Cole Durham participates in 19th ‘Meeting of Experts’ in Cordoba, Spain

[Nov 29, 2018] by Bettina Krause, Communication Director, International Religious Liberty Association

As the number of migrants and refugees worldwide continues to surge, a panel of scholars convened last month by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) says more must be done to deal with related religious freedom challenges. 

The IRLA’s 19th Meeting of Experts, held in Cordoba, Spain, brought together renowned scholars from a variety of academic disciplines to explore this issue. But the topics discussed were anything but academic for the many millions of men, women and children who are currently on the move, fleeing poverty, violence, or religious persecution, according to IRLA Secretary General…

AMAR Conference for Yazidi People, November 10-11, 2018

Director Brett Scharffs joined more than 200 global religious leaders, politicians, and experts in Baghdad, Iraq, November 10–11, 2018, for a conference designed to raise worldwide support to end religious persecution. Organized by the AMAR Foundation, a charity based in the United Kingdom, the Baghdad conference was part of a series of meetings held in England and Salt Lake City, Utah, United States over the past two years. Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities, spoke at the conference. LDS Charities partners with AMAR to help restore the spiritual and temporal needs of the Yazidi communities in Lalish and Sinjar, Iraq. 

Rabbi David Saperstein Receives 2018 International Religious Liberty Award

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies presented the 2018 International Religious Liberty Award to Rabbi David Saperstein for his many years of work defending and supporting freedom of religion or belief for all. The award was presented by W. Cole Durham, Jr., ICLRS Founding Director, at the Ninth Annual Religious Liberty Award Dinner held on October 11, 2018 at the Monaco Hotel in Washington, DC. Rabbi Saperstein delivered the keynote address.

A rabbi and a lawyer, David Saperstein served as the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Liberty from 2014 to 2017. He was also the first chair of the US Commission on International Religious…

ICLRS at the G20 Interfaith Forum 2018 in Argentina: “Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development: Religious Contributions for a Dignified Future”

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University Law School was represented at the 2018 G20 Interfaith Forum, held 26-28 September 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Center directors, staff, and student fellows, as well as members the Center’s International Advisory Council (IAC).

Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., ICLRS Founding Director and a member of the G20 Interfaith Forum’s Organizing Committee, played a key role in developing and organizing the program for the entire event, where he moderated and spoke in sessions, including leading the concluding session. Professor Durham was accompanied in Buenos Aires by Professor Gary Doxey, ICLRS Associate Director and Regional Advisor for Latin America; ICLRS Publications Director, Donlu Thayer and Communications Specialist, Blythe Shupe; IAC Chair and BYU Law School student…

Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere: ICLRS Cosponsors Conference at Christ Church College, Oxford

On August 3-4, 2018, ICLRS, along with The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion; The Religion, Law and International Relations Programme, Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regents Park, Oxford; and the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government, University of Oxford Faculty of Law sponsored the conference “Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere: Founding Figures, Foundations, and the Uses of Human Dignity.” 

The conference was organized in anticipation of the 70th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights coming up in December 2018. Speakers explored the ideas that motivated and illuminated the human rights project 70 years…

ICLRS Young Scholars Fellowship Program held in Oxford, July-August 2018

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at BYU Law School in Provo, Utah, USA, launched a new program during summer 2018,  training young scholars, academics, and government officials in religion and the rule of law. The program too place at Christ Church, Oxford University from July 22 through August 10, 2018.
     International Program participants are chosen each year from human rights and comparative law backgrounds. The members of this charter class included lawyer-scholars and students from Netherlands, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Greece, Israel, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
     For almost two decades, ICLRS, together with many partners, has been supporting international certificate…

Elizabeth Clark and Hannah Clayson Smith speak at BYU Women’s Conference, May 2018

BYU Women’s Conference, held annually, is the largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world. This year’s conference was held May 3-4, 2018 on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah.  The theme was “Strengthen One Another in the Lord.” Approximately 160 presenters participated and 18,458 people attended.

