Image for Ján Figeľ and András Sajó open the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium
Left: Ján Figeľ Right: András Sajó

by Melissa Hartman, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

Two distinguished Keynote speakers addressed participants from around the world assembled for the opening session of the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium.  In addition to an address by Ján Figeľ, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of religion or Belief Outside the European Union, those assembled at the J. Rueben Clark Law School and participants via webcast, were privileged to hear from András Sajó, Former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights.

The opening session commenced with the Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brett G. Sharffs welcoming attendees and inviting them to reflect on the role religion can play in building peace, stability, and harmony or alternatively contributing to disunity and violence. BYU President Kevin J. Worthen, and Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Gordon Smith, then also welcomed... more

Image for Symposium 2017: First Plenary: Religion and Security in a Changing World
Elizabeth Clark, Azza Karam, Andrew Bennett, Merete Bilde, and Khalid Hajji

by Alexander Alton, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The first plenary session, held Monday October 2, 2017 and moderated by Professor Elizabeth Clark, focused on religion and security in a changing world. The session included four speakers: Azza Karam, Senior Advisor on Culture at the United Nations Population Fund and Coordinator of the U.N. Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; Andrew Bennett, Senior Fellow and Chair in the Cabinet of Canadians and former Ambassador of Religious Freedom for Canada; Merete Bilde, Policy Advisor for the European External Action Service in European Union; and Khalid Hajji, Secretary General of the European Council of Moroccan Ulema.

Professor Clark opened the session by observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Las Vegas attack on October 1, 2017. Ms. Karam then spoke about... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Faith Perspectives and Interfaith Relations in a Changing World
Grant Underwood, Archbishop Ulloa Mendieta, Omar Al Kaddour

by Thomas Palmer, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The Monday morning session, Faith Perspectives and Interfaith Relations in a Changing World, was moderated by Grant Underwood, Professor in the Department of History and Richard L. Evans Chair of Interreligious Understanding at Brigham Young University. Panelists were Archbishop José Ulloa Mendieta of the Archdioces of Panama, and Omar Al Kaddour, Director of Religious Freedom and Diversity, Argentinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship. 

Archbishop Ulloa Mendieta

“We live not just in... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Religion and Security in a Changing World: Latin America
Jose Antonio Alvarado Correa

by Alexander Alton, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The breakout session entitled Religion and Security in a Changing World: Latin America was held on Monday, October 2, 2017 and moderated by Professor Gary B. Doxey, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The session featured presentations by Jose Antonio Alvarado Correa, a member of Central American Parliament, Guatemala; Silvio Mora Mora, the Ambassador of Nicaragua in Guatemala; Raquel Caballero de Guevara, Attorney General for the Defense of Human Rights in El Salvador; and Manuel Ignacio Acosta Gutiérrez, Mayor of Hermosillo, Mexico.

Mr. Correa expounded on the need to do more in Guatemala to involve political leaders in discussions about religious freedom if we want to protect this fundamental right. He explained that having peace is not only the absence of conflict—complete peace includes tolerance that we can all... more

Image for Symposium 2017: International Promotion of Religious Freedom
Phil Sherwood

by Melissa Hartman, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The International Promotion of Religious Freedom breakout session was held on Monday October 2, 2017 and moderated by David M. Kirkham, Academic Director of the BYU London Centre and Senior Fellow of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. It included panelists Phil Sherwood and Luigi Lacquanti.

Phil Sherwood of the United Kingdom is the Vice President of the AMAR International Charitable Foundation. His message focused primarily on the gap between ambitious rhetoric on religious freedom and the practical actions required to ensure it on a daily basis. Sherwood drew on his experience working in Iraq to illustrate... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Religion and Security in a Changing World: Judicial Perspectives (Monday morning session)
Ahmed Ebrahim, Thaer Al-Adwan, and Roger Hunt

by Jordan Pendergrass, Editorial Associate

On the first full day of the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, multiple breakout sessions were dedicated to the topic of religion and security. One such session was dedicated to the judicial perspective. The moderator was Roger Hunt, a federal judge from Nevada, USA, and the panelists included five distinguished judges whose jurisdictions span the globe: Peter Toliken of Papua New Guinea, Carl Singh of Guyana, Ahmed Ebrahim of Zimbabwe, and Khalifeh Khaled Musa Al-Suleiman and Thaer Al-Adwan of Jordan.

All... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Laos People's Democratic Republic
Somlek Vongsa, Phouvong Vongkhamsao, and Bobby Keokhamdy

by Shaun Belliston, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The breakout session on Lao People’s Democratic Republic was held Monday morning on October 2, 2017, and was translated into several languages. The session was moderated by Steven L. Toronto, International Fellow for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Mr. Toronto welcomed the audience and introduced the delegates from Laos PDR. The delegates consisted of Somlek Vongsa, Phouvong Vongkhamsao, and Bobby Keokhamdy.  

The first speaker of the session was Somlek Vongsa, Deputy Director... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Second Plenary: Religion and Pluralism in a Changing World
Sophie van Bijsterveld and Gary Doxey (photo by Matt Imbler)

by Kyle Harvey, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

A panel of four distinguished speakers addressed the symposium during the second plenary session – a session dedicated to Religion and Pluralism in a changing world. The session was moderated by Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the Center.

Professor Sophie van Bijsterveld of Radboud University spearheaded the presentations and discussed issues of religious freedom as they pertain to national identity and the re-culturization of religion, including emphasis on how political leaders have historically and currently interacted with the concepts of religion and secularism. 

Professor Grace Davie of the University of Exeter was the second of the four speakers. Professor Davie presented information regarding her valuable contribution to an international panel for social progress... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Faith Perspectives on Religion in a Changing World
Mohammed Amin, J.B. Haws, David Landrum, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas,

by Kyle Harvey, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

On Monday, October 2, 2017, the 4:15 breakout session, Faith Perspectives on Religion in a Changing World, was moderated by Assistant Professor of Religious Education at BYU, J.B. Haws. Three key speakers divided the time in the session. 

Socrates B. Villegas, Archbishop Lingayen-Dagupan in Pangasinan of the Roman Catholic Church, initiated the session with his remarks. The Archbishop delivered an address sounding a “call for unity” between the faiths and emphasizing five ‘Cs’ necessary to maintaining a faithful perspective in a changing world. Following the Archbishop, Director David Landrum of the Evangelical Alliance UK provided his insights on the context... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Religion in a Changing World: Latin American Scholarly Perspectives
Ivanir Dos Santos

by Alexander Alton, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The breakout session on Religion in a Changing World: Latin American Scholarly perspectives was held on Monday, October 2, 2017 and moderated by Scott E. Isaacson, Regional Advisor for Latin America of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The session featured three speakers: Juan G. Navarro Floria, a professor of law at Pontificia Universidad Católica in Argentina; Ivanir Dos Santos, a professor at the Center for Articulation of Marginalized Populations in Brazil; and Aldo Alejandro Vasquez Rios, Academic Vice-Rector at Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya.... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Ukraine
Larysa Vladychenko

by Malea Moody, 2017 Symposium Executive Committee Member and BYU Law Student

The breakout session about Religious Freedom in Ukraine was held in the afternoon on Monday, October 2, 2017, and was moderated by Celeste Beesley, an assistant professor of political science at BYU. The speakers were Vita Tytarenko, an assistant professor in the Religious Studies Department at the National Academy of Sciences in Ukraine; Larysa Vladychenko, the Deputy Director & an assistant professor of the Religious Affairs Department in the Ministry of Culture in Ukraine; and Dmytro... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Religion and Pluralism in a Changing World: Judicial Perspectives (Monday afternoon session)
Carl Singh, Peter Toliken, and Khalifeh Al Suleiman

by Melissa Hartman, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The breakout session Religion and Pluralism in a Changing World: Judicial Perspectives held on Monday October 2, 2017 was moderated by B. Lynn Winmill, Chief Judge of the US District Court for the District of Idaho. Panelists included Carl Singh, Chancellor of the Judiciary of the Court of Appeals in Guyana, Peter Toliken, Justice of the Supreme and National Court of Justice in Papua New Guinea, Ahmed Ebrahim, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, and Khalifeh Al Suleiman, Chief of the High Administrative... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Philippines, Guam, and Samoa
Robert Underwood

by Jordan Pendergrass, Editorial Associate

Guam, Samoa, and the Philippines were the focus of a breakout session during the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, held at the Brigham Young University School of Law in Provo, Utah. The session was held in the afternoon on Monday, 2 October 2017, and was translated into multiple Asian languages. It was moderated by Douglas Matsumori, International Fellow for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Despite relative geographic similarities, these islands were described in very different terms as to religious freedom and church-state relations.

The session’s first... more

Image for Symposium 2017: NIgeria
Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi

by Shaun Belliston, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

Nigeria was the focus of a breakout session during the 24th Annual International Law and Religion symposium, held at the Brigham Young University School of Law in Provo, Utah. The session was held Monday afternoon on October 2, 2017, and was translated into several languages. The session was moderated by Bryan C. Jackson, Fellow for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. During the session, both speakers discussed the multi-religious nature of Nigeria and how it impacts religious freedom in the country. 

