, emeritus), Victor Yelensky (Institute of Philosophy of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences), and Lyudmila Filipovich (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) discussed questions of the role of new religious movements. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs (Jagiellonian University, Poland) addressed religion and education, and Gennadiy Druzenko (Ukraine) discussed recent case law of the European Court of Human Rights.