The Center sponsors, co-sponsors, and participates in numerous conferences annually. To date (late 2016), the Center, since its inception in 2000, has helped organize more than 350 academic conferences and workshops in approximately 50 countries. These events involve government, academic, and religious leaders, and are aimed at making a practical difference in the implementation of religious freedom principles. The Center typically partners with local and international leaders in the field, allowing for diverse viewpoints and backgrounds to be represented in each of the conferences. In addition, Center personnel pariticpate in other events as speakers, teachers, course supervisors, and consultants. Many of these events are featured below (please see the left navigation links for full details).

Image for 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review:  Interviews, News Coverage

The 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review, hosted by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of BYU Law School, took place 6-7 July 2017 at the Conference Center on the campus of Brigham Young University.

Watch this space for links to recordings and photographs of the event.  And please see the links below for radio interviews with participants and local news coverage.

Among the highlights of this outstanding event were a keynote address by Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, followed by an opening General Session featuring addresses by Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (whose title was "Religious Freedom as an Article of Faith") and Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation and former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (who spoke on "What Religious Freedom Means to Me").  Workshop topics included "How to Reach Out and Find Common Ground with LGBTQ Communities," "Religious Liberty and Religious Literacy in American Public Schools," "Civil... more

Image for Durham and Scharffs at the European Academy of Religion in Bologna, 18-19 June 2017

Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, joined almost a thousand religion scholars in Bologna, Italy in June 2017 in Ex Nihilo: Zero Conference of the European Academy of Religion, the first conference of the newly established European Academy of Religion. Professors Durham and Scharffs, along with UK scholar Peter Petkoff (of Brunel Colleges and Regent's Park College, Oxford), participated in a panel organized by the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion: "Religious Rights and International... more

Image for G20 Interfaith Summit, Potsdam, Germany, 15-17 June 2017: <br />Religion, Sustainable Development, and the Refugee Crisis

The 2017 G20 Interfaith Summit, Religion, Sustainable Development, and the Refugee Crisis, was held at the University of Potsdam, Germany, 15-17 June 2017. This highly successful event brought together experts on economy, law and politics, as well as global leaders from various religious, professional, and humanitarian backgrounds to highlight the key role that religion plays in promoting aspects of achievement of the United Nation’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals that Germany has chosen to highlight during this year’s G20 Summit, to be held in Hamburg 7-8 July. Special attention was paid to issues surrounding the refugee crisis, addressing concerns such as religious extremism and the other issues, including the environment, where religious voices have much to contribute.

The annual G20 Interfaith Summits invite opinion leaders – including scholars, lawyers, and political leaders – to join with faith and interfaith leaders from around... more

Image for ICLRS and a Symposium on Religious Freedom in Costa Rica, June 2017
At the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Gary Doxey, Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, ICLRS Senior Fellow Scott Isaacson, and Jeff Robinson, member of the ICLRS International Advisory Council, traveled to Costa Rica for meetings in June. Among others, they met with personnel from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, and with members and staff of Costa Rica’s unicameral congress, the Asamblea Legislativa

On June 9 ICLRS, in collaboration with the Asamblea Legislativa, held an international symposium "Religious Freedom Challenges in Costa Rica: A Pending Human Rights Commitment". The symposium discussed the importance of religious freedom and the need... more

Image for Tbilisi, Georgia: Religion and the Legacy of the Soviet State: A 25-year retrospective

The International Conference 'Religion and the Legacy of the Soviet State: A 25-year Retrospective', was held 2-4 June 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Organized by the Free University of Tbilisi, School of Law and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University (USA), the conference marked the 25 years (in 2016) since the disbandment of the Soviet Union. Seeking to explore the long-term impact of the Soviet state in the sphere of religion, conference presentations asked questions: How have Soviet approaches been adapted or rejected in post-USSR countries? How have post-Soviet states responded legally to the restrictive regulation of religion, the appropriation of religious property, and other results of the Soviet regime?

Conference languages were Georgian, English, and Russian.

The aim of the conference and its future publication was to tackle these issues... more

Image for Conference at Central European University in Budapest. The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief

On 27-28 May 2017 the International Center for Law and Religion Studies and the Central European University co-sponsored an event celebrating the beginning of the twenty-fifth year of cases addressing freedom of religion or belief in the European Court of Human Rights. Convened by W. Cole Durham, Jr., Jeroen Temperman, and T. Jeremy Gunn, the event took place at CEU in Budapest, Hungary. Participants in the conference presented papers analyzing various types of cases and differing perspectives on the Court’s decisions commencing with the Kokkinakis decision in 1993, and continuing down to the present.

