Discussions in Strasbourg at the European Court of Human Rights:
“New Conceptual Challenges Regarding Freedom of Religion of Belief”

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies participated in the organization of a Series of Discussions at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, on 17-18 November 2016. Attending the event were Center Founding Director Cole Durham and Director Brett Scharffs, along with Senior Editor Donlu Thayer and members of the International Advisory Council Duane and Erlyn Madsen. Also involved in organizing the event was Grégor Puppinck, director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, who attended with colleagues Thierry Rambaud, Vincent Cador, Claire de La Hougue, and Jean-Pierre Schoupe.

Other participants included Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union, and Australian barrister and legal academic Neville Rochow and his wife, Penelope, who are serving as government relations representatives…

Elizabeth Clark Delivers Keynote Address at JRCLS Religious Freedom Symposium

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark participated in a religious freedom symposium on November 12, 2016 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Hosted by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society’s Salt Lake City and S.J. Quinney College of Law Chapters, the symposium speakers addressed different aspects of religious freedom. 

Professor Clark delivered the keynote address. She provided an overview of the fundamental principles of religious freedom, including the benefits to society that religious freedom provides. 

Other speakers included Shawn Gunnarson, First Amendment Attorney at Kirton & McKonkie; Gary McKean, attorney and member of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention; James Sonne, founding director of Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic; and Hannah…

Professors Scharffs and Doxey Participate in South American Forum for Religious Freedom

Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Gary Doxey, Associate Director, participated in the South American Forum for Religious Freedom. held 9-11 November 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The forum theme was “Religious Freedom, the Essence of Human Equality”. Researchers, teachers, religious leaders and ministers, political leaders and public officials, journalists, professionals related to religious freedom, and other interested persons gathered to discuss freedom of religion and its relationship to state, education, and practices of worship. 

Professor Scharffs presented a paper in a plenary session on the topic “Why religious freedom? Why…

Lectures from the Restoring Religious Freedom Conference Available on YouTube

By Patti Ghezzi, Emory Law, 7 Dec 2016: Restoring Religious Freedom Conference: Law, Religion, Equality, and Dignity

Sunday, Nov. 6
A Century of Genocides: Is Better Accommodation of Conscience an Answer?

  • A Conversation between Ján Figel’, EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and
  • W. Cole Durham, Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies
  • Moderator: Mark Goldfeder, Senior Lecturer, Emory University School of Law; Spruill Family Fellow in Law and Religion, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University; Director, Restoring Religious Freedom Project

Sponsored by J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Religious Freedom Project
To view this conversation on YouTube, go here.

Monday, Nov. 7
Opening Remarks: Peter Kmec, Slovak Ambassador to the United States
Slovak EU Presidency in the Context of Law, Religion, Equality and Dignity

International Perspectives on Equality and Dignity

  • Mark Hill, Honorary Professor, Cardiff Law School, United Kingdom
  • Avishalom Westreich, Associate Professor, College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan, Israel
  • Andrea Pin, Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Padova, Italy
  • Sayali Bapat, SJD candidate, Emory University School of Law  
  • Moderator: Mark Goldfeder

To view the opening remarks and this panel, go here.

Accommodating Fundamental Rights and Religious Freedoms

  • Robin Wilson, Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law, University of Illinois
  • Frank Ravitch, Professor of Law and Water H. Stowers Chair of Law and Religion, Michigan State University
  • John Corvino, Department of Philosophy, Chair, Wayne State University
  • Moderator: Daniel Frost, Assistant Professor, College of Behavioral, Social, and Health Sciences, Clemson University

To view this panel on YouTube, go here.

Lunch and Keynote Address by Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law, Class of 1963 Research Professor in Honor of Graham C. Lilly, and Peter W. Low Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

To view this keynote address, go here.

“Religious Perspectives on Equality and Dignity”

  • Chaim Saiman, Professor of Law, Villanova University
  • Rafael Domingo, Francisco de Vitoria Fellow, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University
  • Bandar Bakhashwin, SJD Candidate, Emory University School of Law
  • Faizat Badmus-Busari, SJD Candidate, Emory University School of Law
  • Mderator: Silas Allard, Associate Director, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University

To view this panel, go here.

Approaches to Accommodation”

  • Michael Helfand, Associate Professor of Law and Associate Director, Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies, Pepperdine University
  • Michael Broyde, Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law
  • Steve Collis, Chair, Hollis & Hart Religious Institutions and First Amendment practice groupoderator: John Witte, Jr., Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law and McDonald Distinguished Professor, Emory University School of Law; Director, Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University

Closing remarks, John Witte Jr.

