A Decade of Accomplishment – Marking our Tenth Anniversary

Ten years ago, on January 1 of 2000, Brigham Young University established the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The formal establishment of the Center built on years of work we had done at the law school and abroad and was undertaken to promote scholarship and further knowledge in the field of law and religion. Growing from small beginnings, the Center has emerged as a recognized leader in the field of religious freedom, both at the national level in the United States and internationally. Center faculty have provided testimony before the U.S. Congress and have contributed to the drafting of laws and constitutions in numerous countries across the globe. Work in the United States has included Congressional testimony in support of draft legislation and participation in numerous conferences in the U.S. Internationally, ICLRS personnel are now instrumental in organizing…

“Culture and Justice in the Contemporary World,” 16th Annual Conference of ISAPS – Ghana, 17-19 March 2010

The 16th Annual Conference of the International Society for African Philosophy and Studies (ISPAS) took place in The Great Hall of the University of Ghana in Legon on 17-19 March 2010.  The conference, “Culture and Justice in the Contemporary World,” was organized in collaboration with the University of Ghana’s Philosophy Department and its Faculty of Law under the co-chairmanship of Professors Kofi Quashigah (Law) and Helen Lauer (Philosophy). The conference examined “the validity of international standards in our multicultural and diverse world,” asking the question, “Is justice possible in a world where there are diverse standards, cultures, values and other socio-cultural norms?”  A plenary address at the conference was delivered by the Honourable Samia Nkrumah…

Durham Testifies at Indonesia Court Hearing on Blasphemy Law – 24 March 2010

BULLETIN: On Monday, 19 April, the Court ruled 8-1 to uphold the law.

Participating via teleconference from the United States, Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr. testified concerning Indonesia’s blasphemy law at a session of the Indonesia Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi) in Jakarta on 24 March 2010. Recognized as a world expert in this matter, Professor Durham – who is Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University and Member of the OSCE/ODIHR Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief – spoke during a Court session on a civil society petition for a review of the blasphemy/heresy law, in response to a request by seven non-governmental organizations: the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation; Imparsial, the Community Advocacy Studies Institute; the Indonesian Legal Aid Union; the Association of Human Rights and Democracy Study Centers; the Setara Community Association; and Desantara Foundation.

Professor Durham testified about relevant international norms, comparative experience, and why striking down Law No 1/PNPS/1965 on Abuse and/or Defilement of Religions would help promote social stability. This law prohibits heresy and blasphemy: it prevents individuals from public expressions or “religious based activities” that “resemble the religious activities of the religion in question, where such interpretation and activities are in deviation of the basic teachings of the religion.” He responded to questions from the Constitutional Court justices, representatives of the Indonesian government, and the Ulema Council, Indonesia’s leading Muslim clerical body. “It was a great honor and a privilege for me to be able to address the Court,” said Professor Durham.

“Law and Religion in Mediterranean Islam” – Como, Italy, 6-8 April 2010

In keeping with its ongoing Islamic initiatives, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies co-sponsored with the Università degli Studi dell’Insubria the international workshop “Law and Religion in Mediterranean Islam” in Como, Italy, from 6-8 April 2010. An important outcome of the workshop will be a book on the conference topic. Attending the conference were Center directors W. Cole Durham, Jr., and Gary B. Doxey, as well as International Advisory Council members Duane and Erlyn Madsen and David and Linda Nearon. Delegates, who were selected for their expertise, delivered reports on law and religion in their countries, and each will contribute a chapter to the book. Experts presenting were Abu Moussa Ramadan (Palestine), Faisal Al Rfouh (Jordan), Jacques El-Hakim (Syria), Gazi Gherairi (Tunisia), Talip Kucukcan (Turkey), Omar…

Professors Durham, Clark, and Lindholm at Russian-Language Launch of Freedom of Religion and Belief: A Deskbook – Moscow and Kyiv, 3 and 5 August 2010

ICLRS Director Cole Durham and Associate Director Elizabeth Clark, along with ICLRS Academic Advisory Board Member Tore Lindholm of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo, participated in the launch of the Russian translation of Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Deskbook during events in Moscow and Kyiv on 3 and 5 August 2010.  As main speakers at the Moscow event, held at the Slavic Legal Center, Professors Durham, Sewell, and Lindholm were joined in the presentation by discussion moderator Roman Lunkin, director of the Institute of Religion and Law and Senior Scientist, Institute of Europe….

Senator Joseph Lieberman Receives First International Religious Liberty Award, October 2010

The Video Recording of Senator Lieberman’s remarks is available here:  Part 1 and Part 2.

In an award dinner held 7 October 2010 in Washington, D.C., Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut became the first recipient of the International Religious Liberty Award, given by the DC Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and its affiliated student chapters in connection with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The award was given in recognition of Senator Lieberman’s outstanding contributions to the promotion and preservation of religious freedom. Among his many other efforts in this regard, Senator Lieberman was a cosponsor of the United States’ 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which created three cooperative entities for monitoring and responding…

Religious Freedom Writing Contest for Student Members of the Clark Society

The Washington DC Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, in association with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University (ICLRS) and in connection with the 17th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, has announced the winning papers of the First Annual Religious Freedom Writing Contest. The contest, which was open to all student members of the Clark Society, was designed to promote quality research and writing on the important topic of religious freedom. Winners were recognized at an Award Dinner in Washington, D.C. on 7 October 2010. They received cash awards, and several of their papers will be published, online and in the BYU Law Review.&nbsp…

JRCLS and ICRLS Join to Sponsor Religious Freedom Initiative

The DC Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and its affiliated student chapters have joined with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies to sponsor a Religious Freedom Initiative, beginning with an Award Dinner held 7 October 2010 in the Historic Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Office Building on Capitol Hill. The dinner featured the presentation of the Society’s first International Religious Liberty Award to Senator Joseph Lieberman and also the announcement of the awards for the 2010 religious liberty student writing competition. Notable guests attending the Awards Dinner included Von Keetch of the law firm Kirton & McConkie;Eric Rassbach, National Litigation Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University; Mark E. Chopko of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP;Senator Bob Bennett of Utah; and Dean James R. Rasband of the J. Reuben Clark Law School.

The Religious Freedom Initiative will conclude with a Religious Freedom Moot Court Competition hosted by the Clark Society’s George Washington University student chapter in February 2011.

17th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, “Religion in Contemporary Legal Systems”– 3-5 October 2010

The Seventeenth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, “Religion in Contemporary Legal Systems,” took place at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School in Provo, Utah, from 3 to 5 October 2010. The 2010 Symposium brought together more than 65 distinguished delegates from 36 countries to discuss the topics “Islam in Contemporary Legal Systems,” “Religion, Law, and the Encounter with Secularism,” and “The Challenge of Protecting Religious Sensitivities.”  Please consult the links below…

Message from the Director

I want to express my deep appreciation for all those who helped make this year’s International Law and Religion Symposium possible. I am very grateful for all of the delegates, who came from so many countries to spend time discussing the importance of religious freedom. I am also grateful for the assistance provided by many friends of the Center and conference attendees, who helped welcome our delegates to Utah. I am immensely grateful as well for countless hours of volunteer service rendered by faculty members from the law school and elsewhere on campus, and the dozens of students who helped in so many ways….

Professor Scharffs Featured Guest on Freedom’s Ring Radio

Professor Brett G. Scharffs, ICLRS Associate Director, was the featured guest on two radio interviews conducted 17 November 2010 on Freedom’s Ring Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly broadcast produced by the Church State Council in cooperation with the North American Religious Liberty Association. 

The first broadcast was a twenty-minute interview about a recent case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Metropolitan…

Center Mourns the Passing of Bill Pope, 12 September 1922 – 30 November 2010

With sadness the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University notes the passing of our dear friend and longtime supporter Bill Pope, a member, as is his beloved wife, Margaret, of the Center’s International Advisory Council.  Renowned educator, scientist, innovator, and businessman, Bill devotedly served his country, his church, his community, and his family. He is remembered with great affection and admiration by all of us who were privileged to know him and work with him. We were pleased and touched to be able to enjoy his cheerful support once again this year at the October International Symposium. We are grateful for his life, and grateful that he made us a part of it. Obituary here.

Professor Durham Participates in OSCE Meeting in Vienna, 9-10 December 2010

Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies and member of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Religious Freedom has attended the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) held at the Hofburg Conference Center in Vienna on 9-10 December 2010. In a meeting organized jointly by Kazakhstan’s OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), representatives from the 56 OSCE participating states, from civil society, and from international organizations reviewed the current status of religious freedom in the OSCE area and discuss how to promote freedom of religion or belief and to respond to emerging challenges….