3-7 January 2017. American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Conference, San Francisco, California
10-23 January 2017. South Asia Tour, India
13-15 January 2017. Asia Regional Conference, Hyderabad, India. International Programme on “Peace, Stability And Sustainable Development: The Role of Religion”
21 January 2017. Dinner with Asian Religion Scholars, Delhi, India
31 January 2017. Summit on Religious Freedom: “How Supreme Court Decisions Impact the Freedom of Your Faith,” First Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida
9-10 February 2017. Seminar on Migration and Religion, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
13 February 2017. Roundtable on Religious Freedom, San Salvador, El Salvador.
20 February-1 March 2017. Certificate Training Program, Myanmar.
6-10 March 2017. Certificate Training Program, Vietnam
9-10 March 2017. Nootbaar Conference: “Religious Critiques of the Law”, Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, California (Elizabeth Clark)
30-31 March 2017. Annual Spring Meeting, International Advisory Council, Salt Lake City, Utah.
3 April 2017. International Society Conference, Brigham Young University
6 April 2017. Constitutional Symposium on Religious Liberty, Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah. Cole Durham participating.
5-14 April 2017. Teaching at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary (Durham)
13 April 2017. “Are Catholic Majorities more Hospitable to Religious Minorities than Others?“, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, Italy (Brett Scharffs)
18-24 April 2017. Teaching at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary (Scharffs)
24-28 April 2017. Judicial Conference, Academic Conference, and Religious Freedom Training Program for students and faculty from across West Africa
5 May 2017. “Financing of Churches and Religious Organizations: A Comparative Perspective“, Trnava University, Trnava, Slovakia (Gary Doxey)
8-9 May 2017. ICLRS Research Fellow Training, Brigham Young University
14-16 May 2017. Fifth Annual Conference of the African Consortium for Law and Religion, Rabat, Morocco
27-28 May 2017. Conference on 25 Years of Religion Cases in the European Court of Human Rights , Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
2-4 June 2017. Religion and the Legacy of the Soviet State: a 25-year retrospective, Free University of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia
9 June 2017. “Religious Freedom Challenges in Costa Rica: A Pending Human Rights Commitment,” Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas de Costa Rica (Gary Doxey)
15-17 June 2017. G20 Interfaith Summit, Potsdam, Germany
18-21 June 2017. European Academy of Religion, Bologna, Italy.
6-7 July 2017. Religious Freedom Annual Review, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
31 July 2017. Relations between Religious Minorities, Majorities, and the State in Indonesia and the United States: Current Trends and Issues. Jakarta, Indonesia
5-6 August 2017. Interfaith Dialogue for Peace, Harmony and Security, Yangon, Myanmar
7-9 August 2017. 8th Annual Certificate Training Program on Religion and the Rule of Law, Beijing, China
22-24 August 2017. IRLA World Congress, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
6-9 September 2017. Latin American Consortium, Montevideo, Uruguay
12-14 September 2017. Social Partnership of the State and Religious Associations in the Modern World, Vladivostok, Russia
1-4 October 2017. 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
5-6 October 2017. DC Component of 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, Washington, D.C.
13 October 2017. Law and Religion Symposium, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, WA
2-3 November 2017. Dialogue on Ethics and Economics, Buenos Aires, Argentina (Gary Doxey participating)
7 November 2017. Interfaith Religious Freedom Conference, Detroit, Michigan (Elizabeth Clark participating)
7-8 November 2017. “25 Years After Constitutional Reform in Mexico,” First International Congress on Religious Liberty, Pontifical University of Mexico, Mexico City.
15-17 November 2017. Regional Religious Freedom and Prosperity Symposium, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The first Caribbean Religious Freedom Symposium was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on 15-17 November 2017. The conference was hosted by Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) and sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS); the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation; Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM); Latin American Consortium of Religious Freedom; and the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic.