Participants included Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs from Brigham Young University Law School, along with UK scholars Stephanie Barry, Ioana Cismas, Sir Malcolm Evans OBE, Nazila Ghanea, Mark Hill QC, Peter Petkoff, and Lucy Vickers; European scholars Dia Anagnostou, Sophie... more

Image for The Fifth Conference on Law and Religion in Africa, Rabat Morocco, 14-17 May 2017

The Fifth Annual Conference of the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS) took place in Rabat, Morocco, from 14 to 17 May 2017. Following the success of conferences in Ghana (2013), South Africa (2014), Namibia (2015) and Ethiopia (2016), this event was a collaboration of ACLARS with the International University of Rabat; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of Brigham Young University Law School, United States; and the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), Milan, Italy.

Participating in this highly successful event were more than 100 scholars and government and religious leaders from Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe.

The subject of the conference was Religion, Law, and Security, focusing on religious extremism, blasphemy, violence, terrorism, and human and sustainable security. Themes for the conference included: 

  • The interrelationship
... more
Image for Gary Doxey speaks at Trnava University in Slovakia 4-5 May 2017

Gary Doxey represented the Center at two events at Trnava University in Trnava, Slovakia in May of 2017. 

Professor Doxey first spoke at the May 4th conference, “Financing of Churches and Religious Organizations: A Comparative Perspective”, at the Faculty of Law at Trnava University. The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School was a co-sponsor of the event. 

Marek Šmid, Rector of Trnava University, opened the conference and highlighted the political and legal sensitivities of the topic. Draft legislation on government financing of churches and religious organizations is taking shape in the government of Slovakia and the question is whether or not it should be a topic of legislation or one of agreement between the churches and the state. 

Professor Doxey delivered a keynote on the subject of government financing of religious organizations from the American legal perspective.... more

Image for Nigeria: Conference on Law and Religion: The Role of the State, 24-28 April 2017

A conference on 'Law and Religion: The Role of the State' was held 24-28 April 2016 at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Sponsors of the event were the National Judicial Institute, Nigeria; the Faculties of Law & Arts of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; the Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos, Nigeria; the West African Center for Law and Religion Studies; and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University (USA).

Watch this space for more information.

Image for 'Are Catholic majorities more hospitable to religious minorities than others?' Brett Scharffs speaks in Trento, Italy on 13 April 2017

Are Catholic majorities more hospitable to religious minorities than others? This was the topic of Center Director Brett Scharffs’ presentation at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler on the 13th April 2017. He was joined by four panelists, Paolo Costa, FBK-ISR, Roberto Toniatti and Cinzia Piciocchi both of the University of Trento Law School, and Andrea Pin of the University of Padova Law School. 

From the abstract:  It is hard to believe it is a coincidence that when we look at the patterns of restriction of religious freedom that exist around the world, including... more

Image for Brett Scharffs Speaks on 'Why Religious Freedom?' in Brussels, Belgium 10 April 2017

From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - EU Office Report

On Monday 10 April, the European Union Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) held another event in its “Food for Thought” Breakfast Series entitled “Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed and the Religiously Indifferent Should Care”. The aim of the event was to examine the modern articulation of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), and address questions and issues including the relationship between religious freedom and human rights, the economic aspect of FoRB, and more. Guest speaker was Professor Brett Scharffs, the new director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, Utah. ... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark at Nootbaar Institute, Pepperdine Law School 9-10 March 2017

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark presented a paper at Pepperdine Law School's Nootbaar Institute Conference, "Religious Critiques of Law", on March 9-10, 2017. 

This year's conference theme, Religious Critiques of Law, was centered around Tom Shaffer's premise in his book American Lawyers and Their Communities that lawyers need to see the problems of a religious congregation from the viewpoint of the house of worship, not just the courthouse. Speakers were encouraged to support or challenge Shaffer’s notion that religious critiques of law are of value. Professor Clark was one of several speakers from a wide variety of religious traditions addressing the law from their traditions. Her paper "Mormon Postmodern Critiques of the Nature of Law" looked at understanding freedom in LDS doctrines and how that contributes to Mormon willingness to engage in dialogue on social issues. 

Program

Image for ICLRS and IGE Partner for Religion & Rule of Law Program in Vietnam's Central Highlands

Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies Brett Scharffs joined colleagues from the Institute for Global Engagement in Vietnam from 7-10 March 2017 to conduct a "Religion and Rule of Law" (RROL) certificate training, in partnership with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Vietnam National University. For more on the Center's work in collaboration with Vietnam, please see this link. For a report on the Vietnam Central Highlands event, we are grateful for the report from IGE, below.