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark and Senior Fellow Hannah Clayson Smith presented on “Religious Freedom: A Cherished Heritage to Defend.” In their joint presentation, they addressed questions such as “How do religious freedoms impact our right to worship? How can we keep our freedom of worship from being destoryed? How do we work together with those of other faiths to defence religious liberty?”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this talk are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

First Middle East Regional Conference, “The Amman Message in a Changing World,” held in Jordan April 22-23, 2018

On April 22-23, 2018, the Center sponsored its first Middle East regional conference. Held at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan, the theme of the conference was “The Amman Message in a Changing World,” a retrospective look at The Amman Message, a vision of peaceful Islam promulgated by King Abdullah II of Jordan a decade ago. The conference was sponsored by the Center, the University of Jordan Law School, and BYU Religious Education. 

His Royal Highness, Prince Hassan bin Talal, the uncle of King Abdullah II, was the royal patron of the conference. The conference…

Scharffs at 2018 Global Business & Peace Symposium, Seoul, South Korea

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was among the sponsors of the 2018 Global Business & Peace Symposium held 7-8 March in Seoul, South Korea. Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in the event, delivering a closing address. In connection with the Symposium, Professor Scharffs joined Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, as part of the Peace Delegation attending high-level meetings at the Korean National Assembly (Parliament), the Presidential Blue House, and with the Mayor of Seoul on March 7. 

Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave the keynote speech at the event, where special honors were given to business leaders who have worked to advance peace with North Korea, including some involved with the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC)…

Scharffs and Rochow at FoRB Conference in Adelaide

From 14 to 16 February 2018, Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Center Senior Fellow, Neville Rochow SC, participated in a major conference in Sydney and Adelaide Australia. The conference featured leading academics and experts from Australia, the Pacific, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, addressing the conference theme: ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Other Fundamental Freedoms’.

The Center partnered in the conference with the University of Adelaide Law and Religion Project, Research Unit for the Study of Society, Ethics and Law and University of Notre Dame of Australia, Sydney School of Law. Its key organisers were Neville Rochow SC and Professor Paul Babie of the University of Adelaide. The first two days of the conference were held at the Sydney campus of the University of Notre Dame of Australia. The last day was held in the Moot Courtroom of the Adelaide Law School.

The timing of the conference came at a critical point in Australia’s constitutional history: the Australian Prime Minister has recently appointed an expert panel to report on whether and how Australia should change its laws to better allow for freedom of religion or belief. That Panel is due to report in early April 2018. The Panel approached the conference organisers to have a roundtable session on the subject with leading academics and other experts who were present at the conference. Both Professor Brett Scharffs; and Senior Fellow and Neville Rochow SC from the Center were among those specifically asked to make oral submissions to the Panel during the roundtable session. Neville Rochow was asked to make the first oral submissions at the roundtable session. Subsequently, one of the Panel members approached separately him to inquire about his experiences in the European Union with Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Panel was particularly interested in Professor Scharffs’ experience in the United States and asked him to expand upon the politicisation of freedom of religion that had occurred there.

Soon after the conference, the organisers received an invitation from the European Parliament to express interest in a research project with the European Parliament and to consider the possibility of participating with the Parliament in a conference in Brussels.

Elizabeth Clark Lectures at Ukrainian Academy of Sciences

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark gave a lecture at the Institute of Philosophy at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences on April 10, 2018. Her lecture was titled “Developments in Law and Religion in the United States.”

The presentation included lively Q&A and provided a great opportunity to discuss current US church-state law and recent developments. The Ukrainian scholars were particularly interested in current attitudes towards religion in the US, the US’s history of anti-Catholic bias, and understanding the development of current First Amendment case law.

Scharffs and Durham at Grassrootsmobilise Conference Kokkinakis Book Launch in Athens

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies hosted a launch of the book The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the conference Between State and Citizen: Religion at the ECtHR, held 4 May 2018 in Athens, Greece. Center Director Brett Scharffs participated on a roundtable discussion at the conference – “Do we need the ECtHR to protect religious freedom?” – with participants Nicos Alivizatos, Malcolm Evans, Ronan McCrea, Renáta Uitz, and Lucy Vickers, moderated by ICLRS Founding Director Cole Durham. 