The theme of the conference was “Religious Freedom and Economic Development”, highlighting the importance of religious freedom as a fundamental right related to freedom of conscience. The ICLRS was represented by Associate Director Gary Doxey, Senior Fellows Scott Isaacson and Denise Lindberg…
Founding Director W. Cole Durham, Jr., participated in a conference titled “Places of Worship and Holy Sites in Europe and the Middle East: Status and Protection under National and International Law.” Held in Nicosia, Cyprus the 8-10 November 2017, and organized by the Conference of European Churches and the Church of Cyprus, the aim of the conference was to urge European institutions to increase efforts to respect and to protect places of worship and holy sites in the run up to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. The argument was made that religious places are part of the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief.
Professor Durham participated on a panel on legal personality and registration and presented a case study on Russia. He also moderated a session on dispossession and change of proprietor.
For more information on the conference, please see the Conference of European Churches coverage here.
The third Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference (SEA FoRB III) was held the 7-8 November in Manila, Philippines. Organized by the International Commission of Jurists, Boat People SOS, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Forum-Asia, and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the conference sought to adopt a more hands-on approach and to involve wider participation from influential leaders and key stakeholders in the promotion of religious freedom in Southeast Asia.
In addition to helping organize the conference, Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr. gave a presentation on “The Link Between FoRB and Freedom of Assembly and Association and Socio-Economic Progress” and led a panel discussion on “Links between Freedom of Religion or Belief and Nationalism.”
A list of speakers, the concept paper, summaries of past conferences, and declarations issued at the conferences is available here.
The Pontificia Universidad de México hosted a conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of constitutional reform establishing significant religious freedom in Mexico on 7-8 of November. The conference was sponsored by three law schools: the law school at the Universidad Iberoamericano, the law school of the Pontificia Universidad de México, and the Insitituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Professor Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the Center, was invited to attend and deliver a keynote speech. Center Academic Advisory Council member, Javier Martinez-Torron was also a keynote speaker.
ICLRS Associate Director Elizabeth Clark participated on a panel of legal scholars at the Interfaith Religious Freedom Conference on 7 November 2017. Sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Detroit Chapter and the Michigan Catholic Conference, the conference was hosted by the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The topic of discussion was legislative and legal challenges to religious freedom.
The conference website describes the event as follows:
During this panel, legal scholars offered various perspectives regarding one of America’s most treasured rights: the right to religious freedom. Specifically, their discussion will focus on current legislative and legal issues that…
Associate Director Gary Doxey presented at a conference, Dialogue on Ethics and Economics, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 2-3 of November 2017. Professor Doxey, along with Juan Navarro Floria, a professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica in Buenos Aires, and a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spoke in the fourth plenary session titled “Sustainable Development: The Interconfessional Alliance and The G20 Interfaith Group.” The two addressed the history of the G20 Interfaith Summit. Other panelists were Gabriela Agosto, Head of the National Cabinet, Pbro. Francisco Hernández, SELACC, and Humberto Shikiya, CREAS.
Associate Director Gary Doxey attended the “II Congreso de Diálogo Intercultural e Interreligioso” held in Ushuaia, Argentina 1-2 November 2017. Organized by the provincial government of Ushuaia and others, the conference was attended by community leaders, local government, and religious leaders, but also by high school students from area Catholic schools. Professor Doxey shared his thoughts on the importance of religious freedom to society’s wellbeing and the need to work together to defend religious freedom. Other speakers at the conference included Abraham Skorka, the leading rabbi (retired) of Argentina, and Sumer Nofouri, a Muslim leader.
Report by Neville Rochow
On 23 and 24 October 2017, the International Center for Law and Religious Studies, represented by its director, Professor Brett Scharffs, took part in a conference at the Hanoi School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Professor Scharffs’ participation continued what is now a more than decade-long tradition of partnership with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi and the Institute for Global Engagement in holding conferences on law, religion, and economics.