Press Release March 17, 2017: From 7 to 10 March 2017 the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with the Vietnam National University’s University of Social Sciences and Humanities and Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion... more

Image for ICLRS Partners with IGE and Mandalay Community Center for Training in Myanmar

Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spent two weeks in Myanmar in late February and early March as part of the second Religion and the Rule of Law Training program, held in Mandalay, and a subsequent discussion in Yangon, hosted by Sitagu International Buddhist Academy. Please see below the press release from one of the Center's partners in the endeavor, the Washington DC based Institute for Global Engagement.

Press Release: The Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in partnership with the Mandalay Community Center in Myanmar and Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies (BYU), co-convened a 10-day certificate program on Religion and Rule of Law from 20 February to 1 March 2017 in Mandalay,... more

Image for Interfaith Symposium organized by Gary Doxey held in El Salvador 13 February 2017

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the keynote speaker at an interfaith symposium organized by ICLRS Associate Director Gary Doxey in February in El Salvador. Focusing on religious freedom as a fundamental human right, the symposium was hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and took place at a stake center on the site of the San Salvador Temple in El Salvador on February 13. The event drew select leaders from five Central American countries. These leaders included clergy representing several faiths, judges, members of Congress, mayors, advocacy organizations, and university leaders. The group expressed unanimous support for continued collaboration as a group throughout the region to educate about and improve the laws concerning religious freedom.

Image for South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies (SACRALS) Established in India

At a meeting of international religious scholars in New Delhi in January 2017 a new entity was launched, an academic, apolitical and non-governmental regional association to be known as the South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies [SACRALS]. with Professor Tahir Mahmood as its first president. Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, the Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University, along with members of the Center's International Advisory Council, attended the launch.

Religion and Law Studies – encompassing theoretical and empirical studies and research on the relationship between state, law, and religion in a human rights perspective – is a fast-growing academic discipline being pursued in many leading universities across the globe. The International Center for Religion... more

Image for Professor Durham at the Summit on Religious Freedom in Orlando, FL
Summit speakers and organizers

The Summit on Religious Freedom, an Interfaith Invitation, took place at the First Baptist Orlando Faith Hall in Orlando, Florida on 31 January 2017. ICLRS Founding Director Cole Durham took part along with other renowned religious freedom experts. 

Professor Durham spoke on "The Continuing Need for Vigilance Concerning Religious Freedom". He pointed out that while we have been blessed with a rich tradition of religious liberty, there is a continuing need to guard against erosion of this first freedom. He cited examples of this erosion and offered concrete recommendations for action.

The recording of the event is available online here.... more

Image for EU, UK, Commonwealth FoRB Conference, January 2017 in Brussels

On Wednesday 25th January 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) European Union Office and Andrew Lewer MBE MEP hosted a conference entitled "European Union, United Kingdom, and Commonwealth cooperation in the promotion of freedom of religion or belief" ('FoRB'). The event was organised in partnership with the European Parliament Intergroup on FoRB & Religious Tolerance. Keynote addresses were delivered by Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, and David Rutley MP, UK. Other speakers included event organizers Franceso Di Lillo, Head of LDS EU Office, and Professor Neville Rochow CS, European Union Government Relations Representative and Barrister (Australia), as well as Brian J. Grim, President of the International Religious Freedom & Business Association, Simon McCrossan, Head of Public Policy for the Evangelical Alliance UK, and Pasquale Annicchino... more

Image for Peace, Stability, and Sustainable Development: The Role of Religion, 13-15 January 2017
L-R: Swami Agnivesh, Brett Scharffs, Ján Figel’, Cole Durham

The conference "Peace, Stability, and Sustainable Development: The Role of Religion" took place in Hyderabad, India from 13-15 January 2017. The conference was co-sponsored by the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, India; the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University Law School, United States; and King and Diane Husein. 

The opening session featured an inaugural address by Neera Chandhoke, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, New Delhi, and speakers Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, European Commission, Slovakia; and W. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates University Professor and Founding... more

Image for 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.... more

Image for Lectures from the Restoring Religious Freedom Conference Available on YouTube
Cole Durham, Mark Goldfeder, Ján Figel’

By Patti Ghezzi, Emory Law, 7 Dec 2016: Restoring Religious Freedom Conference: Law, Religion, Equality, and Dignity

Sunday, Nov. 6
A Century of Genocides: Is Better Accommodation of Conscience an Answer?

