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.

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…

“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.

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…

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…

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

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 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…

The Brill Encyclopedia of Law and Religion: Center Contributions

The publishers have announced the release of the Brill Encyclopedia of Law and Religion. General Editors of this five-volume work are Gerhard Robbers, Professor Emeritus at the University of Trier and formerly Minister of Justice and for Consumer Protection of Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), and W. Cole Durham, Jr,. Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at Brigham Young University and Founding Director of BYU Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Associate Editor is Donlu Thayer, the Director of Pulbications.

The editors acknowledge with deep gratitude the contribution of Ashley Isaacson Woolley, whose editorial expertise, applied to essentially every article, contributed immeasurably and essentially to the completion of the work. A number of people associated with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, in addition to Durham, Thayer, Woolley, and Robbers (who is a member…

Durham and Thayer book launches ICLARS Series on Law and Religion

The publishers have announced the June 2016 release of Religion and Equality: Law in Conflict, edited by International Center of Law and Religions Studies (ICLRS) Founding Director W. Cole Durham, Jr. and ICLRS Senior Editor Donlu D. Thayer. This long-awaited book is first title in the new ICLARS Series in Law and Religion, published by Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. Professor Durham, in addition to his role at ICLRS, is second and current President of ICLARS, the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, headquartered in Milan, Italy. The ICLARS Series will officially launch at the Fourth ICLARS Conference, to be held in Oxford, UK, in September 2016.

Religion and Equality is the first of two books with origins in the Third ICLARS Conference, held in Virginia in August 2013. A second volume from this conference,&nbsp…

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….

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 G. Scharffs Appointed Director of International Center for Law and Religion Studies

Outgoing BYU Law School Dean James R. Rasband announced the appointment, effective May 1, 2016, of Brett G. Scharffs as the new Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies.

The Center, since its beginning on January 1, 2000, has played an internationally significant role in the work of the Law School. With a mission to help secure the blessings of freedom of religion and belief for all people, Center faculty and staff, aided by hundreds of BYU law students, have worked to disseminate knowledge and expertise regarding the interrelationship of law and religion, through scholarship, network building, participation in law-reform processes, and organization and sponsorship of hundreds of conferences, at BYU and throughout the world….

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies Outstanding Service Awards 2016

The Barrister’s Ball, an annual tradition of the BYU Law School, provides an opportunity to recognize students and faculty for their accomplishments. Each year, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies honors those students who have dedicated service to both the Center and to the cause of international religious freedom. At the 24 March 2016 awards ceremony, Center Associate Director Elizabeth Clark presented the award to Bennett H. Briggs, Travis J. Hyer, Jedi Knight, Aline Marie H. Longstaff, Zachary D. Smith, Ryan Andersen, Eva Marie Brady, Tara Fitzgerald, Roman Harper, Annalee Hickman Moser, Laura Monique Mullenaux Laing, and Lauren Ravsten Robins. These students have devoted many hours as Student Research Fellows, Student Management Board members, or Symposium Student Executive Committee members. In some cases…

Center Honors Students for Extraordinary Service

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was pleased to present awards to ten outstanding students from the J. Reuben Clark Law School on March 26, 2014, at the Law School’s annual Barrister’s Ball.

Receiving Meritorius Service Awards for a variety of contributions to the work of the Center were Michelle Jeffs, Carl Hollan, and Eimi Priddis.  Outstanding Service Awards, recognizing three years of service to the annual International Law and Religion Symposium were presented to Cherise Bacalski, Jorge Gavilanes, Erica Berrett, Natalia Peterson, Joshua Bishop, Daniel Scow, Kia Hohaia, Michelle Jeffs, and Eimi Priddis.

2013 Retrospective

Newsletter 21 December 2013 

Dear Friends,

On behalf of all of us working at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU, I want to extend our warmest personal holiday greetings. We approach the conclusion of another year of endeavor with gratitude for new friendships made and longtime friendships strengthened and renewed.

Reviewing the events of the past year while preparing our 2013 Annual Report has reminded me of the remarkable opportunities we have had to collaborate with others. This year we held our 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, devoted to discussions about “Religion and Human Rights.”…

Center Thanks and Honors Scott and Christine Cameron for Devoted Service

In an emotional tribute at a meeting held in conjunction with the 20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium in Provo in October 2013, Director Cole Durham of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies expressed the Center’s heartfelt thanks to Dean Scott Cameron and his wife, Christine, for extraordinarily devoted service over many years, to the Center and to the cause of religious freedom. “I just have to say that Scott has been, in many ways, the heart of the Law school,” said Professor Durham. “I don’t think there’s anyone who has taken a more holistic view of law students and of the legal community.” 

Scott Cameron most recently served the Law School…

20th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium – “Religion and Human Rights”

  • The Delegates: More than 80 scholars, legal professsionals, judges, government officials, and religious leaders, from 43 countries

Professor Cole Durham at Discussion Series: “Against Free Exercise Reductionism”

W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of The International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Susa Young Gates Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, presented the first lecture in the third Religious Freedom Discussion Series on Wednesday, 20 March 2013. Professor Durham’s topic was “Against Free Exercise Reductionism.”

Symposium 2012 Photos Now Available Online

Please be aware that photographs by Erlyn and Duane Madsen, Linda Nearon, Lynn Anderson, and David Westerby taken during the 18th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium (2011) are now available online. Photos from the 2012 Symposium – taken by Matt Imbler, Crys Kevan Lee, Page Johnson, and David Christensen – have also been posted. To view photos from recent Symposia, click the links below:

Religious Liberty Leader Elder Dallin H. Oaks Awarded Becket Fund’s Highest Honor

From the Becket Fund website:

New York City, NY  (16 May 2013) –  Tonight Elder Dallin H. Oaks received the highest honor awarded by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the nation’s premier religious liberty law firm, at the 18th anniversary Canterbury Medal Dinner at the Pierre in New York City, NY.

The Canterbury Medal, the Becket Fund award, is given to a person who has “most resolutely refused to render to Caesar that which is God’s.” This year’s medalist, Elder Oaks, Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received the award in recognition of his work defending religious liberty, as a Chicago Law professor, Utah Supreme Court Justice, and Church…