The first speaker of the session was Professor Chijioke Ohuruogu... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Religion and Pluralism in a Changing World: Latin America
Beatriz Lorena Rios Cuellar speaks

by Malea Moody, 2017 Symposium Executive Committee Member and BYU Law Student

This breakout session was held in the morning on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017. The session was moderated by Juan G. Navarro Floria, a professor of law at Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Argentina. The speakers were Beatriz Lorena Rios Cuellar, an advisor in religious affairs at the Ministry of the Interior in Columbia; Guillermo Garcia Montufar, a professor at Universidad de Lima in Peru; and Juan Martin Vives, a professor at Universidad Adventista de La Plata in Argentina. 

Beatriz Lorena... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Russia
Nikolai Shaburov

by Melissa Hartman, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The breakout session on Russia was held Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and moderated by Tony Brown, professor of German and Russian at Brigham Young University. It included panelists Nikolai Shaburov, professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities, and Lev Simkin, professor of law at the Russian State Academy of Intellectual Property.

Professor Shaburov described Russia’s current religious climate where religions are viewed as though in a hierarchy, with the Orthodox religion occupying the highest position and religions viewed as “non-traditional” occupying... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Third Plenary: Religion and Rule of Law in a Changing World
Carl Singh, Clifford Wallace, David Campbell, and Peter Toliken

by Alexander Alton, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The third plenary session, entitled Religion and the Rule of Law in a Changing World, was held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and moderated by Judge Clifford Wallace, Emeritus Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The three panelists were Chancellor Carl Singh of the Court of Appeals in Guyana, Justice Peter Toliken of the Supreme and National Court of Justice in Papua New Guinea, and Judge David Campbell of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

One major topic of discussion amongst the judges was whether courts should act to level the playing field when there is a dominant church. Chancellor Singh commented that when the constitution provides for a secular state, like the constitution of Guyana, then the courts can intervene to prohibit the government’s support of a dominant church. However, he believes that if the constitution provides for a dominant religion, then it is... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Religion and the Rule of Law: Judicial Discussion
Carl Singh, Peter Toliken, Khalifeh Al-Suleiman

by Alexander Alton, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

Judge David Campbell of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona moderated a Judicial Discussion on Religion and the Rule of Law held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. The panel featured Justice Khalifeh Al-Suleiman, Chief of the High Administrative Court of Jordan; Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe; Chancellor Carl Singh, Chancellor of the Judiciary for the Court of Appeals of Guyana; and Justice Peter Toliken of the Supreme and National Court of Justice in Papua New Guinea. All five of the countries represented by the judges were formal British colonies and have a heritage of British... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Vietnam
Quoc Hung Truong speaking

by Thomas Palmer, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

Moderated by W. Cole Durham, Jr., Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the Vietnam breakout session took place at 10:00 am on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. Panelists were Nguyen Cao Dau, Vice Director, Department of Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Public Security; Le Trung Dung, Deputy Department Head, Department of Public Security; Quoc Hung Truong, Director, Department for General and International Affairs, The Institute for Legislative Studies, The National Assembly of Vietnam; Tuan Duc Nguyen, Vice Chairman, Committee for Religious Affairs, Hanoi City; and Hien Duy Vu, Head of the Specialist Bureau... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Ethiopia
Yonas B. Adinew

by Sara Plater, 2017 Symposium Executive Commitee Member and BYU Law Student

Peter Leman, Associate Professor of English at Brigham Young University, moderated the breakout session on Ethiopia hed on Tuesday morning, October 3, 2017. The speaker was Yonas B. Adinew, Head, Addis Ababa University School of Law. 

Mr. Adinew shared a historical background of Ethiopia with the audience including information on the demographics of the country before speaking of the religious history.

Of the more than 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia, the vast majority of the population subscribe... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Love, Religion, and Law
Vanja-Ivan Savic and Paul Babie

The breakout session, Love, Religion, and Law, held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, introduced the just-published book, Love, Religion, and Law, edited by Paul Babie, Professor of Law, Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide, Australia, and Vanja-Ivan Savic, Assistant Professor, Head of Department for Legal Theory, University of Zagreb, Croatia. Brett Scharffs, Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, BYU Law School, wrote the introductory chapter. 