  • A Conversation between Ján Figel’, EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and 
  • W. Cole Durham, Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies
  • Moderator: Mark Goldfeder, Senior Lecturer, Emory University School of Law; Spruill Family Fellow in Law and Religion, Center for the Study of Law and Religion,
... more
Image for Discussions in Strasbourg at the European Court of Human Rights:<br /> '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... more

Image for 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... more

Image for 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... more

Image for 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... more

Image for Associate Director Gary Doxey Presents at Four Events in Brazil, 3-8 November 2016

International Center for Law and Religion Studies Associate Director Gary Doxey was a participant in four different religious freedom events in São Paulo, Brazil in November. 

On 3 November 2016, Professor Doxey addressed the Commission on Religious Freedom of the Ordem de Advogados do Brasil (OAB), the Brazilian Bar Association. The next day, 4 November 2016, he gave a lecture and participated in a debate at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). The event was titled "O Direito Comparado de Liberdade Religiosa no Brasil, Europa e Estados Unidos" (Comparative Law of Religious Freedom in Brazil, Europe and the United States). The debate was moderated by Professor Rodrigo Medina Zagni. 

Professor Doxey spoke on 5 November 2016 on the topic of "Freedom of Religion Threats and Challenges" at Universidade Adventista de São Paulo (UNASP). He joined religious leaders and religious freedom advocates... more

Image for Durham and Scharffs at The Oslo Coalition: 'The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse'
Lena Larsen, Mark Lattimer, Nazila Ghanea

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.  ... more

Image for 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... more

Image for Event at Newseum, 7 October 2016: International Protection of Religious Freedom
Photo Credit: Maria Bryk/Newseum

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University Law School and the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute brought together on 7 October 2016 at the Newseum Knight Conference Center in Washington DC, key scholars and actors involved in government responses to religious restrictions, to address pressing issues concerning the International Protection of Religious Freedom.

Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, moderated a panel comprising Rabbi David N. Saperstein, the US State Department's Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; Honorable Ján Figel, the European... more

Image for Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett Receives 2016 International Religious Liberty Award

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies were honored to present the 2016 International Religious Liberty Award to Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett.

The award was presented at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner held at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, 6 October 2016. A keynote address was given by Dr. David Holland, Associate Professor at Harvard Divinity School and Advisory Board Member of the National Museum of American Religion. Winners of the 2016 Founding Fathers Student Writing Competition were also recognized at the dinner. See... more

Image for Winners of the 7th Annual Founding Fathers Religious Liberty Writing Contest - October 2016
Herman Hofman receives first place award.

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are pleased to announce the winners of the Seventh Annual Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition. The winners were announced at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner held on Thursday, 6 October 2016 in Washington DC.

First Place $4000:  Herman Hofman (Michigan State University College of Law)
Second Place $3000:  Courtney Miller (University of Virginia School of Law)
Third Place $2000:  Lisa Mathews (George Mason School of Law)

Honorable Mention $1000: Caleb Wolanek and Heidi Liu (Harvard Law School); Nevin Beiler (Regent University School of Law); Jonathan Backer (University of Michigan Law School); William Simpson (Boston University... more

Image for 23rd International Law and Religion Symposium: 'Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World'

The 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University opened on Sunday evening, 2 October 2016, with an outstanding keynote address by Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, who currently serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Professor Cole Durham, Founding Director of the Center, presented Professor Bielefeldt with the Center's Distinguished Service Award, for his outstanding contributions.

This year's truly remarkable Symposium — "Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World" — brought together 95 invited delegates, including scholars, jurists, political and civil society leaders, and religious leaders and religion policy makers from 45 countries, providing them an important opportunity for engagement on issues of religion, law, and policy. Speakers and panelists explored the relationships among religion, pluralism, and religious rights as they addressed such issues as "Religious Rights and Culture," Exemptions, Baselines, and Discrimination: Conceptualizing Religious Rights," and "Minorities, Majorities, and Religious Rights."

... more
Image for 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... more

Image for 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... more

Image for 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.

Image for 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... more

Image for ICLARS IV: 'Freedom of/for/from/within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?'

The Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) was held 8-11 September 2016 at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, UK. This highly successful event brought together  some 150 international experts from 37 countries  to discuss the conference themes, "Freedom of/ for/ from/ within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?", to participate in two important book launches (see below*), and to share information about Journals, Book Series, and Associations, and Centers dealing with law and religion and religious freedom worldwide. 

