The Center enjoys the support and participation of remarkable people from many walks of life. We are privileged to engage in dialogue with scholars, legal professionals, religious leaders, and government officials from an ever-increasing number of nations, who join in an ongoing international discussion concerning timely issues involving law and religion – on line, at conferences throughout the world, and at our headquarters in Provo. To make this dialogue possible we rely upon an outstanding International Advisory Council and Academic Advisory Board, a rich network of Academic Research Advisors, and a small but dedicated group of faculty, staff, and student assistants. For more information about these people, please see the information below and in navigation links to the left.
The Center was honored and most pleased to enjoy the visit of Professor Akinola Ibidapo-Obe and his wife, Dolapo, to Provo during the 2016-2017 school year. Professor Ibidapo-Obe ("Professor Akin") is former dean of the Faculty of Law and former director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria. As a visiting scholar at BYU Law School Professor Akin was part of the teaching team for the advanced courses in International Protection of Religious Freedom and U.S. Church and State, taught by Professors Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham.
Professor Akin has been a key figure in several successful events sponsored by the Center in Nigeria over the past two years, beginning with his hosting, as Dean of the Faculty of Law at Lagos, an international conference "Towards Law and Religious Freedom in Africa" in February 2015, and including... more
The Center was privileged to be able to enjoy contributions from Professor Alan E. Brownstein, who joined the BYU Law faculty during the 2016 fall semester as a distinguished visiting professor. He taught the law school course on the Fourteenth Amendment, and joined Professors Brett Scharffs and Cole Durham in teaching US Church and State and Internationial Protection of Religious Freedom. He also attended and acted as a moderator at the Center-sponsored International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies conference in Oxford, England, in September.
A nationally recognized Constitutional Law scholar, Brownstein is Professor of Law and Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at UC Davis School of Law. He was an attorney in general litigation and corporate... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University is honored to announce that Dr. Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's first Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the European Union, has accepted the invitation to join the Center's Academic Advisory Board. The fourteen members of this distinguished group of globally recognized scholars make outstanding contributions to illuminating the intricacies of religious freedom principles and promoting enlightened discussion of those principles, significantly advancing the Center's mission and the cause of religious freedom throughout the world. Since his appointment as Special Envoy in May 2016, Dr. Figeľ has worked tirelessly throughout the world to fulfill his mission, and in the process has enriched a great many of the Center's endeavors... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School is pleased to announce that Adesina J. Olukanni, recently retired as the Director of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Africa West Area, has accepted an invitation to serve as the Center's Senior Fellow for Africa. He was the Country Director in Nigeria for Church Education Systems between April 2004 and March 2007. He came into Public Affairs in April of 2007 as the Director of Public Affairs for the Church in the Africa West Area and the Africa South East Area.
Adesina has served in numerous Church positions, including high counsellor, branch president, district president’s counsellor, district president, mission president’s counsellor, stake president... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School is pleased to announced that Erlend "Pete" Peterson, recently retired from service as Brigham Young University's Associate International Vice President, has accepted a position as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East.
During his fifty years of full-time employment at BYU, Pete served in several professional positions in Admissions and Records (35 years), as Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, and Dean of Admissions and Records (25 years). For the past 15 years he was Associate International Vice President, which included many international roles and hosting, including a close working relationship with the International Center for Law and Religion... more
Each year the International Center for Law and Religion Studies welcomes a group of outstanding scholars who have completed their first year of study at the J. Reuben Clark Law School into the Research Fellows Program. The program brings the students into the worldwide work of the Center, as they complete internships with the offices of the legal counsels of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City and in many other parts of the world, participate in Center research, writing, and publishing projects, and help to maintain the Center's international web presence.
The Center is pleased to announce this year's fourteen fellows: ... more
Hannah C. Smith, Senior Counsel for Becket Law, Washington, DC, delivered the 2017 G. Homer Durham Lecture at the J. Reuben Clark Law School on 26 January at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. She spoke on the topic "Religious Liberty: The Promise of American Religious Pluralism."