This year’s conference was entitled ‘Religion, Economics and ASEAN Community’ and attracted expert speakers from a variety of academic disciplines and religious perspectives. Experts came from Vietnam, neighboring ASEAN countries, and from the United States and Australia. …
Associate Director Elizabeth Clark participated in a conference sponsored by the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Held in New Brighton, MN, the conference titled “Violence, Social Justice, and Human Rights at the Intersection of Law and Religion” was held 19-20 of October 2017. Panels included discussion on law and violence, global social justice, and the source of human rights.
Clark participated on the global social justice panel with panelists Azizah al-Hibri, University of Richmond Law School; Ayesha Chaudhry, University of British Columbia-Vancouver; and Vincent Rougeau, Boston College Law School. The conference described the panel as follows: …
The Church Council of Greater Seattle hosted its first Annual Law and Religion Symposium on 13 October 2017 at the University of Washington School of Law. Center Director Brett Scharffs presented on religious freedom issues in the United States, focusing on the Masterpiece Cake Shop Case scheduled to come before the Supreme Court.
Other presenters included:
The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are pleased to announce the winners of the 8th Annual Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition. The winners were announced at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner held on Thursday, October 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
First Place ($4000): Michael West (University of Virginia School of Law)
Paper Title: Waiving the Ministerial Exception
Second Place ($3000): Daniel Boger (University of Virginia School of Law)
Paper title: The Executive Branch as a Promoter of Religious Liberty …
The 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) was held 1-3 October 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some 100 Delegates to the 2017 Symposium were invited to discuss the conference theme — “Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World” — including such sub-themes as Religion and Security, Religion and Pluralism, and Religion and the Rule of Law.
Session reports of presentations are available here, and recordings from the event are available at this link. (See recordings from Symposium 2016 here.)
The 2017 Symposium opened Sunday evening, October 1, with keynote addresses by Ján Figeľ, the European Commission’s Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, and András Sajó, Hungarian scholar and former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights.
Each year since 1994, ICLRS has hosted a symposium devoted to the discussion of law and religion…
[From reports by OSCE/ODIHR:] One of the most significant obstacles to full enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief in practice is the inability for religious or belief communities to access legal personality within a national legal framework. To address this challenge facing many religious or belief communities across the OSCE region, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Venice Commission issued in 2015 Guidelines on the Legal Personality of Religious or Belief Communities.
The Guidelines were presented and discussed at the United Nations Office in Geneva on 29 September 2017 at a meeting attended by some 45 representatives of UN…
On 25 September 2017 Center Founding Director Cole Durham, in company with James Toronto, a professor of Arabic language and Islamic religion at Brigham Young University and Center Senior Fellow in Islamic Studies, made a presentation at the Italian Parliament on Legal Considerations of Religious Liberty in Russia. Among other participants was Massimo Introvigne, Founder and Director of the Center for Sutides on New Religions (CESNUR), based in Turin.
On September 12-14, 2017, the Center co-sponsored the International Scientific Seminar “Social Partnership of the State and Religious Associations in the Modern World: Legal and Practical Aspects.” The conference was held in Vladivostok, Russia at the Institute of the History of Archeology and Ethnography of the Peoples of the Far East, FEB RAS. The scientific and practical goal of the event was to study the positive experience of state-confessional relations in relation to social partnership, to analyze well-founded models of social service of confessions and to improve the forms of secular and religious education as an intensively developing aspect of social service. Experts noted the importance of holding this seminar in a region with a rich religious tradition and culture.
Daniel Ortner, Constitutional Law Fellow at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, attended the event and delivered greetings on behalf of Associate Director Elizabeth Clark. Emeritus International Advisory Council Member Dennis B. Neuenschwander also attended the conference as a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The seminar was attended by representatives of religious and public organizations, state and municipal authorities, leading Russian scholars of religious studies, and guests from other countries.