To view this panel and closing remarks, go here.

Co-sponsored by the Restoring Religious Freedom Project at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, which is funded by an anonymous gift, and the Fairness for All Initiative at the University of Illinois College of Law, which is made possible by a gift from the Templeton Religion Trust.

Cole Durham and Ján Figel’ at Emory Law School: “Restoring Religious Freedom”

“Law, Religion, Equality, and Dignity” was the theme of the Restoring Religious Freedom Conference held at the Emory University School of Law on 6-7 of November 2016. Professor Cole Durham joined Ján Figel’, EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, in a conversation titled “A Century of Genocides: Is Better Accommodation of Conscience an Answer?” in a Sunday evening session co-sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Freedom of Religion Project. This event, which also commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the Emory University School of Law, was moderated by Mark Goldfeder, Senior Lecturer and the Spruill Family Senior Fellow, or Emory Law’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. 

The conversation between Professor Durham and Special Envoy Figel’ began with opening statements by both and was then followed with questions posed by Professor Goldfeder and addressed by both speakers.

Special Envoy Figel’ opened by saying that our commitment is not just to punish genocide but to prevent it. We must do more in order to turn the page for a more human century. In order to turn that page, we need a culture of human dignity to prevail. Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is a litmus test of human rights. Without it, civil and political rights are missing as well. We must allow humanity and solidarity to prevail and fight against indifference, intolerance, and fear to make a better century a reality. 

In Professor Durham’s opening statement he asked what genocide has to do with the United States today. We have a robust tradition of liberty. However, there is relevance. Respect for and accommodation of conscience holds the key for people to live together in spite of deep differences. Genocide is a process with history and precursors and triggering factors. The path to genocide starts with mundane patterns of disrespect and discrimination. “What is required for peace is not homogeneity but that different groups internalize notions of freedom of religion or belief and recognize and are willing to stand up for other people.” It is critical to find ways to live together, even if it may not come with agreement or consensus. 

The conversation between Professor Durham and Special Envoy Figel’ was recorded and can be watched on YouTube at this link

Other session topics were International Perspectives on Equality and Dignity, Accommodating Fundamental Rights and Religious Freedoms, Religious Perspectives on Equality and Dignity, and Alternative Approaches to Accommodation. Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia, delivered the keynote address. The program and full list of speakers can be found here

Associate Director Gary Doxey Presents at Four Events in Brazil, 3-8 November 2016

International Center for Law and Religion Studies Associate Director Gary Doxey was a participant in four different religious freedom events in São Paulo, Brazil in November. 

On 3 November 2016, Professor Doxey addressed the Commission on Religious Freedom of the Ordem de Advogados do Brasil (OAB), the Brazilian Bar Association. The next day, 4 November 2016, he gave a lecture and participated in a debate at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). The event was titled “O Direito Comparado de Liberdade Religiosa no Brasil, Europa e Estados Unidos” (Comparative Law of Religious Freedom in Brazil, Europe and the United States). The debate was moderated by Professor Rodrigo Medina Zagni. 

Professor Doxey spoke on 5 November 2016 on the topic of “Freedom of Religion Threats and Challenges” at Universidade Adventista de São Paulo (UNASP). He joined religious leaders and religious freedom advocates…

Durham and Scharffs at The Oslo Coalition: ‘The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse’

Professors Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs participated in a Center co-sponsored conference hosted by The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law 26-27 October 2016 at the Lysebu Hotel and Conference Center in Oslo. The conference ‘The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse‘, saw the launch of new Oslo principles on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

In addition to the Oslo Coalition and ICLRS, the event was co-sponsored by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Fritt Ord. &nbsp…

UN Side Event: The State of Religious Freedom

In an event that took place at the United Nations in New York City on 28 October 2016, Professor Heiner Bielefeldt provided a thoughtful retrospective look at his six-year tenure as UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Professor Bielefeldt was to be joined by Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, set to replace Professor Bielefeldt in office on November 1, but laryngitis prevented Mr. Shaheed from joining him.

Stephen Hickey, Political Counsellor at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York welcomed the group and made brief remarks on freedom of religion and belief. David Colton, representative in New York for LDS Charities, acted as the moderator of the event. Professor Bielefeldt’s…

Professors Durham and Scharffs at Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism in the UK

Center Founding Director Cole Durham and Center Director Brett Scharffs made presentations at a major conference at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Wednesday and Thursday, October 19-20, 2016. 

The conference, “Preventing Violent Extremism by building inclusive and plural societies: How Freedom of Religion or Belief can help“, brought together international parliamentarians, diplomats, academics, journalists, faith leaders, and civil society representatives. 

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson, said, “Our immediate goal is to destroy Daesh, a failing movement that is firmly on the road to defeat. But this conference is about preventing extremism from taking root in the first place by examining how to combat poisonous ideologies at their source.”

Professor Durham spoke of the role of education in building acceptance of different faiths or beliefs among children. He drew upon his experience helping draft the Toledo Guidelines on education about religion, part of an OSCE project.

Professor Scharffs spoke about Center educational…

Event at Newseum, 7 October 2016: International Protection of Religious Freedom

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University Law School and the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute brought together on 7 October 2016 at the Newseum Knight Conference Center in Washington DC, key scholars and actors involved in government responses to religious restrictions, to address pressing issues concerning the International Protection of Religious Freedom.

Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, moderated a panel comprising Rabbi David N. Saperstein, the US State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; Honorable Ján Figel, the European…

23rd International Law and Religion Symposium: “Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World”

The 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University opened on Sunday evening, 2 October 2016, with an outstanding keynote address by Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, who currently serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Professor Cole Durham, Founding Director of the Center, presented Professor Bielefeldt with the Center’s Distinguished Service Award, for his outstanding contributions.

This year’s truly remarkable Symposium — “Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World” — brought together 95 invited delegates, including scholars, jurists, political and civil society leaders, and religious leaders and religion policy makers from 45 countries, providing them an important opportunity for engagement on issues of religion, law, and policy. Speakers and panelists explored the relationships among religion, pluralism, and religious rights as they addressed such issues as “Religious Rights and Culture,” Exemptions, Baselines, and Discrimination: Conceptualizing Religious Rights,” and “Minorities, Majorities, and Religious Rights.”

Winners of the 7th Annual Founding Fathers Religious Liberty Writing Contest – October 2016

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are pleased to announce the winners of the Seventh Annual Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition. The winners were announced at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner held on Thursday, 6 October 2016 in Washington DC.

First Place $4000:  Herman Hofman (Michigan State University College of Law)
Second Place $3000:  Courtney Miller (University of Virginia School of Law)
Third Place $2000:  Lisa Mathews (George Mason School of Law)

Honorable Mention $1000: Caleb Wolanek and Heidi Liu (Harvard Law School); Nevin Beiler (Regent University School of Law); Jonathan Backer (University of Michigan Law School); William Simpson (Boston University…

Vietnam NW Highlands Regional Certificate Training Program on Religion & the Rule of Law

From September 19-24, 2016, the first-of-its-kind regional certificate training program on religion and the rule of law was held in Lao Cai city in the Northwest Highlands region of Vietnam. Although Lao Cai province has a population of only a little over 600,000, it includes 24 of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, and a wide array of religious and linguistic communities. 

The program was modeled on successful certificate training programs over the past five years held twice in Hanoi, once in Ho Chi Minh City, and once in Danang. This was the first time the program was designed for a primarily regional rather than national audience. More than 70 students participated in the program, including religious leaders, educators, and government and party officials with responsibilities regarding…

Geneva: Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Humanitarian/Migration Crisis

A Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Humanitarian/Migration Crisis was held 17 September 2016, hosted by the International Government Relations Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsin Geneva at the newly dedicated offices of LDS Charities, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the Kennedy Center for International Studies, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Switzerland in Chambésy, Switzerland. 

The keynote speaker at the event was W. Cole Durham, Jr., Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA; president of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies in Milan, Italy; associate member of the International Academy of Comparative Law in Paris, France; a co-editor in chief…

International Conference: Implementation of Law and Religion in Vietnam in the Context of Building the ASEAN Community

Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in a significant international conference in Hanoi, Vietnam on September 15-16, 2016 focusing on issues relating to law and religion in the ASEAN region. The conference included two dozen experts from most of the ten ASEAN countries, as well as the United States. Professor Scharffs made presentations on “The UN Declaration of Human Rights: Foundations of International Standards for Religious Freedom and the Rule of Law,” and on “Regulating Religion: Before registration, at registration, and after registration – advantages and disadvantages.”

The conference was co-organized and co-sponsored by the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, a prestigious university within the Vietnam National University, BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and the Institute for Global Engagement.

Vietnam National Assembly Workshop on the Proposed Law on Belief and Religions

On September 15, 2016, Center Director Brett Scharffs and Emeritus Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals J. Clifford Wallace were the featured presenters at a workshop organized by the National Assembly of Vietnam on a proposed bill that would regulate religious groups in Vietnam.  The two were invited to give foreign scholarly and judicial perspectives on the proposed legislation pending before the National Assembly. Workshop participants were given a Vietnamese translation of the book, Law and Religion: National, International and Comparative Perspectives, written by Professor Scharffs and his Center colleague, W. Cole Durham, Jr. 

In his presentation, Professor Scharffs made eight specific recommendations regarding the proposed legislation. These included that the basic goal of the legislation should be to facilitate freedom of religion and belief, while protecting government interests in the actual requirements of public order, public safety, public health, public morals, and the rights and freedoms of others; that the goal of the registration systems should be to make registration and recognition of religious groups as simple and straightforward as possible; that restrictions of freedom of expression and religious persuasion will be met with criticism; that provisions regarding education should differentiate between education required by state law and religious education needed for religious qualifications such as ordination as a minister; that the law should clear differentiate between when permission is required for religious groups to engage in specific activities and when they are required to provide information about their activities and that information rather than permission requirements are usually preferable; that the law should provide clear deadlines for government actions that will promote timely administrative action; that there should be a right to appeal unfavorable administrative and legal decisions; and that ordinary mechanisms of regulation, rather than specialized and extraordinary mechanisms of regulation, are generally preferable.

ICLARS IV: “Freedom of/for/from/within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?”

The Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) was held 8-11 September 2016 at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, UK. This highly successful event brought together  some 150 international experts from 37 countries  to discuss the conference themes, Freedom of/ for/ from/ within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?”, to participate in two important book launches (see below*), and to share information about Journals, Book Series, and Associations, and Centers dealing with law and religion and religious freedom worldwide. 

Recordings of sessions for the conference are now available here.

The conference was co-sponsored with ICLARS by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of Brigham Young University Law School, the University of Milan, and the Religion, Law and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture of…

Professors Durham and Scharffs participate in FoRB Policy Dialogue at the House of Lords, London, 7 September 2016

Professors Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs were invited to participate in the Freedom of Religion or Belief Policy Dialogue on 7 September 2016 at the Houses of Parliament in London, United Kingdom. Convened by the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG FoRB), the event was structured around two panels, each focused on specific recommendations made in a Policy Brief titledFoRB – Recognising our differences can be our strength: Enhancing transatlantic cooperation on promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Key recommendations made in the brief were…

G20 Interfaith Forum 2016 in China: “Dialogue among Civilizations and Community of Common Destiny for All Mankind”

Hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and jointly sponsored by the Institute of World Religions and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, a unique event took place in Beijing, China, 30 August – 1 September 2016, simultaneously with the meeting of world leaders for the G20 Economic Summit in Hangzhou. Chinese scholars joined with other international experts to discuss the topic “Dialogue among Civilizations and Community of Common Destiny for All Mankind”.

International experts participating in the event included Paul Babie and Carolyn Evans (Australia), Elizabeta Kitanović (working in Belgium), Rodrigo Vitorino…

Cole Durham Participates in 18th IRLA ‘Meeting of Experts’ at Harvard University

A group of scholars gathered together on August 16-18, 2016, at Harvard University for the 18th ‘Meeting of Experts’. The international panel of scholars and attorneys is convened annually by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), an independent advocacy organization founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This year’s meeting focused on the paradox that while the principle of religious freedom is gaining foothold within international law, restrictions on religious practice continue to rise.

Professor Cole Durham was among the esteemed presenters at the meeting. Other presenters included David Little, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Divinity School; Rosa Maria Martines de Codes, History Professor at Complutense University in Madrid; Pasquale Annichino, Research Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy; Dudley Rose, Associate Dean of Harvard Divinity…

“Changes in Legal Protections for Conscientious Objection” – Paraguay, 7-9 July 2016

International Center for Law and Religion Studies Associate Director Professor Gary Doxey and Senior Fellow and Regional Advisor for Latin America Scott Isaacson participated in the XVI Symposium of the Latin American Consortium for Religious Freedom, held at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic University, Campus Alto Parana, in Hernandarias, Paraguay, from 7 to 9 July 2016. The conference, titled “Changes in Legal Protections for Conscientious Objection”, took place with the institutional support of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ciudad del Este in the person of the assistant bishop Msgr. Pedro Collar (ordinary member of the Consortium). The overall organization of the symposium was delivered by Prof. Abog. Juan Jose Bernal (also a regular member of the Consortium) and colleagues from the host university.

The inaugural session was held in the Aula Magna of the University, in a solemn session begun with the National Anthem followed by a collective prayer. The opening words were spoken by Mr. Rector of the Catholic University of Our Lady of the Assumption, Pbro. Dr. Narciso Velazquez, who marked the need for “consorciarnos” to search for Religious Freedom. Also giving welcoming remarks were the Vice Director of the Campus of the Catholic University, Ing. Ladislao Aranda, and the Dean of the Faculty of Law Abg. Gloria Martinez Mendieta, who recalled that the law is what helps human beings to live in society, and must be commensurate with the nature of human beings, respecting their essential freedom. The Director of Campus Ministry Father Ernesto Zacarias brought a reflection from a religious perspective on behalf of S.E.R. Msgr. Pedro Noguera Collar, who due to episcopal commitments could not be present.

The opening speech of the conference was given by the President of the Consortium, Prof. Carmen Asiaín Pereira (Uruguay), who after thanking the organizers and the host university, addressed the theme of the conference: freedom of conscience and historical changes in legal protection of conscientious objection.

The General Rapport was given by Prof. Juan Navarro Floria (Argentina), who noted that the right to conscientious objection has become an essential topic in the relation of State and Religions and Religious Liberty. Starting from the principle that the State must respect the conscience and conscientious objection is a human right without exception, he emphasized contemporary tensions between proponents and those who defend their restriction in effect. He did a survey of their treatment by Latin American constitutions, a disparity of situations, with a tendency to recognition as autonomous right to par in other cases there is an open negative arises. Rather than proposing claims, he raised prompt questions of research and debate that would follow: the right to conscientious objection is it directly applicable since the International Law of Human Rights and the Constitution, or it is necessary that an internal law regulating ?; Is it enough that their motivation is individual conscience, or must be based on a religious mandate ?; Does the law may impose conditions for their exercise ?; Is this legitimate? He highlighted the roles of jurisprudence and the inter-American human rights system and relieved old and new areas of exercise of conscientious objection, including institutional ideology. He insisted the proposal to draft an international or regional convention on religious freedom.

See the Website of the Consorcio Latinoamericano de Libertad Religiosa for the original report of this event in Spanish.

The Religious Freedom Annual Review: Provo, Utah, 7-8 July 2016

The 2016 Religious Freedom Annual Review of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) has concluded at Brigham Young University. Keynote speakers for the event, which took place 7-8 July 2016 in BYU Conference Center, were Elder Lance B. Wickman, General Counsel and Emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who opened the conference with an address “Promoting Religious Freedom in a Secular Age: Fundamental Principles, Practical Priorities, and Fairness for All”; and Matthew S. Holland, President, Utah Valley University, whose remarks were titled “Religious Liberty v. Secularity: Is the American Founding Still Useful?

To access the recordings and photos from the July 2016 Religious Freedom Annual Review, please click here. &nbsp…

Durham at Conference and Course at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria

On June 22, 2016, Professor Cole Durham delivered the keynote address and several lectures for a conference and mini-course attended by approximately 500 students and young scholars on “Law, Religion and Development in Africa” at the University of Ilorin, in Ilorin, Nigeria. 

The topics covered during the Ilorin conference included:

– Law and Religion Studies in Nigeria: The journey so far.
– Law, Religion and Development.

Co-Facilitators of the event were:  
Professor Pieter Coertzen, President of the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS), University of Stellenbosch.
Professor Mark Hill, Honorary Professor, Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University; Extraordinary Professor, University of Pretoria; Visiting Professor, Dickson Poon Law School,

Durham Keynotes at Judicial Roundtable in Abuja, Nigeria – 20 June 2016

On June 20, Professor Cole Durham gave the keynote address for a Judicial Roundtable of approximately 100 judges in Abuja, Nigeria. Among the participants in the Roundtable were Professor Is-haq Oloyede, OFR, The National Coordinator/Secretary, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Member Steering Committee ACLARS; Wahab Shittu, Coordinator Center for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos; Hon. Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Justice of the Court of Appeal, Nigeria; Denise Lindberg, Senior Judge, State of Utah Third Judicial District Court; Hon. Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Representing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed; Prof Yemi Osinbajo GCON (SAN), Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Hon, Justice A. O. Lukolu-Sodipe, Court of Appeal; Malam A. U.  Maidama, representing…

Freedom of Religion or Belief in Situations of Crisis: Tallinn, Estonia, 16-19 June 2016

The Center co-sponsored a conference with the University of Tartu Faculty of Law in Estonia, “Freedom of Religion or Belief in Situations of Crisis: Why Can’t We Get Along“, held June 17-18 in Tallinn, Estonia.  The conference addressed current challenges to religious freedom from crisis situations, particularly those associated with the migration crisis in Europe and the conflict in Ukraine.  Over 50 speakers touched on both the nature of the challenges and on potential solutions.  Topics included: 

  • Freedom of Religion or Belief of Refugees and Migrants
  • Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Conflict Zone
  • Hate Speech and Migration
  • Religious

Symposium on International Religious Freedom, St. John’s College, Oxford UK – June 2016

International religious freedom experts participating in a Symposium on International Religious Freedom at St. John’s College, Oxford on 9 June 2016 were Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Member of the United Kingdom House of Lords and Founder/Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and formerly member and chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom; W. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and President of the International…

Freedom of Religion or Belief: Round Table Discussion in the UK House of Lords – June 2016

A Round Table Discussion, Freedom of Religion or Belief – Emerging Trends, Challenges and Agendas for Change, took place Wednesday, 8th June 2016, at the House of Lords in London. Participating in the two-hour discussion were Prof Sir Malcolm Evans OBE (Bristol University UK), Prof Mark Hill QC (Cardiff University UK), Prof Robert P. George (Princeton University USA), Elder Dallin H. Oaks (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Prof W. Cole Durham, Jr. (Brigham Young University USA), and Dr Peter Petkoff (Brunel and Regent’s Park College, Oxford UK). The participants were welcomed to Parliament by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Member of the House of Lords and Founder/Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group….

Durham Keynote on Women’s and Children’s Rights Thessaloniki – June 2016

Professor Cole Durham, Founding Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law, Brigham Young University, gave the keynote lecture on Women’s and Children’s Rights in the International Legal Framework at the Summer School on Human Rights sponsored by the Council of European Churches (CEC) in Thessaloniki, Greece May 31-4 June, 2016. 

Press Release 6 June 2016, from CEC, Brussels: 

The Conference of European Churches, in partnership with the Theological School of Aristotle University, organised the 3rd Annual Summer School on Human Rights “Stand up for Women’s and Children’s Rights!” from 31 May to 4 June in Thessaloniki. More than 90…

First-of-its-kind Master’s Degree in Sharia and Human Rights Announced – May 2016

ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs participated in the announcement of the creation of the first-of-its-kind Master’s Degree Program on Sharia and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University in Malang, Indonesia. The announcement came on May 30, 2016, at the opening of the fifth annual Master’s Level Course on Sharia and Human Rights held at the University, which Scharffs has helped organize and teach. The Masters’ level Course (MLC), which began five years ago as a special side-course, has now been approved as an official for-credit course in the University’s curriculum. And now a full Master’s Degree focusing on Sharia and Human Rights will build upon the curriculum used in the MLC….

Brett Scharffs at Third Yogyakarta Short Course on Sharia and Human Rights – May 2016

Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in a Short Course on “Sharia and Human Rights: Scholarly Background and Cases of Controversy in Contemporary Indonesia,” held at Universitas Gadjah Mada, one of Indonesia’s leading state universities, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from May 23-27, 2016. This was the third year Professor Scharffs helped organize and teach in this program. 

The Short Course, which was modeled on a similar course at Muhammadiyah University that was taught for the fifth time the following week, is designed to find networks of discourse between two very different types of legal systems – International Human Rights law and Islamic Law. The course brings together leading experts from Indonesia and beyond on…

2016 ACLARS Conference: “Religious Pluralism, Heritage, and Social Development in Africa”

More than 60 scholars, legal professionals, and religious leaders from Africa and many other parts of the world joined in the Fourth Conference of the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS), held Sunday, 22 May to Tuesday, 24 May, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A workshop for early career scholars was held immediately prior to the conference on May 22. The theme of the conference, which was hosted by Addis Ababa University and held at the Capital Hotel, was “Religious Pluralism, Heritage, and Social Development in Africa”.

Awol Wagris, Ethiopia State Minister of Federal and Pastoralist Affairs, delivered the opening speech of the conference: “Looking ahead,” he said, “the greatest challenges our country faces with regard to the protection of religious freedom and promotion of religious pluralism are religious extremism, intolerance, and violent conflict.” He added that addressing this challenge effectively requires the promotion of mutual understanding, respect, cooperation among governmental bodies, various religious communities, and the section of society that…

Religious Freedom and Security: Central European University, Budapest, 20-21 May 2016

The Department of Legal Studies at Central European University and the International Center of Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University co-sponsored a conference in Budapest, Hungary on 20-21 May 2016. The conference titled Religious Freedom and Security explored topics such as addressing the religious factor in conflict settings, rights and security, and approaches to religion and security issues.

The conference opened with a welcome and introduction by Renáta Uitz, Chair of the Comparative Constitutional Law Program at CEU, followed by a keynote address by Husain Haqqani, Former Ambassador of Pakistan…

Professor Scharffs Presents on Religious Majorities and Religious Freedom – May 2016

At a recent gathering of a select group of university professors, businesspeople, NGO organizations, and students in Padua, Italy on 6 May 2016, Professor Brett Scharffs made a dinner presentation and led a discussion on the topic of the role that religious majorities play in either promoting or limiting religious freedom. The presentation was organized by the Associazone Culturale Antonio Rosmini, Padova. 

In his presentation, Professor Scharffs noted that in most countries where there is a dominant religious group representing more than 70% of the population, social science research finds there is usually high or very high legal…

Professor Scharffs Lectures on Hate Speech at the University of Padua – May 2016

On May 6th, 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spoke at a conference on Comparative Perspectives on Hate Speech, at the Treviso Campus of the University of Padua. The conference included students studying comparative public law and economic and social rights. In his speech, “Beyond Juris Centric Approaches to Hate Speech,” Professor Scharffs addressed the role that audiences play in the phenomenology of hate speech. He noted that usually hate speech does not result in direct physical harm to either the speaker or the victim of hate speech, but audiences are often provoked to violence. But it is noteworthy that often there is a significant passage of time between the initial hate speech and the violent reaction that the hate speech…

Professors Durham and Scharffs Teach Comparative Freedom of Religion at CEU – 2016

Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, have concluded their annual course, Comparative Freedom of Religion, in the Department of Legal Studies at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. The class, begun by Professor Durham in April and concluded by Professor Scharffs on May 5, 2016, included 26 students from 18 different countries, and addressed law and religion issues regarding both individual freedom of religion and belief and institutional arrangements between religion and the state from an international law and comparative law perspective….

Gary Doxey participates in the World Congress of Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue in Buenos Aires, 12-14 April 2016

Buenos Aires, Argentina, was the host city for the World Congress of Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue’s conference ‘A Path Towards Peace’ on 12-14 April 2016. The conference featured speakers from all over Latin America and the world.  

The goals of the conference included encouraging dialogue and harmony among the various sectors of society, proposing concrete actions promoting peace through diversity, motivating young people to become actors of a culture of peace, prioritizing peace building issues as a part of public, political, and media agendas, and encouraging social, political, and community leaders to build a path to peace, among others.

Professor Gary Doxey moderated a panel on Religion, Education, and Technology which featured a diverse panel of speakers from various…

“Sacred Places and Cultural Heritage” — Jerusalem Conference, 15-17 March 2016

ICLRS Director, W. Cole Durham, Jr., participated in the conference “Sacred Places and Heritage Protection from the Perspectives of International, Constitutional, Religious Law and Foreign Policy” in Jerusalem, March 15-17, 2016. Based on the growing concern for cultural heritage protection during armed conflict, international experts working in the field of legal protection of sacred places and cultural heritage gathered together to explore emerging systemic problems on the ground, innovative approaches and agendas for change in terms of substantive law at the international as well as domestic level, as well as considerations for foreign policy.

The opening session, “Sacred Places and Heritage Protection: Emerging Perspectives”, was moderated by Asher Maoz, Dean of Peres Academic Center Law School, and featured W. Cole Durham, President, International Consortium for Law and…

Professor Durham speaks at Freedom of Religion Symposium in Denver, 12 March 2016

On the 12th of March 2016, Professor Cole Durham participated in a Freedom of Religion Symposium at the University of Denver Law School, Denver, CO. Professor Durham was part of a panel of religious liberty experts and practitioners discussing the fundamentals of religious liberty law, emerging conflicts, and steps individuals can take to promote religious freedom at the state and local community level. Steven T. Collis, an attorney at Holland & Hart, chaired the event. Other panelists were Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Timothy M. Tymkovich, Chief Judge, US Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit; Qusair Mohamedbhai, Partner, Rathod/Mohamedbhair, LLC, and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Denver; and Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director, Colorado Catholic Conference. The primary sponsor of the event was Holland and Hart, with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Chipman/Glasser, and Hall Render providing additional sponsorship.

Program/Speaker Recordings

Brett Scharffs and BYU Law Students in Venice for Conference and Moot Court Competition

Professor Brett Scharffs, Center Associate Director and Law School Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, participated at the conference “The Legitimate Scope of Religious Establishment”, held March 7-9, 2016 in Venice, Italy.  The conference was sponsored by the Fondazione Studium Generale Marcianum (Fondazione Marcianum), and features prominent academics from throughout the world, assembled to discuss such questions as “What are the essential features of establishment regimes? Should any limits be set to the establishment of religion? Are there any means of support that should be ruled out? May a decent state grant preferential treatment to one religion over other religions (or some of them)? If so, on which basis could…

Southeast Asia Study Tour 2016 – Signing of Historic Agreement in Vietnam

From 13-15 February 2016 members of the International Advisory Council of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies participated in a travel study tour of Southeast Asia. One goal of the travel was to provide occasions to reflect on the themes of religion and the rule of law as well as the Center’s mission to promote religious freedom for all people in all countries of the world. The group visited sites in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. Center Director Brett Scharffs said of the trip: “Our deepened appreciation for the history and culture of these ancient civilizations will help us place into context the challenges and opportunities that exist in this part of the world today.”

The trip began with a meeting between the Center and Vietnam National University (VNU), during…

Kirkhams Represent the Center at Copt Commemorative Service in London

On 10 February 2016 David Kirkham, Center Senior Fellow and Director of the BYU London Centre, and his wife Judy represented ICLRS at a Coptic service commemorating the anniversary of the 21 Copts murdered by religious extremists in Libya in 2015 for being “people of the cross.” The service, held at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom, was presided over by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and introduced by The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.  Bishop Angaelos spoke of his compassion for the victims and their families, for whom they were in Egypt trying to make a living, as well as for the need for prayer for victims and perpetrators alike.

Parliamentarians Meet at Palace of Westminster to Discuss Freedom of Religion or Belief

The Steering Group of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) met on 9 February 2016 at the Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom, to reflect on the outcomes of the New York summit that took place in September 2015 and create a roadmap for future activities of the IPPFoRB.  Hosted by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the House of Lords, members of the Steering Group include Abid Raja, Norwegian MP; David Anderson, Canadian MP; Leonardo Quintão, Brazilian congressman; Jose M Ibañez, Paraguayan MP; Uziel Santana, IPPFoRB Secretariat; and Knox Thames, IPPFoRB Secretariat.  David Kirkham, Senior Fellow, represented ICLRS at the meeting.  The group noted the contributions BYU and ICLRS made to the formation of the panel two years ago in Oxford. For more information on the New York summit, see the IPPFoRB news release

Brett Scharffs Speaks at St. John’s Law School Colloquium in Law and Religion

On February 1st 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs spoke at the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s Law School as part of its third biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion. This seminar invites leading law and religion scholars to make presentations to an audience of students and faculty. Professor Scharffs was the first speaker of the ongoing series.

The following was taken from an article on the Center for Law and Religion’s website:

This week, the Center hosted BYU Law School Professor Brett…

David Kirkham Speaks at NATO Workshop “Security and Religion” – January 2016

David Kirkham, ICLRS Senior Fellow for Comparative Law and International Policy, spoke in late January 2016 at a high-level workshop on ‘Security and Religion’ at NATO Headquarters, in Brussels. The meeting brought together leading experts and practitioners–scholars, diplomats, religious leaders, NGO representatives and others—from both sides of the Atlantic, the Western Balkans, and the Black Sea.

The workshop examined current challenges to security, with a specific focus on ‘soft security’ issues, and the cultural and religious contributions to the peaceful development of societies in the context of the ongoing Euro-Atlantic integration process. Participants began with the assumptions that the international community as a whole, and NATO as an integral part of it, faces challenges that can only be addressed by a comprehensive cooperative approach. They thus sought common ground on the values-based system served by both religious and civic communities, taking into account what are seen as the primary security issues that our societies confront.

Vietnam Government Committee for Religious Affairs Receives Delegation of US lawyers

GCRA Press Release — GCRA receives US lawyers delegation

Prof. Cole Durham, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies under Brigham Young University led a delegation to visit the Government Committee for Religious Committee (GCRA) on January 20, 2016.

Joining the US delegation included First Secretary of the United States Embassy in Hanoi David V. Muehlke, Political Officer of US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh city Garret Harkin.

Welcoming the delegation were Vice Chairman of the GCRA Bùi Thanh Hà, representatives from the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children, the Government Office, the Ministry of Justice and the GCRA Departments for International…