The 2013 Religious Freedom Discussion Series continued on 8 May with an excellent and informative lecture by Professor Elizabeth Clark, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, which sponsors the series. At the meeting held at noon in the law school and simulcast by Webinar to listeners worldwide, Professor Clark discussed “Converging Challenges to Religious Freedom.”
Current challenges to religious freedom around the world come both from highly secular states and from societies closely tied to one dominant religion. Other challenges result from authoritarian states or cultures without a strong tradition of rule of law. Professor Clark explored some of the diverse challenges religious groups and believers face around the world and will trace points of convergence. Without trying to oversimplify the complex challenges currently facing a robust understanding of religious freedom, she seeks to find points of commonality in threats to religious freedom from various sources.
In addition, Professor Clark addressed the also increasingly converging approaches that bolster religious freedom. New attitudes and research from religious traditions, demographics, and fields such as sociology and psychology are increasingly supportive of the unique role that religion plays and the importance of religious freedom.
As Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Professor Clark has co-organized and taken part in dozens of conferences and academic projects with other scholars and with government leaders from around the world. She recently returned from such a conference in Riga, Latvia.
Professor Clark has from the beginning been a primary organizer of the annual International Law and Religion Symposium at Brigham Young University. She has taken part in drafting commentaries and legal analyses of pending legislation and developments affecting religious freedom, and has assisted in drafting amicus briefs on international religious freedom issues for the U.S. Supreme Court, including the Center’s brief in the landmark 2012 case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC.
Before joining the Center, Professor Clark was an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Mayer, Brown & Platt, where she was a member of the Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Group. Professor Clark also clerked for Judge J. Clifford Wallace on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Professor Clark graduated summa cum laude from the BYU Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the BYU Law Review.
Drawing on her multilingual talents in Russian, Czech, German and French, Professor Clark has been active in writing and lecturing on church-state and comparative law topics. She has taught classes on Comparative Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, International Human Rights, and European Union law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. She has published numerous articles and chapters on church-state issues and has been an associate editor of three major books: Facilitating Freedom of Religion and Belief and two books on law and religion in post-Communist Europe. Professor Clark has also testified before Congress on religious freedom issues.