Associate Director Gary Doxey and Senior Fellows Scott Isaacson and Denise Lindberg attended the annual colloquium of the Latin American Consortium for Religious Liberty in Montevideo, Uruguay. The colloquium, held the 6-9 of September 2017, focused on laicidad, the Latin American version of separation of church and state. The Center was a principal sponsor of the event, which took place in the chambers of Uruguay’s national Senate as well as at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay, the country’s most prestigious institution of higher education.
The colloquium drew scholars from around Latin America. The Latin American…
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….
This year marked the 95th anniversary of the annual BYU Education Week. During August 21-25 thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds gathered on the BYU Provo campus to attend classes. This year’s theme was taken from the Doctrine and Covenants 50:24, “He that receiveth light and continueth in God receiveth more light.”
An important part of this year’s offering included a series of Religious Freedom Classes sponsored by the LDS Church Public Affairs. Center Associate Director Gary Doxey gave two lectures in this series — “The Plan of Salvation and Religious Freedom: The Role of Moral Agency” and “A Choice Land: Religious Freedom in America and the Restoration of Christ’s Church.” Also presenting in this session were BYU Law School Dean of Admissions Gayla Sorenson, LDS Church Associate General Counsel William Atkin, and Alexander Dushku, Hannah Smith, Matthew…
On August 7-9, Professor Cole Durham and Professor Brett Scharffs participated as trainers in the 8th annual Certificate Training Program on Religion and the Rule of Law held in Beijing, China, sponsored by the Pu Shi Institute. Durham and Scharffs each spoke on several topics relating to this year’s program theme, Religion and Security. Durham lectured on the strategic outlook and global trends in countering violent extremism, the “International Bill of Rights” related to religion, and newly emerging religions. Scharffs spoke on the legal status of religious groups, religious freedom and free speech, and religious property…
On August 5-6, Professor Scharffs was a delegate and speaker at a major international conference, The Interfaith Dialogue for Peace, Harmony and Security (SAMVAD II), held at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, in Yangon, Myanmar. The conference involved high-profile religious leaders, government officials and academics from nineteen countries, with a focus on Southeast Asia. His lecture was televised in Myanmar.
Professor Scharffs was asked to speak on the topic of conflict avoidance, peace and harmony. Scharffs noted the high correlation between countries with high or very high legal restrictions and social hostilities involving religion and the presence of a majority religious…
IGE 5 September 2017: From 4-6 August, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) led a delegation to Beijing, China, to co-convene the 4th Sino-U.S. Counterterrorism Dialogue. Since the dialogue’s inception in 2014, it has sought to deepen communication and understanding between Chinese and U.S. government, military, civil society, and business leaders over issues related to terrorism, religion, security, and governance. This Track 1.5 dialogue was hosted by the U.S.-China New Perspectives Foundation (NPF) and the Pu Shi Institute for Social Science (PS).
The IGE delegation was led by Chris Seiple, IGE’s president emeritus, and included: BG (ret.) Michael Meese, chief operating officer of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association; Geoff Davis, former U.S. Representative to Congress; Cole Durham, professor of law at Brigham Young University; and, James Chen, IGE’s executive director….
An International Forum on Law and Religion: The Secular State and Religious Freedoms was held at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City on August 3, 2017, sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University, the University of the Philippines College of Law, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the international importance of protecting freedom of religion, form alliances and relationships among government leaders, judges, attorneys, scholars, prominent individuals, and leaders and members of faith-based groups in order to strengthen religious freedom in the Philippines, and encourage legal and scholarly efforts to defend and protect freedom of religion.
Among the approximately 200 people in attendance were prominent interfaith leaders; an ambassador and representatives from embassies of Argentina, US, Britain, Austria, Switzerland, and Netherlands; lawyers, justices, and judges, including former and current justices of the Philippine Supreme Court and a judge of the International Criminal Court; law students and faculty from several participating law schools; media personnel, and members and staff from the Philippine Senate and Congress.
