The first quarter of 2010 has been eventful and productive at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Already this year Center representatives have traveled to Malaysia, Belgium, Switzerland, Ghana, and most recently to Como, Italy, where the Center co-sponsored the workshop “Law and Religion in Mediterranean Islam” with Università dell’Insubria. Center personnel made presentations in Salt Lake City in February at the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference “Service for Good through the Law” and in March participated in a symposium on “The Future of Rights of Conscience in Healthcare” held at Brigham Young and co-sponsored by the BYU Law School, Ave Maria Law School, and the University Faculty for Life. Also in March, Cole Durham gave important testimony on blasphemy law via teleconference from Provo to the Supreme Court of Indonesia. Plans are underway for participation in conferences in Rome, Russia, Budapest, Austria, Romania, and the United Kingdom. As always, we invite you to learn more about these and other events as you consult the ICLRS website.
Announced in the last ICLRS newsletter was the publication of the casebook Law and Religion: National, International, and Comparative Perspectives, co-authored by Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., and Professor Brett G. Scharffs, with contributions from many others at the Center, especially Coordinating Editor Suzanne Sitthichai Disparte. Adoptions of the text are proceeding, as law professors in the U.S. and abroad look for ways to stimulate discussion of familiar and sensitive issues in a global context. This unique work offers a new paradigm for studying law and religion in response to the forces of globalization and an increased international focus on religion. Combined with the groundbreaking work of the European Court of Human Rights and the work on religious freedom issues being done by other courts worldwide, these factors produce conditions that throw a new light upon many of the distinctive features of the U.S. legal system. To deal with such an extensive and dynamic subject matter, the authors and editors of the Casebook are producing a Web Supplement containing resources impossible to include in the single volume, as well as teaching modules and “country threads” giving national, cultural, and language-specific perspectives. The Web Supplement is an ongoing work, scheduled for initial release to authorized users of the Casebook in Fall 2010.
Work continues at the Center on a new edition of the treatise Religious Organizations and the Law by William Bassett, now under co-authorship of professors Cole Durham and Robert Smith. Co-sponsored with the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Indonesian translation of Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Deskbook is now available, with the Russian translation to follow in May. The appearance of the Center-sponsored Russian translation of State and Church in the European Union by Gerhard Robbers has been announced in events attended by scholars, journalists, Orthodox and other religious leaders, and government officials in Moscow and Kiev.
As the school year draws to a close here at Brigham Young University, we at the Center will be saying thanks and farewell to valued student associates and other colleagues. At the same time, the newest Student Fellows prepare to depart for assignments worldwide, and other students and volunteers are gathering for a productive summer’s work perfecting the websites and databases and performing manifold research and news gathering tasks in support of the Center’s work. As always, we thank you for interest and participation in the work.
All of us here at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies