Welcome, Visitors, to the website of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School. We hope you will enjoy learning more about our mission and the many people and endeavors involved in helping us accomplish it.
The Center was formally established and commenced operations as of January 1, 2000, to provide the institutional base for our long-term initiatives in the field of law and religion throughout the world. During the succeeding decade and a half, we have emerged as a recognized leader in the field of religious rights, both at the national level in the United States and internationally. 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 and participating in 20-30 regional conferences and law reform consultations each year in countries around the world.
For me, the work in a sense began another decade earlier, in early 1990, not long after the disintegration of Communism in Eastern Europe when I was taken to meet with a group of university political science professors in a bleak but newly hopeful Romania. I was moved and astonished by their questions about things I consider basic, such as what a constitution supporting a democracy might look like. The experience was one of many in those years of so much swift and surprising social change that reinforced my determination to bring together what I knew to be the particular talents of BYU Law School faculty and students with scholars, legal professionals, and government and religious leaders in all parts of the world, in friendship and productive dialogue that would help build laws that would create, teach, and bolster notions of and structures for liberty, and very importantly religious liberty, in many parts of the world.
International issues of the BYU Law Review, begun in the mid-1980s, launched as a result of student initiatives at the time, led to the first of what would become the Annual International Law and Religion Symposium in October 1994. Twenty-two years of Annual Law and Religion Symposia have brought some 1100 experts in law and religion from 120 countries to the Law School to present, to discuss, to teach, and to learn. This has only been possible because of the volunteer work of hundreds of students, as well as many others in helping to host and maintain contacts with many who attend.
We also have over the years expanded our international web presence, including not only the ICLRS main website, but also the website of the Strasbourg Consortium, dedicated to the freedom of religion or belief jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as a research tools site ("Religlaw"), and an International Law and Religion Headline News service, sent to subscribers worldwide daily. After many years working to develop a fresh, updated site that will meet the complex needs of all we try to do, we are planning, soon, to roll out the finished product.
Whatever your interest in visiting us here on the website, or in person at our offices at the Law School on Brigham Young University campus in Provo, we welcome you and hope you find the experience rewarding.
W. Cole Durham, Jr.
Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law
Founding Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies
Brigham Young University