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.

Image for Student Research Fellows for 2018

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is pleased to announce the 2018 Student Research Fellows. Each year the Center invites outstanding students to spend the summer between their first and second years at J. Reuben Clark Law School in externships with offices of the Area Legal Counsels of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in many parts of the world and at the General Counsel's office in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to this work, the Fellows participate in Center research, writing, and publishing projects. This year's thirteen students will travel to Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and South Africa. Two will work in the office of the General Counsel in of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Center is grateful for the work of these fine students, as they experience this enriching program.... more

Image for The Center Presents 2018 Meritorious Service Student Awards
Joshua Prince, Reed Adlish, Thomas Palmer, Nate Kinghorn, Alex Alton, Elizabeth McLaughlin, David Headley, Jacob Crump, Sarah Clifford, Ryan Hughes, Jane Wise, ICLRS associate director. Not pictured: Kaleb Brimhall and Jessica Farnsworth

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies presented 12 third year law students with Meritorious Service Awards at the annual Barrister’s Ball and Awards Banquet. Held at the Provo Marriott on March 29, 2018, the Barrister’s Ball is an opportunity for the BYU Law School to recognize students and faculty for outstanding achievement. 

Students were selected based on their dedicated service to the Center and the cause of religious freedom. Recognized students have served as student research fellows, on the Center’s Student Management Board, or on the Symposium Student Executive Committee. Many have assisted in the organization of and attended foreign conferences. Associate director, Jane Wise, presented the awards to the following students... more

Image for 2018 Graduation Spotlight: Elizabeth MacLachlan

Recently recognized in a BYU Law School Graduation Spotlight, third-year law student Elizabeth MacLachlan was an active part of the Executive Committee for the International Law and Religion Symposium for 2016 and 2017 and received one of the ICLRS Meritorious Service Awards for 2018. 

Graduation Spotlight: Elizabeth MacLachlan

by Ellen Huish

Elizabeth MacLachlan’s path to law school wasn’t clear to her at first.  All of her family members were in STEM-related fields. When... more

Image for ICLRS Welcomes Senior Fellow Ruth Lybbert Renlund

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is honored to announce that noted Salt Lake City attorney Ruth Lybbert Renlund has accepted an appointment as a Center Senior Fellow. Formerly president of the law firm Dewsnup, King & Olsen, where she practiced plaintiff civil litigation for 20 years, she was associate attorney general of the state of Utah, served on the board of directors for the Deseret News, Murdock Travel, and the Workers Compensation Fund of Utah, served as chair of the Judicial Conduct Commission for the State of Utah, and was the first female president of the Utah Trial Lawyers Association. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Utah and a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland.

In February 2016 she delivered a lecture "Think about It: The Value of Law School" at the Women in Law Luncheon at BYU Law School. Introducing... more

Image for ICLRS Announces Two New Senior Fellows: Neville Rochow SC and Hannah C. Smith

Neville Rochow

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is honored to announce that two distinguished legal professionals have accepted appointments as Senior Fellow, Australia barrister Neville Rochow SC and American advocate Hannah Clayson Smith. 

Hannah Smith brings an unparalleled interest in and a distinguished record of service to the core issues of religious liberty in the United States. She twice clerked at the US Supreme Court, for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and between clerkships was an associate in private practice at national law firms in Washington D.C., representing clients before state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court in civil, criminal, and constitutional cases. Most recently she served as Senior Counsel at Becket Law, where she helped secure victories in key U.S. Supreme Court religious liberty cases, including Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School... more

Image for Brett Scharffs Appointed to BYU Law School's Rex E. Lee Chair

by Andrew Hoffman, BYU Law Student

On 15 November 2017, the J. Reuben Clark Law School held the final of this semester’s three investiture ceremonies. Professor Brett Scharffs was honored with appointment to the distinguished Rex E. Lee Chair, a position created to honor the late Rex E. Lee, a former Solicitor General, Dean of the Law School, and President of Brigham Young University. Dean Gordon Smith and Professor Cole Durham provided a few introductory remarks before Professor Scharffs was formally invested.

