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2016 Regional Conferences
2015 Regional Conferences
2014 Regional Conferences
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G20 Interfaith Summits
Masters Level Courses
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Religious Liberty Awards
UN Side Events

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 International Forum on Law and Religion, University of the Philippines – 3 August 2017

An International Forum on Law and Religion: The Secular State and Religious Freedoms was held at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City on August 3, 2017, sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University, the University of the Philippines College of Law, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the international importance of protecting freedom of religion, form alliances and relationships among government leaders,... more

Image for Durham and Scharffs at the 8th Annual Certificate Training Program in Beijing, August 2017

On August 7-9, Professor Cole Durham and Professor Brett Scharffs participated as trainers in the 8th annual Certificate Training Program on Religion and the Rule of Law held in Beijing, China, sponsored by the Pu Shi Institute. Durham and Scharffs each spoke on several topics relating to this year's program theme, Religion and Security. Durham lectured on the strategic outlook and global trends in countering violent extremism, the "International Bill of Rights" related to religion, and newly emerging religions. Scharffs spoke on the legal status of religious groups, religious freedom and free speech, and religious property and finance and tax issues.

The training included experts from several countries, as well as participants from many parts of China.

Image for Interfaith Dialogue for Peace, Harmony and Security held in Yangon, Myanmar

On August 5-6, Professor Scharffs was a delegate and speaker at a major international conference, The Interfaith Dialogue for Peace, Harmony and Security (SAMVAD II), held at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, in Yangon, Myanmar. The conference involved high-profile religious leaders, government officials and academics from nineteen countries, with a focus on Southeast Asia. His lecture was televised in Myanmar. 

Professor Scharffs was asked to speak on the topic of conflict avoidance, peace and harmony. Scharffs noted the high correlation between countries with high or very high legal restrictions and social hostilities involving religion and the presence of a majority religious... more

Image for Scharffs participates as panelist at Open Forum on 'Relations between Religious Minorities, Majorities and the State in Indonesia and the United States'

On July 31, 2017, Center Director Brett Scharffs was a panelist at a special Open Forum on "Relations between Religious Minorities, Majorities and the State in Indonesia and the United States: Current Trends and Issues," sponsored by the U.S.-Indonesia Society (USINDO), in Jakarta, Indonesia. Panelists included Yenny Wahid, Indonesian Co-Chair, Indonesia-US Council on Religion and Pluralism and Executive Director of the Wahid Foundation, Prof. Dr. Nur Syam, Secretary-General, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, and Febi Yonesta... more

Image for Scharffs Lectures on the Role of Religion and Religious Freedom at Muhammadiyah University

While in Asia during July 2017, Professor Scharffs was a guest lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Muhammadiyah in Malang, Indonesia. The lecture, attended by the entire law school community, addressed the topic, “The Role of Religion and Religious Freedom in Responding to Religious Freedom.” In this lecture, Professor Scharffs noted that while religion and religious freedom can both be used to foment violence in the name of religion, both religion and religious freedom play important roles in responding to and creating resistance towards violent extremism. The lecture was convened and hosted by Muhammadiyah Law School Dean Sulardi and University Vice Rector, Professor Syamsul... more

Image for Scharffs Lectures as Visiting Professor, Masters Level Course on Shari’a and Human Rights, Muhammadiyah University, Malang, Indonesia

In July 2017 Professor Brett Scharffs lectured for the sixth consecutive year at the Masters Level Course on Shari’a and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University in Malang, Indonesia. This innovative course is designed to create avenues of discourse between two important world legal systems, Islamic law and human rights law. Professor Scharffs taught classes on the foundations of human rights, the right of freedom of thought, conscience and belief, and the regulation of religion under the rule of law. The Course was expanded in 2016 into a two-year master’s degree program on Shari’a and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University, with the financial support of the Asia Foundation.... more

Image for Scharffs is Guest Lecturer, Intersession Seminar on Religion and Human Rights, Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies, Graduate School, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta

In July 2017, Professor Scharffs was a guest lecturer for a half-day in the first-of-its-kind Intersession Seminar on Religion and Human Rights at the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Seminar, taught by Professor Zainal Bagir of the Graduate School of UGM and Dr. Suhadi of the Graduate School of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, introduces students to the many facets of the interface between the discourses of human rights, and in particular freedom of religion and belief, and how they have been understood by religious communities, and how they have been implemented in international, national, and local law. Professor Scharffs lectured on the drafting and background... more

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... 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.... 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... 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).

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