Recordings of sessions for the conference are now available here.

The conference was co-sponsored with ICLARS by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of Brigham Young University Law School, the University of Milan, and the Religion, Law and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture of... more

Image for 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... more

Image for G20 Interfaith Summit 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".... more

Image for Cole Durham Participates in 18th IRLA 'Meeting of Experts' at Harvard University
Photo credit: Nelu Burcea

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... more

Image for 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.... more

Image for 2016 ACLARS Conference: 'Religious Pluralism, Heritage, and Social Development in Africa'

More than 60 scholars, legal professionals, and religious leaders from Africa and many other parts of the world joined in the Fourth Conference of the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS), held Sunday, 22 May to Tuesday, 24 May, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A workshop for early career scholars was held immediately prior to the conference on May 22. The theme of the conference, which was hosted by Addis Ababa University and held at the Capital Hotel, was "Religious Pluralism, Heritage, and Social Development in Africa".

Awol Wagris, Ethiopia State Minister of Federal and Pastoralist Affairs, delivered the opening speech of the conference: "Looking ahead," he said, "the greatest challenges our country faces with regard to the protection of religious freedom and promotion... more

Image for Religious Freedom and Security: Central European University, Budapest, 20-21 May 2016

The Department of Legal Studies at Central European University and the International Center of Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University co-sponsored a conference in Budapest, Hungary on 20-21 May 2016. The conference titled Religious Freedom and Security explored topics such as addressing the religious factor in conflict settings, rights and security, and approaches to religion and security issues.

The conference opened with a welcome and introduction by Renáta Uitz, Chair of the Comparative Constitutional Law Program at CEU, followed by a keynote address by Husain Haqqani, Former Ambassador of Pakistan... more

Image for Gary Doxey participates in the World Congress of Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue in Buenos Aires, 12-14 April 2016

Buenos Aires, Argentina, was the host city for the World Congress of Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue's conference 'A Path Towards Peace' on 12-14 April 2016. The conference featured speakers from all over Latin America and the world.  

The goals of the conference included encouraging dialogue and harmony among the various sectors of society, proposing concrete actions promoting peace through diversity, motivating young people to become actors of a culture of peace, prioritizing peace building issues as a part of public, political, and media agendas, and encouraging social, political, and community leaders to build a path to peace, among others.

Professor Gary Doxey moderated a panel on Religion, Education, and Technology which featured a diverse panel of speakers from various... more

Image for 'Sacred Places and Cultural Heritage' — Jerusalem Conference, 15-17 March 2016

ICLRS Director, W. Cole Durham, Jr., participated in the conference “Sacred Places and Heritage Protection from the Perspectives of International, Constitutional, Religious Law and Foreign Policy” in Jerusalem, March 15-17, 2016. Based on the growing concern for cultural heritage protection during armed conflict, international experts working in the field of legal protection of sacred places and cultural heritage gathered together to explore emerging systemic problems on the ground, innovative approaches and agendas for change in terms of substantive law at the international as well as domestic level, as well as considerations for foreign policy.

The opening session, "Sacred Places and Heritage Protection: Emerging Perspectives", was moderated by Asher Maoz, Dean of Peres Academic Center Law School, and featured W. Cole Durham, President, International Consortium for Law and... more

Image for Brett Scharffs and BYU Law Students in Venice for Conference and Moot Court Competition
Photo credit: Fondazione Marcianum

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... more

Image for Kirkhams Represent the Center at Copt Commemorative Service in London

On 10 February 2016 David Kirkham, Center Senior Fellow and Director of the BYU London Centre, and his wife Judy represented ICLRS at a Coptic service commemorating the anniversary of the 21 Copts murdered by religious extremists in Libya in 2015 for being "people of the cross." The service, held at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom, was presided over by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and introduced by The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.  Bishop Angaelos spoke of his compassion for the victims and their families, for whom they were in Egypt trying to make a living, as well as for the need for prayer for victims and perpetrators alike.

Image for Brett Scharffs Speaks at St. John's Law School Colloquium in Law and Religion
Photo courtesy of the Center for Law and Religion
at St. John's Law School

On February 1st 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs spoke at the Center for Law and Religion at St. John's Law School as part of its third biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion. This seminar invites leading law and religion scholars to make presentations to an audience of students and faculty. Professor Scharffs was the first speaker of the ongoing series.

The following was taken from an article on the Center for Law and Religion's website:

This week, the Center hosted BYU Law School Professor Brett... more