On July 31, 2017, Center Director Brett Scharffs was a panelist at a special Open Forum on “Relations between Religious Minorities, Majorities and the State in Indonesia and the United States: Current Trends and Issues,” sponsored by the U.S.-Indonesia Society (USINDO), in Jakarta, Indonesia. Panelists included Yenny Wahid, Indonesian Co-Chair, Indonesia-US Council on Religion and Pluralism and Executive Director of the Wahid Foundation, Prof. Dr. Nur Syam, Secretary-General, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, and Febi Yonesta…
While in Asia during July 2017, Professor Scharffs was a guest lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Muhammadiyah in Malang, Indonesia. The lecture, attended by the entire law school community, addressed the topic, “The Role of Religion and Religious Freedom in Responding to Religious Freedom.” In this lecture, Professor Scharffs noted that while religion and religious freedom can both be used to foment violence in the name of religion, both religion and religious freedom play important roles in responding to and creating resistance towards violent extremism. The lecture was convened and hosted by Muhammadiyah Law School Dean Sulardi and University Vice Rector, Professor Syamsul…
In July 2017 Professor Brett Scharffs lectured for the sixth consecutive year at the Masters Level Course on Shari’a and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University in Malang, Indonesia. This innovative course is designed to create avenues of discourse between two important world legal systems, Islamic law and human rights law. Professor Scharffs taught classes on the foundations of human rights, the right of freedom of thought, conscience and belief, and the regulation of religion under the rule of law. The Course was expanded in 2016 into a two-year master’s degree program on Shari’a and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University, with the financial support of the Asia Foundation….
In July 2017, Professor Scharffs was a guest lecturer for a half-day in the first-of-its-kind Intersession Seminar on Religion and Human Rights at the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Seminar, taught by Professor Zainal Bagir of the Graduate School of UGM and Dr. Suhadi of the Graduate School of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, introduces students to the many facets of the interface between the discourses of human rights, and in particular freedom of religion and belief, and how they have been understood by religious communities, and how they have been implemented in international, national, and local law. Professor Scharffs lectured on the drafting and background…
The 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review, hosted by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of BYU Law School, took place 6-7 July 2017 at the Conference Center on the campus of Brigham Young University.
Watch this space for links to recordings and photographs of the event. And please see the links below for radio interviews with participants and local news coverage.
Among the highlights of this outstanding event were a keynote address by Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, followed by an opening General Session featuring addresses by Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (whose title was “Religious Freedom as an Article of Faith”) and Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation and former…
Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, joined almost a thousand religion scholars in Bologna, Italy in June 2017 in Ex Nihilo: Zero Conference of the European Academy of Religion, the first conference of the newly established European Academy of Religion. Professors Durham and Scharffs, along with UK scholar Peter Petkoff (of Brunel Colleges and Regent’s Park College, Oxford), participated in a panel organized by the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion: “Religious Rights and International Law — Between Universality and Subsidiarity”.
Report by Massimo Faggioli*: Hosted by the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies, the conference drew attendees from around the world—mostly specialists in Christianity and Judaism, but also those who study Islam, Bahá’ísm, and new religions and religious movements. reflected the aim of the gathering, namely, to create an international platform based in Europe for the study of religion. The intellectual and political potential of the initiative goes beyond the usual scope of scholarly engagement with religion in Europe.
The project draws inspiration from the much larger American Academy of Religion, with which it shares some similarities. First, it wants to extend beyond the geographic boundaries of its name: “European” in this case means a core Euro-Mediterranean group of scholars and institutions reaching out to the whole world, especially past the eastern boundaries of the European Union. The notion of “religion” is similarly expansive, encompassing religious studies, the history of religions, comparative canons and ecclesiastical law, religion and politics in comparative perspectives, and religion and media. This approach is institutionally and intellectually independent from ecclesiastical and pontifical institutions (something not necessarily obvious, in light of European history). Finally, the group wants is annual gathering to become the meeting place for European scholars of religion; the next conference will take place in March 2018, again in Bologna (beginning in 2019 it will be held at a different location every year), with the organizing committee chaired by Frederik Pedersen of the University of Aberdeen.
