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 of 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.
Other honorees at the Congress included Robert Seiple, the first Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the Department of State from 1998-2000, a former president of World Vision, and a former president of IRLA, who received the IRLA Award of Distinction; Karnik Doukmetzian, head of the Office of General Counsel at the Seventh-day Adventist World headquarters; and Knox Thames, Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia at the United States State Department in Washington, D.C.
The World Congress is a gathering of hundreds of academics, religious freedom advocates, public officials, attorneys, and religious leaders from around the globe. The line-up of plenary speakers for the 2017 conference together represented an extraordinary breadth of experience and expertise in the field of religious freedom and peace-making. These internationally renowned scholars, public officials, religious leaders, and advocates came from a broad range of faith traditions and represented some 20 different nationalities.
The IRLA is the world’s oldest religious freedom association. Dr. Ganoune Diop of Senegal is current Secretary General, and Ambassador John R. Nay, former US Ambassador to Suriname is current IRLA President.
For more than 120 years the IRLA has worked to promote freedom of conscience for every person, no matter who they are or where they live. Originally organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the IRLA’s purpose is the universal and non-sectarian promotion of religious freedom for all people, everywhere.
Chartered in 1893, the IRLA