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

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

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

Distinguished Visiting Professor Alan E. Brownstein, Fall Semester 2016

The Center was privileged to be able to enjoy contributions from Professor Alan E. Brownstein, who joined the BYU Law faculty during the 2016 fall semester as a distinguished visiting professor. He taught the law school course on the Fourteenth Amendment, and joined Professors Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham in teaching US Church and State and Internationial Protection of Religious Freedom. He also attended and acted as a moderator at the Center-sponsored International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies conference in Oxford, England, in September.

A nationally recognized Constitutional Law scholar, Brownstein is Professor of Law and Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at UC Davis School of Law. He was an attorney in general litigation and corporate…

Symposium 2016: Session Recordings and Photos are Available

The recordings and photos of the 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, “Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World”, are now available. All keynote sessions were recorded in 13 different languages and many of the breakout sessions were translated to multiple languages. Select the language by changing “English” in the upper right corner to the language of choice to filter the selections by language availability. Closed captioning is available on all English language recordings.

The recordings will appear in a slightly different format this year. Rather than breaking the sessions down individually by speaker, there is only one recording per session. If you prefer not to watch an entire presentation, after launching the video, select the chapter icon in the bottom right of the video screen to select the speaker of choice. 

The participant biographies are also available to provide more background on the Symposium delegates and the Photo Album features photos of the various days’ proceedings. 

Additional Symposium information can be found on the Annual Symposium tab. Past symposiums are accessible by selecting the various years on the left hand navigation bar. 

Recordings from the 2016 ICLARS Oxford Conference Now Available

ICLARS Oxford Conference
Video Recordings Here

Recordings of sessions for the Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), held 8-11 September 2016 at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, UK are now available on the website of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University. ICLRS was the primary co-sponsor of the event, along with the University of Milan, and the Religion, Law and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture of Regent’s Park College, Oxford….

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

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

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

Elizabeth Clark Delivers Keynote Address at JRCLS Religious Freedom Symposium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UN Side Event: The State of Religious Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Scharffs spoke about Center educational…

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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

Managing Director Robert T. Smith to Serve as a Mission President in Argentina

With many thanks for his hard work and dedication, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies announces the departure of Robert T. Smith, who has served the Center as Managing Director since 2006. Beginning June 22, 2016, Bob will begin a three-year term of service as President of the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“For the past decade Bob has served the Center with grace and patience,” said ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs, “often performing tasks of uncertain and almost limitless…

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….

Brett Scharffs Delivers Brigham Young University Forum Address, 18 October 2016

Professor Brett G. Scharffs. Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, delivered the University Forum Address on 18 October 2016, in the Marriott Center on the BYU Campus. His address was titled “Audacious Faith: Appreciating the Unique Power and Singular Appeal of LDS Doctrine”. The Forum was broadcast live on BYUtv,, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, and BYUradio. You may view or listen to Professor Scharffs’ address at this link.

Read about Professor Scharffs work to help pilot a Sharia and Human Rights Masters Program in Indonesia on BYU’s homepage. Don’t miss Professor Scharffs’ “Cougar Query” here.

Brett Scharffs: “Religious Majorities and Restrictions on Religion” – Top 10 on SSRN

Center Director Brett G. Scharffs’ paper “Religious Majorities and Restrictions on Religion”, in pre-publication form, was (mid May 2016) among the top 10 downloads on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) in two categories:  Law & Religion eJournal Top Ten and Political Behavior: Race, Ethnicity & Identity Politics eJournal Top Ten

Sharing Religious Liberty in 30 Seconds: Winners of the Clark Society Contest

The Religious Liberty Committee of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society has announced the winners of their 2015 contest, “Sharing Religious Liberty in 30 Seconds.” More than 150 entries were submitted. See the winning entries here.  And more submissions here.   

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

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

Clark and Scharffs: Religion and Law in the USA

A new book by Professors Elizabeth A. Clark and Brett G. Scharff, Religion and Law in the USA, has just been issued by Kluwer Law International as part of its innovative prints and online series, International Encyclopaedia of Laws. Each volume of the Encyclopaedia is designed to cover an identical set of topics from the legal viewpoint of a particular country. Professors Scharffs and Clark were selected by the editor of the Religion volume, Rik Torfs, Rector at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, to write the United States book on law and religion.

“It is a recognition of the International Center of Law and Religion’s stature in the international law and religion…

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…