There are also a few significant differences from the AAR. The first is the linguistic fragmentation from country to country that is typical of Europe. This could significantly affect, for example, marketing efforts and publishing opportunities. There’s also its role in the academic job market. The AAR serves as a kind of ecosystem for interacting with and interviewing potential hires, whereas in the European Union the job market is constrained by national boundaries: Issues of language and culture can limit opportunities for finding work outside one’s country, as can bureaucratic restrictions. In Germany and elsewhere, for example, professors of theology must have a degree recognized by the state according to the criteria established by concordats with the Holy See.
Another significant difference: the political “intentionality” of the European Academy of Religion. This was apparent at the Bologna conference, where among the speakers were Italy’s current secretary of education along with Romano Prodi, former prime minister of Italy and former president of the European Commission. A number of diplomats and ambassadors to Italy and to the Holy See were also among the invited. The conference was held under the auspices of, among others, the European Parliament, the European Commission representation in Italy, and the Italian Commission for UNESCO.
*Information in this article is taken from Massimo Faggioli, “What the European Academy of Religion Says about Religion”, Commonweal Magazine, June 28, 2017.
The 2017 G20 Interfaith Forum, Religion, Sustainable Development, and the Refugee Crisis, was held at the University of Potsdam, Germany, 15-17 June 2017. This highly successful event brought together experts on economy, law and politics, as well as global leaders from various religious, professional, and humanitarian backgrounds to highlight the key role that religion plays in promoting aspects of achievement of the United Nation’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals that Germany chose to highlight during this year’s G20 Summit, held in Hamburg 7-8 July. Special attention was paid to issues surrounding the refugee crisis, addressing concerns such as religious extremism and the other issues, including the environment, where religious voices have much to contribute.
Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, ICLRS Senior Fellow Scott Isaacson, and Jeff Robinson, member of the ICLRS International Advisory Council, traveled to Costa Rica for meetings in June. Among others, they met with personnel from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, and with members and staff of Costa Rica’s unicameral congress, the Asamblea Legislativa.
On June 9 ICLRS, in collaboration with the Asamblea Legislativa, held an international symposium “Religious Freedom Challenges in Costa Rica: A Pending Human Rights Commitment”. The symposium discussed the importance of religious freedom and the need…
The International Conference ‘Religion and the Legacy of the Soviet State: A 25-year Retrospective’, was held 2-4 June 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Organized by the Free University of Tbilisi, School of Law and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University (USA), the conference marked the 25 years (in 2016) since the disbandment of the Soviet Union. Seeking to explore the long-term impact of the Soviet state in the sphere of religion, conference presentations asked questions: How have Soviet approaches been adapted or rejected in post-USSR countries? How have post-Soviet states responded legally to the restrictive regulation of religion, the appropriation of religious property, and other results of the Soviet regime?
Conference languages were Georgian, English, and Russian.
The aim of the conference and its future publication was to tackle these issues…
On 27-28 May 2017 the International Center for Law and Religion Studies and the Central European University co-sponsored an event celebrating the beginning of the twenty-fifth year of cases addressing freedom of religion or belief in the European Court of Human Rights. Convened by W. Cole Durham, Jr., Jeroen Temperman, and T. Jeremy Gunn, the event took place at CEU in Budapest, Hungary. Participants in the conference presented papers analyzing various types of cases and differing perspectives on the Court’s decisions commencing with the Kokkinakis decision in 1993, and continuing down to the present.