Professor Savic gave the background of the book. It grew out of a project he was working on with Professor Babie. They were answering the questions of how to solve community problems, which led them to an examination of... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Religious and Cultural Pluralism in a Changing World
Diana Ginn

by Thomas Palmer, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The breakout session, Religious and Cultural Pluralism in a Changing World, was held at 11:15 am on Tuesday Morning. Moderated by James A. Heilpern, Law and Corpus Linguistic Fellow at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, the session featured Diana Ginn, Professor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Canada, and Tore Lindholm, Professor, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo, Norway. 

Professor Ginn explained that Canada is one of the most multicultural countries... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Mongolia and Republic of Korea
David Berrett, Uranchimeg Batdelger, Sukhbaatar Natsagdorj, and Chongsuh Kim

by Shaun Belliston, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The Republic of Korea and Mongolia were the focus of a breakout session held on Tuesday October 3, 2017. The session was moderated by David Berrett, Area Legal Counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. Berrett welcomed the audience and introduced the delegates from the Republic of Korea and Mongolia. The delegates consisted of Chongsuh Kim of the Republic of Korea, and Uranchimeg Batdelger and Sukhbaatar Natsagdorj of Mongolia. The session was translated into many languages. 

The first speaker of the session was Chongsuh Kim, professor of Religious Studies at Seoul National University. Professor Kim has... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Jordan
Erlend Peterson, Fayyad Alqudah, and Nabil Haddad

by Thomas Palmer, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

Erlend Peterson, Senior Fellow for the Middle East for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, moderated the Tuesday Afternoon breakout session on Jordan. Panelists were Fayyad Alqudah, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Jordan Law School, and Nabil Haddad, Founder and Director, Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, and Dean, Saints Peter and Paul Old Cathedral. 

Professor Alqudah began by discussing the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom in Jordan. On Nov. 9, 2004 the... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Brazil

by Gaylee Coverston, Symposium Volunteer

Odacyr Prigol, chair of the Curitiba chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and Managing Partner of Prigol Advogados Associados, moderated the session on Brazil. He welcomed the audience, thanked the university and introduced the delegates from Brazil. 

Daniela Araujo Espurio, a senior lawyer in the Real Estate and Litigation Department at Cerqueira Leite Advogados, has two post graduate degrees, one in Real Estate Business from Fundacao Getulio Vargas and another in Public Law from the Catholic University of Minas Gerais.... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Comparative Legal Protections of Religious Freedom in a Changing World
Keith Thompson

by Melissa Hartman, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The breakout session on Comparative Legal Protections of Religious Freedom in a Changing World was held Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and moderated by Justin Collings, Associate Professor of Law at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.  It included panelists, Neville G. Rochow, Barrister and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Australia and the University of Adelaide, and Keith Thompson, Associate Professor of Law at the School of Law at the University of Notre Dame Sydney.

Professor Rochow contended that by a number of political and legal mechanisms, religions are being closed... more

Image for Symposium 2017: Indonesia
Budi Hartawan Soeharto, Wisnu Pramono, Cekli S. Pratiwi, and Brett Scharffs

by Justin Miller, Symposium Executive Committee Member and BYU Law Student

Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the BYU Law School moderated the Tuesday afternoon breakouts session on Indonesia. The panelists were Budi Hartawan Soeharto, Secretary of Directorate General of Labor Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health, Ministry of Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia; Wisnu Pramono, Director of Foreign Worker's Placement, Ministry of Manpower; and Cekli S. Pratiwi, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang. They discussed the situation of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Indonesia.

Between 2010 and 2015, while government... more

Image for 2017 Symposium: Myanmar
Thein Than OO

by Joshua Prince, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies hosted a session on religious freedom issues from Myanmar. Sutacara Lankara, a professor at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy in Myanmar, began the session and presented some remarks on how the “spirit of tolerance and mutual understanding” are necessary for religious freedom to flourish. These values have, “from the very beginning” been necessary for the furtherance of freedom and lead to a reduction of “prejudice in men’s minds.” It is this reduction that is necessary if men are to be “allowed to choose his freedom according to his own... more

Image for 2017 Symposium: Fourth Plenary: Conference Summation and Concluding Reflections on Conference Themes

by Thomas Palmer, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

The fourth and final plenary of the 2017 Symposium was held on Tuesday afternoon, October 3, 2017. The session was opened by Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. 

Professor Scharffs began by noting publications that were recently published by Symposium attendees.

He then presented on the topic “Are Human Rights a Western concept?” Professor Scharffs explained that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was a revolutionary transformation in international law, because for the first time, human beings became subjects of international law. He examined some of the reasons why human rights are criticized as being merely a western concept. He then discussed the drafting of the UDHR, which included a diverse array of countries from throughout the world. He continued by discussing the universal guarantees discussed... more