Smith began the lecture by looking at religious freedom through the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She quoted several religious leaders and established four primary doctrinal themes: the conflict between religious and secularist voices; the growing intolerance towards... more
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is pleased to announce the 2016-2017 Student Management Board. Members of the board are chosen based on their interest in law and religion and their skills in writing, research, editing, and languages. These excellent law students speak a variety of languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Korean, French, and Russian. Throughout the school year they will participate in research, writing and editing projects, conferences, and other assignments with the Center. The 2016-2017 Board Members are third-year students Tanner Bean, Jeremy Driggs, Raquel Flores-Vera, Michael Goodrich, and McKenna Mills, and second-year students Reed Adlish, Alexander Alton, Sarah Clifford, Jessica Farnsworth, Lauren Flores, Rebecca Horne, Ryan Hughes, Minji Kim, Thomas Palmer, Joshua Prince, and Benjamin Thornell.
Professor Brett G. Scharffs. Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU Law School, delivered the University Forum Address on 18 October 2016, in the Marriott Center on the BYU Campus. His address was titled "Audacious Faith: Appreciating the Unique Power and Singular Appeal of LDS Doctrine". The Forum was broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, and BYUradio. You may view or listen to Professor Scharffs' address at this link.
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies expresses its deep thanks outstanding scholars who have completed their assignments as the members of the 2016 Research Fellows Program. This year's sixteen fellows have particularly impressive undergraduate records, with majors including philosophy, economics (with an interest in development), political science, business, Russian, interdisciplinary studies (with a religious studies emphasis), psychology, Middle East Studies/Arabic, and Linguistics. Three studied Arabic as undergraduates, and one has done some Hindi and Farsi and Burmese. Three had careers before law school — a certified social worker, an electrical engineer/compliance manager... more
Outgoing BYU Law School Dean James R. Rasband announced the appointment, effective May 1, 2016, of Brett G. Scharffs as the new Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies.
The Center, since its beginning on January 1, 2000, has played an internationally significant role in the work of the Law School. With a mission to help secure the blessings of freedom of religion and belief for all people, Center faculty and staff, aided by hundreds of BYU law students, have worked to disseminate knowledge and expertise regarding the interrelationship of law and religion, through scholarship, network building, participation in law-reform processes, and organization and sponsorship of hundreds of conferences, at BYU and throughout the world.... more
With many thanks for his hard work and dedication, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies announces the departure of Robert T. Smith, who has served the Center as Managing Director since 2006. Beginning June 22, 2016, Bob will begin a three-year term of service as President of the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"For the past decade Bob has served the Center with grace and patience," said ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs, "often performing tasks of uncertain and almost limitless... more
For 2016 graduate Aline Longstaff, studying at BYU Law School offered an opportunity to continue to explore her passion, the intersection of legal and religious studies. Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Longstaf was surrounded by a variety of cultural and religious communities. In such a diverse environment, she became fascinated with the relationships between law and religion, and she sought to make it the emphasis of her studies. "I [took] an interdisciplinary approach in trying to better understand the topic throughout my formal education," she said.
Longstaff began her education by obtaining bachelor’s degrees in history, International Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Utah in 2011. She then went on to obtain a master’s degree of... more
The Barrister's Ball, an annual tradition of the BYU Law School, provides an opportunity to recognize students and faculty for their accomplishments. Each year, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies honors those students who have dedicated service to both the Center and to the cause of international religious freedom. At the 24 March 2016 awards ceremony, Center Associate Director Elizabeth Clark presented the award to Bennett H. Briggs, Travis J. Hyer, Jedi Knight, Aline Marie H. Longstaff, Zachary D. Smith, Ryan Andersen, Eva Marie Brady, Tara Fitzgerald, Roman Harper, Annalee Hickman Moser, Laura Monique Mullenaux Laing, and Lauren Ravsten Robins. These students have devoted many hours as Student Research Fellows, Student Management Board members, or Symposium Student Executive Committee members. In some cases... more
The Center is pleased to announce that third-year BYU Law Student Eva Brady has been named Best Speaker at the 2016 Law and Religion Moot Court Competition, sponsored by Fondazione Marcianum and held in Venice, Italy, March 9-11, 2016. The Case for this year's competition concerned school prayer in the light of American Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence.
Eva is from Charlottesville, Virginia. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Philosophy with a minor in Logic. and studied Spanish extensively for ten years. Before beginning law school, she served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Korean, Busan mission. As an ICLRS Student Fellow for 2014, Eva spent a summer externship in Lima, Peru, and served as a student... more