Participants included Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs from Brigham Young University Law School, along with UK scholars Stephanie Barry, Ioana Cismas, Sir Malcolm Evans OBE, Nazila Ghanea, Mark Hill QC, Peter Petkoff, and Lucy Vickers; European scholars Dia Anagnostou, Sophie…
The Fifth Annual Conference of the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS) took place in Rabat, Morocco, from 14 to 17 May 2017. Following the success of conferences in Ghana (2013), South Africa (2014), Namibia (2015) and Ethiopia (2016), this event was a collaboration of ACLARS with the International University of Rabat; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of Brigham Young University Law School, United States; and the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), Milan, Italy.
Participating in this highly successful event were more than 100 scholars and government and religious leaders from Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon…
Gary Doxey represented the Center at two events at Trnava University in Trnava, Slovakia in May of 2017.
Professor Doxey first spoke at the May 4th conference, “Financing of Churches and Religious Organizations: A Comparative Perspective”, at the Faculty of Law at Trnava University. The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School was a co-sponsor of the event.
Marek Šmid, Rector of Trnava University, opened the conference and highlighted the political and legal sensitivities of the topic. Draft legislation on government financing of churches and religious organizations is taking shape in the government of Slovakia and the question is whether or not it should be a topic of legislation or one of agreement between the churches and the state.
Professor Doxey delivered a keynote on the subject of government financing of religious organizations from the American legal perspective….
A conference on ‘Law and Religion: The Role of the State’ was held 24-28 April 2017 at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Sponsors of the event were the National Judicial Institute, Nigeria; the Faculties of Law & Arts of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; the Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos, Nigeria; the West African Center for Law and Religion Studies; and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University (USA).
Are Catholic majorities more hospitable to religious minorities than others? This was the topic of Center Director Brett Scharffs’ presentation at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler on the 13th April 2017. He was joined by four panelists, Paolo Costa, FBK-ISR, Roberto Toniatti and Cinzia Piciocchi both of the University of Trento Law School, and Andrea Pin of the University of Padova Law School.
From the abstract: It is hard to believe it is a coincidence that when we look at the patterns of restriction of religious freedom that exist around the world, including legal restrictions and social hostilities, in places with high or very high restrictions, there is almost always a dominant religious group that is a majority or supermajority. But there are no countries with high or very high legal restrictions and very few countries with high social hostilities that have a Catholic majority or supermajority. This provides a powerful invitation for those of us who live in countries with high restrictions to reflect upon the role that the dominant religious groups may have in perpetuating those restrictions, and the potential role that those dominant religious group may have in overcoming those patterns of restriction and hostility. Among the most important resources for promoting religious freedom will be religious reasons and doctrines found within religious traditions. Freedom of thought, conscience, and belief is most likely to be promoted when dominant religious groups find within their own religious traditions the resources and arguments in defense of freedom, conscience, and human dignity. Many religious traditions, including Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu, can look to the experience of the Catholic Church for insight and inspiration.
Marco Ventura, Director of the Centre for Religious Studies, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, and a longtime friend of the Center thanked Professor Scharffs for his participation. He said, “Over its 40 years of existence our Center has witnessed the possibility and benefits of an alliance between creative research and the experience of faith. You gave a remarkable contribution to our effort.”
From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – EU Office Report
On Monday 10 April, the European Union Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) held another event in its “Food for Thought” Breakfast Series entitled “Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed and the Religiously Indifferent Should Care”. The aim of the event was to examine the modern articulation of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), and address questions and issues including the relationship between religious freedom and human rights, the economic aspect of FoRB, and more. Guest speaker was Professor Brett Scharffs, the new director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, Utah. …
Associate Director Elizabeth Clark presented a paper at Pepperdine Law School’s Nootbaar Institute Conference, “Religious Critiques of Law”, on March 9-10, 2017.
This year’s conference theme, Religious Critiques of Law, was centered around Tom Shaffer’s premise in his book American Lawyers and Their Communities that lawyers need to see the problems of a religious congregation from the viewpoint of the house of worship, not just the courthouse. Speakers were encouraged to support or challenge Shaffer’s notion that religious critiques of law are of value. Professor Clark was one of several speakers from a wide variety of religious traditions addressing the law from their traditions. Her paper “Mormon Postmodern Critiques of the Nature of Law” looked at understanding freedom in LDS doctrines and how that contributes to Mormon willingness to engage in dialogue on social issues.
Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies Brett Scharffs joined colleagues from the Institute for Global Engagement in Vietnam from 7-10 March 2017 to conduct a “Religion and Rule of Law” (RROL) certificate training, in partnership with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Vietnam National University. For more on the Center’s work in collaboration with Vietnam, please see this link. For a report on the Vietnam Central Highlands event, we are grateful for the report from IGE, below.
Press Release March 17, 2017: From 7 to 10 March 2017 the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with the Vietnam National University’s University of Social Sciences and Humanities and Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion…
Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spent two weeks in Myanmar in late February and early March as part of the second Religion and the Rule of Law Training program, held in Mandalay, and a subsequent discussion in Yangon, hosted by Sitagu International Buddhist Academy. Please see below the press release from one of the Center’s partners in the endeavor, the Washington DC based Institute for Global Engagement.
Press Release: The Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with the Mandalay Community Center in Myanmar and Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies (BYU), co-convened a 10-day certificate program on Religion and Rule of Law from 20 February to 1 March 2017 in Mandalay,…
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the keynote speaker at an interfaith symposium organized by ICLRS Associate Director Gary Doxey in February in El Salvador. Focusing on religious freedom as a fundamental human right, the symposium was hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and took place at a stake center on the site of the San Salvador Temple in El Salvador on February 13. The event drew select leaders from five Central American countries. These leaders included clergy representing several faiths, judges, members of Congress, mayors, advocacy organizations, and university leaders. The group expressed unanimous support for continued collaboration as a group throughout the region to educate about and improve the laws concerning religious freedom.
The Summit on Religious Freedom, an Interfaith Invitation, took place at the First Baptist Orlando Faith Hall in Orlando, Florida on 31 January 2017. ICLRS Founding Director Cole Durham took part along with other renowned religious freedom experts.
Professor Durham spoke on “The Continuing Need for Vigilance Concerning Religious Freedom”. He pointed out that while we have been blessed with a rich tradition of religious liberty, there is a continuing need to guard against erosion of this first freedom. He cited examples of this erosion and offered concrete recommendations for action.
The recording of the event is available online here….
On Wednesday 25th January 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) European Union Office and Andrew Lewer MBE MEP hosted a conference entitled “European Union, United Kingdom, and Commonwealth cooperation in the promotion of freedom of religion or belief” (‘FoRB’). The event was organised in partnership with the European Parliament Intergroup on FoRB & Religious Tolerance. Keynote addresses were delivered by Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, and David Rutley MP, UK. Other speakers included event organizers Franceso Di Lillo, Head of LDS EU Office, and Professor Neville Rochow CS, European Union Government Relations Representative and Barrister (Australia), as well as Brian J. Grim, President of the International Religious Freedom & Business Association, Simon McCrossan, Head of Public Policy for the Evangelical Alliance UK, and Pasquale Annicchino…
At a meeting of international religious scholars in New Delhi in January 2017 a new entity was launched, an academic, apolitical and non-governmental regional association to be known as the South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies [SACRALS]. with Professor Tahir Mahmood as its first president. Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, the Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University, along with members of the Center’s International Advisory Council, attended the launch.
Religion and Law Studies – encompassing theoretical and empirical studies and research on the relationship between state, law, and religion in a human rights perspective – is a fast-growing academic discipline being pursued in many leading universities across the globe. The International Center for Religion…
The conference “Peace, Stability, and Sustainable Development: The Role of Religion” took place in Hyderabad, India from 13-15 January 2017. The conference was co-sponsored by the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, India; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University Law School, United States; and King and Diane Husein.
The opening session featured an inaugural address by Neera Chandhoke, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, New Delhi, and speakers Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, European Commission, Slovakia; and W. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates University Professor and Founding…