Dean Smith praised Professor Scharffs for his achievements in the field of legal scholarship. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, while president of BYU, remarked that it is the duty of the law school to produce great scholarship that is not just great in the eyes of church membership, but in the eyes of the general citizenry. Throughout his twenty years of teaching, Professor Scharffs has published in renowned legal journals and is well-known... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Jane Wise as an Associate Director

Jane Wise has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School as an Associate Director. She comes most recently from twenty years as an adjunct professor (advocacy faculty) at the Law School, where she served on the legal writing and external relations committees. She taught legal writing, lawyering skills, and law and literature courses in the classroom, as well as legal writing classes online. She developed curricula for the American legal academy including materials for English as a–second-language law students, and the writing curriculum she helped design for BYU Law's Rex E. Lee Advocacy Program was ranked 17th in the nation for legal writing programs in law schools by U.S. News and World Report in 2000,... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Sharman Blood as a Conference Liaison

Sharman Blood has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University as a Conference Liaison. Sharman's past experience includes working for the Office of Public Liaison at the White House and later as a research assistant for a policy research group before moving to San Francisco. While in the Bay Area, Sharman earned an MA in education from Stanford University and taught high school for several years working with at-risk students. She has also owned her own bookkeeping business and served for a time as the Public Affairs Director for the San Francisco Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sharman will assist in coordinating and organizing the annual International Law and Religion Symposium as well as other conferences worldwide. She looks forward to working with others who are passionate about the Center's mission.

Image for The Center Mourns the Passing of Longtime Friend and IAC Member Gary Anderson

With grief and grateful memory, the Center notes the passing of Gary Anderson, a longtime friend of the Center and, with his wife, Lynn Fechser Anderson, member of the International Advisory Council. After a beautiful and successful life, including 57 years of marriage to Lynn, Gary passed away May 27, 2017 at age 79, following a long, courageous, and optimistic battle with Lewy Body Disease. Gary graduated from Brigham Young University after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil. He then earned a law degree from the Berkeley Law School. While a partner with a San Francisco law firm, Farella, Braun and Martel, Gary served on the Board of Visitors for the BYU Law School, as chairman of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society for the San Francisco... more

Image for The Center Congratulates the 2017 Law School Graduates

The Center has the privilege of working with some of the best and the brightest students at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. As research assistants, Student Fellows, and members of the Student Management Board and Symposium Executive Committee, they are an essential part of the work the Center does. They often continue to assist in the cause of freedom of religion or belief in their professional lives outside of the university. The Center congratulates this year’s BYU Law School graduates, thanks them for their service, and wishes them the very best in the future.    

Here are highlights of just a few of the students who have... more

Image for Graduation Spotlight: Andee DeVore

Andee Devore was recently spotlighted by the BYU Law School. A member of the 2017 BYU Law Graduating Class, Andee served the Center as Co-Chair of the Documents Committee for the 2016 Annual Symposium. She was also a recipient of the Center's 2017 Outstanding Service Award.

From BYU Law School Website

Helping others heal has been an important aspiration of BYU Law student Andee DeVore ‘17. She originally intended to fulfill this desire by attending medical school. She had completed her medical pre-requisite courses and graduated in public health when she... more

Image for Management Board Students Compete in National Law and Religion Moot Court
Tanner Bean, McKenna Mills Collins,
Jessica Farnsworth, Joshua Prince

Four members of the Center Management Board competed in the Touro Law Center's Fourth Annual National Law and Religion Moot Court. The two teams, 3Ls Tanner Bean and McKenna Mills Collins, and 2Ls Jessica Farnsworth and Joshua Prince, each wrote an appellate brief as if briefing for the U.S. Supreme Court, on both sides of a religious freedom issue. Specifically, the students argued whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding from Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC concerning the ministerial exception’s application to employment discrimination claims, should extend to cover wrongful termination claims about breach of contract... more

Image for The Center Bids Farewell to Akinola and Dolapo Ibidapo-Obe

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

Image for Center Welcomes Ján Figeľ to the Academic Advisory Board

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

Image for Erlend 'Pete' Peterson Named as Center Senior Fellow for the Middle East

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... more

Image for The Center Welcomes Adesina J. Olukanni in the Role of Senior Fellow for Africa

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... more

Image for Hannah Clayson Smith Delivers 2017 Durham Lecture: 'Religious Liberty: The Promise of American Religious Pluralism'

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

Image for The Center Thanks the Student Research Fellows for 2016

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

Image for Distinguished Visiting Professor Alan E. Brownstein, Fall Semester 2016

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