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).
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
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.
The Pew Research Center has estimated that 77% of the world’s population lives in countries that experience a high or very high level of religious restrictions, and studies reveal that high degrees of religious restrictions increase social violence and migration. Concerns about global religious freedom concerns have prompted a variety of responses from Western democracies. The European Union has recently appointed a new Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion Outside the European Union, while Canada eliminated the post of Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom. What do these events and other developments mean for addressing international religious freedom?... more
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.
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 Cash Award: Herman Hofman (Michigan State University College of Law)
Second Place / $3000 Cash Award: Courtney Miller (University of Virginia School of Law)
Third Place / $2000 Cash Award: Lisa Mathews (George Mason School of Law)
Honorable Mention / $1000 Cash Award: 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 School of Law)... more
The 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young Universtiy was 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 to the field of freedom of religious freedom worldwide.
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 explore the relationships among religion, pluralism, and religious rights as they address such issues as "Religious Rights and Culture," Exemptions, Baselines, and Discrimination: Conceptualizing Religious Rights," and "Minorities, Majorities, and Religious Rights."... more
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
A Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Humanitarian/Migration Crisis was held 17 September 2017, 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
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.
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
The Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), co-sponsored with 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 Regent's Park College, Oxford, took place at St Hugh's College, Oxford, 8-11 September 2016.
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 Seriies, and Associations and Centers dealing with law and religion and religious freedom worldwide.
Also at this event, new members of the ICLARS Steering Committee were approved, and Professor Ana María Celis Brunet, Director of the Center of Religious Liberty of the Faculty of Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (Santiago), was installed as ICLARS President, replacing W. Cole Durham, Jr. of Brigham Young University.
The International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies is an international network of scholars and... more
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 titled ‘FoRB – Recognising our differences can be our strength: Enhancing transatlantic cooperation on promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief’.
Key recommendations made in the brief were:
- Draw upon transatlantic church-state differences as an asset
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 Souza Alves (Brazil), James Christie and Karen Hamilton (Canada), Katayoun Alidadi (working in Germany), Tahir Mahmood and Faizan Mustafa (India), Asher Maoz (Israel), Marco Ventura (Italy), Rt. Rev. Yoshinobu Miyake (Japan), Liviu Olteanu (Switzerland), Recep Şentürk (Turkey), Frederick W Axelgard, Ram Cnaan, Ganoune Diop, Cole Durham, Katherine Marshall, Brett Scharffs, and Sherrie Steiner (United States).
Please see reports of the event below... more
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
International Center for Law and Religion Studies Associate Director Professor Gary Doxey and Senior Fellow and Regional Advisor for Latin America Scott Isaacon 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, titiled "Changes in Legal Protections for Conscientious Objection", took place with the institutional support of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ciudad del Este in... more
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.
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 Hon. Justice R. P. I Bozimo, Administrator, NJI; Professor Akinola Ibidapo-Obe, Dean, Faculty of Law and Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria; and a Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal, 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.
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
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 address 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... more
L-R: Mark Hill QC, Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor Robert George, Dr. Peter Petkoff, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Professor Cole Durham (Photo LDS Church)
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.... more
Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, Professor Robert George, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Professor Cole Durham (Photo LDS Church)
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... more
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
Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in a Short Course on "Sharia and Human Rights: Scholarly Background and Cases of Controversy in Contemporary Indonesia," held at Universitas Gadjah Mada, one of Indonesia’s leading state universities, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from May 23-27, 2016. This was the third year Professor Scharffs helped organize and teach in this program.
The Short Course, which was modeled on a similar course at Muhammadiyah University that was taught for the fifth time the following week, is designed to find networks of discourse between two very different types of legal systems – International Human Rights law and Islamic Law. The course brings together leading experts from Indonesia and beyond on... more
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 of 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
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 to the United States, and currently Director for South and Central Asia, Hudson Institute, Washington DC. Professors W. Cole Durham, Jr., Founding Director, and Brett G. Scharffs, Director, represented ICLRS in... more
On May 6th, 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spoke at a conference on Comparative Perspectives on Hate Speech, at the Treviso Campus of the University of Padua. The conference included students studying comparative public law and economic and social rights. In his speech, "Beyond Juris Centric Approaches to Hate Speech," Professor Scharffs addressed the role that audiences play in the phenomenology of hate speech. He noted that usually hate speech does not result in direct physical harm to either the speaker or the victim of hate speech, but audiences are often provoked to violence. But it is noteworthy that often there is a significant passage of time between the initial hate speech and the violent reaction that the hate speech... more
At a recent gathering of a select group of university professors, businesspeople, NGO organizations, and students in Padua, Italy on 6 May 2016, Professor Brett Scharffs made a dinner presentation and led a discussion on the topic of the role that religious majorities play in either promoting or limiting religious freedom. The presentation was organized by the Associazone Culturale Antonio Rosmini, Padova.
In his presentation, Professor Scharffs noted that in most countries where there is a dominant religious group representing more than 70% of the population, social science research finds there is usually high or very high legal... more
Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young Universtiy, have concluded their annual course, Comparative Freedom of Religion, in the Department of Legal Studies at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. The class, begun by Professor Durham in April and concluded by Professor Scharffs on May 5, 2016, included 26 students from 18 different countries, and addressed law and religion issues regarding both individual freedom of religion and belief and institutional arrangements between religion and the state from an international law and comparative law perspective.... more
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
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
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
On the 12th of March 2016, Professor Cole Durham participated in a Freedom of Religion Symposium at the University of Denver Law School, Denver, CO. Professor Durham was part of a panel of religious liberty experts and practitioners discussing the fundamentals of religious liberty law, emerging conflicts, and steps individuals can take to promote religious freedom at the state and local community level. Steven T. Collis, an attorney at Holland & Hart, chaired the event. Other panelists were Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Timothy M. Tymkovich, Chief Judge, US Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit; Qusair Mohamedbhai, Partner, Rathod/Mohamedbhair, LLC, and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Denver; and Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director, Colorado Catholic Conference. The primary sponsor of the event was Holland and Hart, with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Chipman/Glasser, and Hall Render providing additional sponsorship.
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.
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