Other participants in the conference included Effie Fokas, Ceren Ozgul, Margarita Markoviti, Pasquale Annicchino, Alberta Giorgi, Liviu Andreescu, Mihai Popa, Dia Anagnostou, Marco Ventura, Julie Ringelheim, Panos Bitsaxis, Panayote Dimitra, Yannis Ktistakis, Andrea Williams, Lisa…

Religious Freedom Annual Review 2018: Religion and the Common Good

The fifth Religious Freedom Annual Review of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies has concluded on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some 500 participants in the event heard US media, legal, and religious leaders speak on topics such as why religious freedom matters, how to find common ground with LGBTQ rights, religious freedom in the media, and how to promote religious freedom in their communities.

The Event in the Press

Keynote speakers were Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Emma Green, religion specialist writer for the Atlantic and recipient of the 2017 Religion…

BYU Law Students Compete at Moot Court Competition in Italy

Eight BYU Law students competed in an international Moot Court competition in Bologna, Italy, 6-7 March 2018. The competition was organized by the European Academy of Religion in collaboration with the International Consortium for Law & Religion Studies.

Teams from the United States and Europe argued a case before the European Court of Human Rights or the Supreme Court of the United States. The BYU law students were divided into two teams and argued before both. Pre-eminent scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions made up the two Courts. European Court of Human Rights judges were Silvio Ferrari, Professor of Law and Religion at the University of Milan (Italy), Mark Hill QC, Professor at the University of Cardiff (UK), Pretoria (South Africa), Notre Dame (Australia), and Ann…

International Religious Freedom Events in Guatemala, 6-7 March 2018

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) participated in a series of activities concerning religious freedom in Guatemala and Central America from March 6-7, 2018. The culminating event was an international conference on “Religious Freedom, the Secular State, and Conscientious Objection” at which Elder Quentin L. Cook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the keynote address. The event was sponsored by ICLRS, Asociación la Familia Importa (AFI), Mormon Helping…

Shaun Casey Visits the Center to Discuss State Department Experience with BYU Law Students

On 1 February 2018, Shaun Casey, former U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, visited the BYU campus to deliver a lecture titled “Globetrotting for Interfaith Harmony” in celebration of the United Nation’s annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. The event was co-hosted by the Wheatley Institution; the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies; and the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

Prior to the lecture, Casey visited the Center to have lunch and talk with BYU Law students. In a casual setting, he talked about his experiences in the State Department’s Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives and shared some of his thoughts on freedom of religion or belief. He answered questions posed by the students and spent several minutes after the lunch ended talking individually with students. 

SACRALS Conference February 2018: Religio-Legal Parameters for Social Harmony

During the first three days of February 2018, the South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies (SACRALS) convened the event “Religio-Legal Parameters for Social Harmony” at Hotel Sheraton New Delhi, India. Participants in the Meet included eminent scholars, jurists, and legal and interfaith leaders from the South Asia Area, with visitors from Australia and the United States. Under the direction of SACRALS Founding President Professor Dr Tahir Mahmood, meetings were held both at Hotel Sheraton and at Amity University in nearby Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The Inaugural Session of the Meet on the evening of 1 February was chaired by Professor Tahir Mahmood. Participants were welcomed by SACRALS Board of Trustees Chair Dr Saif Mahmood and heard an inaugural address by Professor Upendra Baxi, Former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University & Visiting Professor, Warrick University, UK, and…

Brett Scharffs at the Summit on Religious Freedom in Orlando on January 30, 2018

Director Brett Scharffs joined other prominent speakers at the Third Summit on Religious Freedom: An Interfaith Invitation in Orlando, Florida on 30 January 2018. The annual summit, held at the First Baptist Orlando Church, was an opportunity to learn from and dialogue with nationally recognized experts in the area of religious freedom. 

Topics were: 

  • Religious Freedom: Why care? (Brett Scharffs, Director, BYU Law – International Center for Law and Religion